The morning's festivities--which had primarily consisted of Kevin going "No, your room isn't clean yet! No, that's NOT clean enough!" at his offspring, who would then take twenty minutes to pick up two pieces of paper and ask again--were kicked into high gear when I turned on the shower and the hot water peaked at around fifty degrees.
Kevin abandoned his efforts in the kid's room, went outsidee, and flung open the crawlspace door. He gazed down at Niagara Falls, which had previously been the water heater. I joined him, watching water sheeting down over all the electrical work.
"I think it's dead," he said.
I bowed to his superior expertise. (For all I know, that's what they're SUPPOSED to look like, although the one at my old apartment had been significantly less soggy whenever I encountered it.)
We went to Lowes. There we discovered that hot water heaters are actually pretty cheap, the problem is getting someone to install it. The guy at Lowes recommended trying to find a private plumber, if we wanted a hot shower any time in the next week. This required us to buy the hot water heater and truck it home.
The Vibrator proved its worth, barely a week after purchase, as the back is actually large enough (barely!) to accomodate a 40-gallon hot water heater, once the seats are folded down. Took Kevin and kids home to facilitate said seat folding, came back, got the heater, loaded up the car, drove home. Kevin consulted with his exceedingly handy uncle Roy, assessed the situation, and said "Three wires, two pipes, no welding--I can do this."
And so, after I went back to Lowes for a third time for two chunks of metal called "3/4 inch brass nipples,"* he did the deed. I had to help haul the old heater out and wrangle the new one in, but Kevin did all the bits that involved him kneeling in the spider infested crawlspace, and other than a brief moment where my right middle finger got caught between hot water heater and sill, causing me to rend the air with loud obscenity,** it went well. And he did indeed get everything hooked up. It took awhile, and I amused myself by ripping out all the spent vegetable plants, and putting in two varieties of salvia. (Every time I went to Lowes, I got a plant. I mean, I was RIGHT THERE...) (I have become one of those people who collect salvias, I suspect. They're the perfect plant for me--they're tough enough not to die under my benign neglect, the most they ask is deadheading, which is good, because it's the most I know how to do, and birds and bees love them. Downside, most of them aren't natives, but as long as I avoid the blatantly invasive varieties, I'm comfortable with it. Beats the heck outa roses, anyhow...) We're growing a much smaller vegetable garden next year--the only things we wound up using were roma tomatoes and jalapeno peppers. The jalapenos did great in pots, and we're going to try the roma in a really BIG pot next year, since putting it in the ground overwhelmed us with produce***, so I think the garden bed is going to be a sage collection and basil bed. (We did use a fair bit of basil.) If I get ambitious, I may try to put a grape in and grow it up the railing...well, anyway.
So I gardened and ripped out spent plants and picked up squashy rotten tomatoes (yay goathide gloves!) and Kevin banged around under the house and occasionally asked me to hand him a wrench or a screwdriver. And lo! An hour later, the faucet was turned on, and we waited with bated breath, and then...HOT WATER!
And there was much rejoicing and whooping, which set the beagle off, which set the border collie off, and Kevin and I did victory dances and much mutual assurance about who da man. As far as I'm concerned, what he did was black magic, and we got hot water right away instead of waiting a week and paying somebody a bizillion dollars.
Not how we wanted to spend Saturday, but there's something about the deep satisfaction of having put in a good day's labor and actually accomplished something tangible...
*Heh heh heh...yes, I'm twelve.
**Not broken, thankfully, just a nasty bone bruise. Packed it in ice once we were done, and now it's only sore when I rub it.
***We ate a LOT of homemade caprese. By next summer I'll probably be craving it again, but by about mid-August, we were done. About half as big a plant would be ideal...