A glimpse of the struggle

Last week, I was on vacation.

When the company I worked for was assimilated, I had tons of vacation. When they finally moved us over, we were allowed to roll our vacation. It’ll be the last time that happens. This is a use-it-or-lose-it company. So with the new year, I got 20 days, and they rolled 20 from my old company.

I can barely find time for 20 days, let alone 40. Still, their processes demanded I use it. So I’m off a lot until the end of the year.

I had a big list of things that needed doing around here, and I tried like hell to get at least two of them done a day. But that’s a tough nut, since it’s a thousand degrees outside. Even a half day outside you felt as if you were beaten by a bat.

And I was overcome by events more than once.

One day, I saw a puddle in the new sunroom and thought ‘Crap. The damn sprinklers are firing into the room’. So I looked at my handy map, and fired off the zone next to the room. Nothing. Sure wasn’t sprinklers, they aren’t running. Turns out I left the dogs water bucket in the room and the numbnuts puppy spilt it.

So I walked the zone to see if there were bogs where a leak would manifest itself.


So I figured, the only reason these things fail is a human did something stupid. The human in this case is me. I just finished a drain next to the room. So I capped the sprinkler and lit up the zone, figuring that water would be pouring from the drain if this were the case.

Sure enough, water was blasting into the alley at the end of the drain. This meant that the break was in an 8′ area next to the drain.

So I started digging.

First thing I found was a fist sized hole next to the sprinkler head. Surely this was the leak. But as I studied it, there wasn’t any damage apparent. I ran it again, and it clearly wasn’t there.

Turns out, wasn’t here.

I read an article in a handyman magazine that said when troubleshooting a sprinkler head, dig 1′ around it. Bullshit. That’s nuts. Dig a hole you can stick your hand down. Here, water was clearly coming from up the line. So I worked my way forward until I went past the leak, and water flowed the other way.

Whoa that ain’t right!

You can hear the mighty Bluetooth amp and speakers in the sunroom playing tunes. I got that done first to lessen the pain. By the way, If you let things run, the water clears out the dirt. Making clearing things easier.

Yeah. That’s busted.

Patching that line in that small space would be a challenge. The proper way to fix this would be to replace the entire line to the head. It’s only 3′ or so, and really just gravel. But that’s a 3/4″ line. And I dug through my collection of PVC and I had a junction and an elbow in 3/4, and nothing else. I have 1/2″ stuff coming out my ass, but no 3/4. I had to hit the store for a lousy $5 worth of parts.

So I did the right thing and angled it up to a head right there.

Good Enough.

Here’s the deal.

The old head was popping up in the doorway to the sunroom, close to being a trip hazard. And this repair is in the middle of the wall. So the right height riser and a 180 degree head will actually cover the garden that will be in front better.

All the time it’s hot as hell, and sunny. I was wasted both days I screwed with this. And I got off lucky. The soil here is like digging in modeling clay. It’s miserable. The soil sticks to your shovel like paste. Digging is slow and tough.

This was only one of the surprises that week that consumed my time. I had to rebuild my network, the parts to which have been sitting a few months. I mounted an extra accesspoint, but the rest was left undone as I dealt with these kind of issues. The list is still there and growing.

This is why I marvel at the gubmint types that euchre poor folks into buying houses.

It’s really cruel when you think about it.

When you consider that in addition to the mortgage and utilities, you have endless chores to maintain your property. Honestly, if there weren’t locusts invading from blue states raising property values, I’d have lost a ton of money on my house in Plano. For years it had hovered at or around what I paid for it. But like shoveling sand, I’d spent thousands merely maintaining it. In the end, between the foundation, plumbing, and floors, there was nearly $40K shoved into it merely to sell it. Luckily, homeowners insurance covered the $30K or so to fix the plumbing and floors. That doesn’t count the thousands I spent in upgrades and sweat.

Then there’s the City.

A few weeks ago I got a valentine from the city telling me that my trees were overhanging the fence in the alley and needed to be trimmed. Seemed like everyone got the same message because when I was out trimming, so were my neighbors. Luckily, I have the tools to do the work, even though the Pecan trees in my back yard are huge. So you have that as well. The city writes a note. You don’t comply, you have to pay to have them fix it. If you don’t pay, you get a lien. That’s how it works.

I got a second valentine this week. WTF. Not good enough, I suppose.

So I went out and sized things up. There’s nothing near the alley that I own.

So I called the dude.

Well, there’s a tree on the corner obstructing the alley.

Uh…dude…that’s your tree, not mine. The City maintains everything on the other side of my fence. Ain’t my tree. It’s yers.

But this is Texas. Dude sized it up and said he’d handle it, and get the monkeys to trim it up, Apologizing for the misunderstanding and thanking me for being so affable.

There’s something in me that wants to unload this property and buy one for cash in an exurb or a rural area. But it’s an asset. One that will be paid off when I retire, and eventually pass to the kids.

That’s the plan anyhow.

One thought on “A glimpse of the struggle

  1. As a longtime homeowner, now that I’m retired I have no desire to continue with the hassles and expense. I don’t know how long until you retire but hopefully you won’t be digging in clay a whole lot longer, and it will pay off in the end :).


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