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What I Did on My Labor Day Vacation
2008-09-04, 7:56 a.m.

Day 1472

What I didn’t do was fret about getting this posted. Here it is Thursday morning and all I can do is quickly wrap this up and post before I dash off to work. Bet you can’t tell where the transition is!

Back to our story:

I labored.

Seriously. Literally. Rock breaking work. On purpose even.

Sick, slightly unbalanced, I know. But really, it was saner to break the rock than to try and dead lift the whole damn thing into position.

Maybe we need some back story.

I’ll get to it inaminit (new word).

The little fishies saga continues. I recall posting Saturday that by some miracle of Neptune (or Poseidon) that there were as many as 10 of those micro-comets left swimming around. Well, it gets better. Except for the part where I found a dead one scudding along the bottom of the pond. Poor guy. Also found another one in the skimmer basket. That’s 6 total accounted for as dead. Out of 24.

Anyhow. After spotting signs of life (fish life) in the new puddle, I decided it was high time to start the process of moving the big guys over. So I nabbed one of them. Pure luck. Baited them with food and snagged one while he was trying to eat lunch. Put him in a bucket of his own water, dragged him over to the new puddle and dunked him, bucket and all, into the new pond. Let the water temps equalize for a while then turned him loose in his new abode. He understandable freaked out for a bit. Then high tailed it for the lone lily and hid.

I tried catching more of the big guys. They weren’t having any of it. Wouldn’t even come up for food. Bastards. So I gave up and went and played with my rocks for a while. It was about then that Cindy got home and asked if I was going to start emptying out the old pond. So? I set the pump up to discharge and we watered part of the back yard real, real good. Took about 30 minutes for the water level to get down to the point where it looked like something from the nature channel when they show a salmon spawning run. Fish scooting all over the bottom of the pond, backs sticking out of the water. Very easy to net them at this point.

Bucketized them all, dragged them over to their new home. Let the water temps equalize for a bit, then started netting them and dropping them into their new home. I’m happy to report that now, 4 days later, everybody is doing fine. Got all the plants moved too, o the little guys have PLENTY of algae to munch on.

I just hope the bigger guys, like the Orfe’s, don’t develop a taste for micro-comets. The latest max count we got on the little guys was 12 seen or accounted for in one sweep. With 6 known dead that only leaves 6 unaccounted for. For all I know, they’re in there just hiding in a fold or under a rock ledge.

With the fish moved, attention shifted to filling the old pond. I wisely (or so I thought) placed a rather large pile of dirt within easy reach of the old pond. Well. Cranking along like a pair of steam shovels, Eric & I decimated that pile in about an hour and filled maybe ½ the pond. Luckily, I had another pile stashed along the back edge of our lot – hoping to find a use for it in the near future. Turns out the future is now! Nearly half that pile also went into the old pond. Now, except for the rawness of the earth, you’d never know we had our “trainer” pond in that site. Moot point as it’s soon to be completely covered by a deck and the new puddle completely dwarf’s it in size.

Now for the stream. Did a bunch of tamping, sculpting, more tamping, more sculpting, swearing, tamping, sculpting – you’re getting the idea. Finally had it roughed out into some semblance of what I had pictured in my head. Then there was the problem of what to use as the shelf to create the final fall of water into the pond. Ideally, I wanted something 3-ish feet long, 3-ish feet wide and a couple of inches thick. Know what I had that fit that description? Damn little. There was tons (literally) of smaller stuff (used for 2 intermediate falls) but nothing suitable for the grand finale. Except perhaps one of those huge slabs sitting on that 5th pallet.

So, Eric and I dug. Well first we rid them of their chicken wire cage. Then we dug. Slid the first slab off the top. Interesting, but not wide enough and not flat enough. Second one – x and y dimensions were fine (40 x 37 – close enough) but it was nearer to 6 inches thick. Unfortunately the third rock was also a little too irregular and the fourth one is mammoth. A foot thick, 2.5 feet square minimum. I get hernia’s thinking about moving that one.

We settled on #2. Tried to lift it. The both of us. Eric & I. Simultaneously. Nearly 500 pounds of manly mass between us. This led to a round of laughing and each of us calling the other girly. Clearly, we needed a plan. Cuz this rock had to be moved to the OTHER side of the pond, naturally. In straight line segments, maybe 100 feet total. Considered my not so trusty wheelbarrow. 6 cubic feet of dirt hauling ineptitude. Bearings in the lone wheel are so bad it looks like it leans into corners even when you’re going straight. Plus – it was too high. We proved we couldn’t lift the stone, so there was no way we were going to levitate it up to the wheelbarrow. Lucky for the wheelbarrow.

Then I remembered Anna (of annanotbob fame) mentioned having visited (or reading about or seeing a TV show about) Stonehenge recently. (If she DID visit, count me as envious!) That spurred an idea that was so simple a Caveman could do it.

You see, over winter, a big, old, dead wild cherry tree got blown down in the path of woods next to us. Almost. Seems an over eager sugar maple tried to stop its fall. The maple was doing real good until about a month ago when it finally gave up. The good part of this? About 20 feet of that maple was straight and of relatively uniform diameter. So I grabbed my saw, went into the woods and helped myself to a nice hunka maple. Eric & I shouldered it back into our yard where we chunked it up into (4) 3 - 4 foot lengths. We had us some axles! So, yeah, we cave-manned the damn hunk of stone the 100 feet to near it’s final resting place.

Next day, after golf, Zach, Eric & I went at the stream again, laying the liner in place, putting in the smaller waterfall slates, checking for level (rather UN_levelness). Once I was satisfied with the stream topography we sized up the possibility of moving that behemoth stone to where I really wanted it.

Bottom line? The size was scary. I worried that it would collapse the wall of the pond. Provided we could even get it there. Honestly, the three of us struggled to even lift the damn thing, I can’t imagine we’d have moved it. But we did. How? Well, it’ slate. Or shale. One or the other. Sedimentary rock. Laid down in sheets, each about a ½ inch thick. So I grabbed a hammer and a couple of cold chisels and started whacking away. Eventually, I managed to shear off a nice, large 2” thick slab o’stone. Between that and the smaller chunks that came off, the stone was reduced maybe 150lbs in total mass. Know what? We could move that. So we did. One shot, one move. Dropped it right where it needed to be. Well, maybe dropped is not the right word. More like “gently settled into position” because I didn’t want to risk caving in the side of the puddle.

But it’s there still after 3 whole days of not crushing anything. Now this weekend, if we can dodge the remnants of Gustav and squeak past the fringes of Hanna, I might actually finish populating the stream and get the plumbing re-fit. Then it’s down to the dry land plants & mulching around the fringes to prettify everything. (Wow. w0rd didn’t flag prettify as misspelled!)

Cindy has been terribly pensive of late. I’m hoping it’s just stress related to the start of the school year. That officially kicks off today in out little part of the world. Why so late? No clue. But I’m hoping that getting the year started will start to ease her inner tension because she is quite the pill to live with lately.

Last thing of note – BOWLING STARTS TONIGHT!!!!! I can’t stress that enough. Yee-fucking-hah, we get to bowl! Talk about a tension reducer. Well, if you bowl, well. And tonight, if we don’t, who cares? It’s the first week. Lefty brother can’t be there (someone’s surprise 50th b’day party – I’m surprised he associates with people that old . . .) so Zach is getting to sub for us right off the bat.

Time to trot off to work. Hope to update again soon, like tomorrow night even?

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old habits - new tricks