Monday, the well went dry. Bummer. Scary bummer. Mother Nature saying “The joke’s on YOU!”

While I’m saying “Hey … but … wait a minute … Can’t I fix that with software? “

Going home

So after I stop running around in circles and weeping hysterically — bet you’re glad you missed it — and with the help of a whole lot of people (it takes a village), we gather money to fix the well. Because we have been assured by both well contractors who work in our area that our well can be fixed. And they have the know-how and equipment to do it.


We need a firm estimate — real numbers. Not the vague estimate one typically gets from a contractor. A commitment to do the work before the ground freezes. Contractors are a lot like Mother Nature. You can’t control a contractor. They show up when they show up, work when they work. If you annoy them, they might not work and you don’t want that. If you haven’t seen The Money Pit, see it. It’s a hilarious movie, in a rueful way. Good for a guffaw mixed with memories of other jobs, other contractors. Waiting for them to show up, hoping they will show up. Feeling you should have a party if they do show up.

There is nothing more humbling than being in thrall to a contractor. You can’t do the work yourself. You need him and are committed. If he doesn’t get the work done when he says he will, for the price he has promised, you are so screwed.


In the middle of this sturm und drang, I had to go to the cardiologist. And the pacemaker lab. The pacemaker lab both fascinates and creeps me out. They mess around with my heart. Literally, tuning me up. Tuning me up? She does a read-out and tells me my heart has had no “incidents.” There’s a complete electronic record of everything my heart has — or has not — done since my last visit. She decides to skip a beat. Weird feeling. Then she speeds up my heart and skips two beats. If my heart is beating faster, missing a couple of beats won’t bother me so much, she says. Not really.


“I’m going to turn down your pacemaker to 55. I’m going to turn it down to 50 from midnight to 8 am. So it might make you sleepy. A little sleepy. Not a lot. You might not even notice.” I’m in favor in anything that has a prayer of helping me sleep.

“Okay. That’s pretty much my natural — or was my natural — heart rate. I mean, before all of the surgery and the pacemaker and everything.”

“That’s the point. Try to integrate the pacemaker with your natural heart rhythm. Uses less battery power.”

Battery power. “What happens if the battery dies?”

“It won’t.”

“How do you know?”

“Because it’s telling me it has 12.5 years of life left in it. Actually, you don’t have to worry about the battery. It’s the wires.”

“The wires?”

“Yes, the wires that run from the pacemaker to the parts of your heart. They could come loose.”

“Then my heart stops beating.”

“Not necessarily.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, it’s not quite that simple. There’s more to it than that. There are back-ups and fail safes and anyway, by the time you need a new battery, who knows what the technology will be?”


I actually find that comforting. I am one sick puppy. She gives me a souvenir pacemaker after I explain I’m a blogger and I like taking pictures of this stuff. It’s not exactly the same as my pacemaker, but it’s close. And there are no wires. But mine has wires and I can feel them through my skin. I can feel the wires, the little screws to which the wires are attached. All of it. I have no muscle or breast tissue there because I had a double mastectomy a couple of years before all this heart surgery … and I’m not a very big woman. But time to move on down the hall to the doctor himself.

“How are you?” asks my doctor.

“Fine,” I answer, skipping over the catastrophes of the past week. “Terrific.” I’m lying but, it’s easier that way.

Chit chatting, getting prescriptions. He tells me I need more exercise. I can’t argue with this. I do need more exercise, though I doubt it’ll happen. I’m anti-motivated toward exercise. It hurts. But I’m not going to tell him that. He wishes me a happy New Year. It’s Rosh HaShannah. Tonight.

Happy 5775. That is a lot of years.

And now, I’ve chased down the contractor. Firmed up a price. I was scared when the well went dry, but I think I was even more terrified waiting for that number from the well guys.

And winter is coming.


Share Your World – 2014 Week 38

If you could be a tree or plant, what would you be?

aloe veraI think I’d like to be something useful. Maybe aloe vera. Good for skin, burns, hair. A very useful plant and it smells good too.

If you could have a servant come to your house every day for one hour, what would you have them do?

Cook dinner!

kitchen condiments

If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

Salmon, probably. It’s my favorite fish. I’d honestly prefer shrimp, but my cholesterol wouldn’t hear of it.


What was one of your first moneymaking jobs (other than babysitting or newspaper delivery)?

I washed poodles. By the time I was done with that job, I never wanted to bathe another animal of any kind. But I have. I have scrubbed many, many dogs, cats and other critters over many decades. But I never use poodle shampoo or paint their nails some weird color.


It didn’t rain overnight, which would have been nice because at the bottom of everything is a drought that has yet to be acknowledged by Massachusetts. Probably won’t be until we follow California and are completely out of water.

Meanwhile, with all the dams closed, the swamps drying out, the riverbeds mud with the occasional puddle — there is still some water. Not as much as we need, but some. New England is not usually an arid zone. Droughts are less common than flooding. Which is probably why we aren’t as good as we need to be at water management.


Most people, unless their well has gone dry — and there are plenty of us — are paying little attention to the dry streams and rivers, the receding waters on Whitin’s Pond. The disappearance of the water fowl because their environment is disappearing along with their food supply.

Yesterday, our well went dry. Overnight, because we turned off everything that uses water, taps, toilets, everything, a little bit of water has returned to the well. Not much and the quality of the water is closer to mud than something you might be able to drink.

We are still on bottled water for cooking and drinking. No laundry. No showers. Not yet. The well guy was here about an hour ago and will get back to us with a real world estimate. I think our front garden will have to be dug out so the trucks can get to the wellhead. At this point, that’s not one of my big worries. The garden’s a mess anyhow.

Our autumn woods

We don’t have the option of “city water.” There is no city water in this area. The well guy believes the well is repairable. We are counting on it because drilling a new one is crazy expensive. Especially on our land which is particularly rocky and uneven.

There are just two choices: drilling a new well or hydro-fracking.

SO. Hydro-fracking it will be. In case you missed it before, although the name is kind of scary, the process isn’t. It involves injecting water under high pressure into the bedrock foundation around a well to flush out particles and rock fragments from existing bedrock fissures or fractures. These are the channels in the bedrock that form the aquifer. Hydro-fracking clears out and sometimes can increase the size of existing fractures.

99% of the time, this will bring the well back up to snuff. If the well was ever good — and our well was fine and healthy until recently — it should be “like new.” There are a few other things that need to be done, what in the well biz is known as “servicing.”

I don’t know why I should be surprised. Everything else in the world needs servicing, so why not the well, right? Right.


I cannot express how very grateful I am to those of you have sent gifts to us. I can now arrange to get the work done … and best of all, get it done before the ground freezes. The idea of heading into the bitter winter weather without a dependable water source is the stuff of nightmares.

This has been so traumatic to Garry’s pride — and mine — that I think I’m finally past being embarrassed. I have moved on to deeply grateful, recognizing that perhaps after all, some of the good we do in this life comes back to us when we most need it. Asking for help was hard, but you — our friends and supporters — have truly revived my belief that there is still good in the world. I was, I admit, beginning to wonder.


Also, there is PayPal. Please check it out if you have a moment.

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I’ve been saying — loudly and frequently — that we are having a drought. This is the dryest summer I can remember. As a photographer, I’ve spent a lot of time around dams and other waterways. All of the dams are locked down and many of the riverbeds and ponds are dry.

Today, our well went dry.

We don’t have the option of “city water.” There is no city water in this area. We had the well guy here and he said our well is empty. We did have a stuck flap on a toilet and that’s probably what ran the well out … but the well had to already be very low for that to empty the entire well.

If the well doesn’t refill, if it has gone dry, there are just two choices: drill a new well or hydro-fracking.

Our well is very deep, about 475 feet. We don’t have enough money — or credit — to drill a new well on the property. The price tag for that starts at around $5,000 and goes up from there. That’s more money than we have in savings or credit combined. What’s left? For about half of everything we have in the world, or about $3,000 (that’s the bottom line it will probably cost more), we can hydro-fracture our well.

Hydro-fracking is a process of injecting water under high pressure into the bedrock foundation around a well to flush out fine particles and rock fragments from existing bedrock fractures, or increase the size of existing fractures. 99% of the time, this results in an increased flow of water into the well.


Well fracturing can also be used — and this is our situation — on older wells that have lost their recovery rates over time, usually because of mineralization (iron deposits — we have an iron deposit issue here we have always known about) and incrustation (silt and sediment) of rock fractures.

One way or another, it doesn’t sound like we are going to get out of this with what is left to us intact. I am so unhappy and frightened. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m sure everyone will be very sympathetic. Our problem is financial and unless we can come up with enough money to fix the well, we will be homeless. Soon. This is not an “eventually” kind of problem. You cannot live long without water. Maybe a week, tops.

I am terrified. We are in trouble and there is nowhere to turn.

On the suggestion of some friends, I’m going to try and raise some money. To say how painful this is to my pride is impossible to explain. If I could see any other choice, I’d take it.


Please check it out if you have a moment. Time is critical. These people charge a fee for donating through them, about 35%. Just so you know. Nothing is free, not even charity.

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In case you’d like to give something through PayPal. They charge fees too, but not as much.


bouquet flowers september 2014

The painted daisies finally faded and I emptied the vase. Usually I wait until they are crisp and dry and really depressing to look at, but the daisies were so bright and cheery, it seemed cruel. In the name of kindness and mercy, as soon as they were droopy, I sent them to their rest.

bouquet flowers sept 2014

And what should appear? A new bouquet. Different flowers, different colors. I put them in the middle of the table rather than over on the wood stove.

bouquet flowers september 2014

Now that the late afternoon sun is blocked by our little air conditioner, it’s too dark over there.

bouquet september 1 2014 flowers

When the air conditioner comes out of the window later this month, the flowers can move back to the top of the stove, unless, of course, we are having a little fire in it. I’ve promised myself that this year, I will buy paper logs so we can enjoy at least the look of a fire, if not the heat.

bouquet flowers september 2014


I while ago, I wrote about how oranges were now larger than grapefruit. The change has occurred rather abruptly. Although the oranges are huge, they aren’t sweeter or juicier. Most of the larger size is an enormously thick skin. And the oranges go bad and rot in record time. Oranges used to keep for weeks when refrigerated. Now, they last a couple of days at best. Many don’t last that long.

They’ve already done in the strawberries. Whatever those huge soggy red things are they are foisting off on us and calling strawberries? They have less taste, aren’t sweet … and become inedible almost immediately. Between buying them and them rotting is no more than a few hours.

The next fruit to get hit were green grapes. They appeared at Hannaford in April. Huge. They are firm when you buy them, but turn mushy in hours. At best, they are peculiarly tasteless. They haven’t ruined the red grapes yet, but I’m sure they’re working on it. I told Garry that the best way to judge whether or not they have messed with the genetics of the fruit or vegetable? if it looks too good to be true, it’s is.

So what’s next? The cattle? Sheep? Bet they are already doing it. How about dogs and cats? Perfect specimens that can win “Best In Show” every time, but are oddly vacant and lacking personality.

How about children? No more problems trying to keep them from misbehaving in school. They’ll be very well-behaved, all the time. Because we’ll engineer the mischief right out of them. What could go wrong with that?

I am convinced that this is the way the world ends. They genetically change our food. Eventually, genetic meddling  with some kind of animal or vegetable produces an unexpected result and people start dying. By the millions. All over for humankind.

And we will have done it to ourselves.

The big fruit is the orange

The big fruit is the orange

The Hollow Men: T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.