Fountaining Fiasco – Elizabethan Explosion

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It's hard to see, but the street is more or less flooded.

Sunday night: a raging downpour that continues to Monday.  Kº hears a steady dripping sound in his bathroom ceiling.  Is it the rain, or is it something else?

Monday evening: the dripping continues, despite the fact that the rain has stopped.  All Elizabeth residents, Il Principe included despite his age, are called in for consultation.  The bathroom ceiling is noticeably bulging.  The Pie, given his freakish height advantage, gives the ceiling a good poke.  Everything is squishy.  The dripping can be heard by all present.  This is obviously an internal leak, and as our bathroom is directly above KK’s bathroom, the culprit is either our ancient sink or our even more ancient toilet, which our landlord has decided not to replace, as the matching green fixtures are kitschy and cool.  Landlord and contractor are notified.  We wait.  I didn’t take pictures, sorry.

Tuesday morning: the ceiling, full of water, gives way (obviously).  Elizabeth is full to the brim with unintelligible Newfoundland handy men and their tools.  The carpenter’s pickup is pulled into KK’s driveway (the bed is full of pieces of wood, that’s how I can tell), and the plumber’s pickup is pulled into our driveway (the bed is filled with tubes and piping, that’s how I can tell).

Plumber's truck

Tuesday afternoon: the ceiling comes down and is taken away.  KK’s bathroom is full of people fixing it, but the water is turned off in our apartment, because the pipe behind the toilet is spraying water everywhere downstairs.  Nobody can pee.  My research proposal takes a back seat to the chaos that reigns in the house (and the fact that my new kitchen scales and artisan bread book have arrived).  At one point the plumber comes in and drills a hole in my bathroom floor, and sticks a tube in it.

The new tube.

Later he comes back and attaches a small pipe to the toilet.

A little pipe to bypass the old burst one.

Later, the water comes on and spurts and burbles all over the place.  Then it goes off again.

Air in the water pipes.

Tuesday evening: the super-nice plumber leaves for the night.  KK’s ceiling is completely missing but nothing is leaking.  The contractor will replace the ceiling in a couple days.

The new white bypass pipes.

Interesting information: the carpenter tells Kª before he leaves that Elizabeth is actually one of the oldest houses on the whole street (which is a freaking long street, for that matter), and that back in the day (this is circa 1920 or so), it was quite the fancy establishment.

You can see the high old ceilings in this distance shot.

More interesting information: you can see the old crown mouldings in the bathroom after they removed the ceiling.

The contractor told me there was a double floor there that they have removed.  Lending credence to my belief (judging from the decor of my kitchen) that the house was converted to apartments in the 1960s, the carpenter found a beer bottle in the ceiling, an old one (India Beer is a local brew – the logo is a Newfoundland dog – it’s not bad).

The date on the inside of the label says 1 63 5 (5 January 1963? 1 May 1963?).  The modern stuff is made by Molson and looks like this, but I just found a link that told me bottles like this from the sixties are selling on eBay for $20.  Go figure.  Kª saved it for me, and it’s on my mantle now.  I think my dad might get a kick out of it.

What’s awesome is I took a ‘before’ picture of the bathroom to get a good perspective if they were going to take out the floor or whatever.  Aside from that little pipe, nothing has changed.  I feel bad because the leak was all because of our toilet, and it’s KK’s bathroom that got destroyed.

KK's chaotic bathroom.

Kª has taken some pictures, too – I’ll post them if I can get ’em.

Stay tuned!

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Greenthumbing Day One

The crocuses on my front lawn have informed me that it is, indeed, spring.

The tulips and daffodils in the backyard are thinking about making their presence known.

For the record, it’s supposed to snow in the days leading up to the day this will be posted (pretty sure it’ll be a Sunday).

*** EDIT: It totally did snow, the jerk.  We got about three inches.  Then it rained the next day.  Nothing like walking downhill in three inches of slush.****

I still haven’t put away my snow shovel, just in case.

However, today is Sunday (what a coincidence), and after a night of rain, the ground is dry and the sun is shining and I decided to get off my butt and do some work this afternoon.  It was way too windy to consider raking up the thousands upon thousands of leaves littering the front and back yards.  Doing things like that on a windy day here is an exercise in frustration.

Crappy back yard leaves.

There is something you should know about gardening in St. John’s: it’s not easy.  The soil is rocky and thin and nobody really cares about it because nothing grows in it.  Everyone in my neighbourhood, including us, has these horrid bushes lining the front of the property.  They are thin and scraggly and get massacred by the snow drifts every winter.  They look like crap but there’s nothing I can do.  I have to clean the garbage out of my front lawn on a daily basis, from the high winds and the drunken students.  Finally, I don’t own the place I live in, so this is why I haven’t taken a more careful approach.

Crappy front yard leaves.

I went out today with the intention of completing one outstanding project and ended up working on four, but that’s just how I roll.  Things tend to snowball with me.

Project the First

The snowplow, at some point in our long and crappy winter, got a little over-zealous and took a sizable chunk out of the lawn on the side of KK’s driveway (Elizabeth has two driveways: ours is on the right and KK’s is on the left).  The turf was still there, and still mostly intact, so it was just a matter of gathering up the pieces from the lawn and the walkway and stomping them into place.  I then watered the crap out of it and in a couple of weeks (when it is less windy, hopefully), I will scatter some grass seed on the bare bits. 

Project the Second

I had to seek out my grass seed just in case I needed it today, so before I put that turf back in place I made a foray into my shed.  The shed in our backyard is technically supposed to be half ours and half KK’s, but in reality it’s about ten percent ours, ten percent KK’s, and the majority is filled haphazardly with crap that belongs to my landlord and my landlord’s contractor, whose storage strategy is to plop all the heavy stuff (like tires) right in front of the doors.

Our stuff is of course in the back right corner, so I spent about half an hour or so moving things to and fro.  I didn’t take a picture of the interior after I had done clearing up, because it still looks chaotic, but now there’s a nice clear space in the middle and a path to the back where our stuff is.  I managed to dig up my gardening tools and lawnmower and put them in a place I can get to them easily.  I wonder how long that will last.

Project the Third

This is what the front bed looked like when the Pie and I moved in in August 2008.  This photo was actually taken in the spring of 2009, because I obviously hadn’t gotten around to doing anything with it.  That’s not true.  The bare patch is where I moved the struggling astilbe to the back.  The rest was a wash, a weird combination of grass, tulips, baby hostas, and lots and lots of weeds.  I was hoping it would just grow over.

At the end of the summer I had completely dug it up and planted some evergreen bushes.  I planted some sweet peas, too, but they never survived.

It had always been my intention to mulch this bed with red cedar chips to combat the creeping weeds that are incredibly tenacious in this part of town, and although we had purchased the mulch it had sat in the shed all winter.  Today I decided it would be the day to lay it down.  And it was pretty easy, once I got enough mulch out of the bag that I could lift it.

Project the Fourth

Then I realized that I hadn’t made a very good edge on the sides of the beds before laying down the mulch.  It looked ragged and messy.  I had an edger that I found while shuffling through the shed but the soil wasn’t deep enough for me to get a decent edge.  In the end I did what I did to the backyard beds last year and edged them with rocks.

The backyard after I rocked the beds last year.

My quarry in the backyard leads to the scary basement of our house, and consists of the crumbling foundation of a previously collapsed back porch.  I have pulled hundreds of rocks out of this area over the past year and I am only now starting to notice a decline in the availability. I actually had to dig some of the rocks out of the deteriorating concrete matrix.  It was kind of fun, but hard work, jimmying the bigger ones out of the old foundation.

Quarrying from the matrix.

In any case, today I had to do some searching to get some consistency in my rocks.  I put larger ones at the corners of the beds and the Pie helped me to carry them from the backyard to the front. 

I also took some of the larger chunks of concrete that had a flat edge and made a little stepping area for people who don’t want to go all the way around the bed (like me).  You’ll notice that I scaled the rocks down near the stepping area so clumsy people wouldn’t trip (like me).

I’m no landscape artist, but this wasn’t bad for an afternoon’s work and all four tasks took me just under three hours.  I was quite pleased.  Now I just gotta figure out what else to plant in that bed.