Monday, July 28, 2008

It's Not Always Paradise on the Island . . .

Our family weekend was fun: we had some good visits over meals, caught up with everyone's news, had a few laughs, a few squabbles, and apparently way too many showers, dishwasher loads, and toilet flushes for our septic pump. (All the homes on our little island maintain septic tanks and pumps--we pump the "grey water" into the city's sewage system and get the "solids" pumped out by pumper trucks every five or so years.) Last night, the pump alarm went off, but of course, it waited until Paul had gone back to Vancouver. I have long designated this whole sewage enterprise as a "blue job" (my hairdresser's term, very unfeminist of me, I know, but I'm sticking to this position as long as sewage stinks!), so my only recourse was switching off fuses and then turning them on minutes later to see if the situation might have improved. Don't laugh, turns out that's pretty well all Paul had to offer when I called him, other then taking the lid off the tank and scooping the grey water out by hand. Since that would only create a very limited space for a flush or two, and since it was dark out, I demurred. This morning, I tried the on-and-off fuse trick again with no luck so far.

Calls will be made once the pump shop opens and I'm crossing my fingers that a new pump will be in stock and perhaps even someone available to deliver and install it. We had just been discussing a prophylactic move to a new one several weeks ago (the old one's done a decent ten years), but hadn't got 'round to doing anything about it yet. It's not nearly as simple as it would be in the city since the pump guys can't just drive up to our house but will have to come over to the island by ferry (and we're paying for their travel time, of course) and we'll have to borrow an island vehicle to pick them up and get them to the house. I'm so, so tempted just to shut the place up and head to the Vanc'r apartment for the week.

Oh, and the daughter who stayed behind to enjoy one last day of island living before heading back to work in the city? How impressed do you think she is that she can't take a shower this morning? Oh well, just another (shitty) day in paradise. . .

ADDED a bit later, 10:54 AM: I've learned a new skill, how to take the lid off the tank and scoop grey water out (into a bucket and then poured into the soil where there was a septic field many years ago) so there's room enough for a couple of flushes. There are catchment bowls stationed at all the sinks now, so that I can still wash up as long as I dump the soapy water outside (where the plants are grateful for it, at least). No dishwasher or washing-machine operations today, though, but I'd rather hunker down with Dickens' Bleak House anyway (title seems rather appropriate to me, at the moment). And the white knights from Nanaimo Pump and Motor are coming by this afternoon to have a look. Fingers crossed . . .

14 comments:

  1. Oh no! Well, at least it happened toward to end of the visit :) Hope the "pump guys" get you fixed up in a jiffy!

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  2. Yes, it could have been worse. And I'm learning how to do some septic triage, and education's good, right?

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  3. Alas, this weekend was not the fabled meet up...nor will next weekend be either. Why does time seem so compressed? I have a feeling my 30's are going to fly by.

    I feel for your septic condition.

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  4. That's one of the main reasons why I'd rather not live in the country, thank you very much. For some reason, septic tanks give me the heebie-jeebies!! If I were you, I'd head to Vancouver .... ;0)
    Patricia

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  5. I too feel your pain. It definately puts the beauty into perspective!

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  6. Thomas: I always have such hopes for what I can fit into the summer and it always flies by leaving unchecked items on my lists. Life, intervening (as in malfunctioning septic pumps, say)
    Patricia: for some reason?!! There are several very clear and specific reasons why septic tanks would give anyone at least the heebie-jeebies! One of the things island life has taught me about that I never thought I'd have to deal with, not nearly so much fun as things like operating a boat or getting a wood stove going when storms knock out the power. But I just have to take my cup of tea and my book oceanside to see why it's all worthwhile . . .

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  7. ooh that is not good. Yes escape to Vancouver or to the ocean (and when the 'need' arises, go visit the neighbours). Hope its all fixed soon.

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  8. Septic shock! Wishing you a speedy repair.

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  9. cybill, duchesse: appreciate the sympathetic thoughts -- I'm still crossing my fingers and waiting for the repair guys.

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  10. OH my, the idea of scooping out the gray water gives me the heebie jeebies as well, and I have a full septic system, even though I am not all that rural. There is no option to hook into any town sewage system here -- so near to NYC and yet so far away. At least the septic pump trucks can get here easily. I well remember the day our septic collapsed after something like 10 inches of rain in 24 hours, taking my front yard with it. Our house guests at the time really were sports, as we had to send them out in the woods for all their business.

    Good luck and a speedy resolution!

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  11. mardel: that's a horrible septic story! mine pales in comparison (thank goodness!)
    and it looks as if all might be well by midday tomorrow

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  12. I had to laugh at your response at my comment! Yes, I'm guilty of typical British understatement, but I simply don't want to think too deeply about such things ;0) Patricia

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  13. Patricia: in cases such as sewage, that's probably the best approach!

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  14. Oops! - 'response TO my comment', not 'at'. I know you're a stickler for good grammar (as am I usually)! ;0) P.

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