Three nights past I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth before bed. In the process, I noticed that the water was not going down the sink drain. Have you been there? So I dutifully went to the closet, took out a bottle of Drano and dumped a good supply down the sink drain. I waited half an hour. Then, as instructed on the bottle, I heated water and put a follow-up dose of boiling water down the drain–still clogged. I repeated the process another time, but no success.

That night, I went to bed and contemplated my next step for clearing the drain. I could call a plumber in the morning–I can afford the cost–but I am the son of a steelworker, the machinist, from Midland, Pennsylvania who built his own home. Solving practical, everyday problems was important to my father. So in the morning, I went out to the garage and found my little used vice-grip pliers and went back to the bathroom to take apart the trap under the sink.

When you are seventy-seven years old, it is not easy to work under a bathroom sink. Despite the rusted connectors, I was able to disassemble pipes and found that the trap was clear. This meant the clog was further into the system of drain pipes. I found myself staring at the dark end of a pipe that disappeared into the bathroom wall. Using a piece of wire, I was able to discover that the pipe went through the wall and turned downward.

So there I lay on the bathroom floor pondering my household problem–not so different from the problem of looking down the dark hole when you are creating a story. I reasoned that I needed to find a way to inject more of my Drano through the wall and down the pipe. But how do I do that?

Here, I had the perspicacity to climb out from under the sink and consult with the other side of the brain trust that lives at 68 Clemens Road. I went to Nancy, my wife, and explained my problem. She thought a moment and said, “Why don’t you try the turkey baster! And I have an old tea kettle that holds a gallon of water. You will need a lot of hot water.” Over twenty years of marriage, our anniversary will be May 1, I have learned to listen and follow-up with actions based my wife’s solutions to life’s problems big and small.

There was a dramatic climax to our household experiment. With added contortions, I managed to squeeze ten shots of Drano down the offending pipe and reassembled the trap. Then, after waiting half an hour again, I gorged the sink drain with boiling hot water–waited and waited–the water did not disappear down the drain. Finally, I went back to Nancy and said, “It’s not working, better get the plumber’s telephone number.” Then, I went back to the bathroom to pick up my tools…and there I saw it….the seas had parted through the grace of God, Nancy Wicklund Gray’s powers of reason and my minimal plumbing skills–the drain for our bathroom sink was working again!

I have spent a life creating stories; and as an old man, I am trying to connect my creative energy to my spiritual journey in life. Nevertheless, I enjoy nothing more than the opportunity to discover the same creative energy in the practical, every day journey of life.

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