Eye-searing Irony

"Thank the gods," I said to myself as I carried laundry down to the lake-less basement, "the leaking's finally stopped."

As if on cue, I heard dripping water.

I turned and found a refrigerator-size (and rapidly growing) puddle under the hot water heater.

The landlord, in a surprise turn of events, answered his phone on my first call.  "It's so funny, because I grew up in that house and I've never had problems with it, ever."

Well, when it rains.

More on this weather report as it develops.


Revenge of the Golgothan

Day Six: Tide rising.  So is the smell.  Prudence is telling me to go over to someone's house to shower, but I am just too lazy.  Going in.  Tell my boyfriend I love him.

Day Seven: Found out Upstairs Dude's toilet is connected to our shower.  Gurgling sounds invaded my dreams.  Still haven't reached the landlord.  Working up a good righteous anger for next call.

Day Eight:  Three Brothers are spending the weekend in our house.  Wondering if I should prepare them for the Septic Apocalypse or just Noah's Flood.  God help us all.

If I had kept a journal of the events at our apartment over the past week and a half, it would have looked like this.  We've had problems with our septic system since we moved in; most of you know some of it.  In response to Garrett's and my first notice of the perpetual puddle on the floor of the basement, the previous tenant and the landlord both assured us it was a leak from outside and that it was not serious.  Turns out, though, the water through which I was treading to get to the washer and the dryer was not rainwater.

I was changing the laundry one evening and I heard water rushing; the septic pipes run against the wall in the basement.  What I did not expect was a gush of water to spill out of a gaping four-inch hole in the main line right onto the table and floor.  I was struck dumb for a moment, then, almost dropping the armload of clothes I had, I flew up the stairs and drug Garrett down to see.  Yes indeed, boys and girls, everything from our bathroom and Upstairs Dude's bathroom was pouring down this one pipe and onto our basement floor.

This all began a little less than two weeks ago.  After several unsuccessful attempts to contact the landlord, I took matters into my own hands and called a plumber that despite his blazingly colorful language (even for a plumber), patched the hole well. 

Please note that the house in which Garrett and I live is very likely more than twice my age.  The pipes, then, have had about fifty years to get corroded and clogged.  Not a day after Ken the Cussing Plumber patched the yawning hole in the main line, I discovered a lesser leak.  It could wait a day.  Then, the toilet stopped flushing properly.  But with tough love from a plunger and choice words from yours truly, it accepted its lot.  That could wait a day too.  That night, I was awoken by violent and prolonged gurgling sounds coming from our shower drain.  These were caused by the flushing toilet from upstairs.  That could even wait.  The next morning, I discovered that our shower no longer drained and that our bathroom sink leaked.

That could not wait a day.

But it had to, because the next day was Saturday.  To throw some sprinkles on this pile of shit, Garrett and I had invited three Psi Brothers to spend the next two nights at our house, in addition to hosting a large party for the Brotherhood on Saturday night.

Everyone is well, so we don't have to worry about another apocalypse until 2012.  It got hairy for a few minutes during the party; since there was only one plunger, Garrett and I took turns jousting with the toilet.  Evidently it felt it was getting the rotten end of this whole deal.  I couldn't completely blame it until it gurgled irritably at one of the Brothers and freaked her out.  She hasn't used our toilet since then.

This morning I called the Ken the WonderPlumber and bless his jaded soul, he put off a few other calls for us.  He and his slack-jawed young assistant spent about an hour clanking around in our basement, cussing and roto-rooting our toilet (the hole in the floor to be exact; they had taken the toilet off its pipe).  The results according to Ken the Hero of the People: a three-year-old had assembled the plumbing in the entire house.  Tree roots had complicated the problem.  Ken had patched, unclogged and unrooted to the best of his ability, but the problem would never really be solved until the all the pipes were replaced. 

Let me take this moment to say how happy I am that I do not own this house.

Let me also take this moment to say how not forward I am looking to cleaning up the shitwater lake from our basement floor.  Anybody think Garrett could pull off a Moses move?


Oswego in Pictures IV

Who wouldn't want to live on Tenth And A Half Street?  Really.

The surf reminds me of Nags Head.

I tell whoever will listen at least once daily that I love the clouds in this area.  They say it's because of the lake.  I didn't really realize it before, but I couldn't imagine not living near a big water anymore.

Remember the railroad tracks?  They went through a neighborhood.

See them off to the left?  They cross someone's front yard and a street.

This is where they stop.  It's an abandoned something or other, complete with overgrown vacant lot, broken windows, bent and rusted fence, useless dangling padlock, and door beyond the fence swinging temptingly open on one hinge.

I just really like this photo.

Like I said, this town has personality.

The squirrel is not real.

 The town dump.  I wanted very badly to go in and snoop around, but prudence and a bunch of signs persuaded me not to.

I want this to be on the side of my house.


Oswego in Pictures III

Found this on the massive concrete supports under the bridge that spans across the Oswego Canal and also marks the center of town.

Taken from under the bridge, looking out over the canal to Lake Ontario in the distance.


I wish I could go inside this building.  I want to see if its insides are as warped as its outsides.   This is visible proof that I meant what I said about the town having personality.  They don't mutilate things in what they like to call "restoration efforts" and everything's stacked on top of everything else like a volcano lays down new rock, and if you look closely enough you can see all the strata down to the very first layer.

How does one get up to the doorway to enter said live music venue?  A friend suggested that this was the pogo stick entrance. 

One of the locks in the canal.  If you zoom in, you can just make out the reflections of the clouds on this patch of still water.

Best tag so far.  Comparable to the tag I found on a TV antenna at the top of Mt. Cargill in New Zealand: "Listen to your Mother."

I love the structure of this shot. 

I laughed out loud when I saw this one.  The taggers had tried to write one letter in each partition, but evidently been unable to reach out far enough to write the "S".  I climbed onto that ledge and tried to reach out; not even close.  Silly taggers.


Oswego in Pictures II

Away from the fort into the neighborhood, I ran into what gives this town its charm. Each house is shaped, colored, aged, surfaced, built, and kept differently. The siding of this one was textured aluminum.  There were some houses with clapboard, some with brick, some with cinderblock, some with stone, chipboard, logs, planks, tin, steel, all shapes of houses.  Some were painted blue, bright pink, yellow, green, rust, orange, and every garish color combination you can dream up.  Many had decorated their houses for Halloween or had painted murals on walls, on lightpoles, on those fake rocks you put over electric mains.  People had built makeshift stairs or ramps; one house even had a spiral metal staircase painted bright yellow leading up to a newly-built door right into the wall.  One house had a raised concrete parking platform built onto its side, accessible only from the street up the hill.  One house had a Dumpster parked right in its front driveway.  Many houses were tiny and cramped, the square-footage of their yards in the single digits, but some were huge, with lawns swallowing entire blocks and four-car garages.  And this was just in twelve blocks.

  Anyone who's read my recently deceased New Zealand blog will know that I have a fondness for graffiti as well as general urban decay.  I had to walk almost an hour to find this.  I always assume tags like this indicate that there is a group of artists that call themselves whatever is written, like Eros.  But really I have no idea, and when I start wondering what the tags mean, I end up with a new story I will probably never write.

I found the graffiti on the side of an abandoned/condenmed department store, sulking miserably in a corner of this massive overgrown parking lot.  I got a nice view of the tops of the town, because the lot stood on a plateau splayed out over the streets.

Chapel Hill has blue fire engines, Oswego has yellow ones.  The rest of the country's are red.  I personally would prefer green ones.

Did I mention I love urban decay and the juxtaposition of old and new architecture in a single area?  This photo of the Gothic spire soaring above all these worn-out apartment buildings just rings my chimes.

This is a gorgeous little tunnel and a gorgeous domed building which I believe is a historic library of some sort.  But the tunnel is part of a historic walkabout that teeters on the edge of "historic restoration", but since they didn't actually destory anything historic to pave this path, it's all right.  Plus, who does not love tunnels?

This is only one of its kind I've seen so far, but I have seen little of the town.

This church, I believe it was, sat proudly on the corner of a residential street.  There were a lot of buildings like it that I didn't get a chance to photograph because the community watch folks wouldn't take too kindly to a person in a form-obscuring hoodie with her hood up, army fatigues and sunglasses walking down their neighborhood streets snapping pictures every few seconds.  But that's the beauty of it, yeah?  I mean, who has Gothic churches and 1840s shirtwaist factories in their neighborhoods?  It's like house house house house Gothic cathedral house house 1848 Ladies Boarding School house house house... you just don't see that in the cookiecutter Southern neighborhoods.

I went under the main bridge that marks the center of Oswego town.  This bridge spans the Oswego Canal.  I don't think I was supposed to be here either, but clearly folks have been here before me.

The noise from the cars going over the bridge was deafening.  The looks I got from the workmen at the station off camera to the left were no less an assault on the senses.

Oswego in Pictures I

This is Garrett's and my place.  We rent the bottom floor, and I adore it.  I will post pictures when we have everything settled in and it's not just full of boxes.

We have a horse in our yard.  It was meant to be.

Garrett says the unofficial title of the town is "The Land of the Steel Sky", but I prefer "The Land of the Floofy Clouds That Dump Rain/Snow On You At Awkward Times".  I occasionally see glimpses of that sweet Carolina blue.


Oswego is home to Fort Ontario, about which I will tell you in another entry.  But this abandoned lot belongs to the fort, and I was not allowed to be on it.  These unused railroad tracks started about thirty feet back from the camera and ended fifty or so feet before the water.  And yes, out there beyond the trees is Lake Ontario.  I walked two blocks from my house to take this photo.  The wind was bracing.

There is something rougher, more romantic about Northern lighthouses that our Southern counterparts just don't have.  I think it's because the South doesn't get freezing winter storms with raging squalls and icy winds that will whip you into a case of hypothermia in a matter of seconds.

Back beyond the fence is the abandoned lot and the railroad tracks.  I am standing on another, more used set of tracks and behind me is the water.  I shouldn't have been on these tracks or the rickety wooden platform where I took the lighthouse picture, but I cannot resist the other side of a broken fence.

I adore the color gradation in this photo.  From the bottom: brown/red, green, green/blue, blue, grey.  See I can be artsy-fartsy with something other than words!

Now I really wasn't supposed to be here either.  But I heard a Jeep calling and had to come see.