“We need these plumbing disasters to reacquaint us with the fine splendor of normalcy,” says the Bearded One from the slate hearth where he stands and strokes his beard.
We are getting a slow start today after a plumbing crisis this week. It’s morning and I sit in my rocker with Garfield in my lap, both of us looking out at the frosty bare gardens and further up the hill to Pearl the Goat.
We are so rich — we have hot and cold running water, for God’s sake. And Buzz the Plumber charged just $120. The laundry room floor is now super clean, even under the magnificent washer and dryer, which are the true miracle inventions of our age, far beyond car and computer. We even instituted a new and improved recycling system of bags hung from a shelf above the appliances since so much got soaked during the deluge.
Four days ago, the hot water pipe behind the upstairs shower blew a joint. It was Niagara Falls in the laundry room below and we were without water for 36 hours.
At least we were home and inside and had enough raggedy old dog towels to mop the water up. Dozens of these dog towels have hung out over our deck railing for 3 days and nights, frozen into rigid boards suitable as building material.
Now I’m luxuriating. I have flushing toilets without having to run out to the hot tub with a 5-gallon bucket. I have hot water to wash my hands. I’ve had a shower. All this, and no job to have to go to, which we both continue to appreciate deeply. I live like a queen, no doubt about it.
The Bearded One is walking out the door when Ruby starts barking, which is unusual since she is practically deaf. “It’s Edeltraut,” says the Bearded One, and Garfield leaps from my lap at the sight of our neighbor dressed all in red — red slacks, red ski jacket, red stocking hat — and large black sunglasses (she is recovering from glaucoma surgery). Her husband Mustang Man escorts her through the front door.
“Vee hate to intrude,” she says. She smiles nervously. Something is on her mind.
I direct her to one of our old, mismatched chairs and Mustang Man sits on the rumpled couch and jokes with the Bearded One.
“I don’t vant you to take offense,” she says and takes off her sunglasses. Her cheeks, hat, and lips are matching red, and her small brown eyes are open wide. She is whispering as loud as she can to be heard over the men.
“I can’t imagine I will,” I reassure her.
“It’s about some clothes.” She leans closer.
I smooth my lovely long brown linen skirt which makes me feel pretty in a pioneer woman sort of way, and which my sister found for me at Goodwill. I stop rocking and move toward the secret.
“Clothes,” I say and nod.
“Beeeee-u-ti-ful clothes,” says Edeltraut, and falls back into her seat again. The men hush and listen: Edeltraut’s daughter has a pile of clothes from the daughter of a co-worker who used to work for the governor.
“She had to get dressed up every day, you know,” continues Edeltraut. “Silky tops! Suits! Even high heels, you know, 5-inch spikes!” She grins and might have even licked her lips. “Ooooo, I luffed my heels, but I had to giff them up.”
I have never seen this side of Edeltraut, and am enjoying it.
“They are used clothes,” Edeltraut says apologetically, “but I vas thinking you or your daughters might like them. Please don’t take offense.”
“Edeltraut!” I say, “we may appear to be filthy rich, but let me assure you, I’d love to check out those clothes. And so will the girls. They love heels, and we all love good used clothes!”
The Bearded One assures her that half the clothes he currently has on came from Goodwill. Hipsters, he says, won’t shop anywhere else. Mustang Man then tells of a pair of shoes he got there specifically for working on the ’65 Mustang he is refurbishing. He assumes they belonged to a deceased man since they had hardly been worn, so he calls them his Dead Man Shoes.
We all laugh and Edeltraut visibly relaxes in her chair. “Vell then,” she says and puts her glasses back on, “vee von’t intrude any longer, but I’ll call you ven I haff all the clothes and ve’ll go from there.”
Feeling even richer now, I wave a royal good-bye from the deck and start hauling in frozen dog towels.