For the past several weeks, Greg has been running the vent pipes and water lines throughout our log home. It has suddenly occurred to me that there really is so much more than often meets the eye. The world is filled with things that I really do not understand and simply take for granted – such as indoor plumbing.

I now know that to plumb is no easy task.

I could not begin to count the number of times that Greg and I have had to run to the hardware store to pick up a few more fittings. I have learned patience, or so I think, as Greg reads off of his latest list and gathers up the assorted connectors that not only tie the maze of pipes together, but also serve to connect the piping to the various household fixtures.

We usually walk slowly up and down the aisles, pausing to find just the right fitting that will connect part “A” to part “B,” and then, fittings duly gathered, we walk up and down the aisles again just to make sure that there is not a better way to accomplish the joining.

Now, you might think it odd, but on one recent hardware store outing, my heart was truly warmed. We usually cruise up and down the aisles by ourselves, but on this particular trip, we encountered two other home plumbers. One plumber was a young father, accompanied by his entire family.

A young girl sat quietly on a metal display shelf, while her two little siblings sat cross-legged on the floor. The home plumber’s wife pushed a cart where the fourth – and youngest – child sat sound asleep, head tilted back. The mother kept a vigilant eye on her children as she patiently followed her husband up and down the aisles. She would occasionally take whatever fitting he handed her and place it into the cart behind her sleeping child.

The other home plumber was accompanied by his wife. He would let her know what particular fitting he was looking for, and she would scan the shelves and then pick through the many boxes, holding out what she thought it was that he needed. Greg and I settled in between them, looking for the fittings on Greg’s list. After perhaps 10 minutes, the family father smiled at his successful accumulation of everything that he was looking for. The group moved off down the aisle, and around the endcap, no doubt headed for checkout.

Greg and I continued our search, and within a few more minutes, had found all that we needed. We too headed off toward the front of the store, but not before the other plumber’s wife and I exchanged knowing glances. “I think that I once spent almost two hours in this aisle,” I told her as I passed by.

“I’m pretty sure that I have been here that long now,” she smiled back at me as she looked toward her husband. We knew that we both shared a patient pride in our menfolk, who could successfully plumb our worlds.

As Greg and I drove home, I remembered back to the beginning of our plumbing journey at the creek. At first, we simply built an outhouse and used it with the health department’s permission while we finished building the cabin’s indoor plumbing. Once the plumbing was completed and had passed inspection, we dismantled the outhouse, though we now use it for an animal feed storage shed. It is a beautiful little structure indeed.

I remembered learning the story behind the crescent moon cut into most outhouse doors. Apparently, years ago, men’s outhouses were marked with a shining sun, while women’s were marked with a crescent moon. Thus, men and women would know which house was intended for their particular use. Well, legend has it that the men folk proved to be true to their nature and did not keep their outhouses clean and tidy. Accordingly, the sun-marked outhouses fell into disrepair and eventually fell into the holes over which they stood. This left only the women’s crescent moon-marked outhouses for all to visit and enjoy. So today, most outhouses are adorned with the crescent moon.

I was somewhat saddened when we had to dismantle our outhouse, but outhouses are actually illegal in our state. I thought of starting a movement of outhouse aficionados. I imagined canvassing and gathering signatures, and fighting to change the law, but in time, my thought passed. It seems that the older I get, the more I enjoy certain conveniences, and I do look forward, ever so soon, to moving across the driveway into our log home, where we will actually enjoy the luxury of two bathrooms.

I am glad that we were able to repurpose the outhouse, but a touch of nostalgia often washes over me when I glance its way.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio.