“Smooth as silk!” Said I, never, about any part of any project along the way for this house. It’s Tuesday afternoon, just past 3pm, and I am self-medicating with a glass of rose to the sounds of Mr. Hyde and the Torch-tones (that would be the plumbing torch). If that Mr. Hyde reference isn’t familiar, take a quick trip back to Zen (for real) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for an introduction to my husband: my contractor, sometimes a.k.a. Mr. Hyde. I was kinda ridiculously hoping I might not see him (Mr. Hyde!) again, like ever. But, like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster enough to make a pearl, without this particular Mr. Hyde-shaped grain of sand, I might not have much to write about. What can I say? My Muse appears in strange forms.
Anyway. First, as I’d dared hope and commit to the page last week, we *are* actually installing fixtures today. Yesterday, in addition to a few other cleanup projects, we (and I do mean “we” – I was the electrician’s helper), installed the 2 wall sconces that flank the medicine cabinet, one of which is nestled between the right side of the cabinet and the corner under the window, leaving about 2” of space to the right of *it* into which one would have to maneuver some mythical tool to secure the side screw holding the fixture onto the wall mount.
Ingenious chap that he is, Tim decided he could use a drill bit pinched between cramping fingers, which, in reality, was probably the only immediately viable solution. We secured the easier, left screw first. The right screw involved a good 10 minutes (which felt like 10 hours); a small compact mirror from my purse to peer around the right-hand edge of the mounting base to ensure the hole on the base and the hole on the fixture were aligned; some painter’s tape to secure the tiny screw to the drill bit-as-mini-screwdriver; and lots of yoga breathing to work through the shoulder spasms that threatened to scuttle the whole operation as I held the fixture steadily in place while Tim, after several misfires, dropped screws, and colorful expletives, finally caught a few threads and twisted the tiny screw into position. All of this was done with both of us wearing ill-fitting cotton gloves that came with the polished fixtures, to ensure that we left no traces of caustic, oily fingerprints on their pristine, shiny surfaces.
For both sconces we had to take advantage of and drill holes in additional depressions on the backside of the wall mounts to place them in the best spots on the wall, ignoring the pre-drilled mounting hole that was supposed to line up over the electrical box. No big deal. Ironically, the right-side fixture went up first, and more quickly, than the one to the left of the medicine cabinet, which should have been easier. That was because, as we were fitting the left one over the wall mount to hang it, we discovered it was slightly askew – the vertical arc elements, rather than being set perfectly perpendicular to the back piece, were off at a slight angle. Slight, but enough that a discerning eye would see it. Tim had to take it entirely apart, and drill it to expand a couple of the holes on the back side so he could maneuver the arcs around until they were set perfectly perpendicular, then re-secure the bolts and nuts that held everything together. The dimmer switch installation wasn’t without its hiccups either, requiring a call to the Legrand 800 number to decipher some of their wiring lingo before it was fully up and functioning.
This morning, after the final cleaning of the wall tiles and nearly asphyxiating application of sealer (the headache is still lurking), I helped hold the sink in place for 2 rounds of dry-fitting before I had to leave to take my mom to an appointment. When I came back, the sink was installed and he was working on the faucet, which went relatively uneventfully. We discovered we were missing a supply valve for the toilet that matched the other exposed supply lines for the sink (which, of course, match the faucet and shower fixtures), so I had to call my contact at the plumbing supplier to get one. Thankfully they had it in stock. I ran a couple of errands on my way to pick it up.
When I returned, Tim was working on installing the supply lines for the sink, which was going fine, until it wasn’t. Thanks to an ill-fitting washer that supposedly went with the sink trap (though that specific culprit was not revealed to me initially), Mr. Hyde crashed loudly into the bathroom on a tidal wave of obscenities that would make a sailor cringe. He has a unique way of expressing himself that makes me feel that any culpability for such problems sits squarely on my cramping, fixture-holding shoulders – as if I didn’t ask for the right thing, or should have meticulously ticked through the list of sub-parts at the time of the order of the offending valve and trap, noting precise dimensions and specifications (as if he would have done this – HA!); and thus, he sucks me into his maelstrom of fury.
Because he was, in fact, spitting angry accusations directly at me, I felt compelled to ask what the f&^# he’d like me to do about it – did I order the wrong part? Did I need to take the whole thing back and demand that they give me one that fits properly? I didn’t get an answer, just a beeping dump-truck load of further angry oaths. At this point, I quietly left my office for the kitchen, removed the unopened bottle of rose from the fridge, and stabbed the corkscrew into it, twisting with all the malicious force I’d been cultivating, because murder is a crime. And there’s a toilet in my dining room.