Earth Wind and Fire: Hell Corner

Yes, I’m behind on my posting (9 long days to be exact) – mostly because I’ve been busy organizing and producing this:

Go ahead.  Take a good long look.  Enjoy.  Because it only goes downhill from here.

It looks so innocuous, doesn’t it? Look at the innocent sink sitting there in its nonthreatening cabinet.

This past weekend, after being bolstered by our previous success (routing/routering not included) Kris and I decided to tackle what I’ve affectionately dubbed HELL CORNER corner corner corner corner…..

For those of you keeping score, we sold our old dishwasher on Craig’s List and bought the model sitting in this picture wrapped in what looks like a prop from an episode of Dexter.  Why isn’t it installed, you ask?  Because I may or may not have broken several wires when uninstalling the last one, and then realized that the garbage disposal now leaks.


In which the plumber who installed our sink fell into rapturous evil laughter when he thought of the poor soul who would have to replace the cabinet.

Anyway, this weekend we decided to deal with it.  First up – disconnecting the drain and other plumbing.  Yeah, so you can’t just saw through all these little elbows and such.  You have to have a piece of pipe so you can patch it later.  (Don’t I sound competent?)

After mulling it over for a while and thinking fondly of the DIY channel’s sledge hammer heavy demo jobs, Kris and I decided the best way to handle this was to cut the cabinet away from the plumbing and have a look.

I mean once you have all the carpentry out of the way, you’re home free, right?  Right?

So after a few satisfying swings with a hammer and Kris’ obsession with Kim the Tool Fairy’s shop vac, we were left with this:

See the copper pipe?  More on that later.

I had been lucky enough to find a damaged sink base for cheap.  I fixed the cracked back panel and shored up the top with a board, some screws and wood glue.  The rest of it is awesome.  But how does one encourage such a delicate piece of furniture to mate with such a well endowed plumbing system?

Still looking competent.

One cuts several holes to accommodate the protrusions and a “secret” panel for the back.  It’s all very Victorian.

As for the copper pipes, there wasn’t enough room below the dishwasher valve to cut and patch the pipe, so I brilliantly (yeah, right) decided that I could cut the pipe in the basement and pull it up through the floor, set the cabinet down, put the pipe back and, gulp, solder it into place.

Don’t get too close to the well endowed plumbing, Kris!

Whilst I whittled away at our new cabinet.  Kris brandished the shop vac wand again and set to work on tiling the unfinished part of the floor.

I had some time to kill between destroying (I mean modifying) our new cabinet, so I made the first of 4 trips to the hardware store.

My mission?  To buy a soldering kit, some new conduit to rewire hell corner and some copper joiners for the now severed pipe.   While I was there, I bought a gasket for the garbage disposal.  I had a bad feeling about the garbage disposal. [insert ominous music here]

I returned to find Kris preparing a luncheon of turkey, bacon, field green wraps cut and secured with toothpicks, served with potato chips and a very civilized glass of limeade.  Kris’ compulsion to prepare gourmet meals grows in inverse proportion to the actual functionality of the kitchen.

After our fine dining experience, we set to work again.  We installed our new cabinet around the obscene and vaguely pornographic pipe structure, and I wired the conduit to the dishwasher and pushed it into its new home.

Look at Hell Corner. Isn’t she pretty?

Now all that was left to do was hook up the plumbing and electricity.  Right.

So we put the old counter top and sink back on the cabinet, dropped our copper pipe through my expertly cut holes, and I went to the basement to wire in the dishwasher.

Metal is not my friend.

I’ll spare you the adult language I used while cutting, re-cutting, wiring, rewiring, twisting, capping and stretching metal sheathed household wiring.  Suffice it to say it didn’t put me in a good spiritual place for plumbing.

I needed to find my center.

I needed to find my confidence.

I needed a beer.

But the day was still young, so I resolved to wait for the beer until I cracked it open in celebration at having conquered HELL CORNER corner corner corner.

The problem with soldering is that I don’t know how to do it.  Kris agreed to stand beside me and pray while I lit a torch and approached our basement pipes.  We read the directions twice and I assured her I had seen it done on Youtube.  It was only after dry fitting the joiners that Kris pointed out that the copper pipe I was about to light on fire was directly above our gas line.

So after my next trip to the hardware store, I glued the pipes using some wicked copper adhesive bonding glue stuff that will kill you if you think about it too hard.

Then we turned the water on.  It (of course) leaked, but not at my patching job – the leak was upstairs in Hell Corner.  Also, when we turned on the faucet nothing came out.

I’ll spare you even more adult language and a very tense conversation with Kris, after which we (meaning Kris) decided to sleep on it and come back to it in the morning.

So Sunday morning I arose bright and early, pulled on my big boy pants and headed downstairs.

I’ll skip forward at this point in the story because it really doesn’t matter what came when.  All you need to know is that somewhere between rewiring the dishwasher (again) and me sitting on a water soaked Christmas tree in our basement pondering my worth as a plumber – nay, my worth  as a human being!- my patching job failed.

I knew this right away because just before smacking my head on the bottom of the sink I heard a shower running.  In the basement.  Where there is no shower.

I ran downstairs, turned off the water, soaked up the pond with the dog towels and my shirt and listened while Kris coached me to get some zen about the whole thing.  I only heard intermittent phrases, such as “call a plumber” and “I can’t cook without electricity” so I can’t reproduce the conversation in its entirety.

We (Kris) decided we would call a plumber and she would stay home from work on Tuesday to deal with it.

As it stands now, we have a sink.  It works.  Our garbage disposal is apparently 568 years old and is no longer in production, so the gasket I purchased Saturday will not work. We’ll have to either permanently install a bucket under that part of the sink and never use our new dishwasher, or wait until we get paid next month and buy a new one because we are so very much at the end of our budget this month.

We did buy the paint for the walls and cabinets on Monday before the ReadMOB.  Now, if I can only get temporary custody of a paint sprayer….


Oh, Ok Fine.

Hear that giant sucking sound?  Listen harder.  There it is.  The sound of my bank account being sucked dry.  “Oh, Jay,” you’ll say  “You should have known better than to start such a giant, impossible task in the middle of a recession.  I mean, come on, you are an independent bookseller. How much money did you think you’d have?!  Well??  Answer me!” [Side note: I always imagine my friends and family are judging me more harshly than they probably are.]

“Hey, wait!” I’ll say.  “Don’t be such a jerk.  I’m handy.  I can do most of it.  Plus, how was I supposed to know that our trees would have to be trimmed RIGHT NOW to appease our neighbors? (Not Lori, the most Awesome Neighbor Ever.  The other ones.  With the dog.  And the roaches.  And mice.)  And, ok fine, yes.  I did know that expense was coming.  But what about this?!:

Ok, fine.  Yes.  I realized gas was creeping up to $4 per gallon, but that’s not supposed to apply to me.


Anyway, since my last dispatch, we got a second (more expensive) opinion on the electricity, and conflicting advice about the plumbing.  One plumber said we’d have to build a new wall and drill through my closet floor and through our roof to vent the sink.

Hear the crickets chirping?

The other plumber was more reasonable, but it was still going to cost more than our budget, which is zero.   SO, Lori’s awesome idea to move the sink is on the chopping block.  Instead we’ll focus on not burning the house down and installing cabinets.

And it is sooo time to work on cabinets.

The good news is that I got to spend part of the weekend with my family in Effingham, and pick up a band saw, a floor sander, a bunch of wood she was going to BURN (!) and other miscellaneous items of great use from my sister Terrie (the other tool fairy), so the tank of gas was worth it.

For now, though.  We’ll be waiting for the mighty bookstore to give us our monthly bread.

More later.