At what point in time does the bathroom become the story?  We have been in the throws of not one, but two remodels since we moved in last August.  The thing is, these bathrooms needed help.  Oh, I know.  I suppose that we could have tried to bolster up the 60’s look by keeping what we had and repairing it, painting it, yada, yada, yada.  But hey, there aren’t that many years left so in addition to our baths changing, our relationship with money is also changing.  This is due in part to the observations that

1.) we can’t take it with us  2.) we are really getting old, the “I can’t remember shit”  kind of old   3.) We’ve got to take our meds old.  4.)  what are we saving it for anyway old   6.)  OMG, I have chicken neck old.  7.)  The two advil remedy after golf old.  5.)  The OMG, I left out the number 5 old.

But, I digress.

The bathroom (and when I say bathroom, I mean both but I don’t want to use it because the word ‘bathroom’ it sounds better than ‘bathrooms’.  Agreed?  The bathroom was history.  It was time to take matter into our own hands by hiring Stevie Wonder to re-do the bath.  Which tells you all you need to know about our new relationship with money.  (I’m sure that it was perfectly obvious to you, but I’m not taking any chances).  It just occurred to me that what I just wrote would make a great greeting card (the comment in the parentheses above).  Really?  I actually spelled that right?   A miracle occurs because since I studied french on Rosetta Stone, I can’t spell at all anymore.  Just an aside.

Back to Stevie Wonder.  Little did we know that he would be as entertaining as he is…when we first met him although all the signs were there.  But we were sober.  So…he has been interesting to be around for what seems like an eternity but only because we are sleeping on a guest room bed in a guest room, hell…our only other bedroom) and because there is so much darn dust (read the Dust Bowl blog), and because sometimes you just want to be alone together if you get my drift…drifting as I do to the next segue which is that Stevie is nothing short of amazing.  He arrives early most days with more than 20 peoples’ energy clumped together…I will not speculate.  I report, you decide.  Anyway, I get jacked up just being around him as the nervous energy in the room is ratcheted up to the point where I feel a distinct need to jump up and do something…it’s infectious.  Which can be good or bad.  I report.  You decide.

But, well, where the heck am I? I’ve pursued so many rabbit trails, and twisted and turned so much, I distracted myself.  Have you ever done that?  (That was a tongue-in-cheek question).  On the chance that has never happened to you, though, may I say that the bathroom and Stevie Wonder were to collide and keep things in a state of semi-upheaval for months.

Just a bathroom.  Only a bathroom.  Well, the bathroom is probably the first or second most important room in the house because you can do things in there that you can’t do in the rest of the house.  So, the bathroom has established it’s supremacy in our life.  Consider that you can chop a radish in a bathroom.  I rest my case.  Anyway, with it’s necessary status, a bath cannot, on my view, be trifled with.  So, we embarked upon the remodeling project.

But I digress.

Stevie Wonder found us.  We did not find him.  The first morning we were moving in he flew up our cul-de-sac, stopping to introduce himself and explain that he had done a lot of work for the previous owners, and he knew the house in and out, and he could do 80% of the trades because he was a general with vast experience, and because he was working next door to completely remodel the vacant house (lost in the housing bubble and subsequently bought by a spec guy for a quick fix-up and turnaround sale)…and he’d be happy to show us his work so that if ever there is anything that you need to be done…”well, I can do it.”  It was like a given, then.  That was it.  Stevie was our guy.  So much for competitive bidding, shopping around.  No.  Stevie was a gut instinct call with absolutely no researching, no bids.  No nothing.

Actually, we tried out Stevie Wonder.  We need to have some electrical work done.  A local business gave us a bid for 8 hours@$80 an hour.  Stevie said he could do it less time and at $40.  Stevie said he’d do it for $250.  We paid him $300.  Quick and efficient and clean/tidy.  I guess that was our research.

Contractors get a bad wrap.  All kinds of horror stories accompany many house remodels.  It is ripe for the taking…all the “bad” stories.  This is unfortunate because many of these people are really good.  My thinking is that perhaps our expectations are out of whack.   First of all, many of them never went to college.  They are in my mind, akin to a seagull.  If they don’t work, they don’t get paid.  If the seagull doesn’t eat, oh, never rmind.    You get my drift.  Contractors are from the school of hard knocks, the learn-by-doing people.  They are extremely knowledgeable  Some, like all other professions, are untrustworthy, some slow (the perfectionist?), some too-too.  The list goes on.  However, I think they still get a bad wrap.  We, the people that need this service bear some responsibility too.  Knowing what we want (eek, what do I want?).  It all boils down to knowing what we require in a bathroom.  Not want, but require.  My “want” bath looks a whole lot different than my “require” bath.  My want would have heated floors.  My want bath would include a bathtub.  What I require along with the Rayman is a shower, a toilet, two sinks and a medicine cabinet.  Oh, and a towel warmer.  These were requirements (oops, for the master bath).  The guest bath is without a towel warmer and one sink and a medicine cabinet.

Once the requirements are determined further headache producing decisions must be made.  OMG.  Cabinet tops, lights, light switches, tile, floor plan, flooring, cabinets, shower door, hinges, towel racks, lights of many different kinds, an exhaust fan.  Exhausting list.  Really.

And I must report that minds were changed, ideas were changed, solutions were changed.  Everything was open to change and change did occur.  It’s the nature of the beast.  You cannot foresee something, like who’s the next Pope?  And why would I think of that right now because the Pope and the church he “rules” is one of the institutions/organizations in existence on the plant that are NOT open to change?  Why is that?  Why do religions not evolve with the times like most other things?  Just saying.

But I digress.

So, whether you agree or not, I hope you at least see my point(s).  Here’s a picture of the old master bath.


In need of help.


And here it is under construction.  One of the things we decided to do in the middle of the project was to raise the ceiling.  Who knew there was that much room up there?  We also decided to order an extra bank of drawers thinking our vanities only had 1 drawer each.  Wrong.  They each have 4.  Oh, well, how stupid can you get?  Then we selected tile and then deselected tile.  There were many trips to the tile store…which is in the south end of Paso Robles.


Getting it done.


Then there was the day that there was so much refuse out in the yard, we broke down and the Rayman and the Wonder loaded as much garbage in as few as garbage bags as possible (big heavy duty black bags) so that when I drove over to the landfill, I was unable to hoist them into the garbage bins.  Heck, I could hardly get them out of the car.  So, I had to take out pieces of plywood, hardwood floor (lots of that), sheet rock that had gotten wet, tape, lumber of various shapes and sides, yards of visquene. (how do you spell that?)  Boxes were smashed and wet.  So, there I am at the landfill heaving building materials over the side of the dumpster until the bags were light enough that I could lift them to shoulder height to throw them away.  It took a long time.  And it was messy.  And it was hot in Atascadero.  And I think I can identify three bruises on my legs that I managed to secure while dumping the trash.  What were those guys thinking?


Construction zone


In the middle of all this, consider that our contractor was having relationship problems with his lady friend.  So, this meant that before work started, sharing commenced.  Mostly we listened.  And we heard a lot.  Then there was the lawyer that he had hired for some legal work that called him one day after Stevie had paid him thousands to say that his (the lawyer’s) license had just been suspended.  Off he went in a cloud of dust to the local bar association where he found a new, reputable firm that could help him, maybe.  Additionally, he stopped or tried to stop smoking.  All this made our job extremely interesting…not the run of the mill kind of job you might expect.  It was like true confessions, Payton Place, and some sit-com wrapped all up altogether.   “But, when are you going to install the toilet?” , I’d inquire.  “Well, Duncan (a previous client) called and the water heater broke, and I have to go help him fix it today.”  Or how about this.  “What are you going to work on today?”, Rayman would say.  “Oh, I’ll do the tile but I have to chase the grout line and three tiles broke and there’s a problem with the …yada yada yada.”  Whereas the fellow that installed the hardwood for us when we moved in barely spoke, Stevie Wonder has been extremely verbal.  And he talks really fast and half the time I’m left wondering what the heck was his point anyway.  It is a hoot.  Some days when he arrives, usually around 8 a.m., he is so wired that it is best to just get out of the way.  He apparently partakes of some drink like Jolt that infuses him with all that enthusiasm.  And here is where I get to say that Stevie Wonder is nothing if not enthusiastic most of the time.  Eager to please always easy to reach are two of his more enduring qualities.  And he works 6 days a week usually from 8 to 2 with time out for lunch which I make him when I’m home.  Oh, and did I mention that he goes to church religiously?  So we banter quite a bit…especially when I say, “God damn it.”  He takes offense.

Which leads me back to the Pope.  What do you all think about this new Pope?  It’s only been a few days.  I’d like to see him admit women to the priesthood, allow priests to marry, quietly disengage all the pedaphiles  such as Cardinal Law from Boston who turned the other cheek to what was going on and is now enscounsed in the Vatican to live his life in luxury.  What’s wrong with that picture?  This is a perfect opportunity to made some radical changes.  So, go for it Pope Francis.

And things do go wrong.  In the guest bath, the vent/heater/fan was installed and worked about a week and then the fan stopped working.  We called.  They sent us a new fan.  Not a new unit, just the fan.  Stevie installed the fan and the heater stopped working.  We called.  They sent out a whole new unit this time.  Problem solved after almost three weeks.  Then the lights we ordered were too big for the area so we took them back and ordered some others.  They still aren’t here.  It’s been 4 weeks probably.  We also ordered the towel warmer.  It’s still not here because it was on backorder so we chose a different style by the same company and have been assured that it will arrive next week.  Seeing is believing.  The new one is bit more modern looking but at this point, we’re just not that choosey.  We just want it.

On the flip side, the woman we worked with at the kitchen and bath store got a manufacturer to make us a special drain cover for our one piece porcelain-covered cast iron floor for our shower (no grout).  And Stevie Wonder sold us two skylights that he removed from the house that he lost in the housing debacle.  One is in the bath.  The other will be installed in the hall.  And these are not ordinary skylights.  They open.  They close.  The have a screen.  They have a shade that covers it if you don’t want any light.  They close automatically if it starts to rain.  They are used but in great shape.  And it makes a huge difference in the bath.  We consider this a good thing.

Now, your confidence starts to wan when one of your friends enters the bathroom and exclaims, “What did you put this wall here for?”.  The thing about the wall is that there are two pony walls that come up to about chest high and the form a semi-private space for the toilette.  We all thought it was a good idea.  Did we screw up?  Quite possibly there is not another bathroom that has anything like this so it does make it unique.  But is it so unique that it is odd?  Remains to be seen.  Depends, I think, on the art we hang on the wall as it does keep the still rather small bathroom open while still providing some privacy for the new fangled toilet seat we bought.

What, you say?  Yes.  Last year when we traveled to Turkey, our apartment came with a toilet that had a squirter directly under the toilet seat.  As you sat, you could turn on the water by turning a valve and “get clean”.  It was really nifty.  So, my blog has now taken a turn toward the vulgarities of bathroom matters.  This toilet seat is very sophisticated and because it is, it comes with a 33 page book on the care and usage of the seat.  About the first 10 pages are warnings.  This seat could possibly electrocute us if not used properly.  It could burn us if we sat on it too long.  You must not crimp any lines, you must check the plug into the wall monthly (really).  Children must be supervised.  Older people may require a bit of supervision too and that includes me.  And it has a remote control for easy usability.  It also can be programmed for water temperature.  You see, it has a wand that comes out and cleans you.  You have choices too.  It can do Rear Cleansing, Soft Rear Cleansing, Front Cleansing.  You can adjust the wand position.  How about the water temperature?  Yep.  That can been selected to be between 86 to 104 degrees.  It also has an oscillating wash and a pulsating wash.  My, oh, my.  Once you have finished your “session”, you can then then dry your wet areas with warm air.  Another amenity is the deodorizer.  It removes odor from the toilet bowel.  The seat gently lowers the seat and the lid and the seat has a sensor that detects when someone sits on the toilet seat and once it knows you are there, it activates all the functions that you then direct with the remote control   And this special seat is self cleaning to a point.  What more could a person want?  I love this seat.  Of course, it has been the butt (pardon the pun) of many jokes this past week…but I don’t care.  I love this seat.  It’s better than a bidet.  I report, you decide.

Once you get past all the warnings, the first thing it tells you to do is to “Sit on the toilet seat.”  2.  Wash.  This section includes two tips for better results.  3. Drying  4.  Standing up from the toilet.  Really.  The next section has a few pages about conserving energy.  You can program the seat to only be on during certain hours.  You can turn it off for vacation.  There is an Auto Energy Saver.  The seat is called a Toto Washlet.  The washlet will store the time periods when the toilet is used, find low use times and automatically lower the toilet seat temperature to save energy.  These Japanese really are all over it, aren’t they.  They seem to have thought of everything on my wishlist.  Yes, they did.  Why it even has a button to push for Want Cleaning whereby the wand comes out but doesn’t squirt water so you can clean it.  OMG.  Have I gone on and on too long?

At dinner with our gourmet dinner club, the subject came up (after we ate).  Rayman thinks reservations may be needed at our next party for the loo.  I don’t know.  I report, you decide.


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