alskuefhaih
asoiefh

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Everything but the . . .


It is where she has filled the cool cavities of 18-pound Thanksgiving turkeys with stuffing in her fists. It is where she bathed her babies, their soapy skin so slick she was terrified they'd slip and gouge their heads on the faucet, yet they cooed at her unafraid, blinking and sputtering when she rinsed their heads with cups of clear warm water. Cabbage heads and cauliflower heads were washed here too, and fingers of carrot scrubbed with a stiff white brush. Teapots and soup pots filled. Flower stems clipped before layering them and their velvety heads in water-filled vessels. Here in soapy water she broke her favorite glass rotating her hand inside, and she watched the perfectly sliced V between her knuckles blossom and point at her heart candy apple red, then blood red, then wick into the fine rivulets of her skin. With a turn of the faucet handle, cold water instantly streamed to cleanse the cut, as it had streamed, washed, rinsed, and filled dozens of times a day, every day, for decades.

Indoor plumbing has brought water into this farmhouse kitchen for 80 years. She is one of only two thirds of the world's women who can turn a faucet and receive a rush of water right into sinks in their homes. The rest are lucky if they can gather clean water from a pump a mile away and carry it in red plastic jugs on their heads back home, spending hours a day on just this simple collection. Some only pray for adequate access to clean water. Some = over a billion.

You can read about global water issues at the Global Issues site, like how because of CocaCola's production that depleted water resources in Plachimada, India, local farmers had to dig 450 feet and still couldn't access water.

67 comments:

NJ said...

We are so lucky to have indoor plumbing but sometimes at a bit of a loss. A friend's son went to Ghana 2 summers ago with Engineers without borders. I remember reading his blog and he speaks of the social gatherings around the local gathering hole. It's really something communities here lack.

Christine Gram said...

Wonderful, thoughtful post. Living Waters for the World is another great group.

Delwyn said...

We have so many blessings that we take for granted as everyday expectations and even rights in our western communities. It is good to be reminded, thank you Ruth

Susan said...

Ruth, that first paragraph is a poem. And 99.9% of us don't realize the miracle of turning a faucet and having cool, clean water emerge from it. Thank you for this reminder of how fortunate we are.

kanmuri said...

All the simple things we take for granted... They are daily miracles. We should be more thankful for what we have.

Beautiful entry.

VioletSky said...

The search and need for water, potable water, is far more important than our need for oil.

shicat said...

Hi Ruth, great lead in to an overwhelming concern. I contribute to the clean water action group,and have been concerned about bottled water and it's effects on the Great Lakes for a while now. I will visit the Global Issue site,never thought about soda pop. Water is the new oil. Knowledge is power. We take a lot for granted. Thanks Ruth.

CottageGirl said...

Beautiful writing for a very worthy cause. Thank you for the reminder!

J and Z said...

a very thoughtful and beautifully written post, ruth, we take so many things for granted, don't we?

living near lake superior (and in MN - land of 10,000 lakes) and growing up in a house that always had a copy of nat'l geo on hand, i have always known that we were fortunate, and lucky, to have ended up here...

all the money spent on wars maybe could've made peace with clean water and solar ovens....

reason to watch these giant US corporations and what they do when they land in another country and defile their environments...it's sickening, really

Wandering Alice said...

Your writing is evocative...your message of utmost importance. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Barry said...

Having just returned from washing the breakfast dishes, your blog seems both a remarkable coincidence and a poignant reminder of how even the simplest things are miracles of luxury to billions of the worlds population.

dutchbaby said...

How ironic that you are posting this today when I was just starting my White House Victory Garden post, inspired by you. Thank you for raising our awareness of another great campaign; . It looks like I'm another campaign behind. I happily walk in your footsteps, Ruth!

I loved reading about your babies cooing unafraid in your beautiful sink.

Nautankey said...

There are so many villages which don't have outdoor,leave alone indoor plumbing. They need to walk miles...hmmm...we are seriously lucky souls.

About plachimada,loks like even if they drill thru the crust of earth no water would be found,probably they will end up in another coco-cola factory on the other side of the earth. Thanks to industrialization

ds said...

Oh, we are spoiled, spoiled. Spoiled by taking as 'given' so much that others must struggle for daily. Spoiled also by your beautiful writing. Thank you for opening your heart--and my eyes.

♥ Kathy said...

What a great post. We should all be grateful for what we have and treasure it and protect it.

Sandy said...

Everyday when showering I am so grateful for water. I love that photo and your words.

Be one with the Fro said...

Great post!!!! *as usual* Ruth, you never fail to amaze me with your words! I love the picture. The lighting is really good. Is that your sink? I'm assuming that ALL pictures for the most part are taken on the farm.

Oh yea - how do you make some of your words bold within the comments? I notice that you will bold someone's name, but I can't figure out how to do that.

Be one with the Fro said...

Hi Ruth! Hope this works or I'm going to look like a fool. Thanks again!

Be one with the Fro said...

Ruth I attempted the "a" and it makes no sense to me. So I like you have no idea what its supposed to do. This is what "a" looks like Ruth

mystic rose said...

hi
am sitting on your porch ruth, waiting for you to come home and make us a cup of tea :)

I am sorry to hear about this. Yes, we dont realize here what luxury clean water is and how this kind of abundance is absolutely unthinkable wealth in many places.


I loved the first passage btw. You inspire me.

Anet said...

Ruth, you should write a book!!!
I just wanted to keep reading more.
Water... I want a rain barrel to collect water for the garden and flower beds!

nollyposh said...

Great post X:-)

Bob Johnson said...

Beautiful writing again Ruth, we take so much for granted.

Lucy said...

The poetic writing in this piece is beautiful. So thought provoking, even before you know what it is really about. The image is lovely too.

And it is also a great way to remind us not to take our water for granted, and to remember how much we use it and what for.

Loring Wirbel said...

Beautiful print (?), tile (?) above the sink!

Oliag said...

Ruth this is a beautiful, thoughtful post about an incredibly important issue...everywhere you turn there seems to be a new water issue...it certainly is our most precious resource...just today I was reading a very sad blog post about the drought in Australia...thanks for a reminder to be respectful for what we have...

rauf said...

yes its a luxury Ruth, there is no rich or poor when it comes to water. We can't drink oil which seems to be our top priority. Everybody is after it.

Ruth said...

NJ, I hear you. When I hear about Ghana I remember my father-in-law's trip there, and how the sewage ran down the street. It seems with modern technology comes sanitation, but sanitized social structures seem to be depleted social structures.

Ruth said...

Christine, thank you for that. LWW chose a good verse for their statement:

"How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action."

1 John 3:17-18

Ruth said...

Hi, Delwyn, "almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day."

Thank you for caring.

Ruth said...

Susie Q, hello there.

"Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%."

These statistics are about real people, and I know you know too and feel it.

Ruth said...

Thank you, dear Kanmuri. You can't renew water resources, and we have to find ways to make usage equitable.

"1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)"

Ruth said...

Hi, Sanna. There isn't much money in water. Yet.

"Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhea."

Ruth said...

Hi, Cathy. That's good that you're participating in Clean Water Action. I like how they involve real people to take action in their communities. Thanks to David Zwick and Ralph Nader's book Water Wasteland in 1971, dead Lake Erie and other polluted US waters were addressed.

Ruth said...

Cottage Girl, "Close to half of all people in developing countries are suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits."

Ruth said...

Hi, Jean. Grist says in its article titled Great Lakes water wars: race to make the Earth look like the Moon -

"With fresh water supplies dwindling in the West and South, the Great Lakes are the natural-resource equivalent of the fat pension fund, and some politicians are eager to raid it. The lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world's surface fresh water ... Water levels of the Great Lakes are down substantially, and while that may be part of the historic cycle of ups and downs, water managers argue the region must jealously guard what is here."

Ruth said...

Alice, so glad you came, I am impressed by your blog. All the best with your studies.

According to UNICEF:

"400 million children (1 in 5 from the developing world) have no access to safe water. 1.4 million children will die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation."

Ruth said...

That's cool, Barry.

"A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World."

Ruth said...

All of these quoted statistics are found at the Global Issues site.

Ruth said...

Hi, Dutchbaby, you did a wonderful job on covering the White House Victory Garden. I learned a lot more than I knew about it. I hope they'll develop it!

Ruth said...

Nautankey, yet these guys get off time and time again.

Ruth said...

Hi, DS, I was scouring your post about Lin Bu through the afternoon yesterday. And I'm not finished yet. I'll keep going back to it for inspiration, the way an artist stares at a painting.

Ruth said...

Kathy, thank you, I know you care.

"Already, corporations own or operate water systems across the globe that bring in about $200 billion a year. Yet they serve only about 7 percent of the world’s population, leaving a potentially vast market untapped."

d_34_nz said...

water,,,,,source of ours life...

Ruth said...

Hi there, dear Tiffany! Yes, that's our kitchen sink. Sometimes I wish it looked out a window. But I have no complaints. I have clean, clear running water.

Glad you got the bold thing down! :D One day maybe we'll figure out what the "a" is all about.

Ruth said...

Hi, Mystic. I came home from work yesterday expecting to see you on the porch. :(

Thank you about the first paragraph. This post began with wanting to take a picture of the kitchen sink. I had no idea where it would lead. We have to have a way in to the writing, and you never know what will be revealed behind the door.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Anet!

Don just talked the other day about wanting a whole row of rain barrels! We need to capture it. Great for watering the garden.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Nollyposh.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Bob.

It isn't as much as water shortage crisis as it is a water management crisis.

Ruth said...

I appreciate that, Lucy.

Hope you had a great time in Paris!

Ruth said...

Loring, I had a feeling you would like this art on the wall. :) Lesley picked up the screened fabric in Guatemala. I love it too.

Ruth said...

Oliag, so many water issues.

I just read that a company can release a toxic chemical into the water, and until the chemical is proven to be toxic, they can't be stopped. Meanwhile, it provides who knows how much damage?

Ruth said...

rauf, I think you posted a while back about water one day becoming a commodity that the poor won't be able to afford. Already they can't get to it. Greed may one day prevent them from getting it without paying.

Ruth said...

d_34_nz, more than most of us ever think about. Being conscious about the unequal distribution is a start.

Susan said...

Yes, Ruthie, cold statistics are always about real people. Bless you for knowing that, too.

Ruth said...

Susan, it's way too easy to forget it when we don't feel it every day. I read these things and I sit stunned when I remember how far a mile is, and how hard to carry that weight so far in the burning sun, with bare feet on gravely roads.

Gwen Buchanan said...

water... what life is made of.. even as I look out at the billion tons of it in front of me.. .. it is all salt.. even the people who live out on the edge of the bluff near the lighthouse had to drill 450' through rock... very expensive but what could they do.. they had already went down 290' then 350' and still nothing ... had to go farther...

we can't take it for granted...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

A place that sees so much, it can tell a tale or two.

CJ xx

shicat said...

Hi Ruth, Thanks for commenting on my blog. I wanted to respond to you ... Maybe we are awake now? Do ya think? So fat so bloated soooooo? I feel history, I feel it. I don't know that I have felt this way for such a long time. Maybe since the Vietnam war? We are a nation of sleep walkers...are we awake? It's about time. The big question are generations lost? I don't know does this make sense? xoxo Melancholia

Gwen Buchanan said...

opps , John just told me they had to go much farther.. between 600' and 750'... mind boggling!!!

California Girl said...

Your opening paragraph is so evocative. I felt such tenderness reading about the baby bathing and the pain from the glass and the texture of the vegetables. Beautiful stuff.

Winnie the poohi said...

how true!

Even out of the ppl who do get water in their kitchen faucet.. not all water is clean..

Ruth said...

Gwen, that is frightening! I have a friend in Greece who had to dig a well with her husband, and he was down there with dirt falling on him! Maybe I told you this before. After hearing about that I sat in wonder about our well here on the farm.

Ruth said...

Hi, Crystal, it dawned on me before writing this post that the kitchen sink is the center of the house.

Ruth said...

Cathy, waking up from slumber I'd say, waking up. I hope it will be exponential, more waking up with create more.

Ruth said...

Thank you, California Girl. When I started to realize how many things happen in the kitchen sink, I was stunned at how I take it for granted.

Ruth said...

Winnie, that is so true!