Ongoing plumbing saga

It has now been 2 weeks and the plumbing contractors are still not done. The driveway is a mess so we have to access the house by going across the lawn, which is a dangerous wet mess. Plus some of our trees are a bit out of control so it resembles bushwhacking in some places.

I am also getting increasingly frustrated, as the demands of the district seem outrageous. With the new system, everything flows into a holding tank. The tank has a pump so that it can move the sewage out as we have zero gravity here. The pump has to be on an alarm in case it dies. Today I find out that we also need a freaking generator for the pump in case the power goes out! Oh and don’t forget the fact that we had to have an engineer sign off on the whole project.

I sometimes wonder if city councils are in collusion with contractors to make things cost as much as much as possible so that everyone makes money. I just don’t understand why such a simple thing costs so much money. Le sigh.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘water has a mind of its own’ edition

  • First off, my apologies for being MIA for the past 10 days or so. I have not been feeling my ‘daisy-fresh best’ and as a result the blog suffered. I have been struggling a lot with the usual health issues. It is like I constantly have fog in my head that I have to fight through. The other main reason for the break is that I have re-discovered crocheting. I am madly trying to make stuff for Christmas presents this year!
  • I am going to try to complete NaBloPoMo like I have in previous years.
  • We have had some serious plumbing woes. We are on a septic system. Apparently septic fields die after a certain amount of time. The tank holds all the waste in an anaerobic environment where it breaks down to a certain degree. Water is supposed to flow through the tank to the septic field. What ends up happening is that bits of ‘material’[1] flows through and eventually stop the septic from being able to absorb any more water. The options are to replace the field or connect to the city sewer. While connecting to the sewer is expensive, replacing the septic field is completely out of reach. The plumbing contractors we have, Mr. Swirl, have been absolutely fantastic. I have never seen a company be so incredibly responsive and professional. They committed to keeping our septic tank pumped out while this work has been going on. They have had to come pretty much every other day to meet this commitment. Hopefully in another couple of days we won’t have to worry about the septic tank anymore! The other great advantage will be no more smell!
No more deck!
The new holding tank going in.
You can see the old, concrete tank
Another view of the old tank
  • In other related news, Sienna, the pit bull, got under the house and managed to impale herself on a nail. She then, so it appears, rotated her self and managed to separate her skin from her fatty layer a further 3 inches below the 2-inch gash we found on Friday night. She now has a 5-inch gash on her chest with a drain tube coming out. It seems that if there is anything to hurt herself on she will find it!


[1] Euphemistically referred to as ‘sludge’ by the plumbers.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘it’s not the Rapture but something worse’ edition

  • Over the last several days, I am sure the people living in America’s ‘tornado alley’ thought the Rapture had come and they were left behind. The sheer extent of the damage, including the whipping out of Joplin, MO is incomprehensible. Then there is the flooding in Manitoba and Quebec closer to home. No doubt our horrid winter is extending into a very cold spring.
  • Today it was announced Auditor-General of Canada, Shelia Fraser, is retiring. She is one Ottawa bureaucrat who has earned her salary. She has faithfully reported one spending scandal after another to the Canadian public. She also had a rare quality of being fair and respected by all politicians, no matter the political stripe. She has always reported the bottom-line in a fair and accurate way. I worry that a majority Conservative government will try to bring in someone who is less tenacious.
  • At some point in the history of our property, it appears that someone decided to bury garbage. We have broken glass and metal coming up through the ground probably due to all the rain we have had. Sienna just about sliced off a pad from her front leg. Who would bury garbage? She needed 4 stitches but may lose the pad anyway. It is the one higher up on the leg.
  • So far at The Swamp we have avoided any weather-related disasters. If it would just stop raining we might lose the quicksand in the back 40. Seriously, if you go back there you would likely sink. At least Deb and Angelina got both the front and back mowed while it was dry as we brace for more monsoons. I really hope it dries up before my mother comes because the septic is a bit smelly.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘holy that is a lot of blood’ edition

  • We had a great weekend. It was fun but a little tiring for me. The curry dinner was fabulous and we are still eating it today. The great thing about curry is that it gets better in the subsequent days.
  • Wandering Coyote has gone home. We had a great time and we are already looking forward to her next visit. I love how you can make new friends over the internet and then meet and get along well.
  • The dogs have been very sweet the last couple of days. Deb and I were buried under 2 dogs each for a while this afternoon. There is nothing like doggy love. It is pure, innocent and unconditional. It is not something they have to offer; it is something they do because they want to which makes it so very joyous.
  • We had to have the septic pumped today. The new drainage has been great. Normally we would have it pumped twice by now during the winter. I think it was a combination of the septic field flooding and a high level of solids in the tank that made it back up this time. At least no one has to dig it out the lid now, which makes it so much easier.
  • I have not been feeling very well over the last couple of weeks. My hemoglobin is tanked again which never makes me very happy. My doctor has also ordered a bunch of other tests, which means they took 7 vials of blood today. I had to fast as well so it sucked even more. There is a condition where you can be allergic to the thyroid hormone. Between my fatigue and inability to lose weight my doctor is wondering if this might be going on. Plus she is checking my vitamin b12 levels.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘get your food issues off of me’ edition

  • I read an amazing blog entry by Margaret Cho. She completely summed up many of the feelings I have been having lately. When people feel they have a right to make an assumption about you and then pass it, it is so very hurtful. It is not something that you can shake off and, in fact, may scar someone for life. This was her reaction after her friend’s mother said Margaret had an eating disorder:

“I felt sick immediately, the fat in the food coagulating in my blood and stopping it. It felt like a heart attack, or a tranquilizer dart right in the chest, felling me in my tracks. Like when you take your battery out of your phone – just blank screen. Blank. Mother and daughter were full on fighting now but I had checked out and gone somewhere else. We were all still sitting there but I don’t really know what happened after that. Perhaps we went to my friend’s room and drowned out her neurotic mother’s musings with Duran Duran, but whatever happened I know that I was permanently changed. I had been marked with a big scarlet letter “E” on my chest for “eating disorder.” That was when I was tagged in the wild and categorized forever, and even though I was put back into the general population, I carry the mark to this day.”

  • Why do people buy bottled water? I had a conversation with a woman the other day about bringing in our reusable bags. I had remembered because Safeway had a reminder on the door. Anyway, she was going on about remembering her bags and she had a case of bottled water in her cart. Talk about a disconnect! Today I was at Save-on and I saw a line up for people to fill their big water bottles. Now, where do they think the water comes from? Do they think Save-on has some big tank of bottled water somewhere in the store? No, I am sure it is tap water that may be run through the industrial equivalent of a Britta filter. Not only do they have to bring these huge bottles to the store then they get to fill them, drive them home and get them into the house. Instead they could just turn on the tap. No bottles involved.
  • It might be too soon to speak but it looks like the drainage has solved the problems with the septic system. Moving the water out seems to have fixed the problem with water filling the tank when it rains heavily. We have not had it pumped since the end of September. Since we moved in we have had to pump it out in either December or January and sometimes both.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘stinky septic’ edition

  • I had hoped that the drainage work would help with our stinky septic in the winter. My theory was that the water would move on out to the back of the property. It doesn’t seem to have worked that way. At least I have figured out why the entire house stinks. The furnace is in the laundry room which is very close to the septic. Air fresheners in the laundry room seemed to have solved the problem. Now, if anyone has any idea what to do with a stinky septic I would love to know!
  • Since Madison’s passing everyone has been doing really well. I have to say that having the dogs there when she died has meant that no one is wandering around, lost. We certainly saw this when Kirby passed away. The dogs are ok, the humans not so much.
  • My mother is making me mental already and we are not even there yet. She seems to think that us wrapping our Christmas presents there is going to cause us to not be with her for a lengthy period of time. Today she sent me the following in an email: “I understand you can put wrapped packages in the suitcases that go in the hold.  Do you agree?  I don’t have any wrapping paper but lots of the other stuff – bows, etc. Well of course, it turns out, that CATSA recommends that presents not be wrapped. I am sure the next volley will be interesting!
  • Since my last visit my gastroenterologist I am doing a bit better. Not great, but better. I would be able to handle all of this if it were not for the fatigue. The pain and everything else would be tolerable if I just wasn’t so freaking tired. I literally need to sleep 12 hours a night. It really gets in the way of what I want to do in life. Part of it is low hemoglobin and the other part is just the fatigue that goes with the disease.

Dispatches from the Swamp – The I feel ripped off edition

First off I will give you the pet updates. Molly is doing much, much better. She is coughing much less. We did not have to use the narcotic cough syrup. I was reluctant to use it as it could depress her breathing which would have been dangerous at her age.

Bella did so well at the vet. She is now on her medication and will have her re-check in 3 weeks. At that point we will do another blood test to see if she is on the right amount of medication. She is really coping well with being pilled too.

So now for the ripped off part. I was driving home the other day and I saw a sign for “Art in the Swamp.” I am sure they must have gotten the idea from my blog!

In other news, I have been finding the humidity completely oppressive the last week. I come downstairs after my shower and I begin to sweat. Going out to do errands is also a sweaty adventure. I am sure it will be better soon.

Next week project ‘drain the swamp’ will begin. Our engineer neighbour drained his similar lot and he has ideas for ours. We will have 2 ponds when he is done. There will be a pond at the south-east corner of the front of the lot. That will drain the water from under the house. Then there will be another pond in the middle of the backyard, close to the eastern edge of the fence line. This will drain the septic field. The back half will then just be drained into the swamp at the far back of the lot. I am hoping and praying this works.


NaBloPoMo suggests a blogging theme for each month. In December it was ‘mitzvah’ which means giving. I chose to deviate from the theme as I did not want to post everyday about doing something nice as I thought it would be artificial. February’s theme is ‘ties.’ According to the person who runs NaBloPoMo it can mean blogging about things we are tied to (family, home, job etc) or neck ties or zip ties.

I am tied to a lot of things, some good some bad. Good things are my family here in MR both human and canine. My job is mostly good. Dogs are good. My ties to social media I have begun to notice sometimes cut into my self-care time which is not good.

And now I must go because one thing I am very tied to, our septic is backing up again because of the freaking rain! I have to find someone to come and pump it first thing tomorrow so I can have a shower before I go to work. I hope it either dries up or gets really cold. I wish the rain would stop and that we were not on a septic system. At least I have a roster of three companies I can call who answer their phones late at night and who are flexible.


Well, the month of June has arrived in the lower mainland. Us locals refer to it more accurately as Juneuary. It is cold and it is wet. Our backyard (already in the flood plain) is completely soaked with pooling water once again. This does not bode well for getting the septic system fixed anytime soon. It has to dry out enough so that when Deb digs to the lid the hole does not fill with water. It is looking like August or September before it is dry enough out there for that to happen.

Thankfully we have mowed the lawns – front and back. The new ride-on did a great job plowing through 2-4 foot high grass. I can’t imagine how bad it would be right now if we hadn’t mowed. Now it will be too we for some time again. Hopefully the grass won’t grow too much in the interim.

There is one good thing about the rain – it beats down the allergens that cause my hay fever. Out here in Maple Ridge they hay…and I get real hay fever. I sneeze for hours on end until it feels like my head is going to blow up. I am also mocked ad nauseum for the noises I make when I sneeze. Noises which are completely involuntary.

Summer will arrive soon enough. Hopefully it won’t be too hot this year!