On Plumbing

Andy has done so much for our house. He’s installed three ceiling fans, three light fixtures and a chandelier. He’s patched countless cracks in our plaster walls. He’s painted almost every room in the house—a couple of them, twice. He’s re-cemented our front steps. He’s installed French doors. He’s redone almost all our outlets. He built a beautiful fence for our backyard. But if there’s one thing he’s not really comfortable doing, it’s plumbing. An example:

Several years ago, before our bathroom remodel, we were tired of our plastic, mold-invaded shower knobs and faucet. So we bought chrome ones.

Andy began to disassemble our old knobs and faucet and, after three trips to the basement, our bathroom was filled with what seemed like a lot of tools (and odd non-tool items) for what was supposed to be a simple project. About an hour into the process, Andy hollered for me to come upstairs: He needed my advice. The conversation went something like this:

“See this pipe?” he asked. “It’s too long for our new faucet. I think I need to cut it. Do you think I should cut it?”

“What’s the baseball bat for?” I asked.

“Bee, seriously, should I cut the pipe or not?”

“How are you going to cut through metal?”

“With a hacksaw,” he said with a tone that insinuated everyone knows you cut metal pipes with a hacksaw. (Note: We own a pipe cutter.)

“Sure, cut it.”

“You really think I should?”

“If that’s the only way you can get the new faucet to fit, I say cut the pipe.”

Three hours later our home-improvement store was closed and there were three pipes sticking out of our shower wall, and no knobs or faucets attached. Apparently, our new chrome knobs and faucet “wouldn’t work.” We went to bed.

The next morning Andy made the first of four total trips to the store that day for additional parts, including a new set of knobs and a new faucet. Later that afternoon I found him in the kitchen, angrily cleaning the mold out of the old plastic knobs. The new second set, he said, wasn’t going to work either. So the old knobs went back on. But the old faucet couldn’t be reattached because the pipe it was attached to was lying in parts on the bathroom floor. His solution? We were going to take baths.

I’m a shower person. The idea of forever taking baths didn’t appeal to me. Technically, you could take a shower. You simply stuck your thumb over the hole in the end of the pipe, which caused water to come out of the showerhead, instead. To actually clean one’s self while doing this, however, required flexibility I didn’t have.

A couple nights later, we made one last trip to the home-improvement store and bought some copper pipe and couplings. Andy stuffed some bread into the pipe to soak up any water (a trick he learned from a home-improvement book), and, using our new crème brulee torch, soldered a copper pipe with a threaded end on to the existing, hacked-up pipe. While the crème brulee torch did a fine job with the soldering, it also managed to toast the bread, turning it into a hard substance that completely clogged the pipe.

Thankfully it was only a matter of cleaning out the burnt bread before Andy was able to attach the new faucet, successfully.


We use Bum Genius 3.0 one-size cloth diapers. We love them. They were particularly easy to care for when Sophie was solely breastfeeding. But then, she started solids. Solids do things to diapers. No longer could we simply throw the diapers in the wash. Now they need rinsed off, first. So, I asked Andy if he could attach a sprayer to our toilet. Simple, right?


I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture but here’s Andy, after attempting to connect the sprayer, soaking wet. Something about compression fittings. I don’t know.

So if anyone reading this uses cloth diapers I’d love to know what you do about rinsing before washing, without a sprayer.

“If I had my life to live over again, I’d be a plumber.” —Albert Einstein