Holiday Mash-Up: Garbage Disposal Installation and the Snowflake Lane Parade

Downtown Bellevue Square, Bellevue, WA. Snowflake Lane all lit up. Toy soldier decoration in the foreground.  Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

The best, most wonderful torque-filled, grinding piece of magic arrived in the mail the other day, and I couldn’t wait to attach it to my kitchen sink.

“The garbage disposal is here!” I texted Nate, when it arrived.

In fact, it was here on the same weekend that we were planning to kick up our heels at the Snowflake Lane celebration in Bellevue, Washington.  I was so excited about these festive events that I couldn’t decide which one to write about, so I’m doing a mash-up.  I’m writing about both of these things.  So, ring, ring, ring, ring those merry bells and hang onto your fiber gaskets!  There’s room for both the “Whirlaway 191 model garbage disposal” and a holiday parade on this blog.

The Garbage Disposal:

The new garbage disposal, fresh out of the box. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy.

If you are a garbage disposal around Christmas time in my house, you should be scared, because you are about die.  I have a habit of breaking garbage disposals during the winter holidays.  One year in our Ohio house, I was making rum balls and, instead of soaking the cookie mixture in a bottle of rum like a savage, I was measuring it out in shot glasses and sampling shots here and there to make sure that the rum was of “good quality.”  (It always is.)  In any case, the shot glass ended up down the sink, so when I ran the garbage disposal, I heard a funny noise.  Naturally, I stopped running the disposal, and then I ran it again two more times to make sure that the noise really was “strange” sounding enough to be alarmed. Soon, I was very alarmed.  The garbage disposal was broken, and I couldn’t find my shot glass. I came clean right away to Nate. He was not surprised.  Instead, he went to the store, bought a new disposal, and installed it.

Last Wednesday, I’m not sure I broke the disposal all by myself. There were previous owners for our present house in Washington, and the bottom of the disposal was already rusted when we moved in.  However, right before my book club meeting on Wednesday night, the old Whirlaway 191 in our house whirled for the last time, a screw came lose, and the bottom fell out.  In other words, the thing just whirl-rusted away.  Of course, Nate was at work, so I texted him:

“Sh$@!” The garbage disposal is broken, and it’s book club night. (Insert poop emoji.)  Please don’t fix it tonight. In fact, we should call a plumber. I’ll bet we won’t even get the old one out.”

When Nate got home, he surveyed the damage, and decided that we didn’t need a plumber. A plumber would cost upwards of $600. Then, he discovered that not one hardware store nearby carried the model we needed. He’d have to order it, and it wouldn’t come in for a week.

“That’s okay. Back in the pioneer days, I used to live without a garbage disposal. We’ll just wrap things in towels, throw them in the trash, and Lysol the heck out of the place,” I told him.

That plan worked out very well for the book club and every day after. In fact, I thought this would be my new way of existing because, when moving into previously owned houses, Nate and I have experienced nightmares just repairing “simple” things.  I figured that Nate would optimistically and aggressively approach this project only to discover that someone along the way wired the electricity for the kitchen through the garbage disposal. In other words, would we discover that the ability to use the microwave, dishwasher, range, and refrigerator hinged on that one Whirlaway 191?

That’s why, when Nate, Alex, the cat, and I all eagerly went to the kitchen with our brand new Whirlaway 191, I said, “Let’s just plan on maybe 4-8 hours to get the old one out, right?”

But I was wrong.  It didn’t take much more than an hour from start to finish and it involves following four easy steps:

–Unpack the thing and turn all of the parts around.

–Take everything out from underneath the sink.

–Unplug the old garbage disposal.

–Take out the old garbage disposal by watching a family member (Nate) unscrew some screws, while lying on their back in a very uncomfortable position. (Preferably, the cat should be screaming for attention and other family members (Cecilia and Alex) should get distracted and forget to hold the flashlight steady—or at all.)  Then, someone else (like Alex), should crawl under the sink, face up, and remove something that looks like a “radiator clamp for the car.”  There’s also some kind of hose that connects to the dishwasher. When you watch your family member disconnect this hose, there will be lots of surprised yelling. Have a cup nearby to catch skanky water from the hose.  Fashion a tool from cardboard at first and then old hangers to clean out the hose.  There’s more stuff to unscrew and pull apart, including an L-shaped pipe of sorts that has to be matched up in size and shape to the new L-shaped pipe, which is usually much longer than it should be. It has to be cut.  Scissors won’t work. Watch your family member precariously saw the plastic tubing “in the air” without a flat surface to work on.  Suggest they find a flat surface so that they don’t saw their hand off.  Attach the L-shaped part to the sink somehow.  Work really hard to remove the upper part of the disposal, which has been attached with a rubber gasket AND putty because the last owners couldn’t follow directions. Nate: “You should not use BOTH the rubber gasket AND the putty. It’s one or the other! One or the other!” Finally get the old one out and put the new one in. The fiber gasket goes under the sink, the supporting ring is next. Then some other kind of ring and the rubber gasket.  Remove the stopper from the “nose-shaped” thing on the new unit.  Snap everything into place and then screw all of the screws back in.  Fill up the sink a few times to make sure nothing is leaking. Plug in the garbage disposal and whirl, whirl, whirl away.

The Snowflake Lane Parade, Bellevue Square, Washington

The garbage disposal wasn’t the only thing whirling away on Saturday night.  At the Snowflake Lane Parade, the skies churned out a steady rain, which fueled enormous soap bubble blobs of “snow” that plopped down on all of the spectators. (The soap bubble snow is part of the show, but the rain made the flakes spectacularly and somewhat menacingly large.) Here are other things that whirled:  the umbrellas the dancers were carrying, the other spectators in the crowd, and my head.  This year, I got a close-up view of the entire parade, and Alex, who stood next to me, was right there to cheer on a friend of his who auditioned for and got the part of one of the Snowflake Lane dancers.  I actually considered auditioning to dance in this parade, as a kind of stunt for my blog. I mistakenly believed that the dance consisted of lots of pretty poses and a few kicks. My plan was to memorize the routine and give it a shot maybe, but I realized that there is a lot of jumping around in high-heeled boots on wet streets filled with soap bubbles—not just once—but every night from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.  That ship, fueled by plushy pandas and Rudolph’s nose, has sailed for me—blasting by on a sea of bubbles. Instead, I’m dreaming of a one third horse-powered “sleigh” (garbage disposal) that eats food scraps and warns me if I’m about to drop a shot glass into its delicate innards.

Your Turn:  What usually breaks at an inopportune time?  Do you fix it or call in someone to repair it?  Discuss below in the comments.


23 thoughts on “Holiday Mash-Up: Garbage Disposal Installation and the Snowflake Lane Parade

  1. Ovens at Thanksgiving seems to be my issue! Has happened more than once and with Christmas right on the heels making Christmas cookies for the school holidays was a bit stressful. Fingers crossed, it hasn’t happened in many years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Cecilia! I had to comment on this one – for three years in a row, my husband managed to burn up our microwave(s) and always on Christmas Eve day! For some reason he lost his common sense for three years and put metal coffee mugs in the microwave and, well, you can just imagine! Smoke, black stuff, and stink all through the house! But, probably the best (worst) was Thanksgiving Day, 2017 – the pipe under the patio from the house to the septic system – broke and flooded my entire basement and first floor – all while people were coming for dinner. “Nuf said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no! I did once put a mug with metal paint around the rim into a microwave oven. It made terrifying noises and sparks flew. I promptly threw that mug out. The septic system thing though–wow! I can only imagine. Thanks for stopping by!


  3. Very impressed you managed to install this and without getting frustrated and trying it out on the cat. When I was a kid, it was traditional to pop a fuse, when the convection oven, blender, etc were all going full blast, in a house with antique wiring. This didn’t require a repair, but someone had to go outside and dig out the entrance to the cellar, to replace the fuse, repeatedly. Sometimes I’d try to make this happen in purpose, because it would also turn off the stereo, when the Perry Como albums had gotten too annoying. After a couple of hours, I think I’d rather listen to a garbage disposal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Replacing my home’s garbage disposal last year was one of the most satisfying things that I’ve done in years. It’s good for the soul to fix things like that.

    Now it’s back to painting, the annual junk yard run (to drop stuff off, not to pick up), take books in to exchange for credit at the used book store, recycle all the beer bottles from last year, and finally, a closet clean in a weak effort to simplify.

    Happy New Year, hey?

    Liked by 1 person

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