Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

Here at Beaver River Station we’re off the grid, and not just power-wise.

How precious our water supplies are, in these days when my precious Pensacola Beach is threatened by oil vomiting out of the bottom of the Gulf. Since my water pump had a stripped drain bolt, and my new brass bolt I bought last year in Old Forge proved to me the threads are stripped inside the pump, I’m working on solutions while hand pumping water; collecting it from rain water, and out of Stillwater Reservoir.

I doubt most of us realized just how much water we use. Between propane bucket baths, toilet flushing, coffee, tea and cooking, I’m guessing I use an easy 20 gallons a day. That’s a very conservative estimate. Take “just turn your tap turn on” water away from John Q.Citizen and, I’m guessing, he might die of dehydration before he solves his problem. They didn’t grow up chopping holes in the ice, bringing buckets back from a spring that also served as your fridge, melting snow or collecting rain water.

Precious commodity… water.

Of course we use generators, propane tanks, and I’ve yet to do but a bare minimum of solar or wind. Not sure either would work all that well: too many still days. There are too many trees I’m unwilling to chop unless I get desperate. I turn the power on about an hour or two a day to save gas. And I have bought the most efficient generators I know of.

As many know my main residence is Nashville, and recently we were unable to leave home: no power, no phone, road turned into a lake. I did have one of the Honda generators at my disposal, so we were able to watch a little TV… but that home was never set up to run pure gen like our place at Beaver River Station. Think I’ll work on that when I get home in the fall.

John Q. flips a switch. If he doesn’t get what he wants he calls the power company which is probably overwhelmed by the time he calls. We had thousands who had no idea what to do. Some died because they didn’t know basic survival skills and, to be honest, I might have too. To get back to my wife when the Cumberland quickly went from flooding my road six inches deep to more than four, I screwed up my innate bravery… which actually should be spelled more like “stupidity…” and forded the rushing water. The only difference between me and John Q. is I have had experience, and was taught about, fording rushing rivers when you find it’s the only way to get home. In fact I survived doing the same, only when it was minus 20 and I sunk down to my chest. You don’t survive long unless you get inside under those conditions, and unless you have some fondness for being found like the Tinman you take those clothes off as fast as you can.

Survival skills are about as extinct these days as an Stegosaurus. And I’m no Paul Bunyan or survival geek. Put me in a field of mushrooms and I’d probably die. They all look the same to me: the poisonous and the edible. Pictures don’t seem to help.

Precious commodities: power, heat, food…

Then I heard the news that Al and Tipper are through. 40 years? Millie and I have been going 33 years, not counting dating. If the Mayans are wrong about the end of the world in 2012, in 2014; if you include dating, we will have been together for 40 years. Of course the Mayans were so all knowing they neglected to predict their own demise; so I suspect we will be around.

What, after 40 years, Al and Tipper, you both couldn’t work this out somehow?

I look around me and I see John Q. living in a society with disposable people. Disagree with someone? They’re scum or worse. Have an argument? Well, that person must not be a good match. While there are websites and companies set up to help you find your “perfect match” I see no evidence that those “perfect matches” survive any longer than us “less than perfect” matches. In fact if we had been looking for a “perfect match” we probably would never have dated.

It’s our differences which make our relationship stronger. It’s our similarities that befuddle us and sometimes leave us angry. A couple is like the perfect means to explore parts of life one might avoid like the plague.

They say with Al and Tipper it’s because he’s on the road so much. I spent well over 15 years on the road, touring, for as much as 10 months out of the year. At first it was tough. Millie told me it was an adventure to visit the areas I toured through. It brought us closer. Now that I perform more at home more than I tour, once again we have a lot of work to do. Now that’s a new stress: but we’ll get there; we always do.

But, I admit, I’m violating my own sense of valuing a “precious commodity.” In a time when everything is a soap opera; the public thinks it has a right to not only know about, but second guess, the lives of other; famous, political and just ordinary Joe and Marys, I honestly feel it’s none of our damn business, and I include Al and Tipper.

Who the hell do we think we are? What makes us so damn perfect? Who appointed us judge, jury and executioners?

Precious commodities: our relationships with each other and privacy; the right to work it all out without nosy busy bodies second guessing motives.

My parents were in their teens during the Depression. They ranted about baby boomers and how they never would survive without some of what we consider to be basic needs, but not too long ago humanity lived without, and lived quite well, thank you. They felt the same about our “spoiled” children and great grandchildren. They felt we wore our hearts too far out on our sleeves and had trouble handling desperate situations in an adult fashion.

Looking back? I think they were more right now than I did back then. If we don’t both start treasuring our precious commodities and learning how to survive without them… maybe the Mayans might be proven right.


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2010
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved

By Ken Carman

Retired entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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Ana Grarian
13 years ago

One good way to learn to think about the water you use is to carry it. The 1st house my husband and I lived in did not have running water. We had to carry water, dipped out of a well, for our own needs and to water livestock. Except for the toilet, our waste water had to be carried out too.
You learn to manage with less.

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