Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 1, 2006

Easing in

We wanted to be home a couple of days before the beginning of a new school year for daughter Katie and a new semester at K-State for daughter Mariya and me. After all, we might need to make a last-minute shopping trip for school supplies. And we'd need to unpack our suitcases from our Wisconsin trip and do the laundry. The idea was to ease into our busy routine.

The day after we returned, Art commented that the house seemed pretty warm. He checked the temperature of the pipes between the furnace and the unit outside and proclaimed that the long-anticipated passing of our air conditioner was now a reality. But we were lucky. We were able to get the unit replaced the next day.

Saturday, I washed one load of laundry in the morning. I finished another in the afternoon, but when I threw the clothes in the dryer, there was only a slight hum when I pressed the start button. "Uh-oh! Another repair job," I thought.

I went upstairs to get a drink of water. "Gurgle, gurgle!" Two or three drops came from the faucet. Then nothing but a hissing sound.

."Great," I thought. "Well, they do say that trouble comes in three's."

I called Art and he came home right away to check out the situation.

When he finished, he said, "You'd better call someone about the water pump. Otherwise, we may be without water until next week."

The answering machine said if it was an emergency, there were a couple of additional numbers that could be called. I briefly wondered what constituted an emergency. Then I thought about a weekend without water. I decided it was an emergency.

Since it was late in the day, the man asked if it was okay if he came the next day, which was Sunday. I hesitated, not wanting to disturb the man's day of rest. But I wanted water.

"Sure, Sunday would be fine."

Although we still had electricity, I couldn't cook Art's birthday-meal pasta without water or rinse my hands after preparing the chicken. So we went to Mom's place where I prepared supper and also dried the wet clothes. Before we left her house, we filled various containers with water to take home.

On Sunday, Art disassembled the dryer, fixed the start switch and put it back together. Now we could dry clothes - if we only had water to wash them in!

We also learned that the plumber couldn't get the pump until Monday, so we'd have to deal with the situation for another day.

"I can do this," I thought.

After all, I grew up on a farm where we didn't have running water until I was about 7. I took a bath once a week in a tub with stove-warmed water. And I remember helping Mom wash the white clothes first, then light colors, then Dad's work clothes - all in the same water - in the wringer washer we had on our porch.

Besides, this was nothing compared to what people in the Third World cope with all the time. Some people don't have enough water to drink, let alone to bathe in or wash clothes with.

When I was in the Peace Corps in Ecuador, our water came from nearby ponds and streams. It was sucked into a truck and the truck delivered the water to a tank on top of our building. We had to boil the water for drinking. Although we had plumbing, the showers were cold. Some Ecuadorians I worked with had to wash their clothes in streams and lay them out on the grass to dry.

So our situation was just a minor inconvenience. We used our "bottled" water sparingly. To brush my teeth, I poured a small amount of water in a glass, swished my toothbrush in it and squeezed the toothpaste on the brush. When finished, I rinsed my mouth and then rinsed the toothbrush in the same water. After we ate, I rinsed dishes in a small amount of water. When the toilets needed flushing, we poured water from the buckets into the toilet bowl. We took showers at Mom's.

The pump was installed late Monday afternoon. When the plumber called Art, he said, "Your luck is holding."

"What do you mean by that?" Art asked.

"Well, haven't you been having bad luck?" he asked. "It's continuing."

When he started the pump, water gushed from the ground between the well and the house. The plumber asked whether Art wanted to do the digging or pay him to do it. Art said to call it a day and he'd take a look.

That evening, Art dug and I served as go-fer. A coupling in the pipe near the well casing had cracked. Art told me that each time the well is placed into and removed from the case coupling, it causes the attached pipe to move slightly. Eventually, with enough pump replacements and summer and winter expansions and contractions, it's going to let go. This was the time!

Art called the plumber and told him what he discovered. The plumber came and fixed the problem the next day.

So much for easing into the school year!

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