I had to call the guy who pumps out our septic tank this morning. He was supposed to do it at the end of October, but early November would have been fine. Apparently, he forgot. He has been coming here annually to take care of our personal ecological system since we moved here, so there’s nothing unusual about this request. In fact, he sent me a card to remind me it was “that time of the year” again.

Some time between the changing of the leaves and the falling of the snow, it’s time to pump the septic. It has gotten a bit crispy outside, so it is definitely that time of year. Humorously, today’s word is “sludge” and if what lays at the bottom of that tank isn’t sludge, I don’t know what you would call it. In the course of living here, we have had to replace the well pump twice, once because it got old. The second time because it was hit by lightning.

“What? How does a well-pump that is located 500 feet underground, get hit by lightning?” I asked the insurance guy. That was when we had insurance. Unfortunately, after they replaced the well pump, three computers and the hot water heater — all following one very special electrical storm — they didn’t want to insure us anymore and strangely, neither does anyone else. Pity.

It turns out that the well pump is a magical combination of electricity, iron, and water. It has an almost gravitational effect on the fire from the sky. It isn’t even unusual and the insurance adjuster instantly recognized the problem, though I certainly though it was kind of strange.

We are an artesian well that goes down more than 500 feet. And no matter what anyone says, you need a pump because you have to get the water from the well to your pipes

“Lightning,” he said, nodding. I knew about the lightning, of course because when lightning hits your home or even near your home, it is VERY LOUD. If it sounds like anything in this world, it sounds like your house has been hit by lightning. Not like a gun, a bomb, or an oncoming freight train. Lightning. House shakes. Curls of black smoke rise from your electrical and expensive technological wonders. I don’t care what kind of electrical surge protection you’ve got — a bolt of lightning beats it all to hell and back.

These days, what without insurance, I get palpitations if we have a bad electrical storm. Replacing a destroyed well pump is not a job for amateurs. Pumps are huge, heavy … and living, as they do, deep in the water of your well, they get even heavier. Because water is heavy.

But I digress. The well is part one of the ecosystem. The septic is (pardon the pun), part two and that is the part with which we need to deal today.

Green septic cover is the first sign of spring in a frozen backyard

The Darlings who pump our septic are also the people who service our well. One big family and they live just up the street, which is locally convenient, but makes it hard to figure out the number to call since they all live in one big rambling house on a farm. I have them labeled as Jeff (DON’T CALL JEFF, HE RETIRED) and John (THIS IS THE RIGHT ONE, CALL THIS NUMBER) and David (THE WELL GUY).

If you need a hole dug, they are your guys. The fixers of all home ecosystem management. The ones to call.

So today is indeed sludge and home ecological maintenance day.

The thing is, when we moved here, we were city folk. I never imagined living a life with a well and a backyard sewage system. I thought that somehow, the town took care of all of that. Considering the terrible condition of the water of the town, we are incredibly lucky we have our own water and septic system. Not only would we be paying a ton of money to let the city make a mess of it, but we’d have disgusting fluoridated water! Yuck.

The city’s wells are not in great condition and since they have been digging things up all over town, the water situation has deteriorated and everyone is complaining. We are not complaining. I love our water. Although it is a bit rich in iron ore and makes my white hair turn a little bit orange, it is delicious and my dogs will testify it is the best water ever. Comes from deep underground and it is always icy cold.

Unlike so much of the world, we have great water. And by the end of the day, a clean system, too. Ready to go for another year, barring lightning.


The Changing Seasons: November 2017

November is one of the two non-photogenic months in the valley, the other being March. Last year, we got lucky. We had an exceptionally long autumn that lasted through most of November.

The perfect image for the month

Not this year, though. Autumn came late and ended early and now, we have mostly bare trees with some hanging brown leaves. And unlike in the bigger cities, we don’t have much hint of Christmas here. Not yet. Around the second week in December, everything will light up, but until then, it has been gray and rainy and cold.

And windy, I should add.

Please visit Max, Cardinal Guzman to see his wonderful pictures!

What’s this «Changing Seasons» blogging challenge?

«The Changing Seasons 2017» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

    • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
    • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
    • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by


Deep in our mid-November funk, last night we watched a very dark “Longmire” episode. I told Marilyn I was depressed. Looking out at the bleak night sky, Marilyn also said she was depressed too. What to do? As the furry kids played their late night version of “Spartacus.” I grew desperate. No booze. No opiates. No sniffing glue.

How to deal with the blahs?

Marilyn: “Let’s watch ‘Tombstone‘ again.” By Jove, that was the ticket!

We watched, like kids from the “I like Ike” generation. We enjoyed the violence. We smiled as Kurt Russell yelled, “And hell’s comin’ with me, You cur!! Tell ’em! Hell’s comin’ with me.” I thought that would make a nice clip to send to the White House squatter.

But we weren’t satisfied. As narrator Robert Mitchum said, ” … and Tom Mix wept” while the film segued into its end credits, we needed another Rx for the blues. Quicker than bandits raiding a small Mexican village, I put another DVD in the slot. Within seconds, the familiar theme began and we settled back. More smiles.

I decided to keep tabs on how many of Calvera’s original gang of forty thieves were killed by the seven (magnificent) gun temps.

I counted fourteen dead, including those knifed or axed by the villagers in the first fight after Calvera laments, plus the two who were shot while scouting the village.

“Generosity, that was my first mistake.” Calvera had a point.

Tough!  That left him with 24 banditos — without green cards.

Fast forward to the last scene where the magnificent seven gun temps return for the final battle. Four of the good guns go down. Harry, Lee (sorely chaffing his lips as he fatally falls against a brick wall), Brit, with knife neatly left as a souvenir. Bernardo O’Reilly, shot as the nagging village brats divert his attention.  I counted another twenty hombres sans bodges — MUERTE!!

That left six — siete — by my tally. Calvera’s original forty were now six.

Six bad hombres versus three good guys!!

Got it? Get it?? Good!

After Chris fatally shoots Calvera  –“You came BACK! A man like YOU!  To a place like THIS! … WHY??” — Calvera expires and another eight Mexican banditos are wiped out, the garlic breath nearly choking Chris who seemingly wanted to kiss the bandito Jefe goodbye. Professional courtesy?

Calvera’s gang is now minus two as the villagers and the old man say adios to Chico, Chris, and Vin.

Chico, realizing the hot village girl is better company than Chris and Vin, rides back to the village to resume life as a grungy farmer. Chris, realizing how lonely life will be with just Vin to share the campfire, says “The old man was right.  Only the farmers won. We lost. We’ll always lose.”

A poignant moment with Vin upstaging Chris while twirling his saddle reins. Truly poignant.  Calvera and his minus two gang are buried. Chris and Vin drift off, searching for a sequel.

(Music up full.)

A Mirisch Brothers Production — from United Artists.


I’m usually not a big fan of space or superhero shows, but I really like the “Star Trek”ish television show “The Orville” and the movie “Wonder Woman”.

I think the reason I like these two particular representatives of their genres is because they focus on the human (or not quite human) relationships. The shows are not primarily about the pyrotechnics, battle scenes, superpowers or twenty-third century technology, although those are elements of both shows. In these tow stories, the characters and their interactions don’t get lost in — or play second fiddle to — special effects.

In the first part of “Wonder Woman”, I became absorbed in Diana’s early life on a mystical island of Amazon women. Then I enjoyed watching her adjust to life in the early 1900’s of WWI. I also loved the way her romance with Steve evolved. The movie is, at heart, a beautiful love story.

I’m a big fan of WWI and WWII movies. The major plot line here revolves around a ratty band of anti-heroes — plus Wonder Woman. They are trying to destroy the Germans’ new, extra lethal nerve gas before it can be used on the Allies. You could also almost call the movie a WWI drama with superheroes.

Talking about “Wonder Woman”, I have to mention the star, Gal Gadot. In addition to being breathtakingly gorgeous, she exudes intelligence, strength and compassion. She embodies the quintessential modern female superhero.

If you have any reservations about watching something like “Wonder Woman”, I recommend it as more than just a typical comic book based movie.

“The Orville” has a “Star Trek” vibe. But again, it is much more than your average space travel adventure. Members of the crew have quirky and interesting personalities and there are many fun and intriguing relationships on the ship. For example, the Captain and the First Mate are ex spouses who haven’t fully worked through their issues. Seth McFarlane is a write, producer and plays the Captain. He is fantastic, as usual.

There’s lots of humor and lightness in the show as well as charming banter between the exes. In addition, there are serious and topical issues that are brought up and discussed in most episodes. There was one that dealt with the conundrum of whether or not to change the sex of a female baby who would face serious discrimination and banishment on an all male planet.

The plots are good and I find it an engaging and entertaining hour of television. I have ADD and often can’t sit through a one hour show. So that says a lot for me!

Over the years, I’ve become an expert at glazing over during most of the comic or space ship based shows I watch with my husband. These are two that actually got my attention and kept me engaged.

Kudos to the makers of “Wonder Woman” and “the Orville”.