That was my husband’s motto when we purchased our 40-year old house. We had become adept at ripping up old carpets, painting walls and doors, and had even replaced our wood deck all by ourselves, so we were feeling pretty confident about our abilities to care for and maintain our home.
We did respect our limits however. Truth be told, we’re not really do-it-yourselfers, and since I’m an interior designer, I have a healthy understanding of what “DIY-gone-wrong” looks like, so I know when to stop and say “let me call so-and-so.”
Be that as it may, there are some things that my husband and I were determined to be able to do on our own. First, for our own satisfaction and pride that we could pull off some true handiness when push came to shove, and second, because even though I have a rolodex filled with competent trades people, they don’t work for free (nor should they) and they get annoyed with too many requests for “just-one-more-thing-it’s-really-small-it’ll-only-take-like-15-minutes.” Even with me smiling my most fabulous smile and promising ice cream cones, I know when to back off, unless it’s an emergency. Anyway…
So, we’re happily living in our new abode, replacing cabinet knobs and making plans to renovate this and that, and we notice these tiny little flies in our Master Bathroom shower stall. Every day there were a few more. Not a swarming mass like the Amityville Horror or anything, but gradually becoming more prevalent. Where are these flies coming from? We asked each other. A friend of ours mentioned that they were sewer flies, probably coming up from the drain. Eeew, what?!
Now, I’m not that squeamish, really. At least by south Florida standards, anyway. We live in the hot, humid, sub-tropics, where everything is alive, if you know what I mean. There’s a certain amount of getting-used-to-the-critters that one must become accustomed to here if you want to live a carefree life. So when I see lizards, ants, and other assorted bugs roaming around my house, I shoo them out or squash them without a second thought and move on. (Though I have been known to wake my husband in the wee hours of the night to kill a palmetto bug, because, man, those things are big, and I don’t like being stared at while I’m getting the shoe ready.)
But sewer flies in my shower had me freaked out. Not knowing what action to take, we ignored them for a few more days. And then one Saturday I left to attend a friend’s baby shower. On my way home, I called my husband to let him know I was on my way back, and I got this:
“Honey, don’t be mad, but I started a project.”
Oh God, I thought. “What did you do, honey?”
“Well, I figured out where the flies were coming from.” Yikes! He continued, “It seems that some of the shower curb tiles were loose so I pulled them off, and it was teeming with worms underneath. So I ripped off all the tiles from the curb.” He sounded vaguely satisfied. I, however, was feeling the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and picturing my bathroom covered in worms.
“Uh, so, what’s it look like now?” I asked cautiously.
“Oh, it’s fine. Don’t worry; I cleaned up all the worms, so you wouldn’t have to see that.” Did I mention how much I love my husband? “But, you have a tile project on your hands now.” Wait, what did I just say?
Okay, I thought, I can handle this. It’s just a few tiles, no big deal. I’m a highly educated person; I work in the construction industry, how hard can it be? Plus, I have friends with skills if I get into trouble. I can do this!!!
The situation didn’t look as bad as I imagined when I finally got home, but the wall board below the tile had rotted out, so I had to replace that too. After consulting with my tile guy, I got some concrete board scraps, bought some thin set and grout, a few trowels, a grout float/sponge thing, and headed off to the home improvement store with a piece of old tile so I could match it to the new tiles I needed. The store even cut my tiles for me (though they don’t do that anymore. Boo.). I headed home with all my equipment and prepared myself mentally and physically to rebuild and tile a shower curb.
And you know what? It turned out just fine. I did it! All by myself. I installed the concrete board, back-buttered the tiles, spaced them out just right, saved the other tiles that were still in place, grouted it like a pro, and nary a fly has been seen in my bathroom since. Thank you very much.
The space between me and my limits got a little larger that day.