|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
I hate my apartment. I hate it for more reasons than I can list here, but to summerize, it is tiny, cold, dark, dank, leaks like a sieve, and has all the charm of Dracula's Crypt, but with less insulation or ambience. Having said that, you might ask why I live here. The answer is simple; I needed a place to live and this was pretty much the only place available in my price range. End of story. As much as I hate my apartment on a regular day I hate it even more when the pipes freeze and I have no water for four days. That is exactly what happened during our recent deep freeze, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty.
Anyone who tells you that they want to go back to the good old days needs a mental health professional. In the good old days there was no central heating, no electricity, very little plumbing, no insulation, and no dentists. Not any dentists you would want to go to, anyway. Life in the good old days in Maine in the winter must have been freezing cold, phenomenally inconvenient, and just plain miserable. Just going without running water was enough proof for me.
Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, the sub-zero temperatures were followed by a massive snow storm and Chuck and I spent a good deal of time hauling snow into the house in pots to melt for flushing the toilet. The worst part of this experience was looking at the water from the melted snow and realizing how filthy it was. Chuck found that it gave new meaning to the many times I told him not to eat snow when he was little and he deeply regretted not listening to me better. At least, in the good old days, the snow was probably cleaner.
Awakening to no water meant that neither of us could take a shower so we had to heat up what drinking water we had for a quick sponge bath and tooth brushing. Due to the cost of heating my crypt, we are forced to keep the temperature pretty low, which translates into being cold most of the time. Removing one's clothes to jump into a hot shower is bad enough, having to get undressed to take a sponge bath in the morning is pretty unbearable. All I could think of was how 150 years ago people must have been so cold all winter long if they only had fireplaces, which are notoriously the worst heating source in the universe. Even with a wood stove it must have been frigid in the mornings, particularly in any upstairs bedroom. When I was cleaning up I decided that it was no wonder that people didn't bath regularly. In these temperatures you would die of pneumonia before you ever got your socks back on.
After discovering that I had no water my day progressed more or less in the same vein. The first thing I did was drop my purse on the ground outside my work. Since some thoughtful soul had put down salt to melt the ice, the ground was slushy and filthy. So was my purse. I had decided to wear a cardigan that day that has sort of puffy, fuzzy cuffs. The only problem with this plan is that while the cardigan sleeves went into my coat sleeves easily enough, getting them out again proved painfully problematic. I went to pull my left arm out of my coat and the puffy cuffs of the sweater got caught, causing my coat sleeve to pull inside out and stop halfway. I could not get my arm out and it would not go back in again. I went into a series of bizarre contortions trying to free myself, but nothing would budge. Finally, I had to unbutton and remove my cardigan and coat on my right side in order to undo the knot of outerwear on my left side. By the time I got finished the girl I work with had tears running down her cheeks and was helpless with laughter and I was exhausted.
I called my landlady about the water situation, expecting her assurances that she would have it taken care of. Not so much. She made a bunch of weak noises that may have been sympathy but sounded a lot more like confusion and indecision, a fact that I found rather discouraging. The entire weird conversation translated into my landlady not being terribly enthusiastic about getting the problem taken care of before spring. It turned out that I was right since I continued without water for three more days.
In the end, it turned out that they had not turned on the heating strips in the cellar and the water meter itself was frozen solid. The incredibly nice guy who ultimately came to fix the problem told me that they are deliberately designed so that the back pressure plate would essentially blow off when the meter froze so that the meter would shut down and not crack the expensive brass casing. Goody. The nice man had to contact the water district to get another back for the meter, which took even more time. On the up side, he told me that the freezing pipes were not my fault, since I had done everything I was advised by the newspaper to do in order to prevent it from happening. I was a little worried that I had not been diligent enough in preparing for the visit from the arctic regions. It was good to know that I had not been entirely stupid.
I finally had my water back after four days and I was thrilled to see it come merrily out of the faucets. We survived the ordeal with toughness and innovative thinking and I feel OK about us. I still hate the apartment, though. More than ever. But at least I'm not living in it in 1865. I'm pretty sure I'd hate it even more.