Friday, July 26, 2002

Following is a series of entries that I wrote in New England a few weeks ago and am just posting presently...

Confronting My Dependence on Technology

I'm in Vermont at my mother's house. It's the house where she grew up, and now only a summer place, and this is the first visit of the season. Upon arrival an hour ago, I was surprised to discover that the telephone hadn't been hooked up. Forget about getting online for the next five days, and the nearest area with cell phone coverage is ten miles away.

Confronting My Dependence on Technology #2

In my mother's house, we find that the water is not flowing. It is not flowing at all, which is unexpected, considering the only-a-few-years old artesian well. Years ago, this house depended on a surface well that had very spotty flow, dwindling to a trickle in dry months. Very much creative water conservation was necessitated in those days, including bathing in the local lake and limiting toilet flushes. But that was years ago, and now there was a year-round supply of free-flowing water. Except right now. I check the pipes, I check the valves, nothing. My first night in Vermont, and I wash with a face cloth moistened with half a cup of bottled water.

Confronting My Dependence on Technology #3
The next morning, a phone call to the plumber (made from a neighbor's house, see #1) revealed that the breakers for the water pump and water heater were off from his last preparatory visit. A walk to the cellar, click. click. Woosh. I can now wash my hands with running water.

Confronting My Dependence on Technology #4
One-hour later. Shower time, or whatever you call a flexible hose attachment in a claw-foot tub. Oh, wait, remember the thing about this particular water heater taking six hours to heat its initial tank. It was 95 degrees yesterday, so I must clean up before I leave the house, even without hot water. Oh, wait, this is cold, cold, COLD, COLD! Colder than when I dove in the 55 degree Atlantic Ocean three days ago. I'm talking super frigid. Painfully frigid. I alternate short blasts of the icy water with intervals of catching my breath. Breath-catching made necessary because of the involuntary deep inhalation that comes with each blast of water. Washing my hair was the greatest challenge, requiring prolonged application of the icy stream, and gave me a sort of outside-in ice cream headache. My jaw involuntarily drops and forms a silent scream.

Confronting My Dependence on Technology #5
I've hooked up the new 13" Sanyo TV of my mother's, only to discover that it cannot tune in one of the channels that the recently broken 80's vintage Sony that it replaces could. This is a big deal, because normally you can only get two channels up here, and subtracting one means that programming options are now a little sparse.


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