We had a successful Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year. Six family members all appreciated that the food served accommodated their dietary regimes. Instead of the spreads that I grew up with—roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie, etc.—we had baked salmon, dahl, calabacitas, a skinless, cooked turkey breast, a tray of vegetables and dip, large baked potatoes with butter and sour cream on the side, and—for dessert—banana ice cream, with no added sugar, homemade in a machine with a hand crank, whose cylindrical core was chilled in the freezer several hours beforehand. Several family members even said it was “the best Thanksgiving dinner” they had ever eaten.
Even when the kitchen floor flooded not once, but twice, it was a good day, one to be thankful for: a pleasant interlude in the stream of time; and space—even with the water raining into the cabinet under the sinks, running onto the floor, and heading (reminiscent of the TV coverage of the lava flows on Hawaii) toward the far side of the kitchen, space felt comfortably present and responsive to the call for rapid containment. But what about knowledge: the other member of the TSK triumvirate?
With knowledge, it seems that I often need to be led to it, like a horse to a stream; and then I may or may not respond in a way that lifts off the bridle of my old conditioning.
Well, that day, I was given two chances to figure out what was happening under the sink. With the first (when the pipes under the right side sink came apart), I noticed that there were no threads at the end of the lower pipe: it was as smooth as a giant mac-and-cheese noodle. No wonder it separated, I thought (while recalling that TLC plumbing had charged many hundreds of dollars to remove our broken garbage disposal and reconstruct this set of white drain pipes, merging both sinks into a single pipe that flowed into the city’s drainage system). But pipes with no threads”? Wasn’t that like floating a paper boat and calling it the “Titanic”? No wonder it had capsized.
A little fiddling brought to light that there was a plastic washer that could be forced snuggly up onto the smaller of the two pipes, holding a threaded cap in place, and that then this smaller pipe could be inserted into the larger pipe, which did have threads. Then I was able to screw this cap, still held in place by the tight washer, into the threads of the pipe below, thereby creating a secure connection between them.
It occurs to me that this kind of connection between two pipes is exactly what is used to connect the plastic tubing for evaporative coolers with the threaded faucets inside our homes: namely the plastic tubing is forced inside the mouth of a small faucet (ours is on the cold water intake for our hot water heater) and then a washer and a threaded cap on the tubing is tightened onto the faucet.
Once again, knowledge effortlessly stepped across boundaries, joining all applications in transparent manifestations of one bright illumination. But perhaps I should hold the victory dance a moment longer.
My success in reattaching these two smooth white pipes was not the final word for this Thanksgiving Day adventure. With the right sink drain now reconnected and quality tested with some water, I washed a sink full of dishes in the left sink. (Do you pick up a hint of foreshadowing?) When the dishes had all been stacked in the right sink, ready to be rinsed, I pulled the plug and released a sink full of used water to go on its merry way.
It didn’t take long to notice that this time many gallons of soapy water were flowing out from the cabinet and running across the kitchen floor. And it didn’t take much longer to realize that the left drain pipes had now separated. This time it took more towels to mop up the floor but I was able to quickly reattach the second set of drain piles (which I guess were loosened when I jostled the first pair—reminiscent of when I dropped a china plate at my sister’s last month and it fell onto another one, breaking both).
So should I lament the shoddy workmanship (or perhaps industry’s replacement of threaded metal pipes with easy to install plastic piping that can be cut to fit on site)? And while I’m at it, should I write a letter to the editor deploring global climate change and the commercial interests that resist the expense of pollution controls? Should I also lament the inability of the human race to treat rising sea levels, massive flooding and devastating forest fires as something that’s now in our court to address? And speaking of letters, what ever happened to the Bible’s memo about stewardship?
I think I’ll have to settle for this holiday’s opportunity to learn a bit about—and feel less intimidated by—the fitting together of a few drain pipes.
The post graduate course on how to fit together the ardently-maintained certainties of our society’s polarized camps will need some prerequisite make-up on my part. As with my recent plumbing challenges, my major difficulty seems to be that I doubt the existence of the knowledge—either in myself or present on the planet—that would allow human consciousness to realize its role in creating the momentums that have been unleashed in our world.
I can only hope that this requisite knowledge will once more flow into the mainstream of human culture—a process that must start with each one of us. Because, when we look around, the substance flowing out of society’s broken pipes is isolation, despair, helpless anger and—far too often—blood and tears.