Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Freeze of 2010 - Part II

On Sunday morning, I woke up and headed straight for the coffee pot. Oops! Nothing is coming out of the faucet. As I wander around caffeine deprived, I spot my neighbor Marc outside. I ask if he has water, and he says he does. He runs home and brings me a big container of water - it never occurred to me to save water. He is inquiring about my water problems and discovered that I haven't checked all my faucets. I find out all my other faucets are working - and I even have hot water. I give Marc his water back and thank him profusely for thinking for me. How could I not have thought to try all faucets? Maybe it's lack of caffeine.

I'm able to make coffee and brush my teeth, so I'm fine. I haven't had a bath since Friday morning and don't plan another one until Monday morning, when I have to go to work. Of course, without a bath I can't go anywhere else over the weekend, but no one is going anywhere in this weather anyway.

My other neighbor Bob, who is always taking care of things for me, comes to check on me. He instructs me to put a space heater under my sink to help defrost those pipes. He checks my outside faucets and wraps them all and puts some towels in a gaping hole leading to my cellar where the pipes are.

I did decide that the dirty dishes in my kitchen are just too disgusting, and I must wash them - but I keep putting it off. At some point in the afternoon, while the sun is still shining in my bathroom, I rig up this system to wash my dishes in my bathtub. I have a dishpan full of hot soapy water and dirty dishes. I've left the water running to rinse off the dishes - and a dish drain is sitting on my bathroom rug. I am kneeling on another rug, and it's not too bad. Then I notice my rinse water is getting cold and the gushing water is slowing to a trickle. I finish the dishes - even though the rinse water is cold - just to get them out of my tub.

After I have dried the dishes and put them away, hoping no diseases are lingering on them, I decide to call my neighbor Bob, aka Mr Fixit, to see if he knows what's wrong with my hot water. When I describe the symptoms, he says he's coming over right away. I know by the tone of his voice that this is not good.

He sends me in search of old towels, while's he's running all around my house. Then he calls to me to come right away. He's standing next to my washing machine, which is in the kitchen and had no water. He tells me to listen. Suddenly I hear gushing water. He runs outside and then calls me again. I look under my back porch and see water gushing out of a busted pipe. He runs home to get tools and a flashlight - because by now, it's dark. I show him the hole in the ground where my water meter is, and after digging in the dirt, he miraculously finds the turn off valve.

Well, I can't stay home now. I call my friend Gwen who has offered several times for me to come stay with her. She was about to call and invite me to dinner - and others are coming. OMG! When are the others coming? I must get there first and bath. So I throw stuff together and take off.

While luxurating in the best bath I have ever had - and in a toasty warm bathroom - I hear the other guests arrive. As I start to dress, I realize I only brought one set of clothes - to wear to work the next day. So I put on my pajamas, and with my wet hair, go out to the dinner party. Fortunately, I know the guests well and they just laugh at me. They do, however, appreciate that I am clean.

I call my neighbor Sissy, because I know her husband Marc is out of town, to let her know where I am in case she needs me. She says she knows a plumber, if I need one. Sissy knows everyone!

The next day I go to work at the Library, and call the person I thought would know a good plumber, but he's out of town. So I call Sissy and get the name of her plumber. Unfortunately, I am in the midst of a crisis at the Library and don't have a chance to call him. Right around noon, they call me from downstairs and tell me my plumber is here. My plumber? I don't have one - I haven't called anyone. I go down having no idea who it was. It turns out that Sissy had to call him to do some work in her store. She asked if he had heard from me, and he said no. She told him that I worked in the Library and why didn't he just go see me. And he did! Can you believe that?

However, I'm still in the midst of the Library crisis and cannot possibly leave to go with him to my house - even though it's half a block away. I quickly think of Bob and call and ask him if he could meet my plumber. Of couse he says yes - even though, as I found out later, he had just sat down to lunch. I told the plumber just to do whatever he needed to do and spend whatever was necessary - that he didn't need to ask my approval. Just fix it, I tell him. I give him my house key and off he goes.

About three hours later, he comes back. In great detail, he tells me what he has done and what I need to do when I get home. I ask if he'll take a check or if he prefers cash. Of course, he prefers cash. I still cannot leave the Library and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get cash. I'm thinking maybe I can scrounge up enough from my coworkers. Then I ask how much I owed him. He told me $43.50! I made him repeat it because I thought I had missed how many hundreds were in front of it. I actually asked him if he was kidding me, and he said no. I almost kissed and hugged him right there, but I restrained myself. I told him to have a seat, and I would be right back with his money. I had exactly $43 plus change in my wallet, so I was able to pay him. At that point, I got his name and number for future reference. Later, Bob told me the plumber was unbelievably good. He tightened up some faucets that were loose, and he went and got a bunch of cardboard to put all around my back porch to protect my pipes from the wind.

When I was finally able to leave the Library, I went straight to Bob's house. I told him that I was taking all my friends who helped me out to dinner, starting with Bob and his wife Sherri. They, of course, objected, but I told them I saved a lot of money today, and I was sharing my savings with them. Then I went to Gwen's to pick up my suitcase and invite her to dinner. Then I called Sissy to invite her. Bob and Sherri and I got in their car and began a search for a restaurant that was open - many were closed because of broken pipes. I forget how many we drove to before we finally found one - and it was only two blocks from our houses. Then we called the others and told them where we were.

It was a great dinner. We told all the stories of my saga, and talked about the painter we had all used, and laughed so hard. We saw lots of friends at the restaurant - since it was probably the only one open.

There is one final event in this saga. The next morning, I turned on my hot water in my tub and proceed to brush my teeth, wash my face, etc that I always do while I wait for the tub to fill. Then I turn around - and the water is brown - not unusual when your water has been off for a while. My hot water heater holds enough for one bathtub and then you have to wait awhile. I couldn't wait for the hot water to heat up, since I was already running late waiting for my clothes to dry. (Remember I hadn't been able to wash clothes.) So I had three choices: 1. Not take a bath. 2. Bathe in the brown water. or 3. Take a cold bath. Which would you choose? Most people I asked chose number 1, and nobody chose number 3. I chose number 2 and was quick about it.

The moral of this story is that it's great to have friends - and it's great to live in a small town like Natchez where everyone is friendly and everyone knows everyone else.

PS - Here's a picture of my house that someone asked for yesterday, but you can't see the side of the house where all the storm windows are missing. I'll try to remember to take one tomorrow.


Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful house! thanks for putting up the pic. I like to see pictures when I read stories.

What wonderful neighbors you have. I have loved the Frozen Weather anecdotes. Will miss them when warmer weather comes!

Jane said...

Casey, What a story! I can relate to good neighbors! I was out of town and worried about frozen pipes and a friend volunteered to go to my house and turn on all my faucets. She even captured a cat that was mine at one time, but moved in with my neighbor, but the neighbor was out of town, and took the cat to her house! My other neighbor went over and covered all the outside faucets.

I took them goody bags but probably need to take them to dinner also!!

That Bob is wonder!