Sunday, July 09, 2006

The End of Solitude

Things are now back to what passes for normal around here. I survived nearly a week of solitude while K and J frolicked in the company of other family members; one out west and one up north.

I wish I could say that I spent that time finding inner peace in a lotus position, meditating on the meaning of life. What I actually did was meditate on lunacy of automobile repair and designers who put retaining nuts in locations that cannot be seen and can only be reached by threading 18 inches of ¼ in socket extensions up through a small hole in a bracket whilst laying on one’s back staring up at the incomprehensible assemblage that makes up the underside of a car’s dashboard, with a small hand tool jabbing the kidneys and sweat running in small rivers into one’s ears. Whenever I tired of that, I went and pulled thistles until my sanity returned.

It wasn’t all fun and games. There were old friends to visit with and fireworks to watch. One must take care of those annual obligations, no matter how strong the siren call of the broken brake servo.

In the end, the previously pristine coverage of the drain field with its colorful purple tipped thistles now looks more like a partially shaved cat with huge bald spots where the robust thistles once stood. All the neighboring vegetation (also mostly weeds I am sure, but not on the “C pull list”) is now lying listlessly on its side – no longer supported by the strong, but prickly thistle. I’m sure C would have approved, but it has done nothing to improve the appearance of the place.

I also finally tackled the problem of the kitchen sink. The same person who designed the hidden nut gem in my car must have also advised on the installation of our kitchen sink. In most counter/sink marriages that I have known, the sink rests upon the counter with a cushion of sealing caulk between the two that keeps moisture from leaking under and rotting away the fiberboard cabinetry. When this caulk eventually ages, dries out, and begins to participate in the destruction of one’s real estate, it is a fairly simple matter to gently raise the sink (careful not to fracture delicate high pressure water lines – don’t ask) and lay down a fresh bead of caulk after thoroughly cleaning out the old.

Thanks to “blind nut consulting” our kitchen sink was set down on top of the cabinet substructure, a bead of caulk laid around the TOP edge of the stainless steel sink rim, and then two tons of 2 inch thick Kasota sandstone counter was set down on top of the whole affair.

Years later, after the house had settled to a more comfortable position, the base cabinet system lowered itself by a small fraction of an inch on one end of the sink. As the caulk aged, the waterproof seal gave way and moisture began to pass through the seam. This was true especially when Hydraulic J was at his station doing dishes. His favorite tool of choice was the handheld spray nozzle that unfortunately came as standard equipment with our faucet set. The resulting shotgun technique of dish rinsing had the amusing effect of launching food product, grease, and high velocity water in almost all directions. The result was that rotting caulk (and other things) began to protrude from the joint between the sink and the stone counter.

I was able to ignore it for a time, but knowing that procrastination would only accelerate the science project in and under the sink, I finally decided to attempt a repair. Doing this during the week when both kids were gone made a lot of sense.

I considered my options. I could attempt to jack up the counter which would almost certainly result in having to take out a second mortgage to pay for the replacement of the stone counter. I could lower the cabinets further with the help of a sawzall (available for rent almost anywhere – amazing tools of destruction). I had to reluctantly discard that option when I could not come up with a reliable plan to return what was left of the cabinet to a sound and attractive position.

Finally, I just went after the old caulk with a putty knife and a dentists pick. I was rewarded with a smelly collection of caulk bits that looked amazingly like little worms except that they did not crawl around in the sink. Since the cabinet had dropped only on one side of the sink, the crack was easy to clean out at that end, but increasingly difficult, and finally impossible to do as one progressed toward the intact end where the seal was to all appearances good.

Like the federal government, I gave it a good go then left with a declaration of victory. Hopefully, my war will go better.

After letting the whole thing air out and dry for a few days, I ran a new bead of silicone caulk around the entire seam, taking care to pump as much as I could into any available space. It certainly looks better now, but only time will tell if it will stand up to Hydraulic J.

Now with a houseful of kids again –



Blogger John Cowart said...

I needed to fix our sink once... instead, we moved.

12:07 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger Sister Spikey Mace of Desirable Mindfulness said...

Home improvement of the DIY kind is such a siren's call to me. Invariably, I devolve into cussing and wondering what the hell possessed me. I did and redid the toilet in the guest bathroom at least a dozen times in the last 3 weeks. It's fixed now, by god! It better stay that way.

9:22 PM, July 10, 2006  
Blogger Tiffanie said...

I was referred to your site by Crystal. I have read your entire blog plus the Love Letters blog.

You have touched me. I will continue to read but not comment much as I don't know what to say.

Know that someone in Kansas is thinking of you.

9:45 AM, July 11, 2006  
Blogger lime said...

glad you and the kids survived respective vacations. that sink job sounds like quite the adventure. don't you wonder what the original installers were thinking?

10:31 AM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger Michow said...

I was also referred to your blog via Crystals blog and I just wanted to say that I'll be thinking about you and I hope things will get better for you. Here in the hot humid plains of Canada I'll be praying for you.

11:24 PM, July 13, 2006  

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