May 31, 2015: Death to Inanimate Objects

It was not a good week to be an inanimate object in our house. Or at least one with any proximity to me. The first casualty was Sam’s changing table. You might be thinking he outgrew it, so I got rid of it. Oh no, I’m afraid not. On the contrary, even closing in on 3 ½ years old, he’s still the size of an 18-month-old and fits well on the table. However, the table crossed me one time too many and unfortunately lost its life.

We had a nice, big, roomy changing table from IKEA. It’s actually a dresser that converts into a changing table because a large piece fits on the top of it. One problem, though: Occasionally, the top (removable) piece would slide to the side and fall off. This wasn’t a huge deal because we knew it could do this, and we had it placed in such a way that it was unlikely (basically, bracketed by a wall and the crib so that it didn’t have much room to move. Over the three years we’ve used it, it has only happened three times. Twice was to me—no biggie. The third time was to Papa, who we forgot to warn about this potential issue, and I’m afraid he got a rather crunched thumb out of the deal. 🙁

But on Tuesday, I got Sam out of his crib and put him on the table and changed his diaper. As he usually does, he then sat up, and I grabbed the poop-filled diaper and bent over to place it in the Diaper Genie next to the changing table. This is the same thing we’ve done every single morning—I’m standing right there, and Sam is sitting calmly while I drop the diaper in the genie, waiting for me to put his shirt on. Only this particular morning, something happened. I have no idea what, since I was attempting to throw the diaper in the genie; all I can guess is that Sam shifted his weight just so, and it threw the table top off balance and made the damn thing collapse. Sam fell off the table (which is about three feet tall) and got wedged on the ground between the table and the wall. Worse, the big, heavy, particle-board top of the changing table fell on top of him, pinning him in behind the table! And I could not get the damn thing off of him! He was screaming (as one would in that situation), and I was trying in vain to get the very heavy particle-board top off of him so I could pull him out. I finally did, and then I threw it to the side, picked him up and checked him over….and promptly unleashed my rage on the now-discarded table top.

Excuse my language, but I kicked the shit out of it. It splintered into several large pieces while I cursed up a blue streak at it. Lovely and not ladylike, I know. But I was so angry—that stupid table could’ve really hurt my child!! Imagine if he was younger and smaller—he could’ve been really, really hurt! As it is, he has a bruised ear and had some scratches and bruises on his head around his ear, where the table fell on him. And I am thanking god that he wasn’t more hurt.

Anyway, I clearly wasn’t going to use that death trap anymore, so I suppose it doesn’t hurt that I kicked it to pieces. And I’d like to defend myself by saying that this is the first and only piece of furniture or personal property I’ve ever destroyed in anger. I’ve never even so much as broken a plate before! One time when Theo was a baby and had been screaming for…oh, about four months, I suppose…I threw a plastic baby bottle in the sink and screamed to let off frustration, but that’s as far as my temper has gone.

Alas, the changing table apparently took the brunt of 41 years of pent-up rage. Rest in peace, you piece of crap that could’ve hurt my son!

My iPhone decided to die this week, too, though it wasn’t at my hands. At least not knowingly. I have no idea what happened to it. It’s only six months old, and it worked fine…and then it went all wacky with no warning and died. I spent three hours on the phone with Apple customer service, trying to troubleshoot a software problem, and in the end they concluded that it was a hardware failure and told me to take it into the Apple Store for a replacement. Since it was less than a year old, it was still under factory warranty, so it didn’t cost us a penny—thank goodness! And I have to say, Apple’s customer service is incomparable. They are truly fantastic. Quick, efficient, friendly. In my humble opinion, the reliability of their products and their fantastic customer service make their products worth the high prices. This wonky iPhone is the first problem I’ve had, and I’ve had Apple products now for about seven years. Can’t beat that!

And the third inanimate object to die? Our sprinkler system. Though I don’t think I killed it–it was already dead. When we moved into this house, we discovered the first night that one sprinkler heads was sending a geyser into the air, so we turned off the watering system altogether. We left it off for a month because…well, we’re in a drought, and the yard was totally overgrown anyway. The trees are established enough to find water in the ground even without extra watering for a while, so we just turned off the sprinkler system while we got moved in and settled.

But we’ve been doing a lot of work in the yard, and it’s now cleared out and ready for us to start landscaping, for the most part. Chris has some background in working with irrigation, but it’s time-consuming and he’s not an expert, by any means—just someone who worked in irrigation for a while and has installed at least one sprinkler system in the past. So he suggested I call a local landscaper who was recommended for sprinkler systems. He wanted to pick the guy’s brain about what we have and what we need to do.

Well. What we have is a mess. Though I feel kind of vindicated: I kept saying, “How can there only be two sprinkler heads in this whole yard? That makes no sense—this was once a fairly big lawn!” Indeed. The sprinkler guy quickly found that there were actually six sprinkler heads—four of them had just been buried by years of overgrowth, and even after we trimmed everything and cleared it all out, they were still hidden under dirt clods and dead grass.

He also found out that we have a two-line system—one for the sprinklers and one for the drip system (for the trees and shrubs). The drip system is actually working fine—Chris can add some heads to it for our veggies, and all will be well. The sprinkler system, though…not so much. That sprinkler head shooting up the geyser is actually completely embedded in an oak tree’s roots and can’t even be removed without breaking through the roots. Worse still, the pipe under the oak tree is completely encased in roots—and broke underneath the tree! And as if that’s not bad enough, it’s the main pipe coming from the sprinkler valve—and it runs under the deck and concrete. So to fix it, they’d essentially have to somehow get under the concrete and…well, I don’t know. And the pipe are thin, low-quality pipes that are likely 20+ years old. So rather than put a “Band-Aid” on a problem that is likely to continue (and if we fix this one, when will the next one come up with these old, cheap, poorly placed pipes??), we’ve opted to just install a new sprinkler system. Start fresh and say a final farewell to the cheap, rotting old one.

It’ll be a small system, since we’re only putting in a very small patch of grass. Everything else will remain on the drip line. But we think that’ll make a lot more sense than trying to repair something that likely has a limited lifespan anyway.

By the way, if you’re shrieking, “A lawn?!? But California is in a drought!!” let me say that it’s a very, very small patch of grass, and we have taken many other water-saving steps to make up for the water the grass will use. I’m even looking into ways we might be able to use the gray water from the washing machine for some of the watering. Our theory is that we’re required to cut a certain percentage of water use (25 percent, I think), which we will—we’re just cutting it in areas that are not the backyard, since we’d like to have a backyard we enjoy. Coming off living for 3 ½ years staring at concrete out back, we’re actually very excited to have a little greenery—even if it’s just a small patch. 🙂

By the way, the veggie garden side of the yard now has 17 plants! Two peppers, one pumpkin, one basil, one oregano, one rosemary, two cucumbers, one zucchini, one strawberry, six tomatoes, and one lima bean. We’ve also put in two small shrubs: a purple mallow and a plumbago. I’ve always liked plumbago, with its powder-blue flowers, and we had a purple mallow that we loved at our house in Roseville, and it grew really well. So it seemed fitting to plant one here!

Oh! Also on the house front, the windows are finally ordered! We are replacing all of the windows except the bathroom windows. We had planned to do the bathrooms, too, but not doing them saved us $1,500, which we will put toward the unexpected sprinkler issue. We’ll do them later on sometime, when there’s more money in the budget. Anyway, our windows should be in sometime in the next four weeks. Wahoo! We’re also getting ceiling fans put in our upstairs bedrooms soon. Between the energy-efficient windows and the ceiling fans, I think the bedrooms will be much more pleasant soon. Right now they’re rather hot and stuffy—and it’s not even that hot outside yet.

Chris and I actually could do the fans ourselves, except for one problem: There is no electrical wiring going to the ceiling in the bedrooms! Neither one is set up to have any sort of overhead light or fan. We don’t do electrical, so we’ll just have the pro do that and the fans at the same time. Which is probably good, since installing ceiling fans is one of those jobs that is never quite as easy as it looks—we tested our marriage early on by installing one of those together!

Our week was pretty unremarkable, really—all I can say is that Theo is counting down the days until school ends. The weekend was fun, though. On Saturday I had to replace my dead iPhone in the morning and then give a presentation for Down Syndrome Connection, so Chris had the boys to himself. They went…ready for it??…grocery shopping! Chris’s favorite activity. I will never understand that, but he loves it. Whatever—at least it means I don’t have to do it!

Speaking of my presentation, let me tell you that as a speaker, you should never attempt to follow a charismatic adult with Down syndrome. He totally stole the show!! Eli is 18 and works for Down Syndrome Connection (as does his mom, who was also presenting with us), and he was so charming and engaging that I think my presentation was pretty much a dud after his. It really gives me such pleasure to work with him and talk to him—he is such a neat guy! And an example of why we should never underestimate anyone. 🙂

Theo has been dying to go on a BART ride, and most of our weekends have been spent doing house-related stuff for the past few months, so on Sunday we took a trip into San Francisco on BART. We were going to use some aquarium passes we won at the Gala for Giving, but we never ended up making it there. Instead, we had lunch and ice cream at the Ferry Building and then went to play at the park near there. Theo met another little boy that he played with for quite a while, and Sam the daredevil kept getting me to take him on the very fast slide. When he got tired, he went and hung out with two teenage girls who were texting and taking selfies on their iPhones. He very much wanted to have access to their phones, but alas they never obliged him (smart girls!). It cracked me up to watch him just calmly join them, though, and sit there as if he was part of their group. Good thing they didn’t mind their little party being crashed by a three-year-old. 🙂

Well, I hear a certain member of the household being mouthy, so I think I’d better sign off and go rescue Chris. Have a good week, all!

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