Thursday, February 3, 2011

Doing Dishes on the Stove

Our pipes froze. Not all of them. I can still get cold water in the upstairs bathroom. We still have gas and electricity, so by the standards of most of the country I am not suffering and I don't plan to complain about it. With a little applied imagination I can make an adventure of this; without it, at most I'm inconvenienced.

However, there could be consequences to skipping the dishes till the pipes thaw. Whereas my husband can eat factory-prepared food, I cannot due to the sodium content; and his immune system is the biological equivalent of a wet paper bag, so any utensils that come into contact with his mouth have to be clean or he'll get food poisoning. So I've spent the morning filling kettles and saucepans with water upstairs, moving them downstairs to heat gently on the stove, and doing the best I can to get us clean stuff for cooking and eating. I did this till my toes got numb, and now I'm sitting here with them tucked under the panel heater under the computer table. In a little while I'll go down and wash some more. I was hoping the warm wastewater would gently thaw the drain pipes in the sinks without bursting them, but so far it's just accumulating as dirty water.

It may snow tomorrow. I used to like snow, and if it comes will do my best to like it again. The last time we saw it here, as near as we can recall, was the Blizzard of '85, when San Antonio got 12" of snow overnight on Superbowl Sunday. We were living on the south side of town and my husband was supposed to work on Sunday, when the closest bus route wasn't running. We had access to two cars and had called every cab company in the phone book the night before, but in the morning one car wouldn't turn over, the other caught fire, none of the cabs came, none of the co-workers my husband called were willing to try to cover his shift, and he wound up calling the manager, who fired him. It was a crappy job anyway. We made snowmen and drank hot chocolate.

Now we only have one car, but we live on five bus lines. It's one of the reasons we live where we do. And I don't believe our pipes would have frozen, except when they leveled the back porch they had to take the skirting off and we said not to replace it, as we'll be doing the rest of the back porch work this spring and it would just have to come off again. We can use our fireplace now that we've had the chimney lined, and if it smokes a bit that's a problem as old as mankind. We can always play games, and dream up apocalyptic scenarios, or imagine how much worse it would be if we were pioneers, or prehistoric hunter-gatherers, or living in Minnesota. Except in Minnesota we'd know how to deal with snow and own things like storm windows.

It's all material.


  1. Keep your sink at a nice drip in the faucet that's still working, so that one doesn't freeze too. The good news is that you can be sure your main water line isn't frozen. You can also try directing the air from a hair dryer at a frozen pipe, or position a space heater (if you've got one) nearby the frozen pipes.

  2. No frozen pipes here, but I'm tired of this cold. We only got to 23 yesterday and the high looks to be about 20 for today. Our lows were 14 and 16. I've been baking to help keep the house warm (gas stove.) I hear tell it was colder in 1951, cold enough that I've seen an actual picture of people ice skating on the Guadelupe up near Ingram. Oh brrrrrrr.

    Stay warm.

  3. Yeah, we left the hot water dripping downstairs and up, and it wasn't sufficient downstairs. I've got all the taps open, and both faucets running in the bathroom because I don't like to think about what we'd have to do if we lost that precious water. The car died - Moby hates cold worse than I do - so I'd have to bike to the convenience store.

    We don't own any electric space heaters or a hair dryer. And I ruined my kettle by leaving the heat too high under it. We're leaving the oven on with the door open all day, but actual baking requires too many dirty dishes. A pan of my cornbread left in a low oven for two days makes extra-thick low-sodium Fritos, by the way.