Lewis and Clark didn’t have it this rough when roughing it

Burt's Eye View

We’ve been roughing it in the Cole household.

First, the clothes dryer quit. Then the washing machine refused to finish another cycle.

Next, the hot water heater — which had lasted three times its expected lifespan — hollered, “What more do you people expect from me?” It snuffed its pilot light for the final time.

Worse, we don’t have Netflix.

It was like we had returned to the pioneer days, when all they had to amuse themselves while lying on their heated mattress pads was scrolling through YouTube videos on their smartphones while their CD player kept a flow of background music wafting over their sound systems.

Not even Lewis and Clark suffered that much adversity.

On the bright side, our electric bills have never been lower — probably even lower than Lewis and Clark’s.

“So this is what it’s like to rough it,” I remarked to my wife as I sorted through the bottles of dressing in the refrigerator.

“You have no idea,” Terry said as she tossed the salad. She missed. Living in the raw like we’ve been doing has sharpened my reflexes. I ducked neatly and the tossed salad sailed harmlessly over my head.

I reached for the vacuum cleaner to pick up the tossed salad before realizing this was a job for the Shop-Vac. “This isn’t my first roughing-it rodeo, you know.”

There was that time a few years ago when the oven conked out. Until we got it replaced, we were forced to limp along with only a propane grill, a toaster oven, the microwave and the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine.

I thought we’d starve.

The predicament would have made Davy Crockett shudder — and he was King of the Wild Frontier.

It’s not that I’m looking to live a lavish lifestyle of ease. We don’t.

Our cars both have around 200,000 miles on them. That’s like 93 years old in horse years. Can you imagine Buffalo Bill Cody and the rest of the Pony Express riders trying to operate in those conditions?

Our large-screen TV is a hand-me-down from a friend who had bought an even larger-screen TV. Our five-disc DVD player is a castoff from a relative who had too many. My power driver / drill with two rechargeable battery packs came came as a birthday gift.

The point is, we don’t run out and acquire things all willy-nilly like privileged people. Life has been hard. If Pa Ingalls would have faced this kind of hardship, he wouldn’t have had the courage to finish building that little house on the prairie.

Fortunately, these experiences taught us well the art form of roughing it.

“Are the pots on the stove boiling yet?” I asked. “I miss taking showers.”

“Tote the water to the bathroom this time,” Terry said. “I don’t care if John Wayne sat in a wooden tub in the kitchen in some cowboy movie.”

Terry has no appreciation for roughing it. Which is why we replaced the hot water heater and picked up a washer and dryer at a moving sale. We’re back to plain, old ordinary life.

Except for Netflix. We still lack Netflix. After replacing the appliances, there was nothing left over for basic human needs.

So just like Johnny Appleseed, we’re still roughing it.

— Console the put-upon Cole (Burt’s wife) at bcole@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.


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