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Monday, January 27, 2014

Houston, We Have Soup!

Where this blog post ends up is in the soup pot, but it's going around the bend to get there. Here we are ending with turkey noodle soup.

turkey noodle soup

Where this starts is with the water. The water we still don't have. But maybe we have someone coming to look at it tomorrow. If I can get the driveway clear, and if they get around to it.

What I really want to talk about is my attitude toward running water. Running water in a creek is nice. Running water in the house is nice (ok, when it runs out of the faucet on command, not out of broken heating pipes or cracked toilet bowls or drips from the ceiling below the upstairs bath). People are pretty much appalled that I don't consider it much of an emergency that we haven't had water for six days now. What will be the emergency is the cost to get it working again. Dealing with water not from a faucet, not so much.

You may wonder why I feel that way. The list of reasons is long.

I grew up in a house that had running water from a cistern. That water was conserved like gold. We could use it for washing and flushing the toilet (with country rules "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down"). There was no bathtub or shower. My parents took sponge baths in front of the sink, and I bathed in a tin tub till I got too big. For drinking, we carried pails of water from the barn where we pumped it by hand.

When I was maybe 11, the pump in the barn broke. Dad didn't want to pay to have it fixed, so we carried jugs of drinking water from town until I was 14. On her way home from work every day, Mom would fill a jug or two when she picked me up from school. When I was 14, Mom paid to have the well water piped into the house and a shower installed. Oh yes, and a water heater that was on all the time. Before that, if you wanted hot water you heated it on the stove or for a serious enough project, like baths or laundry or canning food, the gas water heater could be lit. But you had to remember to do it a good hour before you wanted the hot water.

For 22 years of life with Om we spent anywhere from four to six weeks of every summer on the road leading bicycle trips. I got to ride on a few, but I was usually the driver of the support vehicle (first a trailer and later a converted bus). The support person did all the cooking for the group. The cooking happened in a custom kitchen area of those vehicles. It had a burner/grill unit, storage, work space and water jugs. Every day, I filled the jugs. Actually, the trailer had a water tank for a while, but it had to be filled every day. Out of this kitchen, I produced three meals a day for anywhere from a dozen to 54 people. And did the cleanup. Can you say water conservation?

Then there is backpacking. Every drop of water you drink or cook with has to be collected, treated or boiled. Water to wash with is easier, but you have to go to it, it's not conveniently located in a nearby sink. You also have to lug water with you. Water is heavy. 8.35 pounds to the gallon, to be precise. Trust me, you don't want to add too much water to your pack weight.

Right now, there are two of us in the house. We have jugs filled with clean water for cooking. We have a large handy snow pile just outside the door, big pans, and a stove that works. We're flushing once a day. (TMI? Just being thorough in explanation.)

Ready? We're almost back to the soup. Last Tuesday, I took the turkey carcass out of the freezer and boiled it down, but didn't get the rest of the meat pulled off the bones. The whole pot went in the fridge. Wednesday, after work and after I had done some other chores, I pulled it out thinking I'd finish the soup project. Then I said to myself, "What are you thinking? You have no water and you're going to get four pans greasy and cover yourself in turkey grease to your elbows. Just wait until there is easy water again."

However, it's way past Wednesday, and I sure didn't want that stock to go bad. That would be a pretty big waste. So, today, I finished the soup, melted an extra pan of snow and washed all the dishes.

Don't misunderstand me, I won't mind a bit when water appears in a stream just from turning a handle. But it's not a crisis to acquire it in other ways.

Just for fun, here were some of today's visitors, a pair of cardinals, chickadees, and a nuthatch. There were also juncos and a downy woodpecker. They were all willing to share, except Mrs. Cardinal. She would peck at anyone who came near when she was on the feeder.


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Rick (Ratty) said...

I know how you feel about not having water. There were too many times when I was a kid that we didn't have the whole modern convenience of water. The toilet is always the worst part. I hope you get your water back soon.

Unknown said...

We always had running water but my grandmother hadn't... plus we lived in drought prone Texas where shade and water were more valuable than money. We conserved too.

Unknown said...

We always had running water but my grandmother hadn't... plus we lived in drought prone Texas where shade and water were more valuable than money. We conserved too.

Ann said...

The house I grew up in was on well water but a very shallow well so you had to be careful with how much you used or you would run the well dry. I don't think I learned how to conserve on water quite as well as you did though. While an inconvenience it's easier to go without running water than without electric. Hope you have running water again soon

shelly said...

Very cool that you're using the snow for your water supply. Love the bird pic.

vanilla said...

Not so sure I could survive quite so cheerfully after all these years of ultra-convenience. Way to go; and you fed the birds, too!

Secondary Roads said...

It appears we grew up under similar conditions. The soup looks good--nice looking veggies, noodles and broth. Unfortunately, I have a strong allergy to turkey meat. For that reason, I'd use vegan crumbles (ground-beef substitute) to add some body.

Anonymous said...

Yum, it's definitely soup weather and that's pretty brillant to use snow for water. Not as nice as having running water but there sure isn't a lack of it.

RNSANE said...

I've never had to do without water. I did buy a Steripen for India...but I've always stayed where there is running tap water. I wouldn't drink water from the tap in India, though, buying bottled water, using the Steripen or my water sterilization tablets. I've had a shower available, sometimes without hot water but it's so hot in India, the cool water was wonderful.

Your adventures ( ? )sound exhausting. I guess snow can be a really good thing, sometime.