This afternoon I put on my shorts and a poly running shirt, lowered a ladder into the dark abyss one of my six, 12′-tall, 5200-gallon water tanks and climbed in. I also brought in a hose and a scrub brush on a long stick.

I’ll tell you about it in more detail, but note that my primary purpose here is to describe yet another way in which the country life is pushing me toward the city.

When I turn on the kitchen faucet or a garden hose, the water that most of you take for granted got there through a long and complicated process. The kitchen tap starts as creek water pumped into the the two left-most tanks (they’re numbered “Tank 1” and “Tank 2”) during the winter when the creek is flushed out and running clear. Then I chlorinate the life out of it and gravity feed┬áit from the tanks to the house and shower. Since the tank lids are vented, the chlorine volatizes and is not so bad by the time it reaches the tap. I need to install a countertop filter or whole-house filter at some point, but no one has gotten sick yet.

My wall of water tanks.

Tanks 1 through 4. I was down inside Tank 3


Dead fly storage.

I’m in the process of installing new kitchen windows. For the last few years there have been some ugly recycled windows in the holes, put there mostly because I was tired of looking at “hippie window”, the clear PVC sheeting often used around here as a temporary measure until real windows can be installed. I got the used windows at Urban Ore in Berkeley and tacked them in as-is, lead paint, flaking glazing putty and all. I thought they’d be there six months at most.

Read more about dead flies and whether or not I should have window sills

A “Wild Kingdom” kind of day

When I was a kid, one of my favorite shows was Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with naturalist Marlin Perkins. As a suburban but nature-loving kid, I was fascinated by the crew’s adventures doing what, in retrospect, amounted to going out and aggressively harassing wild animals in exotic places. Look, for example, at most of these “classic” clips from the original show.

While I wasn’t exactly wrestling anacondas into submission at my place today, I did encounter a rather odd selection of wildlife for one day. First was a Northwest Ringneck snake, whose belly coloration is the same as the survey paint I was using. I posted the photo with the spraycan on Facebook, claiming that I’d painted the snake. I was hoping to get some outraged comments, but I’ve got too many wildlife-geek friends and they busted me right away.

(most likely) Northwest Ringneck snake Diadophis punctatus occidentalis

More snakes and stuff