Archives for 2015

Are You Ready for Small Emergencies?

I bet you have stories that support my belief that citizen leadership springs up in emergency situations. I’d be glad to read your comments or accounts of similar situations you’ve been in. My thesis here is based on a sample of two situations.

Situation One: On an afternoon last spring, Woody and I returned from our tree farm, driving on Oregon Highway 30, the highway that follows the Columbia River from Astoria on the Pacific Coast to Portland on the Willamette River.

A car in the oncoming lane stopped, signaling a left turn. The on-coming car behind plowed into her and sent her car spinning into our lane. Our truck certainly would have killed her. Woody took a hard right, praying that no one was coming down the entering road. Our truck slid across the entering road into a guard rail and avoided her. Fast thinking and a hard pull.

The next car on the entering road saw the danger. I watched him work hard to successfully stop before hitting me on our passenger side.

Meanwhile, the car behind the spinning car deployed all airbags, so you can guess how much power was in that initial hit.

The car of the woman who had hoped to turn left had no airbags. She was unconscious when Woody and another driver got to her side. Meanwhile, I called 911 and described the situation. Then, I stayed in the truck because too many people were already on the road.

The family in the third car in her lane was able to stop without hitting anyone. That driver and his wife immediately got out and began directing traffic. They knew how to command space and exude leadership. By the time the ambulance and police arrived they had a system going: two cars through going east, then two cars through going west.

All drivers on the highway and the entering road followed the directions of that couple. They had the skills, the presence of mind and the leadership qualities to maintain safety until the police and ambulance arrived.

We don’t know the long-range outcome for the left-turn driver, although she seemed to be conscious by the time the ambulance medics had her on a gurney. The second driver seemed dazed by his airbags and his disastrous financial future. All other drivers were safe because several people were alert, aware, skilled and willing to do what was necessary at the moment.

Afterward, I often asked myself if I could have played any of the necessary roles in that situation if others had not been there. Would I have been ready? Able? Or willing?

Situation two: After a recent wind storm, I had a chance to protect others in a lesser, but potentially dangerous situation. Driving toward our nearest arterial street, I discovered a wire looped in a large U across our residential street. I have a small car, but I knew that the sides of that U might easily catch on the side mirrors of a van.

I stopped and called 911. A man walking his dog, and other nearby residents tried with me to establish if the wire came from the telephone level or the electricity level of the nearby poles. Among the tree branches, no one could be certain of its source.how do you know?

The emergency dispatcher said, “Assume it is electric.”

So, I stayed. Cars tried to turn off the arterial, and when I gestured for them to stop, they paid attention. When I pointed up and traced the U of the wires, the passengers saw and gestured at their drivers to stay on the arterial.

Cars behind me lined up, saw my gestures and then took turns to back up and turn around. Only one SUV drove past them and me, over the wires and on its merry and precarious way. Its left side narrowly missed the opportunity to tangle mirror with wire and pull wire down the road with them.

All other drivers waved a thanks and went another way.

Ten minutes later, the fire truck came down the arterial, siren and lights in full play, so I knew to get close to the intersection in time to keep them on the arterial. I pointed up, gestured the U shape and pointed them straight to the right. The passenger fireman did as the drivers had done, glanced where I pointed and gestured his driver to stay on the arterial.

They blocked the intersection with their fire truck. Then, they set about checking whether wire was telephone or electric, and whether it was touching the electric wire at any point. They found it was a telephone wire that was loose from several telephone poles (and many thick trees) away.

As I backed out of their way and went on to my morning meeting, they were still checking whether it was touching any electric wires. At the end of my day, I drove past a telephone pole with a large yellow emergency ribbon wrapping cut wire. All sat ready for the phone company repair.

What has impressed me in both of these situations is that one SUV was the exception to the rule that most drivers follow citizen leadership. I’m glad I had a second chance to witness this truth. I was ready, able and willing.

But the more impressive fact is that others cooperated to help reduce risks in the presence of potential danger.

Have you seen this dynamic in action? Let’s hear your stories.

When I Publish for Others, I Am Rich

My friend, Cynthia, had ALS for ten years. Before she died last fall, she published a non-fiction book that is still read and cherished by all her friends and family. We, a team of friends, made this book happen for Cynthia.

Another book came into being this year. My middle school students wrote stories all during the school year, and now they have those stories in a book. That book is in their school library and in their homes. Together, we, a team of the students, their families and me, made that happen as well.

I look back on this last year with pleasure in accomplishing those two publications. These are publications, done out of love, and they have brought pride and joy to their authors and to all of us involved.

Three years ago, I took a class in layout and design using Microsoft Styles. My first non-fiction book, was designed by Bruce Taylor Hamilton, then the editor of the Oregon Historical Society Press. From working with Bruce, I knew that I could use InDesign to do what I wanted to do. My choice to use Microsoft Styles wasn’t a choice between good and bad design programs. It was a choice between affordable and not affordable over the long range.

Anthology 2015This year, when I designed the anthology for the middle school students, I was able to bring their writing dreams to fruition, giving them the feeling that all their sweat had been worth sharing with friends and family. The book was a team effort. The students’ selfies became the basis of the book cover, designed by graphic artist, Owyn Richen. Their books were printed at the Mount Hood Community College Print shop, shepherded by Sci-fi author, Theresa Snyder.

And then into my life came the opportunity to use my design skills with another team.

I discovered that OWC member, Gail Black, had collected the emails of our friend Cynthia Greene. Gail had recognized the significance of these emails back when Cynthia could still talk and write. Gail printed out the emails and organized them chronologically. As time went on, Gail and Cynthia added short stories that Cynthia typed on her special communication devices. As Cynthia lost her voice and the ease of finger typing, these stories came more slowly, but each one was a joy to Cynthia’s friends and family.

The early emails were the story of sailing adventures of Cynthia and her husband, David. For several years, they sailed around Mexico in the Pacific Ocean and in the Sea of Cortez. Cynthia and David encountered storms, engine troubles. They weathered, and helped clean up after Hurricane Marty hit Mexico. Each obstacle forced them to reach deep into themselves to solve problems and roll with the big waves. Their motto became, “The difference between ordeal and adventure is attitude.”

Their sailboat, Reaching Deep, referred, at first, to reaching deep water, but took on an especially poignant meaning when Cynthia discovered her many symptoms were ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. From that time on, Cynthia and Dave had to exercise their courage and resourcefulness in ever deeper seas.

Reaching Deep

When I saw Cynthia’s emails, I knew they should become a book. Cynthia imagined a book for her grandchildren, but it has since become sought after by all who knew her struggle to test the limits of life with ALS.

Scanned documents require cleanup. The scan program thinks every paper wrinkle must be a letter and the program misreads fonts it hasn’t been taught to recognize.

So after much editing and word guessing, my bleary-eyed self sent the digitized and designed manuscript to Cynthia’s daughter-in-law, Cindy Greene and her sister Kiki Klipfel who caught and fixed many scan misunderstandings and misspellings.

Owyn Richen came to the fore again, using photos of Cynthia and David, and Amazon’s Create Space cover-maker program to teach his mom how to create a cover.

The teamwork in both of these books created a network of caring for the students and then for Cynthia and her family. The pleasure of those friendships, the opportunities to share joy, accomplishment and even grief has made each of us a richer person. I’m very thankful to the authors and each person who worked to make these publications a reality.

Eating Well After the Earthquake?

A Flashlight Aided Study (of My Food Pantry)

Okay, gang, here’s a little perspective on long-range planning. What food would you want on your shelves if an emergency took out your electric stove, your refrigerator and your microwave?
In my canning cupboard, deep in the basement, I pull out my battery-powered flashlight. Cans of pears, peaches and beans shine out at me, but also, I see rows of dishes that aren’t often used, and little figurines that once belonged to my mother.
I know what I don’t want to see in here – cans of USDA Approved School-Lunch Spinach. Sorry, Pop-eye, but your taste runs to tin. I also don’t want to be picking canned food out of shards of pottery and china. I need to store the dishes and figurines somewhere away from our emergency food supply. That’s a clear job for my half-hour* of weekly house cleaning.

Note: move dishes away from food

Note: move dishes away from food

My friends, what’s in your storage supply? What will your family really eat after the emergency. How will you cook it?

Ideas from two family foodies
Our sisters, Tammy and Marilyn, have been teasing me about getting ready for the earthquake. Yes, they were among those who received a water barrel and pump for Christmas. I asked if each family would like to have the water barrels. Tammy and Marilyn were delighted with the idea. So their teasing is not passive aggression. It’s just having fun with my project.For my birthday, Marilyn and Tammy invested in a sack full of canned goods they believed I should have.

A Book Discovery
In addition, I received a cookbook about eating well after the power goes out. Marilyn, volunteers at Title Wave – the resale store for the Multnomah County Library. When she saw the title Apocalypse Chow, she could not pass it up. It seemed the perfect book to add to their joking around about my plans for family survival. The book turns out to be a great addition to the project.
Apocalypse Chow cover
Apocalypse Chow is written by Jon Robertson, with Robin Robertson. It was published in 2005 by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, of Simon and Schuster. Yes, that’s Jon, writer and publisher, and Robin the chef of Global Vegan Kitchen. Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add a lot of homey character and clarity to the book.*
It turns out that the Robertsons live in Virginia, so have survived several hurricanes, some with more grace and pre-planning than others. Collecting all they have learned about survival and grace in this 246 page volume, Jon has written a very usable and often funny book encouraging the rest of us to plan to have food we will be able to cook with minimal fuel and water. He also encourages us to take a good look at our eating preferences and our snobberies as we shop for the staples we will use in the AFTERS. Buy what your family will eat with pleasure because there will be a lot of other things to cause angst.
Apocalypse Chow contains some surprising lists, including several that encourage the family chef to visit various ethnic markets and stock up on great, non-perishable items. These change-of-pace foods will keep the family from becoming jaded on Boston Baked Beans.
Grilling and boiling tips, storage ideas and a cast of 15 minute recipes are featured in Jon Robertson’s readable, humorous and important book.
Apocalypse Chow is available new and used. I have ordered five more copies (yes the sisters will be getting a copy for a birthday or half-birthday*, as well. You will enjoy it, too. And its lists, if heeded, will give you a better survival kit than the basics list that Homeland Security might have recommended.

*Half-hour a week house cleaning? I am my mother’s daughter and learned efficiency from her. Best house-cleaning tip she gave me? Take off your glasses. To the nearsighted, the clean and the unclean fuzz into soft color and fine texture.
* Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add clarity? Thanks, Tanya for clarity on what Jon meant by a wine box to use for food storage. We at RichenHaus buy wine by the bottle and were therefore imagining an empty wine-party box. Jon had in mind a wooden container for twelve one litre bottles to use for storage.
*Half birthdays? Well, any excuse to give something important to those I love.

Want a fresh outlook on life? Volunteer with kids.

I enjoy kids of whatever age, but when I volunteer, I have my focus on middle school grades. Middle School students are eager to explore ideas about justice, social expectations, and cultural differences. They want to test their ideas in story. They push me to explain and to listen carefully. They test all of my assumptions, and their natural humor makes me laugh a lot.

During the school years 2010 through 2015, I had the privilege of teaching a weekly short-story writing class in North Clackamas School District at Happy Valley Middle School. Happy Valley staff have welcomed me. The teachers allowed us to use their rooms and computers. Happy Valley is a very warm place for volunteers.

Each year between twelve and fifteen students regularly attended the after-school writing club. As writing instructor, my goal has been to 20141216_170502 highlight the elements of craft – plot, character, conflict, setting and language choice. During the first two years, I had the fun of working with mystery author, Bill Cameron, in this class. After he had to move away, I enjoyed continuing with the next groups, guiding students in the process of getting their creative ideas on paper in scenes.

I was delighted to encounter students already engaged by their school district teachers in the power of non-fiction writing. The students wished to try their hand at storytelling.

These students enjoyed good stories written for their age group. All were eager to learn more about how to write at least as well as their favorite authors. The students showed interest and respect for each other’s work. For me, their enthusiasm was inspirational.

Most of those years, about half the class and a couple of chaperoning parents have been able to come in the summer to Colonyhouse, a cabin owned by Oregon Writers Colony. From the cabin, we’ve enjoyed the beach and forest adventures in Tillamook County.

The first year, in spite of my urging that they bring gym shoes, kids wore flip-flops into the swamp and spruce forest. After that, word got around, gym shoes came out on forest exploring day.

Evenings at Colonyhouse we wrote and shared stories. The swamp mud and the skunk cabbage figured heavily in several sci-fi and mystery tales.

The school year always seemed too short. The many weeks of class didn’t give all the young authors a chance to bring their stories to completion, but the stories as they existed by the end of each year made me want to know how the students might take them forward.

See the cover for this year’s anthology.

The students sent me selfies to use on the cover. From these images, you can guess how much fun we all had.

Anthology 2015 covers, IMG_2356

I look forward to seeing what these students may do with writing as they mature. The depth of their ideas, their intense passions about right and wrong, and the quality of their efforts and writing skill is a credit to the creative powers of amazing young authors.

Eating Well After the Earthquake?

A Flashlight Aided Study (of My Food Pantry)
Okay, gang, here’s a little perspective on long-range planning. What food would you want on your shelves if an emergency took out your electric stove, your refrigerator and your microwave?
In my canning cupboard, deep in the basement, I pull out my battery-powered flashlight. Cans of pears, peaches and beans shine out at me, but also, I see rows of dishes that aren’t often used, and little figurines that once belonged to my mother.
I know what I don’t want to see in here – cans of USDA Approved School-Lunch Spinach. Sorry, Pop-eye, but your taste runs to tin. I also don’t want to be picking canned food out of shards of pottery and china. I need to store the dishes and figurines somewhere away from our emergency food supply. That’s a clear job for my half-hour* of weekly house cleaning.
My friends, what’s in your storage supply? What will your family really eat after the emergency. How will you cook it?
Ideas from two family foodies
Our sisters, Tammy and Marilyn, have been teasing me about getting ready for the earthquake. Yes, they were among those who received a water barrel and pump for Christmas. I asked if each family would like to have the water barrels. Tammy and Marilyn were delighted with the idea. So their teasing is not passive aggression. It’s just having fun with my project.
For my birthday, Marilyn and Tammy invested in a sack full of canned goods they believed I should have. See photo.
A Book Discovery
In addition, I received a cookbook about eating well after the power goes out. Marilyn, volunteers at Title Wave – the resale store for the Multnomah County Library. When she saw the title Apocalypse Chow, she could not pass it up. It seemed the perfect book to add to their joking around about my plans for family survival. The book turns out to be a great addition to the project.
Apocalypse Chow is written by Jon Robertson, with Robin Robertson. It was published in 2005 by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, of Simon and Schuster. Yes, that’s Jon, writer and publisher, and Robin the chef of Global Vegan Kitchen. Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add a lot of homey character and clarity to the book.*
It turns out that the Robertsons live in Virginia, so have survived several hurricanes, some with more grace and pre-planning than others. Collecting all they have learned about survival and grace in this 246 page volume, Jon has written a very usable and often funny book encouraging the rest of us to plan to have food we will be able to cook with minimal fuel and water. He also encourages us to take a good look at our eating preferences and our snobberies as we shop for the staples we will use in the AFTERS. Buy what your family will eat with pleasure because there will be a lot of other things to cause angst.
Apocalypse Chow contains some surprising lists, including several that encourage the family chef to visit various ethnic markets and stock up on great, non-perishable items. These change-of-pace foods will keep the family from becoming jaded on Boston Baked Beans.
Grilling and boiling tips, storage ideas and a cast of 15 minute recipes are featured in Jon Robertson’s readable, humorous and important book.
Apocalypse Chow is available as new and used books. I have ordered five more copies (yes the sisters will be getting a copy for a birthday or half-birthday*, as well. You will enjoy it, too. And its lists, if heeded, will give you a better survival kit than the basics list that Homeland Security might have recommended.

*Half-hour a week house cleaning? I am my mother’s daughter and learned efficiency from her. Best house-cleaning tip she gave me? Take off your glasses. To the nearsighted, the clean and the unclean fuzz into soft color and fine texture.
* Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add clarity? Thanks, Tanya for clarity on what Jon meant by a wine box to use for food storage. We at RichenHaus buy wine by the bottle and were therefore imagining an empty wine-party box. Jon had in mind a wooden container for twelve one litre bottles to use for storage.
*Half birthdays? Well, any excuse to give something important to those I love.

Two Coins in my Pocket

I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out two quarters. Before I paid for my taco, I took a second look at the coins. That look sent me scrambling for enough change to pay for the already-ordered lunch and still keep the two coins.

These coins sat in my hand and spoke deeply to me about the choices we make in art.

The first coin:

SD 2006

SD 2006

South Dakota as depicted in the state coin of 2006, shows Mount Rushmore – the complete view of the four presidents. It also depicts a Chinese Ring-Necked Pheasant, the state bird, in flight. All of this is encircled by ears of wheat, reminiscent of the plumes of wheat on an old penny. The wheat is also a nod to a critical product of the state.

The state coin does a good job of depicting South Dakota. The layout of space and choice of the bird in action are good, but the artist was asked to sacrifice quality for quantity in the design. As a result, the faces of Mount Rushmore suffer. President Jefferson’s face especially is distorted. It is so small it cannot be minted to look anything like the original carving (shown below). And the flight of the bird is unrelated to the monument over which it flies.

And then I saw the second coin:

SD 2006

SD 2006

The second coin is the 2013 National Park quarter. Though the depiction is again of Mount Rushmore, here the focus is on the first two president’s heads in side view, and on the process of creating the sculpture. In front of Washington’s majestic silhouette, there is a hint of scaffolding. Beside a very recognizable Jefferson, we see a roped carver swinging his mallet. (the carver is Gutzon Borglum, I assume, or his son, )

In the first coin, mint artist, John Mercanti, whose design was chosen by the people of the state, took the pulled-back camera view and depict many items in a small space. In the second, the designer chose to move in, show the monumental size of two presidents. The artist also showed action that was directly related to the carvings.

The second coin, with its tight focus, tells a story and thus is much more memorable design.

I will try to remember this artistic truth when I create. Focus. Bring my audience into the focus of my art. Let the carefully chosen part depict the complex whole.

Do you have examples of this choice in your own work? Camera pulled back? Camera in tight? Are there examples of the long-view, close-view choice in paintings, sculptures, poetry, plays, or books you’ve enjoyed? Write to me at rae@raerichen.com about your own ideas and examples. Let’s hear it for perspective choice.

By the way, I want to give credit to the artist of the National Park coin, but the website doesn’t list the designers. I have written to them with the request that they give credit to the artists. When they answer, I will let you know.

Celebrate the Day, whatever Day you’ve got!

Tillamook Mudslide and Thou Beside Me

Twenty-five years ago, our daughter, then a young college student, planned an anniversary party for Woody and me in the fellowship hall of our church. Her friends and brothers helped. The ladies of the church helped. Our friends and family came and we had a wonderful celebration.

That happened to be an Olympic Year, which fact led to the following event. Toward the end of that party, Woody’s dad, Grandpa Clarence, made a toast: “Woody and Rae, you’ve got the Silver. Now go for the Gold!”

“Hear! Hear!” our friends and family urged.

Later, Clarence’s twin sister, Aunt Clara, came up to hug us. She said, with her charming twinkle, “I’m really glad I was able to come today, because, for your fiftieth anniversary, I have other plans.”

What fun we had that evening, and what wonderful memories – some of beloved friends and family still in our lives, some of lovely people now gone and whom we miss.

And today, we are celebrating that Gold Anniversary.

Our daughter, now a busy mother and teacher, with no party-planning time at the beginning of a school year, asked us, “How are you celebrating your 50th?”

We said, “We’re going to a Thorns game the night before. Go Thorns! In the morning, we’ll take your little brother to the airport for a meeting in New York, and then we’ll just continue the same party we’ve enjoyed for fifty years.”

“That’s it?”

“Maybe some Netflix.”Flowers wait for dinner

“That’s it?”

“When you’ve enjoyed each other’s company through joys, and supported each other through sorrows, if you are glad when the other half arrives home at the end of the day, that’s one big celebration. We hope to continue right up until we join Aunt Clara in her other plans, and show Grandpa Clarence that we took his advice.”

“Okay,” she said, “party on.”

Well, beyond that much celebration, here is a photo of the flowers on our table tonight.

The table is set, ready for the pot roast that’s in the oven. We’ll probably get into some kind of world discussion often generated by the map on the wall. And there is also Tillamook Mud Slide ice cream. We’ll have that halfway through a movie.

The Teller Window

Here’s an ‘aha’ about perspective and choice that hit me just this week.
I write a lot. And I design gardens. The garden business works to get me out with people and plants, some of whom appear in my fiction – the plants, I mean.
I’m Out and About, working on gardens, I need lunch and a break from shoveling. I’m Celiac. Gotta be Gluten free. Since I also want good taste, I head off to Taco Time. Taco Time means crispy tacos with real meat, excellent cheese and fresh lettuce.
So, that’s where I was when this revelation came to me about perspective and choice.
Our local Taco Time has the pay window on the passenger side of the car – big time bummer. Bad design some generations ago.

Passenger Side Pay Window

Passenger Side Pay Window

For years, there has always been this problem situation between me and the server. She’s inside protected by a heavy window that surrounds her cash register. Between us is my car window, plus the three feet of empty space that I have to lean over.
You can imagine how much fun that becomes on a rainy day. We have a lot of rainy days in Portland (Have had, but global warming is another discussion.)
I expect rain when I’m installing a garden. I don’t want rain on my lunch, but my narrow range of food choice sends me to this wrong-side window. I unbuckle my seat belt and lean way over, hoping none of my change ends up in the driveway.
However, this week, I whip into the drive-through, order at the crackly little speaker. I drive to the dummkopfishe window, roll down my car window, experience the stiff breeze and wait.
Amazing miracle!
Out comes the server with my drink. Outside! No window between us. She hands me my drink, takes my bills, trots back inside and returns with my change and my taco.
Customer service!
Fifty years of teller window. Fifty years after the building got its bad design, the new manager makes this simple change. And he gets to know his customers by coming out himself. Door to door service
I get out of my car and thank that manager. Such a simple gesture from him and his staff. Huge turn around for them and for me.
The episode made me come home and take another look at myself. What limitations am I simply accepting? In my writing? In my gardens? In life?
What can each of us change with a small change in perspective?
Write to me at rae@raerichen.com about your own ideas and examples.

Why Survive the Apocalypse?

20150106_172849

I’m looking at our world in a brand new way this year. Life is fragile, and we are part of that fragile fabric. Aware of the ephemeral, I decided to gift my family with the first step in a survival kit. Ever since, I’ve been watching the small habits and charming humor in the people around me. I’ve been smelling the morning, greeting the raccoon and the chickadees, really studying the texture, the light and the shadows in places that I often take for granted.

I’ve had some readers comment that they don’t want to be around after the apocalypse, (or after the Great Subduction Zone Earthquake).

I understand that feeling. Recovery is work, and fear, and discovered loss. Loss would make recovery seem like shoving one foot in front of the other, even though we also might,at the same time, discover people and things that have not been lost.

But I have a list of what I want to be around for – people, places and ideas I want to assist in recovery, if I’m still here.

Of course, family is the beginning of that list: Woody, my resilient and positive husband, our wonderful kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters, all the in-laws and out. And then friends, my great, close and wise friends. Kids I’ve taught and get a kick out of because of their humor, their imaginations and their energy.

I would hope to find all these people, though some may be missing. Together, we survivors could rebuild our world, create support, maybe even improve our community, over time.

And I would look for my neighbors, some of whom already are friends, and some who might become better friends if we have to rely on each other.

And I will want to see what flowers arise from the ashes during the next spring. Fireweed and pine trees open first after forest fires. What will grow through our broken concrete? I want to be as strong and persistent as those flowers.

Some folks who’ve insisted they don’t want to be around afterward also discuss the innate savagery of people following a disaster. Yes, we all have that capacity. Indeed we do. But we all also have the capability for mutual building. I want to be here to help encourage the building.

Is this blog a downer? I’m thinking here about the people I appreciate, believe in, and with whom I want to recover. You’ve got that list inside of you as well.

So, let’s plan and get ready for the next event, whether the event is bugs in our water or the earth moving under our feet. Here are some photos of things I’ll watch for and nurture afterward.

20150106_172849 20150425_104053 20150425_103646 scan0034 0517021550 IMG_5905 20131020_184744

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next issue of Rae: Always Asking will be about cooking after the big event. Tune in and see what I’m learning and what resources I’m finding.

Hold the Hose

Remember that fantastic water pump I told you about? The one that goes with our barrels of drinking water? Well, not so fantastic after all.

I didn’t see that the pump had a huge drawback. It has to be lubricated. Meaning, it does a great job if what you want to pump is oil or petrol. But water? Bloody hard on the thing.

So, you may remember that I tested my pump in the kitchen sink. The next time I got it out to try on the water barrel, it froze in mid crank. Urchhhhhh! Several unboltings later, we see the problem. Rust. No lubricant (which we wouldn’t have wanted in our water anyway) and thus, no motion.

So, back to the Parkrose Hardware. They took back and credited me for the four un-fried pumps. I kept the one I ruined in case anyone in the neighborhood ever needs to pump oil from our vast underground reserves

20150506_151350

The new non-toxic pump!

And I bought a new pump. This time, I explained myself a lot more clearly to the fellow in the hardware store. He took me right to this pump which is designed for water only. Its plastic parts are not toxic. It fits exactly in the hole at the top of our drinking water barrel and . . .

Tah-dahhhh! It has the added plus that it is the same blue as the barrel.

I just knew you’d all care a lot about color coordination!

pump handle installed

The new pump installed

If you are getting your family ready for emergencies, the Barrel Pump at Parkrose Hardware (or any True Value Hardware) is SKU#8898728 and costs 39.99 . If you are buying for your whole family, ask about discounts for multiple orders of the same item.

Get ready for emergencies and I’ll see you after the apocalypse – or just after the next bug-in-the-water emergency.