Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Let's get Metaphysical

Several weeks ago, my kitchen drain was clogged. Technically, it was clogged for 10 days - but who's counting? Oh right, I was.

Apparently, my blog motivation was clogged too ... a clogged blog? So now for over 2 weeks, my metaphysical drain was clogged, and things were not flowing as usual. Oh sure, there were things I could probably have written about. But I just couldn't, so what to do? Write about not writing, obviously.

As in life, sometimes you keep taking on the proverbial "stuff" that prevents you from moving forward in a positive way (maybe the wrong job, maybe the wrong friend, maybe the wrong habit). So you find yourself doing the same things over and over again, changing nothing - and the gunk builds up in your metaphysical pipes.

Maybe you try treating the symptoms (like when we tried the liquid clog remover goo), but you never get to the root of the problem. Then you find yourself unable to imagine doing anything differently and you wonder how you ever got to this point? So then what? Do you give up? Maybe move (and let someone else deal with your clog) or maybe you call a professional! Or, maybe you invent the Krueger-ator and become famous.

Sometimes it takes something (like our little invention did) to completely blow out the clog - a radical change, powerful enough to force change. Metaphysically speaking, this could be like losing your job or your house or maybe even a loved one. Then you have a choice, do you take the opportunity to change or do you attempt to recreate the past (ergo the clog) by repeating the same steps?

For us, we have made a vow to run plenty of water when we use the disposal (despite th e water restrictions in Georgia) and never put grease down the drain.

As for the metaphysical aspect of the clog, change is good and good change is even better and changes that seem bad at the time might turn out to be the best change ever!

I'm not quite sure what the blog clog was for me, maybe just too many things happening at once - but I think the clog's been broken through now so stay tuned for more exciting stories about legos, my son, and running.

So there it is.

And so it flows ...

No doubt the suspense will painful for you all - but I'll save the gory (and I do mean gory) details and get to point ... my husband engineered a plumbing masterpiece. I think we're going to call it the Krueger-ator. Naturally, I can't give away the secret ONLINE IN A BLOG, but for a $19.95 payment to my PayPal account, it can be yours!

Seriously, though, we thought we were doomed - the pipes were straining under the pressure, there was backwash, splatters, drips, it was getting ugly. We tried the new size of the "bladder" which was useless, and then assembled the Krueger-ator. We tried it twice and were about to give up, when in a moment of desperation, I used some teflon tape to seal a leak. We decided to give it one more go - again with the creaking and groaning pipes and then a loud swoosh. Since I was the one positioned in the garage by the outdoor spigot directly under the kitchen drain, when I heard the noise, I closed my eyes ran for cover (and an umbrella). After 30 seconds when I didn't hear the noise any more, and there was no shouting from Doug upstairs, and I realized I wasn't wet, I began to breath again and opened my eyes. When I saw all the pipes in tact, and no drips from the floor, I ran upstairs to find my husband staring in admiration at his creation.

We reconnected everything and decided to run the dishwasher set on the uber cycle (we were going for broke). We watched the kitchen drain ... nothing (no backwash, no clogs, nada). How often is it that you get to spend a Wednesday night watching the kitchen drain with your loved one?

Sooooo ... three dishwasher loads later, the drain still worked. We even put some things in the garbage disposal (crazy, right?) But it was still good. By Thursday last week, the dishes were all safely ensconced back in the cupboard and the silverware snug in the drawer. Then we promptly untucked them and set them forth on a most important mission to serve our dearest friends a delightful Chicken Cheddar Chowder, spinach salad, broccoli cornbread, and butterscotch pie.

Life is good.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lemons I can handle, but drain clogs?

Sure, now that I have the fabulous "sunny" juicer, I'm good with the lemons. However, no one told me that I shouldn't be putting the rinds down the garbage disposal.

Alas, we have the mother of all clogs. I believe it has a life of it's own and like some weird freakish tumor in our pipes, it has grown teeth and hair.

Since this time last week, we have poured gallons of various liquid clog removers, purchased a pipe snake and snaked the drain (three times), plunged like there was no tomorrow and even tried the "happy, clog free drain dance".

Nothing worked.

We've also run out of dishes.

In a fit of desperation, Doug walked the 20 feet to our "library" of home maintenance books and read about something called a "hydraulic ram". Doug, in the spirit of adventure, went off to our friendly Home Depot store in search of the mythical clog remover. Home Depot called the "hydraulic ram" a bladder and you attach it to the end of your garden hose. In theory, the bladder expands to the width of the pipe, and water is forced out a small hole in the non attached end. The stream of water, not having anywhere to go but down the drain, will force the clog out.

It sounded like a good idea at the time. But as I said, the clog has taken up permanent residence and probably by now has even applied for a visa. So instead of the bladder expanding to the fill the pipe, the water spilled backwards out of the pipe ... fortunately into a bucket that we had the foresight to plant under the drain.

We could call a professional ... but why do that, when trying to resolve this ourselves is SO MUCH FUN! In truth, we're afraid that what the professional will tell us will translate into a mortgage payment. So for now, it's back to the drawing board ... Doug went back to the Home Depot for a different size "bladder" - hydraulic ram sounds much more cool. And while lamenting to the plumbing assistant at the store, inspired some avant guard creative spirit ... they crafted a plan B (or plan Q at this point) ... with some sprinkler parts. I may leave the house temporarily.

Maybe I should call this post, "How to remove a drain clog in 30 days or less".

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Day In the Life ...

It all started with my son Dominic wanting pancake puffs for breakfast. If you've never had them, they're addictive. We purchased one of these for Doug for Christmas (he makes fabulous pancakes).

Because our resident pancake maker was not here this morning at 8:00AM, we attempted pancake puffs ourselves, most likely for the last time. Here's the story.

I went downstairs to the kitchen to get some milk for Dominic, some coffee for me and begin the pancake puff process. Much to my dismay, the sink and counter were littered with dishes, silverware, glasses, and a pan. Apparently, the dishwasher needed to be unloaded on Sunday night or Monday morning, but I wasn't home on Monday leaving Doug to work and be on Dominic duty. Suffice it say that it didn't get done - ergo all vehicles to deliver food and beverage were left to marinate and think about the purpose they achieved for the day. I hope they appreciated their time of reflection.

Since I had to clear the counter to pull the coffee pot out of the corner, I put what I could into the sink. Then I wiped off the counter and began to make coffee, when I noticed Dominic had made his way downstairs and was standing behind me, patiently waiting for milk. So I got him some milk - turned to put the milk back into the refrigerator when I heard a gurgle.

Apparently the drain in the sink was having "issues". I tried to Plunge (after having removed all of the dishes back to the counter) - but to no avail. So I got out the liquid goo to pour down the drain (I don't remember what brand it was, because at that point, I still hadn't had coffee).

Now that Dominic had finished with his milk, he began asking for the pancake puffs (more aggressively, since about 30 minutes had lapsed from first entering the kitchen). I cleared off a portion of the counter (AGAIN), cleaned it off (AGAIN) and began looking for the mixing bowl for the mixer. It wasn't in the cabinet. Where could it possibly be? Ahhh, the dishwasher, that hadn't been emptied, right. So I emptied the dishwasher, got the mixing bowl out - and began to pull out the ingredients for the pancake puffs. Alas, there was a bag of rice that had been opened laying on top of the flour (I don't know why it was there, who opened it or when it was opened) so when I reached to pull out the flour, not anticipating the opened bag of rice, which went everywhere (and I mean everywhere). So, I went to the get the broom.

At this point, Dominic sighed and went into the family room to watch PBS Sprouts.

After sweeping up the rice, I continued to pull out the ingredients for the puffs, only to find that there was a gob of unidentifiable sticky goo on the shelf. Naturally, I had to wipe it off (and naturally, it wouldn't just WIPE off). Make that, I had to wipe it off vigorously and with a scrubber. Which was then thrown away in a FULL trash can ... so I emptied the trash, put another liner in and finally, back to the ingredients ... somehow, I managed to obtain the remaining ingredients without any further incident. It was by then, 9:15AM.

Dominic graced me with his presence again and asked for a "snack" while the puffs were being made. I gave him some peanut butter and a few crackers - he took one look at the counter, the broom against the wall, the full sink, the plunger on the floor, the bag of garbage, and most likely the blood vessels popping out of my forehead and decided (wisely) to return to the family room. I didn't hear a peep.

After mixing the ingredients, heating the pan, and lining it with butter, I began the puff process. The first batch turned out well. They were round (I had low expectations at this point), golden brown, and "puffy". I sprinkled them with powdered sugar, injected some with grape jelly, and put them on a plate. By the middle of the second batch, the phone rang (it was Doug telling me he was on his way home). I had to wash my hands off to answer the phone, I forgot the sink was out of commission and that batch of puffs got a little, um, dark while I was trying to unstop the sink (AGAIN). But, I sprinkled that batch with powdered sugar too.

Seventeen hand washings later, after taking out the garbage, sweeping the floor (TWICE), cleaning a shelf in the pantry, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning off the counter (TWICE), putting the soiled eating ware back into the dishwasher, and unclogging the sink (TWICE), I finally finished all of the batches of puffs around 10:30AM. Dominic ate 2 of them (there were about 40).

Doug came in minutes later and said ... "Are you leaving for your run now?"

I said, "No, I'm going to eat my pancake puffs and drink my coffee." Oh, but wait, I never actually made my coffee. Heavy sigh. So I made the coffee and while waiting for the brew, ate a puff. It was good. And that's fabulous, because there are 3 dozen left.

I enjoyed about 3 sips of my coffee before Dominic needed me to assist with something - I think I managed to finish the coffee by 11:30AM when Doug asked, "Are you not going on a run? I need to leave by 1:15PM."

I immediately went upstairs, got my running shoes, and then left. He called me while I was in the car, I don't remember why but I left the phone in the car when I got to the river. I ran my puff off for about an hour.

You just have to laugh. I don't think there's a moral to this story (maybe, someone else can come up with one). It seems like a fairly typical day (just substitute "making puffs" with some other task, "laundry, vacuuming, going to the bathroom, trying to write an executive summary, whatever").

My thanks to the Fair Lady Doreen and Sir Rob, her Knight in shining armor for the delightful sunny yellow juicer. A most appropriate gift since I don't have one and the lemons seem to be stacking up.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Meatballs and Grape Jelly - Not an urban legend

Alot has been going on in my life over the past few weeks - let's just say a grove of lemons popped up in my path. I guess it's time for lemonade, alot of it (and maybe some of it spiked). Probably more on that later.

Growing up in an Italian family, I am quite familiar with the meatball. In my little universe, meatballs were made with a combination of beef & sometimes pork, breadcrumbs, imported Romano cheese (freshly grated), onions, garlic, a bunch of herbs, and a couple of eggs. These delightful round balls were then sauteed in bacon grease (or sometimes olive oil - EEVOO). They were then plopped into a vat of tomato sauce where they stayed until they soaked up all of the flavors of the sauce. When pronounced "done", there were served with some type of pasta or a loaf of bread (that someone had just made).

Apparently, there are other ways to serve meatballs ... although the thought of compromising a good meatball in something other than tomato sauce has been somewhat elusive to me, I am exploring the idea. Kind of like an adventure in food.

I have had the ever classic, "cocktail wiener" - but alas, I had no idea what was in the sauce. Maybe it should have stayed that way. Now, I learn from some of my closest friends that meatballs are good in a sauce made of grape jelly, coca-cola, and chili sauce.

I say it sounds like something invented by accident by people who are stoned.

"Dude, what have you got to eat around here?"
"I don't know man, I think there are some meatballs in the fridge"

[Dude goes to fridge, starts looking for the meatballs pulls out some jelly, chili sauce, and a coke then finds the meatballs and sets everything onto counter]

"Wow, man, these meatballs need some help - hey - what are you doing?"
"I don't know dude, I thought I'd put some chili sauce on them"
"Oh no, I think I just spilled the coke in there too"

[Snort - laughter ensues]

"HA HA [as he squirts the jelly into the mix] "What else do you have in there?"
"OMG, these are the best meatballs ever!"

Or maybe another scenario like Junior helps Mommy in the Kitchen ...

Scene opens with Mommy trying to get some meatballs made for the cocktail party at her house (hopefully before people start showing up in 30 minutes).
The phone rings - while talking to Liz on the phone, Mommy starts looking for stuff to put on the meatballs (actually the whole concept of meatballs in something other than tomato sauce eludes me, but I'm open to trying new things)
The doorbell rings - it's one of the neighbor's kids selling Girl Scout Cookies
Mommy goes back to the kitchen when she discovers Junior has started to help.

"Mommy! Look what I did ... I'm helping!!!"
"NO! NO!!! What did you put in there?"
"Well, I put some jelly and some coke and then I mixed it all up. It's good Mommy, try it!"

Fast forward 15 minutes as a frenzied, exasperated Mommy starts welcoming guests ... who absolutely LOVE the meatballs ...
Scene closes as Junior gets an extra piece of cake.

I had to "google" the recipe - I just had to. Not that I thought my friends were making this up, but sheer curiosity got the best of me. There are dozens of interesting variations. Here's one for Grape Jelly Meatballs. Yep, you actually put the GRAPE JELLY INTO THE MEAT. I'm speechless. Then a variation of the Grape Jelly/Chili Sauce (without the Coke) version. I also read one where you add a cup (a whole cup) of Brandy to the grape jelly and chili sauce (no coke in this one either, but why would you need it with the Brandy ... and it was submitted by a priest.) I really need to try these things.

Maybe I'll whip up a batch of these grape jelly meatballs to go with my lemonade.