After the Fact: The House of the Sitting Moon


Poor ol’ John had given his last flush, necessitating a call to my favorite plumbing contractor. I’d hoped we could save our existing fixture but was advised it really WAS very OLD and a replacement would save water. Being a tree-hugger from way back, that was enough incentive for me to tell them to just bring along a new toilet. Sight unseen. I mean, how wrong can you go with the basic white commode? Do they even come in colors anymore?

Great strides have been made in improving the looks of bathroom basins and tubs but not much has changed in toilet design since the advent of indoor plumbing. A toilet by any other name is still a toilet. I do remember when they had tanks that were almost level with the seat.  I remember that we had family friends who had “wall hung” toilets to suit their extra height while the rest of us dangled our feet once we were seated thereon. And there were relatives who had a mini-toilet adjacent to the real thing to encourage their children when they were small (no, it was not a bidet). We were just expecting the “usual” with no frills.

I had not, of course, tried out the new toilet before the plumbers left, waving gaily from their van, so it was a complete surprise when I sat down on my new throne for the first time. And sat WAY down! It was almost like having someone pull the chair out from under your anticipating backside. The seat on this toilet was significantly lower than the one on its predecessor. This is not a problem in public restrooms: I simply use the facility designated for handicapped users. The “grab bars” are essential for the getting up of older knees.    

Did you know that they make “booster seats” for toilets? They’re almost the same as those provided for little kids in restaurants except designed specifically for use in the bathroom. Hospitals have them. Care centers have them. I have one. The great-grandchildren think it’s uproariously funny that I should need a “booster seat” in the bathroom when even they have outgrown the need for added height in the booth at McDonald’s. With knees, ankles and hips as flexible as rubber bands, they don’t get the real picture.

Being a child of the modern era, I’d had few occasions for using an outdoor privy (the one at the cabin where we spent time in the summer was upscale with three holes!) but even the hastily thrown-together “pre-fabricated” housing in my hometown had indoor plumbing. Granted, only a few of the former ranch school residences had bathtubs while the rest of us made do with the mini-closet-sized metal shower stalls but everyone had an American Standard toilet. We do take our modern conveniences for granted and more do than don’t waste an incredible amount of water because of it.

Some folks have to haul their water “from town” to residences, others have water that smells like a chemistry experiment gone bad. I am blessed to have very cold, very clear water, second only to the quality of that at Spashland, I think. Judy Crisco used to have that water tested regularly and it was something like 99.99 percent clean. It pains me to leave a trickle running all night during the winter, but not as much as it would pain me to have to pay for all new plumbing. Or to have to go back to the little building in the back yard, the one with the quarter-moon ventilation system in the door. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a Sears Roebuck catalog since the days before a real bathroom was added on to the cabin.

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