Monthly Archives: February 2015

…that erst were mute

“For now the fragrant flowers do spring
and sprout in seemly sort …”*

Despite recent sun-with-frost, the plants here are pretty much of one mind: spring is here. I’ve got hopeful lupines already growing, and green sprouts at the bottom of the hydrangea’s old canes. The lavender never actually packed it in last fall, the trooper.

Because the ground has frozen a few times, now is a great time to get out the plants I don’t want. I love turning over soil that has columns of dirt left over from the frost. I love the big air spaces.

The strip in front of the big house will remain largely as it is, with lavender, lupines, and dozens of volunteer California poppies, cornflowers, and other wildflowers. The odd sunflower may remain, but I’ll be sure to sow more of those, too. And the hydrangea, well, she’ll come back better than ever.

I know it’s premature, but I would love to mow and edge the leeds (lawn + weeds = leeds). If I were healthier, and in less pain, I would do so much to get the yard in shape. I mean, if we move in 4 years, this place needs to look shipshape, right? 🙂

Another thing I’d love to do is transfer some of the expensive soil from the old garden plot and put it in all the usual plots. I mean, I paid for it, and the plants are always fighting so much rocky soil.

As for the container plot, there will be sunflowers for sure. I know there is a columbine coming up already, and the honeysuckle and clematis are reliable summer performers. lily of the valley may be defunt, sad face. Might also get a foxglove back from last year. The Wildflower mix might be good, too. I think it’s time to amend the soil, fertilize, and really fill the plot with color.

The side garden, where last year I finally got a purple coneflower (echinacea) to grow, and where a huge millet plant dominated the skyline all summer and fall, is really tough to keep free of other plants. Granted, the nettles, blackberries and ferns were there first, and I tried to overrule them. Without a tiller, it just can’t be done.

And so I either toil or let it be. There are beautiful iris thingies from Isie that I think I will move to the bed in front, or split between the container bed and the front bed. Then I can plant random native wild things and let the whole thing go haywire according to the higher order.

* So opens the master work “Songs from The Knight of the Burning Pestle” by PDQ Bach, aka Peter Schickele.

Are ya flowin’?

Yes, there is now water flowing from my faucet, into my sink, and through the drain pipe out to the drainage area. IT WORKS!

I am torn between wanting to document the process and wanting to forget about it completely. Let’s begin by noting that I have very little experience with plumbing, aside from fixing a broken P-trap here and there.

The sink came to me through friends. It lay in our yard for over a year, waiting for the container to be ready for installation. The faucet came through many frustrating trips to Earthwise (my fault, not theirs!), and finally a successful trip to Second Use (an urban treasure!).

The frame I built myself, using the upside-down sink as a template so that my frame took into account all the flanges, rails, and mounting points.

Between Home Depot, McLendon’s, US Plastics, and Mountain Lumber, I was able to get all the fittings needed to connect the barrel to the downspout to the faucet to the trap to the drainpipe. There are many unused parts that I’m hoping to return; it won’t be easy figuring out which store sold me what. Picture me going in to each location, asking, “can you scan these parts and tell me which ones came from this store?” But that’s exactly my plan. Once I find all my receipts, of course. Yes, it’s been that kind of winter.

This morning I made the final trip necessary to bring it all together. I had lost the poly washer that fits on the drain pipe to seal it when it’s screwed onto the S-trap. I looked everywhere: the car, the grass, the car again, the floor of the container, the back full of parts, a second time in the back full of parts; no luck. I needed another black ABS connector anyway, so I went to Mountain Lumber and got it and two poly washers.

I don’t want to mention that I found the poly washer in the bag of plumbing parts that I’d dumped out at least three times. But there I’ve gone and mentioned it. And I am not looking forward to getting a trench dug so that the drain pipe follows a steady decline into the drain area.

But I must return to the accomplishment. No looking back. I’ve got water.

swing set

I decided that I want a rope swing. The trees in our yard are tall and a bit skinny for firs, but I figure there must be a way to rig something up. There have been many rope swings in my life, and it’s time to just have one of my own. Hell, I’ll build a grown-up swing set if I have to.

Alongside the swing would be my OmGym, a yoga sling with three levels of handles. It is great for stretching and inversion therapy. We can’t really mount it indoors because we’re not sure the Palm Harbor home design allows for a 200-pound person to hang from any of the structural members. I wouldn’t trust it.

I trust trees.

bungled bung

On this sunny Saturday, I finally had all the pieces I needed to connect the faucet to the pipe to the barrel. Or so I thought.

You see, the parts all lined up, but when you have five threaded pieces in a row, and you hope to be able to just twist one piece and thereby disconnect the pipe from the barrel, you realize that unscrewing one side translates to screwing in the other side. It’s Escher-esque. It’s not possible.


Because the bung cap is 3/4″ pipe threaded on the inner plug, I was able to connect a garden hose to the barrel, and then to the downward pipe. But it didn’t work because the hose is 25′ long, and I had to coil the extra hose onto the roof. What began as a simple 90° bend became a snaky mess.

And after buying 171 different FTM, FTF, and MTM 2 adapters, as well as various reducers and increasers, it turns out that the best solution is to cut a very short hose section, install a female collared fitting on each end (like you would attach to your outdoor faucet) and a FTM NPT 3 adapter to the other end. I will attempt this in the morning. I have the bits, but I’ve also had a gin and tonic. While I wouldn’t be very frustrated, I also wouldn’t be very trustworthy with a sharp knife.

Is it any indication that this will eventually work out if, when I emptied the full barrel earlier, I was able to get decent flow when I held up the end of the hose to shoulder height?

I did have one decent result of this afternoon’s work: I found USPlastics online, and bought 4 bung caps for $1.93 each. I’ll get them soon-ish, at which time I will replace the older ones, which are dry, starting to crack, and in need of new gaskets. There is a store in Fife that carries them, but they are four times the price and won’t be in stock until the first week of March. With shipping, I’ll pay about the same, but get them faster. I’m cool with that. The old ones are holding for now.

No pics until this motherheifer is up and running.

1 – This is an exaggerated estimate, but still close to the real number of plumbing parts I have bought.

2 – female-to-male, female-to-female, and male-to-male.

3 – National Pipe Thread Taper (NPT) is a U.S. standard for tapered threads used on threaded pipes and fittings. In contrast to straight threads that are found on a bolt, a taper thread will pull tight and therefore make a fluid-tight seal. (

finally, faucet!

Well, after deciding last night that I wouldn’t make the trek to Seattle, I woke up and did just that. The faucet is fabulous. It fits. I had to get a few cork washers at Mountain Lumber, and now it’s ready to be connected to the water supply. (More blog after the slideshow. And yes, I’ll be covering that electrical outlet!)

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A lot went wrong with this project, owing mostly to my own complete lack of knowledge of all things plumbing. Half-inch, 3/8, 1/4 . . . 6″ centers, 8″ centers, deck mount or wall mount . . . ¡Aiyee!

Now the only thing is to connect the pipes. That won’t all get done for a week or two, but when it does, I’ll be sure to post it here.