Tuesday, Jun. 02, 2009
Dear Diary:

So apparently I have a deep unconscious need to forever preserve the icon of a famous British band in stone right next to my house.

Rolling Stones tongue in stoneThis seems oddly appropriate seeing as the band is the Rolling Stones.

The daughter came home on the weekend for a belated celebration of my birthday which meant the spousal unit and I could no longer dither about starting the waterfall part of the pond project. Oh, but we have been dithering because we're both stupidly intimidated by the whole thing.

For quite a while I wanted to make the classic waterfall, the sort of stair steps in rock that you quite often see. However, through hours and hours of skulking on pond forums, I quickly learned that getting sheets of water to roll off rocks is only slightly less difficult and frustrating than creating a life sized copy of Michaelangelo's David in butter during a heat wave.


Plus, the spousal unit was less than thrilled at the notion of having to wrestle immensely heavy rocks into place (and out of place) as we tried to level and tilt them to run water properly. Easy way to do serious damage to fingers and back was his laconic assessment.

But what to do?

Well, the two of us have been marching up and down every brook on our property looking for flat rocks to build the retaining wall around the pond. In his voyages through the woods, the spousal unit saw an interesting rock that had a "V" indentation.

This "V" was a natural stream bed that would hold water in. One of the major gripes on the pond forums was that not only does water want to go down, it also wants to go sideways. A lot. Lots of folks would start their waterfalls only to find that by the second rock all their water was flowing away down the sides of the pond instead of down the waterfall.

The spousal unit's rock had a small up curl at the bottom, creating a trough, which meant sheets of water would run out both sides at the bottom. That would break the sluice effect of having a huge sheet of water rocket down the stone like a waterslide. We grabbed a sump pump, dropped it in a near by brook, ran water over the rock and liked what we saw.

The big downside? Well, the rock weighs in the neighbourhood of 1,000 pounds.

Not a big deal last fall when Chris was around with his backhoe digging our pond. He just moseyed down to the spot where the big stone was and with a quick scoop deposited it at the base of our driveway.

A much bigger deal to move without damage when all you have is an ancient tractor that doesn't even have a front loader, just a weird back scoop dealie.

Relatively puny.The spousal unit got some dry runs in first, setting preliminary rocks. There was the flat rock needed to distribute the half ton of weight of the waterfall rock over as large a surface as possible.

That rock was probably a puny 200 pounds or so, the spousal unit estimated. Mere piffle. Next there was a big chunky rectangular slate rock to use as a wedge to set the angle of the waterfall. That went into place with some minor dickage.

Finally, the waterfall rock.

That rock is at the very upper end of what our tractor can move. The most the hydraulics can lift the weird back scoop dealie off ground is about 18 inches with that kind of weight attached. All the ground around here is hilly, so there are times when 18 inches is zero clearance for the rock, which dangled below the scoop. Plus, as an added bonus, because we don't have a front end loader (and tractors carry most of their weight at the back) the tractor wanted to rear up and flip over.

I'm all about letting the spousal unit have as much fun as possible.

We chained multiple buckets of wet sand and cinder blocks to the front of the tractor, hoping that the extra 200 pounds of weight would be enough to keep the tractor from rearing up, flipping over, and making me a widow.

Have I blinded you with my science yet?

When moving heavy objects always consult with your cat.Well, it worked but not without many, many adjustments of chains and angles of chains to get us just enough clearance to get that rock to the pond. Fortunately, Mr. Evil was right on the beam, carefully supervising this part of the project.

When moving stupidly heavy objects, always consult your cat.

It wasn't until we had the rock actually set in place that it dawned on me that the rock looks like a giant tongue. How did I manage to miss this fact in the hours and hours of walking around it trying to figure out angles, how to move it and how to stabilize it?

The short answer here would be that I am dimwitted.

This part of the project was extremely hard and a bit more dangerous than I liked. Next we have to figure out wiring, setting in the filter falls (the box that will naturally filter the pond's water and channel this water to the waterfall rock), hooking up the pump, and figuring out a pond overflow.

Plus there are more big ass rocks to be moved and wrestled in place to serve as the base for my retaining wall around the pond.

We are so over our heads here. Fortunately, we can do this in baby steps.

We left water in the pond over the winter so that hydrostatic pressure didn't push our liner out into huge immovable bubbles. (Hydrostatic pressure is great enough to actually pop a cement pool right out of the ground, which is why they leave water in 'em over the winter here.)

One of the side effects of that is that we have about ten billion eensy weensy tadpoles in the pond, many of them in the quarter inch range. I'm thinking these are either peepers or some equally tiny amphibian.

The pond has turned a disgusting green with algae but I'm loathe to pump it out right now because of these ten billion eensy weensy denizens. I have taken to exhorting them to hurry up and grow legs and start their life outside of the pond. So far, they don't seem to be focussing on the problem. I figure I can give them a couple more weeks and then, well, the pond has to be drained and refilled with clean water.

I can net many of them and move them to the big pond, but the big pond has big fish. I'm thinking those tadpoles will end up as the snack du jour if I do that.

Hopefully they will hop to this leg business pronto.

This weekend I got an unexpected pentimento moment. The daughter crouched on her haunches by the pond, scooped up little handfuls of tadpoles, studied them in her palm. Beside her our tabby cat Savannah crouched. Their posture and attitude was almost identical.

It revived a memory of her as a tiny girl at the big pond doing the same thing, with her beloved little tabby cat Lily by her side. Twenty five years were peeled back in a heartbeat, the woman she has become briefly erased by the memory of the child she once was.

An unexpected gift.

The electrician comes on the weekend to discuss the various electrical challenges. I see massive shovel time coming up as we dig channels to hide pump wiring. Unfortunately, the spousal unit has declared that since this is my project, and I'm completely able bodied, then I should expect some quality shovel time in my future.

Oh well.


Mileage on the Marnometer: 138 miles.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2008: 500 miles

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