hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


December 6, 2012

Closing summer camp a rueful chore


Take down the flags. I fly two: American and Armenian. Repack two wardrobes. Empty all liquids. Call the utility companies and suspend service.

The hard part has yet to come. Disengage the plumbing and drain the water. Used to be a time when I’d crawl under the house to disjoin a copper pipe. When that burst last year, I got smart and switched to plastic.

After I bought this place 42 years ago, the owner gave me some parting advice. He said, “Get to know your hardware dealer.”

I’m no plumber. Nor am I a carpenter or electrician. But I learned fast, especially after paying exorbitant fees and coping with their attitudes. I remember calling a guy “when all else failed.” He came a week later after I was a nervous wreck, flicked a switch, cured my problem, and handed me a bill that bowled me over.

Just goes to show you a valuable lesson. What people like me lack in intelligence, they usually make up for in stupidity. One day, I climbed into the well to dislodge a pipe, balancing myself between two rocks. One slip and I would have been in four feet of water, looking for a way out. I did this for years until a plumber brought me to my senses.

“You nuts, climbing in there like that?” he retorted. “That won’t freeze. It’s beneath the ground and encased in plastic. Just leave it alone.”

Sage advice. No damage done, especially to myself.

I’m living the modern age now. I bought myself a generator and blow the water out. No more crawling or fishing through paneling to disconnect pipes. Out with the wrenches and screwdrivers. I have a bad feeling about this place. When I’m gone, who’s going to handle the maintenance and upkeep? Will my children perform the physical labor or pay to have the services done? Will they know which pipe to address and where the valves are located?

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