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Monday, November 19, 2012

What Plumbers Could Learn From Us.

When I walked into my house on Friday, the thermostat read a cool 59 degrees. I simply hit the "up" arrow and the furnace came on. A temporary fix. So much for an easy weekend of sewing. I added this to my list of home improvement projects. Ugh. Although I'm fairly handy, I don't enjoy spending my weekend fixing things. My most pressing issue was my leaky bathtub faucet. Plumbing scares me.

I don't know much about plumbing, so I searched online for videos and tutorials but found only the vague or ridiculous. I teetered between overconfident and terrified. Eventually the overconfident (and thrifty) Bia took over. I decided to give it a try. As I slowly disassembled the hot water faucet, I felt my moxie slide. What the heck was I thinking? This mechanism didn't look like anything I'd seen before. I took some pictures and headed to Home Depot. The guy in the plumbing section found the part I needed and began a cryptic, half-hearted explanation. About all I remember hearing is, "Blah...blah...blah, it's really difficult to get it lined up. You'll need a flashlight and a screwdriver....blah...blah...rubber cup and spring." I think the entire aisle of plumbing parts freaked me out. I became a very bad listener.

I came home and with some prying, got the unit apart. I did it carefully, but there wasn't much to the assembly. The main problem was that there were no directions. Nothing at all for me to follow. I slid the pieces in through the hole in the wall and everything fit beautifully. I put it all back together, and after a minor bit of celebrating, headed to the basement to turn on my water. Defeat. I could hear the water running. To make a really long story short, this continued for about two hours. I took it apart, put it back together, took it apart, ran downstairs, turned the water on. Turned the water off. Gave up. Went back. Looked at the cold water faucet. Yelled. Stretched. Punched my fists in the air. At 9 pm, turned on TV and watched John Carter.

I don't know how I managed it, but I got a full eight hours of sleep. Usually I lie in bed visualizing the problem to the point that my brain won't shut off. I now realize why that didn't happen. Most of my projects make sense. I can figure them out. This made no sense. None. Nada.

After two cups of coffee (liquid courage), I decided to hit the tub for one last try. It took an additional 90 minutes of work, and at times I felt like I was playing the board game Operation, but I did it. I figured it out. It took some tweezers and some homemade tools, but I did it. In remote villages in Africa, running water is a great sound. In the little city of Corning, the absence of running water is a great sound. And I heard nothing. It was music to my ears.

I took a celebratory walk in my neighborhood and thought about my experience. Why the heck was this so difficult? Why is there a whole freak'n wall of plumbing parts that all look similar but aren't? And who designs these parts? I think plumbers could learn a lot from us. When sewists and quilters encounter something complicated, we find a way to make it simple. We create templates, tools, and tutorials that we post and pin. We fix the problem. And we love to find and share ways to make the whole process easier. Mostly, it's free. If it's a little more complicated, we might sell something; nonetheless, our goal is to do what we can to help bring others into the community of sewing. We love our sewing communities. And our wealth comes from the joy we get from sharing and helping. 

A few years ago, I paid a guy $130 to replace the wax ring on my old toilet. A month later, my sisters visited me. They helped me pick out a new toilet and the three of us removed the old one and installed the new one. It was sisterhood at its best. Kind of like how I feel when I hang out with my sewing sisters. Everything is better when we work together!


  1. Hi, just a moment back I was searching for the information on the plumbers Basingstokeand now I am here. So much information, really well executed blog. This is really informative and I will for sure refer my friends the same. Thanks

    1. Thanks! I might do a tutorial on fixing that plumbing issue!


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