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Saturday, June 11, 2011

So Much to Learn (Part 1)

Having just returned from Japan, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a lot to learn about the country and its wonderful people. I am amazed at the generosity shown to me when I needed help. Please let me explain. The night before departing Seattle, I noticed my left knee was aching. By the time I boarded my flight, I couldn’t bend my knee. I thought I had twisted it in bed or something. The day was long and we had to drag around luggage onto planes, trains, and automobiles for 24 hours. By the time we had reached our final destination I knew my knee had something seriously wrong with it. Nonetheless, I was in Japan and soon to be reunited with my beloved Tsukahara home. 
 We were greeted by our neighbor’s Jack Russell, Sakura, as we slowly drove onto the property. The weeds needed whacking, but everything appeared normal. I turned the power on and started opening storm windows. Erika shouted, “Turn the power off!” Humm, that can’t be good. She pointed out that water was streaming out of our water heater. I hurried out to the garage and turned the water valve off for the heater. I headed back into the house and turned the power back on. “What’s that splashing noise?” I asked myself. I searched all over for the source of the noise. I finally found the problem in the back of the house. The water pump to the well was gushing water into the yard and up against the house. The water was already 3 inches deep. I hurried and unplugged the pump. The good news was that I didn’t hear any more unusual sounds. The bad news was that I had no idea what to do next. The neighbor stopped by to say hello and she quickly learned of our predicament. She called a maintenance person who arrived shortly after. Unfortunately, he was a septic system specialist and could not help us. I wanted to ask him some questions when we visited Tsukahara last time, but we didn’t have time. So, this turned out to be a good opportunity to ask him questions. The neighbor went back to call a plumber and luckily she was referred by a plumber to call another plumber. Are you with me? The plumber agreed to drive out to our property and have a look. A few hours later, he had diagnosed the pump and the water heater. Both items had pipes that had burst during the unusually long, cold winter. Busted water pipes were a common problem this winter and I was lucky enough to have two of them.
 I’m not one to ask for help. If the problem was a maintenance issue, I would be the one to fix it. In this case, I had to swallow my pride and ask for as much help as possible. I could not read the writing on the pump or the heater. I couldn’t even tell the difference between a part number and a phone number. I was totally helpless. Erika helped tremendously by asking for help from the neighbor. I was beginning to understand how helpless Erika must have felt living in the U.S.  The tables had turned and I needed to rely on her for everything. Our neighbor was a lifesaver. She made phone calls to all over the place. The plumber had told us that to replace the pump and heater it would cost $ 8,000. After that shock, we were told that the parts were almost impossible to get since everything concerning housing materials were being sent up north to the tsunami disaster zone. In other words, we were stuck with a house that had no water or sewer. We could not stay in Tsukahara. My knee, water heater, and water pump were just the beginning of a memorable trip. Erika was upset because she purchased a house that was falling apart. She would now have to stay at her brother’s house while on vacation. Could things possibly get worse?

1 comment:

  1. I hope the rest of the trip went okay. If you ever get stuck again please just call... we have plenty of space! Looking forward to hearing about the sunny side of the trip.