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Early Tuesday morning I slid from bed and trudged into the kitchen. Taking care of a few things there, I was aware that my eyes felt strange, so I moved down the hall and peered into the bathroom mirror. My top eyelids had disappeared and in their place were small, white tufts of flesh. The lines of my face pointed inward and down. I looked like an angry bull.

I splashed cold water on the mess and moved on. For the fifth time in as many days, I made the one-hour drive to my new property. I arrived at 9:30, fatigued but hopeful, expecting to see the same bustle of activity that had been there yesterday.

Yesterday, there was the well guy digging trenches,

connecting white plastic pipes to bring water from the well to the house-to-be,

and then out to the garden areas I’d designated.

There were also the three electrical guys, working hard to make the right connections to bring me power to the building and power to the well.

So, here I am. No hustle and bustle, no guys with electrical wiring or gray conduit pipes, no one with white PVC pipes that will eventually bring water to my kitchen sink, bathroom tub and out back to the garden.

Why am I the only one here?

I decide to savor the quiet, enjoy the fresh morning air, the dew on the ground, and push aside doubts about what is going on. I sip on a drink, have a snack, look at the newspaper I’ve brought from home. On one of the uppermost sprigs of a cedar tree sits a mockingbird. Well, at least I can snap a few pictures on this gorgeous morning. So I run back to my truck and grab my camera. (See the photo at the top of this post.)

That done, my spirits begin to slip under the covers, where I’m wishing my body had stayed back home. What’s happened? I know the guys said they’d be back today.

When in doubt, mow, I always say. So, I put a little gas into the tank of my old mower, push the button for the choke, or the throttle, or whatever that thing is on the front of the mower, and I pull the crank. Okay, this is more like it. Progress. When you mow down the grass, or in this case weeds and wildflowers, you can see what you’ve done. You’ve made tracks and for a type-A type of girl, you can’t see too many tracks.

Finally, it’s midday. Time to give in, go home, where there’s other work to be done. Besides, my body’s aching; my heart is heavy. My two princes—my  electrician and well guy—have left me alone at the altar. It’s one thing for the guy who put in my septic tank not to come back to spread that last mound of dirt. And it’s another thing for Kermit the contractor not to show up on Sunday. (See my previous post.) But Randy and Kevin? What’s up with that?

On the way home, it is a disgruntled bull that gives me a lift, helps to turn my day around. You never know where a little light will shine. Please go here: for my bull story.

Once I drive several miles from my property I am able to get cell phone reception and call my two princes. It’s then I discover the reasons I was the only one to show up this morning.

More next time! I’ll be keeping you posted.

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I am on the move! Granted, the movement is in fits and starts, not without some disappointments, but it is movement, nonetheless.

Two months ago I forged ahead and had a septic tank installed on my new piece of property (See my recent, prior posts for background.) The handsome man above and his able assistant arrived with all the requisite monster equipment and got to work, excavating a deep hole, digging a huge expanse of ground in four long furrows, and, later, had delivered, by another man, a septic tank large enough to be a bomb shelter.

These “modern” amenities (I really would have preferred a composting toilet—skip the septic tank—and let it go at that. But that would not have been an option in this situation.) cost a pretty penny for this financially challenged pixie on a mini-shoestring.

“I’ll take care of you,” Mr. S. assured me. “You’ll be happy with this.” He and his assistant dug this huge hole, measured it and leveled the bottom.

Then the right-angled, colossal concrete sculpture was delivered…

and was snuggly fit into its resting place to do its “dirty” work for years and years to come.

Last of all, Mr. S. and his sidekick lay these long plastic tubes in the ground and covered them up with dirt. This part of the system, for the septic-tank uninitiated (I’m happy to be your guide.) is the drain field—the part of the system that “catches” the overflow of fluid.

I was required to install a large tank because I hope at some point to have another building on the property. By my reckoning—just with the looks of that tank—I’d have to have forty houseguests, all taking showers, flushing the toilet, and brushing their teeth at the same time for that septic tank to be so challenged. But, whatever. Red tape is red tape. Regulations are regulations.

And, money is just money, right? For the privilege of having this big box in the ground and hundreds of feet of giant Lego pieces entombed under my trees, I wrote Mr. S. a check for $3,556. (“Ouch,” said the mini-shoestring.)

Mr. S., who, as you recall, assured me I would be happy, said, as we were wrapping up the day: “We get our business ‘cause we got a good reputation. We don’t do anything to damage that.” He thanked me sincerely as I wrote out the check. He assured me that he’d have the inspection done and cover everything up by the next day.

A few days later I went out to the property only to see a huge mound of dirt still standing next to the septic tank. (See the picture above, where the septic tank is in the ground and the mound is to the left.) Days went by. I called. “Oh, Miss Ellen, no problem. I leave it like that to let the tank settle after some rain comes in. Then, I come back and smooth it all over.”

I explained to him that I was finally going on to the next step and would be having electricity and water hooked up and I needed for him to finish his work so his earth-moving equipment wouldn’t break any water lines.

“I’ll be out of town next week, but after that I’ll come over and take care of it,” he said.

Right. Two more phone calls. No answer. This past Tuesday he answered his phone. “I’ll be there tomorrow or Thursday,” he assured me.

Today is Sunday. I arrived at the Pixie Plantation this morning to meet up with a contractor—we shall call him Kermit, for the time being—who  offered to work for me this weekend. After he’d done some work yesterday and was getting ready to leave, he said, “So, you gonna ‘play’ here tomorrow, too?” He smiled.

“Well, if you’re up to working again, I’ll be here,” I said. “What time do you think you’ll get here?”

“Oh, my honey gets up for work at 6:30 and I’ll be up and feeding the horses by 8:00…”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll be here.”

I arrived at 10:30 this morning (after an hour’s drive from my current house). No Kermit.

And the big mound of red clay was still there, shining in the sun.

Disappointment was the word for today. But this madwoman-turned-pixie will persevere. Undaunted. Where there is a mound, I may choose to see an opportunity for exercise. I’ve shoveled stuff before. And, where Kermit is concerned, well, there are other frogs with hammers and saws out there for me to kiss.

Movement, as I said, comes in fits and starts. Tomorrow Kevin, my “well guy” (or his guys) will show up with my electrician, Randy. These are guys I can count on, real princes. I’ll keep you posted.


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Two weeks ago:

Still wading through the red tape required to establish a dwelling on my new property, I walk into the Health Department carrying my packet of papers. I am here to make an application for a septic tank. Once the paperwork is accepted and my soil is tested and it passes muster, the seas shall part and I will be granted a building permit. Then I am “legal” to move to my land the portable schoolroom I picked out some days ago. (See my prior post.)

Mike, the Environmental Administrator, comes out of his office and we sit in the lobby. He sifts through my stack of papers. Mike’s a big guy who sports a large, rectangular ring on his left hand. It is studded with gleaming, clear-white stones and stands out like a billboard in this small, bureaucratic setting. I watch his jewelry as he sifts through my papers. When he gets to the copy of my deed and legal description for the property, he pauses. Too long, he pauses. “This is not a good legal description,” he says. The description is decades old and is not written with the same precision and detail required today. Specifically, the exact dimensions at the southeast corner of the property are not provided. I hold my breath. I’m no longer fixed on his ring. What I wonder is: will I have to get a survey?

My mind is wrangling with that possibility. I didn’t have a survey done when I bought the property because I was avoiding the expense. This land acquisition and building project are not a big budget production, not a Disney movie. We’re talking low budget here, a student film. Not only would a survey cost at least a few thousand dollars, but procuring one at this point would delay the delivery and setting up of my building for another couple of weeks, at least.

Mike continues to study, then underlines a portion of the writing on the legal description. He gets up out of his chair, moves to another part of the lobby. I sit quietly, coaching myself to be calm. A person could drown in all this red tape! “You’ll have to get a survey,” he says, “or you can go to the property appraiser’s office and have them blow up the aerial view of the property and figure out the exact measurements of the boundary lines. And, someone over there needs to initial it.” He said it kindly, but what he meant was: “Don’t you be thinking you can do this yourself.”

I vacate his office with a sigh of relief tempered with disappointment that, instead of mowing and sweating and taking in the great outdoors this afternoon, I’ll be sitting in air-conditioned offices. Rikki, in the property appraiser’s office is friendly and helpful, as are the folks at the courthouse who copy a document that Rikki needs. Back to Rikki’s office while she meticulously completes the evidence that’s required to be sure that I won’t be putting a septic tank on someone else’s property. She puts her signature on the paper. Three hours later, I return to the Health Department, where I pay 400 dollars for a septic tank permit.

Two days later:

I am standing on my property with Mark, the young guy who works for “Big Ring Mike.” Mark is boring a deep hole into the ground to see how porous it is—whether it can adequately handle the moisture from a septic tank and drain field. I breathe another sigh of relief when he tells me my soil passes his “perc” (for percolation) test.

The next day Mark calls and says his report is ready. I pick up the prized paper and present it now to Danielle in the planning, zoning, and building department. I write a check for 168 dollars. So far, permits have cost me 1,400 dollars—more expense than I’d counted on for this adventure in setting up a minimalist dwelling on my small homestead. Finally, I am presented with a canary yellow sheet of paper, my very own building permit, that allows me, legally, to set up a modular building on my property.

We’re on the move! Within days I will be staring at a metal building, gray with mildew, but shining in my imagination!

Two days later:

In the meantime, anxious to hear from Ron, the schoolhouse guy, to confirm the delivery date for the building, I cart some things to the property. It’s hot today, but I’ve brought more bricks and stack them with the others. Though it seemed a little silly and very premature, I was also compelled to bring the birdbath. I struggle to get it from the bed of the truck, dig a little hole in the ground, and do my best to level it. I fill the shallow bowl with a couple of bottles of water brought from my house. (There’s no electricity and, therefore, no water yet on the property!) Then I step back and smile. It’s amazing—how one small touch can make a place feel like home.

One day later:

The confirmation call comes. The building will be delivered tomorrow. The little schoolhouse comes to the Pixie Plantation!

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