Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I feel drained.

Waste water-wise, we're back in business!

Looks like the kitchen sink might be "permanently fixed"! I use quotations, because as we all know true permanency is a myth. Thanks, Nick!

As inconvenient it is to use the teensy upstairs shower, it's way more inconvenient to wash dishes in the bathroom sink. Not just in terms of the dishwasher being out of service, but because the faucet and the small sink make it hard to wash large things and the counter in there seems ridiculously low, making washing more than just a few dishes kind of hard on our backs. Even Nick was unable to work loose the drain stopper in the overflow pipe on the tub. But he did seem to narrow the location of the clog down to the P-trap rather than a mass caught up on the stopper. Next stop: a moderate volume of chemical drain cleaner. Ugh.


I found one that is specifically for hair clogs, or claims to be, bu Liquid Plumber. It seemed safe to assume that hair was the primary culprit with the shower drain, right? Well, even though I let it sit about twice as long as I was supposed to, because I got caught up in Delia's daily fetch session and a few other tasks.

Speaking of Delia's fetch session... we know spring is in the air because she's asking for a drink from the well head mid-session. It was a balmy 45F when I got this shot.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

We have made a lot of progress around here making the place more suitable to our needs and more to our tastes and I've chronicled a lot of that progress here. However, it seems we've entered a season of regression. How timely.

I shared the sudden demise (?) of our chest freezer* and one of our stove burners. It seems like we may be to the point where the road and driveway will be passable for the appliance repairman to get here. Well, now we can add a plumbing "situation" to the list. Luckily, this situation is not toilet- or directly-sewage-related.

Suddenly, the main bathtub drain is all but completely clogged. Oh, it'll drain, but one shower's worth of water can take a couple hours to drain. ICK! Of course, I am diligent about keeping hair out of there, but anyone who knows me personally, knows that my hair will not be tamed and it will not be contained nor constrained. I did my due diligence digging around in there, using the non-toilet plunger, and measuring out enzymes, even though it was too late for that. So I dug out the drain snake, I mean canister auger, annnnd... realized that with the tub, I couldn't just feed it down the drain. Sigh.

In general I would rather read a step-by-step description with thoughtfully rendered illustrations than watch a video for my how-tos. I would also prefer those illustrations to be some kind of high quality drawing than a photo. You don't have to stop, rewind, fast-forward, pause, repeat a piece of paper or an onscreen still shot. That said, This Old House has decades of experience using the video medium to show people how to do stuff, their people know how to explain quickly and clearly, and they have all the lighting and audio equipment, too.

Hello, YouTube and the This Old House channel. One clear, concise video and I'm on it! Too bad the stop mechanism is stuck in the overflow drain and stuck good. Stuck better than the one in the video, which the TOH plumber, Richard Trethewey, got out with just a little bit of channel lock persuasion. Try as I might, I couldn't get that sucker dislodged. This explains why they last folks were using a rubber stopper in the tub and a removable strainer - the stop is stuck in the open position.

Then I saw this video. I have a ShopVac so I decided to give it a try. It didn't work for me. If the diameter of the hose in the video is any indication, they are using a larger, more powerful shop vac. Mine is a small, 1.5 HP model. It did do a good job of sucking the water out of the P-trap and then what was left in the tub, though! We'll be using the tiny upstairs shower in the meantime. Sigh.

When I was searching, in vain, for tips on getting the drain stopper unstuck I did learn about this cheap tool for unclogging drains. I picked on up on Thursday with the plan to try it over the weekend... then I saw that Saturday is World Plumbing Day, so I felt committed to trying it then... hoping that I would be the recipient of a World Plumbing Day Miracle.

I was hoping it would be flexible enough that I could push it through the drain and it would bend and go down towards the P-trap, but it would only bend up towards the stuck stopper. Sigh. I think we'll have use for it in the bathrooms sinks, so it was not an entire waste of $3. Oh, well!

I ended up back on YouTube and saw a couple other options, or rather variants on the plunger method, that I decided to try using plungers we already have. Which didn't work. Next step: Nick. Next week.

Other plumbing adventures this year so far:

The "new" kitchen faucet was dripping, but once I had a closer look I was able to fix it in a few seconds, sans tools. Just a little loose where the hose attached to the nozzle.

The kitchen sink drain is leaking a tiny bit. We know why... it's because we got a little creative, as suggested by our neighbor who is a real plumber, to get everything connected since our new sink is deeper and the original plumber installed the drain stubout/waste line higher than standard. The creative solution was employed to avoid having to cut out the wall and who know what all else to move that. Blast! Temporary solution? Didn't work, made it worse. So we have been washing the dishes in the bathroom sink again. Too bad it hasn't been long enough since the kitchen remodel for us to feel nostalgic about that. More work for Nick!

Boy, I am not excited to tackle the bathroom sink drain! I know when I take apart the P-trap to clean it, it will fall apart. It's that same crappy chrome plated stuff that was under the old kitchen sink. When I finally get around to moving forward on the remodeling in there, I know we'll decide that we want a new, less utilitarian faucet, too. Sigh.

In conclusion: lots of FAIL happening around here lately. Shoot.

*I saw that a local TV station and a regional appliance retailer have teamed up to give away an upright freezer, so I entered to win. WISH ME LUCK!

Monday, March 6, 2017

It's Always Something Major. Appliances, That Is

Oh! Yeah! Back at the beginning of the we had a bit of a kerfuffle with the kitchen-related major appliances. First, we lost function in one of the burners on the electric range that came with the house. The large, front one of course. We didn't replace it with the kitchen remodel I did last year, because Eric really wants to switch to a gas range, but there is no gas or propane here, so that means getting a tank, trenching, putting a hole in the foundation, etc. So you know, reallllly expensive. It seems counter productive to replace it with an electric one with the plan to hopefully go gas (well, dual-fuel, actually) in a few years.

That burner with the espresso maker on it, right there? Yeah, that one. 

Within a few days we noticed that the GIANT chest freezer in the mudroom that came with the place failed. CUSS! We got to it before much has really thawed, but when we were going to put stuff in the small freezer in the new "extra" fridge - also in the mudroom - we realized it stopped working, because it just got too cold for too long in the mudroom. Even though that fridge is "garage ready," apparently that is just for garages located in places that don't get below freezing for very long. Or for heated garages, because people who can put money into heating their garages throughout the winter usually wants a utility-grade, small, plain-white fridge? Sigh.

Meat and frequently used things went into the kitchen freezer which is also getting used for "daily" stuff like making ice and freezing "cubes" of canned dog food for Delia's dinner. What?

After The Big Thaw, the mudroom fridge's freezerr got some produce and more rarely used things. And yes, we buy butter at Cost and freeze it. So what? Like we're ever going to NOT use butter? Nonsense.

Well, the new fridge was still under warranty so I was hoping to get someone out to get it going and while they were here - with the manufacturer paying for the service all - they could look at the others. HOWEVER, the authorized dealers, whose numbers I got from the manufacturer, either don't come down here from Missoula for that particular manufacturer's warranty work (doesn't pay enough) OR don't come up our road when there's been 3' of snow recently.

Not very classy, but throwing away perfectly good food isn't classy at all.

I think the road is ready for us to get a service call, but I am not. I got really sick with a flu while on the DPMS World Tour (of the Pacific Northwest) and the house is a bit of a wreck post trip, etc. Maybe next week if the road stays clear? I have a feeling that the chest freezer is done and I have hope that a cockamamie plan* I have hatched will keep the new fridge going during the sub-freezing temps going forward. I'll run it by the repair guy when he's here. Meanwhile, the melting means that the ice-chests-buried-in-snow-on-the-deck-solution ended and we lost some garden and store-bought veg. Grrrr.

*If this plan works, you know I will boast about share it here!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dr Potter's Medicine Show - The Book In-The-Wild

It looks like my constant haranguing on Facebook and here has paid off! Several of my friends, family, and craftsters have shared photos of them with their copies of the book or of the book on bookstore shelves. How lucky are Eric and I? Pretty dang, that's how lucky.

I would love to have pictures of YOUR copy of Dr Potter's Medicine Show in-the-wild! If you get one and share it with me, I'll add it to this post!

In no particular order:

Rome, Georgia

Ontario, Canada
Glendale, Arizona

A high school library in rural Sweden

Barnes & Nobel in Reno, Nevada

Hollywood, California

E-book, Brooklyn NY

Fred Meyer store in Milwaukie, Oregon

Barnes & Nobel in Burlington, Vermont

Secane, Pennsylvania

Finally, a friendly reminder to those who have purchased Eric's book: PLEASE rate the book on Amazon and/or GoodReads! Having a lot of ratings - particularly high ones (ahem) - helps the book get on search results and suggestion lists! You don't even have to write a review, just stars help get the book in front of book readers and book buyers! FUN FACT: You can rate and review books on Amazon that were bought somewhere else! Or given! Or borrowed!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Not Dr Potter's Medicine Show - Life at the VME

The last few months' posts have been mostly about the publication of Eric's debut novel and that is because that's mostly what's been going on around here that's at all interesting. Otherwise, life on the VME has been about how it's snowing, how we're going to have to rethink where we* plow and where we put the snow we've plowed, how we're going to keep the melting snow out of the shop which is a bit below grade, etc. This is general winter stuff, that is just a bit more intense this year because we got so much snow in December and and then more snow in January.

Plowing of the road created a bit of a berm at the bottom of the driveway and eventually even Eric's plowing of the driveway won't take it down. But two different snow shovels, a pick ax, and an hour or so will. 

Luckily, Delia has been enjoying fetch despite the snow...

... and enjoying hassling the squirrels and chipmunks under the snow!

And then we went on the DPMS World Tour (of the Pacific Northwest) and it warmed up while we were away which made the driveway a challenge for our house-and dog-sitter, Carrie. But by the time we got home, much of the road was down to exposed dirt! And the driveway was just a couple days away from its annual Death Luge Ice Driveway (DLID) stage.

And then a couple days after that, lots of exposed dirt! Which is certainly ugly, but much nicer for driving than the DLID.

Now this week has been a daily rotation of rain, snow, melt and rain, snow, melt... a potential mess and a real drag for fetching firewood and playing fetch. But at least I'm able to get up and down the driveway without chaining up Bert every time. At least for now.

I couldn't capture it, but it was pouring down rain when I took this. Not that sissy Montana rain, but real cats n' dogs style rain and for a good while, too.

I guess this big melty, rainy mess is not only a drag for us, but also for denning bears. Uh oh!

* And by "we," I mean "Eric" when it comes to plowing.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dr Potter's Medicine Show - Book Tour and More!

Holy cats! What a ride! The DPMS World Tour (of the Pacific Northwest) 2017 has to be considered a success.


Monday, Feb 6, Powell's on Hawthorne. In Conversation with Wendy Wagner.

Thank you Old Hometown Crowd for coming out on a gloomy Monday, dragging your friends along, and for contributing to Powell's SELLING OUT of Dr Potter's Medicine Show! We were told that this "never happens at these kind of readings," so that's super cool! We were also told that they ordered more, so get in there to get one if you haven't already!

Tuesday, Feb 7, Taqueria Nueve. Taco Tuesday

Mostly family plus a few close buds. Delicious!

Wednesday, Feb 8, Casa Fischl-Williams. Family dinner and general shenanigans. Too busy being present to get photos. Eric made beef burgundy, I came down with what has to be a flu.


We decided to hit a few of the Barnes & Noble stores near the interstate on our way up to sign books. Well, I didn't sign them, Eric did. I took photos.

The Vancouver, WA location

And in Olympia, WA, too!

Then after dinner, but before catching a Lyft to the reading, Eric signed a copy at Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle, too! They've only got one, so get in there and buy it!

Thursday, Feb 9, University Books.

photo by Adam Rakunas

THANK YOU to the Adam Rakunas family for putting us up and showing us around! Cake pops, Taco Thursday, basement bar beers! A cozy and comfortable night's sleep to boot. I am truly sorry that I brought the creeping crudge into your home.


We woke up to news that Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 was open to eastbound traffic, so we jumped on that! We must've saved 6 hours of driving which made all the difference to morale at this point in the tour. I was unabashedly sick by then and we were both tired from all the fun and all the driving.

Friday, Feb 10, Auntie's Books.

Saturday, Feb 11, drove home from Spokane. I slept most of the way and then slept most of the afternoon at home on the sofa. Flu in full effect. Eric started getting symptoms and we both went to bed early and slept late. Lots of dog cuddles and kisses!

Sunday, Feb 12 - Tuesday, Feb 14, regular life + fighting this virus.


Wednesday, Feb 15, Fact & Fiction.

Could Bigfoot be Eric Scott Fischl's first groupie? I think he was at every reading on the tour!

Thank you to the New Hometown Crowd for coming out on a dreary school night! I think Eric may have hit the low point in his cold on this very night, but he handled it like a champ. Or at least a seasoned veteran of book tours.

During the tour, DPMS got a few more mentions around the internet:

An interview with The Quillery blog.

We met Jay in Spokane through Adam in Seattle. It's really neat how these author-types connect to and support each other! Jay is doing a vlog/day and we both think he's crazy, but look! Eric's in one!

Eric's first ever spoken interview also happens to be W.A.R.G. - The Guild's first ever podcast! What could go wrong?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Dr Potter's Medicine Show - Spotted in the Wild!

Hey look! Eric's sister spotted this at Powell's on Hawthorne on Friday, Feb 3

Hoo boy! Eric's friend & fellow AR author, Peter McLean, spotted this 4-star review in SFX Magazine!

Oh yeah! I forgot to post this cook photo back when Eric got it a couple-few weeks ago from Nick Tyler at Angry Robot Books.



Wait what? Eric's contribution to Writer's Digest's "7 Things I've Learned So Far" series went up on Thursday!

The GoodReads giveaway ended yesterday (Feb 2) and the winners were chosen! I don't recognize any of the winners by user name or tiny thumbnail avatar, which is a bit of a bummer, but if you can't count on your friends to pay full price for your book, who can you? Here's hoping that some of the other 1,844 people who entered to win were so intrigued they'll go out and buy a copy or hassle their local libraries into ordering some copies!