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Doing without...


(Part Two of the 2014 segment of the Cottage diary)




Pony Express?
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – at the lake

In the olden days, you would write a letter to a friend, take it down to a mailbox, drop it in the slot, and, in a couple of days your friend would receive it.  Then, if they wished to reply, they would write something on paper, take it down to a mailbox, and eventually their reply would arrive back at your place.  In all, a minimum of four to six days would be required for sending a message and getting an answer.

Then, along came email.  If you write a message, it gets there instantly.  And if your friend happens to be sitting at their computer, they could read and reply to your message right away.  The reply could hit your inbox within minutes.  Replies – even from those who don’t check their email often – get to you much faster than old-fashioned lettermail ever could.

Then came text messaging... with its capacity for instant replies.

But for me, right now, I’m living in the “olden days.”  I can’t use text messages, because there is no cellular signal at the lake.  I can write an email, but – just like taking it down to the mailbox – I must wait until I go to town and access a coffee-shop’s wi-fi, before it can be sent off.  Then, even if the person I write to answers in an hour or so, I won’t get the answer until I return several days later.  Yes, it’s just like the “olden days,” or even Pony Express days.

I did go to town today, in search of parts for my water pump.  I got online, and updated this blog (up to yesterday’s entry, with the news that I have no Internet at the lake), and found several emails that will need answers.  Back at the cottage, and after several frustrating hours failing to get my water pump working, I wrote replies.

I hope I won’t have to go to town again until at least Sunday (though I’m not sure about that, given my frustration with the water system).  But it may well be that my replies won’t go out until after we’ve been to church.  The days of Pony Express are here again.

Are Three Heads Better than One?
Friday, July 4, 2014 – at the lake

Unfortunately the problem with my water pump is more complex than I thought.  I spent several hours on it yesterday, and more hours on it today.  At one point this afternoon, there were three men under the house – me, and my two friendly neighbours, Bill and Ken 3 – all of us looking at the apparently useless water pump, trying various remedies, and scratching our heads.  All to no avail.

When the other two had departed temporarily – to fetch connectors or clamps or guages or whatever they felt might lead to a solution – I decided to try and do something about my useless dock.  I was in my bathing suit, after all, having been in and out of the water with the water system’s intake pipe, so why not see if I can heft the dock back into place.

Lo and behold!  I could.  I lifted it, shifted it, and placed it where it belonged.  It was with the greatest sense of triumph, let me tell you, that I stood on it, and it remained steady.  Soon I was attaching the swim ladder and boat bumpers that are removed every season-end.  Then I happily moved my boat back from Ken’s dock, and now, at least, we can come and go without having to trek through the woods!

So the day is not without some successes.

But we remain without running water.  No matter what we tried, the water pump remained intractable.  To get water, I go down to the now-stable dock, and fill jugs from the lake, and with that we wash dishes... and ourselves (we don’t drink it, though; we never have.  The lake is really clean, but we don’t like to take chances, so we purchase drinking water).  But we could use a proper shower. 4

I’m being sent into town tomorrow morning to get some more parts.  I’ll try what Bill and Ken suggest, but frankly, I’m losing hope.

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Luxury?  or Necessity?
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – at the lake

Yahoo!!!”  The shout rang out across the tranquil lake.

I was the one shouting. 
Holding down the intake pipe to prevent air bubbles, I could feel the vibrations change inside the pipe.  At the same time, I heard the tell-tale sound of a water pump no longer pushing air but moving water.  Heather shouted from inside the cabin: “Tap’s running!  Lots of pressure!”

The new pump, expertly installed by my friend Bill – who was still standing over it, solicitous, like a midwife – was working.  At last, there is running water once more in our cabin.  We’ve been doing without, for an entire week.

The old pump didn’t owe us anything.  It was installed when my mom was the primary occupant of the place, and in her prime.  It has to be thirty years old at the very least, possibly a lot more.

And let me tell you, we tried everything to make it live again, all to no avail.  So Bill, who had more and more begun to take charge of the project, offered to order and install a new one for us.  He even went to town to pick it up when it arrived at the dealer’s.

Now it is in, and it is working.  It needs one more fitting in order for us to operate our crude but effective shower, then everything will be perfect.

It was so funny this past week living in the cabin.  Both Heather and I at various times would go to the sink to wash hands or rince a glass, and reach for the tap only to catch ourselves and laugh, and grab the jug that I had brought up from the dock.  Tonight once more I turned the tap, and almost jumped for joy because water gushed out!

When the cabin was built sixty years ago, there was no running water.  Indeed, throughout my youth, hauling water up from the lake was normal and acceptable.  Running water?  Electricity?  Telephones?  All these would have been seen as unnecessary and rather effete and citified luxuries.

But that was then.  Now we have all three, and somehow, luxury has become a necessity.

Online again... sort of
The one citified luxury still unavailable in this cottage is, of course, a high-speed Internet connection.  True, I own a little “dial-up” device that allows for a slow connection through the phone line, but having left it behind in Winnipeg, I was doomed to no Internet at all.

But this must be the summer of good and helpful friends: John and Karen, welcoming us so warmly for that overnight stay; Ken launching my boat, and letting me use his dock; and Bill taking charge of my water-supply problem.  Add to that Ken, to whom I was already deeply indebted, providing me with not one, but two “dial-up” modems.  The first one he gave me wouldn’t work at all.  But when I told him about it, he went into his cabin, and came back with anoother dial-up modem in his hands.  “Try this one,” he said, “it’s a bit newer than the first one I lent you.”

I tried it, and it worked.

I can now get on the Internet from my cottage.  Very slowly, and in a very limited fashion, but sufficient for email, and for uploading this blog to my website.

I can’t go on FaceBook.  Its interface is too bloated, and does not load.  I “skip” incoming emails with big photo attachments, and then access them when I’m in town at my coffee-shop’s public wi-fi.  Online banking?  Forget it.

But I can check the weather, and even get rudimentary news headlines.

Who knew that such a luxury would become a necessity?

But, hello world!  I have running water, and I can recieve your emails!  Yahoo!

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Next: Forest Paradise




FOOTNOTES:

3  For another story about the three of us, see “Three Old Men Cutting Wood,” here.
Click here to get back to the narrative.

4  We do have a shower at the lake, though it isn’t a normal one.  See “Of Cold Showers and Pirates,” here.
Click here to get back to the narrative.




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