One of my mentors once told me, “You can tell where the successful writer lives. His is the home where the lawn isn’t mowed.”
I read somewhere else–I think it was the Bible–that Man cannot live by Pen alone.
I kind of live by both credos. I love to write, but I can’t write all the time. My Dad–jack of all trades, master of none–instilled a desire to do everything myself, even if I don’t really know what I am doing. That’s why my wife and I have over the years have tended to purchase fixer-upper homes like the big, clunky house we’re in now. It lay empty for close to two years before we bought it and immediately had to start repairs. Seventeen years later, we’re still doing it.
Our latest adventure is the guest bathroom. The sinks have been draining slowly for a long time. I have struggled with them and when I overhauled our bathroom discovered that sediment had solidified in the wall plumbing so bad that I had that I had to rip out the wall and everything with it. Since the whole room was tile, with custom sinks and faucets, it became a major project. A lot of it was the fact that the tile was backed by cement that was heavy and had to be pulled off the walls and carried out.
Knowing this, I had put off the guest bathroom a long time. When my daughter moved out in June, I knew it was time. I ripped out the cabinets, sinks and faucets, then got into the walls and cleared out the pipes. So far so good. Then I realized that I would have to redo the flooring as well. When I removed the flooring, I discovered that we had dry rot that extended under the tub, which was cast iron. I ended up breaking up the 300-lb. cast iron tub with a sledge hammer and dragging it out, cutting through the floor, cutting out all the dry rot and replacing the bad timber with good.
This gave my wife the opportunity to replace everything in the bathroom with new fixtures. This morning I replaced the last of the old plumbing with new. Monday the plumber comes and installs the new tub. From there we start putting in flooring, toilet, sinks and cabinets and painting. Sounds like it will be a breeze, but I know we still have a lot of work to do.
It’s hard work, but fun too. Most of my regular work involves sitting behind a desk, so I welcome this sort of change.