Thursday, December 03, 2015


I’ve just about reached my limit.  It’s not about writing or anything like that.  It’s about “iatrogenic plumbing”.  Iatrogenic medicine is when the docs, in trying to cure the patient, make him/her worse, maybe even create a new disease.  So I’ve moved the term over to plumbing infrastructure, both in houses and in the streets.  

Yesterday, while I wrote furiously in the next room, a plumber was using the “BIG” roto-rooter to get my main waste drain cleared out.  This was an actual professional plumber from the county seat.  The machine was so big that it was like doing Rubik’s cube to get it into my tiny bathroom, even though I’d moved everything portable out.  The final conclusion was that the pipe was NOT invaded by roots, which is very common in a warm fall like this one, but was probably blocked by collapse of the old line.  This will be the fourth time that this line is dug up and it’s beginning to cost real money.

The first time we dug was when the line sprung a little leak under the sidewalk.  The second time was farther up the line and may have been somehow linked to the first “fix” detaching between the two materials, old and new.  The third time might have been almost any cause, another slow leak.   But this emergency is thought to be a line collapse that’s totally blocking passage of even water.  By the end of today we’ll know more.  In the meantime I have no toilet.  Fortunately, I have a camp version.

We have had two town workers who handled these things.  One of them was hired away for a much better job covering the district.   The other was badly hurt in a trench collapse because the town tried to save money by not buying a “trench box” that fortifies the walls.  They’re expensive, heavy, and awkward, but they save lives.  We have one now.  We’ve had an election in which our competent previous mayor was displaced by a nut case who quit after a week in office.  (He got in by spreading malicious gossip.)  So today the recovering town employee and a Valier citizen who was once on the council, and who runs an excavation and gravel company, will give it a try.  Our new mayor takes office January 1 and we have high hopes.

The county assessor cannot see these things when she does her drive-by estimates.  She assumes foundations and that the interiors are as standard as the houses where she has lived, fully equipped and maintained.  Taxes, sewer and water, electricity, gas, are scaled for parts of the country where the population is much thicker, and so are the Codes.  Many houses in town have for sale signs, but probably many people are just fishing.

By living in a ramshackle old house, I am able at 76 to write all day, hunkered down with my library and internet connection, which is also developing aging and deterioration just like the other infrastructures.  My eyes are my “infra-structure” and they are giving me problems.  Luckily I’ve discovered $20 eyeglasses from China that are better than the $300 ones I’ve always bought from optometrists.

In summary, I may let down my standards for this blog, which were to write at least 1,000 words a day every day.  Not trivia but things that require research and reflection.  I’m still chasing matters that I began reading about in high school, like creativity and what organic really means.  There are many social issues crying out for insight.  I think there are a lot of people out there writing this same way, but no one knows about them and publishing never did pay much attention.  Now they have become blood-suckers. 

My main email is still up.  prairiem at  I have a landline but no smart phone, tablet, or cell connection.  It’s a long drive from anywhere.  If you travel this time of year, you must watch the weather closely.  My water line is working, so I can make coffee.

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