Category Archives: work

The Plumber

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I finally broke down and called a plumber. It didn’t hurt my pride as much as I might have expected.

There were two things; The dripping sink in the mudroom and the kitchen faucet that had very low water pressure.

My ‘Vintage’ mudroom sink started dripping a few months ago and heck, I can change a washer. Except, when evidently, I can’t. I made it worse. A lot worse. Like it wouldn’t even shut off worse. I bought whole new valve bodies. Nope, didn’t help. But they came with replacement seats. Except this sink is so old I didn’t figure it even had replaceable seats. And even taking it apart 14 times and putting it back together didn’t help. So. I turned off the cold water to let it “Think about what it’s done” for a while. That didn’t appear to be helping. Then even the hot side started to drip. Because the mudroom is directly above the utility room and hot water heater, I get hot water real quick. I learned to rinse my toothbrush REALLY FAST.

And then the kitchen sink. It has had low water pressure for a few years. Like you’d put a pot under it to fill then “go do something else for 10 minutes” kinda slow. I know it wasn’t always that way. It’s one of those where you can pull the nozzle and hose out the end. I had cleaned the aerator multiple times, I had changed the Moen cartridge, I changed the supply lines, and I even tried snaking a wire up the hose. Nothing helped. Kelly thought the tub/shower diverter valve thingy wasn’t working well either, so we thought maybe it was the pressure coming from the well house. But I thought my bathroom pressure was OK. I checked the pressure in the water tank and turned up the regulator and water pressure and thought maybe it helped a tad? But really not much.

And that meant the only thing left was the shut off valves under the sink. And I bought some from Menards. And I left them sit on the counter for a few weeks. The plumbing elves didn’t show up. I really didn’t want to try putting them in. I used to do “plumbing” down in the barn. (Notice I used that word in quotes). Cutting threads on a piece of black pipe and spilling water in the barn is a whole lot different than messing up the kitchen sink.  I really didn’t want to try replacing those valves.

Hence, the plumber.

He started with the mudroom sink. Turns out the seats CAN be replaced! I thought it was too old for that but no, the plumber could do that!  Joy! He changed both and it doesn’t drip anymore!

Up to the kitchen sink. Turns out the valves I bought were the wrong ones. Whew! I’m already glad I didn’t start this project. He replaced the first valve, then pulled off the second and there’s all sorts of white gunk in the pipe. Hmmm, odd. Kinda looks like calcium but not sure what it is. Maybe it’s from a few years ago when the old water softener quit working. Using a hose and bucket we flush the lines out. He installs the valves, I turn the water back on, and we get a good burst and then back to nothing. Hmmm. OK, working his way up, he pulls out the Moen cartridge. Except getting the handle off first was a bit of an issue. I was right in there helping. “Helping”.  I sort of expected at some point he was going to add the “Homeowner ‘helps’ surcharge” but he was a nice guy and he let me hold the flashlight for him. I offered helpful advice for the times I’ve pulled the handle off. While telling him at the same time he was the professional and I wasn’t trying to tell him how to do his job. But I was really afraid he was going to break something! At one point I tentatively suggested if he broke it, he had to buy a new one. Thankfully it didn’t come to that.

He got the valve out, it looked clean so then he moved on to the hose and nozzle. Aha! The bottom end of the hose is plugged up with this same white crud that was in the pipe earlier! A few more tricks to get the hose apart and we took it out to the shed and used the air compressor to blow it clean. He hooked the hose back up but re-assembling the faucet handle was still an issue. He knew stuff I didn’t know, and he made the assembly a little easier.

Turned the water back on and WOWZER! WE HAVE WATER! It’s fun, for a few days we giggle every time we turn on the water. I would never have gotten this fixed on my own.

After he left, I found a can of pipe dope that he left behind. We had joked that I get to keep anything he left.

And he had put the handle back on sideways. But I knew how to fix that.

What do you avoid doing?

Got a favorite sink? Appliance?  

Brave Volunteers

I was happy and proud to read the other day that Minnesota has the second highest rate of volunteerism in the country, bested only by Utah.

North Dakota ranks 15th.  Husband decided that he has sufficient free time to volunteer at our local food pantry, and his first shift is next Thursday.  He will stock shelves. Our church donates the produce from our garden to the food pantry.  Suzy Kapelovitz, a nice Norwegian girl from Reeder, (a really small town in southwest ND), who married this Jewish guy who ran some sort of business in our town in ND, and who has spent her life here helping others, is the head of the food pantry.  She is in her 70’s. She confirmed his shift.  He is to stock shelves. I foresee volunteerism in our future,

Why do you think Minnesota has so many volunteers? What have you volunteered for?


It was 75 degrees here yesterday, a nice temperature except for the wind that blew all afternoon.  We have wind here. Today it blew steadily from the west all afternoon at 28 mph, with gusts up to 39.  We had dust storms in town. My office building is heated with steam heat, and it has not yet been shut off.  There is no air conditioning because the hot water still in the pipes. If I opened my west facing window to cool down, I was deafened by the sound of the wind blowing in and scattering all the papers on my desk. I have coworkers with asthma and allergies who suffer when these winds blow like this.  There is no containing the wind.

Tell stories or poems about the wind.


Our New Pastime

I read an article the other day in which the CEO of King Arthur Flour said that baking has become the “new baseball” in this country.  Yeast sales are up 300% across the country compared to a year ago, and King Arthur has engaged an extra mill to assist in meeting the demand for its flour. There is enough flour to go around. The problem is that most of it is in 50 lb bags not suited to the average home baker. They are scrambling to get it into 5 lb bags and out to consumers.  People are baking out of panic, boredom, and as a way to obtain some comfort right now. I think there has been an increase in the purchase of vegetable seeds and plants for the same reason. I hope that people continue to bake and garden after this is all over.  I think we could use more national pastimes.

What would you like to see as “the new baseball”?  What are you doing for comfort these days? 


Garden Update

Yesterday Husband and I did some outdoor garden work, starting with trimming some lower branches from a spruce tree that shaded the front vegetable plot too much last year. I also gave the spruce trunks a shave, trimming off the “whiskers” that were sprouting from where we cut branches off the lower trunks in past years. Now they look neat and clean, like tree trunks ought to look in a Dutch woman’s yard.

The vegetable garden is not visible, and is to the right of this picture.  I think we should plant ferns directly below the spruces, but Husband wants to keep filling it in with mulch.

The irises are greening up, so I raked out the beds. If you wait too long to rake out irises in the spring you run the risk of damaging the new growth and you won’t have as many flowers . There is lots more raking and trimming to do, but it can wait until next week.

Our last task was to thin and transplant the pepper seedlings into larger pots. Our grey cat was happy, as she loves to eat pepper seedlings, and I gave her the ones we couldn’t use.  She gobbled them up. She wouldn’t touch the tomato seedlings, though.

It really makes a difference that Husband is home during the week, and we don’t have to do all our garden work on the weekend. He has taken on the task of planning our church’s vegetable garden. The produce goes to the local food bank. It is also a contemplative garden, so it has to look nice.  I think a well tended vegetable garden is very beautiful, and he and the  youth group member who is helping him will have a busy season.

What is your yard and garden update?

Moonshine Hand Sanitizer

The office operations person at my agency is tasked with finding sufficient masks, sanitzer, and sanitizing wipes for our building staff and for staff who transport clients or who visit clients in their homes.  She has networked with her counterparts at other human service centers to find supplies.  Hand sanitizer has been hard to come by,  and they have turned to local distilleries in Fargo and in our community that are making it by the gallon.  She and the other office managers have a Pony Express type of delivery chain, meeting one another at county lines and regional boundaries for deliveries and pick up. She said it feels like they are hauling moonshine and doing something illegal. I like the image of the transfer of distillery products into State vehicles.

Today she sent an email saying that  we should come and get some distillery sanitizer,  but since it smelled so strongly alcoholic we had to put essential oils in it, as the raw odor could trigger some of our addiction clients into relapse. I went down to her office to get some and put some lavender oil in it.  She was right about the odor.  Pineapple essential oil would make it smell like a pina colada!  She told me that when she and another business office staff member were pouring it out of the distillery jugs into smaller bottles, they inhaled a lot of the fumes and it got all over their hands and was absorbed into their skin. She said they both got red in the face and kind of goofy before they knew what was happening.

It is heartening to see how people here are pulling together to solve problems and help, even if it means spraying moonshine all over the place.

What have you seen people do lately to pull together and make things better? Have you ever been to a distillery?

Work/Life Balance

I return to my place of work today. Our Regional Director decided I would be one of the few staff allowed in the building to keep things running.  We have had multiple staff quit to join the private sector in the past few months, and at this point I am one of the few clinical staff left who can do things like sign commitment papers.  I am glad we have quite a few applicants for the vacant positions,  but the virus slowed down the hiring process.

Working in the office is just fine as far as I am concerned.  I really dislike working from home.  I need a separation  between work and home for my own sanity, a reasonable  “work/life balance” not possible when I am at home.  This way I can turn off my computer at the end of the day and drive home and leave work at work.

How do you (or did you) maintain a reasonable  work/life balance?  What happens if you don’t?