Peter and Rebekah Laue - 965 Cloud Cap Avenue - Pagosa Springs, CO 81147 USA

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Life Letters

Barking Up the Wrong Tree
August 1, 2014

If you have never barked up the wrong tree, you are an exception. Let me share with you this embarrassing and revealing story about myself.

I have always been reluctant to ask for help, whether it be in the area of solving a difficult math problem or fixing a toilet. This has been my nature since early youth - to fix whatever I could. I am now 81.

I was able to fix things more often than not. And that in itself reinforced doing things myself before dialing "911". I have even gone so far as to successfully adjust my partials using sandpaper. The rewards were especially satisfying when I worked at something for a long time and finally got the right answer or was able to fix something. And whenever I was able to save a bunch of money for my self or my boss, my satisfaction was high up there on the Richter scale. In this particular case it was our toilet that had not flushed properly in years.

I have always learned something new, even when I miserably failed, and that in itself was rewarding. There were numerous times that I had to crawl under the house and open the sewer line and insert a garden hose with an attachment that looked like a rubber bulb. Most of the time that worked in my favor; but I won't ever forget the time when my vigorous and impulsive nature wrecked havoc. The sewer line separated and I had to learn how to glue it back together. Since there was only an average of 18" to 24" of crawl space under the house, this was not a lot of fun.

For years I assumed that whenever the toilet - any toilet - did not flush properly, the problem must be in the sewer line. I always had a plunger nearby and sooner or later cleared the toilet of unwanted stuff. As the years went by, I became more aggressive with the plunger and also made additional trips down into the crawl space. But the problem persisted and as time went by, it got worse. Calling a plumber or rotor rooter man did not seem to be an option, especially since our large mortgage payments swallowed up the bulk of our funds. However, as time went on, my wife became very nervous when using our downstairs toilet. Something had to happen and fast. It seemed that our marriage might even be in jeopardy.

I tried to use my logical mind to solve the problem. At one point I did call a rotor rooter man who totally misdiagnosed the problem. He suggested we dig up the sewer line and modify the angle of the line. I am glad we did not let him do it, because that did not turn out to be the problem. I learned that "professionals" are not infallible. I also reasoned that maybe the problem started after a house next door was built and the neighbors tied into our sewer line. But that did not turn out to be the problem either.

I just could not see myself throwing in the towel and went for broke one day. On what I might call "D-Day", I got a garden hose, stuck it into the toilet as far as possible and turned the water on full blast. I thought to myself, "What do I have to lose except a flooded bathroom," and flushed the toilet at the same time. All the water went down the toilet nicely. There was that whirlpool action in the toilet bowl that I had not seen for years.

And all of a sudden the light went on. I thought to myself, "Maybe the little spout, where the water comes out and into the toilet bowl, is plugged up?" I tried to put my little finger into it and low and behold, it was plugged up. The water from the tank could only trickle into the toilet bowl so that the whirlpool action had not been triggered for years. I got a screw driver and cleared out the mineral deposits and low and behold, the toilet has been flushing properly ever since. The repair job only took ten minutes. I checked the other two toilets in the house. The mineral deposit were minor since those toilets were not used as frequently as our downstairs toilet.

I mentioned my "eureka" -" I found it solution" - to a plumber friend. He was amazed. He had never thought of or considered that mineral deposit could plug up the orifice, especially not in our area. He said, "Peter, I did not think there were any mineral deposits in our Lake Pagosa water system." What a joy it was to have something new and novel to share with our plumber friend Dennis and now, with our reading audience.

Here is the moral of this story. Keep on barking and don't forget to pray; sooner or later you will bark up the right tree if you don't quit. And don't be too quick to dial "911." That's the most expensive way to go. And if by chance this writer has saved you some money, let him know.

God bless you,
Peter D. Laue
Pagosa Springs, Colorado


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All writings by Peter, the Lord's Scribe and Storyteller and all paintings by Rebekah, the Lord's artist are copyright free.