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December 19, 2008

Bath time, Laura Ingalls Wilder style

Back when I was a grubby, bang-faced child of 8, I used to protest bath time with what I thought was a cunning, ingenious defense: Ma and Pa Ingalls only made their brood bathe once a week, according to the "A Little House on the Prairie" series. I begged my own ma and pa to allow me to do the same.

Now I know why the Ingalls' cleanliness was so sporadic. Bathing without the help of modern plumbing is... well... read on, dear readers.

Our pipes first froze on Sunday. The chill initially affected our kitchen, leaving us with mounting piles of petrified pots, pans and plates. We decided to make the best of it, and since the elements had not yet touched our bathroom faucets we lugged everything into the bathtub and washed it there. It was a little gross, but I felt all pioneer about it. "This is what the Boxcar Children would have done," I thought to myself. "Definitely."

The next morning was a snow day, so I took my sweet time getting presentable. When I finally decided to wash the stinkys away I realized with horror that Jack Frost had gotten his icy grip around our precious bathroom plumbing, too. The water in both the sink and tub was barely trickling out, and what managed to emerge was ice cold. Now that I've matured into a woman who feels absolutely disgusting unless she's laundered her tresses on a daily basis, the thought of skipping a day was unbarable.

I gritted my teeth and resigned myself to the inevitable: I was going to have to take a sponge bath. I found my biggest pot and waited for an eternity for the faucet's little trickle to fill it up. Then I sloshed it on the stove and waited an eternity for it to heat to an acceptable temperature. Then I sloshed it onto the floor of my bathtub. I hovered over it in a vertical fetal position and my frigid flesh shuddered as each measuring cupful of water ran down it. It was miserable. And cold. And awkward. And miserable. And I vowed never to submit to a sponge bath again until I was old. And then I did it again the next day.

I'm happy to report that our pipes are once again home to mighty gushes of heated agua. Never again will I wish to emulate my storybook forebearers in habits of hygiene.


  1. Cleanliness IS next to Godliness...

  2. You poor, poor dear. Are you just stunned with Portland's level of ineptitude in the grave face of winter, particularly since you hail from Duluth, the unofficial icebox of the nation?
    On a positive note, I loved the Boxcar Children series!

  3. Grow up and skip your shower for a day or two. THAT is what the Boxcar Children did!