farm

Cherry picking history

 IMG_0047

If you own an old house, you might romanticize the good-old days.

I’m guilty. Even as I press my glass against the fridge water dispenser…. and charge my cell phone… I sometimes think, “I’m stepping on the same pine floor laid 100 years ago.”

A tenuous but historical connection.

When I roll open the living room pocket doors, I imagine someone doing the same a century ago. They probably warned their kids the same way: “Do not hang on the doors! You’ll pull them off the runners!”

We use the same doors and knobs and windows as those who lived here without electricity and running water. We’re connected to people who lived without traffic, noise and light pollution… who never stumbled over cheap, plastic toys discarded about the house. Those were the days…

Simpler days…

…but also days of dirt, disease and pestilence!

 

Living without electricity and running water was gross AND a major drag, I thought as I plunged two buckets into the horses’ water trough and hoisted them out. Last week a hefty rain (and faulty sump) shorted out the well pump. For two days the horse trough was our main water source. We used bottled water to drink and brush teeth, but we needed buckets to flush the toilets (which cease auto-flushing without water pressure). We hauled loads of water across the cold, blustery pasture, up the porch and into each bathroom. Several times.

And let me say this: dumping water in a toilet isn’t as… elegant… as modern flushing. And enlisting another person to dribble frigid water over your soapy hands isn’t as satisfying as a functioning sink.

I thought a lot about plumbing as I trudged outside, buckets banging my knees. Early owners of the house used a pump out back, though I’m not sure when that came to be. They might have used the pond (since drained) or the spring house (pictured above) which was twice the distance. For sure, the 1905 owners didn’t use a “water closet.” They hiked to the outhouse behind the barn. (Oddly, the privy hole still exists. Legend has it, this site has Civil War significance so it’s never been filled in. A historically-significant hole? Okay…)

At some point, the farmhouse was piped for radiator heat and the owners enclosed half of the hallway and plumbed it, rendering the outhouse obsolete.

I didn’t think about plumbing until it was gone. Fortunately after two days, our water was restored. We were back to scalding showers and other necessities like automatic crushed ice.

I can’t say I’ll continue appreciating these conveniences. And I still crave the olden days in a selective fashion. Like last night, when I despaired that my closet offered nothing to wear.

It was probably easier when people couldn’t afford clothes, I thought. I could live back then, with just a few outfits and a Sunday dress. I could live that way… 

As long as my washer and dryer time-travel, too.

url-5

Home Remedy: you use what… where?

 

I’ve got a chronic problem with cracked fingers.

Not just cracked skin, but gaping splits where the nail ends and the fingertip begins. Cold weather triggers the problem and cracks appear overnight, as though I’ve been juggling a butter knife in my sleep.

Visually, these razor-thin cracks are unimpressive. A paper cut offers more blood and gore.

But they are painful. Really painful. Sometimes I feel the skin separating.

(And please, spare me the “gloves” lecture. You try prying open a horse supplement container or opening a rusted, double-end snap while wearing gloves. It’s a nice thought but gloves hamper progress. And yes, I’ve tried hand salve — or as Martin inadvertently calls it — hand “slave.” Neither salve nor slave helps.)

Recently I was hanging with my neighbor Sarah, belly-aching about my split fingers. She listened, then held up her hand.

“Yea I have those, too,” she said, revealing cracks that made mine look minor league. “Everyone around here has them. From the cold weather.”

Her tone and expression seemed to say more: finger splits are part of the deal… get over it.

But then Sarah offered a little advice:

“Do you know what I do, what a dermatologist told me to do?” she said. “I use Krazy Glue. Squirt it into the cracks. Seals ’em up.”

I looked at her skeptically. Krazy Glue? A dermatologist told you to use “Krazy Glue”? Doesn’t that violate the cardinal Krazy Glue rule: Do not apply to skin? If product adheres to dermis, seek medical attention. Isn’t that etched on the label? I imagined that 1980s TV commercial depicting the construction worker, haplessly flailing while his hat appears bonded to a steel girder overhead.

Fast forward to 9:30 pm, a week ago. I am tearing apart the house like a drug addict, ransacking desk drawers for a hit. Krazy Glue? Where’s the damn Krazy Glue? I discover an old curled tube and though I spear the tip with a pushpin, the glue’s dried up.

The following day, I bought a new tube of Krazy Glue… that magical adhesive touted for its strength and versatility. Bonds plastic, rubber and metal, tile or linoleum. Sets in seconds.

Works well on skin, too.

 

Go Fly a Kite

When I was a kid, kite flying was solely a beach activity, where both wind and unfettered space were abundant. At sunset Dad and I staked out an empty slice of sand and I’d pound down the shoreline, kite in hand, until Dad yelled, “okay, let it go.” The kite would hesitate, catching a huff of humid salt air, then make a few desperate dives before the wind finally stepped in. Dad would unspool the string and that kite would climb higher and higher. We’d marvel at how far it went… until it eventually made a suicide plunge into the ocean.

Our kids don’t have to wait for summer vacation. Wind is plentiful. So is the space, if you don’t mind the high grass itching your legs.

Monday was perfectly breezy so we broke out our dragon kite and set it free. Well, not totally free. We let it run on a long leash. And then we reeled it in again.