Saturday, March 1, 2014

Block Buster

(Saturday. Coffee. No sofa. Finishing this post from an undisclosed location.  I started it early Friday morning, but Friday came early and fast and lasted all day, so I finished it this morning. . .)

I was up before the sun rose today, sipping my coffee, staring out the window that looks to the east, hoping to get some writing inspiration from the first, soft, rose-colored rays, wishing that the cracking of dawn would also crack this writer's block and let my thoughts, such as they are, get from my head to a page. It has been blocking my way for a few months and my head, like the garbage bin by Tuesday night, seriously needs to be emptied.   What better block-buster than a sunrise? The sun always rises.

And so it did today.  And the soft rose-colored rays were beautiful as always, appearing suddenly, yet gently, hard to notice even while looking and waiting for them to arrive, like morning embers  slowly beginning to burn after an encouraging fanning.  But no words came with them.

So I glanced out the window, since it was now light.

And there it was.  In the midst of newly disturbed soil in the front yard a white piece of PVC pipe protruded. It was there as part of the fix to plumbing problems we have been having. And that alabaster sewage pipeline gave me something to write about.

(I'll give you a few moments alone with your sarcastic thoughts. You are welcome for the set-up .)

The drainage problem in mom's house has been getting worse for several months. Thinking back on it I am sure the tomato vine growing in the leaking sewage which I wrote about last summer was part of the same problem.   But since mother hasn't lived here for awhile, it was easy to ignore.  Occasionally the subject was talked about among my siblings.  There were promises to get it fixed.  There were grand speculations as to the reason drains weren't draining. There were great lamentations about how bad it was when drains backed up.  There was much talk, speculation, confession and declaration.  But the drains still backed up.

But then she moved back home.

The drains were not draining. Somehow we were surprised.

Now, obviously, something had to be done. Talk was over. It was time for action.   So we brought out the first line of defense, our friends, our plumber's friends. For those of you from another planet, a "plumber's friend" is a big suction cup on the end of a stick  To unclog a drain you stick your "plumber's friend" against the drain, causing a suction, and pump it up and down, hoping that the movement created by the suction will remove the movement created in other ways and whatever else is blocking the sewage lines.  It creates great satisfaction when the "plumber's friend" is removed from the drain and the water and water-born matter begin to swirl and disappear down the drain. You know I'm right.

Until you go to the other bathroom, or the kitchen, or the utility room, and see and hear that the drains there are now backed up, and the water and water-born matter from the other room is now in the sink or bathtub in this room. Then you attack each drain in each room with the plumber's friend as it has its turn at backing up.

It was like playing Whac-a-Mole with sewage. Again, for those of you from another planet, Whac-a-Mole is an arcade game in which the player, armed with a hammer, continuously pounds the head of a mole that pokes his head up through the holes in the playing board in a random pattern, moving aggravatingly from hole to hole, taunting the player.  It is not a real mole, by the way.

So the plumber's friend was helpful for a moment, a brief shining moment.  Good for one flush, maybe one load of clothes or dishes.  But it didn't solve the problem.  Nor did the chemical drain uncloggers we tried in each drain. One drain would get cleared, only to cause overflow in another.

We called a plumber. Not just a plumber's friend, but a real plumber.  He came right up,  used his pipe cleaning tools, and left.  Hurrah!!.  He had cleaned the sewage line. The draining water practically sucked innocent bystanders into its vortex as it rushed down the newly cleaned drains.

For a couple of days.  Then it backed up again.

And the plumber came back. And he brought his friends.  This time he dug up the yard, found where the sewer line was clogged farther down the line, and cleaned it out.  The drains are working like a mighty flowing stream.. For several days now.   He put an access pipe in  in case we needed to clean it out the line again.  And that white PVC access pipe is the inspiration for this post and the dissolution of my own writer's blockage.

I have friends who have causes.  I do too.  The causes of this month seem to be ending human slavery and exposing injustices in the American criminal justice system.  I am in favor of both causes.

But sometimes it seems like we are playing a big game of Whack-A-Mole.  We hammer away as racial or ethnic injustice pokes its ugly head out of a nearby sewage drain.  Then slavery jumps out of its  cesspool, yelling for attention and we beat on it awhile.

There is no shortage of moles in this game.  Economic injustice. Religious intolerance. Oppression and discrimination. Violence. Crime. Addiction. Child abuse. Domestic violence. Environmental abuse. The list seems to be endless.

And these moles seem to thrive in the sludge and sewage we create.

It is important to keep trying to whack the moles as they appear. Too much damage will be done if we don't.

But it's just a temporary fix.

The real problems are down the line, where crap has been accumulating for decades, for centuries, backing up the drains, causing us to have to deal with the same disgusting nastiness that we thought had been flushed away time and time again.

Looking at what we thought had been flushed down the sewer line is sickening.

But it may be the only way to get rid of all this crap forever.

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