Entry 490: Anti-Septic

Readers often ask me why this blog is called “The Upsizers.”*

The reason is that it began as a chronicle of my wife Barbara and me moving to our first stonesseptic_filter_cleaning[1]real standalone house despite being advanced in years and behind in competency.

I’m still not entirely sure what possessed us to do this, but there we were in North Stamford, CT, in a circa 1957 ranch that didn’t even have so much as municipal garbage pick-up or government-provided water.

If you go back to the older entries of this blog, you’ll read all about our adventures with gutters, squirrels, kitchen remodeling and hurricanes. Oh, and slime mold.

We’ve been here four years now, and we haven’t screwed anything up (too much), although we still have no idea where our well is. The water, however, keeps coming, so I guess that’s a good thing.

It’s where the water is going that’s causing a problem right now.

I was walking our puppy Riley one day when we came upon an odd-shaped puddle in the back corner of our property. It contained some sort of grayish, viscous fluid.

Discus_Thrower_Copenhagen[1]Anytime you see the word “viscous,” you know you’re about to read about something nauseating. The word “viscous” itself is nauseating. In fact, it is my opinion that, as a word, “viscous” is more nauseating than “nauseating.” Which is a bit strange, since “viscous” rhymes with “discus” and it doesn’t make me queasy to watch the Summer Olympics on TV unless I take a gamble on the cheese that’s past its “use-by” date to make the nachos I wolf down while viewing perfect specimens of human musculature hurl a 4 1/2 pound frisbee farther than I can throw an actual frisbee.

But I digress.

When Riley and I discovered the viscous puddle, I told Barbara about it, and she knew exactly who to call.

Now if you go all the way back to Entry #5 of this blog (it’s called “Ewww!”), you’ll read about what happened soon after we moved in, when I spied someone digging outside my home office window, and then opening a hatch, and then sticking in a hose. I wrote:

“I cannot, from my office, see where the hose is going, but I sincerely hope it leads to some vehicle that will then leave, carrying the hatch contents with it. I am certainly not planning to go outside my house to check. Let me just say that I’ve managed to live 57 years without having to know where exactly my, uh, stuff goes, and I’m deeply sorry that I have to know now.”

Anyway, four years later I find myself standing next to the poor gentleman whose job it is to remove my family’s stuff, and I’m showing him our viscous puddle. He doesn’t seem nauseated, but I guess he has a pretty high threshold.

“Looks like your trench is full,” he says. I didn’t even know we had any trenches. I look Soldiers-in-Trench[1]around to see if there are any World War I soldiers peering out of the ground. “I’ll have Charley call you,” he continues.

I don’t even ask who Charley is. I assume he is someone higher up the septic ladder than this guy, but I’m almost positive that if you have a career in the septic industry, you want to be as high up the ladder as you can possibly get.

Charley calls later the same day and starts asking me all kinds of personal questions. How many people in the house? Children or adults? Does the toilet keep running after you flush? Then he says, “I don’t know how much you know about septic…”

Let me interrupt you there, Charley. I know nothing about septic. Nobody knows anything about septic unless they absolutely have to. And I know even less than most people, because, until we inexplicably moved to a friggin’ house, all our stuff went to wherever the hell the town of Irvington, NY sent it, possibly to the neighboring town of Dobbs Ferry, NY.

I don’t say all that, of course, because you never want to make your septic-sucking Seepage_Pit_USDA_023_DJFs[1]professional angry with you. I mean, he could point that hose anywhere! Charley correctly assumes from my silence that I am septically-impaired. “Well, you’ve got these leeching pits…” he begins.

“You mean trenches?” I ask. “Trenches” sounds much less disgusting.

“Yeah. Leeching pits.” Okay–“leeching pits” it is. “The leeching pits filter all your liquid waste into the ground. That’s your flushes, your shower water, and so on. Do you take a lot of showers?”

I don’t hear this question because I’m busy wondering where the ground is that the liquid waste is filtering into. You might remember I mentioned that we have no idea where our well is.

“So, your leeching pits are full,” he concludes.

“What do we do about that?” I ask, keeping in mind a discovery I’ve made since we moved here, which is you can’t do anything about anything in a house for under $5,000.

By “we,” of course, I mean him, because I’d be more likely to take up carpentry than deal personally with something called a leeching pit, particularly a full one, and, let me tell you, I am not at all likely to take up carpentry, since I can’t even put together an IKEA parsons table without having it end up looking more like a ramp.

“Well, we just cleaned it out,” Charley replies. “So let’s wait and see if it happens again. Could be your system has outlived its usefulness.”

Could be so has the house.

See you soon.

*If, by “often,” we mean “never.”

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