I have done battle with the tub drain, and I have emerged victorious!
Becoming self-reliant is sure inconvenient. But I've taken another step in that direction today.
Being out of school for Christmas break, the kids were reveling in the prospect of a "play bath." Normally they have a time limit---"get in, get clean, get out" is our motto. But I didn't see the harm in letting them wallow in a clean tub for a while, since things to do are already in short supply after 3 days out of school.
Little did I know that the first child's play bath would include...marbles. I know a cold chill ran down your spine as you realized the implications of this, dear reader. And yes, the implications came to pass at the end of the first play bath. An indeterminate number of marbles rolled down the drain.
Fishing with my fingers, I was able to get three marbles out, amazingly enough. But I could feel more with the tips of my fingers as I strained to reach into the drain, my knuckles bruised from trying to push just....a little....bit.....farther. But alas, it was no use.
So, I plugged the drain and filled it for the next child's play bath. And during the bath, I plotted. I listened for indications that the bath was coming to an end, and pounced before the drain plug could be removed. In my hands I weilded a plumber's helper. It was my theory that the drain trap would prevent the marbles from going all the way down (hopefully), and on the up-stroke I could suck those puppies out of there. I couldn't let the water completely drain, or it might push them farther down, and besides, the water would help create a better suction around the rubber of the tool and the tub floor.
Pushing slowly down, so as to not force the marbles yet farther away from my waiting hands, I paused for an anxious second, and then pulled with all my might. I heard a click and a rattle! With a thrill of hope I realized, the marbles were out of the reach of my fingers, but within reach of the suction I was creating! With a frenzy of pumping, I heard more clicks and rattles, and pulled the plumber's helper up with a mighty last pull and quickly replaced it to cover the drain lest the little sucker could roll back down into it's hiding place. And there, lolling against the side of the black rubber, was a marble! WOOHOO, victory was MINE!
For the next half-hour, I repeated my trick and recovered a total of four marbles from the drain, and last of all, the cap to the hot/cold water handle. Apparently this had gone down first, and kept the marbles from rolling away down the pipe to clog it in some other, completely inaccessible place. Serendipity is a lovely thing.
Today I feel invincible! Hey, if I can get a total of seven marbles and a plastic cap out of a tub drain, I can do anything!