Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Joys of Suburban Life

Ah the joys of suburban/semi-rural life where you can experience the pleasure it is to have a well and a septic system. Lovely. OK, just as a warning the words "pee" and "poo" and possibly "#@**&^$$#$@#!" might come up in the following post. I am just giving you time to click away to some other page (don't you DARE!) so that your innocent eyes don't injest bad words. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED..........

What is this thing you are asking yourself? Ooo, Ooo, I know, I know! It is a pod from like Invasion of the Body Snatchers right? Or maybe the top from a missile silo, you know like NORAD controls. Or how about, maybe a random piece of plastic that landed in the yard? No? Hmmmm, well if it isn't any of those things then what is it you ask yourself. Well self, I will tell you.....it is our septic system. To be specific our "Nayadic waste water treatment plant". It sounds like we are a small municipality but if we were that then we might be seeing some revenue from taxes and that isn't happening. Hmmmmm, taxing the neighbors, now that is an interesting idea. But perhaps not workable since at least one neighbor reads the blog. Oh well.

I digress. Yes this is our handy septic system. We don't have the traditional septic field because we have no field. We have lots of trees and lots of ravine and lots of woods and lots of stream but no field. That means that we couldn't put in the traditional septic system, we had to go to the city, hat in hand and say, "Please, please, may we put in this MORE EXPENSIVE system. Oh please, please?!?" They graciously granted our request and away we went.

This handy dandy system uses a pump to bubble all the "waste water" (I am not going to explain what that is cuz you KNOW what it is) continuously helping the bacteria to break stuff down so that it can be pumped into another series of tanks and then out into the stream. At that point the water isn't potable but is clean enough so that we don't have the EPA screaming at us and slapping us with fines. Got the picture? Good.

So Saturday evening, after a lovely dinner and dessert on the deck with our friends, just as we were taking the dishes back into the kitchen where there were loads of things to be washed, #3 progeny, with boyfriend in tow, comes up and says, "Uh Mom, the alarm is going off in the basement." Nuts, that is not good. You see, our nayadic system has an alarm on it. Why an alarm? Well, because if the compressor isn't working right or the pump fails and isn't bubbling the goo then the alarm goes off. It is saying to you, "Hello, hello, hello, I am not working and you have to take care of me because bad things are going to happen and the bacteria are going to die and then the system won't work and you won't be able to poop in your bathroom when you want to so take care of it right NOW!" (the run on sentence was intentional by the way although I am the comma splice queen).

So, down to the basement we go and sure enough the piercing wail of the alarm greets me. Now I know that all the things I am planning to do are going to be futile. I know it because we have gone through this routine several times before, but I do them anyways. Hope does spring eternal. Flip circuit breaker....nothing. Reset system....nothing. *(%)#*#*&@&)%*). Yes, I said something that I can't print on the blog, and then I realized I said that bad word almost in front of my daughter's boyfriend. I am trying to keep him in the dark about what I am REALLY like and I almost blew my cover! Whew! Or, if they did actually hear it they didn't say anything.

Deep breathing, deep breathing, let's work the problem people (I have watched Apollo 13 WAY too many times).

Back up the stairs I go, mumbling about how these things always happen at the most inconvenient time, wondering if there is any way that there would be someone at the septic repair place (yeah right!) and thinking about all the things that I all of a sudden just had to do, like pee, but that I couldn't do because with the system not working you can't add any significant amount of water into the tank. Our neighbors were standing there, with that "deer in the headlights look" (sorry Lauren but you were). They quickly exited but before leaving, being the excellent friends that they are, they offered their shower for use in the morning and said that they would leave the door open so we could come in and use the bathroom if we wanted to. What! Use a bathroom when we can go out and pee in the back yard! Are you silly or something?

Called the septic repair shop, no reply, left message. Called the president of the septic repair shop (hey I KNOW people you know), no answer, left message. Rats (that isn't what I said but....).

Took stock of the situation. Saturday night with no prospect that this thing will be fixed until at least Monday, sink full of dishes, need to pee, no chance of showering in my own bathroom in the morning. What to do? Why go to bed of course. In the immortal words of Scarlett O'Hara, "tomorrow is another day." So, we got ready for bed and tromped out to use the facilities in the yard, making sure that you walked CAREFULLY because we have a dog after all and we don't police the yard much. Can I tell you how creepy it is out in the yard at night when you are doing something that makes you slightly vulnerable. My neighbor wondered how I would feel if the other neighbors could see what I was doing. If they were taking the time to look all the way over here to see my shiny, white, a** then they would get what they deserved and be scarred for life. I had to go to the bathroom and I wasn't going to worry about it. I was more worried about the rabid racoons in the area thinking that they had stumbled upon something edible. I haven't "done my business" that quick in a long time.

Sunday dawns and I go back out to "use the facilities" thinking with fondness of all the outhouses that I have used in my life. Mom, remember that great one in Colorado that had all the walls papered with great things to read! Oh, I guess that is another story. Anyways, after The Neighbors left for church progeny #3 and I drove over there to use their shower. Drive! Why drive 300 feet down the road? Because I didn't want to walk down there carrying an extra set of undies, towels and my shampoo. THAT is something that I don't want the neighborhood to see I can tell you. Also, can I tell you that it is very strange to use someone else's shower. I was glad to be clean but it was strange.

Back to the house to contemplate a day that wasn't turning out like I had intended. I didn't get to go to church because, really, I like those people and didn't want to subject them to my bed head on a Sunday morning when we are supposed to be singing worship songs. Did the dishes in a bucket and threw the water on the plants in the back garden. Man do I feel pioneer like but with internet access and electricity. And then, just about the time I was thinking that we could definitely do this, Lou the Septic Lady called. Yes, my septic person is a woman, and I have to say right now she is just about my favorite person in the world.

Lou: Hey Debbie, how are you doing
Me: (suppressing maniacal laughter) Hey Lou! I am doing OK despite the fact that I have to channel my inner dog and use the great outdoors as my natural outhouse. (I didn't really say it like that)
Lou: (nervous laughter) Well, we will have someone out there to fix the unit at about 4p.
Me: 4p.....today???
Lou: Yup (she is a woman of few words)
Me: Lou you are my favorite person at the moment.
Lou: We aim to please.

And so fans, at 4p on the dot the repair man showed up and at 4:30p he pronounced the compressor fixed and gladly handed me a bill for $150. Gee thanks.

Can you guess what the very FIRST thing was that I did when the system was fixed?


  1. Delighted that you no longer are compelled to use the ravine latrine.

  2. You know, it had a certain simplicity about it.

  3. Um, took another shower? No? Um, did the dishes again, since you weren't sure they really were clean from the bucket wash? No? Um, went back to bed because you were exhausted from the whole experience? No? I give! ;-)


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