Dead Fish in a Box

The chronicles of a suburban fishpimp trying to keep it rural.

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Location: United States

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I need a day off.

I just took 3 days off to work on the homestead with the wife & In-laws. We got a ton done. But now I'm so sore that I can barely move. My forearms are so tired I can barely type this. I told the Father-in-law that, while I truly enjoy his company, I was glad to see him leave because it meant no more heavy lifting. Seriously. We replaced all 8 garden beds in the back yard which involved removing all the rotten existing timbers, assembling 62 2x6"x8's into the beds, then wrapping them with 6ml poly (to keep them from leaching the pressure treatment chemicals into our veggies), and moving about 1.5 yards of dirt around in the process. After that we began work on the main bathroom, by removing the vanity & toilet. Then we took up the glued-on tiles, in the process revealing a lovely turquoise & black parquet complete with gold speckles. I wanted to keep it, but we'd already trashed 1/2, we I kept ripping. After removing all that I applied all my modern physics knowledge to the bathtub through the medium of my 8 Lb. sledgehammer. Sounds fun, but when porcelain shards are flying every which way (including around my eye protection!) one is forced to reconsider.

The best part about smashing the cast iron tub into little bits was that I could just pitch them out the window into the bed of my fish-haulin' truck.

"Say, what'd you do with the old tub?"

"Oh, I threw it out the window."



So 3/4 of a ton and $65 to King County Dump later we took on the plumbing issue. Now I knew I'd have to replace about 15" of drywall around the tub, but to get at the old fixture I had to take out nearly the entire wall. Then, I pulled out the bizarre bracing system that the original installers cooked up, including a 12 x 15" panel of the adjoining closet wall. It took a good two hours just to remove the 6 original joints, and another 3-4 to get the new stuff in and leak-free, including running down to the street & busting my knuckles to turn on/off the water main at least 4 times.

But the real fun had yet to begin.

We then replaced the floor with a new sheet of 3/4" plywood, and moved the new tub into the house. I began attaching the overflow drain while Father-in-law mixed up a batch of mortar that we'd seat the tub into. We put down 1" of mortar & moved the tub into position. The Home Depot 1-2-3 book had the great idea of sliding the tub on 1x4's greased up with soap. For once, something worked right, the tub slid right into the slot...well, 1/2 way in, at least. One of the old nailers was impeding our progress, so we pulled the tub out and removed it. The second time we put the tub in we had the same problem on the opposite side. Out it came to fix the problem, then in it went again. Same problem, six inches later. Damn! Out. Fix. In. Damn! The drain wouldn't slide past the stud - but that can't be removed, so we resolved to install it via the crawl space (more on that later!). In. Damn! The tub was sitting a good inch and a half above the mud. Out.

Mind you, this is a 30"x60" tub. The space we were installing it into is 30.25x60.25", so it took a whole lot of wiggling to move it in & out. Oh, and did I mention that I had a batch of ribs going on the smoker? So in addition to watching the grout dry up in front of our very eyes, I had to keep an eye on dinner!

So while Father-in-law cut the tub supports down 1.5"s I mixed up a new bunch of mortar, removed the ribs, mixed up a batch of sauce, slathered the ribs, and started slicing. Then I raced through the living room with the wheelbarrow full of mortar & dumped another layer down. In went the tub. Out came the 1x4's, and it finally fit. After jumping up & down on one end, it's even almost level. But after 6 hours of horsing that thing around it was in at 6:45 PM. Needless to say I had to call the custom tub surround people and rescheduled our 3:00 measuring appointment.

We retired to eat delicious ribs & played ping pong.

After enjoying copious amounts of chowder at the Penn Cove Mussel festival (which wasn't much of a festival - no festive bunting? Come on!) we attacked the drain problem. Well, the Father-in-law attacked the drain problem. Hey! He volunteered to go under the house himself! They don't call it a crawlspace for nothing, you know!

Turns out I wasn't so lucky. While down there he discovered why, despite swapping out all our old single-pane windows for new double-panes, out heating bill hasn't dropped a penny. Turns out the furnace output wasn't attached to any of the duct system. Mr & Mrs Fishpimp were (and continue to be) outraged! We've been there for 2 1/2 years and all that time we've been heating the crawlspace! That a lot of dead fish gone up in smoke!

So I ended up having to muck around in the crawlspace with the spiders, 30-year-old rat shit, and radon after all. Damn! We patched it all together with some leftover scrap metal we found down there, some heavy-duty aluminum foil, and about 400 yards of duct tape. Yes, as bizarre as it may sound, we actually used duct tape on ducts.

We finally emerged from our unfinished basement at 8:30 and ate delicious Pagliacci's pizza and I enjoyed one cold Alaskan Amber before collapsing into bed.

The in-laws rolled out this morning, leaving me to finish the drywall, replace the floor, and re-install the toilet and vanity, and repaint. Oh, and Father-in-law, in a startling departure from his normally splendid electrical work, failed to rewire the new outlet that I put in just two weeks ago, so that's on the list too. At least they left a new wax gasket for the toilet.

So I've got that going for me..... which is nice.

Next time I'm calling a contractor.


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