What’s Going On Here?

Well, things were at an Eleven on the Crazy Scale last week. It’s all good, all good. Just a lot.

I finished off a big research project for a foundation, and Edutopia published a Q and A that I did with Daniel Willingham about his new book, Outsmart Your Brain. Fun side story, I was a little nervous when I started that Q and A, because I had to manage unfamiliar Edutopia’s Zoom protocols, and they wanted me to ask very specific questions, so I flubbed the name of his book when we were talking. I asked him about his new book, Outsource Your Brain. At that moment, I wanted to outsource MY brain.

To publicize the article, I wrote did a little book review on his book for my newsletter, and that went viral. I am seriously the shiest person on social media. I want to tell people about my life, but only a managable number of people. When I get too much attention, I get rather nervous. You never know what random strangers are going to say about you.

Meanwhile, I sold three bookcases of brand new books to a local Amazon seller, which involved some coordination. $1,200 for a $55 purchase. Ha. Love it. I’ve got to package up two more orders for this morning’s mail. And here’s a book story from this morning (click for the thread):

While work stuff was at eleven last week, I got a call from our contractor. Two of our three bathrooms have completely fallen apart. Too damaged to repair, it’s a complete gut and replace situation. One bathroom is 60-years old, and the other is 40-years old, so I don’t feel too bad about it. We were on the contractor’s list for later in the spring, but one of his clients backed out and he needed to fit us in ASAP. So, Steve and I spent the weekend buying tile and faucets and toilets. I basically knew what I wanted thanks to compulsive Pinterest-ing, but it was still a lot of decision-making. I’m doing my usual thing — modern/vintage/Brooklyn — but I’ll share more pictures later.

And yes, I read a lot about the South Park episode on Harry and Meghan. Parody is always allowed in the US. Yay to the First Amendment.

Ian’s home this week, because his transition program is closed. So, I’m helping him coordinate all his college work — he’s an ace at the actual work, but sometimes gets confused with deadlines for his online classes. I’m still driving him around the county to social skills groups and therapists in the evening. The usual stuff, really.

In the next two days, I have to pack up for a long weekend skiing in Vermont and pack up the bathrooms., because everything happens on Thursday. Demolition of two bathroom and departure for Vermont. They might do a little work in my closet, so I have to relocate all my clothes. Because they’re working on our master bathroom, we have to relocate ourselves to the office bed for a month. Like I said, it’s all good — just a lot.


35 thoughts on “What’s Going On Here?

  1. Just finished my bathroom. It was minor, but I’m very happy – reglazed tub and a new vanity and it feels bright and modern.


      1. Grab bars! An old girlfriend was active in disability rights groups, the phrase was ‘TABs’, stood for Temporarily Able-Bodied. We are TABs


      2. Dave is right on those grab bars! My wife thinks they look bad but as you move through your 50s and into your 60s the injuries take longer to heal and it’s nice to have a secure thing to hold.


      3. On grab bars — have an interior design friend who says absolutely yes to grab bars on bathroom renovations. She also designs thresholdless showers, though I think that’s on a gut remodel, rather than retrofit. I think it’s an example of something much harder to add, a universal design addition.

        I’m less sure about thresholdless showers which seem necessary with greater loss of mobility, and, potentially not of significant value in a 2nd floor shower in a house that already has stairs coming in and out (like mine). But, I’m not sure of all the benefits.


      4. I think you can do a no threshold shower by cutting off the top inch of existing joists and sistering them for strength. So big-ish but not monstrous. We did one for my MIL and there was some splashing out around the bottom, probably should have had a half inch marble strip to be passable by wheeled shower chair but not by water. Stairs – well if you are really cathected to your house, you can screw one of those electric riser chairs to the wall of the stairwell, or difficulty climbing may be a message to move to an ADA elevator apartment. But it really is worth thinking ahead on these things. And don’t get me started on cute little rugs with trippable edges…


  2. “https://nypost.com/2023/02/21/meghan-markle-upset-and-overwhelmed-by-south-park-episode/” This woman is nucking futz. She happily turns everything upside down for everyone around her, trashes and discards her old and her new family, and now a television cartoon has her in a tizzy? Priorities, priorities.


  3. Have you ever done a timeline of all the housing renovation work? I always enjoy that kind of documentation.

    We haven’t done any significant renovation on our house. All our work is usually fixes, done on an emergency basis, which provides little satisfaction and no good before and after fixes. And, that’s not to say that the house doesn’t need fixes and upgrades, just that we’re never motivated enough to make them happen.


    1. Yeah, that’s not what I would do either. It’s not that hard to make changes if you need to. I got a guy to install bars for my parents without too much trouble.


    2. I think the issue is that you don’t know when it might have helped, before you slip and fall. You don’t have to be decrepit before some universal design principles help (classic example, curb cuts and strollers).

      (I am also the kind of person who wouldn’t get the grab bar installed when it might help, so, another reason).

      Have fun in the snow.


    3. Eh, a walk in shower looks good and is easy to clean. Go with multiple shower heads and you’ve got luxury. Just wait to add grab bars.


  4. The good thing about putting these renovations for so long is that I am totally not picky about anything. If the shower produces hot water, I’m fine with it.

    Demo starts now. We started driving to VT at 7:45 today to get out of the house. Yesterday, four people packed for a ski trip with blizzard conditions. I emptied two bathrooms and half emptied the master bedroom. Whew!


  5. We had to go a gut reno of the bathroom during the pandemic. Did the white tiles with dark grout, and I love it. Our guy also talked us into doing a non-threshold entry to the shower (no tub for us – we never use it), and I have zero regrets about that. Like you, I am not ready for grab bars, but the no threshold is great for aging AND looks good too.


    1. We only have one full bath and it really needs redone. Did people pronounce doom if you got rid of the tub (if you have no tubs left in the house)?


      1. That’s what people say. But I can’t figure out if it is true or not. Babies use those little plastic tubs, with a hand-held shower, I didn’t find it hard to bathe a toddler. We usually did use the tub as a tub at that age, but sometimes there was a spectacular shit and it didn’t seem clean enough.


      2. Not only babies (where I certainly used the little plastic tubs), but toddlers and young children. The bath is a corralling area (harder for them to climb out of), and means you can wash them, without getting soaked yourself in the shower (yes, I know sometimes bathtime results in the whole bathroom swimming – but it’s not the default state!)
        Having said that. I don’t think the presence or absence of a bath (provided there was clearly space to add one, if needed) would put anyone off buying a house.
        If you were doing up to sell – then absolutely put one in. But doing up to stay…. not so much.


  6. I had to remodel the upstairs about 10 years ago and changed from a shower to a tub, and then changed downstairs from a tub to a walk-in shower last year. I was verrrrry grateful for this decision when I broke my ankle this winter. My designer said that you can wait to put in grab bars (as long as you have the right structure or something) – sometimes it’s best to wait until you know what you need.

    It’s so nice to have a new bathroom, just in general. I got some great blue tiles for the shower, kind of an extravagance but I love them every day.

    Have fun in Vermont!


    1. You don’t need to install the grab bars, but you do need to have the wooden nogs in place, behind the wall surface, for future attachment.
      Your bathroom designer should be able to give the specifications/locations for these to the builder.


  7. I think every house needs at least one tub, somewhere in the house. However, the other bathrooms don’t need tubs. If you have a choice, and the space for it, a freestanding soaking tub in the master bath is good for resale value (in my opinion.) We have an acrylic freestanding tub in our master bath, and everyone remarks on it. No one ever said anything about our other tubs.

    Overlooked comfort item: tall toilets. https://mybesttoilet.com/best-tall-toilets-for-seniors-elderly/

    All fixtures white, because it’s difficult and expensive to match colored fixtures when something needs to be replaced years later (you can guess how I know that.)

    Looking at the ceiling in your picture, you may want to improve the power of your bathroom fan. There are fans with delayed shut-off. We have one child who goes into a trance in the shower; I wish I had known about bathroom ventilation in my younger days.

    Shower enclosures are easier to keep mold-free.


    1. Only you, the rest of us are liberal (or maybe not so liberal) elite. And many of us are apparently liberal elite with renovated bathrooms (though not me, well at least, they were renovated before we moved here, and we are now approaching our 20th year in the house).

      I don’t get the freestanding tubs and am interested in whether people use them or if they are just for display. I see that they are a part of all the modern primary bathroom renovations, but they seem awkward to use, though they do look pretty.

      We have a large 90’s tub (with steps and a ledge, but no jets). We use it and have raised kids who use it like a hot tub (but with clean water and no chemicals). But I’ve never understood if the free standing tubs can be used in the same way (with books, and now, with our kids, with phones, which, one of them tells me, can tolerate the water, she knows). She’s dreaming of the laptop that tolerates water so she can just work at a tub desk but, sees that the keyboard is the problem.


      1. bj said, “We have a large 90’s tub (with steps and a ledge, but no jets).”

        Me too. I love it in terms of functionality, but it feels kind of risky getting in and out. If I had the grab bar, I would use it.


  8. I think there are rules for resale, but that unless you know you’re selling your house soon or you are making a really big change or you are flipping houses, that too much attention to them cramps your life unnecessarily.

    I’d ask whether you need a tub for anything. I most recently used mine (the kids are at college, so it’s not getting regular use) to soak my wilted flowers. The primary bath tub would not have been my choice for that task (dishpan, laundry room sink, utility room sink, downstairs tub, . . . would have all been better choices), but, I didn’t have a dishpan or stoppers for the other spaces. Spouse asked if the mafia had threatened to drown my flower babies for some transgression when he saw them in the tub.

    (BTW, it did work, to revive the roses for a short time)


    1. The Great And The Good here have decided that single family zoning must end. Elitist legacy of racism affordability crisis etc etc. Result is that our house is now simply an encumbrance on a lot which will have a hexaplex built on it when our kids sell it after our deaths. It’s sort of sad – we like the place and have put a lot of care into it – but it means we don’t have to think about resale value even a little bit.


    2. My mother took a bath every night. YMMV. We tend to take baths every few weeks.

      It’s easier to fix the plumbing in a freestanding tub. We’ve had to cut into walls in the past to patch leaks. If you’ve been in your house for 20 years, rejoice, you may soon have the chance to plan your own bathroom renovation!


      1. Ah yes, the joy. We are already putting it off after having fixed the plumbing under the sinks after leaks (and subsequent minor damage to the cabinetry, which is ok with us but would be a problem for sale), a spray nozzle that no longer works in the bathtub (which indeed would be possible to fix in a free standing tub), shower glass that doesn’t quite close properly, ceilings that need repainting, and curtains instead of better window planning (the bath was built when the house next door was a 1 story and the windows did not need to be closed and had views).

        With 20 years in a house you definitely reach the stage where you are living with things you should fix. And we are the kind who find it hard to make decisions for anything major. We repainted the house because our teenager complained! Otherwise we tend to fix things when they have literally fallen apart.


      2. This thread is rubbing in how many of my bathroom repairs and fixture decisions are motivated by mold. How dispiriting.

        Anyways, about 20 years ago, we had to deal with mold growing in a cabinet from a slow leak in a sink. Since then, I’ve preferred console sinks. Plumbers hate this, for some reason. “Yes, I really want a console sink.” Maybe it’s harder to install?

        I like using tubs or baskets to hold towels, and if space permits, I find a tall, narrow cabinet holds more than under-sink cabinets. For example: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/nysjoen-high-cabinet-white-20470815/

        Rather than using curtains in the bathroom (again, mildew), I’ve used window privacy films. Search “window privacy films” on Amazon. They look like this: https://www.amazon.com/Coavas-Blocking-Bathroom-Stickers-Decorative/dp/B094R5RKVW/ref=sxin_26_ac_d_mf_brs?ac_md=2-1-Q29hdmFz-ac_d_mf_brs_brs&content-id=amzn1.sym.1ad31f34-ba12-4dca-be4b-f62f7f5bb10d%3Aamzn1.sym.1ad31f34-ba12-4dca-be4b-f62f7f5bb10d&crid=3O2VA4UPLGCFK&cv_ct_cx=window+privacy+film&keywords=window+privacy+film&pd_rd_i=B094R5RKVW&pd_rd_r=04ae7e8a-f4e4-4f7a-b266-eca061f6f697&pd_rd_w=g5fiZ&pd_rd_wg=2jVfs&pf_rd_p=1ad31f34-ba12-4dca-be4b-f62f7f5bb10d&pf_rd_r=7K67PS189JJ48BYD2PV8&qid=1677613388&sprefix=window+%2Caps%2C129&sr=1-2-8b2f235a-dddf-4202-bbb9-592393927392

        Many different patterns are available. You do need good hand/eye coordination to put them on, so I farm it out to my crafty daughter.


    3. Not to say ‘need’. But I purely love my big (180cm) tub.
      It’s tiled in, rather than freestanding (more convenient for the glass of wine, and associated nibbles)
      But it’s my luxury soak treat on days when life has just been too much.

      Shower to get clean. Bath to soak in luxury.

      When we had the bathroom redone (to accommodate wheelchair access – so entirely ‘functional’ rather than beautiful); having a big tub was my one non-negotiable.
      I got the biggest tub (as in longest, rather than deepest) – available here in NZ. I pined after the 2 metre ones available in the US – but not worth the astronomical cost of importing them.


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