Dealing With More Than We Bargained For…

When I last posted, Ed and I were facing the mega-task of replacing our pond liner.  It was cold, cloudy, and there was a 70% chance of rain in the forecast!  Sounds like the perfect day to tackle such a job, doesn’t it?  Feeling like we had no choice, we forged ahead with our plans, beginning on Monday afternoon.

The first task at hand was removing over a dozen (5 gallon) buckets of garden rocks from around the base of the pond.  Next we had to take down the retaining wall.  After doing all of this, the edges of the pond liner were finally exposed.  Once we began to expose the edges of it, I realized just how brittle the old liner was…

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many such holes awaited us….

I went to bed quite stressed on Monday night.  I hadn’t slept well in several nights prior, and Monday night was no exception.  On Tuesday, I woke up sick.  My stomach was upset, my head was booming, and I felt nauseous.  I attribute all of these symptoms to   stress.  We had exactly eleven hours to drain the pond, get the fish out, get the liner out, put the new liner in, refill the pond, and replace the fish.  No wonder I was stressed!


draining the pond

By 7:30 we began draining the water from our 1390 gallon pond.  We used two different pumps at the same time.  It took almost three hours to completely drain the pond.  We sent the water away from the pond, by using water hoses on the pumps.  By the way, the water we were working with was about 64 degrees!

Originally, I set up four large (30 qt) plastic containers, and two smaller ones,  off to the side of the pond.  We filled the containers halfway with water drained from the pond. I’d purchased a large aquarium pump, some tubing, valves, and air stones so I’d have a way to furnish an air supply to each of the containers.  Some of our fish are quite large, and I wasn’t sure how long they would be able to live without additional air.  As an afterthought, I filled up three extra containers with water, just for insurance.  I’m glad I did!

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a pesky cat trying to catch a fish

Within an hour or so of beginning the draining of the pond, we began to see some of the leak problems.  There were several large holes on one side of the pond.  It’s a wonder we were able to keep any water at all in the pond!  We both realized we hadn’t acted a day too soon.


Catching the fish and a pile of discarded water lilies

Within a couple of hours, Ed had the water low enough that he could wade in, wearing his rubber boots.  He began removing  the water lilies that had taken over the pond.  What a chore that was!  Once the lilies were removed, we were able to begin catching the fish.  It took a while to catch all of them.  Some were quite elusive of the black cloth net that I’d purchased!  The pond water was so muddy, I don’t know how the poor things could see how to get away.  Within an hour, Ed and I had captured every last one of them though!  It was now lunchtime.

About halfway through the netting process, I realized I was going to need those extra containers that I’d filled with water!  I rounded up three more old pumps, and ended up with fish in all of the containers.  We knew there were a lot of fish in our pond, but we never dreamed there were so many!

Once the fish were removed, Ed had to shovel out the pea pebbles and sludge left in the bottom of the pond.  Let me tell you, that was some nasty stuff!  There were at least ten (5 gallon) buckets of it.  Ed shoveled, and I pulled the filled buckets away and dumped them.  Thank goodness for my new garden wagon!

Next we quickly discovered that removing the old liner in one piece wasn’t possible.  Ed tore off what he could, and cut the rest into pieces with his knife.  At one point, the sharp, brittle liner cut his finger and blood was pouring off his hand!  After a brief moment for some “first aid”, he went right back to work.

Once the old liner was removed, a couple of new problems presented themselves.  The first was the sight of tree roots!  Probably from the nearby Crepe Myrtle and Japanese Magnolia trees.  Some could even be from the pine trees across the yard!  The pond leaks had clearly invited the roots to partake of the easy source of water.

The next problem, and the most pressing one at the time, was the water beginning to fill up the bottom of the hole!  After the old liner was removed, water began springing up from the bottom of the hole!  Our pond is evidently below the current water level!  At this point, I felt sick at heart, and began to tear up.  I suggested to Ed that we throw the new liner in the hole, still in its box, cover up the entire mess, and just forget it.  He said since we’d already bought the liner, so we might as well proceed and do the best we could.


putting the new liner in

So that’s what we did.  We fought water in the bottom of the hole as we laid down the padding, which sort of floated.  Next came the 112 pound liner on top of that, which sort of squished the water up the sides a bit.  Ed had no trouble getting the liner in the hole, with a little help from me.  We got the liner as straight as we could, and began to refill the pond.  By then, it was already three o’clock.  We had just over three hours until dark–and it was beginning to look an awful lot like rain!  In fact, it had already sprinkled on us twice.

By five o’clock, we had filled the pond about one-half full, so I added some “Pond Start” to the water.  Pond Start treats the new water and helps the fish deal with the stress of being netted.  After that, we drained off one-half of the water from each container of fish, and floated the containers one by one into the pond.  After fifteen minutes of floating, to get the fish adjusted to the water temperature, we released them back into the half-filled pond.  We counted them as we released them.  We discovered there are 169 goldfish living in our pond–and we’d started out with just over a dozen!


some of the happy fish at home again

The fish all survived their ordeal, and so did we.  We called it a day around 6:00.  We were both muddy and tired, but our mission was accomplished.  I was actually so tired, I couldn’t hold my head up to eat supper.  I propped it while I ate!

The pond is not finished yet.  Ed had to return to work the next day.  We still have to finish filling the pond, work as many wrinkles out of the liner as we can, then put the retaining wall and rocks back around it.  It will be at least another full day’s work, beginning tomorrow.

It will be a while before the water lilies take hold again and begin to provide cover for the fish.  We planted some lilies in a shallow pan, others we left in the holes of some concrete blocks they’d previously called home.  (Water lilies will grow anywhere!)  For now, our poor fish are at the mercy of the world!  We’ve covered the entire top of the pond with a net.  Hopefully, this will protect them from birds of prey and our hungry cats, who love to catch fish!

As for the extra water in the bottom of the hole, the tree roots, and the  wrinkles in the liner–I’ll think about all of it another day.  For now, the fish are happy, they’re alive, and all is calm in our little neck of the woods…until the next catastrophe!

Published in: on March 8, 2013 at 10:46 am  Comments (5)  
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Sometimes You Get A Bit More Than You Bargained For…

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Our oldest son and family, sitting beside the pond, Easter 2012

The old saying, “If it’s worth having, it’s worth working for” comes to mind when I think of the goldfish pond out in the yard.  I’m pretty sure if Ed had known, all those years ago, what he knows now, he would have left that anniversary gift at the store!  I’m so glad he didn’t!

Memories of moving the original pond to its current spot in the yard are still pretty vivid in my mind, even though it was thirteen or fourteen years ago.  I remember how our oldest son complained when we chose the new spot, saying we were ruining his baseball field!  I also remember how both of our sons complained when they were asked to help dig the 13′ x 19′ hole for the new pond.  Our oldest claims we caused his girlfriend to break up with him, because he was unable to go out with her that Saturday night!  Fun times!

I remember the special attention Ed put into the details of digging and designing the new pond.  Molding all the little curves and plant shelves into place, to make everything just right, and it was.   How happy we both were when we finally got to see fish happily swimming  in the finished project!  Many of those original fish are still alive today, and they are huge!

However, maintaining a goldfish pond in your yard is a lot of work.  I can’t begin to count the hours Ed and I have spent trying to keep the area clean and weed free.  It’s a never-ending project.  Over the years, our pond has gone through several “face lifts” as we struggled to find what looked and worked best for us.  Trying to keep dogs, cats, and children out of the pond has been an adventure.  At one point, we actually resorted to electric fencing for a while.  In more recent years, we settled on a short retaining wall.

Once we realized our pond was going to need the liner replaced, all of these work-related memories flooded my mind, and I initially said, “Just cover it up.”  Surprisingly, Ed didn’t immediately jump on the idea.  His concern was for the poor fish who were facing certain death. I began thinking of the solace and comfort I find whenever I take time to relax and just sit beside the pond. Eventually, I asked Ed to replace the liner, and he agreed, God bless him!

I began to search for a liner, and discovered there are several different kinds there are to choose from, these days, and some are quite costly!  I finally opted for a new type of liner, called EPDM, which is supposed to outlast traditional liners.  It comes with a 20 year warranty, so I’m secretly hoping it will outlast me and Ed!  This liner is very thick and heavy and weighs 112 pounds.  It cost over eighty dollars just to get it shipped to us!  Something else is now available, and it’s called “pond underlay”.  In essence, it’s padding for your pond, and is supposed to extend the life of the liner.  I decided to invest in some underlay, as well.

The liner and underlay arrived at our house about three weeks ago.  When the delivery guy rolled the liner off of the truck using a cart, my heart just sank.  I wondered how in the world Ed and I were ever going to be able to manage getting such a heavy liner into a  twenty-four inch deep hole by ourselves.  I lost more than a few hours sleep over it!   Little did I know, getting the liner down into the hole, would be only one of the problems we’d face!

Our series of problems began when the leaks in the old pond liner went from bad to worse–seemingly overnight!  We had water running into it, twenty-four hours a day, and the water level kept dropping–a lot!  It was very cold outside, the ground was still saturated from the twelve inches of rain we recently received, and it was the beginning of a work week!  Problems abounded!  Like the title of this post says, sometimes you get a bit more than you bargained for, and we sure did!

To be continued… 

Published in: on March 7, 2013 at 10:23 am  Comments (4)  
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A Short And Sweet Hodgepodge…

Folks, it’s Wednesday again, but  after the busy, stressful Tuesday Ed and I just had, it’s a wonder I am even able to turn on the computer today! (see #8 for explanation)  I’m very tired, stiff, and sore, so my answers will be somewhat brief today.  (I don’t know how Ed was able to get up and go to work this morning!) As always, a big thank you goes out to our hostess, Joyce, for her  sometimes thought-provoking, and always interesting questions!  Don’t forget to visit as many participants as you can!

1. My real life friends came through with another question this week so thank you real life friends. When you’ve eaten in a restaurant do you complete their comment card? Do you take online surveys highlighted at the bottom of store receipts?  

No, I never complete restaurant comment cards, but, occasionally, I’ll take an online survey.

2. The (US) ban on women in combat was lifted at the end of January. It will probably be next year before specifics are worked out, but its been reported over 200,000 front line positions will eventually open up to women. Your thoughts?

At the risk of sounding old-fashioned and out of date–in my opinion, women do not belong in combat!  End.of.Story.

3. In looking back at all the blog posts you’ve written, what’s your favorite post title?

I’m afraid I’m not very creative with my blog titles, but after searching all 55 pages of them, I settled on this one:  Last Night We Had Our Neighbor For Dinner  We literally had one of our neighbors for dinner.  (Click on the title, if you’re curious.)

4. What’s worse-overly permissive parents or overly protective parents? Did your own parents lean more to the permissive or the protective category? If you’re a parent where do you fall?

It’s a fine line to walk, but I believe overly protective parents may be a little worse than overly permissive ones, especially during the teen years.  I’ve seen many teenagers go wild because of over-protective parents, but also a few from over-permissive ones, too.

When all is said and done, I believe we have to set a good example for our children, teach them what’s right (and what’s not), and trust them to make the right decisions.  Mine and Ed’s parents were very trusting, and tended to lean toward permissive.  Ed and I were the same way.  I can’t say that we were never disappointed by a few of our teenagers’ choices, but each one turned out to be a responsible, respectable adult, and we’re proud of each of them.

5. Candlelight-moonlight-firelight-bright lights in the big city…which one’s your favorite?

I love candlelight best, but a full moon ranks a close second.

6. Dr. Seuss’s birthday was celebrated on Saturday. What’s a favorite book you remember (Seuss or otherwise) from your own childhood? Did books play an important role in your growing up years? Explain.

Sadly, I only owned 3 books as a young child–Pollyanna, The Shaggy Dog, and a book of Mother Goose Rhymes.  Of those three, the Mother Goose Rhymes book was my favorite.   I loved memorizing all of the rhymes.  After I became older,  my parents would let me purchase Scholastic books through school.  I still love to read, so I guess books played an important role in the end.

7. To quote Dr. Seuss…

“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.”
from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Share something funny you’ve recently read, seen or heard.

Here’s my granddaughter, Madison, showing off her new wig.  She got it to wear for  Dr. Seuss Week at school.  Yesterday was “green day”.

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I have a goldfish pond, an anniversary gift from Ed, many years ago.  You can read about the original goldfish pond HERE and the second goldfish pond HERE.  If you have the time, both stories are intertaining!

Pond liners only last a certain number of years, and ours had begun leaking a while back.  Finally, we had to make the decision of whether to replace it, or cover up the  pond.  I’m not ashamed to admit, our first thought was...cover it up, but we have LOTS of LARGE  beautiful goldfish in our pond. Although we tried, we couldn’t find anyone who wanted any of them, and we just couldn’t bare the thought of killing them.

Finally, I asked Ed if he would be willing to put in another pond liner, and he said he would. (I tell you, the man has a heart of gold.)  I ordered the new liner, and it arrived a couple of weeks ago.  We’d planned to wait until a warm, dry weekend to tackle this mega chore, but the pond’s leaks were getting so bad, we just couldn’t wait any longer.  Yesterday was the day!  Blog post about the whole ordeal to follow… as soon as I’ve recovered enough to write it!

Published in: on March 6, 2013 at 9:00 am  Comments (4)  
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When Life Is Even Stranger Than Fiction…

There were some strange stories going on in the news over the weekend.  First, the “expectant” couple who were struck and killed on their way to the hospital ( the baby was successfully delivered, prematurely); the 37-year-old man who was swallowed up and killed by a “sink hole” while sleeping in his bed;  and the elderly woman who lay dying on the floor of a retirement home, while the 911 operator begged the  attendant (who called 911 for help) to perform CPR–and she refused, saying it was against the rules!  Oh my!  Life truly is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Speaking of news, something tragic and sad happened in our tiny town, week before last.  I’ve been debating about posting about it for several days. It’s just so sad, but when you look at the big picture, it truly is stranger than fiction.

My story concerns a local couple around my age.  In fact, the husband was the valedictorian of my graduation class of 1972, and one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.   His wife was two years older than he, and also came from a good, well-respected, local family.  The couple married in the seventies, and spent most of their lives living in North Carolina.

After all these years, the couple decided to move back to their hometown, a  year or so ago.  The husband had become a minister, some years back, and the couple decided to accept the call to pastor a church here.  She’d always been a talented pianist, and had begun offering piano lessons to the local children.  Not long ago, there was a nice write-up about them in our local newspaper.  Everyone was so glad to have them back in town.

Exactly one week after Valentine’s Day, I can’t tell you how my heart sank when I heard the news that the wife had taken her own life!  Our entire town is still stunned and heavy-hearted.  I have no idea of her reasons.  So tragic, especially considering this woman’s family has already seen more than their share of tragedy in recent years.

First of all, her brother took his own life, too, several years ago.  He left behind a wife and three children, one of them just a few years old.  Then, the son of her younger sister was convicted of murdering a prominent, local businessman one Easter morning.  The nephew was suffering with some mental issues, which  contributed to him committing the murder.  He’s currently locked up in a prison for the mentally ill.  That’s an awful lot of tragedy for one family to experience, don’t you think?

You know, living in a tiny town often causes its residents to be connected to each other in many ways.  For instance:

*At the time of his suicide, the brother was married to a co-worker of mine.  Their children attended the same small private school as my children.  We have sons who are the same age.

*The prominent businessman, who was murdered, was also married to another co-worker of mine.  Our children went to the same private school, too.  At the time of the murder,  my oldest son (and his future wife) worked at the large company where the business man was employed.

*The father of the convicted murderer is the president of a local bank, and was also a member of my graduating class of 1972.  His sister is married to my first cousin.  He was also my youngest son’s boss, for a time.

Stranger than fiction, huh?

Published in: on March 5, 2013 at 8:23 am  Comments (5)  
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A Very Chilly Monday…

Today, it’s below freezing here in our neck of the woods!    We’ve been experiencing chilly temperatures for the past three days.  Quick, somebody tell “old man winter” it’s March!  Enough already.  Let’s get down to Monday’s business with Heather’s “Monday Quiz”, shall we?
Acting Balanced

1. Which are you better at: Reading, Writing or Math?

Many moons ago, in school, my grades were pretty much the same on all three subjects.  In life, I’m probably better at reading because I enjoy it very much.  Writing is my second love, but, these days, I’m not really sure how good I am at it.
2. Tell us a good ‘come back’ story. Where you were down but were able to reverse fortunes and come out on top.

Once upon a time, I was very irresponsible and didn’t go the the gynecologist for fourteen years. Then I  began having problems.  One thing led to another, and when I finally went to the doctor,  I discovered there was a strong possibility that I might have ovarian cancer.  My entire life flashed before my eyes, and it wasn’t a good feeling.  I was only 45 years old!  Surgery was scheduled immediately.

Thankfully, I didn’t have cancer, but instead had two “chocolate cysts” engulfing my entire right ovary, and the worst case of endometriosis  my doctor has ever seen.  I spent five days in the hospital.  The good news is, I  lost sixteen pounds, and, once I recovered from the total abdominal hysterectomy,   I felt better than I’d felt in twenty years!  I began to exercise regularly, and became able to do things I hadn’t been able to do in a long, long time–plus I didn’t have to buy feminine products anymore!
3. Which would you rather do: dine or eat?

Personally, I prefer to just eat.  I’m not really into the “dining thing”.
4. What is one thing the someone close to you does that just annoys the heck out of you?

My hubby, Ed, and I have been going back and forth on issues concerning our bathroom.  He refuses to turn on the exhaust fan while he’s showering, then leaves the shower door ajar, once he’s finished.  Both things annoy the heck out of me!

My question for you:

5.  Have you ever had a “health crisis”?

Weekend Recap:

It was another slow, non-eventful weekend at our house.  The weather wasn’t decent for doing much of anything outdoors, so I spent most of Saturday catching up with Season Three of “Downton Abbey”.  I only have three episodes left to watch, but I have to admit, I read the spoiler and I know how the season ends…  Bummer!

Ed ran a few errands on Saturday, then he and I took a little shopping trip on Sunday, and went out to eat.  It was nice to get out of the house after so many days of being shut in.  I’m looking forward to some drier weather and milder temperatures this week, plus Ed is taking Friday off, too!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Published in: on March 4, 2013 at 12:06 am  Comments (15)