Broccoli + plumbing = small-scale havoc

By Mir
March 14, 2013

First of all, thank you for all of the color suggestions and stories and cautions in the last post. I posted that all, “Yellow?” and what your feedback told me was that I needed to put down the crack pipe, as the odds of me selecting a suitable yellow were somewhere between slim and none. Alert (and pretty) commenter Elizabeth said something about full-spectrum paints and I immediately emailed her all “WHAT IS THIS PAINT YOU SPEAK OF?” and with her help I then fell into the deep, expensive rabbit hole of Ellen Kennon paints. Eventually I emerged, bleary-eyed, with a passel of samples on order. We’ll see how it works out.

[For the curious: At the moment I am enchanted by a color called Oasis, which is described on the site as: “… a darker version of Gustavian Grey (Ethereal Mists Color) which crosses that fine line between blue and green. Therefore, it is both healing and soothing, yet rejuvenating.” We’ll see if I like the sample as much as I liked it in the virtual room-painter thingie on the screen. Also the bathroom off my office is painted dark burgundy and now I’m all I GUESS I NEED TO PAINT THE BATHROOM, TOO and hello, they also make a paint called RAINBOW FOG, which: obviously. Is “full spectrum” just marketing hype? Probably. But I spend most of my life in this room and I want LIIIIIIIIGHT. Hello, my name is Sucker.]

Anyway. That’s the paint. But yesterday, there was cooking! And plumbing! And the intersection of the two, kind of.

So I think I mentioned that our showers were kind of leaking. Specifically, the knobs would kind of drip-drip-drip regardless of how hard you tried to turn them off. I was in denial about it for a long time because the kids’ shower was constantly dripping, and I figured they were just not turning the water off properly. In my defense, these same kids can claim not to notice a wet towel in the middle of the floor or an entire weeks worth of dirty socks caught at the foot of the bed where they’ve been shed in the middle of the night, so it was REASONABLE of me to assume this was user error. Er, user oblivion, maybe. Regardless, then our shower started leaking and theirs was leaking even worse and it became clear that Something Had To Be Done.

To add to the fun: Both showers had separate hot and cold handles, which is apparently very Old School. These fixtures were likely original to the house, if the fluted lucite knobs (fancy! like fondue!) were any indication. Clearly the thing to do was to convert to a single-handle mechanism (fewer opportunities for leakage, I guess?), but how do you do that in old crappy showers? I’ll tell you how—you buy an enormous chrome plate that covers the old holes. It’s like planting a deformed hubcab in the middle of your shower wall, and it’s just as attractive as it sounds. We picked out the least ugly of the not-terribly-expensive-yet-still-brand-name fixtures we could find at the Big Box Hardware Store, plus the big-ass chrome plates, and then we called some plumbers to come do their thing.

They were supposed to come at noon, which is why they were here at 2:30 on the dot. We had already emptied our master linen closet (because that’s where they had to cut through to access the pipes to that shower) and Otto removed some shelves in there, but then we also had to move some furniture upstairs where they would need to cut right through a wall kind of in the middle of everything. Hmph. It would be WORTH IT, though, to have everything fixed.

I was making soup and bread bowls for dinner last night, and I knew that they’d need to turn the water off, so I was trying to get all of my water-involving prep done before they came. The bread bowls were already rising when they arrived—and my doughy hands had been washed—so I felt confident that just making the soup in the absence of running water would be no problem whatsoever. Result: As two plumber crashed and banged and sawed and set off the smoke detector (Otto handled it; I really don’t what to know what happened), I lovingly composed that night’s dinner with no problems.

I chopped some onions, then went to wash my hands. Whoops.
I minced some garlic, then went to wash my hands. Oh.
I separated the broccoli florets, then went to wash my hands. Right.
I grated cheese, then went to wash my hands. SERIOUSLY, ME.

In short, apparently it took a couple of plumbers to make me realize that I wash my hands a lot when I cook. (Don’t worry! Dinner got made, and I’m sure I only used about half a rainforest’s worth of paper towels to quell my OCD while I did it.)

They weren’t done until nearly 6:00, at which point both children were SO HUNGRY and I was glad that dinner was already made, but then after dinner we had to reassemble the entire house, it felt like, because there was a giant hole in a wall upstairs (and even though they vacuumed with a shop vac, there seemed to be wall dust everywhere), and Otto had to reassemble our linen closet, and then we had to put back everything that had been IN the closet, but was now sitting on our bed, which was causing MAJOR ANGST for the dog, because the ZOMGTHEBIGBED was no longer accessible.

We mostly got things put back together and cleaned up, and I have to say that I greatly enjoyed my shower this morning under a shower head where all the little holes actually dispensed water and where I didn’t have to bench press a couple hundred pounds before I was able to turn the water all the way off. That all went a long way towards not feeling annoyed at the giant chrome plate sitting there in the middle of the wall, all “Oh, I’m not hiding anything, I don’t know what you mean.”

The wall-hole in the closet was replaced with a plastic access panel, and then covered up with folded towels (on the shelf), but the wall-hole upstairs is… unfortunate. The wall board actually chipped while they were removing it, so there’s still a small hole (aside from the nails and obvious cuts around this giant panel), plus the extracted section itself is MUCH LARGER because that shower is a shower/tub combo and they had to reach more pipes. Or something. So we still have to patch and spackle and then… paint.

Yep. Paint. For some reason Otto gave me kind of A Look when I asked him if the leftover paint from when we painted six years ago upon moving in would still be good. I cannot imagine why. But I CAN tell you that I apparently don’t love my children enough to buy them expensive full-spectrum paint to put in their hallway. So.

Wait, I just had a great idea! Maybe I can just get another one of those chrome shower plates! It’ll be… you know… industrial! Steampunk!

Otto? Honey…?


  1. RuthWells

    Now see, from the title I thought the garbage disposal had gotten jammed with brocoli stems and you had to call the plumber to snake the drain. Not unlike how Hubby put a butternut squash’s-worth of squash skin down ours and it took the plumber FOUR FRICKING HOURS to get to the clog. Yeah, that one is still raw.

  2. Monique

    Every now & then, I’ll read something like these about how much work is involved in owning your own home and I get just a little happy about “throwing” my money away because I’m renting. Then I look at my white white walls I’m not allowed to paint and figure life’s a trade-off, you know? Plus, (I console myself) I’m a military wife and don’t need Murphy’s Law kicking my butt anymore than it usually does during a deployment. Last time, it was 3 issues with the car, one ER trip, two calls to Housing for leaks, etc. etc. I don’t need homeowners issues thrown in the mix. I can’t imagine dealing with that while hubby is away. Anyway, I digress. Hope you figure out a way to bring color into your home. Literally and metaphorically. :)

    And what I really wanted to say was, where is the pie? You never fail to disappoint me with your lovely homemade one. Meanwhile, my lazy self is running out later to pick up one from Julian Pie Conpany, lol.

  3. My Kids Mom

    Hey, you could have gerbils. Much worse than a hole in the wall. (Of which six were cut in my walls yesterday. Drywall dust is awful.)

  4. diane

    Full spectrum is WORTH IT. I used the Benjamin Moore equivalent to the Ellen Kennon, and I can see the difference, especially as the light and shadows change. Your Oasis is absolutely lovely – it does indeed look like a happy-making color.

  5. Cheryl

    If that hole in the wall is in the childrens area – why not a really, really big poster to cover it up. I know that just opens a whole new can of worms – who get to decide on what poster and all, but still – eliminates the patching, painting problems.

    Also, those posters can hide a lot – we “accidentally” punched a pretty big hole in the wall in the bedroom I shared with two sisters, and the poster hid that hole from my parents for a really long time. We would change it up on a pretty regular basis, and I think it was after the third sister moved out that the hole was discovered. Just sayin…..

  6. Brenda

    I despise two-handled fixtures. It’s nearly impossible to get a consistent, decent shower temp, and I end up wasting so much water washing dishes because I have to leave the water running the entire time lest it take me even longer because I can’t get the stupid water the right temp. At my last apartment, they had to replace the faucet, and I was all excited thinking I would get an upgrade to a single-handled faucet. I was so disappointed when they put in another faucet just as user-unfriendly as the first.

  7. Therese

    Painting is an evil, evil thing! You think I’ll paint this room, then the room next to it looks crappy, so you paint it, and so on and so forth. By the time you get done with all the rooms, it’s time to start again!

  8. Ali

    Thank you for making me snort loud enough at Fancy! Like Fondue! that my cubicle neighbor asked if I needed a tissue.

  9. mandy

    Just this week got my first order from Canvas People. I snagged a deal you posted …what, in Dec? … and had a gorgeous professional pic of my son blown up in a 16X20 canvas. Beautiful. Anyway, worth a thought. The one of Chickie in her rainbow tutu or even one of everyone’s feet (a la First Day of School) would be awesome.

  10. Bonnie

    Sorry about the hole in the wall. They told me it was better to have easy access to the plumbing “just in case,” and I wish I would have listened.

    I’ve been looking at replica shields, and I think at least one kid would prefer to have an eagle crest shield on the wall than a shower plate. A little more pricey, though

  11. Bob

    individual faucets (one for hot and one for cold) have washers in them that can be replaced when they leak (as – actually – do the single-valve-faucets). Depending on the make/model, there can be 2 or 3 washers per stem. I have to replace them every few years on my 60-year-old faucets. New washers, no leaks, lower water bill. MUCH cheaper than replacing them all.

    (unless, of course, your model faucets are no longer being manufactured. then the hunt for washers becomes an epic search. I know of which I speak. STILL cheaper than cutting holes in walls and enduring ugly hubcaps.)

  12. Frank

    What Bob said.. I can only presume that you tried the ‘replace the washers and inner mechanism’ of the faucets first…. because, while it isnt better than the whole kit and caboodle replacement you did, it is much simpler and cheaper.

  13. Heather

    That colour’s not terribly far off from what we painted our pretty new bathroom! (The self-levelling concrete subfloor goes in tomorrow…yaaaay!)

  14. Shanna

    Just make a door/access panel for the whole in that area. Then you can paint it whatever color you want and it will be accessible for the next time the pipes need fixing. ;) One board cut about an inch larger then the whole, some trim, and small hinges. I can mail you some hinges as apparently I can’t attend an estate sale anywhere without grabbing that can of hinges some old guy collected and stored in his basement or garage. So now when my kids hold my estate sale, many years from now I hope, they can advertise it by saying, “One whole room with just hinges!”. Big selling point I am sure. ;)

  15. Elizabeth

    Shanna, you are funny! I used to have collections, before I moved to NYC.

  16. Michele

    Solution: Giant picture. I have been living with a Giant Painting over some slipshod wall board “repair” for almost seven years, and the “repair” was there for, oh, around a geologic age or two, before I came on the scene.

  17. Cran

    Why didn’t I think of this sooner? is so helpful for home decorating and repair ideas. Recently there was even a piece on how to choose the right yellow for your kitchen. The Houzz app is quality too.

  18. Amanda

    If 2 handled fixtures are really old, then someone forgot to inform the military as they’re “updating” housing. That’s what we have, and our shower heads leak when we run the faucets for baths for the kids. It’s fun stuff. And the hot water heater is set on surface of the sun, so you only need a smidge of hot and you have to turn the cold all the way on, but if you don’t know this, you can burn your skin off. But, still better than owning the home and having to pay for repairs ourselves. Been there. Done that. Still paying the mortgage.

  19. Kiks

    funny…kept me reading till the end :) hmmm…I think I may have to do some home reno too :)

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest