It Takes a Village
It all started on Saturday when we took Millie for a walk around the block. We ran into Deirdre, who was helping tear out more plaster at Denise's house, and then we visited a while with Ken and his son, who were working on a truck. We told them about the work we'd recently begun on the bathroom walls - scraping off the flaky top layer of paint to get a smoother surface for painting.
A couple of hours later Deirdre showed up, scraper in hand. She promptly climbed on a ladder and joined me in scraping the walls. We scraped like mad in short bursts, then stopped to rest and gab, then scraped again. In this way, the work (and the lead paint dust) flew.
Then she and Darwin took two wall boards over to Ken and used his woodworking tools to shave a little indention into the backs, so they would fit against a stud.
For some reason Deirdre and Ken volunteered to help us begin wiring the bathroom the next day. We had to leave for a New Year's Eve ball by 4 p.m., so it was an ambitious project.
The bathroom's power was feeding off the guest room light, so first Ken disconnected that and installed a refurbished antique light fixture I bought on eBay about two centuries ago. Meanwhile, Darwin disconnected the light in the bathroom.
Then Darwin headed for the attic and ran a new wire from the breaker box to the bathroom, where he installed a junction box to feed one wire to the light switches and one to the outlets.
Of course, some other finagling had to happen. Holes had to be drilled, wires fished and plans made. Deirdre brought over their massively long drill bit to drill down through the sill in the top of the bathroom wall, and that's when Ken found the happy little rat skeleton.
In the midst of all this, Deirdre cooked us lunch! Can you ask for better friends than these?
After lunch we ran into further problems. One, we had no large plastic wingnut thingies. Two, when they drilled a hole in the future closet ceiling to feed the wire for that light, they discovered that the ceiling had been lowered from 12 feet to 10, and the drill bit wouldn't reach through the 2-foot gap. Three, Darwin was a little confused about how to wire the three-switch box.
Finally we gave up for the day with the bathroom wiring not finished and not connected to the breaker box. But when they turned the power back on, half the outlets in the kitchen and an outlet in the guest room wouldn't work.
While I showered and beautified myself, Darwin tried to figure out the problem. Finally, he switched some wires around in the guest room light fixture, and that did the trick.
But by then, it was already 4 p.m. We finished getting ready in a frenzy, loaded up Millie in the car (she was spending the night with her grandparents) and flew toward town. We had to call my mom and ask her to meet us in town, so we wouldn't be late. She generously agreed but threatened me with a "life lesson" lecture.
Eventually, we made it to our New Year's ball feeling frazzled but looking snazzy.
We drank champagne, danced the rumba and foxtrot, kissed at midnight, laughed a lot, and crashed by 1:40 at a nearby hotel.
On the way home the next day, we stopped by Lowe's (fortunately open on New Year's Day) and got the larger wingnuts. The rest of the way home, I demanded Darwin explain electrical wiring to me and attempted to draw diagrams to figure out the three-switch problem.
We had resolved nothing by the time we got home except that we have terrible communication skills. And that it's hard to draw a wiring diagram with a dog sitting on your lap.
Fortunately, our neighbor Doug, an actual electrician, was home. Darwin called to ask his advice on the three-switch situation, and Doug generously offered to pop on over and check things out.
He figured the problem out in a flash (we needed a fourth wire directly from the junction box into the three-switch box) and demonstrated how to connect the switches with jumper wires.
After he left, we worked by lamplight until dinner time. Darwin finished the wiring, while I scraped more paint. Oh, and he also hung the second refurbished antique light fixture in the hall to match the one we replaced in November.
All that's left to do with the wiring is deal with the closet light, hang the light fixtures, and hook the bathroom system to the juice. They're all pretty simple, especially since we decided to just rip out the drywall in the lowered closet ceiling. No problem, right?
As for the rest of the bathroom, I'm so sick of scraping I could scream, but we've only really got one wall left. Then we have to fill a truckload of nail holes, hit the whole thing with a palm sander, wipe down the walls, and finally, FINALLY paint.
So how it's going on our wrinkle-free timeline? See for yourself:
Order faucet for bathroom sink and light fixture for over sink. (at least I've picked them out)
Move plumbing vent pipe into corner of future closet.
Install two replacement pieces of beadboard. (We were waiting to do this until the wiring was done, in case we needed access in that wall. Now we can install them.)
Build little bookshelf under the window.
Patch nail holes, scrape loose paint, etc. on "rustic" beadboard walls. (Halfway done)
Buy materials for upcoming projects - wood for trim, paint for walls and trim.
Install drywall to close up gaping hole to the attic, and re-create mini-slant in bathroom ceiling. Repair a couple spots of drywall damage on ceiling from when we removed the wall separating the two parts of the bathroom. (This is another thing we were waiting to do until after the wiring was done.)
Prime and paint ceiling.
Prime and paint the walls.
Prepaint and install baseboards, crown molding and corner molding to disguise the edges of the slanty drywall ceiling and where the beadboard meets all crookedy.
Touch up paint on moldings, and paint bookshelf and door trim.
Paint second coat on the floor.
Install light fixture over sink.
Rearrange the bathroom plumbing.
Install sink, clawfoot tub and toilet. The clawfoot tub with its maze of nickel-plated pipes will probably be an ordeal, so prepare for The First Screaming Match of 2007.
Hang vintage nickel-plated bathroom stuff like sponge holder and towel bars.
Take a bath in clawfoot tub, using yummy bath goods bought in Italy just for this occasion.
I'm still aiming for Valentine's Day. Hey, it's a month and a half away. The wiring was a huge project, so the plumbing is the only major obstacle left. It will happen!