There was a time, long ago, when your correspondent hoarded several tons of brick in his backyard, with the idea that he would mix concrete, lay water piping, and build a patio to escape the city blues in Baltimore. It came to pass, after a few long months of planning, construction, and hard work, and for a short while into the fall of 2001 I had a lovely oasis with lighted steps, trees in planters, and a deck leading to my back door.

That November, the ancient terra cotta sewer line collapsed, and I had to call a man in to demolish half of the brick I’d laid down to dig out the yard and repair the pipe. Discouraged, I waited until the spring and Jen and I replaced the brick, fixed the planters, added fencing around the walls, and made it new again. Then I sold the house. (I think the new owner is using it as a parking pad now).

I’m telling you this because I’ve been feeling a keen sense of deja vu lately. I was feeling great about the progress I’ve made on our brick walkway, which is only about 8′ from being finished. Last week, our basement started filling with water.

It turns out the magnolia tree in the front yard has been looking really healthy for a reason: it’s broken through the sewer pipe and is drinking straight from the tap. So we have to dig up the front yard to replace the sewer line from the house to the street–there’s no cleanout anywhere outside–which will eliminate any funding for further renovation this year.

Am I discouraged? Yes I am. Could it have been worse? Certainly. It didn’t happen in frozen February, they’re coming out on Tuesday to fix it, and we have the Oh Shit cash to make it better. But I really would like to have spent that money on new windows.

I sold one of my duplicate Nikon lenses (a 55-200 zoom) this afternoon in order to finance the purchase of a new lens in a focal range I don’t already have: a 35mm f/1.8 that just appeared on Craigslist. The seller is out of town this weekend but hopefully I can meet up with him on Tuesday to make the deal. In a coincidence, I relisted the Xerox Phaser that’s been sitting in the office taking up space, and got a hit on that after a couple of weeks of silence. Getting rid of that will free up space and some cash to replace the ancient Laserjet 4000 we’ve had for years, which is suddenly throwing memory errors and refusing to print.

Date posted: October 16, 2015 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

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