Urban Spelunking

Well, it seems that my house wants to help encourage my senses of handiness and adventure. I’ve been feeling pretty good about my expanding set of DIY skills since I’ve been here, so the house or the Universe or God or the devil (I’ll let you decide which) decided to kick it up a notch. I’ll explain more in just a minute, but let me tell you about my day so far. Just to set the mood.

First, it was the service man from my natural gas company, coming to turn on my gas. The good news is that there are no gas leaks in the house. The bad news is that the heater isn’t coming on. But it’s not winter, so that’s really more like inconvenient news than bad news. And, fortunately this house came with a seller-paid warranty from a company, so I should be able to get the problem fixed for a $60 service fee. I’ve already used the warranty twice—once to fix a leak under the house and more on the second in a bit—and I’m really pleased with how quick and hassle-free it is.

Then, the dishwasher repair man came. You see, the dishwasher suddenly and inexplicably stopped working on Thursday. It didn’t drain after a cycle and then it wouldn’t turn on. This was my second time using the warranty. Initially I considered trying to figure the problem out myself (that’s what internet tutorials are for, right?) but ultimately decided that wasn’t a good idea, given that I don’t know anything about dishwashers. I mean, as far as I know, that thing could run on magic. Or worse—science. But I was concerned that the repair man would tell me it was something simple, something I did or didn’t do, something I could have fixed easily. So I felt justified when it turned out to be a wiring problem. No surprise there, given the other wiring problems we’ve seen in this house.

After the dishwasher repair man left,  I decided I was not going to tackle anything else on my to-do list today, and prepared to read for a while and just bask in the knowledge that two important tasks were done. I cracked open my book, one that I’ve been reading here and there all summer, thinking that I might finish it today. Spur jumped up in the recliner with me and got all cozy. And less than a page in, I started hearing a fast, steady dripping from the kitchen. I thought maybe it was just the dishwasher draining, but it didn’t stop and I got concerned enough to go sleuth it out. It was coming from the fridge—the kind with water and ice in the door. I couldn’t see the leak but I could hear it and when I opened the freezer door, there was a sizzling sound, as if it were dripping on something electrical. Which is, you know, totally awesome.

So I pulled out the fridge and the good news is that there wasn’t any water on the floor. But I couldn’t see a way to turn it off. So I did what any girl in my situation would do: I called Daddy. I asked how I could turn the water off to the fridge, and he said that the only valve was under the house. But not to worry, he said. He cleared some of the spiderwebs with his head and body when he was crawling around down there.

This is where the adventure really takes off. Ever been in the crawl space under a house? It’s a little cave like. The only light in mine is up near the entry. On the opposite end of the house from the kitchen where I was heading. And the floor is just red clay. So I put on a pair of jeans and grabbed my leather gloves, a wrench (just in case I needed it), a flashlight, and my phone. And Spur. I brought her along for moral support. And safety. Just in case I got stuck and needed her to go all Lassie and tell the neighbors (What’s that, girl? Shanna’s stuck in the crawl space? Somebody get a tractor! Or a rope!). Or save me from critters that could, theoretically, have taken up residence in my cave dungeon crawlspace. Anyway, everyone knows that taking a loyal dog along into a dark and mysterious place is objectively the right thing to do. I mean, even Hagrid took Fang with him into the Forbidden Forest, and what did he have to be afraid of? I was just following literary precedent.

So I geared up and, wishing sorely that I had decided to buy a pair of knee pads already, Spur and I descended into the cool, damp, dark, mysterious underbelly of my house. I clicked on the flashlight and began to make my way toward the general direction of the kitchen, at times on hands and knees, at times army crawling. Further and further we went into the cavernous space (okay, it’s not really that far or big, but I’m trying to build a tone here), cobwebs clinging eerily to my head and body. Spur was timid, (read: mildly curious) but continued onward because of my unmitigated pluck (or was it the desperation in my voice when I told her to come repeatedly?), and finally we made it . . . nowhere. I had no idea what I was looking for or if I had crawled far enough.

So I did what any girl in my situation would do: I called Daddy. I asked him to describe what I was looking for and where it might be. And so I found the thin copper pipe with the tiniest valve of all and turned it off (and realized that my wrench was completely superfluous, unless I needed to defend myself against an ROUS, or a giant spider, or a snake, or some kind of troll or zombie or whatever. You just don’t know what might be down there). With our mission successfully completed, my intrepid sidekick and I made our way back to the entrance, moving slowly toward daylight. Having not encountered dangers of any kind (except cobwebs), we emerged victorious, dazzled by the sunlight and breathing in fresh air. I took a commemorative photo at the threshold.

The good news is I’m not afraid of spiders there are no snakes down there. Seriously. And even though I’m not a fan of crawling under the house, I’m really glad that I’m the kind of woman who can do stuff like that for myself. Even if I wish I didn’t have to.

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4 thoughts on “Urban Spelunking

  1. I like to think that these are the kind of skills an ACU English degree offers you. We may want to consider adding that to our recruiting literature.

  2. I love this. Glad you fixed the problem and made it out safely. And I think Spur is braver than Fang – at least, I hope so.

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