As I mentioned on the Home Page of this website, I have a degree in English and have always written. About 15 years ago, I started a newspaper column called the "Empty Nest" because my kids had grown up and flown the coop. That newspaper column is in about 25 newspapers now. By the way, I write for free. Yep. I receive no monetary reward for writing, but it sure as heck provides me with a creative outlet and a weekly deadline--all of which is more rewarding than any amount of money. Two different people have contacted me over the years and told me that my column moved them so much that they carry the column with them eveywhere in their shirt pocket next to their heart and read it daily. I'm not shitting you.
My columns are all, for the most part, human interest. I stay away from politics, generally. I find that if I express a political opinion, and I do have them, I am bombarded by so much hate mail that, being the people pleaser I am, it's not worth it. So, I stick with the touchy-feely human interest topics. Enjoy.
Curt Swarm, Empty Nest 2-11-19
Just Another God Story
Our outside temperature gauge told me it was -21° F at 2:00 a.m.--the time I usually get up to read and write. I could hear the wind howling outside and the house popping and banging (frost quakes?), like pond ice cracking under the weight of too many skaters. The wind-chill factor had to be ungodly.
Looking at the thermostat on the wall, I noted that our furnace was struggling to keep up, and was running continuously. Set at 70°, the temperature in the house was 67°. This was troubling information. I piled the lap blankets on and settled in, making a nest out of blankets, papers and books.
After a couple of hours of work, and having a little trouble keeping my fingers warm on the keyboard, I got up to use the bathroom. When I flushed the toilet, I noticed the bowl didn't refill. Uh, oh. I took the lid off the tank and looked in. Water was not running into the tank. I checked the faucet on the bathroom sink. There was no cold water. Hot water yes, but no cold. Dang.
I went to the kitchen and tried the sink there. Same thing. No cold water. Evidently, a water line was frozen somewhere. Great.
At 5:00 a.m., I got Ginnie out of bed so that she could go to work. I told her about the water problem—that we had hot, but no cold water. When she used the toilet (we have “his” and “her” bathrooms), she had one flush, so she was to use it wisely. It was then that I noticed hot water was coming out of the cold side of the faucet. In fact, hot water was coming out of the cold side in all but one faucet in the house. What in tarnation? Thinking this might help thaw things out, I set all the faucets to running a trickle of hot water from the cold side of the faucets.
Around 7:00 a.m., knowing my plumber would be up and going crazy with cold-weather problems, I gave him a call. I told him I had hot water coming out of the cold side of the faucets.
“You have hot water coming out of the cold side of your faucets?!” He was incredulous. “I've never heard of this.” (Oh, no.) “You must have a frozen line somewhere, and hot water is back-filling into the cold. I'll try to come by sometime today, but I can't guarantee it.”
I spent the rest of the day trying to keep busy (would the plumber come by or not?) and kept the faucets trickling hot water from the cold side, like mixing good with evil. This had to be an awful drain on the propane—another worry, just what I needed. I kept watching the window for the plumber. No one appeared.
Around 4:30-going-on-5:00 o'clock, it was getting dark. The temperature outside was dropping. It hadn't gotten above minus thirteen the whole day. My furnace was running continuously and not sounding so good, like an old man wheezing.
There wasn't anything left to do. I dropped to my knees and prayed. “Dear, God. I need your help. My water pipes are frozen somewhere, and I'm afraid a water line will burst. I don't know what to do. I've done everything I can think of and I'm worn out. In Jesus' name, save this house. Amen.”
I heard something popping and hissing, and then water running full blast. I ran to the bathroom. Cold water was gushing out of the cold side of the faucet, as it was with the other faucets in the house! It was over. The frozen line had thawed. I don't know how hot water could have been coming out of the cold side of the faucets, and I don't need to know. What I do know is that I prayed and my prayer was answered, in the blink of an eye.
I got back down on my knees and thanked God for answering my prayer. Just another God story.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook. Curt's stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.