The first omen arrived in 2016 when a root spur from our 75-foot cedar tree started pushing up against the underside of the white cedar fence we share with our neighbor to the south. Maybe living next to a fence composed of its very being made this tree particularly resentful.
The solution at the time was simple – cut a wider arch in the fence within which this water seeking root could pass. Which is how they make tunnels in the mountains: Once larger and larger semi-trucks keep smashing into the top of a tunnel opening, engineers simply make said opening bigger. At least in Europe.
May 13, 2021
Five years later, our neighbor informed us that the roots had extended to her sewer line, as evidenced by the bubbling offal souping up her garden. How she knew it was our cedar roots in that given moment, no one knows, perhaps she owns ground penetrating radar or a witch’s ability to see beneath the surface, revealing the horrid delights that live beneath all of us; including worms, moles, the Others, and of course the secret community of right-wing politicians patiently living in obscurity within their underground bunkers for Kasama Sawant and the rest of the socialist city council to move on to important, and lucrative, appointments within the State and Federal government, including the Lottery Commission, Department of Housing, Bureau of Land Management and of course, various ambassadorships.
A skilled arborist came by in an attempt at mediation. Unfortunately his verdict was, “She’s grown since I’ve been here,” and confirmed that indeed a cedar’s thirsty roots seek things like sewer lines, not unlike coked up MBA students from Stanford seek venture capital for their brand new technology startup idea, which ultimately will revolve around selling online advertising.
May 25, 2021
Thus, the tree must come down, and come down it did, to the tune of $2,000, which was is a steal compared to the other bids of $4,000. However, it turns out the $2,000 in savings is paid for through a stump-sized impact crater left in the backyard lawn, as the stoic, highly skilled tree cutter guy simply took off one-to-two-foot sections of tree at a time, gracefully dropping each chunk to waiting mother earth below, landing with the thump of a Howitzer firing at distant enemy armor, for those experienced with military type things that make soul shaking booming noises.
Rumor has it we could feel it in the basement as we worked, hoping an errant stump wouldn’t rebound into one of our lower windows, the fence, or the other neighbor’s roof. Those fancy $4,000 tree cutter people undoubtedly use a pully other elaborate leveraging system to lower the chunks down.
The stump that’s left has a lot of potential for chainsaw art. Perhaps a cuddly black bear would add a subtle, innocent and tacky charm to the back yard. Same goes for a screaming eagle holding an American flag, brandishing our rampant patriotism to any guests lucky enough to visit for a grill-out. Or better yet, something reminiscent of everyone’s favorite 90’s back tattoo: A breaching porpoise complete with stunning rainbow background, or a lateral strip of pointy native art from an undetermined and possibly mythical tribe. Unfortunately, a specific member of our society won’t have it. More’s the pity.
May 29, 2021
The next omen came with the realization that the south side of the house is now wildly exposed to the infrequent blazing sun that, fortunately and unfortunately, is about to do its annual, 60-90 day, 71-to-85-degree scorching in these parts. Suddenly, for the first time in hyper-local recorded history, an air conditioner is necessary in one of the southern-facing bedrooms.
After selecting and picking up such an absurd notion at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, we decided to conduct a quick install on a simply lovely Saturday afternoon. The estimated, budgeted time of one hour for this specialized subcontracting work quickly blossomed into five, extending due to:
-the loss of a few tactically important screws
-an absence of “stick” on the supplied stick-on insulating strips
-the inability of an 18-year-old power drill battery to hold a charge
-raving bloodlust and infighting secondary to frustration and exhaustion
-an impassioned 30-minute call to a psychic
-the lack of a suitable “How to Install a GE SACC 5100 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier and Remote, White,” video on YouTube
-the sudden, horrible realization that the English As A Second Language (ESL)-written directions were the actual problem, including the visuals, which have nothing to do with ESL
-stoic contemplation of Seppuku/Harakiri
-a mercifully-timed lunch break.
Once installed, it turns out the unit draws eight AMPS on the home’s lone, remaining, knob-and-tube circuit with a maximum capacity of 15 amps, of which roughly nine are already in use. After determining the real estate value of the home is in excess of dwelling coverage, the decision to not let the house burn down was somewhat reluctantly agreed upon.
Thus, we called a highly skilled electrician by the name of Brother-In-Law to fix that circuit. New Estimated, Budgeted Time for this Specialized Subcontract Completed by Competent Person: 3 hours. New Estimated Timeframe for Install: 73 days.
June 5, 2021
The third omen, of the infamous, Biblical three, emerged, appropriately, from the bathroom. The toilet came with the house – a major selling point – purchased in 2006. It always produced a tremendous, earth shaking, voluminous, explosive flush, thanks to the bionic Flushometer/keg unit located in the tank. Operated by a single button, flushing this toilet must feel akin to shoving the plunger down to fire a blasting cap when demolishing a building with explosives. Alas, the stoic Flushometer, the detonator of human waste, sprung a leak, concluding a 19-year career of un-applauded, but efficient, waste management.
June 6, 1944, ah, we mean 2021
Given the bathroom dimensions represent that of a head on a 25-foot Bayliner boat, the main goal was to simply replace the Flushometer and move on with life rather than face the hassle of measuring dimensions and such. Unfortunately, Flushometer’s are hard to come by, so after another tense walk-through of Lowe’s Home Improvement Center, a new throne was selected, after spending roughly 45 minutes measuring the bathroom’s “rough-in” dimensions to ensure a proper fit. Unfortunately, the low-flow unit of choice turned out to completely outmatched by the waste produced by our troupe, so we await the inspiration, drive and verve to re-frequent Lowes to return the unit (bringing up the question of whether or not one can return a slightly used toilet – hopefully the buyer receives a discount) and select a flow rate and volume that matches our community’s specific needs.
June 8, 2021
Meanwhile, annoyed by all the activity and attention generated by the other appliances and fixtures throughout the house, our cast iron bathtub’s diverter (valve in the faucet that diverts water from the tub to the showerhead with the pull of a lever) decided to lose both its gate (it’s a gate valve) and knob with which to pull the unit, conveniently right when a specific home-owner was running late and needed to take a shower. This fourth omen fell well within the purvey of an extremely competent and knowledgeable team member, however, and was resolved with a trip to the lone, remaining, independent hardware store in Seattle that makes ends meet by selling mescaline out the back door.
Total install time was under 60 minutes, not including the drive.
June 11, 2021
The fifth omen dutifully arrived to join its pals through the disconcerting gurgling noises emanating from the circa 2006 water heater. Who would have thought these appliances weren’t really “built to last,” as indicated by the emblem emblazoned around its circumference? Luckily, the independent hardware store-crushing Home Depot has a prominent, convenient location ripe with shiny new tankless water heater systems, specifically the EcoSmart ECO 18, which, thanks to the word “Eco,” makes one feel like they are saving the planet despite the fact they eventually have to haul the decommissioned, 15-year-old metal dinosaur water heater to the dump – which now everyone around here, including the City, calls the “Transfer Station.” To where a metal water heater is transferred, we are not sure. Hopefully it’s on an electric Tesla rocket to the sun.
Obviously a skilled tradesperson by the name of “plumber” installed this complex water system in an effort to delay our Leaderships’ inevitable demise, hopefully to some time around 2065.
Dateline: June 15, 2021
The shirtless-calendar-worthy, ruggedly handsome stump grinder guy’s successful grinding of the art-worthy stump, leaving a huge pile of cedar chips and dirt which the mischievous company wonder dog Benji will undoubtedly roll around in, officially broke the omen streak today. Although the fence still needs to be put back together. And now the yard is all torn up. And the patio is begging to be extended over the carnage, which means the near future holds a lot of lifting-of-pavers and levelling-of-surfaces, etc., by the vice president of our consortium.
But at least it breaks the streak. And makes us realize we’re lucky to have what we have, omens and all.
Update: June 15, 2021
GE SACC 5100 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier and Remote, White, successfully installed.