Hot Water

BBC Delaware

BBC Delaware

Pictured is the BBC Delaware. In the parlance of boat nerds, it is a salty. It is as of my last check off the western coast of South Africa, having just round Cape Horn. It is pictured here on Lake Superior, passing Anne’s cabin on a calm day.

Last summer, Lake Superior was unusually cold, what with the preceding winter’s artic vortex and what not. I know this, because I swam in it in early July. Even in August, the water temperature was still cold enough to claim victims, two wedding party guests had to be rescued when their sailboat capsized. One of them had to be hospitalized.

Nowadays, no one has to swim or bathe in the lake if they don’t want to, especially, if it is as cold as it was last year. Seemingly, all of the cabins now sport hot water heaters, but back in the day, when I first joined Anne on her annual migration north, indoor bathing involved lots of tea kettles on the stove. I first arrived after the wood stove era, even if one was still sitting inert in the kitchen. Everything was all very modern back then, what with an electric stove. If one wanted to bathe indoors, you had to boil water on the stove, just to take a pit bath. Fortunately, for me my summer vacations back in the day were warm enough to support public bathing out in the lake.

This week, Anne and I got the chance to revisit yesterday’s pit baths of yore. On Sunday, our hot water heater went belly up. I called Bill, who had installed the now defunct water heater some 21 years-ago. I think that the number that I called, which was handwritten on the old tank had become a personal number in the intervening years, because his wife Mary queried me on how I had gotten it. He came out on Monday and sized up the problem. Tuesday, he installed the new water heater. Anne and I contracted all of this labor while trading off between doctor’s appointments. I wish that like my 80 year-old dad still does, I could replace my own water heater, but he gets a lot more practice doing this than I ever would. His water heaters typically last less than ten years.

At one point in this endeavor there was some confusion, when Anne referred to our 21 year-old water heater as the new water heater. In truth, she was right. Compared to the 37 year-old furnace that came with the house and that we had just replaced, a couple of years ago, this was the new water heater that we had bought after we had purchased the house. It is the first house, as opposed to household, appliance that we have had to replace twice. The last household appliance that we have left to replace again is our stove, which is up next. I’m going to budget for a new-new air conditioner next, one of those huge new super high-efficiency ones, because our new AC unit is now getting long in the tooth.

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