Friday, March 14, 2014

When The Water Came Back Again

In the end we were without water for one month.

{To recap, we'd had 2 separate people suggest that the frozen water line we were dealing with was not our own. Thus, we couldn't do anything to fix it. When made aware of the situation, our city's initial response was to take no action on our behalf. They hooked us up with a hose from our neighbor's house, so we had "running water", but were told not to use that water for anything other than toilets and laundry due to possible contamination. In addition to the restrictions with the hose, it kept freezing in the frigid temps, despite our keeping a steady flow of water going through it.}

After being told to "wait until it thawed" and not to worry since it was, "just until spring", I took my plea to our city council members. Surely someone in our town must think our situation deserved a little concern. No sooner had my email reached their collective desktops than a flurry of activity followed. First, the city provided us with bottled water. (Finally we had a healthy supply of clean water available for kitchen use and cleaning. That was the first step towards feeling normal.) Next,they sent out 2 additional technicians to attempt to figure out where in the line (and on whose side) the freeze truly was. Both parties determined the freeze was not on our line.

On Tuesday of this week the city sent a street crew to dig the pipeline in the road, hoping to get to the root of the problem once and for all. They arrived early, anticipating a quick find and easy fix; they stayed for the next 5 hours. It turned out the freeze was located right off the main, very much not anywhere near our line at all. Adding to the turmoil was the discovery that the last generation who'd worked this particular stretch of pipe had placed it just 2 feet under our brick street. It lay vulnerable and quite freezable ever since.

When the street crew announced that they'd found and repaired the freeze, I was hesitant to believe them. When they told me to go check our faucets, I was weary of any hope that this had somehow worked. I tentatively turned on the kitchen faucet, wincing in anticipation of yet another failure. The torrent of water that I saw surpassed my wildest expectations.

It was back. Water had found its way into our house again.

The sight was beautiful. In a very strange way, we'd gotten used to what we called our "Situation". But here I was, looking at water flowing through my faucets, from our own pipes. It was amazing. Honestly.

One month doesn't set any records. I know that. But what it did do was give me an appreciation for those faucets in our house. I have new understanding of just how much water I use to do simple things: wash produce, wash dishes, brush our teeth. That's what happens when you are doing all of that with gallon jugs of water; it's all highly measurable.

In a way, I'm thankful for our little misadventure because I know we're taking something out of it. We've gained a little bit of gratitude for something we absolutely took for granted before. I'm not going to sign up for it again, mind you, but I am grateful for the chance to be made aware, just the same.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We Are Not Just An Address.

I wish I could say we had the cool waters blissfully flowing in our house again. But we don't.

In an interesting plot twist, we did find out that the frozen line isn't actually ours at all. It in fact belongs to The City. We can't touch it because it is their responsibility.

Furthermore, in a sinister plot development, when told that they had a frozen water line that was negatively affecting households on our street, the response was "They will have to let it thaw".

Does that sound right to you? Because it doesn't sound right to me. In my way of thinking, when you know that a service you are charged with doling out and are responsible for caring for is broken, you need to apply some method to fix it. Waiting for The Thaw is simply not acceptable in my mind's eye. And one only has to glance at a long range forecast for our area to see how truly disheartening that pronouncement really was. (It appears Spring is going to be very late to the party this year).

Without intervention, we are looking at weeks or months before the frost line ebbs enough to loosen its grasp on whatever do-dad is frozen under the cement. Weeks and weeks of this constant interruption; in your face, always reminding you. "I'm still here."

It's not just the "inconvenience" factor that has my feathers ruffled here. Running water in the house is, after all, a First World problem. But there is a bit of a safety issue as well. We have a garden hose supplying our water. A garden hose with no federal regulations behind its manufacturing. Lead? Chemicals? Microbes? All of the above? That's our water.

Until "It Thaws."

I don't even want to go into the amount of water gushing down our drain right now. In order to keep our "hose-lifeline" from freezing (which it's already done twice now in the 9 days we've been relying on it), we have to keep a strong stream of water flowing. 25-30 gallons of water per hour. Do the math on that and it's staggering. Thousands of gallons of water absolutely wasted. Down the drain.

Until "It Thaws."

My husband trekked down to City Hall today with one purpose in mind: to put a face to a situation. We are not an address. We are a family. This is very real to us and has consequences for our family. He was able to speak to the manager of city utilities, and although we don't know yet what (if any) impact his conversation will have on the situation, at least City Hall knows we exist. Whether they do anything about our problem, or sweep it under the rug (out of sight out of mind), we are here. And we deserve a whole lot better than being a forgotten casualty of an extreme winter freeze.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One Day This Will Be Funny

And still we continue with no water at our house.

Memories of a tropical vacation are tanned into our skin; they clutter up the table as souvenirs not yet relocated to their new cold-weather housing; they are scattered on the floor of our van, millions of grains of a far away coastline transplanted to Ohio.

The strange reality of frozen pipes and a waterless existence sits at pointy odds with the memories of that Utopian place we were in not that very long ago.

In my last entry I spoke of how we were marching on, faces high, spirits soaring, thanks to the hose connecting us to our neighbor's house and supplying an adequate supply of water for everyday life. There was boiling, but at least there was water. Running water.

Sadly, a new and cruel trick has taken even that little comfort away. The frosty fingers of our house have gotten ahold of not only the hose (which is easily thawed out of her icy clasp), but also all the valves between the two spigots. Our Ice Queen, spreading her Plague to others. Watch out, it's catching. No antibiotic for this one, kids. Sorry.

So now we sit with no water. At all. Think about that for a moment and you'll understand the frustration. No water to cook or clean. No water for washing. A dry tap for showers and tooth brushing. And when "Nature Calls" (and she surely does; especially when she knows you have recently immigrated back to the 18th century), there becomes quite an issue.

Still sitting. Still waiting. (Just not quite so patiently.)

I am told that one day this whole thing will be very funny. That we will get a hearty chuckle out of it as we recall with laughter "That time when we were out of state and our pipes froze, so we had to get water through a hose from the neighbor's, only the hose froze followed quickly by the valves. And then we went 2 full days without a single drop of that molecular miracle in our house".

What a hoot! A real riot!

Yes, one day this will all be funny. It surely has the makings for a doozy of a tale. But not yet. Not nearly yet.

I'm pretty sure all laughter must wait until there are flushing toilets in my house.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Just Wait

Our house has no water.
Well, that's not entirely true. We have water - courtesy of the hose from our neighbor's house set up by the water department. An umbilical cord of sustenance, linking us across the bridge of a cement driveway. (Aren't metaphors fun?)

The beginning of this sordid tale of Water Woe dates back to over a week ago. We were on vacation. In Florida. (Where there was no snow or sub-zero temperatures, incidentally). In some strange mismatch of realities, I got a call letting me know that our little red house in Ohio suddenly had no water. Poof. Just like that.

Let me tell you, nothing is quite so much fun as being 1,200 miles from home (in a sunny utopia) and finding out that your house sits frigid; the captive of a malicious Ice Queen. Frozen.

The flurry of frantic calls to various "rescuers" that ensued did little to perk our spirits, nor did it entice us to hasten our return back to this Arctic plain of frozen frustration. But here I now sit, in a house still waiting for The Great Thaw, apparently.

Not to sound ungrateful, but can I just put it on record that I'm tired of this? Never before did I realize how utterly (and Everyday-Life-Depends-On-It) important a tap streaming with clean water really is. Never before have I so hated a single piece of ice, such as the one lodged somewhere in our service line and wreaking sheer havoc and upheaval on our daily lives.

It's been a week in this new reality of ours. Everyday has been brought to us by the word "Boil"; as in, "Boil water before drinking", "Boil water before washing dishes", "Boil water before rinsing the produce", and "Boil water used for brushing your teeth." Boil. Boil. Boil. My stock pots have never worked so hard in all their stainless steel lives.

Probably I could have more of an adventurous spirit about this if it were the absolute only predicament in which we found ourselves. However, we are also dealing with the unnerving issue of a dishwasher that had been incorrectly installed (and year ago), and consequently broken (a year ago); and which has been leaking every single cycle ever since. For a year. It seeped under the kitchen floor, hiding the damage being done, until finally it started buckling the floor completely. Ruining it. The repairman who diagnosed the whole thing told us not to touch the dishwasher. Or use it. At all. It's been disloyal.

Naturally the installation company is insured to cover the damages and replacement costs.
And naturally we can't seem to get in contact with them.

Perhaps it could also be said that everyday is brought to us by the word "Wait". As in, "Wait for the frost line to lessen", "Wait for the grip of winter to release its hold on us", "Wait for the stupid (possibly finger-nail width) piece of ice to finally melt", "Wait for the dishwasher/kitchen floor issue to be resolved". Just, wait.

Most of the time I want to blow a gasket in frustration of all this stupid waiting. But maybe there is a lesson for me to learn as well. There is a lot of good to be had from Just Waiting, after all. I mean, look at the new found appreciation I'll have for modern conveniences like, oh say, clean running water? Hot water on demand? A spiffy machine that cleans your dishes while you go tra-la-ing about? A kitchen floor that doesn't make you trip as you make your way over its up heaved surface? Shiny stock pots, all hung up on pegs and not gurgling away non stop on the stove?

A whole new appreciation for things erstwhile very much taken for granted and UN-appreciated.

Just wait.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our Walmart Has No Hand Baskets.

     Our local Walmart no longer has shopping baskets. It's been almost one full year since the ever dwindling pile of them that greeted me just inside the door has disappeared; apparently tapped out completely.
   Normally I prefer to go with the flow on little issues, but this one really bothers me. I've asked 4 separate people and have been given four completely different answers in regards to their disappearance and subsequent failure to reappear. They are "on order" was one response. (That is some really show shipping). The powers that be got tired of people walking out with them said yet another informative. (Because they do make the most stunning fashion accessory. I often find myself wondering which shopping basket best coordinates with my outfit. But Walmart-Blue just doesn't ever make the play list.) They were all broken was another possibility. (Nope. Broken would be the wobbly-wheeled cart I seem to get every single time I shop there. Or the other one I get that only turns left. And then there's the one on which 3 of 4 wheels don't turn. Or perhaps the one that leans strangely to the right like it has a flat tire.) The final suggestion from a helpful staff member was the "Truth" that upper management doesn't believe the staff when they tell them the baskets are gone. (Really? Because it is quite shocking. I'd probably be in denial too.)
    All I know is that it's really starting to annoy me. Enough to blog about it, actually. (Insert winking smiley face here, if you will.) Is it too much to ask for hand held shopping baskets? Where are the shopping baskets? Is it a conspiracy? Have some decency Walmart; give us back the stupid baskets. Really. Or whatever.
   And if the grand plan is to make me use a cart, ergo slyly forcing me to fill it up with cheese curls and soy sauce (just to fill up all the extra space), then the joke's on you Walmart. That's right. Because I throw all my groceries (cheese curls and all) in my reusable Target bags. So there.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What's The Point Of All This Fun?

I have the honor to be a stay at home parent. Whenever and wherever I can, I make sure people understand what a complete blessing this occupation is. Daily are the gifts that make every single sacrifice and hardship worth it, ten times over.

But oh, not for the faint of heart are the struggles that tag along (sometimes daily); unwanted passengers, freeloading along for the ride. Some are serious. Like the magic act that stretches a single income delicately (like a spider's web) across all areas of domestic domain; one penny spent out of place and the entire web collapses.

Others are more light (thankfully), but (always) completely annoying. Like the daily woe of meal planning. Sure, every parent out there faces this dilemma. We've all got to eat. People are funny that way. It doesn't matter how crunched for time, hurried, or late we are, dinner in some shape or form must present itself on the table. Lunches must be tossed into bags or boxes and readied to be scuttled off to school. Even breakfast must appear, sugar coated and happy every morning.
But the catch for me, and the stay at home parent is, I'm home all day (according to society at large), and doing "Nothing" of any "Real" consequence. Three square meals shouldn't make no never mind to me at all, given my apparent life of pure leisure. Right?

Let me tell you this; the moment that idea becomes reality will be a truly beautiful thing indeed. I await it eagerly. Please let me know when it arrives.

In the meantime, I toil away smack dab in the middle of domestic bliss, often coming up devoid of ideas or the willpower to make "Yet Another Dinner". So I like to get creative with meal planning, meeting the dual requirements of Economical and Easy On Me.

One favorite we've come to enjoy is the Scatter Picnic. A blanket is set up in another room, outside the normal eating area. We've held these in hallways, doorways, and upstairs. Scatter Picnic food can be best described as "Clean Out The Fridge" or "Empty The Freezer" cuisine, made more fun by the change in venue. And perhaps the occasional frozen pizza.

Last night we plopped our Scatter Picnic blanket down in front of the fireplace in the living room. I reheated leftovers and baked an array of breaded "not good for you" delights: mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, egg rolls and onion rings. To up the health quotient, I added applesauce to the spread.

We sat together around the blanket, our little family of 4, chatting and sharing ideas and thoughts back and forth. At one point, Dan and I were talking about how nice it was to just sit and talk together as a family. How much fun it was.

Ashlyn looked up from her cheese stick and said, "But what is the point of all this fun?"

Uncertain as how to answer, I said, "So we can get to know you better. While you still like us. And will sit still long enough to talk to us."

She pondered this, glaring deep into the oozing depth of the cheese stick she'd been peeling. (She only eats the cheese part of a cheese stick.) "Oh. Okay. That is a good purpose."

We passed the rest of dinner happily. We cleaned up. We went on our way with the evening. Another dinner down: easy on me, easy on the budget.

And apparently, according the Ashlyn, with the added bonus of having great purpose.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This Year. A promise to myself.

It's official. Christmas is on it's way---

                   which also means the Angry People are out.  In full force.

Today I found myself at Target. As I was checking out after my leisurely (half hour) stroll through the entire store to buy a pack of cold cuts, I saw the first Angry Person in front of me. She was yelling at the cashier for giving her the wrong change. Apparently the cashier had dropped a dime and couldn't find it. The transaction was over, so she couldn't pull another dime out of the register. The customer was angry for being short by that dime. She yelled. She called the manager over. He was confused. (In all fairness, this was a lot of noise over a dime). He took the time to listen to her. (We all listened, as she was explaining it quite loudly and with anger.)
He took a dime out of his pocket and handed it to her. She stared at him.

"You think this makes it right?" she demanded.
"It makes up for the dropped dime," he explained, "and the amount of change you'd be short."
Unsatisfied, the customer looked at him narrowly, "SHE dropped it. Not me." She went on a tangent about how adding and subtracting isn't hard, holding money should be easy, and she should be given back more than a dime for her considerable trouble in losing the first one.

Those of us uncomfortable enough to be near to this spectacle just stared. Silently suspended in unified disbelief.

The lady left. The manager left. Suspended reality reactivated once more. It was my turn to check out. (Finally.)
Only, now it was the cashier's turn to be Angry.

"Can you believe her?" she asked me.
"Um...." I began, reluctant to comment without knowing the lady in question or her situation. "This time of year can be stressful......"
 (Please just ring me out).
"Whatever. I don't do the change--the register does."
(Well, if we're going to put a fine point on it, the register calculates the change but it takes the hands of a human to dole it out. Just saying.)

She mumbled through my time with her, tossing my items in a bag, and handing me a receipt with a gruff, "Whatever" by way of departing greeting.

Meanwhile the lady in the lane next to me felt the 2-people-ahead-of-her line was too much. She shoved her full cart forward (blocking the lane) and left.

"This is ridiculous!" she declared, storming out. 2 people ahead of her. Just two. Each of whom had a small handful of items.

What the smack, people? Come on.

Look, I know this can be a stressful time of year. November comes and suddenly, we're all certain we're in a hurry. And that no one else is. And they're all out to get us. 

I know.

But wouldn't it be great if this year we all just calmed down a bit? Tamed that inner rage that tells us we cannot be patient when something doesn't go our way? Take a deep breath when we have to wait in line at a store? Smile and treat others with respect instead of spilling our own frustrations out on them?

Wouldn't that just be dandy?

Believe me, I'm not judging anyone, not even these three Angry People. I have enough inner grumbles going on of my own when I go into stores this time of year. We all do.

But this year I'm going to try to put silver linings on it. All of it. The crowds, the busy-ness, the rudeness--I can't control any of that. I can, however, control me.

I will wait with patience.
I will smile with grace.
I will slow down with peace.
I will open my eyes and really see others--
with respect
with kindness
with consideration.
(And I will repeat this mantra as necessary until it happens).
This year.