Like Chinese water torture

Our story so far: With four bathrooms planned for the old church we were converting into our home, we juggled a lot of details in the mechanicals phase of our project.

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One afternoon when I arrived at the church after a day filled with exciting errands like picking up rough-in valves for Glimfeather the plumber and more paint for the drywallers who were making like Michelangelo and painting the cathedral ceiling, Tyler put me to work handing him tools for the construction of a form to contain the floor-leveling compound in which the upstairs shower stall would nestle.

Tyler built sides for the form; the bottom was simply the century-old pine flooring. Leveling compound is similar to concrete, only soupier. After adding water to the dusty compound, Tyler poured the goop into the form.

Immediately, we could hear the dripping.

“Is it leaking?” Tyler said, then more urgently when it was clear it was indeed leaking, “Where is it leaking?”

I ran down the steps and looked in horror at the rainfall of gray, pasty soup dripping through the floor, through the form, through the shower drain hole.


One of the HVAC guys, who had been working in the basement, appeared out of nowhere to rescue a big roll of aluminum foil bubble wrap covered in pasty drips of leveling compound. “What is that?”

“Leveling compound,” I answered.

“Well, it’s leveling all the way to the basement.”

I shoved a tray and a bucket in place to catch drops.

“Get back up here!” Tyler bellowed.

He’d filled in a couple of the holes but we’d lost so much compound through the cracks, we needed more to fill the form. Tyler began mixing again. “Hand me bottles of water.”

Remember, we didn’t have running water in the church yet. The first batch of soup was made with a jug of water collected that morning at the rental house.

Tyler mixed up another batch of soup and dumped it in the form. “Is it still dripping?”

I ran downstairs again to look even though we both knew it was because we could hear it.


But the waterfall had slowed to a trickle.

When Tyler came downstairs, I asked, “Did you know that was going to happen?”

“Well, they’re old floors. There’s bound to be a few holes.”

“It was pretty holey.”

“Well, that’s right. We live in a church. It’s a holy floor.”

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Tomorrow: Things are looking up as Chapter 21 begins. Read it here.

2 thoughts on “Like Chinese water torture

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