May 25, 2020

Solve One Problem, Create Another

Janine Pineo Photo

Janine Pineo Photo

• By John F. Chisholm •

I solve problems by turning them into other, more challenging difficulties.  I don’t know why.  That’s simply the procedure I’ve always followed.

Perhaps an example would help.

My daughter is putting in a cabin next door, way back among the pines.  It’s a beautiful spot but, except for the roof, walls and a woodstove, there won’t be any amenities.  Okay.  She’s an adult.  Those are her choices, her dreams, her problems.  It doesn’t matter if I’m uncomfortable with them.

But there is one issue that I can’t get over.  Water.  It isn’t an amenity.  It’s a necessity.  That’s where I got involved.

There is a drilled well not far from her cabin.  We had the water tested.  It’s good.  That’s one problem solved.

Next I found an old, discarded, cast-iron hand pump at the dump.  The handle was broken.  The seals were non-existent.  It was rusty, seized and nonfunctional.  With a lot of work, I rejuvenated the pump.  So far, so good.

Score a second goal for the solution.

Unfortunately, that simply brings up the next problem.

It’s a kitchen pump, meaning it was designed for interior use.  The pump unit itself is within the stanchion, of necessity above ground level.  (An outdoor pump utilizes a submerged unit with a drain drilled through the pipe above it.  That way water levels stay below the frost but the pump still retains suction.)  So at present, I’m confident that I can deliver water to my daughter’s cabin during some of the spring, all of the summer and a month of the fall.  In other words, half the year, total.

That’s still a problem.  What about the other six months?

Hmmm.  Of course I can cover the pump.  That’ll help.  I can also install a drain in the suction pipe immediately below the stanchion ― but still above ground ― if I can seal it when water is demanded.  An ordinary tap should take care of that.  Then I’ll have to persuade my daughter to save enough water from each usage for priming the pump later.  That would extend pump utility a bit longer.

Alas!  Jack Frost is still going to win.

I think about it.  That last step feels important anyway.  With a drain installed ―  and proper care ― the pump unit itself won’t freeze and crack ― ruining the casting forever.  But, unfortunately, we still don’t have a year-round water supply for my daughter’s cabin.

In fact, everything I can think of, from insulation to making the pump removable or melting snow for a water supply, carries pitfalls and drawbacks.  I’m left scratching my head ― already bald ― looking for a solution.

Sure, my wife and I can invest in an outdoor pump, pay to have it installed and when my daughter decides that roughing it isn’t the lifestyle she’s looking for after all, we’ve just wasted a lot of money.  Still, we don’t want this experimental habitation to fail.  Who enjoys seeing idealism fall victim, one more time, to hard work?  Besides, let’s be absolutely honest, living is tough enough.  Without a dream it’s nothing but drudgery.

I go around and around trying to accommodate that dream as a result.  I try out various solutions, only further complicating the problem with other issues as a result.

More to the point, do you see what I mean?

I solve problems by creating other, even more intractable, situations.

So how about it?  This is important.  Does anyone out there have a solution?