Made a “to-do list,” a week ago. Have crossed off eight of the 31 items on the list, might be time to start a new list and be sure everything on it is really needed. Lists are like solitaire: it’s not about finishing, or winning, just a way to organize things through a period of time.
At the end of February, when restaurants were open and schools were humming along, both my boys were sick. Wearing my “Dr. Mom” hat, I diagnosed the fever and dry cough as the flu with respiratory features — ignorance is bliss — each of them missing a full week of school. Something about their sickness nagged at me, though, and didn’t seem ordinary, so I concluded the root cause was our shower.
Our shower was dripping to the basement. You could actually see the loose tiles in the shower where it was coming from. Because I’m not a member of the Tar Heel Club and can’t read the POTUS tea leaves, I was suspicious of the shower. I just decided it needed to be done and made a list.
Since the shower constitutes about 1/3 of the tiled walls in the bathroom, I could really indulge in a new experience. The first step in the bathroom fix would be to retile the shower, which would mean not having a shower for a short while.
Couldn’t be too bad. I have lived outdoors with no running water for months. What could be so hard about “camping” in my own home for a couple of days? I could always use the showers at Planet Fitness as a lifeline.
With the blessing of my family, I plunged in, even took a day off from work to jump-start the project. Following my “to-do list,” I figured it would take a few days and then, voilà, we’d be all set.
Nothing quite went according to the list, and getting sick with the flu myself didn’t help.
Spending all my free time on the project, once I was healthy, meant we had limited groceries and certainly no stockpile of toilet paper. I was completely focused on getting the shower back in action so when the pandemic began to roll out, it really did not mesh well with my situation.
It was March 15 when I finally finished tiling and grouting, had waited the 12 hours to dry, and was ready to hop into the shower. Except the handle only turned an inch and was solidly stuck on cold, so I could not shower. There was a big empty space where the sink once was, and the toilet was leaking from the supply line.
I had a choice, get some dog tags at the Army Surplus store or create some solutions for survival. The Rona was haunting every facet of life and the following day, the restaurants, retailers and bars were closed. Now Monday, unsure if the world would allow someone in my house to help, I called Stefl Plumbing. Lorette answered the call and passed the phone to Tim himself. He was so calm and was able to tell me how to fix the issue over the phone. In less than five minutes, the shower was fixed. So I was able to cross that off the list.
Tuesday I survival-purchased a utility sink with a plastic basin and metal legs and placed it in the bathroom to get us through, and Wednesday I changed the water supply valve to stop the toilet leak.
Thursday I was not successful at my first attempt to install the sink and phoned a friend, Daniel, on Friday. He went down the checklist, then directed me to get a miracle from Schauer’s hardware. Minutes before they closed, Robert obliged with a seven-piece PVC masterpiece to create a connection to the wall. Propped the sink up on a few wood boards and had a sink in the bathroom to wash our hands by Saturday.
All this seems so long ago now. We now have painted walls and a door; the towel rack needs to go up (it’s on the list). I have decided to wait to do the floor, until after the world settles down a bit.
This project, perhaps because it was running parallel to the pandemic, has pushed my every limit and I have come out on the other side with a whole new perspective and even a touch of wisdom. I am confident that, collectively, we will come out the other side of this pandemic, too, a little stronger, a little more flexible and much more adapted.
I’ve put it on the list, so let’s be sure to get it done.