Thursday, February 21, 2013

The day the pipes froze

 I've had a lot of liquid. Coffee. Water. Even a Diet Coke. Yikes. My first stop is the bathroom. We've just got home from being on the road over four hours. My contented feeling of relief is short lived when the toilet makes that weird whooshing sound that it does when the water doesn't automatically refill. There is a problem with the water. Before I fully panic, hastily I flip up the handle on the bathroom faucet. Although I am not surprised, disappointment floods me when nothing comes out. And for a moment, I am unsure how to proceed. My green eyes widen with hope that at any moment water will do what it always does and bless me with its blissful liquid presence. I even say please, a couple of times as I flip the faucet on and off.

           Maybe I just did it wrong the first four times.
           I am crestfallen when I call out, “Babe?” 
           Troy looks up and over at me awaiting me to continue. 
          “We have no water. I think the pipes are frozen." I hate to be the one to tell him this. My face reddens a little with embarrassment and I look away with a smirk. He has only just moved in with me. We just got back from his old place in, Boise, Idaho, to gather the last bit of his belongings. We’re tired. Cold. And delivering the news of our water situation makes me feel that I am letting him down. I even contemplate if I could have prevented this. Mostly, I really just want him to feel welcome here. Not, surprise! We have no water. Welcome home, babe. It’s not exactly what I had in mind. 
             But it is what it is.
             Troy’s face is blank as he inhales and then exhales deeply, assessing things. He is quiet for a couple of beats as he contemplates this. Or so I assume. One of the fifteen clocks that I have around the house sounds louder than usual as it ticks. Tick. Tick. Tick.  Finally, he says, “I don’t know what to do I am from California.” He reminds me. “It never gets this cold there. You've lived in southeast Idaho for thirteen years. Hasn't this ever happened before?” Surprise is thick in his tone. We check the weather on our phones and see that is a chilling negative ten degrees outside and the day before it was negative fourteen degrees. Again, I feel like I am letting him down. Or that my town is letting him down. Welcome to Pocatello! It’s freaking cold here. Enjoy! Troy is an amazing person. He takes the news very well. He isn't upset and he doesn't even seem to mind. Much.
            I bit my lip and think for a moment. “No, I don’t think this has ever happened.” I am pretty sure that I would remember this. It’s a haunting, helpless sort of feeling.
            With a confirming nod, Troy says, “Call you parents. They’re from Utah; they have to know what to do.” He then heads outside to begin the hour long process of unloading the truck. He brings in some boxes, his paintings, blankets, our overnight bag, some dog food, and the air mattress we ungratefully slept on the night before. After I spoke with my mom and things were unloaded, we narrowed down the problem to the pipes behind the washing machine. It’s unbelievably cold in the laundry room. Maybe even colder than outside.
Taking my mom's advice heating pads were placed on the pipes overnight, and when that was unsuccessful, a heat gun was purchased. When Troy pulled it out of the box, I thought to myself, that it looks a lot like a hair dryer. 
             Troy was a trooper and took his job very seriously. He was determined to fix our problem, and without spending much money. Patiently he sat on an uncomfortable yellow wooden chair, waving the heat gun over the pipes, hoping to thaw the water in the pipes. Making the best of things, he listened to The Beatles and never complained. This all made me happy. I even feel at ease, despite the fact that we had no water. We were in this together. We were going to be fine.
               While Troy patiently worked, I went to the store to use the bathroom and get supplies. When I returned, I went straight into kitchen and made stew. I was in survival mode. So what if we didn't have running water? We were going to have an excellent dinner. I even pretended that I was a chef on Food Network, my show was called, Dining Without Water. I chopped fresh veggies and herbs like a pro with the help of our new knives, and then I sauteed them in our fabulous new pans. All the yummy peppers, herbs, onions, carrots, garlic, and celery made the house smell inviting and comforting. No one would suspect we had no water. Next, I lovingly dusted the stew meat with flour, salt, and fresh ground pepper. I went to the pantry and pulled out our special Tuscan olive oil. We purchased it while were in Murphy’s, California, a few months back. This oil is nothing short than bliss. Everything tastes amazing when cooked in this oil. Here's the link, if you want to check it out: Murphy's marisolio olive oil Quickly the intoxicating smell of meat combined with our magic oil comforted me almost as much as a hot bath. I deglazed the pan in some red wine. And drank the rest. Happy and relaxed, I tried not to panic. I didn’t want to think about the potential costs of our pipes bursting, when my next shower would be, or when I would be able to wash our again. I was going to be the next Food Network star! 

                    Here's a link to a similar recipe, however, I didn't use one.

              After many hours, lots of phone calls to family, friends, friends of friends, and neighbors, I finally called the city. Our water had frozen outside at the meter outside. There was nothing we could have done. When I heard the music of water gushing out of my kitchen and over the enormous pile of dishes, I squealed, “Yay! We have water! We have water” I danced. I clapped my grungy hands together approvingly. I was as happy as I have ever been. Immediately, I placed by hands under the flow of water. Oh, how I had missed the warm satisfying goodness of washing my hands.
             “Woohoo!” Troy cheered. He jumped up from his bowl of stew and knocked over his glass of wine. He was so excited and in such a rush to talk with the men from the city, he ran straight into the stair railing. His ribs ached for days later, but, we had water.

             All in all, we went without running water for thirty hours, had a delicious meal, and got to know a guy named Marv.

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