"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

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Monday, May 10, 2010

DIY Let Down

These wild weather swings are getting to me, as is my house. I want to get out of it and into the garden but there was snow coming down yesterday and the temperatures are too unpredictable so I can't risk planting anything yet. We have talked about renovating but we really can't do anything until we see how this year goes for the business. I know I shouldn't be but I am so jealous of our neighbours who have completely overhauled their house, painting all the trim and wall, ours is looking so chipped and dirty. They have done their bathrooms with clean white tile and classic fixtures. The husband is a real handy man and has done everything himself from tiling the showers to refinishing the floors but he has the time since he's not working right now which is part of the reason they are fixing it up. They have to sell and so every dollar they spend they figure they will get back when the house goes for over asking. Me? I just want a new tub I can lie down in and have both my boobs and knees covered in water. But money, while coming in fairly regularly for us, is going out for other things like new soccer cleats and bikes and birthday parties. Necessities in some family member's books but as a result there isn't much left to spend on renovations. Not the end of the world, I know but I hate our bathrooms.

I really, really hate them. They have circa 1985 beige fixtures and although we have replaced two toilets when they both gave up and completely stopped flushing the remaining two aren't long for this world. The one in the boys' bathroom has a wobbly seat and clogs regularly, as you can imagine with three boys, and the one in the basement runs constantly if you forget to jiggle the handle. The sinks are that kind of material that collects every stray hair and is a magnet for toothpaste, even when you rinse there is still crap glued on. The faucets are old and no amount of scrubbing with a toothbrush will get rid of the guck in the crevices and for some reason the inside of the plastic handles have turned black. Don't even want to consider what might be the cause of that. I have used gallons of Drano to try and unclog the drains and finally took the whole plug mechanism out of one. The bowels of which was one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. My boys have beautiful hair but I didn't need to see quite so much of it covered in slime and coming out of the drain hole.


So today while my Other Half is away I thought I would take the bull by the horns and tackle replacing one of the faucets. We have had two replacements sitting in a closet since we moved in. I am smart, I am capable, I can google "How to change a faucet" and I did. I then went upstairs to follow the step-by-step instructions. Armed with a couple of wrenches, my trusty new MacBook with the page opened to eHow and even my camera to record the process like all those DIYer bloggers do. I wanted the "Before and After" shots to post with pride.

Now the list of "Things You'll Need" included something called a "basin wrench." Googled that and found out it was a wrench used just for such small spaces as underneath a bathroom vanity. Oh, I don't need one of those, I thought, there's plenty of room. And there was until I hit something with the end of the regular wrench and knocked it off. Strike One. No water came gushing out so it couldn't have been that important. But then try as I might I couldn't budge the bolt on the water hose connection to the faucet. Strike Two. I finally gave up and climbed back out from under. Looked at the corner of the sink and saw a big chunk of the porcelain (or whatever it's made of) was chipped off. What ever I hit must have buckled the material and now there is a big chunk missing. Strike Three. I gave up. Put the shiny new faucet back in its box and back into the closet and put all the bath toys back under the sink. Threw out a few old bottles of baby shampoo and some expired sunscreen to make it seem like I had done something and hung up the wrenches in the garage. So much for "I am Woman, see me Do It Myself"

If the weather would just warm up I could get out and do some planting in the garden but there is a frost warning for tonight. Guess I'll just go back to helping iPhoto identify more faces in my 15,000 pictures.


  1. This makes me sad-faced :(

    It's funny, I've had that thought, 'I'm a smart, capable person, I can do this' - and while I am all of those things, I know if I tried to do anything myself something would go wrong, or I wouldn't have the strength to budge the thing that needed budging.

    I really - REALLY - hope that your weather makes a turn for the better and you can get outside soon - I can't imagine that snow in May is doing much of anything for a happy mood for you - I know I would be miserable.

    Hang in there, it can't last forever!

  2. Thanks Jen, I asked my handy neighbour if he had a basin wrench and he told me that with fixtures this old I would probably have to take the whole basin out to change the faucets and that is definitely beyond my capabilities. And if I have to take out the basin then I should really replace it and then there's the ugly counter tops and the awful toilet, not to mention the hideous fibreglass tub/shower insert. And so on and so on and so on ...

  3. Oh, what a pain not to be able to finish the plan of the day. It takes me such a long while to actually tackle a chore that it really sucks when I find out I can't do it after all.

    And I know just how you feel about your bathrooms. Except we have only one, so it is even harder to work on. It needs to be gutted and a new tub installed, because the years of iron/minerals in our well water have set insoluble stains. But we can't afford to pay someone to do it, and we can do the work, it's just ...what do you use when it's torn apart?
    And the cute faucet handles I picked out years ago? They look cute, but their little curves are impossible to keep clean.

    Whew, sorry to go on for so long, this is your blog after all. Just know I am commiserating along with you, including the cold cruel May weather.


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