Comfort and Joy

By , December 15, 2013

Yesterday, around noon, I took the first real shower I’d had in nine days.

We worked hard all day Friday on rebuilding the water system. We brought the new/used water heater over from the boat house, sledding it through the snow with our pulk (see The Pulk: Our Homestead’s Winter “Truck”). We connected pex pipe and other fittings into the evening, unitil our muscles were sore and our heads spinning. Saturday, we opened the water tank spigot fully, examined every join for leaks, and judged it sound. We had a pair of slight, slow leaks, but none in the pex pipe joins. We’ll keep an eye on them, and if they don’t seal up, we’ll take steps to seal them.

The new plumbing and water heater. The washcloth on the left side covers and controls one of the two small leaks (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The new plumbing and water heater. The washcloth on the left side covers and controls one of the two small leaks (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

I’d always assumed that rebuilding the system would allow us to simplify the clutter of pipes and connections, but no so. The agua heaters we use are built in Mexico, and they all seem to have the cold and hot outlets arranged opposite the U.S. convention, requiring crossed pipes. Also, we added a hot water tempering valve, which makes the arrangement look like Rube Goldberg creation. However, it’ll keep us from getting scalded by the uncontrolled hot water.

We built a fire in the water heater, and enjoyed long, comfortable showers before washing the dishes. It felt great! Michelle had gotten a few showers in town last week, but none matched the comfort of bathing in her own home.

The shower proved to be a very symbolic final step in the process. We washed away more than dirt and sweat. We washed away our fear, doubt, frustration, and uncertainty. When we came out, we found ourselves completely relaxed for the first time since returning home.

That afternoon, we put up our Christmas tree and decorated it.

We realized just how out of joint our life had been. We came back from two weeks of Thanksgiving travel to frozen pipes and destroyed water heater (see Danger and Opportunity), which took all our attention and energy, disrupted our long anticipated return to normal, and kept us from starting our Christmas season as we would have liked. With the completion of the water system and the return of running water, and by sharing our holiday preparations, we achieved both comfort and joy.

Adding considerably to this feeling, we experienced a bolt from the blue that same day. An angel used our Website’s donation button to gift us $250 toward the unexpected expense of rebuilding the water system!

9 Responses to “Comfort and Joy”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    I fully believe in the wrapped connection (the more wrapping the better) or drip pan to handle plumbing leaks – unfortunately on this one occasion I had to call in a plumber – it took him longer to write the $60 bill than to tighten the nut with his handy dandy little wrench- the good old local boys don’t work cheap- I have never had a good feeling about plumbers since then

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Linn, I think the only time we ever hired a plumber was to get our Juneau house ready to sell. By then, I was so worried about what it was going to cost us that the actual bill surprised me–it seemed reasonable compared to my imagination.

    During the rebuild we talked a lot about plumbing and plumbers, as one might expect. I enjoyed the job (relatively speaking) but nothing about it made me want to do it for a living. I think plumbing is one of those professions where they get the big bucks because so few people want to do what they do.

  3. Patricia says:

    Hooray! so glad you are back up and running.

  4. Joanna says:

    SO glad to hear that things are returning to normal. I’m sorry to hear about the chaos and knowing how normally responsible you both are, this must have really been an unexpected shock. Sending good vibes for continuously warm showers…from Brooklyn!

  5. Mark Zeiger says:

    Thanks, Joanna. As far as being responsible, we discovered that my procrastination helped us dodge a serious bullet. I’ll need to review the blog post to see if I mentioned that. If not, I guess it’ll be covered in an upcoming post.

  6. Joanna says:

    Whoops! I may have misunderstood how the damage happened. Anyways, glad you two are OK and things are in repair.

  7. Mark Zeiger says:

    Did you, Joanna? It really was our fault. It was a bad decision that turned out to be the best decision we could have made, as you can see in the current post (as of 12/19/13).

  8. Joanna says:

    Got it. As an English teacher, I was questioning my own reading comp 🙂 I guess it was just a confusing situation, especially for someone not at all familiar with plumbing systems…like me!

    By the way, I think of you two more with the ridiculous amount of Alaska-based TV shows here (the shows range from homesteads, to Alaskan railroads, US Marshalls, Flying Alaska, Buying Alaska, and of course, fishing…) My theory, if I haven’t shared it yet, is that watching a place that’s cold and where it can be tough to survive, provides solace to “lower 48-ers” who feel warm and cozy in comparison, even if it’s cold here, too.

  9. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Joanna, I suspect you’re being overly generous with the U.S. viewing public. My theory is that they feel that watching these programs somehow confers on them the adimirable qualities of the people they’re watching!

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