Halfmoon's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon »

THE RETIREMENT YEARS

QUEST FOR WATER:

[Tragically, I have no fuzzy old photos to illustrate this.]

As mentioned before, we bought our mountain property with no real expectation of ever having running water. We originally built the house without plumbing and hauled drinking water from a spring far up the forest road for the first couple of years. Water for showering and cooking was collected in the spring runoff season from holes we dug in low spots and piped overland into a 1200-gallon plastic tank. As needed, we would supplement with water from a nearby creek and boil it to avoid giardia. Just about the time we were running low in early winter, the snow would fall; then began a continual process of melting snow on the wood stove and storing it in barrels.

As I write this from the current perspective of seemingly-infinite faucets, it sounds like some terrible hardship. Everything’s a matter of degree, and at the time it didn’t seem so extreme. It was just one of the chores we did like cutting firewood or plowing snow. Still: we dreamed of having a well…and as usual, DH had An Idea. :D

We’d been told when we bought the property that a dowser (water witch) had identified a potential well site on the mountainside high above our housesite. We were pretty skeptical of the dowsing, but that spot had willow growing around it and provided enough elevation for a gravity-fed supply if it panned out. We decided over time to try digging a well there, not because we really expected water. We just figured it was worth the effort for even the possibility of a gravity-fed water. DH also identified a site parallel to the house that had promising geography and vegetation but would require pumping.

A note about local geography. This mountainside featured seams of granite in bare outcroppings interspersed with deep soil. We’d always thought of granite as something impervious and enduring, but a lot of this rock was actually quite crumbly. The crumbled version (called decomposed granite or DG) was often found in water-collecting underground pockets. Running into a pocket of DG was a pretty good indicator of a water vein.

We managed to find water at both sites and developed wells at both. The hardest part was putting in the water lines. Rudimentary, not-to-scale drawing follows:

Image

We hired a backhoe (with operator) to dig the trenches, but we were on a budget and didn’t want to pay for any down time or hauling the machine in and out more than once. That meant we needed to lay and bed the pipe as quickly as the operator could trench. The pipe was buried a minimum of 4 feet deep in all places to avoid freezing, and the backhoe was turning up about a 70/30 split between dirt and granite chunks. As soon as a 20-foot section of trench was opened up, DH and I would jump into the trench with shovels, PVC pipe, cleaning rags, primer and pipe glue. We’d throw out any remaining rocks, lay the next 20 feet of pipe, clean the ends, prime and glue them. Then we’d pull loose dirt from the trench sides over the pipe to bed it and protect from the rocks that would inevitably get thrown back in by the backhoe.** Climb back out of the trench, shovel some more rock-free dirt on top, and it was time to repeat for the next section. The whole length of pipe including the offshoot to well #2 was probably about 1300 feet, so we repeated this process more than 60 times. We gradually lost the race with the backhoe, so the operator was eventually filling in the trench behind us as we raced to keep up. No pressure, of course. ;)

And on the 10th hour, we rested.

**We were determined to properly bed the pipe, because we had no desire to dig it back up. Neighbors had installed their water pipe with the help of a well-lubricated work party who threw dirt and rocks enthusiastically onto their water pipe and broke it. The owners didn’t know it was broken until they tested the system a year after the line was buried.

This frantic effort only got the water line within about 6 feet of our house. After that, it was all shovels. The dirt around and under the house was what locals called moon dust: fine as talcum powder when dry and just as irritating. Digging up to the house and installing a shut-off valve in a vertically buried pipe wasn’t so bad, but from that point on? Just don’t let me be reincarnated as a gopher, because it is Not Fun. The house was only a couple of feet off the ground, and our trench was 4 to 5 feet deep, so a great deal of digging was done on our knees. We wore bandannas over our faces and heads, but the dust invaded our eyes, noses, mouths, ears, shoes, pants…you get the picture. Without expectation of a well, we’d built the house with the kitchen and bathroom on the far side, so we dug 30 feet to that side and built an insulated box to hold the pipes rising into the house.

In the middle of this project, my brother came to visit us. We always seemed to be in the throes of some epic endeavor when he arrived, and he took it in stride. While we dug, he split and stacked firewood. Before he left, he said to me: “Watching you two together makes me understand the old term ‘helpmeet’.” High praise indeed.

The gravity-fed well worked out so nicely that we didn’t use the other one. City–dwellers are accustomed to turning on a faucet and having water pressure, but most with private wells have to pump the water into a pressure tank. Having great water pressure without a pump or a city water system never stopped seeming magic.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

That sounds like a super cool project. Not enough slope on either site where I am perma-culturing to take much advantage of gravity.

Not trying to be a bummer, but I would like to put out a small warning for any young readers, based on similar yet different experiences in my life file, which would be do NOT enter into "help-meet" type relationship without clear contract for shared equity, unless your SO is cutting you a check at union rate bi-weekly!! Otherwise, you may find yourself sitting on the couch of a relationship therapist who is saying something like "You seem obsessed with the concept of ownership."

saving-10-years
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by saving-10-years »

@halfmoon Lovely story. Well getting water to your house was 'magic' (but the kind that you made happen through ideas, ambition, planning, experiment, trust and tons of very very hard work). I know we are similar ages - doesn't it exhaust you to even think that you did that at the time? My feats are much smaller scale but I wonder how the heck we ever did them.

In my case at least I was the one with the bright idea, your willingness to get on board with DH's ideas is fantastic. Helpmeet indeed. More stories please (when you have time).

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon »

@7W5, your warning is completely valid. I would never recommend our choices and lifestyle to anyone else, male or female. People have said to me over the years that they wish for a relationship like the one DH and I have. I always respond: "No, you don't." Our life together has been textbook co-dependence based on blind trust, mutual adoration, shared goals, unconditional commitment, spirited disagreement and literally forsaking all others. That last one comes at a cost for the survivor when one of us dies first. It was well worth the price for us, but we're very odd.

Also: everything we own is community property.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon »

@saving-10-years, it does exhaust me to remember all that we did. The interesting part is that my learned work ethic still rises to the occasion when necessary. I continue to do what needs to be done (and take satisfaction in that), though DH is increasingly taking back a share of the maintenance load. No significant new projects at this point.

I really like your list of the elements needed to accomplish our goals: ambition, planning, trust and tons of very very hard work. Pretty much covers it. :D

George the original one
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by George the original one »

halfmoon wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:14 pm
DH is increasingly taking back a share of the maintenance load.
That sounds like a good prognosis!

7Wannabe5
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@halfmoon:

I want to apologize for possibly my most graceless post ever. My first marriage was like a bowl of plastic fruit. My second "marriage" was like a delicious bowl of fruit that turned toxic. My recent attempts to obtain grapes from one vendor, oranges from another, and bananas from a third has just made a bit of a mess. You are lucky to have a marriage that has not just been successful, but truly passionate and purposeful. Love isn't co-dependence.

Farm_or
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or »

Great story. Reminds me of the hours and days that I spent in literally, a mile of trenches for my pivot project.

Long story short, I had hired a hand to help me with the ten inch pressure rated irrigation pipes. The company screwed up the order (after I corrected it, twice) and we ran out of pipe. During the two weeks that it took to get more pipe, the weather turned very nasty. The backhoe had to stop because the trench would collapse during the wait. My hired hand couldn't take the conditions and quit. My efforts to hire another were futile. I ended up working alone for most of it. A couple of times, the backhoe operator got down in the trench to help me catch up, but I hated that because I was already asking too much from him. I had to fabricate a wind block to keep the cold from freezing him on the backhoe since his back window was busted out. Looking back, he might have liked getting off the hoe just to keep the circulation going?

I spent many cold mornings and evenings working alone in the trenches trying to keep up with the backhoe. It was so cold I had to scrape the ice from the pipes to mate. I had to rotate two buckets of the lubricant since it would freeze after a couple of hours in the cold. The things we do when you have to?

Funny part of the story: a neighbor stopped by to see the progress. He's got an overly energetic Russell terrier who zooms to and fro. He didn't see the trench and ended up on his back four feet under ground looking up. Somehow, he didn't get hurt and we all got a good laugh from his unexpected sudden disappearance.

Jason

Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Jason »

halfmoon wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:48 pm
Our life together has been textbook co-dependence based on blind trust, mutual adoration, shared goals, unconditional commitment, spirited disagreement and literally forsaking all others. That last one comes at a cost for the survivor when one of us dies first. It was well worth the price for us, but we're very odd.
We have found ourselves in similar position, minus the geographic isolation. With no children, fractured relationships with siblings and in my instance lone remaining parent, and few friends who have scattered, this is not going to change. Plus, once you fall into this type of situation, you don't function well with people who spread out their affection a little more. You just don't feel it. Eggs in one basket type of thing. We have considered every precaution in terms of each other's initial demise, with the exception of suicide assistance which we are opposed to. Based on our age disparity, actuarily speaking, we should die very close to one another. If one or both of us end up dancing with our walkers to "Staying Alive" in some assisted living common room, so be it. It goes without saying, I will certainly be the one closest resembling John Travolta in that situation. The issue is that we could be those type of people who are alive without anyone else knowing we are alive.

This has recently come up with our will. I think its a responsibility to have that straightened out. Swedish death cleaning type of thing. There is no way I'm giving any remaining assets to my side and we are moving away from her's as well. I'm actually looking at institutional options as opposed to people.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:37 am
@halfmoon:

I want to apologize for possibly my most graceless post ever. My first marriage was like a bowl of plastic fruit. My second "marriage" was like a delicious bowl of fruit that turned toxic. My recent attempts to obtain grapes from one vendor, oranges from another, and bananas from a third has just made a bit of a mess. You are lucky to have a marriage that has not just been successful, but truly passionate and purposeful. Love isn't co-dependence.
Absolutely no apology necessary, and I didn't see it as graceless whatsoever. Your posts are always witty and insightful, and as usual this one made me think outside my box. I was sincere in saying that I wouldn't recommend our relationship to anyone else. DH and I are bizarrely romantic and single-minded. Everything that's embraced requires letting go of something else; in my view, very few people can or should go the all-or-nothing route.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon »

Farm_or, I love your story, especially the line "The things you do when you have to." Just a few questions:

Ten-inch irrigation pipe?? Why so big?
Were you trying to bury the pipe below frost level? If so, why? Don't you drain irrigation pipe in the winter?
Where was your wife? Isn't she supposed to suffer alongside you? :P

For extra credit::

Do we really HAVE to do these things, or do we just derive some sort of twisted satisfaction from overcoming obstacles with nothing but the strength of our own will? (Hint: This is a trick question.)

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon »

Jason, I had to google Swedish death cleaning because keeping up with your stream of consciousness requires a more active intelligence than mine. ;) We no longer live in geographic isolation but still prefer to lounge around in our own little bubble. I struggle to maintain a thread of connection with family and friends who should have abandoned us years ago and yet have somehow risen above my neglect (let's not even mention DH, who makes neither effort nor apology). Hanging on while DH flirted with death last year reminded me that I might need friends and family some day.

Our wills provide for both charity and DH's son, who is going to need the help. That's another subject entirely.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon »

George the original one wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:53 pm
halfmoon wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:14 pm
DH is increasingly taking back a share of the maintenance load.
That sounds like a good prognosis!
George, it is SUCH a good prognosis! The infection that was eating into DH's skull last year appears to have moved to greener pastures and stopped taking prisoners. DH is eating real food again, cooking** and baking, going for walks and experiencing no pain. Life is good for now. :D

**Thank goodness for that. As a cook, I'm a great accountant.

McTrex
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by McTrex »

That's good to hear, halfmoon!

Farm_or
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or »

The ten inch pipe was overkill because eight would have carried enough GPM. However, I was partnering three grants and one engineer liked to size big "just in case of future expansion". I am surrounded by neighbors who already have their own pressurized irrigation, so no future expansion is possible. I made a lot of concessions like that to keep the peace. Wasn't much extra cost.

My DW did help out for a couple of hours on weekends. She was school teaching the rest of the time. Bless her heart for what she did, and she wanted to do more, but I wouldn't let her. That is very demanding physical labor and if you are not in top shape and used to that toil, the likelihood of injury is very high. And the conditions were extreme, that's why my hired help quit. It was perfect weather for two weeks waiting for that pipe order! I am still mad about that.

At the time of suffering, I asked myself several times "do I really have to do this? And now?" But I could see no alternative if I wanted the pivot ready when the water was available in the spring. Turned out that year was the worst of the drought years ever. So in hindsight, it probably didn't matter that much, but you have to be full of optimism to give full effort at the time?

The depth is more for reason of max tilling farmers who will pull rippers three feet deep. I never will, but if I sell? I do drain every fall to prevent freeze damage.

Jason

Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Jason »

This was my intro to SDC:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyl ... 3245267af7

I think I posted the link somewhere else here. The irony is that I am staring at the Japanese' lady's book right now, sitting on top of a huge pile of semi-read books. It even has a coffee stain. I feel like taking a pic and sending it to her just for the irony and her "Another untidy American asshole thinking I care enough to be fucked with" response. Due to not wanting to end up in "the cooler" I will refrain from going into the causal roots of my rebellion against domineering Asian women. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to figure it out but I will say that being tidy is a priority to them even in the most sordid of contexts. So SDC is more my jam as I'm a death fixated guy to begin with.

And glad to hear DH is on the mend.

ffj
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by ffj »

@half-moon

When I was a kid we got our water from a dammed up coal mine that gravity fed to our house. And every summer we would run out of water because of weather so we collected all of our milk jugs and once a week we would run to town and fill up those jugs at the laundromat. I still remember heating up a gallon of water on the stove, taking it to the bathtub and washing myself with a half gallon of hot water mixed with a half gallon of cold water. Then I would drain the soapy water and refill the tub with half and half again to rinse myself. Two gallon bath. I was a lot smaller back then. Haha

I appreciate your honesty about relationships. That says a lot about you.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon »

I'm back...sort of. Lots of things going on here in the so-called real world. This is always my busiest time, with year-end accounting and preparation for my largest client's AGM/dog and pony show. More importantly, my stepson has been diagnosed with a very serious disease that's required a lot of attention and support (emotional and financial) from us. Anyone who has read about him in another thread can probably guess what it is. Let's leave it at that. When I'm feeling stressed, I tend to spend what little free time I have mindlessly surfing websites that require no mental stretch. This site doesn't qualify. ;)

On the very bright side, DH continues to improve.

Re comments:

McTrex, thank you. Everyone here listened to me whine about DH's illness and was so supportive. I really appreciate it.

Farm_or, I was joking about your wife's duty to suffer alongside you. If she had a day job, I excuse her from hard labor. :P Your comment about needing to be full of optimism to give full effort is so true. It's very easy to talk yourself out of things, but I truly believe that extreme effort (in whatever you're doing) builds inner strength and confidence. And irrigation systems.

Jason, I followed your link re Swedish death cleaning. I get the point Jacob and others make about simplifying your life by not owning a lot of junk...get it, but don't comply. However, I disagree that one's personal choice (or mental illess) to be a packrat in life is unfair to friends or family. All you need to do is absolve them in advance of any guilt regarding your stuff. If there's something you want them to have (and they want it), give it to them while you're alive. When you're dead, they can have some stranger come in and shovel it all out. People will often do this for free in exchange for keeping anything they want. We've designated a supremely unsentimental friend to be our estate executor, and his instructions are to sell, keep or toss absolutely anything as he sees fit. There will be no going through boxes of old letters and DH's favorite magazines (ahem...I mean, if we had such things in boxes :oops:). There will instead be a very large bonfire and perhaps some dancing around it.

ffj, I've taken a lot of 2-gallon (or less) baths -- sometimes with cold water only. You just stand in the shower, have your spouse pour a quart saucepan of water over your head, soap up, then rinse with another saucepan. DH thinks I'm crazy, but I hate starting the day without some sense of cleanliness. It helps that my hair is short and sparse. Thank you also for the kind words. :)

jacob
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by jacob »

The death cleaning is not so much about torching stuff as it is to make the latter part of life more easily manageable. An older person might not have the energy to take care of dusting a 500+ figurine collection anymore. Plants might not get watered because the can is getting too heavy. They might get crushed under an avalanche of food processor accessories from the top shelf trying to recover a baking tin. The floors might not get vacuumed because there's too much/heavy furniture around. When they're moved into a retirement home, they might be sorry to see ALL their stuff getting burned because they never took the time to sort it out.

Swedish death cleaning is about scaling the manageable clutter to one's capabilities as one gets older.

Here's Japanese death cleaning for contrast:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wor ... fter-them/

7Wannabe5
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Japanese loneliness syndrome is one of the reasons I decided it might be sensible to be polyamorous when aging. It's like a back-up system people don't quite realize they need until after their own parents die (because even a decrepit living parent maintains FOO sibling and further links), and then maybe it is too late. I think the article linked at the bottom of the one you posted which is about a 72 year old "youngster" working at a nursing home in Japan is also relevant to those of us in Gen-X in the U.S.

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