The Genius and Ingenuity in All of Us

Every time I flush the downstairs toilet, I think affectionately of my Norwegian Artist.

Life is made up of both the grand sweeping panoramas, like this hidden canyon, and the small things, like fixing the toilet. The Pataha by Steve Henderson

It’s not that he’s getting into installation art or anything, it’s that he knows the basics of fixing a toilet, which, while it may not rank with six-pack abs or rippling biceps on the sexiness thermometer, is way up there on the real life, I-like-living-with-this-guy scale.

The initial fix, after the handle broke off, involved fluorescent orange cord wrapped around one of the Toddler’s plastic blocks, creating a one of a kind pull toy until we got it through to the Toddler that this was not a porcelain product for her playtime use.

Then something happened with the inner sanctum of plastic and metal parts, resulting in a stream of living water that flowed into the holding tank and out of the holding tank but never into the bowl itself. A temporary fix was attained by removing the tank top so that we could manually adjust the parts, but I assure you that, while the Norwegian hoped that this would be a long-term temporary solution, I emphasized the temporary aspect of it over the long-term part.

While the obvious next step – replacing the entire toilet with a shiny new model – seems the simplest, complications arose because the Norwegian eventually wants to move the toilet to the opposite corner, where the claw foot bathtub now is, which will then move to where the not-quite-finished six-foot wide and all-the-way-to-the-ceiling towel and toiletries unit now stands; but that’s okay because the Norwegian will tear that out and build a new, smaller one where the corner shower is, because the corner shower will take the sink’s place, and the sink will rest in the toilet’s old spot.

Sand on the beach, clouds in the sky -- even the simple things in life are complicated. On the Horizon by Steve Henderson

So, replacing the toilet isn’t that simple.

You know, there’s no use having color coded towels and pretty soap in a bathroom whose toilet screams at every visitor, “Look inside!” While my love for the Norwegian Artist did not waver, the sigh I discharged upon entering the bathroom must have increased in forcefulness, because eventually he disappeared to the workshop, found an extra toilet and gutted its inner parts, then performed reconstructive surgery on the lavatory chinaware.

(By the way, parents, this is a great reason to encourage your children to play with blocks. It may look like they’re not doing much of anything now, but the skills they pick up will be invaluable to a future spouse.)

While I recognize that most people don’t have spare toilets in the workshop – we have spare everything in the workshop – they do have more ingenuity than they think, and if the spare weren’t an option, they, like the Norwegian, would raid more of the Toddler’s toys or the kitchen drawers to find what they needed to do to effect the repair.

While in some ways the world is different these days, certain things never change. Chief Joseph Mountain by Steve Henderson

“It’s a different world nowadays,” my mother likes to say, but in many ways, despite the smart phones and the notepads and the blue tooths that she doesn’t even bother to understand, we are finding ourselves back in a time that was familiar to her: the 1930s, with its Great Depression; the 1940s, with its wartime scarcity of resources; the 1950s, with its confidence to do the things that needed to be done.

Whether or not our Great Recession is officially over, and this depends upon what the pundits and the media want us to feel and believe, a lot of people are living on less these days, be it because they’ve lost their job or whether it’s because what money they do have sure doesn’t buy as much as it used to.

And we learn to make do.

It’s hard at first, because for so long the easiest solution involved sliding the debit card, but little by little, we are rediscovering the resourcefulness that we let slide. And along with saving money, we earn confidence in ourselves, our skills, our abilities, and our tenacity.

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Art, blogging, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Economy, Encouragement, Family, Growth, Humor, Life, Lifestyle, Personal, Random, Relationships, success, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Genius and Ingenuity in All of Us

  1. oldswimmer says:

    I’ve got two privies if you run out of spare parts. 🙂
    Cheers

  2. Oh, I do so hope that we won’t need them!

  3. Such a true story! Your husband sounds just like mine. This gave me a good laugh.

  4. I’m glad — both for the laugh to your day and the toilet-expertise husband. Such good, solid, honest men that they are.

  5. Jana Botkin says:

    I’m a tosser and my husband is a saver. Nothing gives him more satisfaction than repairing something for me with something he has saved and then saying “SEE??? Good thing I saved that!”

  6. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says:

    Your blog title caught my eye–clever. Nice essays. I’ve enjoyed several already. (I’m over 50.)
    We flushed our toilet by dumping a bucket of water into the bowl for several years. Another bucket was under the sink to catch the drips rather than redoing the plumbing. Kurt used a wad of gum to fix a leaky pipe–but that was only because we were out of Liquid Steel. Our water woes are over now. The oldest daughter married a plumber.

    • Teresa: Thank you for your kind words. I think that the essay is a unique art form that is ready to be fully explored beyond what it has been, and the blogging platform opens new vistas.

      Your experience is one that makes me smile at your resourcefulness, originality, and willingness to make things work — what an encouragement. And what sweet irony that your daughter married a plumber!

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