Sunday, May 30, 2010

Roughing It

Life is challenging in the "roughing it without plumbing" days.  At times I feel like a homeless person, even though I do indeed have a home. But those who live in their car or in a cardboard box on the sidewalk or perhaps underneath a bridge are challenged with the same thing I'm challenged with--searching for a bathroom on a daily basis. It is only now that I have a better understanding of what that is like and what it must be like every day for those whose situation is not temporary. The things we take for granted are the basic necessities everyone needs, and it's not until we find ourselves without them do we realize just how valuable they truly are.

The neighborhood grocery store has been a godsend for my family, open from 6 am until 12 midnight, seven days a week.  Oh, we've visited other stores and restaurants as well, but this particular store is 3 minutes away by car. Yes, I've timed it. When my husband and I were house-hunting 13 years ago, I had a checklist which included nearby stores. There HAD to be stores close enough to walk to. Back then we only had one car which my husband drove to work every day, leaving me car-less. I remember that hot August when we moved in, walking my three kids over to their new school for registration. Yes, walking them there. I don't know how many miles away it was, but it would take about 10 minutes to drive there. But since I had no car, we walked in that awful heat.

Most of the inconveniences I've faced in life pale when compared to this current crisis.  I would love to take a shower, but I can only take a sponge bath. (we're having 80 degree weather here) I would love to cook real meals on the stove, but that would mean having to wash dishes and I can't do that. I would love to use my own bathroom instead of public restrooms, but flushing the toilet would create a disaster down cellar. I would love to wash clothing in my own washing machine instead of running to the laundromat, but that would create a flood all over my cellar floor.

The things we take for granted are the things I will cherish as soon as my situation improves and life is back to normal.

In our time we have luxuries we take for granted--electricity, indoor plumbing, heat, air conditioning, running water, telephones, computers, televisions, etc. Take one thing away and life gets very stressful and throws us off balance.

I have a better appreciation now of what life is like for those who have nothing or very little. I am enormously thankful to have a roof over my head. I am going to make a solemn vow to stop complaining about petty problems now that I see how fortunate I've always been.

And I think maybe this happened for a reason so I could learn from it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It All Started With A Tree...

So here I am at the library. Not an unusual place for a writer to hang out, right?  Of course not. Except this writer usually works from home.  So why am I not working at home?

Well, you see it all started with a tree. A big tree. In our front yard. Not that we knew the tree was the real problem. We thought it was a simple plumbing problem. One day when I went down cellar there was water all over the floor. So I mopped it up. I thought our washing machine had a malfunction. We even unhooked the machine from the wall.

Well, things got really interesting when the toilet backed up. I knew there was more to this little mystery. So we called a plumber. Apparently there was a big clog in the pipes and they proceeded to suck out the clog with this big, heavy machine which almost didn't make it down our cellar stairs.  But that didn't totally solve the problem.

What do you mean there is still a problem? They did some investigating and discovered there were tree roots in the sewer pipe in our front yard and under the house.  Oh wonderful.

Fast forward to today.  Two weeks have gone by and the problem has yet to be resolved.  We need a tree guy to chop down the tree immediately, but so far no one has been available. Then we need another guy to do some digging to clean out the pipe. The wait goes on.

So basically my whole family has to clear out of the house for the whole day every day until this situation is over with. We can't flush the toilets and we can't run the water.

I must admit I have learned some things during this crisis. The number one thing, I suppose, is just how much water we use on a daily basis. Too much!  Water for showering, water for dishes, water for washing hands, water for laundry, and most important, water for flushing the toilet!

You don't know just how much you value indoor plumbing until you don't have it anymore.  We have had to become very creative. I bought a big plastic basin we can fill with water to wash up. Then we dump the dirty water outside. My sister was called upon recently to allow my son to take a much-needed shower. (He only takes one about once a week anyway.)  Today I washed my long hair using this new basin and a large cup.  A strange way to do it, but it worked.  I also bought three or four boxes of wet ones for freshening up, hand-washing.

Since I cannot wash dishes at this time (this part I actually love!), I've had to purchase easy-to-fix foods which do not require pots and pans.  I have paper plates and cups at the ready.

The toilet issue is the toughest one to deal with.  Five people who need to go.  I have scoured the neighborhood for accessible bathrooms, open long hours. We have a library, a grocery store, a Dunkin Donuts, and a Target pretty close by. If people notice me zooming down the street in my car, you can bet I'm headed for a bathroom!


A tree guy is supposed to be chopping down the tree tomorrow or Friday!  When he came by to check out the tree yesterday I told him how urgent the situation has become. When he said he would do it this week, I must admit I almost kissed him.

I'm still at the library only it's one day since I began this post.  This is my home away from home now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I am a Shower Singer

On May 5th, I wrote about being a shower singer on the Army of Ermas blog.

The title of the essay is This Stage Is All Mine, Baby!
Here is the link:  An Army of Ermas.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane

(I meant to post this yesterday, in honor of my son's birthday, but was busy with another essay.)

So today I'd like to go down memory lane--24 years to be exact. On May 4th, a Sunday afternoon, I was lying on my bed all alone in the apartment. My husband was at work; normally he'd be home, but he was filling in for someone else that day. I was nine months pregnant with our first child and experiencing a few twinges and odd feelings I'd never felt before. I really wished my husband was home so I could run my symptoms by him and see what he thought. Could I be going into labor? Or was it just that spicy pizza coming back to haunt me? Or was it really nothing at all?

Well, it wasn't nothing at all. My water broke and that set everything into motion. My husband was now home, running around looking for the doctor's phone number. He found it, called and was told all three of the doctors I'd been seeing for the past nine months were out of town! WHAT? Oh, don't worry, there is a doctor covering for the group.

Yeah. Sure. But I don't know this doctor! And he doesn't know me. I'm supposed to feel comfortable and relaxed with a doctor I don't even know delivering my baby?

Well, what could I do? I went to the hospital and had my first baby, a little boy. It was a wonderful experience. I had natural childbirth, no drugs. My husband served as my labor coach and did a great job. He even outlasted the student nurse who fled the room at one gory point. I still wonder today if she ever became a nurse or if the birthing of my baby scarred her for life and she wound up flipping hamburgers for a living.

That little bundle of joy is now 24 years old (as of yesterday) and graduating from college in a few weeks. He is a multi-talented, creative, sensitive, intelligent young man who has made me proud since the moment he came bursting into this world.

I hope he will be very successful in his chosen career. (And maybe so successful he can send his dad and me on a nice trip to Hawaii!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Finding The Fun

I went to see You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown yesterday afternoon. The auditorium was filled with lots of children and their parents along with a number of senior citizens. My kids are young adults now, so one of them sat next to me during the performance while the other two were seated down in the orchestra pit since they were part of the orchestra.  It was a different kind of experience for me as a parent; normally I'd be watching one of my kids up there on the stage.

I loved listening to the songs, some familiar, some not.  I grew up watching and reading Charlie Brown stories and sat watching videos with my own kids.  I smiled as You're a Good Man played out on the stage, thinking back to the many times I tuned in to A Charlie Brown Christmas or any of the various holiday specials. I do miss the childhood fun with my kids. These days we're all adults and life is always so busy, hectic and sometimes lacking in fun or just plain spontaneity. Kids always seem to find the joy and humor in life. I know I've gotten awfully serious in my fifties and I really need to stop and laugh or go out and smell the roses. I want to find that funny girl I used to be.

So take some time to find the child in you today. What made you laugh? What silly things did you do in the past? What silly songs did you sing?