shovel time

About a year and a half ago, I noticed that our water consumption had skyrocketed. Usage (according to the water meter) had risen to the vicinity of 8000 gallons per month. That prompted me to turn off the valve out at the meter. We flush only when necessary and have jugs of water sitting beside every sink.

It is true that we have leaks within the house; bad washers and/or valves in the tub and shower, for example. The extreme excess water flow cannot, however, be accounted for in its entirety by those particular leaks.

My concern all along has been that we may have a leak under the house's foundation slab - an expensive repair job, probably involving the running of lots of PVC pipe to reroute the flow. I had a leak under the slab of my house in Tallahassee back in 2003, losing nearly twice as much water as we ever did here. The consumption at that house shot up from 1,000 to 14,000 gallons per month. It took the landlord far too long to address the issue. His plumbers ended up re-plumbing the entire house.

Imagine my joy this morning when, on my way back into the house to flush and fill jugs, I discovered what looked for all the world like a natural spring bubbling up from the soil between a concrete patio and the wall of the house where the incoming line enters. Lisa was not as excited with this discovery as I was; she saw it as yet another problem. I saw it as an opportunity.

We would not have discovered the location of this leak yet had we not been providing shelter to Roy, an old friend of Lisa's. He is a young man, homeless for the first time in his life, and is voluntarily doing chores indoors and outdoors to make himself feel better about staying here. He isn't costing us anything, unlike Lisa's son, who promised to pay rent (and usually did) but cost us as much or more than he paid. Her son took long daily showers, had fans running constantly, always forgot to turn off the water when he was done using it and failed to do most of the chores that he had agreed to perform. I am happy to help Roy. It feels like I am paying back the charity that was extended to me during my hard times in Tallahassee. He has a part-time job and can feed himself. We just provide shelter and a stable location from which he can look for other work. Roy is not an alcoholic and is good, intelligent company.

Roy understands conservation, as we do, and enjoys keeping busy with household duties and yard work. Among other duties, he cleaned the gutters last week and then cleaned up and raked out the area where I found the bubblin' spring today.

This shovel job is just what I need to help me to break out of the "fugue state" that has held me in thrall since losing the Citi gig. Sure, I've been tending to my new loquat tree and attending meetings every day, but I've not been myself. A few days ago I turned down an offer to share a joint with a friend, not because I didn't want it but because it felt like the right thing to do. One good thing has come from quitting smoking: our food lasts longer. On the other hand, I have no appetite and will probably lose more weight. I'm only 122 pounds today.

But I'm not complaining. Right now I am happy that a potential partial solution to our water leak has presented itself.


  1. Yep. We already have a host of them growing along the back fence. I love the fruit. Last week I pulled up a "volunteer" tree and, because the soil is so dry, most of the root system came out intact. I found a nice place for it, planted it and put a decorative concrete ring around it so the dog knows to leave it alone. It is struggling, but I water it daily and give it verbal encouragement. I believe it will survive.