A Cold, Naked Man and His Nefa Valve Down Under

shower head

My pathetic shower

Chronically low water pressure and this stupid shower head have been the bane of my existence for 15 years.

Things are bad enough during the summer months: I defy you to get all the soap off your body, even if you push right up against the wall to get directly under the shower head.

But winter is the worst: a fat man Down Under could catch his death of cold while simply trying to take a shower.

“That’s just not right, and something has to be done!”

I came up with this battle cry recently because a) I enjoyed long and luxurious hot showers in ‘Merica, and, b) it is freeking cold in New Zealand, and I am way too old to get frostbite on my dangly bits.

Besides, if the G.M. Finance can spend up large on her bathroom renovation project — which involves painting and tiling and sanding and who knows what else — I can get the damn shower fixed.

There, I said it.

To which the G.M. Finance responded, aloud or implied, it matters not:  “I’m doing all this bathroom renovation by myself.  Can you fix the shower yourself ?”

To which I replied, aloud or implied, this also matters not: “Who’s your Daddy, baby?  I am Mr. D.I.Y.”

This is called “male posturing”.


I have mentioned before that my great grandfather was the go-to guy for all blacksmithing work done a century ago in Indian Territory.  My grandfather and my Dad had the same skills — they could build or fix just about anything with their own two hands.

Then there’s me.  When I do home repairs, they tend to turn out like this gate latch.

gate hinge

This is why God recently opened a Mitre 10 Mega store near my house, and why the guys who work there know everything there is to know about home improvement and repair, including fixing the damn shower.

All you have to do is go talk to these manly Mega men, maybe watch a video or two, then, boom, your D.I.Y. project gets done.

And what this means to me, personally, is that I will soon have the baddest sombitch hot shower in all of New Zealand.

Because, really, how hard could it be?  It’s just plumbing, right?


So I swagger right up to the Mitre 10 Mega Man (M10MM) who, remember, has been sent to me from Heaven.  We have a very manly D.I.Y. conversation in which I explain in no uncertain terms that I have a crappy shower and that I am going to absolutely kick the crap out of it because I have had a *gutsful.

M10MM: “Sheeya mate, all you need is a Nefavalvemate.”

ME:  <blinking>

ME: “A what, mate?”

M10MM: “Anefavalvenefavalve,mate, yeah.”

Me: <blinking>

M10MM: “Folluhmemate.”

And we walk, with manly speed and purpose, to the back of the giant MEGA warehouse.  Then the Mitre 10 Mega Man points high up on the rack and says, “yeahnahthatswhatyouneedmate. A nefavalvemate.””



Since I am also a good kiwi bloke, I am thinking, “Shee-uh, $139 for a friggenshowervalve?  Isitmadeoffriggenuranium mate?”

But, mostly, I am *thrilled to bits that very soon, I will have hot water.  I am rapt until…

“*JustwhackonthenefavalvemateandBob’syourunclemate,” says the M10MM, adding that before whacking can begin, on the Nefa Valve, I have to go up on the roof and bend the six-foot-tall copper vent pipe into the shape of a “u”.

Yeah, right.


After suffering through more weeks of crappy cold winter showers — all the while, the G.M. Finance is whizzing through her D.I.Y. toilet renovation, flawlessly – I decide to call Samoa.

This is because Tim lives there. Tim, one of my No. 1 Son’s buddies, is a trained plumber who is currently building his mother a house, by himself, in Samoa,

Let me repeat that. He is building his mother a house by himself in Samoa.

Which is why, if you have a question about a Nefa valve, Tim is the guy you call, or, in the interest of total transparency, you Facebook him, and he sets you right.

Tim: “You will need to install a relief valve on your copper pipe poking out of your roof.  A 3.7 valve would be good. You could go more, but it’s more money, and you risk tank fatigue. Check that your pressure reducing valve is relatively new when you go about it.”

Me: <Blinking over Facebook> “If I attempt to do this, the Earth will almost certainly fall off its axis and plummet into the sun, ending life as we know it. So I will need to go to Confession first… Where is the pressure reducing valve?  And does the roof valve thing have to be put on the pipe after it is bent like a Bishop’s Crosier? That’s what the Mitre 10 Mega Man told me, right before my eyes glazed over.”

Tim: “OK, yes, you will have to bend the pipe like an upside ‘n’ so that the relief valve is pointing down, pressure reducing before the cold inlet to the tank. You’ll need a bender or 2 brass compression fittings to achieve this.”

Me: “Tim, are you new here, or do you think you are talking to generations gone by who actually did real work, with their hands, and stuff?”

Tim: “Lol.”

At this point, Tim recalled that my son, a chip off the ol’ DIY block, did not know what a “grinder” was (as in “a tool that grinds”).  He also once said to me: “There is no oil on my car’s dipstick, and I don’t have any oil with me.  Can I just put water in it until I can get some oil?”

I know.



Needless to say, where we stand, especially in the winter morning,  is still in a crappy, cold, no water pressure shower.

Meanwhile, the G.M. Finance, aided by her very own personal Mitre 10 Mega Man, is sailing through her DIY bathroom project like a pro.

All of which makes me wonder whether I should pay $120 an hour for a plumber, or if it would be cheaper in the long run to fly Tim back to New Zealand.

Because there is no way in the world that I am going to risk bending a copper pipe on my roof into a “u” and whacking on a Nefa valve.   Because I know, in my heart of hearts, that the end result would resemble a Marx Brothers movie.

And in the end I would *well and truly lose my Man Card.

man card

To which I say, “*thatsabitofabuggermate”.


*Yes, mate, Kiwis really do say stuff like this, mate.

 Click HERE to read about Okie Putter-Onner-Thingees



Does This Shell Make My Turtle Butt Look Big?

fat butt turtle


(Photos from my recent Okie ‘Merican vacation)


If a picture is worth 10,000 words, this blog must be worth a billion.  Give or take…

This is *Jack (above photo).  Don’t hate him even though his butt has gotten so HUGE that he can’t properly close his shell, which must be a major embarrassment when lady turtles walk s-l-o-w-l-y by.  Never fear, my niece the Vet Tech, has Jack on a diet of what we assume must be low-cal lettuce.


James Garner street sign


There was a time about 40 years ago, when a friend of mine’s ’69 Cougar had many, many street signs in the trunk.  How they go there is beyond me. Last month, while riding around Norman with my sister, I saw this sign near Andrews Park, which was the site of many, many teenage transgressions that we will not get into here.  I very much wanted this sign.  I thought, perhaps, I should take it home to New Zealand for safe keeping, lest it be damaged by an Oklahoma shark-quake-nado or something.  You may remember that, maybe 70 years ago, James Bumgarner ran with my Mom and Dad in Norman.  So I wanted the sign.  Now I really wish it had fallen into our trunk.  R.I.P. James Garner, Norman’s favorite son.


Read the rest of this entry »


Babies Should NOT Be Born in Embassy Suites

(Another story from my miraculous Okie ‘Merican vacation)

Claire's Bear

Twenty-five years ago, I was sitting in a maternity “hospital” in Alexandria, Virginia, waiting for the missus to deliver our son, Eli.

I actually thought we were in an examination room, because it looked like an Embassy Suite.

I was sitting on a plush couch, talking on the phone to the insurance company, as required, when the baby doctor looked at me and said all nonchalant-like: “We’re ready to have the baby.  You want to join us?”

My immediate thoughts were:  “Are you INSANE?  This room is not sterile! Where are all the doctors and nurses in masks and gowns?  We are NOT having my baby in here. WHERE IS THE REAL HOSPITAL?”

Read the rest of this entry »


The Great Okie ‘Merican Vacation

chicken enchilada dive


I’ve just finished my greatest vacation, ever, which was filled with miracles and beeg fun and TexMex.

How great? Let me count just 10 ways.

1. That egg-sized tumor in the brain of my best buddy’s adult son actually turned out to be the size of a baseball. It was removed on June 18 at Houston’s M.D. Anderson, and this young man walked out of the hospital on June 20, with no side effects or any need for chemo or radiation.  Honestly, I’ve been around a lot of miracles, but nothing, nothing, like this. Thank you, Lord.

2. 72 hours later, I was back in OKC.  My grand-niece, Claire, had decided to make an early splashdown in honor of her Great Uncle’s visit.  All 5 pounds, 11 ounces of her was wonderful, beautiful and perfect. Thank you, Lord. (Prepare for another blog on this… Here you go http://hogsatemysister.com/babies-should-not-be-born-in-embassy-suites-also-called-my-nother-merican-vacation-miracle/).

3. My buddy (see item 1) now calls me “Miss Congeniality” because it seemed like everyone at our 40th Norman High School reunion wanted to say hello to a felluh who had been away for 40 years.  It was sort of a surprise and really, really good stuff.  Thank you, Lord.

4. My grand-niece’s early splashdown (see item 2) allowed her Mom to donate her maternity pants to me, which were essential to my relentless assault on the state’s supply of TexMex. I didn’t quite meet my goal of weighing 900 pounds when I left ’Merica, but I was no more than an enchilada short. Thank you, Lord!

Read the rest of this entry »


It’s What You Do


Of all the things that I cannot believe — starting with how it’s possible to send this blog around the world using electricity — the thing I cannot believe the most is that I will attend my 40th high school reunion in two weeks.

That means it’s been four decades since I was a senior at Norman High School in 1974.  And I’ve never been back for a reunion.  Not even once.

I did think about attending the 10-year reunion in 1984, mainly to leverage my major celebrity status of being a hotshot Singapore journalist and, thus, able to jump the bones of girls I never had the courage to jump back in high school.

But, by 1984, I had already met the missus-to-be in Singapore, so that killed the reunion “bone jumping” scenario.

I also figured there were still one or two (okay, maybe 10 or 20) people who wanted to punch me in the nose.  Why?   Let’s just say that I spent a great deal of the time at NHS (as they so quaintly put it here in New Zealand) “being a dick”.

Since there was to be no jumping of female bones, and there was the likelihood of getting punched out, I decided against making the 19,000-mile Singapore-Norman-Singapore journey.

Time ticked on.  Decades passed.

At the time of the 20th, 25th and 30th reunions, I was still in New Zealand, working stupid hours in the stupid field of P.R.  (Motto: Yesterday you hosted the Prime Minister; today you write about butthole cancer).  To quote Jack Bauer, there simply was “NO TIME DAMMIT”!

The clock kept ticking.  Another decade passed.

Now it’s 2014 and time to go home.

Facebook convinced me.  It did this by reconnecting me with several of the world-class, smart alecks that I used to *hang out with in high school.  They still make me laugh, and laughter is something I need way more of.

One of these people, who I will not name because he is probably wanted by the FBI, just yesterday asked me the following:

Loaded Question Alert!

“Do you remember our friend “Heartbeat” that entertained us in Dallas the night before an OU/Texas game?”

Now, it’s important to stress that I have NO MEMORY involving any entertainer at an alleged topless bar in Dallas, who may or may not have had the most eye-catching heart tattoo that you will ever see in your whole life.   Therefore, I have no comment, other than to say what goes on tour, stays on tour, especially if it involves OU-Texas weekends in the Seventies.

The Norman High Class of ’74 was pretty unique.  I’ve heard that we had the highest test scores ever recorded and were the only graduating class in NHS history that did not leave the school a gift.  Not a bench. Not a plaque. Not a brass razoo.  I guess that’s understandable, since we graduated the year before the Vietnam War ended.  Showing respect for authority was not the thing you did, back then.

So far as I know, none of my classmates grew up to save the world.  I’ve heard that one one guy “invented Apple”, or so he hints at, while smirking in a way that makes people want to thump him.  Another guy won an Emmy in sports journalism (I know, right?).  And one gal had quite a career in the Dallas entertainment industry — something to do with cardiac or heartbeats or something.  **Ahem.

I’m not sure what to expect from the two-day NHS reunion, but I’m looking forward to it.  I’m also really looking forward to hugging on my family, including two-and-eight-nineths grandnieces who only know me as a Cyber Uncle, which just sounds creepy.

Getting back for the reunion and seeing my family are enormously important.  But, come to find out recently, they are not the main driver for this trip home.  That came from above.

God’s Fingerprints

The real reason I am going home is to be with a felluh who is integral to my life, and who’s in a time of great distress right now.

You see, I love his guy.  He is the only person on the planet that I can go 10 years without seeing, and the instant we are back together, it is like old times again.

The fabric of our lives is entwined.  Our fates are linked.

If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have gone to Singapore, which means I wouldn’t have met my Missus or had my amazing son.  And were it not for me, I’m not sure whether he and his high school sweetheart would have become man and wife, and had kids, who had kids.

Just recently, my buddy’s eldest son was diagnosed as having a tumor the size of an egg embedded in the left side of his brain.  The initial medical advice has not been particularly great.

As I write this, we are awaiting news from the Big Boys at M.D. Anderson. We are ***praying.  And we are optimistic.  Whatever happens while I am home in June, I will be there with my Buddy and his family, doing my job, which is being a smart-ass and a shoulder to lean on.

Because that’s what you do.  The rest of all this stuff is just eye wash.

If I don’t blog for awhile, ya’ll feel free to talk among yourselves.  Or better yet, go see an old friend who you’ve lost touch with.

Do it now.  Because the clock keeps on ticking.


*e.g. drinking and being obnoxious

** This is a big, fat lie, almost certainly

*** Your prayer support would be greatly appreciated


UPDATE — Less than 48 hours after having a baseball-sized tumor removed from his brain, this young man walked out of M.D. Anderson on his own. Everything went perfectly. Can you say “miracle”? 




Moore Tornado — How It Felt A Year Ago To Be An Okie Down Under (Republished)

The longer you live overseas, the less you feel tethered to the American mothership.

This month, I’ve been overseas for 20 years, and I’ve missed so much.

To put this into perspective… I was in New Zealand, half a world away from America, when:

– The Murrah Building was bombed

– Gulf War II was launched

– The horrific 9/11 attacks happened.

Because I was not on home soil when America was attacked — first by our own crazies in OKC and then by jihadders in NYC and Washington, D.C. — I never felt “personally” threatened. Those two hideous events were not directly — emotionally or intellectually — encoded into my “threat” DNA.

So I am different. I will never be able to think, or more importantly, to feel, like most Americans, especially on matters of terrorism and national security, because they were attacked on the very soil they were standing on.

I was not. I was standing on New Zealand soil. And that made a big difference.

Read the rest of this entry »


Ditka or Die — Rugby Comes to Chicago

All blacksYa’ll ready for this?

It was announced today that the most successful professional sports team in history is headed your way, at least if you live in Chicago.

The legendary New Zealand All Blacks are playing the USA Eagles in an historic “test match” at Soldier Field on November 1.

We are sure the news has Mike Ditka turning over in his grave, whether he is dead or not, because rugby is just not ‘Merican.

Still, there are some things to like about the sport, especially the bumper stickers that OU fraternity members had on their cars in 1974:

  • Rugby Players Eat Their Dead 
  • Rugby Players Have Leather Balls
  • Give Blood, Play Rugby

After 23 years in rugby-mad New Zealand, I still have not come to grips with the finer points of the game.  But I have picked up a few things that might be of help if you’re planning on watching the “AB’s” play a “test match” in “Chicago”.

1. Rugby players do not really eat their dead.  They just tape their ears down, towel off the blood and brain matter, and bury them in a “scrum”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Copyright 2011/2012/2013 hogsatemysister.com all rights reserved