Revelling in inefficiency – and a cause for celebration

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It’s not the driest of weather today. In fact, it’s been pouring all morning and as it’s only about three degrees above zero, it isn’t conducive to going out. I was meant to go for a walk today with my friend Marian, however when she called to suggest coming round for a coffee, and perhaps a trip to the Co-Op, I wasn’t in the mood to say no to the change of plan.

I’ve never really understood those who love to shop, and yet this morning, bathed in the brightness of the fluorescent lighting, and with parts of the store all set out for Christmas, it was infinitely more cheering than going to the beach. On the way home, she mentioned that she had to do the hoovering. It’s a hard job, she told me because they have two cats and a dog but, she added, it always helped nowadays that she could think about all the exercise she was doing as she manoeuvred back and forth.

Funnily enough, I too have been feeling the same about certain aspects of life here. Charlie (my husband) has set me up so that I can use the Striiv app on my i-Phone. It used to be, as I went outside and hauled the wood into the house (for the wood-burning stove) that I would thrust as much wood as I could into a bucket, and then stagger back into the house with it, making as few journeys as I possibly could. We didn’t light the fire so very often. This year however, I find myself happily wandering back and forth to the woodpile in the garage carrying three or four logs at a time and smugly thinking of all the steps I am taking, of the energy I am building up to buy new things in MyLand, and how many calories extra I will be able to eat as it transfers its step information over to MyFitnessPal. Obviously this is all very sad (it may be that there is going to be a recurring theme of me being sad in my blog), but somehow I seem to get pleasure these days from so many small things.

At this time of year here in south-west Norway, it seems that there is almost invariably a spell when there is just rain on rain on rain. It can come down for days on end, and the skies are grey and the days are short. It would be easy to get down. So it’s just as well for me, that every year, at this time, I have a wonderful cause for celebration. For three years in a row, 2009-2011, every year, at about this time as the rain came down, the ground water began to rise.

And in each of those years, as the waters rose, into our cellar came a delightful surge… of sewage from the septic tank. This would result in a sickening stench throughout the whole house and days of having to wade through diluted human faeces every time I wanted to get to the washing machine. Somehow, it invariably happened when Charlie was away on a trip.

The first time it happened, we thought it was just a septic-tank blockage. At great expense ( to the insurance company) a massive hole was dug in the driveway and the waste pipe from the tank was replaced. The man who came to help also told us that maybe the blockage was to do with the ground water. Thirty year floods, he said comfortingly, leaving us with the impression it would be a long time before there was likely to be any recurrence. So when it returned the next year, we were somewhat disappointed to say the least. And when it came back the year after that, we decided that whatever the cost, we had to do something about it. When you sell a house in Norway, you are obliged to buy insurance to cover for any problems the buyer might have and we had high hopes… however sadly you have to claim within three to five months of the original problem. The fact that we hadn’t known it was a problem until it recurred was not relevant apparently, so we had to cover the cost ourselves.

Nonetheless, we did so, and so, every year at about this time, as the heavens open and the deluge comes… at least I am able to celebrate in the happy knowledge that however high the water may rise… at least the contents of our toilets have travelled safely away into some unseen sewer. And I am enduringly glad that I won’t have to spend Christmas looking at them again.

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