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After 14 years, my father has finally moved to Florida. Dad was born in south Georgia and raised in Miami, but while I was growing up, he always insisted he was going to retire to Alaska. Turns out that old habits die hard.

This picture is the best this house has ever looked

He bought the house as a "fixer upper" with a loan from his father. He never did much fixing-up, other than having me and a few other college friends add a few coats of paint and a new roof. Fortunately for him the property value went up without him having to do much. Back at the turn of the millennium, the closest restaurant was an exit away on I-85. Now there's a Wal-Mart down the street with everything that brings.

Dad raised poodles, cats, chickens, bees, and turkeys in the backyard with varying degrees of success and complaints from the neighbors. He tried sheep once, too, but the less said about that the better.

I lived in the house for six months in 2002. A very long six months, during which time I wired the house with Cat 5 cable just so I could play Everquest online in my room while Dad watched his country music videos. (Does anybody else remember the "good old days" of a wired Internet?) Generally speaking, we get along much better when we don't have to spend too much time in the same room.

We had this truck for 5 hours and in that time it managed to go just 7 miles. That's a pretty good clip for Atlanta rush hour.

The "check engine" light came on in the moving van that mom rented, so we were stuck for a few hours while Penske struggled to diagnose and fix the problem before they threw in the towel and replaced our original truck. I have to say that everyone I spoke to at Penske — Sarah, Bob, Glenn, Amy, Kent, and Jeff — were all very friendly and considerate. I've had U-Hauls break down on me before, but if I'm going to rent a broken truck, I prefer Penske.

I'm not saying I'm going to miss that house, but I will remember it.

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After the last two weeks of plumbing disasters, I think I'm going to have to swear off bathroom repairs once and for all.

Last week: I took it upon myself (with no small amount of prompting from my mother) to fix the slow drip in my brother's guest bathroom. Despite all of my might, the stupid Moen Posi-Temp 1222 cartridge embedded in the tub faucet would not budge. Not with the official Moen replacement tool, not with a wrench, not with a hammer. I know when I'm out-matched: rather than risk breaking the pipes permanently, I called a plumber.

At least it wasn't just me. When the plumber arrived -- at 4:45PM the same day, a Friday! -- he admitted that it was the most stubborn sink cartridge he'd seen in at least 15 years. I'm sure he said that to soothe my ego, and it worked. It turned out that some knucklehead had overheated the pipe when soldering with the cartridge already in place, causing the rubber gaskets to fuse to the pipe walls. I'm certain that Moen doesn't cover "installer stupidity" in their Lifetime Guarantee.

[For the record, 100% endorses Tom Donnelly Plumbing. If you're in Dublin and your tub has started floodin', call Tom Donnelly.]

Yesterday: while trying to make my father's bathroom more handicapable following his foot surgery, I tightened the tank bolts and replaced the wax ring below his leaky toilet. Trying to maneuver the toilet back into place in the cramped space, I managed to spill toilet trap water all over my shoes and the floor. Of course, I promptly slipped -- Jerry Lewis would have been so proud -- dropping the toilet and breaking the base of the intake valve. This necessitated a third trip to Home Depot on the day to buy a replacement valve, a trip during which my car window motor broke in the down position. Grrr.

Finally, at 10PM, I got the toilet into place and turned the water back on, only to discover that the new intake valve stem and the existing water line don't play well together. So in the end, I replaced a leak at the base of the toilet with a leak at the tank. Truly a worthwhile endeavor.

[For the record, is 100% opposed to Oldsmobiles. If your car's AC is running hot and its electrical system's not, you're driving an Oldsmobile.]

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To be continued...


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