As the rest of the nation takes the first, joyful steps towards the bright future, we seem to be stumbling back in time. First, in an effort to save money, I rented the least expensive car which turned out to have neither power locks, nor power windows, yet ironically had satellite radio. When we arrived in Venice, we found out that the house's water system had been corroding over the years and whenever the hot water was coursing through the copper pipes, much of it was leaking through pinholes throughout the line, up through the base of the house, and into the carpets. This meant that each person was limited to about 5 minutes of hot water before the cold set in. No problem, we thought, we'll just make do with lightening showers. Alas, after day two, it became apparent that hot and cold alike needed to be shut down. In anticipation of being able to do laundry, we made do with packing only one suitcase for the four of us. Now, however, no washing machine. I remember finding these lovely sunshiney yellow dinner sets from Villeroy and Boch that we were planning on using for the great home-made dishes Mom would make. Now, however, no dishwasher - mechanical or human.
The worst of it, though, was the near disappearance of bathroom niceties. We had gotten so used to being able to use the facilities whenever we wanted, to stroll in wearing nothing but a robe, to wash our hands, hair, teeth, etc. at will. My parents are very friendly folks and when news of our "disaster" and "catastrophe" as my normally-sedate father put it reached the neighbors' ears, they immediately offered their guest bathroom. We took them up on the generous offer to allow us to troop through their house at all hours of the day and night to luxuriate in their hot and cold running water. We used a garden hose in the back to fill up two Home Depot neon orange buckets so that we could have water to boil or at least warm up to wash our hands and a few dishes when needed. Just our luck, historically sunny Florida decided to turn nasty and temperatures dropped into the 40s and 30s. This meant that not only did we have to get fully dressed with sweaters, socks, and shoes to use our "outhouse" (technically, it was outside of our house so the title fits), but we had to heat up the water in the buckets because it was nearly frozen.
We bought paper plates and utensils. We bought bottled water. We were miserly with our water rations. The plumbers came for two hours the first day and accomplished nothing. We should have harnessed the water from the steam coming out of our ears if we had the energy to do so. The next day, the plumbers returned and by the evening, we had one working toilet, shower, and sink. We were ecstatic. Tomorrow, we may even have a running kitchen sink and even a working washing machine. By the end of the week, we should have completely entered the 20th century. To give you an approximation of our joy at not having to brave the frigid cold just to go number one, I refer you to the great exuberance of the inauguration attendees you see on the news lately who, with tears in their eyes, exclaim that, "I didn't think I'd see the day."