HOME page>                  NEW STUFF page> 
          WRITING CONTENT page>       GUEST ARTISTS page>Home_1.htmlNew_Stuff.htmlEssays.htmlGuest_Artists.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3

Bathroom: the Horror, the Horror

I could probably have written most of this essay even before I tore up the first flooring or nailed the first nail or applied the first coat of paint.

When I realized the time had come to refurbish the older bathroom in our home for the second time in the last 30 years,  I  knew it was going to be a different experience at 71 than it was at 40.  One would be pretty dull-witted not to realize this.

And you know…it was different.

The bathroom was not original to the house.  When the house was built, instead of a bathroom commode, there was an outhouse.  The bathroom sink were  bowls and pitchers of water in the bedrooms.  The tub was probably a galvanized tub on the back porch. 

The owners of the home, when they decided to add indoor plumbing, took the middle of the six-foot wide hallway which ran from the front to the back of the home as the location, a good decision.  The best evidence that the indoor bathroom was probably added in the 40’s or 50’s  is the  sheetrock used.  The house was first constructed before sheetrock was in general use; it was 100% wood.  The exterior walls used actual 2x4’s instead of what we call 2x4’s today, 1 ½ by 3 ½ inches.  The interior walls were board on board; that is, the walls were made of one set of vertical 1x10’s which were nailed to a horizontal set of 1x10’s. 

I have always hated sheetrock.  Early on when I was first remodeling our home, I used sheetrock in a small cross-hallway.  Within six months, I replaced it with wood paneling.

Anyway, when they added the indoor plumbing in the 40’s or 50’s, they used sheetrock, crap.   It’s almost impossible to hang anything or nail anything substantial to a sheetrock wall.  The sheetrock caused headaches, but I worked around it.

Neglect is an ugly thing.  Neglect of leaking water is particularly ugly.  Thirty years ago I replaced the commode.  It decided it would develop a hairline crack in the tank, drip, drip, drip.  I replaced the commode again.  After some time, it broke the wax seal beneath the commode and once again water slipped from the commode to the wood floor.  The floor became soft and cushy around the commode.  When I removed the commode and the linoleum beneath it,  I was looking at the earth beneath the old pier-and-beam house, not a welcome sight. 

I went to Lowes and Home Depot to purchase 1x4 tongue-and-groove flooring to replace the damaged 10 square feet.    In both modern stores, the clerks looked at me as though I had arrived via a time machine.  I remembered there was still an old-fashioned local lumberyard in Brenham.  Of course, they had it in abundance.

If you’ve ever worked on an old pier-and-beam home, you have realized that God hates a straight line and even more so hates a level floor.  Mercifully he allowed me to, at least temporarily, create a level floor in the bathroom.

For a while, I kept a daily journal that recorded the progress made  on the bathroom.  After about three weeks, depression set in, and I dropped the journal entries.    Shortly thereafter, desperation set in and all other aspects of my life were ignored; no painting, no writing, very little email communication.  The project had become my Bataan Death March.  On January 24, I declared the bathroom finished; actually there is still finish work to be done, but on the 25th some relatives from Louisiana visited.  They were the first beneficiaries of a new floor, new walls, new ceiling, a secure commode, a new pedestal sink, and a refurbished huge old cast iron claw foot bathtub.

As for that age difference of 30 years between the first refurbishing and the recent refurbishing of the old bathroom, I encountered the expected.  I was always a slow worker, but now I’ve reached tortoise status.  Not necessarily a bad thing; it gives me time to plan my next move.  My old skin tears more easily now; however, I’m more careful now.  Although I spent days atop an eight foot ladder in an 11 foot room, I never once came close to falling.  My where’s-my-tape-measure-or-screw-driver-or-hammer disease has not abated in the last thirty years.  Thank God Linda is still with me to locate the lost items.

All in all, I must admit that it was…a horrible experience.  In the future, I may take Linda’s advice and hire someone to do the refurbishing---damn you, old age.