Monday, April 20, 2015

The passing of my father, a quiet good man

My dad died today, about a month short of his 96th birthday.  It came after a brief downturn in his health, and the proximate cause was pneumonia.  Until several days ago, he lived alone and took care of himself.
Since the death of Mom several years ago, his answer to my weekly query as to how he was doing was always, "Well, I'm still here."  He was ready to check out and be with Mom.
Dad was raised with his eight siblings on a farm in Burlington, Wyoming, a small, dry town east of Cody. His mother died when he was nine years old, and his sisters took over raising the family.
After active duty during WWII, he worked as a civilian for the Army employing his engineering degree from the University of Wyoming.  For many years, he was the Chief of the Mechanical Research and Development Lab at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.
That's a pretty dry description of a hard-working, kind man, who took his commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ very seriously.  Dad served as the first Recorder in the Washington, DC LDS temple, and then in the presidency of that temple, serving nineteen years in total.  Many times I would find him seated in the living room, quietly reading the scriptures.
My father was the most honest, straightforward person I have known closely.  The things that I did, or didn't do growing up were based largely on my desire to not disappoint him.  There are small things that I hope I remember forever; falling asleep on the back seat of the '54 Ford as he drove home in the dark with the radio playing big band music, the care with which he outfitted me at a camping store before my first Scout outing, waiting with him at a service station while the car was up on the lift and asking for a candy bar...
I will miss my father.  However, if I arrive at the end of this stage of existence in as good shape concerning the things that really matter, I will call it a win.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

That's stepping over a pretty low bar

As you will recall, Paula recently traveled to the US briefly for Mike and Adrienne's wedding, obviously by air (however, if she had hitch-hiked, there wouldn't have been baggage limitations.)
Many of us fear airplane toilets, and will go to great lengths to become severely dehydrated before air travel.  While dismissed as a myth, it may or may not be true that folks have been sucked out through the toilet in mid-flight.  I don't know, I'm just saying, but I don't drink much beforehand.  I'm just saying.
Their design, while deemed diabolical by some, is a marvel of efficiency.
Anyway, having to powder her nose during the leg of her trip between Lima and Dallas, it suddenly hit Paula:  the airplane facility was nicer than any public bathroom she had seen in Peru!
It had, in no particular order, but to her increasing amazement, a) a toilet seat (not considered a standard feature down here), b) toilet paper (it is routinely 'liberated'), c) something called paper towels, which I vaguely remember from a previous life, d) warm, flowing water (!), e) soap, and f) a door, and it even closed! And locked!  Dude!
We hope that you have better luck than we have when the need arises.
Dave and Paula

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Living in Peru #27: Water #3

As you will recall, because of the very intermittent water supply, everyone has a storage tank.  Most people use their heads and use gravity, and put the tanks on top of their dwellings.
However, for aesthetic reasons, ours was put under the driveway.
OK, so you also remember that the top of the BIG sub-driveway water tank had collapsed inward, necessitating repairs.
Well, as dirt and water are prone to do, they returned, finally covering the cap of the tank, causing contamination of the water inside.  A permanent solution was needed!
That meant a concrete cistern, a major project including the removal of the collapsed tank and building a strong concrete box to store water (see diagram below).
When asked about timing, we reminded folks that we had missionaries leaving (sort of) and arriving the next week, with a lot of people coming and going and staying at the mission home.
"No problema!  The work will be done this week, in five days at the most."  Yeah, OK...
First, the big blue tank had to be removed, which meant draining it, loosing it from the surrounding dirt, and finally lifting it out, no mean task.  This required a half-dozen people, ropes, cables, poles, and everyone yelling in Spanish, telling each other how it should be done.
The next task was draining the resulting huge hole, and putting in a foundation for the future cistern.
The cistern itself then had to be constructed, strong enough to keep the earth out and the water in.
Once the basic box was built, the inner walls had to be given another coat of good cement,
including the floor.  This involved a swing-like contraption and a lot of good laughter.
The rebar for the top was then laced,
and the top itself poured.
The driveway pavers were replaced
and the final plumbing installed from within.
The guys really did a nice job, and worked long hours.  Speaking of which, the project in the end took three full weeks, including Saturdays to complete.
The water tasted a little like concrete for the first few days, but then settled down to the normal Huancayo-type water flavor.
Meanwhile, we finally disconnected the garden hose through which the house was being intermittently supplied by the intermittent city supply.
We hope that your cistern challenges are solved more expeditiously.
Dave & Paula