Their house is always filled with buckets, basins, jars and containers of all kinds. This odd type of hoarding is visible particularly in the garden, bathrooms and of course the kitchen. Here, a deep and wide bowl permanently fills the sink, making sure water droplets don’t sneak away down the drain while washing dishes. Instead, they mix with the mysterious residue water, which becomes murky with the rinsed remnants. This isn’t something one would see in the houses shown on the TV in the adjacent room.1 Undisturbed, grandma always gathers this weird mixture, carries it to the bathroom and fills a bigger bucket next to the toilet, which is used for flushing. In the same room, she keeps a wider basin to collect the soapy residue that drips off during showers. The collected solution is later used to clean the house floors.
My grandfather too has his frugal peculiarities. The fact that he sticks to one teacup throughout the day rarely evokes my emotions, but I always find it a bit unsettling to see him add the second course to the deep plate right after the soup. Despite the explanation that everything mixes in the stomach anyway, there is something weirdly disturbing about it. Other rituals I've observed, which are unusual for most households, include using the residue from eggs and potatoes to nourish plants and storing boiled water in jars to avoid ever buying any bottled liquids.
Yet most of the house containers, particularly a manifold of aged plastic buckets, are best visible in the garden. Spreading along the house gutters and across the trampled lawn, they are carefully laid out to catch raindrops. Grandpa uses the accumulated liquids to water the garden and grandma to wash her hair, as she finds it softer than tap water. Through this constellation of buckets, a garden hose winds, connecting a hand-dug well with a tall retention barrel. Such intricate garden infrastructure is not common in the neighbourhood. Thus, the effort my grandparents dedicate to all these inconvenient acts in a time and place of apparent abundance of comfort is even more striking to me. Could their actions be in fact homemade watery activism?