This cold weather is playing hell with the utility infrastructure around here. The ice last weekend caused trees to snap and fall on power lines. Many people are still without power. Fortunately, my house still has electricity and cable/Internet. What we don’t have is water. The freezing cold causes old, brittle main water lines to break. We’ve had no water since yesterday afternoon. Some people I know have not had water since last week. Now we’re to the point where it’s difficult to find bottled water in stores.
To make do, I’ve been collecting snow from the yard and melting it on the stove in a big pot. It’s fine to flush toilets with and wash up in. We’re using paper plates and plastic silverware until we have water again. Someone is not adjusting well to the inconvenience. He wants us to just use our dishes and let them pile up until we have none left. I’m sure that’s a fine solution for someone who has no intentions to clean dirty dishes that have been sitting around for days (or it could extend into weeks…who knows)? He’s a city boy. He doesn’t like camping because he doesn’t have conveniences of home. I like conveniences, but I can survive without them (well most of them….I get cranky without Internet access).
Growing up, I spent lots of time at my great-grandparents’ farm in the country. They didn’t get indoor plumbing until I was 9 years old or so. Until they remodeled a bedroom into a bathroom, and even after that, they had an outhouse at the far corner of their yard. It really was a horrible thing and I hated to use it. You may have seen pictures of outhouses with a moon or star cut in the door to let light in. Their outhouse had no such feature. The only light that came in was the tiny rays that leaked through the cracks between the boards. At night, you took a flashlight with you. In summer, the stench was disgusting. Giant spiders made their homes in there because outhouses, by their nature, attract flies. I remember looking up once and seeing a bat hanging upside down in the corner. I couldn’t exit quickly enough.
We were instructed to make lots of noise before opening the door and to inspect the floor and look up at the rafters before entering. The neighbor got bit by a copperhead in his outhouse. He startled the snake by opening the door and plowing in before giving any wildlife a chance to scamper. My grandmother told me that once when she was young, she was sitting “on the throne” and a snake fell off the rafter onto her back and into the hole below. That was a story I definitely didn’t need to hear. I always worried about snakes being down in the hole and finding a way up.
Needless to say, I never lingered in the outhouse…not intentionally anyway. One of my older brother’s greatest pleasures in life was to lock me in the outhouse, corncrib, or shed. Really, being locked into any place that was dark or had threat of snakes and spiders would get a rise out of me, just what he wanted and I never disappointed him in those circumstances. I confess, I’ve done my fair share of purposefully-mean things to my brothers. They deserved it so I have no guilt about things I did or caused intentionally to happen to them.
For now, we have plenty of clean snow on the ground. The temperature is supposed to warm up 10 degrees above freezing this weekend. I sure hope we have our water service restored by then.