Discovering This Old House

I sat there on my new toilet (lid down) staring at the wall, trying to think good thoughts. So maybe the lady owned and wore diamond rings, and the rings slipped off while she was doing dishes or washing her hands and dropped down the drains. This would account for both the kitchen and bathroom sink pipes being disconnected and lying about. Perhaps they kept some kind of endangered species in the bathtub? I hear the otters are trouble again. How else could there be so much water damage on the floors, walls and the bathroom ceiling?  There was murky, standing water in the bathtub that would not drain when I bought this pitiful fixer-upper.

And the old, calcified toilet? Just a little humor on their part, because it flushed so slowly, probably anyone using the shower in the other bathroom in the back of the house, at a slightly lower elevation, lost water pressure for quite a bit. Then, when the sewage started coming up through the drain, well, the expression on the fleeing showerer’s face was no doubt priceless…

It took a plumber and his assistant one day and the equivalent of probably one month’s rent the owner had not been willing to spend to repair the whole mess. Then, because the front bedroom had no closet, some former tenants took it upon themselves to build one—into the bathroom. Now, upon entering the bathroom, one faced a blank wall. A turn to the right would point one in the direction of the toilet; a couple of steps and a sharp turn left took one to the sink. Between these two features was the tub. This L configuration was awkward and ugly. And the built-in closet was poorly constructed. It didn’t take much effort to tear it out which I had done.

The party who boarded up the big old bathroom window, replaced it with an ugly little aluminum-framed sliding window which destroyed the symmetry of the house from the outside. I tore that out as well and now had a lovely big open hole in the bathroom wall.

I had also ripped out some of the water-warped wall paneling under which was more water-warped paneling. Who in their right mind would install tin tiles in a bathroom? Tin rusts, as was clearly evident. I am not thinking good thoughts.

So there I sit on the toilet (lid down) pondering all this and staring at the wall of my now 77 square foot bathroom (sans closet). At the place where the closet was attached to that wall I see a space between the warped fake paneling…planks? Houses aren’t built of planks. Houses are constructed of two-by-fours which are covered with sheetrock—although this clearly wasn’t sheetrock. I picked up the crowbar and hammer again for a closer investigation of the planks.

By the time I was done, I was standing in an 847 cubic foot bathroom surrounded by one-inch by 12-inch cedar planks with red fir flooring under my feet instead of layers of decaying linoleum. Even the now 11-foot high ceiling (hiding above the acoustical tile eight-foot ceiling I had since ripped down) was made of one-by-12 cedar planks. It was the most gorgeous, rustic bathroom I had ever seen, and it was mine—all mine!

In a corner of the bathroom ceiling was a square door for attic access. The house had no apparent attic access when I bought it. This was why. I got the ladder and climbed up and slowly removed the door. Poking my head through the space, I could hear the Hallelujah Chorus rising in my spirit. Rays of golden light streamed through vertical slats of attic vents onto a dusky space that had not been seen for decades. From my vantage point I could see the whole house had originally been constructed of the one-by-12 cedar planks, hidden beneath layers of paneling and above false ceilings for a very long time. My “pitiful fixer-upper” was some kind of historic treasure!

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