Janet Combs (copy)

Janet Combs

A conduit is a way, natural or otherwise, for things to flow from one area to another.

I urge you to continue reading, though this opening sentence clearly scores a 9.5 on the yawn scale. I'm not sure what a 1.0 would be on that scale, but I imagine it would be awarded if you couldn't stop reading even if your hair was on fire. And 10.0 is Sunday dinner next to Uncle Clark who makes conduits for a living and likes to discuss materials and methods used in diverse domestic and international applications. Even writing about Uncle Clark ramps this column up to a 9.75, but I assure you, this column will eventually arrive at a pretty riveting husband-and-wife-shouting-across-the-room-to-each-other-on-ladders scene, so I encourage you to carry on.

The goal was to move the sound from one room to another — so we could enjoy the speakers and surround sound in the room where our television is. But we also wanted to be able to play music through the stereo speakers in the adjacent living room.

My husband had already cleverly hidden the speaker wire behind the wall, where it ran up and around the television room, behind crown molding, through a hole in the ceiling, into the living room where the wires landed conveniently up on top of a bookshelf. I regret that it seems that Uncle Clark is ghostwriting this week’s column, however, there is some necessary conduit scene-setting that must occur.

There are two large bookshelves flanking our fireplace — which is brick below the mantle —  extending to a box of natural cedar planking above. The plan was this: we would use a conduit to run the speaker wires behind the fireplace from one bookshelf to the other. That way, there would be a speaker on each bookshelf, for the optimum stereo experience!

We set up two ladders on either side of the fireplace — one 10-foot stepladder and another 8-foot one, because the top of each bookshelf was pretty high. I would estimate it somewhere between “don’t look down” and “queasy feeling.” My husband drilled a precise hole in the cedar on each side of the fireplace, and we had a 10-foot piece of rigid gray conduit that we would snake through the hole from point A to point B. Simple!

He ascended his ladder with the conduit, and I awaited its arrival at the other end.

“Here it comes,” he shouted.

“I hear it,” I said.

“Can you grab it?” he asked.

“No, it’s too far to the left,” I said.

“Left?” He shifted immediately to our ladder lingo. “Eddie or Jersey?” he clarified.

“Jersey!” I shouted. We know our neighbor, Eddie, who lives next door, but we don’t really know the people in the house on the other side of us — we only know they are from New Jersey. So this is how we best handle directionals while working.

“Jersey, how can it be Jersey? I’m pushing it 100 percent Eddie!” my husband shouted.

This continued for a time, until completely frustrated, we each got off our ladders. He cut a bigger hole in the cedar on my side, and we ascended the ladders again. Please reread the conversation above to see how it went, except now we managed to blame each other politely for the conduit complication.

“You can’t see it?” he said incredulously. “I’m completely Eddie!”

“It’s not through, I’m telling you,” I said. He knocked the conduit repeatedly on the inside of the fireplace wall to help me locate it.

“Jersey, Jersey, Jersey!” I shouted above the rhythmic thuds.

We took a lunch break, and this proved extremely worthwhile because my excellent turkey sandwich skills assisted my husband in contemplating the types of bracing and framing in fireplaces, but I won’t go into it because it strays into the Uncle Clark territory. Suffice it to say, we attacked the conduit conundrum with renewed vigor using a thinner, flexible piece of wood, and it went through on the first pass. Success!

Just when you think you can’t, you conduit!

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Contact her at www.janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.