a thank you note to our lawn

sewer work

Hey there!

Just wanted to thank you for being so understanding when all those trucks, several workmen, and a back hoe recently tore you to shreds.

It must have been a shock to experience such a violent upheaval – if you were confused, just know that we were too. We didn’t want this to happen to you: after all, Rob has spent countless hours tending to your every need, grooming you, and generally helping you to become the best you can be. And I? Well, I hope you have appreciated my words of encouragement and my heartfelt compliments over the years. Have I ever told you that when we first moved here from the South Bronx (three years ago this week) I gazed out the windows lovingly and with disbelief for hours? “So green,” I repeated dreamily. It was amazing to me that I owned a house with a yard boasting a handsome layer of healthy grass. Crazy!

What happened this past month is still a bit hazy, and more than a little upsetting, but you deserve at least a few details. It started with a wet stain on the cement wall of our unfinished basement. Our plumber had a few theories, but he first outlined the stain with chalk as if it were a crime scene. This was to see if the wet spot would grow. It did.

wet stain basement wall

Next, a sewer expert with a special camera came to perform what was essentially a colonoscopy on our house. (Shout out to friends Ira and Tempeh for this perfect analogy/imagery.) Entering through our guest bathroom toilet, he could see all the plumbing in the house leading to the city sewer lines, EXCEPT those from the kitchen sink and dishwasher. Sure enough, when we ran the sink for a full (and, yup, very wasteful) 20 minutes, the spot actually began to drip. The diagnosis was not definitive, but something was definitely amiss – a pipe leading from the kitchen was broken, or clogged, or was never installed correctly. The upshot was that waste water was pooling under our slab and collecting behind that wall. Those pipes would have to be re-routed out to the street. The good news is that this waste was not coming from a toilet (the thought of this made us throw up in our mouths a few times.) The other good news is that they weren’t going to have to tear up our house. The bad news? They were going to have to dig a long trench about four feet deep and take an XL bite out of our bank account.

We aren’t strangers to plumbing issues – in fact I tried to address one in a former post. As always, we knew to call in second opinions, we researched the issue as much as we could.Β  We asked around for info and recommendations. We hemmed. We hawed. The spot got bigger. I always thought it would be fun to have a pool – but not under our house.

We finally gave the plumber the green light. We extracted funds from a few select accounts in the Cayman Islands. Then we braced ourselves.

Rob was at work the day of the big dig. He requested photo documentation throughout the day which I provided, until I decided it was best not to.

sewer dig

“It’s just better that you don’t see this,” I said to him over the phone. I knew it would break his heart to see you in this state.

new plumbing

To comfort and entertain myself, I began calling out the phrase, “Torn Asunder!” in biblical tones, referring to both you, and to several thousand dollars of our hard earned cash. TORN ASUNDER! This didn’t exactly make sense but it did make me feel better.

plumbing lawn

Anyway, we are impressed with the quiet dignity you displayed throughout this traumatic event. And even more so, we are impressed with how quickly you bounced back with the help of just a mere sprinkling grass seed. This is only a week later, wow:

grass seed

This little guy asked if I would relay his approval and gratitude as well:

baby bunny

I’d like to say that we’ll never let anything like this happen to you again…but life and homeownership are uncertain and we’d hate to make a promise we can’t keep. Just know that we appreciate all you do – keep up the great work.


Jocelyn, Rob, and Ian


Have you thanked your lawn (or cursed your plumbing) lately?

Categories: Garden, Shelter

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. I feel for you!! We’ve need to have a number of expensive house things done in the last few years…including having our 65-year-old sewer line replaced. Glad your problem got figured out and the lawn is healing!!

    • Oh, yikes, I guess vintage pipes just don’t have “retro charm”…It hurts to throw a lot of cash at these things that aren’t fun/cute/stylish, ha! πŸ™‚

  2. Our sympathies! We just had a leak fixed under the kitchen sink, but nothing in the sink cabinet was wet. It was down in the garage that we first noticed the water. Thought it was the car air-conditioning doing it’s thing. Never looked up, until the water never evaporated. Looked up. Paul kept cutting bigger and bigger sheetrock holes, pulling out drenched insulation. Of course, your lawn looks wonderful again; we still have the holes in the sheet rock, and missing insulation. But, one of these days, it will be fixed. The plumber did come; some little old pipe that wasn’t replaced in the new work we just had completed. He didn’t charge us for the visit! Your account was charming! Best, Wendy

    • Houses are so mysterious! Or at least to me…Yup, we have some holes/bumps/bruises here and there…

      Nice that the plumber didn’t charge – that is a rare occurrence πŸ™‚

  3. Booooo. Damn stupid water leaks. I won’t even get into what one tiny unproperly sealed faucet did to our flooring in our old condo. Tiny. And if there is a crack it will find a way to ruin lawns and floors and ugh. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that.

    • Oh yikes. For all we know this was a tiny crack/leak too! Not even sure when this stain showed up since I avoid my scary spider den basement as much as possible…We do feel fortunate that the inside of our house didn’t get messed up too badly!

  4. Woah! I can totally empathize with the lawn “torn asunder” thing.. We had a big year for replanting grass (and going broke, right?!) last year. Home ownership at its best. πŸ™‚

    P.S. Catching up on your blog today! πŸ™‚

    • You know your grass seed, indeed! πŸ™‚ I’m so impressed with how well this has come back – it’s now 2 weeks later and you can barely tell anything happened!! Now the bank acct is a whole other story… πŸ™‚

  5. Oh my goodness… we are about to go through something similar. Actually ours is not a plumbing issue so much as it is a drainage issue… like all of our neighbors yards drain into our yard and everything is hitting one of our sub walls. It’s starting to leak through and we’ve drawn the chalk outline to determine if the leak is growing. It is.

    Our lawn will need a sympathy note from yours. Fingers crossed it will bounce back as well as yours did.

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