Wednesday, March 05, 2008

the boiling point

because yellow is a happy color

There aren't a lot of things that make me feel so Little House on the Prairie like having to boil water to have any warmer than, say, cold. Okay, so there are a lot of things that would make me feel so rustic and antiquated, but they're usually cozy little things I do because I choose to or want to, or maybe they're things that wouldn't likely occur in my life anyhow. I don't expect to play catch with an inflated pig bladder anytime soon.

I also didn't expect to wake up last morning and learn that in the night the bottom to our (old) hot water heater had rusted out. A whole night of running water, running hot water. A whole day with no hot tap water. Another whole day ahead of me tomorrow. It's not a big deal, in the big fat grand scheme of life and love and other things. It's just an inconvenience, a hassle.

It's my habit to fill my kettle up to boil water so many times a day. (not the kettle pictured above. that's a recent thrift treasure and, I think, will soon live on my front stoop as a house for some small plant or flower). I already wash all the dishes by hand. It's not a large leap to add the two together. So, it's not the boiling of a large pot that I find troublesome. It's just the being mindful enough to set a pot to boil and then to wait for it. I'm no good at waiting.

I guess one could say that hot tap water is the email to our times past handwritten letter. We all love to get mail, to send mail (I made generous assumptions here). But email is expedient and fits in the small fissures of our busy days. Letterwriting is something that has fallen, is falling, away. And it's a shame and just about anybody would agree. We should write more letters! Everybody loves a little something happy in their mailbox! Mail is great! Yes! Sure! Oh, but email. So quick and simple. And so we tap away when a postcard would be so much sweeter.

And what does all this mean, you wonder. . . Well, no, you probably don't wonder, or at least you ought not, because often I start in on some tenuous analogy, linking up disparate concepts with the most fragile threads which rarely no one else can see but I, and then I drop the whole mess and it doesn't make even the tiniest sense any more, not even to me (especially not after midnight on a Tuesday). But I'm finding this, the incessant boiling, actually a little pleasant, in a slowing down and noticing sort of way. The thing about letter writing is that we don't want it to become obsolete. Even if we aren't writing a lot of handwritten letters, we see the value in keeping the tradition alive.

And so maybe it is with water. Only, the tradition of boiling and boiling fell to the wayside. Having to do it is a hassle, not a simple happy task. We don't miss it because it transitioned out of our modern daily lives before we were born. I'm not starting a fire in the backyard, so the stovetop still allows for a certain amount of convenience. The truth is that my whole life is pretty darn convenient, busted hot water heater or no.

Lopsided analogy dropped. . . now! I told you it wouldn't last so long. And that's mighty close to the repsonse I had when the husband relayed our predicament. We're keeping fingers crossed that the home warranty folks cover a replacement and, in the meantime, boil water, drink tea, hope nothing else goes wrong for a while.

Which would be a Nothing Else after the something which was the husband's pick-up truck making the unfortunate acquaintance of a telephone pole this evening, on his way home from work. Not a banner day around our house. His truck is in sad shape, but he's unhurt. A plumber won't be here until Thursday, but at least we have water at all.


midgettroyani said...

YOU are a little ray of sunshine!

Write me a letter. I'll write back.

J is reading a book right now about pen pals. We thrifted it. If I read it and like it as much as he does, I might buy a new/used copy for your home library.

Lisa said...

Makes me think of the inconvenience, but satisfaction of using a French press for coffee everyday. You can't program it to have coffee ready when you wake up, but there's something about the process that makes it better.

Angelina said...

I've had to boil water for baths quite a bit in the past due to water heaters that don't work for shit. It's really not so bad. I think when we get over the initial shock of time and thought it takes to do things the old way, the slow way, you find a new rhythm and it can be quite calming.

I like your analogies and it takes good writing to weave in slender threads and knot them together. You don't give yourself enough credit there. I love your writing for that very roundabout weaving that you do and you actually don't generally lose your threads.

I hope by now things are coming right again.