The room off my main living room was designed for a bathroom, but was hitherto (for 8 years) used as a dumping ground. A friend who is a construction worker said he would come by and do the tiling and plumbing for me. So all other August plans were abandoned. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the “before” and have only the bare room to show you. Which was soon stripped down to better reconstruct the walls. Here is Doug trying to decide the most efficient way to deal with the decidedly wonky carpentry.Most of the plumbing was completed in the basement.Next came the wall preparation for tiling.Mixing cementAnd tiling.Doug’s work lasted 5 and half days: Then it was up to Tom to start doing the woodworking.
While I did the grouting. (A stiffish kitchen squeegee works far better for this than a floater trowel, by the way.)Quincy and Miriam from Northern Saskatchewan came by for a visit. Of course I put them to work, installing the ventilator pipe in the basement.Quincy and Miriam recently lost their home to a forest fire. They were debating as to whether or not they should rebuild or move on. In the mean time, they bought a Tiny House. They decided to move it across their frozen lake by dog team: eight were their own animals, the others belonged to a neighbour. The distance they dragged it was 11 miles!The day Miriam and Quincy left, I made a quick trip to Williams Lake to pick up Alexa from Australia. Alexa’s first job was blocking the plumbing holes with insulation, wire and steel wool to try and keep out the mice.In the mean time, Tom was working outside, which seemed somewhat unfair…Consequently, Alexa was soon using the skill saw as well.As per the rest of the year, the small window of good weather did not last long. We had to bring the work table inside. What a mess!When the rain stopped, the table would be dragged out again, but the dry weather never lasted long. (I am re-sizing the door, which is on the table on the right.)And finally, after 5 weeks’ work, the bathroom was finished.There is no running hot water. To take a shower, you heat water on the stove and carry it to the handbasin, adjust the temperature, then fling water over yourself while standing in the tiled area. I had showers like this all through Asia and figured they were not only simple to install, but also conservative of water – my well has only a trickle coming in.
And no, there are not 3 toilets in the bathroom! The right-hand one is for Pee – it is flushed into the grey water field. The left one is for solids – the middle is for sawdust. The solids go into a bucket that will be dumped into the outhouse when necessary. I had a compost toilet for a while but it was useless. I was packing out a bucket of overflow every couple of days and the composting chamber simply did not work. It was too cold in my basement. I can’t afford a septic tank so I will still be packing the occasional bucket outside – it’s main use will be in the winter.
And as for the mystery package from Bella Coola? It is the most exciting thing about the bathroom. It is peeking into the picture on the left. It is – a WASHING MACHINE!It was a bit complicated to install. Firstly, despite the $1,000 price tag (add the exchange rate and shipping) it did not come with a hose and I had to cobble together bits of garden hose – fortunately I had fittings that worked. Secondly, the machine is computer-controlled. The voluminous instructions were not very expertly translated from some Asian language and, because I wanted cold water only, it took a while before I quit getting the “insufficient water” signal. But once it was running properly – what bliss! I and both volunteers threw all we had into the huge tub and it still wasn’t full. Tom and Alexa laughed at my excitement. But I am 69 years old and I have NEVER owned a washing machine before. While I lived at home, my parents never had one either. For years I washed everything by hand. Since I have lived at Kleena Kleene, I have travelled to Tatla periodically and used the (much smaller!) machine at the church for the heavier stuff. But of course that involved a 40-min drive each way and I had to sit and wait for it. A laundry trip would take half a day. As a result, work clothes would be worn until they practically walked around by themselves. (Of course there were also the times when I was invited, or invited myself, to visit with friends who already had a bathroom and I would always take my laundry along….)
This machine is supposed to be one of the most efficient washers in power and water usage. How wonderful it is to set it in motion whenever I feel like it (when my solar power system allows it, which is most of the time – I will have to choose a sunny day in the depth of winter) and go and work on something else. The other fantastic advantage is that it spins so well that there is hardly any drying time. Solar power is not efficient for heating and I don’t like propane, so a drier is not an option. But now, when the sun shines, the clothes are dry within the hour. I bought a vacuum cleaner when I moved into this house 7 years ago. A vacuum cleaner and a washing machine! What will I have next?