Mary: August 2006 Archives

I was too young to appreciate LBJ

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Priceless comment on this thread on TPM Cafe:

is that for real? it reminds me of a story i've heard about lbj, that when he was running for office for the first time he told his campaign manager he wanted to call his opponent a pig fucker. the campaign manager allegedly was was aghast and said something to the effect that there was no basis for the charge. according to the story i heard lbj responded that fine, but let the guy deny it. he would have enjoyed running against scott quite a bit.

Bring on the rain

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On Wednesday I spoke with RT, the friend (kind of; through our sons) who mows my lawn (kind of as a favor, but I pay him.) I told him about the drain pipe that tilted in the wrong direction. He agreed to fix the problem and said he'd come over the next day to look at it and size up the task. I emailed the contractor who hired Mr. J, the guy who buried the pipe, and told him I'd lined up someone else to fix the mess. Wonder of wonders, Mr. J showed up bright and early the next morning. He didn't knock on the door or announce his arrival in any way. By the time Mike looked out the window he had dug up the drain pipe. By the time he left there was a trench in the yard that varied in depth from 2 to 3 feet and was more than 100 feet long. That night he called me and said the work he'd done that day cost $900, and finishing the job was going to cost $2300 on top of the $11k I'd already paid. (It was at this point in the process that I wrote the last blog entry.)

Mike's feeling of outrage was greater than mine. My own outrage was tempered by my relief at seeing the work get done. Besides, what was I to do? Tell him to stop working and leave a trench in my yard? RT hadn't given me any indication of when he'd be able to do the work, and I was fairly desperate to get it done. I told Mr. J to go ahead and finish the job. He reburied the pipe, and added a square junction box that looks like a drain and connects a second pipe that extends about twenty feet perpendicular to the main pipe. He filled the trench with gravel and dirt, spread the excess dirt around, scattered grass seed on it, and, finally, covered the seed with straw. I wrote him a check.

This drainage system is major overkill. Mike and I had kept the basement dry for five years with a hand-dug trench that was no more than 8 inches deep at any point. The key was that the trench bottom sloped continuously downward from the back to the front, providing a nice little watercourse that I referred to affectionately as the aqueduct. (It's not that hard. You pour in a little water as you dig, and watch where it goes.) Unless we get some biblical flooding in the coming years, this new system will represent $2300 down the drain, so to speak. Ha ha.

While Mr. J got the pipe buried properly, he didn't regrade the back yard. There were still low areas fifty feet from the drain pipe where water was pooled and sod was rotting. That, we fixed ourselves. I finished the job this past weekend, spending about 10 hours pulling up rotting sod, digging, and hoeing until I had created a shallow watercourse. I scattered grass seed and covered it with straw left behind by Mr. J, until I ran out, anyway. I know. It's the wrong time of year to scatter grass seed. But if I can keep it moist it should sprout, then when the rains come it'll get a good start before winter. In theory. Fingers crossed that the back yard won't be a sea of mud again this year.

I do wish the whole world had my problems. The problems that are driving me nuts. Like the drain pipe that's now lying like a gigantic dead snake on the grass alongside an insanely deep open trench that runs from the middle of the back yard alongside the house and some thirty feet out into the front yard to where the yard slopes down toward the street. If the whole world had my problem, it would mean that everyone owned a house with a yard.

If every mother's biggest aggravation with regards to her kid(s) was the tornadic mess in their room, the super-fund toxic waste site in their bathroom, it would mean that every mother's kid(s) was healthy and doing well in school and not facing jail time, and not getting killed in Iraq or Lebanon.

If everyone had my problems, everyone would have a big dog that waits for them by the door every afternoon. A big dog that drops a slimy wet football in their lap in hopes they'll throw it at the staircase because the yard is off limits because there's a big trench out there. Everyone would have to walk their dog because of the yard being off limits; everyone would be able to walk; everyone would be strong enough to walk a 90+ pound dog; everyone who got wet in the rain could go back inside and get dry again and the aggravating thing about getting wet would be frizzy hair.

If everyone had my problems no one would be wondering where their next meal was coming from; everyone would be trying to lose ten pounds.

I'm not grateful for my blessings; I'm grateful for my problems.

Another easy, relaxing Sunday...

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NOT. Mike and I spent more than three hours digging a trench in the back yard. Digging in mud, in heat, in the buggy, smelly, swamp that formed after a landscaper "regraded" and sodded the lawn. You'd think someone with some forty years of experience would have a working knowledge of water and how it flows downhill, wouldn't you? Would you bury a drainpipe that sloped upward from the center of the lawn if you wanted water to drain away from the center of the lawn?

It's hard to get a picture that does justice to the festering bog that formed in the yard over the past month, but here's my best attempt:

You can't see the algae that grew as the grass died; you can't smell the rot, and you can't hear the buzzing of wasps and mosquitos drawn to the stagnant water. You also can't hear the squishing sound as you walk across it, or the sucking sound as you dig and lift a spadeful of mud.

So, protesting constantly, Mike helped me pull up the decomposing sod and dig this:

The first thing you should notice is that this makeshift trench is full of water. Hours later, it's still full of water. Despite the drain pipe at the end:

See the bit of pipe? The guy who graded the lawn buried this pipe, and it was supposed to solve all the problems. It runs from here along the side of the house to the front, which slopes down to the street. I live on a low hill; how hard can it be to drain water off a hill? See how the water isn't going into it? Now check out the other end of the drainpipe, where the water is supposed to gush out and run down into the street:

Notice the dryness, the undisturbed straw that was tossed around to cover the grass seed that was sown. (Notice the lack of success wrt the grass.) This end of the pipe has never seen water; doesn't know it's purpose in the universe.

I'm trying to negotiate with the guy who hired the guy who did this. I'm trying to get him to dig up the pipe and bury it again. Wish me luck.

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