Friday, November 27, 2015

The Royal We

We don't have running water at our house. Two weeks ago, when a century-old tree landed on the tank house, I thought we were done for. We lost a captive air tank and some of the pipes were broken.

That building looked like it had landed on the wicked witch, all shifted off its foundation and tilted to a forty-five degree angle. But Mike, the neighbor, and even Nick crawled under it, figured out what was disconnected, and cobbled together what was left into a working system. Water flowed, more slowly than before, but I'm not picky. We had water, a miracle.

The next day, the tree guy dropped a large round onto a pipe and dislodged two more captive air tanks. Again, Mike, Nick, and the neighbor guy went down inside the crunched building, cut some more pipes and got the water going using a single captive air tank. Pressure was paltry, but we could do dishes and laundry and even manage showers with the kind of pressure you get at Scout camp. The tree guy never even apologized. He also drove all over our lawn and churned grass into mud because he didn't want to carry wood fifteen more feet than he had to. He left it a churned up muddy mess. I deleted the names I just called him here. They weren't nice.

By then, I'd do a load of dishes or laundry before either was full. I was going to stay caught up, come hell or high water. That building could collapse at any time, I thought.

About a week later, construction guys came to demolish the broken building. Mike took time to show them the single functioning captive air tank and the pipes that held our system together. He explained that six families depended on the water we had left. The men promised to be careful.

They smashed more pipe and a valve. The water went off, but thankfully, I had just showered and I was otherwise caught up. Yet again, my guys and the helpful neighbor jury-rigged a water system into delivering. We were back on track. This wasn't so hard.

Suddenly, the smashed building was cleared, new walls rose along with the skeleton of a roof. I admit that I relaxed. I did. The grocer called to tell me my turkey arrived so I picked it up and even bought a brining package. Brined turkeys are the best.  I also bought cranberry sauce, cubed bread crumbs, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, pumpkin filling, and lots of eggs and butter.

Laundry piled up. Dirty dishes did their usual creep, filling up the sink and some of the counter.

Two days before Thanksgiving, I took a long walk with the dog down by the river. Recent flooding had brought dirt high into the branches that raked my shoulders as I walked. Water, not quite receded, filled the lowlands with mud and silt which threatened to fill my boots and got my jeans ankle deep with goop. The dog happily waded through all of this with me. We came home filthy. A pair of 'Pigpens.'

Wash the dog first, I thought. I'd only get furrier and smellier as I washed him, so I dragged the dog into the tub and began to leisurely bathe him in warm water with what pressure I had. It was lovely. He was clean, though my legs were covered in grit and white fur. Then, as I rinsed him and considered one more lather, I noticed low pressure started going even lower.

And lower.

I turned off the water, dried him off as quickly as I could and jumped into the shower. Piss volume. I prayed that I'd have enough water to rinse my head after I shampooed and washed my face. Barely. By the end, I had rinsed my head and then 'washed' my body in about a quart or two of water. I probably still had soap on my shoulders, but it was done. We were dry.


When I announced the news to my husband, the guys went back out to the beleaguered water system and discovered that the old pump died from all the stress. It was kaput. Dead. Mike got online and found that there weren't any pumps available in a seventy-five mile radius. He even drove up to Marysville, an hour away, to get a new circuit box for the system.

When he got back, he gave me the bad news - no water until Monday at least, five days from now. I told him Thanksgiving was off. We could freeze the turkey and postpone my favorite holiday for another day. There were restaurants that would serve us turkey and it would be a new and unique adventure.

Oh my husband.

"We can do Thanksgiving," he said with enthusiasm. "We'll borrow five gallon jugs from the Scout Troop. Buy disposable roasting pans and trays when you go to the store. We can mix pumpkin pie filling using Ziploc bags the way I do on camping trips. We can do this. I promise we can."

Yes, we did make Thanksgiving dinner. We worked to cook everything on disposable trays and roasting pans. We mixed as much as we could in Ziploc bags. We covered cutting boards with foil. We marked disposable cups with quarter-cup gradations to use, reuse, and throw away. We brined that turkey and kept from spreading salmonella drippings all over our hands and kitchen. We chopped and measured and baked and stewed and steamed and roasted until, six hours later, we had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat. We only dirtied one pot, one pair of measuring spoons, two whisks, one measuring cup, one cutting board, three knives, and one sieve. We used paper and plastic cups, plastic cutlery, foil, plastic wrap, aluminum baking sheets and roasting pans, Chlorox wipes, Nitrile gloves and an entire roll of paper towels. In the end, Mike made gravy and popped the crescent rolls out of their container. I was the we that did the rest of Thanksgiving dinner.

I'm going to have to remember, in the future, how that royal we actually works. Dirty dishes still sit in the sink.

To his credit, he did stop at the store to buy me ready-made pie crusts. And I really shouldn't forget how many times he fixed our broken water system.

Thank you for listening, jules

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