Tuesday, January 6, 2009


What can you say about a room? Well, actually, you can say a lot if you are an architect or an interior designer, as attested by reading any Sunday newspaper where the writers assigned to such reviews don’t bat an eye at going into great wordy details. But the average joe like myself usually doesn’t have too many words for a room. They are what they are, functional but decorated living spaces.

However, several days ago we discovered water under the sink in our bathroom, and it was in hauling all the bottles, boxes and rolls out from the cabinet under the sink where our pipes are and finding it necessary to store them in the bathtub to get them out of the way, I was stunned to realize just how miniscule our bathroom really is. As most of you know, we live in a senior complex; we have a two bedroom apartment, which would lead one to think it was designed for a family of two people (although I’m sure no one actually “designed” anything in this complex, as our building looks like a military barracks). However, yesterday I confirmed just how small it was by standing in the middle of the bathroom facing a side wall and spreading my arms. My hands touched both the front and the back walls. If I turned facing the sink and did likewise, my left hand touched the left wall and the right hand ended up at the edge of the bathtub. In other words, not counting the bathtub, which abuts the front and back walls on the right side of the room, the bathroom is – well, how can I say this? – the square of my extended arms.

Into that small space juts the commode and the sink cabinet. When we moved here, one of the first things we did was to buy a big three-shelf unit that straddles the toilet tank and fills the space above, which enables us to store a few items for our daily ablutions and toilettes. A floor scale is the only other piece of equipment in the bathroom. This bathroom is so small that if the cat comes into it while we are there, we cannot turn around unless we push her out the door first. The small cabinet that hides the pipes stores a tiny storage space for a few bathroom supplies. It is impossible to decorate this bathroom in any pleasing manner, because every extra bit of frou-frou added simply makes it appear smaller. It is a most unesthetically pleasing room. It would be small for one person. It has about all the charm of an old-fashioned outhouse.

The apartment complex's maintenance man can see that there is a leak because we have been putting paper towels down on the floor inside the cabinet. When we get up each morning and check the paper, it is wet. We replace the paper and during the day it stays dry. The maintenance man has been here twice and cannot detect the source of the leak, nor can we. Jer and I talked about possible causes but of course we haven’t a clue as to how the pipes run. We do know that when our water heater ceased working one time, maintenance had to tear out walls in our pantry to find the problem. When they couldn’t, they had to call in a plumber to find and fix it and then maintenance had to repair the walls. We had to live with all our groceries sitting in our living room for about a week that time. I shudder to think that a plumber may need to be called for this new problem and our bathroom may be physically disfigured for a period of days while the problem is being researched. We cannot live without the use of our bathroom, miniscule though it is, for even one day.

So this is our first challenge for the New Year: Wait while the bathroom is being brought back to a dripless condition. Things do not move quickly around here; actually, I’m not talking about us as aging oldsters (though that is true) but about the maintenance team at the complex. So until the leak becomes a gush, I suppose we’ll just have to work around it. We do have a small amount of room on our small dining room table to store the extra toilet paper rolls and cleaning supplies until the problem is solved. Stay tuned for the saga of the midnight waters.

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