Plumbing, Plungers, & Plagiarism

It all started with a leaky kitchen faucet.

Little drips, little problems.

Clark determined that the faucet needed to be replaced, and I got to thinking how nice it would be to replace the sink as well. I successfully argued that a single basin sink would be more practical, especially when it came to soaking pizza pans, rib racks, and sticky smoked salmon grates.

Now we had a slightly bigger project, which would end up causing exponentially bigger problems.

We didn’t know that at the time, of course. When the sink arrived on our doorstep a week later and we oohed and awed at its beauty. Too bad it had to stay in our guest bedroom far longer than we planned.

On installation day we cleared the cluttered cabinet under the sink so Maggie could crawl in and bench press the old sink out of its home. Clark stood up top, razor blade in hand. The old sink was both heavy and heavily caulked. He broke a blade slicing it free, but it still wasn’t budging. Eventually he traded places with Maggie, but turns out his muscle was a tad too mighty.

Good news: the sink finally broke free.

Bad news: So did the granite. Our countertop cracked in four different places.

This is when work stopped and swearing started. Copious amounts of cursing, followed by some frantic Googling. Our home was built in 2003, but maybe we could find a matching slab of granite to replace the area around the sink? Or maybe the cracks could be repaired? Or would this new sink end up sinking us into debt with an unplanned kitchen remodel?

Fortunately we have a neighbor who works in the concrete business, and he came over that evening for a consult. After several days of searching for materials and considering options, we all decided the most practical solution was to fully sever the cracks with a diamond blade. We then removed those granite sections, cleaned up the edges, and glued everything back in place. The gaps would be filled with black grout.

This went fairly well, and before we knew it the granite was glued back in place and clamped to dry for 24 (we wish) hours:

At this point we’d been without a kitchen sink for eight days, but thankfully Clark rigged up the drain so we could still use the dishwasher. Only pots and pans had to be washed in the bathroom.

Ah, the bathroom. Believe it or not, this is where the story really goes to shit. Literally.

On Monday our toilet was running incessantly, and no amount of handle jiggling or valve adjusting would make it stop. In a fit of frustration I turned off the toilet water so Clark could investigate when he got home. I should have put a sign on the door, because someone (protecting the names of the innocent here) used the toilet without realizing it was out of commission. And putting it back into commission proved futile.

So now we have Clark plunging away in the bathroom at about the same time one of my children (protecting the name of the guilty here) asks for a quick edit on a science research paper that’s due the next day. I get about four sentences in before I start to wonder if s/he actually wrote this, and five sentences before I know for certain s/he didn’t. There’s more cursing coming from the bathroom, and in the kitchen my child is horrified by my plagiarism accusations.

It’s nearly bedtime, and fully investigating either issue is not going to be productive. Clark shuts the bathroom door and I send the kid to bed.

Tomorrow is a new day, right? Another day without a kitchen sink, and we can no longer wash our dishes in the contaminated bathroom, but it’s still a new day! The granite glue gets another bonus day to dry because Clark is snaking the bathroom toilet as my little plagiarizer and I settle into the couch for a one-on-one tutoring session on how to properly write research papers.

(I feel the need to clarify that this kid is an amazing student with a stellar work ethic. S/he was inserting footnotes and citations for all sources used and wasn’t trying to hide anything. As a former English teacher and current librarian I can vouch that the errors were common for this age. Common and sooooo obvious.)

But let’s go back to the toilet. If my kid thinks revising a paper about the now debunked theory of spontaneous generation is exasperating, s/he need only look down the hallway to the father who has been trying to snake the toilet for over an hour.

“Did anyone put anything in this toilet I need to know about?” he barks. We all shake our heads no. We have a private septic tank and know better.

Until… suddenly… Maggie remembers something. She was playing fetch with the dogs. With a bouncy blue racquetball. One time she threw it down the hallway, where it bounced into the bathroom. The dogs raced after it, but did not retrieve.

Things that make you go hmmmmm.

Things that make you (or your husband) use a plastic red Solo cup to scoop brown water out of a toilet bowl.

Things that make you (or your husband) rip out the toilet and set it upside down in your bathtub. The very bathtub where you have been washing dishes for nine days.

Things that make you decide it’s okay to skip washing tonight’s dirty pots and pans, and just let them sit on the stove for another day.

It was a joyously victorious moment when Clark retrieved the bouncy blue ball from the toilet’s innards. He marched out of the bathroom as if he was holding a crown jewel, then promptly threw it in the garbage and went upstairs to shower.

Let’s fast forward to the happy ending. The revised research paper is brilliant, well researched, and 0% plagiarized. There will be a penalty for submitting it late, but the lesson learned was more than worth it.

The new sink is installed, and we absolutely love it. It has a colander, cutting board, and wire rack. Time will tell which of these we use most, but all appear to be functional options.

Our countertop is now perfectly imperfect, just like our family. We have scars, we have stories, and we have character.

I so appreciate all the work Clark put into this project. Bonus: he was the first to wash dishes in the new sink. May that be a sign of good things to come!

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