Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wailing water closets and other matters domestic

The star of our show.
The upstairs toilet at the Nine-One-Four has taken up crooning to us any time we employ it. Its song is loud and annoying and has a three-octave range, which is particularly pleasant at 3 a.m. when one is rewarded with a long, melancholy "OOOOoooooooooooooOOOooooooo" upon flushing.

71-year-old houses are such a blessing.

This has been going on for the last four weeks -- we, the picture perfect portrait of home owners in denial. To circumvent our noisy fixture, my date has suggested certain rules of disengagement -- like don't use  the upstairs loo between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on even-numbered days that are cloudy.

Problem is, most even-numbered days are cloudy here in Bermtopia this time of year.

My date and I are not Plumbing People. An air of profound foreboding falls over the house whenever one of us has the misforture to look quizzically under the sink or reach into a clogged garbage disposal. Most of the time, these sorties are brief and have a happy ending. We take a look-see, freeze up mentally and spiritually and retreat quickly, but bravely, with the rallying cry, "Let's call Steve!

Steve is our plumber god.

On the rare occasions we don't involve the plumber god, there is usually much water and wet towels, followed by the rallying cry, "Let's call Steve!"

So, I'm not sure what got into me Sunday when I Googled singing toilets and found a most helpful DIY website dedicated to all things terrible and potentially terminal related to these fixtures oh-so-necessary in our lives. Perhaps it was a mistaken impression that I would be somehow imbued with superhuman plumbing powers when I turned 60.

Anyway. I learned it was most likely the fill valve. Of course. How elementary. Why didn't I think of that?

Off I went, iPad mini in hand, to see just how complicated it was to located and replace a fill valve.

Let me just the say, the inside of a toilet tank is a scary thing. There are all kinds of valves and pipes and balls and chains and -- wait a tick??!! and. . . and. . . and an zip lock plastic bag draped over the fill valve?


I lifted it up gingerly while flushing the toilet to see if the baggie was an unsuspecting accompanist to our toilet's musical numbers -- and watched as a slender geyser of water shot up into the air. I quickly returned the bag to its rightful place. And, of course, went looking for a towel.

It was then I remembered my date proudly announcing that he fixed a dripping toilet problem we had last fall.

Better living through zip lock bag technology, I always say.

I regarded the zip locked toilet tank gravely, consulted my DIYer website, then looked back at our musical bathroom fixture. It was time:

"Let's call Steve."

We need a plumbing god intervention. . . preferably one without zip lock bags.


On to other matters domestic: I haven't done much cooking this holiday season with just the two of us at home this year. But I got the proverbial culinary burr up the patoot this weekend and went to town. I "invented" a new soup -- chicken mole -- AND whipped up a family favorite for New Year's Eve: Danish meatballs.

Of course, if you're Swedish, they're Swedish meatballs or Norwegian meatballs or Finnish meatballs. I think you get the picture.

One way or the other, these meatballs are must-have Scandinavian holiday fare. At least, growing up, they were in my family.

I'm willing to bet every Scandinavian family has their own version. Ours involves a mixture of ground pork, ground beef and/or ground veal, onion, bread crumbs, cream, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, egg and a sour cream-based gravy. Cooked, of course, in butter. And served on top of egg noodles awash in parsley and, you guessed it, butter.

(Note: Whole wheat noodles and EVOO this year as we are low-carbing it for awhile.)

We didn't get too much into the lingonberry scene, but that's a time-honored garnishment.

These are not dainty meatballs. These are the meatballs of Thor, Odin and the Valkyries. They are the stuff of Vikings, the meatball of sea-faring marauders, the meaty muse of Hans Christian Andersen and IKEA stores near and far.

They fill our homes with the timeless, lingering aromas of spice and browning butter, of comfort, family and tradition -- like so many special recipes handed down from one generation to another. I thought a lot about my mom and Nana Bailey, and my Danish great aunts and great-grandmothers, as I rolled and browned my New Year's Eve meatballs.

I wished them a Happy New Year. And thanked them for Danish meatballs.


  1. Meatballs for Viking gods are just what I want right now, with or without lingonberry sauce (huh?). Starving and not a cafe in sight. That's bush living for you. So inconvenient.

    Happy new year, Queen and Ben! X

  2. Having a Steve in your life certainly bodes for a quieter future. I hope you fed him some of those meatballs!

  3. I've just put in a call to Mr. Rooter.... having chosen a well known company in hopes they will make the least mess and do a decent job.... Our kitchen sink is clogged good and proper. Has been slow draining for months..but... you know how that goes..... procrastination.. and a will to do it myself to save a few bucks.... hahahhaha...

    Yesterday we fought with our old plumbing 'snake' for over an hour of blackest of black goop and bits of hair on the end of it.... sigh... only to have to admit defeat and both of us have aching backs and black hands to show for it. We were being sooooo careful not to get it anywhere on walls, carpets and finished tile and grout.....acckkkkk.... it will never wash off if it gets on those.!! I hope the Rooter man is god-like..... he'll have to be for this...he will have his work cut out for him and we will have to pay a big bill for this...... oh, please let him be tidy and try to contain the mess!!! We've just renovated and I don't want to have to be re-painting walls or doing new carpets....