Sunday, March 18, 2007

The non-idyllic side of country living

Not a good few days for the home team. On Wednesday we found out that our well is contaminated with iron bacteria. A new well, it turns out, ain’t cheap. We currently have what is known as a point well—basically a straw stuck into the ground water above the bedrock, and the water is sucked into the house by a pump in the basement. A new point well (cheaper option) would likely tap into the same water. So the preferred option is an “artesian well.” That’s more expensive, but with a longer life. It’s dug deep, through the bed-rock. It contains a more efficient submerged pump that pushes water into the house. While not susceptible to bacteria, it is susceptible to arsenic. Also, they have had to dig deep in our area. Which is kind of strange, since we are on wetlands—our house probably couldn’t be built today. If they dig to 500 feet (you pay by the foot) without hitting water, they stop and bring in another piece of equipment that blasts water into the hole and hopefully creates fissures that allow the well to fill. There is a big incremental cost at that point. Total cost of artesian well, worst case scenario: 0.75 Toyota Camry’s.

A couple days later, Friday, a massive snow storm comes through and dumps about of foot of the most saturated, heaviest snow I’ve ever had the displeasure to experience. Almost immediately it proves more than a match for my aging snow blower, which promptly gives up the ghost. That meant manual removal of the super-heavy snow from our 220’ driveway, walkway and decks. Cost of a new snow blower: 0.07 Toyota Camry’s.

Then today we get up and the house seems unusually cold. Sure enough, the furnace is kaput. The reset didn’t work. It costs twice the usual amount for someone to come out on Sunday. I’m now at the airport waiting for my wife to call with the news: simple repair or a new furnace. Cost of the latter: 0.5 Toyota Camry’s.

Total unanticipated costs, potentially: 1.3 Toyota Camry’s. That’s a bummer. I’d much rather have the new Toyota Camry and some change.

The snow storm made me delay my flight by one day, but the flight was not actually cancelled (I just couldn’t get to the airport, nor leave my wife to deal with the snow.) Cost of changing the flight: $200.

Then I called National Car. I told them that I needed the car one less day. The savings: -$100. That’s right, it cost $100 more—because apparently I was changing from a weekly to a daily rate. So I said: “OK, I’ll keep my original reservation, but I’ll just leave my car in your lot for the first day.” No, that is not allowed. I did the “let me talk to a supervisor” thing. That worked—the supervisor gave me my original rate.

Then I tried, over the internet, to reduce my stay at the hotel by one day. The same thing! My rate was no longer available, and so the charge for each of the remaining days was going to go up! (Are these people on ‘ludes?) So I called the hotel and told them: I’m coming a day later. That worked, they just said: no problem.


The “Live Free or Die” state, as you might imagine, has little or no regulation on well water quality. So what will happen is this: if they detect arsenic, they’ll say: “you don’t have to do anything, since you are in New Hampshire. However, in Massachusetts you’d be required, at these levels, to install a filter." Of course, any reasonable person (I reckon) would install the filter.

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