5. An outdoor shower sounds nice.

Vinyl ofuro-style tub.
Just add water!

Back to my shower. That same handyman who built the throne platform, bless his soul, laid in low-end laminate paneling over the back wall of the shower without consulting me. I was out of state, not yet living here full-time, and came back to find top and bottom in two pieces, patched together with caulk. Later, a friend put up some sheetboard for the side walls. Water eventually started leaking out onto the floor and through the wall to the porch. I recently painted it all again, but the walls are warping badly. New stop-gap caulking has been employed. We’ll see how that goes.

My dream is to create a (seasonal) outdoor rustic shower and galvanized tub oasis, surrounded by a pretty cedar privacy fence. I picture a steamy bath, looking up at the stars, with candles and incense burning on little log stands while I sip wine or homemade kombucha. When I propose this out loud, I get puzzled looks. Is she unhinged?? I’m sure not getting any buy-in to help me build my dream.

I’ve bought lots of parts, gizmos, and gewgaws that I thought might solve my problem. When the shower was offline, I got a solar shower bladder. One of those bags you fill with water and leave in the sun to warm up. It warmed up just fine, and the water came out nicely enough, but there was nowhere to hang it. Even if I wanted to spritz off outside (fully clothed), there are no big trees near the house. Inside, it was too heavy for the shower pipes, and it had to be positioned somewhere near a drain. After I bought a heavy duty, 5-foot-tall shepherd’s hook plant stand that kept tipping over, I nixed the indoor solar shower bag except for emergencies.

And I have looked at outdoor shower enclosures, but I’ve got no fence to hide one from plain sight. I wouldn’t blame any looky-loos passing by. I would look too if I was driving down the highway, and saw someone showering. It’s not like this is the beach. I can get real nostalgic about the ‘sixties in Santa Monica — my friends and I bikini-clad, dancing in the sand. “Those were the days… we thought they would never end.”  Well, many decades later, in this tiny Montana prairie town, we have pretty fierce weather that comes up on a moment’s notice. A shower enclosure would soon be gone with the wind.

I bought a stock tank with a drain plug. It actually might have worked in the mudroom (back porch) — except for the floor-on-an-angle issue. After I spent quite some time and several trips to the hardware store figuring out how to more or less securely attach a hose to drain the bathwater out the back door, I didn’t have the motivation to find new homes for all the stuff I would have to stash somewhere, and then possibly discover a fatal flaw in my plan that I hadn’t thought of.

I bought a plastic inflatable ofuro tub, a circular Japanese soaker with high sides that you step into. Surprisingly, that thing is almost usable. Almost for sure.

This whole thing started about 10 years ago, actually, when I bought a pre-fab shower surround, the smallest one I could find, RV-size. It was still too big. It would have needed to be cut and then jockeyed into place behind the exposed pipes. I gave up trying to find anyone supportive of this solution, so it’s sitting out in my garage (“garage” being a term I use loosely). Ultimately, I gave up and had to go with the sheetboard, with quarter-round in the corners. I’m so tired of settling for workarounds that are third-class makeshift survival hacks, I want to scream. In fact, I have screamed (into the wind) about this. Many times. In the end, I always end up taking what I can get. And I need a damn bathroom, no matter what it looks like. (A “damn bathroom” being preferable to none.)

In warm weather, the plumbing is reliable at least 80% of the time. In the winter, I keep a space heater going around the clock so the water doesn’t freeze. Leaving town for an extended trip means getting help to winterize the house – blowing out the pipes and turning off the water. It’s also prone to backing up. Last year, I bought a highly rated compost toilet that would be easier to deal with in the winter if I left, and would be a backup the rest of the year. I can’t quite figure out where, or how, to install it. Or find anyone who believes that these things are worthy of consideration. And this from a community where outhouses are still a vivid memory. My current plan is to get a big shed, and stick it in there.

You are probably head-scratching at this point, thinking WTH? Why is she living like this? I’m not ready to go there yet.


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