Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'm craving doing laundry...???

Photo courtesy of Flickr... though this could be a scene at my house right now.

That is what happens when one is without a reliable water source for three+ days.

We lost water on Sunday morning and have yet to get it back in earnest. We got a new water pump installed and had a day of about half normal pressure. The water pump was not the source of the problem. Thankfully while we had at least a dribble, my brilliant husband thought to fill one of our bath tubs to ensure water for toilet flushing(!) and minimal hand washing. However, as the issue required more investigation and repair we currently have no running water at all.

It is very interesting the things one is forced to consider upon deprivation of precious H20.

For example:

• What am I touching? I can't just wash my hands "willy nilly."

• What do I feed people? The fewer utensils, plates and clean-up the better.

• How much clean underwear do we all have... or lack?

• How does one fill two 60 gallon water troughs with no running water?

• Ever contemplated watering a 40 x 20 garden full of tender, tiny sprouts with a watering can and swimming pool water?

• How does one get ready for work in a dignified office setting when you can't shower? This I can tell you involves a bucket, an empty bathtub and very cold and speedy hygienic practices... Poor James!

These are just a few of the thoughts that have rattled across my brain pan in the past 36 hours.

How do I feel right now?

Thirsty. We have plenty of bottled water, but somehow knowing there's not water in the faucet makes me feel parched.

Dirty. I am very deliberately not exerting enough energy to get all "dewy" as I already feel like every molecule of dust floating maliciously in the air is preternaturally attracted to my skin and fully aware of my inability to bathe conveniently.

But mostly it's a lot like I'm camping in a *really* nice motor home in one of those spaces without the water and sewer hookups... and the bathroom/shower hut is a half mile hike away on the other side of the camp ground.

I hear there is a plumber working up the hill at my in-laws' house connecting by-passing pipes as we speak. The broken pipe, it seems, lurks beneath a concrete slab so re-routing the flow of the life-sustaining liquid is far more practical, and preferable, to ripping up a ton of driveway to fix the leak directly.

God bless the family members willing to dig for hours to expose the pipes and a plumber/friend willing to massage his schedule to make our problem a priority. We would be in dire straights... and stinky for much, MUCH longer... without their generous help!

Whenever we lose water or power I am always forced to think of those living in countries where utilities are intermittent at best or even non-existent. I don't think I take the luxury and privilege of reliable infrastructure for granted until I spend even an afternoon without... and then I feel very guilty for not appreciating them much more than I actually do.

In this particular shortage, I have noticed myself very aware and possessive of half-consumed glasses and bottles of water I spot laying around the house. Suddenly, I see them as opportunities to wash my hands or rinse off a spoon. Maybe give a plant a drink. I am afraid free water has made us more wasteful in its abundance.

I have never really thought, *really* thought about what a luxury it is just to have the opportunity to have a clean body and clothes. Right now, after a shower, all I want is to run my dishwasher and do about six loads of laundry. I can't imagine living permanently in conditions where you can't even count on a safe glass of water to drink, let alone access to enough to wash anything.

It makes it difficult to feel too sorry for myself when I think of our dilemma on a global scale. I mean, if I got desperate for some form cleanliness I could go for a swim in my inlaws' pool. Not so for all those dust-encrusted African kids we see on the big screen TV broadcast in high-def digital cable...

Somehow, when I think about it in those terms I don't feel nearly so inconvenienced and a whole lot more grateful that my "plight" will last a total of a few days and gave me an opportunity to begin to really appreciate how fortunate we are to live where and when we do.

It's the *little things* Y'all... Seriously.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

When I say "Baking Soda Works Miracles," it's not a rhetorical statement

Yes, you're seeing correctly. It is a TWELVE POUND bag of Baking Soda.
This post is especially for the Ladies. The only reason I say that is because it deals with an affliction from which, to date, only one male I know of personally has ever suffered. (And that, I'm SURE was karma!)

I am speaking of the dreaded and much-loathed Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) also known less accurately but far more conversationally as the "Bladder Infection."

People, there are few things on this earth that make a girl hate being a girl with more fury and gnashing of teeth than this bacterial menace. To add to the *enjoyment* you can rest assured that the vast majority of the time, said loveliness will usually choose, say Saturday morning at about 1:45 to present itself so as to make sure you are just miserable enough as to render you unable to wait for your regular doctor's office to open Monday morning to seek treatment... And the local ER's cash register *Ka-CHINGS!* with satisfaction.

Seriously. The last three times I've had one of these curses of gal-dom, I have had to fork over a $100 co-pay... only to be billed $160-and-change more from the ER after insurance! For which, by the way I am EXTREMELY grateful because just to walk into the ER in Lincoln City, tell them what was happening with me, get my blood pressure taken, pee in a cup, wait in a room under a pre-warmed blanket, tell the doc three times that yes, Pyridium DOES, in fact, contain red food dye... "what do you think makes your urine orange???" and therefore yes it WILL make me vomit, yes, I'm allergic to sulfa drugs and Cipro makes me sick as a dog, at which news he looks at me accusingly like I'm telling him all this just to challenge his medical knowledge and spouts at me with disgust, "Well, I'm running out of things to give you so you're going to have to take something or just take your chances until maybe this thing kills you!"

"Can you just give me some Macrobid and let me be on my way, please...?"

"Um, okay... $816 please!"

Can you imagine what it would have cost me if I needed, oh, I don't know, for them to actually figure out what was wrong with me? What if I had needed a stitch or something?! Ka-CHING!!

But, I digress...

So. Fast forward to Monday evening.

The unmistakable sensations begin and I'm thinking how grateful I am that at least it's not Saturday, but it is too late to call the doctor at the moment. I'm going to have to try some home triage until morning.

My mom happens to call and I tell her what's up and she says "Oh, I read the coolest thing about Alka Seltzer and UTIs! I can't remember exactly what it was, but, you know..."

Well, I don't own any Alka Seltzer, but I do have... you guessed it... Baking Soda!

What is Alka Seltzer but fizzy baking soda in a tablet?

I have nothing to lose at this point so I decide to improvise. I took a rounded teaspoon of Baking Soda and dissolved it into about 10oz of water. I drank it down as quickly as I could, *YUCK* and followed it with most of another glass of clear water. Of course, the burping erupted immediately... followed by some nausea, but that passed pretty quickly. An hour later, I began to notice some other, um, plumbing activity. It seemed I was purging a lot more than just urinary bacteria, but it wasn't like when that happens when you're sick. There wasn't any cramping, just an urgent need to "go!"

By bedtime, I felt mostly fine, but still made an appointment with the doc's office the next morning so as to not get another "ER Surprise" over the weekend. They couldn't get me in until Wednesday.

Tuesday, I felt fine all day but decided to do the baking soda and water thing again that evening, just for good measure. No extra "plumbing" action this time.

This morning, I kept my appointment with the doctor.

Guess what? For the FIRST TIME EVER my UTI test came back NEGATIVE!!!

The doctor walked into the exam room, results in hand, with her mouth hanging open in disbelief! There was not a TRACE of bacteria. Believe me, and gals who have experienced a UTI more than twice can attest... once you start down that road, there is NO question what those specific symptoms mean and they do NOT get better by thinking happy thoughts and waiting it out.

I'm not a doctor. I can't (legally) say the baking soda thing cured my UTI. All I can say is, somehow between Monday evening and this morning, with pretty much just baking soda and a whole bunch of water in between, the UTI was rendered completely undetectable... and the doctor was amazed enough to make a big deal about it.

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'...

Baking soda: takes the stains out of your sink, deodorizes your fridge, cleans your teeth, and apparently your urinary tract... and the list goes on, and on and on...

Now THAT's what I call versatile!

Baking Soda and Water Cocktails all around! Woo Hoo!

Party on, Y'all!

Monday, June 9, 2008

While you're waiting...

I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce you to my favorite new small kitchen appliance... the Cuisinart electric ice cream maker!!

This thing is PERFECTION!

It doesn't require ice so it's not very messy.

It isn't self-refrigerating so it's not an electricity hog, nor is it insanely expensive.

It is super easy to clean with only three parts that are simple to hand wash.

It makes ice cream in about 30 minutes once you assemble the ingredients!!


I have already made simple vanilla and a vanilla bean ice cream that requires making custard first but is phenomenal! In a recent outburst of brazen culinary self confidence and ingenuity I even made a dairy-free chocolate ice cream with coconut milk that was so good I may never eat regular chocolate ice cream again!

I once had an ice cream freezer attachment for my old (smaller) KitchenAid mixer and it was very disappointing. All the cold escaped from the sides and top and the results were mediocre at best. This machine has the freezer bowl completely surrounded and insulated so it stays really cold. I throw a towel over the plastic top to help retain what little escapes there but the freezy part stays super cold through the whole process. It remains so supremely chilled in fact that I've had the water I'm washing it out with freeze!

For $50 at Costco... WELL worth the investment! Of course if you get this little beauty, homemade ice cream becomes so easy and fun that you might find yourself in need of another investment... a gym membership.

Willpower to the people, Y'all!

Peas, out!

Stay Tuned!

There is a very important, highly-informative post brewing.

All I need is more folded laundry, more visible floor space and less visible dust and it's all yours!

Come back soon!