you can't pee in that

music :: death cab for cutie

all righty -- part 2 begins with my first examples of half-ass parenting: my son has plopped himself down in front of the tv to eat his "well-balanced" lunch, which he likes to call an "orange and white feast": quesadilla (with white & orange cheese), carrots w/ranch, a small piece of jack cheese (yes, more cheese) and orange slices. if he finishes his carrots i promised some cheetos (yes, even more cheese ... well, not real cheese) to complete the "feast".

he is happily watching his second episode of sesame street for the day. i swear, sesame street and pbskids have pretty much raised and educated my child since he was the age of one. and yet, despite my gratitude, i have not once in the last 4+ years become a subscriber to my local pbs station. bad mommy, very bad! we don't have cable, so i should really be spending a small portion of what would be a cable bill to support a channel i totally believe in. what's wrong with me?! oh yeah, i'm a half-ass parent. starting to get the picture?

anyway, what's up with the above picture, you ask? well, these last 2 weeks have been relatively busy because we were dealing with a plumbing problem. so here's my example of half-ass housekeeping: when we moved into this house over three years ago, the house inspector told us we had a small leak under the toilet, which was dripping under the house. obviously, we should get it fixed before it becomes a big problem. did i get it done? no. well, i did try. i called my mother-in-law's plumber and scheduled a visit. he never showed. and then i never called another plumber ... for three years!

don't get me wrong -- it's not that i wasn't bothered by the thought of this leak. i just never took any action. i figured, we don't use that toilet very often (my son was still in diapers at the time); the leak can't get that bad. right? right?? but it's been over a year and a half since my son started using the toilet. (i'm still debating whether i should use his real name out here in "blog world" -- any suggestions about this?) and the thought of the leak getting worse has nagged at me every single time he flushes the toilet. what finally prompted me to call a plumber is what i learned to be "phantom flushing." you know, when the water in the tank runs even though you haven't flushed. (fyi: this kind of leak is often caused by those bleach tablets you put in the water tank to keep the bowl cleaner between scrubbings. being the half-ass housekeeper that i am, i used these for awhile so i wouldn't have to scrub the toilet very often. anyway, the bleach in the tablets detiriorates the rubber pieces in the tank, causing the leak. so it's better not to use the tablets and just take 2 seconds to scrub the toilet every once in awhile.)

so i called a plumber from a major company to take a look at both problems. he came up from under the house saying that there was a large crack in the pipe from the toilet and the pipe to the main was totally falling apart because it was cast iron and the water leak had rusted it. he quoted me $4,200 to fix everything. my jaw dropped. see what happens when you don't get your small leaks fixed immediately? i called my hubby right away and he was not happy with the estimate (kinda cheapy, he is. but admittedly, $4,200 is a lot of money). i told the plumber i needed a second opinion, at which point he called his supervisor who authorized a "contractor's rate" of $3,200. nice of them, huh? i told him i'd get back to him.

the next guy to show up didn't even go under the house to look at the problem. he quoted me over $4,000, and that was with a $1,200 discount. yikes! i also told him i'd get back to him. i knew he wasn't the right plumber for me when he showed up and he looked prettier than me: half open shirt, gold chain, slicked back hair in a ponytail, designer sunglasses. you get the picture.

luckily, i got the name and number of the plumber of someone i know. now this is a plumber, i thought, when i saw him. totally down to earth middle-aged guy in a dirty company t-shirt, and his name's barry. i took a liking to him right away, especially since he quoted me $875. yup, not even a thousand bucks. normally, $875 would be a lot of money for us, but after hearing amounts in the $4,000 range, his estimate seemed much more reasonable. and, he told me, there was nothing wrong with the actual pipe to the sewer. in other words, the other two plumbers were trying to rip me off. no wonder i'm paranoid about getting things repaired -- since i'm totall clueless about stuff i always feel like repairers are trying to rip me off. but barry was different!

the pipes were fixed yesterday and the toilet had to be moved to the backyard until we get the floor fixed. the leak caused the wood under the linoleum to rot away so the plumbing repair job has now led to a floor job. which i'm not too upset about. first off, i have no idea how much it's going to cost ... yet. second, i can finally replace the ugly linoleum in the bathroom. yea!

so, to make a very long story short, the toilet is in the backyard because a leak from three years ago is just now getting fixed.

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