Driving down I-5, early morning with the sun orange behind the smoke from the Estacada fire, I’m sleepy. We already had gym, lattes and Lara bars, and now we have to be at the farm by 9:00 to meet the Mainline folks who will test the old well.
The colors are muted, strange. A field of pumpkins has us wondering why we’d use all that land, water, sunshine to grow something that no one will eat. Carve a face, light a candle, Trick or Treat, and throw it away. Well, guess that’s not different from growing flowers. No one’s going to eat them either. Still . . .
We already had the old well tested, but if we’re going to consider using it in place of the newly drilled one, we have to check for nitrates in the water. We’ve just turned into the old house driveway when Mainline’s truck pulls up. But it’s Shirley at the wheel, not her husband Larry, whom we expected. Thinking that he’s on his way, we greet Shirley as she climbs out of the pickup. Starts unpacking gear, talking. She fiddles with the wires attached to the well head, and it begins to appear that she’s it. Really?
She hikes her flipflop-shod foot onto the huge tire of the truck, flings her somewhat chubby leg over the rail, adjusts something on the generator and gives the cord a hefty pull. The woman is in business.
She engages a wrench to open the water pipe, attaches a short length of garden hose, unwinds some wire off the probe reel. I’m feeling pretty silly in the skirt I chose to wear this morning. We have a meeting with Linsey at the County later in the morning, hence my attire, but still. I want to be Shirley, and Shirley is not wearing a skirt. But flipflops? Okay, got it. And what about that surgical wrap on her left wrist? Trigger finger surgery, she tells us. Doesn’t slow her down. I can see that Larry would like to offer to help, but we both realize that would be a bad idea.
The process is slow. She has to measure the depth of water in the well, control the flow of water, fill a gallon tub for one minute and measure the volume. This will go on for four hours, or until she has the information she wants.
We talk, she and I. She had been the office secretary for Corvallis High School until she retired several years ago and went to work for her Larry. She has a pretty face and sweet smile, and I’d guess the kids in that school would have loved her, would have known not to mess with her.
She gossips about our neighbors-to-be. One she calls a “one punch.” One punch? Yes, you know. When he opens his mouth you just want to shut it for him with one punch. She illustrates with her fist into her open hand.
The man who sold us our property owns the land across Lewellyn and it’s for sale, she tells me. Oh no! I think about the 16 story building scheduled to be built across the street and down one block from our condo. But the prospective buyers here want to create an organic fruit farm. Whew.
We have to leave to meet Linsey at the County offices. The ruling about “decommissioning” the old house on our property is difficult to understand, and we don’t want to make a mistake. We do want to get it down this winter while nothing else is going on, but we’ve learned that the County, like Shirley, is not to be trifled with. Linsey is tall, quite beautiful, young, and I worry that she is not the final arbiter of County decommissioning statutes. She tells us that we can take the house down whenever we want to.
Are you sure?
Yes, she is sure. She says nothing to back her conviction, but there it is. We have to take her at her word, I guess. I want to ask if we could talk to her supervisor, but sense that would be not be helpful. So we leave, taking some forms with us regarding the process and some information about the flooding to which the county is subject.
Back to our property, we find that Shirley is closing up shop. She’ll test the new well, make some recommendations about how we can manage what is becoming a rather difficult water situation. Larry and I leave to have lunch.
In the car, I begin to realize that some insect unknown has been nibbling on my legs. They itch, and the itching intensifies as we settle in for a quick lunch at the Irish pub we’ve found in Corvallis. The worst bite seems to be on the inside of my upper thigh. Unfortunately this is not a place that can be comfortably scratched in a public setting. Especially while wearing a skirt. Stupid, stupid!
Tomorrow we meet with our architect, who is back from Alaska and eager to have things well underway by the time we have to leave on the 28th. Yeah, me too!