It happened again. I missed writing my blog last week, but I have a good excuse.

A sewer pipe cracked in our crawl space.

So for our second night at a hotel I had quickly grabbed my laptop to give you a harrowing play-by-play of our saga of methane gas and uncooperative insurance adjusters.

Except I forgot my mouse. And I can’t turn the built-in pad back on without the mouse. I worked the next two days, so once again a week went by without a post.

It always could have been worse.

The pipe got replaced and the system is back up and running. Clean-up IS actually covered by our insurance, so at least that will be happening soon. And the smell is now mainly in the garage by the access to the crawl space.

Our minds have definitely been distracted from other more important things, like Dear Husband’s hip replacement surgery that’s happening tomorrow. (Not ready to talk about that yet, but I’m sure you’ll hear more soon.)

As I write this it’s almost the end of what would have been my dad’s 88th birthday. And all day I’ve been thinking about how he would have handled our little emergency.

If he was at all able physically he would probably have at the least spread some lime under our house like they used to do when the outhouses of his youth got too toxic. Or headed down with a shovel and bucket to start digging up the contaminated soil where dirty water had spread over about half our crawl space.

There were many projects Dad tackled that were far beyond his expertise, but that never stopped him. He was always willing to pitch in and work hard at any job that needed doing, in our home or for a neighbor or church member. If it could save someone some money he always felt it was worth a shot to try. No experience necessary.

Our current situation reminded me of two of the most distasteful jobs he ever tackled. Because of course when he started in on a project he expected us kids to help him. We worked cheap.

Like the house my family lives in, my childhood home had a septic tank and leach field. The house was built in the early 1900’s and the tiles in the leach field were made of clay. After many years the effects of tree roots and the pressure of many feet and lawn mowers and the occasional car or truck driving over that part of the yard had broken down tiles somewhere in the labyrinthine system.

If you’ve ever had a septic tank, you know that it is actually not hard to tell where the leach field is. It’s the lines of greener grass that snake back and forth across a yard. I do not remember him letting me in on his strategy, but I assume Dad looked for the green line to suddenly end because the waste water could no longer work its way through the pipes.

Or maybe not. Because it seemed like we dug all over the back yard!

Dad actually did most of the heavy shoveling, then us kids had to help him replace broken tiles and scoop gunk out of the rest. We filled buckets with thick, smelly sludge, and I think we then dumped it over the fence into the field behind our property.

Natural compost.

Along the same lines, I’ll never forget the day I got home from a two-week camping trip to Wyoming with the neighbors in 1976. I was done with being a wanderer and dying for a home-cooked meal that did not involve hot dogs or lukewarm lunch meat. I had presents for everyone, souvenirs from Yellowstone/Grand Teton or the Black Hills, the Badlands, and Buffalo Bill Cody’s ranch. I had rocks from every state we traveled through.

I had written a script in my mind that involved dramatic expressions of how much they had all missed me and how they couldn’t wait to pamper me.

So when I walked over from the neighbor’s driveway with my bags I was shocked to hear Dad’s voice coming from under the house. “Throw some old clothes on and help us here!”

Very sentimental.

They were inside the cistern, which is a concrete room under the house where the water from the downspouts collected. We used that water for things other than cooking and drinking. I’m really not sure how the pipes were connected, but I knew there were times we had the cistern “turned on” and other times the well was on.

After many years all the leaves and bugs and whatever else washed down in the rains had decomposed and settled into the bottom. I’m guessing it had built up high enough that it was impeding the flow of water out of the cistern through the pipes.

It was time to muck it out.

The only way a person could get in or out of the cistern was to take the small window out of the foundation. And crawl in.

Fortunately for me there were already enough people inside the underground room, shoveling the muck into buckets. They needed me to pull them up with a rope, then carry the buckets to the fence and dump them in the field.

Are you noticing a theme with Dad’s projects?

And I’m sure they were the same buckets.

In fact, I think I have a couple of those buckets in my garage or barn.

And I sure wish Dad was still around to laugh about this latest bump in the road in my life. He’d get a kick out of it. And I’d love telling him all the details.

It wouldn’t take him long to hunt down one of those buckets and a shovel.

And I would love nothing more than to tackle another filthy job, side by side with my daddy.