Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Our toilet has been sitting in our garage for a month, and I still don't envision it moving back into the house any time soon. We are in the throes of yet another home improvement project, or D-I-Why? as I like to call it. Well, actually, I don't like calling it anything, except done. But it will be awhile before I get to make that pronouncement. Let me explain.

Basically, there is no project in existence that Clint isn't confident enough to undertake; even if he's never done it, heard of it, or thought about it, Mr. Fix It is always 100% sure he can tackle the task at hand. While I certainly admire his ambition, I don't always share his enthusiasm for these adventures in home improvement. This latest fiasco endeavor started when he came home with this:

Egad. To most, that appears to be nothing more than a harmless (if boring) hardcover book. However, after years of do-it-yourself fun at my house, I know that Tiling 1-2-3 is actually the beginning of a nightmare. For starters, nothing at the Stancil house is as easy as 1-2-3. If you literally attempt to count to three at my house, before you reach "2," the phone will ring, the dog will bark or throw up, and something will inevitably break or stop working and demand immediate attention. Tiling 1-2-3, plus about a zillion more steps. Let me break this project down for you by the more realistic numbers.

1: One somewhat massive anxiety attack hit me when I saw the state of our bathroom after the tile had been ripped out. If you want to make a man giddy with excitement, forget lingerie and move straight to demolition work. And if you enjoy banging, clanging, crumbling, and clattering, the demo portion of a renovation will be a virtual symphony to your ears. After several days of chiseling away at 1970s sunny yellow tile, here is what our gutted bathroom came to look like (deep, calming breaths):

2: That's the number of weekends my contractor (i.e. hubby) told me this little job would take. The actual run time, as of now, is 4 weekends and 3 vacation days from work. And there is still work left to do, so the timer keeps running....

3: The loss count on hand towels ruined. Now, you can buy all the rags and cloths your handyman heart desires at the hardware store, but where's the fun in that? Clint thought no fun at all, and so he grabbed a handful of towels from our linen closet and used them for his cleanup needs after he put up drywall in the bathroom. I can report from experience that laundering said towels does not seem to do much good in removing waterproofing compound, which I found out the hard way several days later when I used what I thought was a perfectly clean towel to wipe my face while exercising--and immediately felt like someone had set my face on fire. What are a few towels and a face rash when you are blitzing your way through Tiling 1-2-3?

47: Approximate number of trips to Home Depot to acquire needed supplies for this simple undertaking. He goes, he buys, he comes home, broods, and returns. He exchanges, he rents, he makes new lists, he buys again. It's really more like Home-Away-From-Home Depot in our case.

321: I'm not one to brag, but I used my superior math skills to guesstimate this one. You see, every time Clint needed to cut a tile for his washroom masterpiece, he walked through the den and outside to the wet saw about three times. Multiply that by around 107 tiles that needed to be cut, and it's my educated guess that he came in and out of house 321 times during the course of laying that dazzling new tile. I thought about installing a revolving door, but that would require starting yet another project. I don't think it is any coincidence that this number--321--is the exact opposite of 1-2-3, do you?

XLIX (49): That's the number of the Super Bowl, which Clint missed in its entirety whilst working away in our 5 foot x 5 foot bathroom. Here's another number--$50--that's the cost per day of renting the wet saw, and after three days, he was bound and determined to get that tile cut and have that saw back at Home-Away-From-Home Depot by 7:00 a.m. Monday morning. He finished at midnight on Sunday, and we are both pleased to report that the saw was returned in a prompt, if not cheerful, fashion.

There are a few other wonderful facets of this tiling venture that numbers simply can't describe. For example, I would have to guess that infinity is the number of times I have dusted in an effort to rid our house of the white, chalky powder that is covering every surface. I feel like Rosie from the Jetsons, just a robotic, Swiffering, dust-hating fool. As soon as I finish and begin to feel some sense of satisfaction, I look back at where I started and once again, it looks like someone cleaned chalkboard erasers over my entire home (I'm pre-dating myself here, back to the school days before dry erase boards took over).

During this renovation, we are also sharing a bathroom--how did we do it in our little apartment the first years we were married? We both forgot the joys of waiting your turn, of sharing counter space, and trying to cram everyone's body wash/face wash/shampoo/favorite bath products all on that one little shelf in the shower. I found myself saying things like, "help yourself to my favorite cranberry soap that is only available once a year" and (my personal favorite), "I hope you were through with the used BandAid you left in the soap dish? Because I threw it away." I'm genuinely amazed that any one person could manage to get toothpaste in so many places; I picture the man dancing around the bathroom, flailing his electric toothbrush in an effort to spatter paint all four walls as heavily as possible. If I weren't the one to clean it all up, I would be impressed by the artistry. They say if you love something, set it free and all that. Hooey. If you love something, share a bathroom with it. If you still love it two days later, your love is eternal.

But we've made progress (right?). We're getting there (aren't we?). Last night, Clint actually reinstalled the bathroom door, so at least I can close this DIWhy delight off from the rest of the house and enjoy some out of sight, out of mind time.  I know you are on the edge of your seat, so here is the current status of the bathroom:

It's coming right along, don't you think? All that's left is some painting, some trim work, maybe putting the toilet back in....In the meantime, I'm learning to love the look of our other bathroom. That avocado green tile I always hated has grown on me, and I think I'll keep it for a while. Or forever. But I know that if I change my mind and want to start up another project, there is a resident handyman who is ready, willing, and able. Just as soon as he gets back from his trip to Home Depot.

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