Journey from dining room to fish room.

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It has been a very rainy Spring down here also. Our new puppy does not like to go outside in the rain to pee. We’ve had a few accidents. 🐶
 
Well finally no rain today. I have to admit I did not mind a couple days off. Start grinding again today ... actually started a bit yesterday between off and on showers. Managed to till Linda's veggy patch yesterday and helped her rake it afterwards. It is now covered in a black permeable fabrin to help the soil warm.

Did water changes on all 5 tanks early this morning after testing them. All tests came back nicely so will go to a monthly testing schedule unless a problem crops up. We are developing a little confidence in our water chemistry. Not a lot, but a bit. Gave the 37 a thorough gravel vac. The BH Pleco is a poo machine apparently because he is the only change in stocking and the gravel was loaded. Over the past few days we have also removed more than 100 pest snails of various sizes. Removed all decorations and gave them a 180 degree water bath for 15 minutes. Also added 4 assassin snails to the tank. This is the only tank with the problem. I believe they came in on a couple of live plants and I made the pproblem worse by over feeding. Now on a two day be week fast and have cut back to once a day food. Had been feeding 2X a day and Linda's insistence. She is no longer insisting.

Linda picked out the fishroom flooring over the weekend at Lowes. She then dragged me down there for a looksee. Here is what she chose:
frtile.jpg

Using this will require that I lay Hardee board on top of the plank floor as a subbase. I am OK with the pattern, actually I really like it, but I am a bit intimidated by the job of laying it due to the irregular edges. In my younger days I could probably accomplish this feat in maybe three days. Now more like a week of work as the stooping and kneeling will be excruciating. The fish will be moved to the front porch I guess when I lay the floor. We will need to put some thought into this because although the porch is enclosed and insulated it is neither heated or Air conditioned. I think the floor will need to be a mid-fall job when the outdoor temps are moderate and the porch can be heated with a portable LP Gas space heater. I have two that I use in the shop when woodworking in the winter as needed. Both are adjustable from 4 to 9,000 BTU. The walls I am going with planks planed to 1/2-inch thickness then sealed with a pigmented shellac for a whitewashed look. The shellac is not 100% waterproof of coarse but should offer enough protection for my purposes. It is VOC free and a relatively green product. Will likely use butternut for the walls and am leaning toward a darker wood for the valences that will hide piping and lighting.

This is all for later in the season though. Today and tomorrow back to the pond as soon as it warms a bit, currently 36F outside. Should have the marble played and leveled by tomorrow afternoon. While I am doing that Linda will get a wagon full of compost to lay between the marble slabs. She has assumed the job of packing the spaces and has chosen Irish Moss as a the plant fo top the spaces.

I am actually looking forward to getting outside in the sun today with a nice fire and some manual labor.
 
GRrrrr ... Finished laying the marble slabs for under the pergola at the fire pit end of the pond yesterday. About 12 hours of hard manual labor, for an old guy anyway.

What do you think Linda? "Do not like it" says she. "Me either", says I.

Wrong material for the area it is. Did not really notice until it was complete. Marble just does not fit the rustic, somewhat unorganized and informal pond. My body kept urging me to like the marble. My bones kept telling me to talk Linda into loving the marble floor. Honesty won the day and the marble had to go. Spent two hours removing it. I will of course find another use for it, perhaps as a topper on a wood retaining wall, or as steps to the mail box, or a short planter wall at the tee in the driveway, or, well something. At a later date.

Anyway, Thursday I will head to Curtis Lumber and purchase pressure treated lumber to frame a deck for gazebo. Maybe get enough to frame a deck for the pergola too. Curtis is a touch more costly than the big box lumber yards but they are locally owned so get my business when realistic. The deck floor will be rough cut lumber, 1 by 6's I had milled last fall. They came from some poplar trees a local tree service cut . They were free except the cost to transport the logs to the sawyer. Poplar is a good choice for a lot of projects. It is underrated as a hardwood. Comparable in cost to pine, at the sawmill.

Wasted two days of work and am pretty bummed about it. I need to stick to working with wood.

Rehomed the guppy babies last night to a nice couple. Nineteen in total. Still have about 15 Dalmatian Mollies to rehome. Two people supposed to be here today for some of them. We are keeping two. The fat Belly Molly dropped a litter sometime in the last dozen or so hours. Linda has them in a net on the side of the twenty. They will go to the 20 after she is sure she has captured them all. Linda has captured about 12 so far. She is unable to let them fend for themselves in their home tank. Hopefully that will change.

Rain today so after getting the PT lumber, I plan on an easy chair day. Perhaps an extra game of Scrabble, but mostly I plan on reading a good book.
 
Well after the marble fiasco I got lazy. I did pick up the PT lumber and I did frame one of the floors, the one for the gazebo. It was a fast simple job that I thought would be therapeutic after having to tear up the marble. It was not.

Then it rained Friday and then scattered showers on Saturday. So, nothing more was accomplished outdoors. I have a framed floor sitting near the pond. Actually, a skeleton as it has no floor deck. The waterfall is half complete because I decided to existing liner is not long enough for the new height and small pool at the top. The new liner is supposed to be delivered Tuesday. Frankly our beautiful pond area looks like it was hit with a tornado. I keep telling myself once the liner arrives it will be beautiful again in short order.

On a positive note the Flad Lillies that I layed into the bog to over winter have begun to grow, the red floaters we put into a tote in the basement are doing well, as are the Cana and two other unknown marginals that we brought into the house. In fact all the pond plants we chose to save are doing very well and can be divided. This will triple our marginals at no cost. The sand cherry, butterfly plant and various ground covers have also begun to grow around the pond margins. The weeping cherry is budded as is the weeping willow and smoke tree. The fire bushes on the new last year retaining wall are also in bud. The rose tree and miniature roses have survived as has the Floribunda. The Forsythia is in full bloom and the daffoldils and tulips have emerged. So, all in all, if I overlook two days of wasted labor, a ton of rain, and a feeling of getting behind all is actually good.

Yesterday we broke down the decorations in the 37-gallon tank and tried our hand at an actually planned out aquascape. There is more to this process it seems than there is to landscaping a yard. The space is limited of course but the real issue is vision. Despite our having spent a lot of time on and around lakes and streams we never really observed the growing things except as they pertain to angling. Today we are going to hike up to Fishbrook pond atop Mount Erebus. It is about an 8 1/2-mile hike and very steep. We will bring a lunch and a couple of light weight rod/reels with 4-pound test. While there we will observe the plant life, tree falls and rock formations in anticipation of building a large, to us tank.

The week ahead is to be chilly, low 50's with wind during the day. Good weather for outside construction so I should be able to finish the floor decks and get the waterfall up and running. Linda will be spreading compost on her gardens and laying out some new walkways for the marble slabs. She says she can make the marble less formal with some weathered wood, moss, thyme and perhaps baby breath or another low spreading plant.

I think the most important thing people can do when retired is not laze around. That changes retired to just plain tired. I am in my 17th year of retirement. Although I can no longer put in 9 hours of work followed by a few a hour of piddling around the homestead I do try to make certain I keep pretty busy on things I enjoy. We did the travel the USA thing in an RV for quite a few years. When the plague struck re rehomed ourself right back on our little plot of land and decided to spend our twilight years at home. So we went from adventure to homebody and have never looked back.

I guess a little philosophical mind wandering now and then doesn't hurt. Anyway, I look forward to the hike today and wonder how these old bones will hold up on a trail I once found easy.
 
Fishbrook Pond was a lovely outing yesterday. The lean-to is in rough shape from what I remember but it has been a dozen years since we have hiked up there. The dogs loved the walk up, but like Linda and me, were less boisterous on the hike back. Much harder to walk downhill than uphill on my legs and lower back, Linda's too. Although we keep active with some physical labor, we are not what we were, and I feel it this morning. Cooked hotdogs and had a side of pasta salad for lunch. Did a little fishing after gigging some grubs from beneath a log. Caught a couple of very small trout, 8 inches or so. Released them as is our norm although I am not against the occasional bread and butter trout sandwich mind you.

Anyway, one of the main reasons for the hike was observation. It is funny how much detail one can find when actually looking. Watched the behavior of what I believe are fathead minnows as they zoomed about the shoreline amidst the downed branches and exposed rocks. Saw how plants were intermingled and how different they are near a spring as opposed to still backwater and wetland. Watched trout surface to what I think was a Caddis Fly hatch, (could not get close enough to observe but the time of year is correct for this pond). We spent about 2 hours hiking up, the State lists the trail as 8 miles but if you know the arear it can be a 6-mile walk. Visited Herm the Hermits cabin site on the way down so it was more like a 3-hour trip back. The cabin is gone, and I do not know what happened to Herm, He was in his 40's when I was in my 20's so I would guess he has left the mortal coil. Anyway, there are some minor remnants of the cabin, but it has been demolished and toted away for the most part by DEC I imagine. Herm was a character I used to enjoy visiting with my friend Mark in my more adventurous days. Herm lived alone and spent his time on Sleeping Beauty Mountain for the most part. Would see him at the local Ft Ann pub every once in a bit too. Learned a bit of woodlore from him and now wonder what happened to him.

Our observations gave us some ideas for the big centerpiece tank that is in our future. Need to do some thinking and learning about water movement and then trying to make it work in a 48-inch glass box. Of course, will also need to learn more about the fish we choose for such a tank for obvious reasons. From what I observed we will go for a tank with a calm surface and gentle flow close to the bottom. Study, study.

This morning did a WC on the 37, 9 gallons out and 9.5 gallons in. Our fish friends seem well adjusted and are doing what fishes do. Removed another dozen snails, seems an endless task but do not want to use chemical, although some mornings it is tempting. All five tanks were fasted yesterday so Linda boiled up some peas and carrots to give everyone a treat. She feels guilty about fasting the fish.

Today's chore, when the temp rises a bit, is to finish the deck framing and raise about 9 inches above the ground and level it. I will also install some conduit through the joists and pull sone 12/2 WG wire so that Chris can tie it into the box he attached to the basement wall. This will feed both the gazebo and the pond pumps. We use solar for lighting at the pond. The gazebo may well wind up being the pop-up we used last year, although it will sit on the deck. We develop a "fun" budget the first of the year based on what we want to do. We did not anticipate a fish room when we did the budget and that has dented the fun fund pretty deeply. Wood is not a major expense for us but the electrical, tanks, extra plumbing, and various pieces of equipment are all undefined expenses. I am not whining mind you just being my normal fiscally responsible self. We have zero debt and no interest in accumulating it to save a year on an optional building project whose only real function is decoration. Our pond area is relatively bug free and we rarely use it during rain so a screened building is a luxury that can be put off a season if we so choose. Linda will be reworking the budget as soon as I give her the numbers for both the outside and the Dining room becoming fish room.

Anyway, time to do some stretching and movement to loosen up the moving parts that were shocked into use yesterday.

This photo is not mine. A friend sent it to me a couple of years ago. Yesterday we packed our old Minolta SLR and did not bring anything electronic. This is where we picnicked on the pond yesterday however.
fbp.JPG
 
Yesterday was very productive. I finally got out of the funk caused by the marble failure! :D

Started the day by piling rocks to finish the waterfall. This needed to be done first because I needed the garden tractor and cart to haul them from the brook to the pond yard. It is about a half mile run because of the terrain. The Craftsman does not handle steep terrain well. I made three trips and now have a good stockpile of rocks ranging from about 100 pounds down to 10 pounds or so. I said first because chore two was servicing the tractor. The back tires no longer hold air for long. They are original on the near 40-year-old machine.

Went to tractor supply and picked up what was needed for a service kit and two tubes. Put the tractor in the shop to service on a rainy day, or sooner if I need ir.

The waterfall build has been nearly completed. Will go to Northland Gardens today to pick up sealing foam. The falls did not need it last year due to its design. After hooking up the small, 2500 GPH pump as a test it was quickly apparent the new design required some sealing. I will do that today and then connect the new 55oo GPH pump. The new flow should be awesome, or at least we hope.

The above was followed by tilling Linda's garden. Not a big deal and the electric tiller we purchased last year handled the job very easily. Linda had spread a couple of inches of compost and another inch or so of well-rotted pig manure over the area while I was otherwise busy. That all tilled in nicely. The garden is miniscule, 20 by 30 compared to what it once was, (about 10,000 square feet). We no longer grow all our veggies though instead buying what we need from local truck farms as they harvest. Now it is just tomatoes, cukes, and peppers. Some various herbs such as basil are are also mixed in. Linda also has a small salad garden of lettuce, chard, radish, and leeks just outside the kitchen door. She turns that with a shovel.

We finished the day sitting by the pond enjoying a fire while grilling some burghers. By the time we finished our relaxing the temp had dropped from low 60's to a brisk 45F. Spring and fall the temp drop is abrupt when the sun drops below the mountain.

Today it is supposed to be mid 60's and I am once again looking forward to getting the pond work done. All except the bottom cleaning should be complete today. The thorough cleaning will be a job for Tuesday because it will require some wading. Tuesday is supposed to be mid 70's with a clear sky.
 
Saturday continued working about the pond while Linda tended to her gardening. She added 4 Hydrangea plants to the front of the dog fence. Her intent is to train them as trees, the plants not the dogs. This area was destroyed when the new septic system was installed and I guess she has tired of looking at the Buffalo grass I laid down to hide the scars. That section of the yard was her original bird garden and her goal for this year is to restore it. The area measures 40 ft by 90 foot so she has a good size canvas to work with, and I have will have several tilling jobs.

The waterfall was completed and tested on Saturday. No leaks other than a couple of minor drips that foam will seal. Went to the pond shop Sunday but they are still on winter hours. Closed Sunday and Monday. I could have gone to a big box but instead used their closure as an excuse to take a day off. Well mostly off. I did putter around the pond, whisking the bottom to remove stray leaves and dusting the stones about the perimeter.

The Panda Molly had a new litter. We, really Linda, were able to save a dozen from being consumed by the Angel fish. They are now in the tank holding last week's brood. Now about 30 in the 20G Linda is using for babies. She wants a 40 breeder, I do not. It will be an interesting back and forth that I have already accepted the future result of. Just do not want to go down without a fight.

Today I plan to connect the new and bigger waterfall pump after picking the foam up at the big box. Will use our original 2500GPH pump to drive the alligator and frog spitters as well as a fountain in a week or so. This will require some basic banjo work to hide the plumbing.

The goal is to have the pond work including gardening done by Memorial Day weekend when we host our annual fish fry party. My brother has already begun to jig the Jack Perch we use, and Linda and I will begin doing the same sometime this week. Need a lot of perch for the fish fry as they are little more than bacon strips when filleted.
 
Mostly pond work this week. Plan on doing walkways to today as well as finishing the sealing of the waterfall and adding some more visual interest to it.

The bigger pond pump overwhelmed the falls when I tested it. I have not yet installed the biofilter to it so am thinking the resistance that creates will lessen the flow a bit. Will also change from 1 to 1 1/4 inch piping which should lesson the pressure somewhat. However, the main fix is to raise the sides by another 6 inches or so. I have plenty of rocks to do so, just need to go get them. That means finishing the little garden tractor service which will take a couple hours this morning. Steam clean the engine and underside, sharpen the mower blades, change oil and plugs and add tubes to the back tires. I do not like spinning wrenches anymore. Arthritis in my hands makes it uncomfortable but the small engine guy would charge about 400 for what will cost me less than a 100. Two Tylenol will put 300 bucks in my pocket so to speak.

Yesterday Linda ordered a 90 gallon tank and brought home a 30 breeder. The 90 will be mothballed with the 44 for a few months. The 30 will have two dividers put in as soon as I have a moment to do so. Then we will begin to cycle it and Linda will begin breeding the golden lyretail male molly, (so kindly identified by the forum for me), and the black molly. She wants these two strains for the 90 and has decided it is better to breed her own as opposed to buying the stock. I think she just enjoys the children though.

Her continual addition of tanks has caused a problem for the dining room to fish room build. Instead of the single "lump" of cabinetry that I had envisioned I will likely need to do the build with modules. To create a seamless look will be a real test of my woodworking skills. She really does not care about my tribulations though and is intent upon going full steam ahead. I did tell her that under no circumstance is the 90 going to be set up prior to the cabinet being in place as I want that unit attached to the wall for the sake of weight distribution.

My brother and I spent a day on Lake Champlain. He had indicated the salmon and lakers were active. I had my doubts as it is still early and the thermocline was unlikely to have turned yet. I kept my doubts to myself though because we did need to jig perch for the cookout. I was correct and although we took one small laker the Salmon had not yet congregated into what I call the bowl off Port Henry. Spent the last few hours jigging around the docks with fathead minnows for Jack and Yellow Perch. That was a successful endeavor and accumulated sufficient bodies to feed the crew. Filleted them into bacon sized strips last night and put them in the freezer. Life is good. The salmon should arrive in about two weeks if history is true. The Lakers will become active at about the same time. We will go back in a couple weeks. I no longer fish like I used to though. In the past I went at least 3 to 4 times weekly and it was the prime activity of the day. Now I go far less often, and fishing is usually just a side activity of a day on the water. Funny how things change without any real forethought.

At any rate, today we will go to Northland to pick up two more cans of foam and some water hyacinths. The red root floaters can come out of their tote in the basement. It is a small tote but they will spread quickly. Later next week I will move the Flag Iris from the bog where they were wintered to the ponds edge and take the Canna and two unidentified marginals that we wintered in the bedroom outside to begin hardening. I had healed some cattails in by the brook for transplanting into the bog, but they were washed away by the monsoon. Not certain yet if I will hike out to the swampy area to dig more or just purchase some dwarf cattails. The dwarfs might be a better fit aesthetically. I will dig some arrowroot though for the margins. No sense buying what I can get for nothing.

The deck by the pond is complete. I do have to trim the edges with a round saw but that will take only a moment next time I have the power tools out there to build the deck by the firepit. Soon. Notice I said deck. Due to so many dollars spent on the new fish hobby this spring the Gazebo is on a short hold till fall as is the pergola. We will settle for decks and Linda has already erected the popup we use for RVing on the pond deck. It will have to do for now. I do need to put a couple coats of pigmented shellac on the surface to stop the wood from bleeding as well as seal the end grains. Will let the wood weather for a couple of weeks first.

Anyway the outside work is winding down and almost all the projects are as far as I will take them for now. Still have a fair amount of landscape work in front of us. That is mostly light work that is ongoing all summer though. Will post some pictures next week when the bulk of the final touches are in place.
 
Pond area work yesterday. The new 30 gallon breeder sits on the porch doing a leak test. It is not leaking, being new it should not.

For some reason, mostly based in being bull headed my mind is insisting on using those dastardly marble slabs around the pond. Yesterday I somewhat leveled a pathway from the steps to the Gazebo deck and then played them out, not once, not twice, but three times. The last time I staggered them and although not completely thrilled with the result will lay a stone dust base between Holland Bricks and then set the marble in place. The gaps will then be filled with a red crushed slate, and that is that.

A bit of a quandary today. Brother wants to go fishing on Lake Champlain today. With 3 - 4 days of rain forecast beginning tomorrow I am feeling self-pressured about completing the paver walkway today. I keep telling him it is to early for Lake Champlain salmon and lakers as the thermocline has not yet inverted. I think he just wants to drive his boat. I have a couple of hours to decide.

The 30 breeder sits with water on the porch. Just making sure it does not leak before popping it into the dining room. Got lots of good input from the forum on setting it up for fry that we will put to use. Hope to have it bubbling by Thursday or Friday. Going to really try to make it look like a canal using wood, rocks and live plants with a gentle lateral current. The background will be brick veneer so to look like a Feeder canal retaining wall. The Feeder Canal is a local waterway that connects the Hudson River to the Champlain Canal and was used to bring logs to International Paper and Finch Pryne paper companies in the olden days. Today it is part of the recreational system in our area and has really good Pickeral fishing from a canoe. My friends and I used to dive from some of the small bridges that that traverse the Feeder and I think scaping the 30 would tickle my memories.

Added two cups of Red Root floaters and three Hyacinths to the pond on Sunday. They look lost but if we do not get a late frost will multiply nicely based on what happened last year. Still have several cups of Red Root in the basement tote and will purchase a few more Hyacinths when we are more certain of being past the frost date. Our new weather patterns make past experience nearly meaningless.

I put the RV pop-up canopy on the deck over the weekend. It is about ten years old and on its last legs. Because we needed to rework our budget to accommodate the dining room to fish room conversion the Gazebo will likely remain a deck for now, perhaps until next year unless I decide to some side carpentry or plumbing. I usually have several opportunities to do so but normally decline. Another quandary. Anyway, will likely purchase a new pop-up for the gazebo deck in the next few days even though I am not a fan of temporary structures. Need it for the RV in any event.

Time to start deciding ... Fishing or Marble.
 
Pond area work yesterday. The new 30 gallon breeder sits on the porch doing a leak test. It is not leaking, being new it should not.

For some reason, mostly based in being bull headed my mind is insisting on using those dastardly marble slabs around the pond. Yesterday I somewhat leveled a pathway from the steps to the Gazebo deck and then played them out, not once, not twice, but three times. The last time I staggered them and although not completely thrilled with the result will lay a stone dust base between Holland Bricks and then set the marble in place. The gaps will then be filled with a red crushed slate, and that is that.

A bit of a quandary today. Brother wants to go fishing on Lake Champlain today. With 3 - 4 days of rain forecast beginning tomorrow I am feeling self-pressured about completing the paver walkway today. I keep telling him it is to early for Lake Champlain salmon and lakers as the thermocline has not yet inverted. I think he just wants to drive his boat. I have a couple of hours to decide.

The 30 breeder sits with water on the porch. Just making sure it does not leak before popping it into the dining room. Got lots of good input from the forum on setting it up for fry that we will put to use. Hope to have it bubbling by Thursday or Friday. Going to really try to make it look like a canal using wood, rocks and live plants with a gentle lateral current. The background will be brick veneer so to look like a Feeder canal retaining wall. The Feeder Canal is a local waterway that connects the Hudson River to the Champlain Canal and was used to bring logs to International Paper and Finch Pryne paper companies in the olden days. Today it is part of the recreational system in our area and has really good Pickeral fishing from a canoe. My friends and I used to dive from some of the small bridges that that traverse the Feeder and I think scaping the 30 would tickle my memories.

Added two cups of Red Root floaters and three Hyacinths to the pond on Sunday. They look lost but if we do not get a late frost will multiply nicely based on what happened last year. Still have several cups of Red Root in the basement tote and will purchase a few more Hyacinths when we are more certain of being past the frost date. Our new weather patterns make past experience nearly meaningless.

I put the RV pop-up canopy on the deck over the weekend. It is about ten years old and on its last legs. Because we needed to rework our budget to accommodate the dining room to fish room conversion the Gazebo will likely remain a deck for now, perhaps until next year unless I decide to some side carpentry or plumbing. I usually have several opportunities to do so but normally decline. Another quandary. Anyway, will likely purchase a new pop-up for the gazebo deck in the next few days even though I am not a fan of temporary structures. Need it for the RV in any event.

Time to start deciding ... Fishing or Marble.
Are you having insomnia posting at 3 AM?😄
 
Spent yesterday, Thursday, cleaning serious storm damage. The wind came from nowhere sometime in the middle of the night and must have been ferocious. The front yard had garbage strewn about from the cans which were blown clear across the driveway, (a good 75 feet). The gazing ball at the flagpole shattered, the Forsythia at the entrance flattened, a piece of roofing on one of the sheds peeled back, and that is just the front and south yards. The pond area took its share of beating also. Our statues not made of cement were blown over. the pop-up destroyed even though it was in the down position with the top canvas detached, and our willow tree damaged. Three sections of wood fence were knocked over.

This storm came with no rain and no warning. It was not predicted and seems to have been very localized. Anyway, the damage has been mitigated with the exception of my bear statue which is mow missing an ear. Will spend sometime today making holes in the resin statue bases and inserting a slop of cement to add some stability.

Despite the time taken for damage repairs we still kept to our water change schedule.

Today will be spent finishing the marble walkways and bordering them with Holland Blocks. The gaps will then be filled with compost and soil mixture in preparation for planting. The sides will also be planted with annuals. Linda will be doing most of that work after I finish setting the marble. I will be picking rocks to add to the pond and line the edges of the small bog. I am also considering whether I want to use the Bango to increase the bogs size in a small dry area that is adjacent to the bog and the pond. It currently sports an old bird bath but the birds prefer using the overflow pond apparently. We never see birds using the bath anymore. It looks like it might be a nice place to add some knee-high rush or similar plant that would like wet feet.

Last night, before nightfall, there was a commotion at the little stream that connects the overflow puddle to the bog. Buster dog went over to investigate and became very excited. He gets aroused for frogs and snakes, so I figured it was one or the other and we went went over to take a gander. Saw something I had not seen before and really never imagined.

A fairly large bullfrog was in the middle of swallowing another frog. The second frog's head was sticking out of the bullfrog's mouth. Linda wanted me to go into rescue mode, but I resisted the plea telling her this is life at the pond, and I could not rescue every dinner from its fate. She then proceeded to try netting the pair, but the bullfrog escaped with its dinner. I admit to having a mixed feeling about the second frog's fate and Linda gave me the cold shoulder for a bit of time.

Looking forward to Mother's Day/ We will have two of our children and five grands over for the day as well as my 91-year-old mother. I will dig the patio heater from storage in case it is too chilly for mom to enjoy the pond area. Will be serving smoked strip steaks, pasta salad, fruit salad, and mac and cheese. We will also use the last of our frozen strawberries for shortcake.
 
New day, new week, same old weather.

I am beginning to think I live in a denuded rain forest. Had on and off rain for 6 of the previous 8 days, some periods of actual deluge. Linda said we should grow rice on the low land near the Snook Kill. I failed to appreciate the humor.

Today will be perhaps 50 with cloudy skies that are supposed to open up into rain late afternoon. I will try to finish the waterfall sealing as soon as we get above 45F, currently 39. With no sun it will likely be late morning giving me a 5-hour window. Need four for the foam to develop a water worthy skim.

Linda will be transplanting the pond plants we raised indoors into a clay, sand, peat, loam mix that my grandson and I churned up for her with the cement mixer. Granddaughter and I then made a trip to PetsMart where we purchased 10 Rosey minnows and put them in the pond. They were all swimming about happily when I checked them a bit ago. Seem happy and the Goldfish do not seem interested in eating them. It bears watching.

Saw two Pileated Woodpeckers at the tree line by the bird garden that is adjacent to the pond. We have often heard them, but this was a first to see them The Downey, Red Belly and Hairy are the three that normally enjoy the bird garden. The Pileated looks huge in comparison. Hope they decide to get closer.

The 30 gallon sits empty because I am in a quandary of where to put it in the Dining Room to be Fish Room. Actually if I am honest the room has already taken on a fishy appearance.

After dinner grandson and I went to the shop and cut, routered and glued up some wood to make a small cabinet to hold fish supplies. We used pine because the wood is soft and easier for him to work. Granddaughter came out so I put her to work applying a sanding sealer to the pieces. Last night after everyone went home, I went back sanded the sealer and corrected some imperfections with chisels, sandpaper, and filler. I also assembled the case work after applying a stain. Will fine sand, apply a satin poly and mount it in the room in the next couple of days.
 
Avocation or Vocation ....... This is a good question

Yesterday, Saturday, was supposed to be a cloudy but rain free day. As I sat on the porch with a cup of joe and pondered the things I needed to do that morning the skies opened. Instead of feeling frustrated at the potential loss of another day working the outside living space a feeling of relief washed over me. It dawned on me that the outside living space had become a vocation. It had somehow become a job, something I HAD to do. As a listened to the pounding of water on the tin roof I began to think about this pond area Linda and I have been working so hard at and came to a couple of conclusions.

01. I want the pond area to be a special place. I want the waterfall to be just so, the pond margins properly rocked and planted, and the living space boundaries to be well planted with greenery interspersed with vibrant and appropriate colors.

02. I marveled at what two old bodies had accomplished last year in the forming of the pond, a waterfall, small stream, and finally the beginnings of a bog.

03. I looked out the window and felt a sense of accomplishment about the wood deck built to house a gazebo, the marble walkway, not completely finished but useable, and the firepit made of retaining wall brick that we had moved 20 or so feet to better accommodate the envisioned pergola.

Then I remembered how heavy those blocks felt a week or two back, much more so than when they were initially placed. In my mind I relived the aches and pains of sawing, screwing, and nailing that little deck together. I recalled the deep arthritic pain I felt at the end of a say kneeling and heaving on the marble slabs that made the new walkway. I also considered the soreness that accompanied the tearing down and rebuilding of the waterfall, and the work, still not completely done, of finishing the bog.

Now to be certain, my mind told my body, all of these things have value. Each will is an enhancement to some future relaxation. At the same time the brain took on a realization that these projects were taking a serious toll on both of us. That what just a year ago had been pure pleasure cloaked in a vision that demanded serious and heavy work, an avocation if you will, had become pure work, a vocation.

As I waxed philosophic, I realized I needed to slow down and more importantly accept that what I used to do I could no longer comfortably do. This lead to refill of my cup and on the way back a pen and paper pad. I corralled Linda to join me in a thought session. I explained to her my thoughts and was unsurprised by her general agreement. As the rain beat like a snare drum on the roof we drew a matrix on the paper. We started with a list of all we wanted in that outdoor space then slowly weaned it down to what we felt we needed for now. For enjoyment this year. In the end the list was not very large and we decided to attack as the job it had become. We will:

01. Finish the bog and plant it.

02. I will add attractive railings to the deck designed in such a way they will be able to support the now future Gazebo. Inside the railings we will erect a high quality canopy that can survive at least moderate winds without the need to be lowered.

03. We will not plant the spaces between the marvel pavers instead allowing the natural vegetation to grow in those spaces and taming them as part of our weekly yardwork.

04. I will build a small deck at the firepit.

That will be the end of the outside room work for now. The small list can be done quickly, although I will not rush it. In the end I felt the pond area was again becoming avocation and was no longer work. The lesson learned will need to be applied to the dining room to fish room conversion later in the year.

These efforts need to remain avocation and at all costs there is a need to refrain from them becoming vocations. Hobbies should be pleasure not work.

As the rain continued, we loaded Mutt and Jeff, my nicknames for Buster and Precious, into Linda's Jimmy and drove to the not so LFS. There we purchased several bog plants that I cannot dig in our own wetland. We also purchased a small Super Red BN Pleco. He is a beautiful creature. The bog plants will be planted today after church. That is all we will do today other than our normal water change routine. No more filling each day with chores.

Oh, and the rain did stop, the afternoon was sunny. We relaxed on the deck and played scrabble for a bit in the sunshine of a new attitude.
 

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