Saturday, February 6, 2010

Notes from here and there

1) The Yukon Quest has begun, so I'll head over there from here and snap a few photos to share.

2) The Denali Dog Team Driver position has been filled.

3) What was this slop glacier of which I spoke? It was due for another crunch-up, so I snapped some photos for you. Grey water photos! How sexy!

So here is the pipe coming out of my cabin. My sink, instead of draining to the city sewage system, to which I do not have access, or to a septic tank, which I do not have, drains just outside to my own land. Why, you ask? Because to bust up the permafrost is an expensive operation. That is why, outside of the city, only rich folks have flush toilets and showers. :) That is also why I only use biodegradable soaps.

The pipe runs downhill (although not steeply enough to my taste--I'm always afraid it's going to freeze; I'm going to reroute it this summer), and I keep it buried under the snow for insulation:

Here is the other end of the pipe. It's wrapped in heat tape, which is powered by a cable that runs into the house, so I just plug it in when I'm running water. If it's not too cold (above 0F or so), I don't bother; a high flow rate is enough to prevent blockage. When the heat tape was installed, whoever did the work made the silly mistake of putting the thermocouple of the heat tape INSIDE the house. In theory, the heat tape should only come on when it's below 0C/32F (freezing), but this silly person left the thermocouple INSIDE the house, so sometimes I have to put a cup of snow under it to turn the heat tape on.

The grey water forms a glacier of my dishwater. This time, the top layer was purple since the last thing I had run down the drain was the water I had used to soak black beans. I use a cheap maul that I don't mind ruining (NOT, under ANY circumstances, NOT my WAY-COOL, GOD-SENT splitting maul!) to cut out whatever ice is blocking the pipe, and to cut a new groove so that the new grey water will run downhill and not accumulate on the slop glacier.

The next time I run water, I come out and check to make sure things are as I intended. Sure enough, the water has run down the groove and down the hill, not accumulating anywhere on the glacier. Of course, every time water runs down, it coats the groove with just a bit more ice, until it is blocking the pipe again and I have to cut the groove again. It's no big deal; it takes me maybe 30 minutes.

And I also check the pipe outlet itself. It's clear, the water is dripping DOWNward and not pooling, all good.

4) We had a rough day yesterday chez moi. Autumn somehow tweaked her back. Actually, I think I know what that "somehow" was, but I'll get to that later. She could hardly get up yesterday morning, and I had no idea why. I immediately thought of the worst (kidney failure, liver failure, et cetera) and rushed to the emergency vet clinic. The emergency vet did blood work and found nothing wrong. And in the meantime, after being up and about for a while, Autumn seemed to improve a bit. So the vet concluded it was a muscle strain, and she had tweaked her back somehow. I think I know what it was, and I feel just awful about it. It was the night before, when she was out in the yard taking her final pee, I lost patience and called at her very sharply, "AU-tumn!!!" Well, she and her sister are such good girls that I'd never spoken to them sharply before, and she's a very sensitive soul, so I think I must have startled her, which made her tense up and probably hurt herself then. I feel just awful. What right do I have to shout at a dog who's never done a THING wrong in her entire time with me? Anyway, she was definitely less active that night, although not enough for me to worry, but by morning it must have stiffened up. She's much better today. :)

When the blood work came back normal, I totally lost it and started crying at the vet office. I informed them, "I'm sure everyone tells you this, but THIS is an EXTRAORDINARY dog." They looked at me in that special way you look at people who are off-kilter, and said that was fine, I could cry if I wanted to, it was a high-stress time. :)

Edit: Uhhh, crap, the quest start interval is 3 minutes, not 5, as I had thought. That means I missed the start! Oh, well. Off to Freddies now then.

Edited again: Sourdough Sam's is back! Yay!


blip said...

Thanks for giving us an interesting explanation of your plumbing system. Wish you were here so you could babysit during your free time too. Back to the baby grind...

Rena said...

Oh, that special look for off-kilter people. Ha ha! You might just be two steps away from being the crazy cat lady! Nah, just pushing your buttons. I'm glad Autumn is recovering - what a scare!

The slop glacier is strange and fascinating and... So what do frail/elderly/injured/etc people do? I mean, you're all hale and hearty so you're able to hack away at the ice with your maul, and you're able to split firewood with your trusty axe. It's a life for young people, for sure.

mdr said...

So glad to know Autumn is fine. Sometimes, if animals look fine otherwise (appetite, cold nose), you could wait for one day or two to see a vet. The reason is that many diseases take a few days to manifest and it help the vet to do a better diagnosis without mistakes, since animals cannot tell the vet how they feel. Still, for your peace of mind, you did the right thing and hope she will be all well soon.

mdr said...

Naya does not know what "NO" means, because we hardly said that to her. She now jumps on the table and helps herself with our dinner. Although not a wrong thing to do in her mind, but we have to say NO to her, not sure if it hurts her feelings, but sometimes we just have to treat our beloved animals like animals. Yelling for Autumn to come inside in a freezing evening was not wrong. You did what you had to do, you were not mean.

Arvay said...

Naya eats human food? Considering how thin she is, and how you guys are always concerned that she doesn't eat enough, this may not be a bad thing... why not supplement her kitty food with table scraps?

And Rena, I don't know how frail people manage, but I do know what those other two categories do. The elderly should have accumulated enough money in their lives not to live in a dry cabin (i.e., either to move into town or to have a septic system put in), and the injured have friends fill in for then. I can probably name six people who would split wood for me at the drop of a hat. The funny thing is, you know how I enjoy splitting wood? It's not unusual, apparently. I continually get offers to help me split wood whether I need help or not!

Anonymous said...

Splitting woods can be a good and free expercise instead of going to the gym, as long as you ALWAYS ALWAYS watch out your safety -- wearing eye protection, gloves, and be extremely careful with your back, don't lift heavy logs without help.

Debs said...

I found that explanation of your plumbing very interesting (Ed loved it too!) lol

For some reason I was surprised that Autumn is so sensitive - having a very sensitive dog myself, it shouldn't be a surprise (I think I just assume I have the most sensitive dog in the world!). I'm glad it was nothing serious, and with those symptoms you were definitely right to get her checked out immediately, esp as you hadn't seen her hurt herself.

Arvay said...

"instead of going to the gym"

As if I ever go to the gym! I detest gyms.

And... this "anonymous" person has such a distinctive voice, I can hear it in my mind! :~D