It’s been a really long time since I’ve written and posted a blog here on our website. For that, I apologize, but to say I’ve been “busy” seems like quite an understated understatement.
I can’t say that I’ve ever envied a camel’s abilities where “water lugging” is concerned before, but I found myself feeling a bit jealous of those desert animals and their God given abilities recently. Here’s what “no water” looked like in our house over the last few days:
On Monday morning, we made a beautiful and delicious brunch to celebrate our last day off of school following Easter vacation [read: lots of dirty dishes in the kitchen] and I hadn’t yet finished washing ALL the dishes that resulted, so many of them were piled high in my “dirty dish bin” next to the kitchen sink. And, on Mondays, my laundry room always looks like a dirty clothing mountain range — and this particular Monday was no different [read: tons of dirty laundry and virtually no clean clothing in the house]. Oh, and the fact that Easter was the day before and the main focus on that day was baskets, candy, Easter egg hunts, AND a very large Sunday dinner [read: many large serving dishes used only for holidays that were still in various stages of dirtiness] certainly didn’t help this sudden predicament we found ourselves in!
And then it happened:
Around 5:52 pm, Cara walked by me to use the bathroom on the main floor of our house and said, “What’s up with the sink? There’s no water coming out!” I’d say that I immediately lost my mind and panicked, but I didn’t because, honestly, teenage girls DO tend to exaggerate situations quite often and besides, I quickly reasoned, it was only DAYS past April Fools Day. She could have been playing a belated joke on me. So, I withheld my panic until after I asked, “What do you mean no water?”, and she replied, “like as in NO WATER!” At that point, I raced to the nearest sink and turned on the tap, quickly figuring out that she was correct and certainly NOT exaggerating or joking.
Not. A. DROP. Came. Out.
To give you a little history……only 14 months ago we spent a few days (over Christmas and New Years) without running water. At that time, I had to replace our well pump — this thing that I had no prior idea that even existed — but learned it’s the thing that pumps your water up from your well and into your home. Throughout that experience, I also learned that replacing that “thing” is not an easy or an inexpensive task. Back then, when I realized our water flow was slowly diminishing, I made some phone calls to handy man type guy friends who guided me on what a well pump is and how to limp it along, which meant that sometimes we had water and sometimes we didn’t. Taking some wise advice from another friend, I filled ALL bath tubs and containers in the entire house with water whenever we actually HAD running water, but after a few days, the pump spit out its final gush of water. And that was that. That stored up bath tub water got us through the next few dry days.
At that point, it was time to call in the specialists…
When they arrived, I recall them telling me that our well is one of the deepest wells they had ever worked on and for that reason, and the demand on the pump — because of the number of people using water in our household — they were going to extra insulate the wires, use only the finest grade pump and on and on the safe guard list went…. The goal was to fix the problem for the next 15 years… So, if you’re a home owner, naturally you would have thought just as I did. In my mind, I made a permanent marker type mental check mark beside “well pump replaced.” So this time around, the problem definitely couldn’t be THAT thing again, right? Had I known, I would have made that mental check mark in pencil.
Fast forward to this past Monday and the Cara conversation…
It was dangerously close to dinner time when she discovered this water related drama, so the plan quickly shifted from a home cooked meal to “frozen pizzas, onion rings and a vege” prepared by Cara and Mady while I raced for the phone to call one of our neighbors who is a genius plumber. He’s rescued us a time or two before on different water related matters, and this time was no different! He said he’d be here in 30 minutes. God bless him!
Now not to go all mechanical and technical on you here, but at this point, I was thinking that our home water filter needed to be replaced. I had a replacement filter on hand, but am not physically strong enough to open the cartridge housing, so I need to call a man every time it needs changed, as annoying as that is! I figured it got clogged and made our water stop running. It’s happened before, which is how I learned about those filter things in the first place.
Side note: Girls learn the mechanics of running a house by trial and error… Have you noticed that theme here in my house yet?
So when our plumber neighbor arrived, I showed him to the filter thing in the basement and presented the replacement filter. I figured I’d be up and running in under ten minutes. He changed the filter in a jiffy and I only became worried when I saw concern on his face as he turned the water lines back on. He began tracing water lines and familiarizing himself with our system and all I kept thinking was, “please turn the main water lines back on and tell me everything is okay so I can go help make dinner and get the kids to bed for school tomorrow” but he just kept looking checking and talking to himself. Then he went to our electrical panel, went to his truck to get meters and tools, and began making phone calls. I noticed his “concerned” lines were etching deeper and deeper on his face. My face mirrored his.
I finally had to ask. His answer was NOT pleasant to hear: “your well pump is registering zero. There’s no water pressure. I’m not sure why.” I knew all too well what this meant, but he erased any doubt when he spelled it out to me anyway, “I don’t think you’re going to have water tonight.” And that’s precisely when my almost 11 year old girls appeared out of no where and began shrieking loudly, “what do you mean NO WATER TONIGHT??” they wailed at me. “We didn’t take showers yet and we have SCHOOL tomorrow!” A very regretful “Sorry” was his only reply, as he hung his head. I said nothing. What could I say? Panic filled me. It was nearly 8 pm now and it had been a very long day. We had next to no stored water for drinking or bathing on premises. And nearly no one had showered. O.M.G. The plumber left and told me he’d let me know when he heard back from the guys he had called. It was a late night here as I heated containers of water and handed out wash cloths, soap bars, and cups, reminding my kids how to do “sponge baths” and refreshing their memories on the “how to brush their teeth with an inch of water in a plastic cup” routine. But we made it through. Eventually the house quieted down.
The next morning, I delivered containers of warm water to their bathrooms so the kids could wash up before school. I felt terrible, but approached it with a “won’t we all be SO happy when we have running water again?” attitude. The kids went along with it for the most part, but it definitely helped their attitudes when I mentioned that I’d get a hotel room for after school so we could all take showers. I couldn’t wait either!
Following bus stop drop off, I raced into the grocery store and practically cleaned them out of bottled water. I bought some containerized water jugs with spouts to simulate a sink, some in gallons for cooking and some individual bottled waters for drinking and teeth brushing and rinsing. Next, I called the specialists who had installed my well pump. He was very busy working out of town but made arrangements to come over late that evening.
As promised, I made a call to a local hotel and secured us a room. Remembering that some kids had varied activities and crazy schedules after school, I ran the logistics — out loud — and realized there was no way I could get everyone where they needed to be, feed them all AND get them all showered alone. I had no choice but to reach out to my very part time (and very wonderful!!) babysitter for help! I don’t often break down and SOS her, but this was unavoidable. Thank God she was available to help!
Next, in my quest for a shower, I packed each child a microwaveable sectioned container of Easter dinner leftovers, napkins, plastic cutlery, and drinks. Once dinner was taken care of, I packed shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and a clean outfit for each child — which was a feat in and of itself. God forbid that I pack them something they DON’T want to wear home in the dark! Never mind that it’s clean and all that other practical stuff that only moms care about! I realized that I needed an outfit and toiletries too… yes, I almost forgot myself! By the time I grabbed my own personal stuff, I looked up and realized it was already time to head to the bus stop. Where had the day gone????!! I sprinted back and forth from the house to the car, loading bag after bag of stuff into the back and mused out loud, “I wish we were going somewhere fun” then laughed at myself. All THIS fuss and stuff just so my large clan could eat a meal and shower!!!
I closed the back door of my car and raced off to the hotel to “check in” before picking up my posse! Once I had the first group picked up, we headed to the hotel. I had 5 of 8 with me, so we took turns eating while doing homework, showering when it was “your turn” and then watching “Sponge Bob” once each one was done and ready to head home. My babysitter picked up the next bus load of kids and headed to the hotel to feed and shower them.
Just as we were finishing up our last bites of dinner, collecting stray socks and strewn dirty underwear, the specialist guy called and said he’d be at my house within 20 minutes. Yahoo!! We turned Sponge Bob off, hastily organized ourselves and headed out the door for home, arriving just in time! I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy fix as soon as I saw his face. I think I even saw tears in his eyes as this big strong man realized he’d have to haul that well pump from almost 600 feet below the ground level. Yet again. I was almost in tears too.
As we talked, I was still in constant motion. He watched the parade of more water being hauled into the house, along with the over flowing bags of dirty clothing, haphazardly packed here and there. The plastic dinner dishes (which I had washed at the hotel, thank you very much!) were spewing from cooler bags as they made their way in, followed by the nearly endless stream of book bags and lunch boxes, carried by weary wet headed tired kids.
When the parade through the front door finally finished, he announced that he couldn’t come back with the equipment to fix it until Thursday, which seemed like 9 years from that moment, when in reality it was only about 36 hours away. I freaked out inside, but thanked him and calmly made plans to keep our hotel room for another night, already secretly dreading another shower/dinner marathon like we had just endured. He left. But it wasn’t long until I got a text from him saying, “I can’t leave you without water until Thursday. I moved some stuff around and I’ll be there tomorrow morning by 8.” I literally screamed with joy and thanked him profusely as I finished filling a toilet tank with water, flushed it and ran through the house, wielding my water jugs, on my way to the next toilet! I announced the GREAT news to each kid I met along the way as I made my way to each toilet! Excited cheering mixed with the sound of toilets flushing meant we were almost done with this waterless nightmare!
By that time the next night, we had running water again, and to be honest, I’m still catching up on dishes and laundry and haven’t had a chance to ask exactly WHAT needed replaced. Was it the entire pump or just a part of it? Do I even really care right now? I may, eventually, once I finally get out of the shower…. but for now, I’m really happy… And clean!!!!
Ahhhhhhhhh running water is TRULY a luxury. And before you laugh, I’m not even kidding.