Friday, 25 February 2011

Dear Mum (1)

Dear Mum,
It has been a long time since I curled up and wrote you a letter, years in fact, but you have been on my mind a lot recently so I thought I would write. 

I am not really sure where to start. 10 years is a long time.

It's amazing the imprints one person can leave on another, especially between a mother and a daughter.  The imprint you have left on me has been huge. It's a void that is impossible to fill and at times I struggle to understand how I should cope with it and if indeed I am. As the years go by, somehow it doesn’t seem to diminish your absence any.

I've graduated from uni, twice now, and got married to a wonderful man. 

Without you. 

Little sis is going for her second degree and is going to be married this year. 

Without you.

Littlest sis is married, living in Canada and is going to be a mother herself in a couple of months. 

Without you.

You have missed all this. 

Not through any choice. I think if you had a choice you'd have been around for all of these things. You would have fought tooth and nail to be around for all of these things and the things that are to come. But you were helpless weren't you. You were heartbroken and helpless.

However you have never been far from our thoughts. In each and every single one of these things. These events in our lives are ever so slightly less sparkly than they might have been. But I hear your distinctive laugh when ever I find myself thinking " I can't believe I have thrown tomato ketchup across a restaurant" or "I can't believe that we nearly flooded our kitchen when the isolation taps were under the sink the whole time". Or any one of a number of situations that is so unbelievably ridiculous that I find myself smiling and laughing. And thinking of you. What you'd say through tears of laughter.

Your should know that you were the inspiration for this blog.

Lots of love, always


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Plumbing- a family affair?

What follows is a true story as told to me and Littlest Sis by Lil Sis. It had me in tears so with a wee smile I hope you'll enjoy this story of a chaotic morning and a fiestsy toilet!!

Also, it has been a day of excitement that I would like to share with you both, with love from me. 
After getting up at 05:55 in order to get a lift at 06:30 so that we could drive the icy/snowy/scary as heck road to the train station, using my finely honed skills as a co-pilot. We tried to catch a cancelled train from Arbroath at 07:10 in order to attend one class in Aberdeen (from 9-11). With the next train apparently not departing till after 08:30, we would be walking into class when everyone else would be walking out. We make the return journey holding on for our dear lives.
Only to get back to the flat to find that there is no water, hmmm. 
Come about 09:00, having had the essential wee power nap, I decide that I can no longer hold a poop I have been holding in all morning. And which has been stopping me stay any longer in bed so I race to the toilet to engage the backside. 
Unfortunately forgetting to engage the brain to remember there is no water. 
And now the problem begins: how do you get rid of an almighty pooper in the toilet when the water wont run?!
WELL, let me tell you how you do it. 
Firstly, you flush. Hoping that there is enough water in the cistern to get rid- bad times, not enough. So you find all the water in the flat you can: 2 bottles in the fridge and half a kettle. Pour into cistern and flush again.
BAD TIMES again, as this not only doesn't work but also only causes poopy dilution.
Secondly, you call Scottish Water. Who say they will raise a call and send someone out to have a look. OOPS now we have a time limit of unknown measure and HAVE TO GET RID OF THE POOP! 
So you go to emergency mode and decide "hey ain't there a lot of snow outside?" Well yes there is. A lot as it happens. And what is snow when it melts? 
That's right people- water!!
And then begins an endless journey, with the two biggest pans I can find, running outside and down stairs to fill with snow (that looks like it isn't hiding any nasty surprises and hasn't been trodden to a compact brick like state). To head back up stairs, put on the cooker to melt and fill the cistern in the hope that this will cause some sort of flush reaction. 
From my calculations it took:
 2 pots of snow = 1 pot of water * 5 runs up/down stairs + 1 run of 2 pots and a wok = you guessed it! 
With baited breath and fingers crossed tight; a half full cistern and flush.
A flush that consequently made me almost poop myself again, as the diluted poopy mixture began to rise so rapidily to the edge of the bowl that I jumped in the bath for fear of my own poop coming to get me! 
Thankfully, for all the praying to mother nature and damning gravity, it began slowly drain before hitting the bathroom floor. So although not fully effective the majority of poop was gone, as was the associated smell. So the main mission was accomplished before any poor Scottish water man comes in to fix the problem. 
Then at 11:45 the toilet starts making noises of what I can only imagine is its way of saying "How dare you force feed me poop! I'm just going to have to vomit all over the bathroom in revenge!" But thankfully as it turns out, the toilet was only having a wee cough before it filled itself again. I flushed to test and WHEY WATER RETURNED to toilet and all taps, relief!
Bet you can't top that morning of mayhem and stress!
We couldn't top that, could you?!!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Water Works

Husband and I have very little DIY experience between us. We also have different approaches to it as well, which can lead to fairly sparky sounding conversations. He is methodical and a bit of a perfectionist about it while I am patient and a bit more slap dash.

So if we have a choice to tackle a bit of domestic enhancements its more out of a sense of urgency as opposed to a planned and organised affair. This latest bout of DIY chaos was borne out of a dripping tap in our kitchen.

When I say dripping it was more like an incessant gradual pouring which was only getting worse the longer we ignored it. So at 6pm on a Sunday night we decided it was time to replace the tap altogether – as opposed to trying to work out what specifically was causing the leak and sorting that. Nope, not us, that would have required a level of understanding about our plumbing that we simply don’t have.

We approached it in a “logical” manner, for two completely inexperienced plumbers, and first cleared the area before pulling out the washing machine and turning off the water in the cupboard (where our boiler lives, this will become more relevant in a moment).

We stood and surveyed the underneath of our sink with growing dismay. There was a collection of different tubes ensuring that the dirty water from the sink and washing machine exited our flat in an orderly fashion. All these tubes had to be removed in order for us to get to the pipes supplying the water to the tap. Thankfully we had a bucket at the ready and the pipes came out in one section.

So far so good. And with a growing sense of pride and achievement blossoming in the Mario Brothers now stood in front of the sink, we assessed the next steps. There was still too much in the way so the whole sink would need to come out. The plan was straight forward enough. Get the sink out and remove the old tap, attach the new tap and put the sink back in.

Problem 1: We, or rather Husband, couldn’t get the sink out without shearing off some odd looking latch that held it to our counter top. Rather philosophically I think “well we have another load that will hold it in place so we should be fine”. Here is the first demonstration in my slap dash approach and Husbands perfectionism- he is fuming already and we’ve only hit our first problem. There are more to come as you will find out.

Problem 2 quickly raised its head when we started to try to remove the old tap. We had been through to my grandparents and dropped 90% of our DIY kit in their loft for space and safe keeping. We live in a modestly small and tiny flat and there is always a need for space. Given our lack of enthusiasm when it comes to home making in the literal sense we figured we’d have plenty of time to get what we needed for repairs to the flat etc. We had three spanners: one chunky adjustable one and 2 IKEA ones that had fallen out of the box now in my grandparent’s loft. None of them were co-operating.

Cue the blowing of Husbands second gasket when then first 2 of 3 spanners fail to work and the third looks too small to do anything. I suggest meekly that perhaps I can help. It is very hard to do this without bringing into question Husbands masculinity. Oh dear. I did have a go with my marigolds and the smallest spanner of the set (having already knocked on two of our neighbours doors for some help – to no avail) and success.

We are instantly elated. Husband’s gasket is well and truly back on and I am trying not to be smug about my achievement.

With the bucket ready I fully unscrew the first pipe a smidge of water pours out. But we did expect that. We did not expect a lot of water to consistently pour out of the second pipe. Hot water at that. 
 You might remember I have had some issues of late with scalds so I was particularly disturbed at what we now had to deal with.

Holding the pipe down into the sink with a sponge I tried to swap an empty bucket for a full bucket of hot water with Husband in a mini chain- running to the bathroom to empty them. While he kept shouting and swearing and sticking his head in the cupboard to turn any kind of knob that looked like it might be hot water related. After about 6 buckets of hot water he found it and the gasket that was number two of the evening flew off once again.

He was going to be in London on Monday and Tuesday and did I think I could cope without water altogether until he got back? NO was the reply. We can get this fixed we just need to take our time. And breathe.

He is back under the sink trying to work out what to do with the new tap and how to get the old one off. The old one clings desperately to the sink, pipeless, and in some sort of warped act of spite drops a bolt. Not just onto the floor but down a gap behind the base of the cupboard. A bang as Husband catches first his head then his knee exiting the cupboard he’s been lying in trying to get this bolt back. He perfectionism results in another gasket being blown.

I suggest quietly that perhaps my tiny, lady hands might be able to help. He very grumpy says he doubts it and adds that it is ridiculous that we are doing this job so late on a Sunday when he knew it was going to be a nightmare! I rescue the bolt and as quickly as this gasket of his has been flying off its back on again. And calm has been restored.

We take out the new tap, realise the instructions contained are for every tap going except ours and both are now ready to start tearing our hair out. I return to the three spanners and have to deliver some bad news. None of them work with the new pipes. Husband phones his friend.

Who comes round with the largest box of spanners known to man and immediately puts the pair of us to shame. Together the three of us work out how the new tap should be fixed- after several attempts. And get the sink and associated pipe works underneath reattached and go to turn the water on.

To which our Superior Spanner friend asks curiously why we are going to the cupboard where the boiler lives to turn our water off?

It’s where the knobs live that turn it off?

Why don’t you use the two values underneath your sink- here?
Husband thumps his thighs in rage while I laugh loudly and say because we didn’t know about them?!?!?!?!?

We could have avoided one near scald and gasket blow out had we known . . .