I set out yesterday morning about 9AM to do some work on my sprinkler system. There are some dry spots in the yard. Over the years, I’ve learned that having a sprinker system with a fancy timer and spray heads that pop up magically in the yard is far from a zero-maintenance system. The grass eventually grows over the heads and you have to dig the heads up from time to time, and sometimes dig them up completely and replace them.

As soon as I turned on the system to note which sprinklers needed work, I instead noticed that it didn’t turn on at all. The fuse was blown, and luckily I had several spares. I eventually figured out that whenever I turned on zone 1 (of 5), it blew the fuse. This happened a few years back, and I remembered that I had to replace the solenoid (the switch that opens and closes the valve) for that zone. The fun part, I remembered, was finding the solenoid. They’re buried underground, and I remembered that it was a son of a bitch to find them.

To my pleasant surprise, after less than half an hour I found the first one, which sadly wasn’t zone 1. Right next to it were two more, which of course were also not zone 1. I then spent until, oh, 2PM digging and poking various parts of the front and back yard with a shovel and a pitchfork to try and find the plastic valve canister for zone 1 (or zone 5, for that matter).

Finally, pissed off and exhausted, I gave up looking. I disconnected the wire for zone 1, which runs part of the backyard which doesn’t need much water anyway. As punishment for hiding its valve, it can dry up and die (that seemed like sound logic at the time, at least). So I moved on to trying to repair some sprinklers in the front yard, so that I could actually accomplish something at the end of the day.

Digging up the second or third sprinkler head, about an hour later, I uncovered what looked like a root. No, wait, that’s a cable. Oh crap. It was in the area where the cable company’s wire runs to the house. But there was still hope; over the years I’ve lived here, that cable has been re-run about three times, so there are probably four of them buried in the yard, only one of which is actually doing something. I ran into the house, and of course, I cut through the real one. It was buried all of two inches underground. I’m surprised someone didn’t break it by walking on my grass.

The one upshot to all of this was when I called the cable company. I told them I cut through the cable and needed someone to come out and fix it. I figured they would say something like, “call before you dig, idiot. We’ll be out at Thanksgiving to run a new one.” Instead, they said someone would be out today (Sunday!) and that I didn’t even need to be home. What’s more, they didn’t even call me an idiot (but they probably thought it). So now I’m back online, and my panic attack of missing the first episode of this season of Lost (Wednesday night) is over.

Through all this, I’ve learned a few things: call before you dig (or at least be really damn careful), bury cables deep (or maybe spring for some conduit with part of the $100+/month I pay for cable service), and now I know why some people like to live in condos.