Stasia's Place Of Grace


Friday, July 08, 2005

Ditch Diggin' Done!

Septic Update

Thank goodness, it's all finished. How it could ever go from this: this, in just two days, amazes me:

Now there are nine very tacky-looking PVC tubes sticking out of my yard like so many periscopes. Perhaps I will paint them like gnomes, or the Loch Ness Monster's spines, to accentuate the effect. (Can we say, "Time to get plastic boulders to cover them?")

Here are some septic tank facts for you:

  • If you have the proper area for it, a new septic tank will run you about $9,000 in SE Wisconsin.
  • If you do not have the proper area, add on $2,000.
  • If you don't have that much money in your savings account, you should take care of your septic tank.
  • If you put water from scouring sheep wool, fabric softeners, kitchen grease and disposal grindings, and non-natural/petrochemical-based detergents down your drains, you will ruin your septic system and plug up its tubes.
  • If you plug up your septic's tubes, your sewage water will come out of the pipes in your house.
  • New septic systems have an extra tank where there is a little "intersection" of tubes. When the pumpers come to clean out your holding tank every couple of years, they can divert the runoff into a different section of your septic bed until the next cleaning. This allows the initial bed to "dry out", making the entire thing last much longer.
  • Older septic beds lasted for about 20 years. New ones can last 30 years or longer, with proper care and regular pumping.
  • If you have a septic system, you should stagger your laundry and do no more than two loads a day. Fine with me.

I apologize if you have found The Great Septic Debacle less than interesting; I, however, have become fascinated by the whole thing. The trencher attends annual septic seminars to learn how to use all his handy-dandy, 21st Century diggin' equipment. His attitude about respecting a septic system as a natural, biological environment was really cool. The fact that his whole family showed up to bring him lunch, and that his young son worked with him (without breaks) for two days was inspiring (Jeff tried to give the boy a tip, but he politely refused, saying he was getting paid and his bill was covered by the terms of our contract! The kid is about ten years old!!)

What I have learned from this is that anything can be interesting if you will only take the time to examine it a bit more closely. Which we all knew already from people who tell us, "I don't know how you can knit, I could never do that... and why would I want to?" If they would only take a moment to examine the process, they might become as fascinated as we all are.

I have a new respect for trenchers and septic pumpers. I will say this: if you can afford the heavy equipment, this is not a bad way to make a very good living!

Garden News

Jeff was busy while the septic work was being done. I wrote that we had to take out our deck for the trencher to have access to some pipes. We're planning a little sitting area, with a perennial, herb, and shade garden, where the deck used to be. Jeff's going to make a gravel center area on which we'll put a little bistro set, and he's laying three meandering flagstone paths that will converge on this circle. We'll then put bark mulch down, and make the area look as natural as possible.

He also primed and painted the wood on the house that was exposed by the deck removal.

Not bad for a guy who spends his days in suits, I must admit!

Jeff's talents extend to gardening, as you know... and here are some more "fruits" of his labors - the remainder of the first batch of shitakes from the kit from Fungi Perfecti!

The ruler is in the pic to give you an idea of how big these guys are.
(Keep in mind that Jeff is over 6 feet, too!)

They grow literally inches in a matter of hours!
(They are shiny only because he had just misted them with water.)

We have a pink oyster mushroom kit on its way to us now, and will try to show you the process from start to finish. Remember, anything is fascinating if you examine it closely enough (hee hee)! Seriously, fungi really are amazing, and seeing these things sprout up so quickly - not to mention enjoying them for dinner the past few nights - has made me want to learn more about them.

I think these kits are a good bargain, considering the prices of gourmet mushrooms (and not even fresh, decent ones at that!) in the grocery store. When you consider you can re-use the kit several times (spores apparently remain dormant in it between cycles), it makes it even more of a bargain! What a great educational project for home-schooled kids, as well.

Growing elsewhere, we have:

The hibiscus I overwintered indoors...

daylilies along the split cedar fence row...

Asiatic lilies near the "patio"...

and baby wrens in the adorable acorn birdhouse from Miss Kary.
You should hear the parents sing! Their warbling stops us in our tracks.
How fortunate this nest is just outside the kitchen window.
Check out Kary's gorgeous new Clappy, by the way!

Gratitudes Of The Day

Click To Play Anthem

Val (and all of us!) are so grateful that his dear Auntie Pamela had left London and was safely home yesterday.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those in the U.K. I felt the effects of the events quite strongly, having lived in London and having a particular sense of patriotism for England - not to mention my dear friend Pamela lives there! Jeff was fearful to break the news to me when I woke up, and indeed, I have to admit I responded with language that would make a sailor blush. When I found that Pamela had just been in London but had left in time, I started shaking and burst into tears of relief. And then felt profound sadness for those who had not been so fortunate...

But this brings to my mind the fact that we are not in control of the world's events, and that we must let go and try to have faith that there is an Entity which is. In the meantime, it is our responsibility not to worry so much about world politics, or what governments are doing (making enemies, when ranting about abstract theories, of our co-workers, family, or friends with whom we may differ on political opinion), but rather to be kind to our neighbors and families and spread love and good energy and mutual respect in our immediate vicinity.

How often do we worry about world hunger while never taking a hot dish to the sick and elderly lady down the street? How often do we get guilted into feeling we don't donate enough money by a musical promoter who makes a fortune on benefit concerts and increased record sales, when, if he and his performers gave up a Lear jet or Rolls Royce apiece, they could feed an entire African village for a decade? I worked in the entertainment industry, and my sister still does (in a major motion picture way) - unfortunately, there are motives other than philanthropy at work in these instances.

Our present-moment, present-vicinity actions and vibes will have more of an effect on world peace than any far-flung-cause-protesting in which we might participate. World peace begins at home. I am grateful for the comfort that brings to my heart - knowing I can make a difference in the Positive Energy Outflow just by not losing my temper at stupid things, or by being kind to the crotchety people next door, or by not engaging in political debates and diatribes. (But that's the hard thing, isn't it? It's hard to actually take personal action, rather than just mailing off a check and feeling smug about it...)

I am grateful for the preparedness and quick response of the U.K. rescue teams.

On a more peaceful note, I am grateful for the beauty of the windspinner that Miss Kary sent, which hangs in a copper birch next to our orchard. We enjoy watching its graceful beauty in the evenings while we sip our wine by the firepit.

I am grateful for our new septic system and new computer but, more than that, the fact that we had enough savings to pay for them. (!!!)

I am grateful to have a curious mind open to learning about septic systems, mushrooms, and podcasting, and the ability to appreciate the knowledge and experience of others.

I'm grateful the only "problems" I've had to contend with this year were a broken computer and a broken septic bed, and not losing my house in a hurricane like poor Deborah did!

I am grateful that once I start counting the things I'm grateful for, I can't seem to stop...

Hope your day is as blessed. Have a good one! I'm sorry I've no knitting news - still working on my Clapotis (using purl stitches instead of stitch markers), and enjoying it very much.

Animal Breed Zip Code

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Oh Happy Day

"On our twelfth anniversary, my true love gave to me..."

" new septic tank..."

"... and they chopped down my poor lit-tle tree."

We got a call yesterday that the trenchers would be here at 7 a.m. today. That gave me less than 24 hours to wash all the remaining raw fleece I had in the house, which didn't get finished until 3 a.m. today, as I had to do the 49 loads of laundry that were piled up (waiting for the new septic system to be installed) prior to putting greasy fleece in the washing machine. (We had just had the tank pumped again so there was enough room in there for laundry water for this last hurrah.)

Here's the last of Maplewood North's Sparx drying on the line in lingerie bags:

If it were any other fleece than Sparx's, I would've just said, "Forget it..." but there was no way I was letting this beauty go to waste, sitting for ages in a Rubbermaid tub, unwashed. And I wouldn't trust a processor with this gorgeous Shetland. So, there I was, filling and emptying my washer four times in the middle of the night. It was worth it. And how fitting that Sparx's should be the last fleece I ever wash at home... for what we're paying for this new septic tank and bed, I am not going to gunk it up with lanolin!

Getting a new septic system is a noisy process; they had to smash the old tank in order to bury it, and whatever they used to do it literally shook the house (I was keeping the dogs calm in the bedroom so didn't get to enjoy that particular piece of heavy equipment.) They will be here for a few more days, trenching the field and laying pipes and things, but we only had to be without water for four hours this morning. Nothing like being told you can't use the bathroom to make you really, really feel like you need to.

Do you think her name is Maryann?

The man in the hole has a laser on a long pole, which beeps to tell him how deep his trench is.
Welcome to Septic Systems in the 21st Century.

Not only did they have to chop down my silver maple, but they had to cut my hawthorn and honey locust in half (sob, sob).

If it means I can take a bath again after a month of having only two-minute showers every other day, I'll take some missing branches. Jeff did check for birds' nests prior to all the mauling.

But I'm in no mood to go out for an anniversary dinner... maybe next week.

In less stressful news (if you don't count the balance on my Visa card), we finally came into the 21st Century ourselves and got a new computer and high speed Internet access! I cannot believe all that I can now see and do in such short periods of time.

Jeff spent the weekend using the standard software on the iMac G5 20" (say it with me now... "It's worth the price because it'll last 10 years like the previous Mac!") to create DVDs of the digital photos from some of his trips. He made slideshows, complete with "Ken Burns" effects and soundtracks, and I think these will actually be watched by family members with interest rather than yawns.

Jeff and Tori on screensaver in background.
I know my mind is numb from septic stress because I frequently find myself
engrossed in watching our photo screensaver as entertainment.

I played with the Garage Band software and wrote a song and used iTunes to turn it into an AAC file, but for the life of me I can't figure out how to get it up here for you to listen to. That's probably a good thing as it involves jazz piano and jazz bass with accoustic guitar and tabla drums. (!)

I did it! Please visit my new Podcasting blog, Stasia's Place Podcast. You can hear my silly song (or not) and, in future, hear my audio blog. Point your podcatching software to for the direct feed.

What's a new Mac without an iPod, I ask you? When I found out that the thing could hold my scheduling calendar, shopping lists, and address book in addition to music, I had to have one. And what's an iPod without a PodPocket? I made one up while listening to the KnitCast podcast:

iPod Mini 6G all dressed up and ready to go.

      PodPocket Pattern: Kitchen Cotton (worsted; cotton to prevent electric shocks to electronic apparatus from wool in winter), size 5 flexible dpns. To fit iPod Mini. Cast on 10 and knit four or five rows in stockinette.

      Then start knitting in rounds - pick up 1 sts. on short side, 10 stitches on opposite long side, and 1 st. on second short side, so that you have 22 sts. total. Proceed in K1P1 ribbing until the pouch is to the top of your iPod Mini.

      BO one short side stitch, one long side of 10 sts, and the other short side st. - you have 10 sts. remaining to knit the flap. I did a 3 st. rib on the outside edges of the flap, with plain stockinette in the center four sts. After knitting this to a length of about 3", I bound off the center four stitches on the next row. On the following row, I cast on 4 sts. to replace them, and continued knitting the flap. This made a buttonhole.

      The ribbing keeps the iPod from falling out of the pocket. The thick cotton will protect it well in case I should drop it.

      The strap is a 5 st. i-cord sewn to the sides of the pocket. It is long enough for me to put it through a belt loop and then "lark's head" the pouch through it.

      I'm not thrilled with the design as the thing bounes against my leg when I walk, isn't long enough to wear around my neck (the band would be too thick for this, and would look dorky, anyway), and I can't see the screen or wheel to change settings while the iPod is in it.

      However, Apple says that you should play your music from a Playlist to conserve battery life, so I shouldn't be futzing with the buttons all the time anyway, right? And this will keep it clean, and safe in my bag or in the car... because I had to get the FM transmitter for it, too, for trips to the grocery store, dont'cha' know...

The progress on the Clapotis continues:

For Earth Day, my sister sent us an organic shitake kit (she doesn't send Christmas gifts but celebrates Earth Day instead. Are you surprised to learn she lives in Los Angeles?):

We had our first harvest in a stir-fry last night:

The first harvest.

Jeff's fingers for scale.

They were incredibly delicious. Apparently, you can get three or four harvests from this kit, drying it out for two weeks in-between each gardening session. For more info, go to

I'm off to knit and catch up on some podcasts (some favorites below). Hope your day is a good one!

Tartan Podcast - First music-based podcas hoted and produced in Scotland. I could listen to his accent forever...

EatFeed - The podcast that takes you back in time, across the country, around the world, and back to your own table.

KnitCast - Marie Irshad interviews Kate Gilbert, designer of the Clapotis!

Animal Breed Zip Code

Welcome To Stasia's Blog

Stasia is a knitter, spinner, weaver, writer, reader, and musician from Wisconsin, USA.

Join her here as she journals about beauty in nature, the joys of fibery pursuits, special people and pets, and great places to shop. It's her hope you'll leave spiritually inspired and creatively motivated. Thanks for visiting!

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We have a new ISP and my web pages are being moved. My old URLs will not work unless you go here and type them in to get an archived copy. As I upload the pages to the new server, the links in my sidebar will become clickable again. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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