This Old House
I love my house. It is 50+ years old, built in a time when houses were supposed to last. I love my wooden archway in the living room. I love the fact that you can open the refrigerator, the oven and the dishwasher all at the same time and people can still walk through the kitchen. I love my library and my fireplace. I even love my beat up and destroyed wood flooring.
I hate the plumbing.
Apparently, the plumbing gods looked down on my house and frowned. I have been waging an all-out war against the antiquated pipes and fittings for over a year now, and I am not winning.
Let me explain. Last year I was sitting in my living room, reading a book, and I heard this…. sound. It sounded like white noise, or traffic, or some unidentifiable electric hum at first, but it was constant. I got up and starting walking around, ear to the wall, in every room of the house. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere. It was water. Rushing, gushing, money flushing down the toilet water. I froze. Now what?
During my investigation, I had discovered two of the four toilets in the house were running. Not that this was the sound I was hearing, oh no, that was just a bonus. I jiggled the handles and adjusted the chains and flappers in the tanks and they both stopped. But I still heard water. Where IS that coming from! I had visions of a river running under my house. I sounded like it was coming from the walls. Have all my pipes exploded? Will my house be washed out into the street? I am now panicking and close to tears.
When my beloved Mr. Fix-it arrived home, he doesn’t hear the water at all. Okay, so either my house is on the verge of its own personal apocalypse or I am going insane. Neither of these options sit well with me. I continue trying to live my life like a normal person, every so often sticking my head against a wall or standing stock still, listening for the sound that has become my own personal Gaslighting. I got into bed and had to turn on the ceiling fan to mask the sound that only I can hear, whimpering softly until I fell asleep.
The next day, I come home and start inspecting the outside of the house. And that is when I notice the small pond forming near my flower bed. I run inside and turn of the water to the house. This has no effect. I run back out side and begin panicking again. My house is possessed by a water demon. I call my friend Marlene who, apart from being my boss is also one of the most mechanically gifted women I have ever met, and she tells me to turn of the valve to the sprinklers. It takes me 5 minutes to realize the brass pole sticking out of the ground is said valve. Silence. I have stopped the water. I am a hero, a champion to women homeowners everywhere! I am so relieved I laughed out loud… Then I remembered that I still have a little problem.
You see, I live in the desert. And my 10′ x 10′ patch of green will not survive the week without water.
I am a sensible person. I know this is beyond me. I have no idea how to fix a sprinkler system. I can’t dig up the pipes, I might get dirty or break a nail. I decide to let my big strong man take care of it. After all, he is proud of the grass. Wasn’t it his idea to rent a power aerator and dump 8 bags of manure on it to get it glowing and healthy? I am sure it will be fine.
Well, turns out the sprinkler would just have to wait. While I was dancing with joy in my front yard, congratulating myself over the victory I have claimed against wasted natural resources, another insidious event has occurred in shower. It seems a drip, drip, dripping noise (masked by the rushing, gushing noise) has decided to make itself known. The hot water is constantly running and refused to be denied its freedom from my shower head. In an attempt to turn the water ALL the way off, I seem to have destroyed the handle and the brass stem that holds it in place.
Oh, no problem, I will just go to Lowe’s.
Problem. Lowe’s doesn’t seem to carry this stem. In fact, no one does. “Sometimes you see this with these old houses”, the jovial guy in the blue vest tells me. So I will have to go to the plumbing supply (read money sucking leech) house to find one to match. After a week or so of turning on the shower with a pair of pliers, I broke down. A new $45 brass stem is installed. Now to find a new handle that will fit the antiquated stem…
All of this happened last Fall. Since then, we have had to replace two toilet tank assemblies two shower heads, the kitchen sink sprayer, and the original shower handle. Half of the parts had to come from the plumbing supply house because, again, standard plumbing is only standard to other people and my house likes to be special. We didn’t even get around to the sprinkler repair until last month. And let me tell you, that was its own magical experience. Needless to say, the desert has reclaimed my yard, the guys at Lowe’s start shaking their heads and laughing as soon as we show up, and the plumbing supply house owner has sent both of his sons to Harvard.
Does anybody know a good plumber?
Curds and Whey
So I am trying to like Greek yogurt. Why? I don’t really know, it just seems like the thing to do. My Aunt Pat has tried to get me to eat it as a way of removing high fructose corn syrup and other nasty evils from my diet. My friend Toni-Lei seems to like it and she is one of the most health-conscious people I know. I keep seeing those Chobani ads on TV and those people certainly seem protective of their Greek yogurt. I guess I should just give it a go.
So, I am strolling through my neighborhood Albertsons, and I head to the yogurt aisle, where my “Thick & Creamy” Yoplait is calling to me with a seductive voice, and I try to make a little sense of the new “Greek” yogurt phenomenon. There seem to be about 25 different brands of Greek yogurt in this store, and none of them are sporting a sign saying they are delicious, nutritious and don’t taste like a science experiment. That means I have to navigate these whey strained waters alone.
How’s your digestion?
As I am comparing the appeal of Oikos (which sounds like it should be a pork product for some reason) and Fage (which may have been a medieval torture device) I notice another woman in the aisle, with the same befuddled expression I know myself to be wearing. She looks at me and asks if I know the difference between probiotics and live active cultures. I am certain my blank, uncomprehending stare must have told her that I was an expert on the topic. “Not really” I said, “I think they are both good for the digestion.” A nutritionist, I am not. She informed me that her husband, Jeff, needs to regulate his digestion and she is looking for new things for him to eat. She wants to get him to try the Activia but she isn’t sure if he will eat it. Jeff seemed to like the Chobani with honey, but she thinks he was just saying that. She has decided it must be the live active cultures vs. probiotics that is the problem and needs to take something home that he will enjoy eating and will keep him regular at the same time.
Now, I am happy that Jeff has a loving wife to ferret out this information for him. I am glad to hear he possibly likes the Chobani (I put one in my cart to try) and I am sorry to hear about his digestive woes. I am just not sure I needed to know any of this before making my selection. Mrs. Jeff seems like she could talk about it all day.
After some polite, “Good Luck” and “Thanks for the suggestion”, etc. I ducked out of the aisle and wandered through the store. I wandered for about 10 minutes before I felt it was safe to return to my search for the worlds greatest Greek yogurt. Seeing that Mrs. Jeff has taken her active culture angst elsewhere I head back into the fray.
Some fifteen minutes pass as I compare labels. Fat content, carb content, and sugar content. Probiotics vs. live active culture (thanks Mrs. Jeff). Fruit on the bottom, fruit on the side, and plain. Calcium, protein, Vitamin D. I feel absolutely no savvier than when I started. My Yoplait is calling again, beckoning with its Key Lime Pie and Cherry Cobbler yumminess. I am beginning to feel like I did in 7th grade when I took an Algebra test I hadn’t studied for, so I compromised. I put in my cart four Yoplait, one four pack of Activia, and one each of the Chobani, Dannon, and Fage Greek yogurts. I defy anyone faced with the same situation to have done otherwise.
Well, the Yoplait was great and I did get the light version so it was fewer calories.
The Activia was okay, but a little runny for my taste. The Key Lime flavor was good, and the vanilla with a little Kashi thrown in made a great snack.
The Chobani with honey was the first Greek yogurt I tried. If you are new to Greek yogurt, don’t make this mistake. I can guarantee that Jeff lied to his wife on this one. The first spoonful was such a shock to my system that I actually looked at the container to see if I had picked up a tub of sour cream by mistake. It was so sour it made my jaws hurt. I offered some to my co-worker to try on her breakfast burrito. After adding about 1/3 cup of Kashi I was able to get it down, but it made me fearful to try the other brands.
The Fage with strawberry was actually good, once I incorporated all the fruit. I know that adds a lot of sugar to the process, but really people, what do you expect of me? Every hit of the plain yogurt left my eyes watering and my jaws cramping. The fact that the fruit was in a little side car on the yogurt cup was interesting, but made it harder to incorporate all of it into the yogurt. It took a little stirring to smooth out texture, but overall it was not bad.
Dannon blueberry was great, again after a vigorous stir to ensure there was no hint of plain white yogurt left in the cup. The flavor was sharper than regular yogurt, a little more acidic. The blueberry flavor was fairly fresh-tasting (for yogurt fruit), and the texture was smooth.
So, not a smashing success overall. I’ve asked my forum of facebookers for their advice and everyone but me seems to love this stuff. I have been told that the Oikos (remember, not pig product) is delicious and also got a rave review of the Greek God with honey. I guess I will just have to keep trying to find the one I like. I just hope Mrs. Jeff isn’t at the store when I go back…