Saturday, January 10, 2009

Waterless Woes

My house is a mess. My halls are lined with 5-gallon water jugs, storage boxes and other assorted debris. Everywhere we go we trip over something. What happened?

I opened my water bill the other day and was unpleasantly surprised by the balance owing. Why had my winter usage increased significantly from summer? We are not maintaining a garden, we are taking fewer showers, our household has decreased by one member. It doesn't make sense!

Not long after viewing the bill, dear offspring number 4 reported that she heard noise in the walls as if someone had left a hose on. Granted, I sometimes do leave the hose running after filling my chicken waterers, but after examining the faucets we determined there were none open. "There's a leak somewhere" said my husband. "The water meter is spinning like crazy and there are no water outlets turned on."

We scoured the house searching for puddles or stains but found nothing. We did discovered a "rushing" sound emanating from the floor vent in our kitchen. "Got to be a pipe under the house" said my husband. "I'm going down to look." To reach the access door we had to empty our bedroom's walk-in closet of storage boxes, bags of clothing, piles of shoes, old kids' toys, a stack of unframed posters, stuffed animals, the huge box containing my wedding dress. That done, Les went into the abyss.

Thirty minutes later his dust-covered body emerged, grunting, from the crawl-space. He said he saw nothing but that he did not get as far as the kitchen. The crawl-space access is at the opposite end of the house from the kitchen and the space under our house is very confining. We would need to send our wraith-like son down there if we wanted to see more. Dear son no longer lives with us and we would have to wait a couple of days till it was convenient for him to get here.

Recalling a leak outside near the water meter several years ago that cost us plenty, Les decided to dig a trench and check the repair. After opening a 4-foot deep by 4-foot long trench he found the old repair holding but a root had punctured another section of pipe. We turned off the water at the street and shlepped over to the local home improvement emporium for a couple of parts. At 6:30 PM the store was devoid of customers, but we encountered sales people at every turn asking "Can I help you?" I sized them up one after the other...too big, too young, too old. "Nope," I think to myself, "you can't get under my house." It was dark by the time we got home; the leak could not be fixed till the next day, but we figured we could do without water for one night.

Next morning my dear husband went out and battled stiff and uncooperative pipes. "I hate plumbing!" he declared, repeating a mantra developed over 32 years of home ownership. Despite the negative sentiments he persevered to completion. We confidently turned the water back on at the meter and watched. The repair was holding! We looked at the meter and saw it spinning; we returned to the kitchen floor vent where the sound of rushing water met our anxious ears.

Suspicion turned to the valves under the kitchen sink and pipes feeding the dishwasher. We've had mysterious water there before. Investigation proved the 20-year old dishwasher to be leaking badly, and the wood underneath it beginning to rot. We decided the dishwasher was not worth repairing and yanked it out.

We are on our third day with no running water, we can only turn it on at the meter long enough to fill jugs; then off it goes again. In our fourth month of unemployment we have no money for plumbers, no idea where the leak is, and now a gaping hole where my dishwasher used to be.

I am reminded that I am to be thankful in all things. If we look for them, we can find things for which we ought to be thankful in spite of difficult circumstances. I have much for which I can give thanks.

I have a song ringing in my head right now; it is another song from that wonderful ensemble, Glad. The title of the song is "Be Ye Glad".

I'll post the words in another blogpost but here is a link to the Youtube video:

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