In this new house in Montana we are building to replace our old one that burned in the wildfire in Idaho, our drama queen is plumbing. It is hard to be sufficiently dramatic to overtake one’s history when it is the sudden burning down of an entire house. Nonetheless, plumbing in this replacement house has its moments when it is such high drama it helps to think back to the fire and remember what real drama was to keep the sinks, tubs and faucets in perspective.
The fire is the reason the plumbing is so dramatic. It is not that the fire caused the sinks and the faucets to be dramatic but the circle of things between building the replacement house in Idaho at the site of our hold house that burned and building this new, but actually a replacement for us, house here in Montana.
The first thing we bought when we started buying things to rebuild with was a huge blue sink. We were going to use it for an art bowl but when we moved designed a bathroom in this house around it. Now we cannot find it. We have this sinking feeling that it is obviously in the warehouse somewhere but where we cannot say.
Soon after the blue sink debacle, I ordered the fixtures for my bathroom. They were a brand none of us knew but our best due diligence said they were worth looking at. One of the things, besides being a non-household name brand like American Standard or Moen or Kohler, was their parts were ceramic. So it was with excitement and trepidation that we started digging through my $500 order of plumbing parts. There were Roman Tub spouts and matching vessel sink spouts. There were hand showers and rain fall showers. The hand showers were to my surprise plastic so I asked the company to replace them with the metal versions the ad mentioned. They did, and gave me credit for a future purchase.
Our contractor and plumber in Idaho enjoyed pawing through the products and we were all looking forward to carting them from the table in the basement where we laid them out to the house site which was 3 miles away.
Enter moving. When we decided not to rebuild in Idaho but to move to Montana to retire and start again following the fire, the piles got piled up. I knew when we opened all the boxes and pawed through them we were in trouble because I did not repackage then all right then. Friends came by to see stuff so I left them out. When the movers were coming I knew I should have gone and packed them. I was sick and I was exhausted and a bit strung out with all that was going on. I put the boxes on top of each carefully organized pile and thought perhaps we would be OK. We were not. The plumbing parts were all neatly swept into bubble wrap and unceremoniously dumped into one box. A box does not hold the blue sink.
The plumbers here needed the rough in valves. We finally found the box. I should say my spouse finally found the box. I think he was hunting in the warehouse for hours. He returned to the condo where we are staying with a box of parts. I surveyed it with that sinking feeling reserved for plumbing. In my mind I could tell that one of the two identical looking faucet head was bigger than the other so it went with something bigger. Thank goodness for email receipts. I dug out the receipt, backtracked to each item and found a picture of the parts that belonged with the four faucet/showers I was supposed to have. In the pile, with the pictures, we found two sink faucets, one tub faucet (Roman tub, deck mount) and one shower faucet. The Roman tub faucet and the shower both had hand-held sprayers. There were four of them, two in plastic and two in metal.
I set the plastic ones aside. I knew they were out. It was pretty easy to find the rainfall shower head. After that it went down hill. Eventually we sorted everything into boxes. We were missing three things in the picture that went with the Roman Tub but we did found the shower rough in valve the long-suffering plumber and our even longer-suffering contractor were waiting for.
Neither the plumber or the contractor know that in addition to the lost plumbing parts, the blue sink for the guest bath has gone missing. We did not have the heart–or perhaps courage–to tell them that.
Tonight they needed the Roman tub faucet. Gottcha. I knew I was going to get caught without those three deeley-bobbers that were in the picture whatever they were. At 4:00 pm diverted from going to the house to put together storage cabinets to the warehouse to dig for the missing parts. I announced that it could be a long evening so we better eat before we go. We threw some things on the dining table and started eating. While we were eating, I logged on and studied the picture of the missing parts carefully. They looked like supply lines to me but I am not a plumber so what would I know. We dug and dug in the warehouse. We did not find the deeley-bobbers. We did not find the blue sink.
We barely made it out of the gate at our warehouse complex before they locked it for the night. We had just left a message for our contractor that we were going to have to order a new tub faucet and that it would be here Wednesday noon. As we came to the end of the warehouse driveway I said, “Too bad I forgot to bring the stuff with us so we could at least try to go to Lowes and see if they could help.” The snow was still coming down and the roads were white enough that it was totally unclear where the lanes or the turns were. While my spouse studied the road-ish area trying to make a dive into 60 miles per hour traffic I said, “WAIT they are back there. I did bring them.” Thankfully he did not slam on the breaks and cause a 10 truck and one Subaru pile up. He calmly said, “Did you want to go to Lowes?” I said, “No but I think we should just in case.”
He turned the car the other direction and told it to go to Lowes. We could sleep all the way there and the Subaru would take us to Lowes like a horse to the barn. It is bonded to Lowes. Bathtubs, hot water heaters, 8 ft long lumber, you name it. Each few days the poor Subaru tells Lowes what else you can cram in it.
At Lowes, life was simple. 15 minutes and $12.68 later I had three supply lines. The plumbing guy, along with the assistance of the electrical guy, put all the parts together for us and I marched to the check out. Without batting an eyelash, the lady scanned my three supply lines that were attached to three faucets, a Roman tub spout and a hand shower. She kindly asked, “Would you like me to put this back in your box?” I thanked her and made a break for the door looking for all the world like I was carrying a live octopus.
Faucets covered, I was still having that no-blue sink-ing feeling. Even if I had the blue sink in hand I would still be having a sinking feeling. The guest bath got smaller than it was originally so the depth of the vanity is 19″, a bit short of the “standard” 21″, 22″, 24″ or sometimes 25″ deep bathroom counters. The missing blue sink, even if found, would not fit if you wanted to get through the door into the bathroom with it. I knew that but until tonight had not fully faced the reality of its size since the blue sink was missing. I did and we now have a new, much smaller sink on the way. I had to pay a ridiculous amount of money to get it here immediately so it, along with the other plumbing drama queens, it could sit and wait until it received its cue to enter stage left.
The sink is on the way, the supply lines found. More importantly, we know how the supply lines screw onto the valves. The day’s drama is put to rest.
Tomorrow’s drama is as yet unknown. It may be plumbing or it may be, yet again, the reality of our house burning to the ground. We have two days left in this rental ski-condo and no place to go but to a hotel again. It seems with all the dramatic plumbing there must be a bathtub somewhere we can sleep.