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Friday, October 9, 2009

This and That: The Silverware in the Drain

We have an old house; a Queen Anne Victorian-era behemoth built somewhere around 1886-1887. Like most folks who own a Victorian house, we have an old kitchen. Usually the kitchen is the last (and most difficult) room in a Victorian house to be restored, not to mention expensive.

I've seen worse kitchens. Ours, at least, has the original hardwood floor; narrow plank maple like the rest of the house. It used to be covered by about 6 layers of linoleum, according to the previous owners, who were the ones who had it removed. The ceiling is a bizarre looking stucco. The walls, at least, have beadboard wainscoting, which isn't bad. The cabinets are vintage steel cabinets from the 1930s-1940s; I kid you not.  Most people find the steel cabinets, which are a somewhat sickly looking cream color, "charming".  All in all, the kitchen has a strange, retro 1940s look to it, which isn't as bad as some I've seen, but the steel cabinets are annoying, the lack of counter space and modern conveniences makes cooking somewhat more of a chore than necessary, and I'd kill to have more cabinet space for all my cookery stuff.

One of the few things I like about the kitchen is the sink. It's only a single sink, but it's quite large and deep and made of heavy, old porcelain, like an old-fashioned bathtub. The sink is probably about the same age as the cabinets, judging from the style; 1930s most likely. It is similar to the popular "farmhouse"-style sinks that I am seeing everywhere now. The scary thing about the sink, however, is the drain. It is monstrously huge. And even though it has a meshy drain cover, if the strainer thing is not in place, it's just a big giant hole, like the throat of a whale. There is no protective cross-hatch of metal in the drain pipe like most of them have today. I have sometimes been fearful that my small juice glasses actually might fall down the drain; it is seriously that large. Erik, of course, says that I am exaggerating; the drain hole isn't quite big enough for our juice glasses to fall in, but I personally think it's pretty damn close!

Despite being careful to always keep the drain cover over the un-naturally huge drain hole, inevitably it will sometimes not be in place, and all manner of gunk goes down, which recently resulted in our drain becoming clogged. There is a short distance of pipe before it takes a sharp bend, and looking into the drain was like trying to peer into the deepest, darkest part of Hell, so when my Liquid Plum-R failed to get the drain flowing as well as I'd like, I took a flashlight and looked down. I could see, despite a lot of crud on it, what looked like a fork way down in the pipe, caught in where the pipe takes a sharp bend. It was too far down to reach with my hand or fingers (which actually do fit pretty well into the giant drain hole) or even a long handled spoon, so I improvised and used a bent wire hanger. I made a small loop on the end to snag the fork and was able to drag it up far enough where I could grab it with the BBQ tongs. Yes. I used BBQ tongs. After this success, I once again peered down into the drain with the flashlight and was astonished to see another item that had been underneath the fork. It appeared to be yet another fork! Once again, the coat hanger and BBQ tongs did the trick and once again, I raised up a pretty gross and gunked up fork from the recesses of the world's largest drain hole.
However, I was not done yet, I soon realized! My third inspection of the drain hole via flashlight, revealed that there was even one more piece of silverware down there. This one too, turned out to be another fork; so all in all, we had three forks crammed down into the drain, which is probably why we got a plugged drain
to begin with. I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier. The first two forks, while dirty and full of crud, were clearly of the same silverware pattern as the rest of my flatware, but the third and last one, was not. It had clearly belonged to someone else who had lived here before us and judging from the pitted, rusted and generally degraded look of the fork, it must have been in there for quite some time; probably it had fell into the drain during the tenure of the previous, previous owners.

Erik was with me during the fork-rescue expedition (it was actually his idea to use the coat hanger), but I couldn't resist exclaiming, "A-ha!" to him after we retrieved our dubious booty from the drain, in my smug attempt to prove to him that my worries of us losing items down the gigantic drain hole, like silverware (and possibly juice glasses) was not entirely unfounded.

Above: The fork-eating drain in our sink. Note: it does not appear large in this picture, but it is, I assure you!

1 comment:

Mariette said...

Dearest Katie,

Just found this under your present blog and went to read it. Could not believe that no-one commented on that one...
You ARE so right about this diameter drain hole. It can easily swallow up silver ware and other smaller items.
Being it a single sink only, makes it even harder to avoid as you rinse and do everything else in there as well.
Wish you good luck and hope you found meanwhile something to better plug in for safety.

Quite interesting read!

Have a great weekend,