Had a pleasant reunion today. 

Hard couple days on my burdened body. 

Last year an ancient water pipe burst which serviced the barn and work shop. So ancient it lays beneath an old water shed and 4 inches of concrete; the kind New York City sidewalks used to be formed from - light gray plaster with slivers of black stones in it.  I'm way too old to be chopping that up only to have to replace mangled lead pipes. Fast forward to yesterday and, again!, trudging outside of the barn in order to wash off a tool at the well. So I dug a 25 foot channel, 12 inches deep from the well to barn then ran a garden hose from well to barn to the inside kitchen (the original structure was a slave's house developed into a barn then I built it into a work shop) and connected it directly into the hot water heater. So if we want hot, we have either; turn heater on when.

All that easily done by lunch. But, wait! What about winter cold? The hose is exposed at barn-side as it leaves ground to enter hole I drilled in the wall. Exposed at well-side where I broke into the outside water spigot.

Not a problem, I surmise: a new cabinet say 4 by 2 by 2 against the barn and a permanent frost resistant water locker over at the well.

Jump ahead to lunch time today. The cabinet is ready for paint. I’m eyeing the well shed.

Wyshica the tenant at unit one tells me there's a leak under her home. Just adding to the history of issues with that rental.  Leaks in roof - climb up, repair, fall off. Skunks; I caged 6 skunks in 7 days last Spring. Crazy electrical problem. One wall in the living room losses power every so often. For no explicit reason it comes back on. Called Chris the electrician. Hard to find any skilled pros around here. He has covid. And today, right before lunch found Wyshica and I peering under the house, seeing no leak, no water anywhere at all, but hearing a hard, heavy stream of water. It stampeded out from the blackness of the craw space like a ghost from the time I broke my back under there. That other fateful day after I battled the forest fire only to ignore the pain gripping at my back in order to get at another leak she had under here. Right there if fact. Right where to two of us poked our heads to hear a water fall; that spot is where I once crawled into like a gecko across hot cement. Only to hear not water falling but a pop and the rest is where we are now 6 years later.

I assured the lady Cathy and I will get 'er done. Right after lunch.

What to do after turning her water main off? 

I can't go down there. Picture Cathy doing so. LOL. Call a plumber. Like who? Cathy reminds me about McCormick’s only plumber, call Orel. Robertson? I balk. I asked him 5 years ago to swap out that elbow under unit four. It’s still not done. But maybe he forgot. Cathy, I cry, Every time I see Orel I remind him and he always sez next week for sure.

Phone book. Every number I call is not them, book is for 2014. Who gets phone books out here in the forest?

Call Martin. Bailey is McCormick’s godsend. A handy handyman who, just so happens, is kind, understands some will never pay, knows enough about enough to fix it and is this side of South Carolina’s straight-up tall glass of whiskey. My kind of guy he even looks and talks like Sam Elliott. (Read: John Wayne if you don’t know Sam Elliott.)

Marty and I were friends. Done each other favors. He way more than I until a day couple years back. I phoned for help with an electrical issue over at unit five. No return call. Called again, same. Again. Until, after days, and after figuring out the problem myself we never spoke since.

I did hear from a friend about what terrible times Marty struggled against. His wife is struck with Alzheimer's. Hearing that I felt, you know that sudden feeling of relief and sorrow .. and dread - all at once?

Call him, Cathy demanded.

Late this afternoon Marty pulled up in that white utility truck I haven’t laid eyes on in ages. He got older looking. I betcha he thought the same of me. We share 1949 yet I doubt if he is under my sign of the crab. We could had hugged except for the pandemic. So he just smiled, tipped his hat and said, “Ah shucks, old friend, show me where the leak is.”

Then after crawling under unit one, while feeling around in the pitch dark for the leaking pipe, with an electrical shock he also found why the living room wall went dead every so often.

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