by Terri Coop

Like many small town dwellers, I am surrounded by history on every side. Everywhere I look is old buildings, old streets, old trees, old roofs and even older plumbing.

The thirty foot wide pit in my town’s main street took five months to fill because every time they took out a layer of old piping, they found another layer underneath it. Sort of a plumbing archeological dig. If you ever wondered why building codes exist, look beneath the streets and houses of an old town.

So it was no surprise a few weeks ago when I woke up to a blistering five degree morning and found the water pipes frozen solid. Since this sort of thing usually works itself out, I went about my day without a second thought. When I got back that evening, I had running water. Unfortunately, it was running under the floorboards of the laundry room. Apparently the circa-1970 copper piping joined up to the circa-1940 unidentifiable metal piping and all cobbled up with the circa-2005 plastic piping had failed epically in high pressure spewing glory – on a Saturday. (I discovered how good the water pressure was a couple of weeks later when I got the $250 water bill!)

With the flood curbed on Monday, the handyman and I decided to move the laundry room down to my business building. The service porch plumbing was beyond repair and I had plenty of room downtown. My pride and joy is three stories tall and over 10,000 square feet of solid brick Americana. A little piping here, a little wiring there, and I was back in business.

Pffft . . . I’m a Kansan, I laugh at winter!

Then the two-foot thick snowpack began to melt. All week the sun shone warm and benevolent. The next Monday morning, I opened my shop door to the sound of running water. My Civil War-era roof, thick with Reagan-era tar, last repaired when Clinton was in the White House had decided to give it up. I had a 20-foot long reflecting pool in the main aisle and a waterfall over my work table. The steady dull thud of drops on soggy cardboard echoed through the main floor. 

The fact that I had spent the previous weekend trying to get water into one building only to have another building filling with water of its own accord was just a bit more irony than I needed for a Monday.  

Sighing, I did what any Midwestern small town denizen does in a situation like this; I went shopping for buckets and hoped for a drought this spring. 

Terri Coop battles life on the prairie with three intrepid Chihuahua companions and keeps the world’s handiest handyman on speed dial. When not mopping up after Mother Nature she is either lawyering, packing orders for her mail-order business or writing. In her non-existent free time she collects salt-and-pepper shakers and blogs about stuff like creepy clowns and abandoned furniture. 


  1. Oh, wow! Water can be a blessing and a cursing. We have tons of ice right now and it's causing lots of headaches. Maybe I should stock up on some buckets to prepare for the thaw. :-)

  2. I love this, especially the political caucus of your roof! Hang tight, I'm sure I have an inflatable raft for you around here somewhere....


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