Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.


Posted on | May 28, 2015 | 2 Comments

There were some things I never thought I’d see.  Oh, I knew other people had them.  I just figured they weren’t for regular ol’ me.  When we finally got one of those fridges with water and ice in the door I was thrilled.  It was a used fridge and by that time everyone else had moved on to fancy water filters right on their taps, but still.  It was high end for those of us used to hand-me-down appliances, furniture, and clothing.  And it freed up the ice cube trays for making and freezing pesto.   Because, back then, pesto was the new pizza sauce for fancy people with fancy fridges.  Also, you know, this Basil Monster in the garden:

However, when we were packing for our Mother’s Day trip to the beach this year and discovered the hot water heater was broken (Yeah! Happy Mother’s Day!  Cold showers for everyone!), I figured we’d settle for hauling it out and replacing it with more of the same.  I thought I could angle for turning up the temperature a bit or maybe a tank that held a few more gallons.  But I was still resigned to at least 5 more years of laying exhausted and dirty on the couch at night, waiting for the hot water to recover after the bathing of 4 children before I could scrub off my own barn grime.  Which sucked but didn’t suck as bad as when I got in the shower and had to turn the water on and off between soaking, soaping, and rinsing in order to preserve the little bit of warmth remaining in the pipes.  I’m not fancy enough for Misogi, people.  Not even close.

So I was surprised when The Other Half called me at work to tell me the plumber had given him a reasonable quote on a tankless water heater.  Did I want that system installed instead of just replacing the old water heater?  A tankless water heater??  The kind that provides an unlimited amount of hot water??? On demand????  And costs 10X the amount of a regular ol’ water heater?????  I took a few seconds to consider if The Other Half:

1.  ….won the lottery, stashed the rest of the money in an offshore account, and was now feeling generous.

2.  ….had done something very, very, very bad and was trying to distract me.

3.  …..was drunk at 10 in the morning.

But I immediately decided, “Who the heck cares???  For better or worse, people.  Go for the unlimited hot water!!!!!!

I informed him that I wanted the tankless water heater.  He started explaining about propane tanks and relief and vent valves and proper clearance from ignition sources and filling connections and blah, blah, blah, blah, man problems.  I assured him that I still wanted it.  He told me it would take more days without hot water to get the new system put in than just replacing the other tank, that installation would involve emptying everything out of the closet under the stairs (coolers and paint cans and tackle boxes, oh my!) and spewing it all over the downstairs until the set up was complete, and that I’d have to stay at home for at least an entire day waiting for the plumber and propane company to arrive and get the work done.  Please!  It was like he thought he was married to some kind of impatient, demanding, Type A declutter freak that resented any interference in her afternoons spent lunching with friends (hey, for better or worse, people).  I reiterated that I still wanted it.

That evening we spent some time walking around the house considering the placement of the propane tank.  The Other Half wanted me to be very sure that I didn’t mind the tank next to the deck stairs, which was my first suggestion.  He kept describing the appearance and the dimensions of the tank again and again.  He thought I might be happier with it on the other side of the deck.  You know, right in the middle of the weigela I’ve been growing to cover the underside of the deck.

I assured him that we weren’t disturbing the landscaping.  Instead I decided to simply move the potted caladium from either side of the deck stairs, allowing room for the tankless heater and the propane tank.  The propane company, too, wondered at my placement and the men who arrived to set up the tank also suggested putting it on the other side of the deck.  Apparently, aesthetics are a big concern for fancy people with fancy tankless water systems.  I happen to have this at the top of my driveway:

Because any time now we’re going to sell that truckbed tool box, spare fencing is a farm necessity, someday I’m going to make a cold frame with those old windows, copper piping with a few holes in it is surely worth something, a plastic pallet will eventually serve a purpose, and no one ever puts the saw horses away when they’re done with them.  Fancy is relative.

I told the propane guys that we weren’t messing with the landscaping, moved the potted plants out of their way, and asked them if I needed to level the ground for them.  They told me they had tools and equipment to set everything up and they went to work.  But soon they came to the door and asked if they could use some of the rocks to help level the tank.

“What rocks?”  I asked.

“You know, those nice flat ones,” one of the guys said, indicating the pavers leading to the deck.  I blinked at him.

“That’s also landscaping,”  I pointed out.  He looked at my overgrown mint and creeping jenny gone wild beautifully tended walkway and shrugged.

“Um, sure, ” he agreed.  “We’ll just get some stuff from the truck.”

When they finished, I replaced the potted plants.  There.  Fabulous.

I’m sure it will look much fancier when the caladium grows in.  If not it will still be good for distracting one’s attention from when the chickens get into the front yard and and scratch all the mulch out of the weigela bed into the grass.

I knew all that fancy was starting to pay off when a few days after the heater was installed and running perfectly, Pretty came home from school and saw me sitting at the laptop.

“Why are you so dressed up?”  she asked.

“I had an eye appointment today so I showered when I came out of the garden,” I said, pleased that she had noticed.  Then, as she dumped her backpack and headed upstairs, I realized what I was wearing.  I had on a clean pair of jeans and a green t-shirt.  OK, maybe it was a green “top.”  Because even though it was just cotton, it did have a scoop neckline.  For a minute I wondered how far a person has to fall to make jeans and a t-shirt seem fancy.  But then I remembered I didn’t care.  Because I had unlimited hot water.

Meme Shower

Besides I was busy looking at some great ways to fancy up my new propane tank.

Oh my.

painted propane tanks

Sometimes the fancy possibilities never end, people.  Never end.

Of course, it couldn’t last.  2 days after we had all the hot water a First World country could pour down the drain, the air conditioner broke.  And we couldn’t get enough cold showers.  We commandeered all the fans from my parents’ house to circulate the hot air in the bedrooms.  Little complained that he couldn’t sleep because now he was hot and felt like he was trapped inside an airplane engine.  What an imagination that kid has!  He’s never even been close to an airplane engine!  As soon as the second baby was born and we had to buy a separate seat for the toddler we took our last commercial flight.

My dad consoled Little by explaining that when he was a kid he had to sleep in the attic room with his 7 brothers without any air conditioning at all and a window that only opened about 4 inches, the sweat pouring off them all night long.  That made all the kids realize how lucky they were to live in a modern house with central heat and air and they stopped complaining immediately.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Just kidding!  Little asked if he could sleep downstairs on the couch in the part of the house with the functioning A/C unit.  I told him no because he had school the next day.  Also, I was sleeping downstairs on the couch in the part of the house with the functioning A/C unit.

The HVAC guy came out and figured out how to get the unit working by using a screwdriver to loosen the fan that was locked up.  He said he’d keep an eye out for a replacement fan for a 17 year old A/C unit that’s so old they don’t even make that version anymore and you can’t even buy freon for it in most states.   We immediately taught the screwdriver skill to Big and he would go outside and start the fan spinning, while someone else ran upstairs and turned down the thermostat to keep up the momentum.  This fancy behavior guaranteed us cool air for several hours.  Then 4 hours.  Then 2 hours.  Then nothing.

When we were about to break down and buy a new unit, the HVAC guy arrived with a replacement fan and we settled for simply pouring more money into outdated and inefficient system.  ‘Cause we wouldn’t want to get too fancy around here.  If we had a fridge with water and ice in the door, a tankless water heater, and a new A/C system, we’d have to pretend we didn’t even know the rest of you poor slobs.  Also, we’d probably have to clean up the top of the driveway.  Not happening, people.  Not happening.


2 Responses to “Fancy.”

  1. Lisa D
    May 29th, 2015 @ 6:51 am

    Oh you have no idea how closely I relate to this stuff. And the “fancy” rarely works for very long!!

  2. treatlisa
    May 30th, 2015 @ 7:59 am

    I really, really enjoy your writing. I read your blog always and never comment – so I just want you to know I’m here and love what you do… 🙂

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