Take Baby Steps, Fast

This has been a disappointing day. It began with sunshine and quickly morphed into a grey cloudy day with occasional sprinkles. Needless to say the temperature has been cool. I love warm, to very warm days like those we had a couple of weeks ago. There is an upside to this kind of day, it is great for the garden. The soil remains damp which helps the seeds that Lovely planted germinate. Several of her plots are showing signs of major growth. I even sowed some flower seeds around the perimeter of her garden and they too are sprouting. Hopefully they will mature and yield some colorful blooms.

About a month ago I dumped two dozen comet goldfish into the pond and now I watch them grow in size and reduce in numbers. The most I can count is eleven, so where are the remaining thirteen? Most likely in the belly of a bright green frog that lays in wait at the edge of the water. I’m tempted to dump another dozen or two into the water to become cousins to the ones that are now three times the size of what they were when they were first released.

After I finish this post I will cut up a potato and plant the eyes in a pot just to see what transpires.

My latest art project is progressing although rather slowly. I’m beginning to lose interest. I have learned something though, that is, that every time I make my own pattern I make it too complicated. As an artist I am a realist and try to make my pieces accurate. That means I wind up with too many small pieces of complicated shapes in an attempt to capture the subject realistically. Oh well, I keep telling myself to take baby steps, which is what I do. The trick is to take baby steps but fast.

Cost to Grow vs Buy

Expanding the garden at my age only makes me appreciate tomatoes and cucumbers at the grocery store. It is so easy to pick from the pile in the vegetable section compared to picking the same item from a vine that you planted and nurtured, watered, and dusted for bugs. (Oops, I wasn’t supposed to say dusted for bugs). If Lovely finds out I did such a thing she won’t let me eat any of the fruits of her labor.

My part of the garden involves digging, spreading compost, and warding off critters with suitable rabbit deterrents such as fencing. The remainder is up to Lovely. She plants, waters, weeds, and shoos away bugs and birds. I have donated two home made whirly gigs as bird deterrents. I don’t really believe they will scare a hungry bird away from succulent greenery, but it sounds good.

My plan to cure Lovely’s ravishing appetite for onions, cucumber, beets, and sorrel is to expand the space she has to plant. This will be the third expansion since we have been together. (When will I learn that only a 100,000 acre ranch will do the trick.) The first plot was a dainty five foot by eight foot area. The second step added a second plot of five by ten, this time I am going ten foot by twenty, an expansion of five times more space. than the original.

Lovely’s Garden

I promise myself not to keep track of the cost of these vegetables because it includes a love factor that can’t be monetized. Besides the more money she spends on veggie plants the more I will spend for flowers in my little world of the Monet Vision.

One Small Room In Grumpa Joe’s Garden

This week, my big accomplishment was to open the pond. That means dredging the bottom of a thick, stinky layer of fermenting leaves, and then re-installing the pump, and pray that is still works. It did, but the whole effort took two days which equals five hours total of physical labor. Each time I went out with a promise not to spend more than one hour, but each time the job required twice that much time. Each day after completing a specific task, I came in and collapsed in front of my computer for the remainder of the day. I once had a boss who said the job expands with the amount of time available to do the job. As I age, this adage makes more and more sense.

I went out of my way to run to PetsMart to buy some fish, and bought two dozen comets that measure about one inch long. Of course, after stabilizing the water temperature in the bag, I let them loose and they disappeared instantly. It’ll give me something to do everyday, that is, to watch the water to spot one. In the past it was two weeks before I finally saw a fish, and they were about twice the size as they were when I released them them. By the end of summer, about five of them will be four inches long and the rest will be much shorter. Come November, when the leaves drop from the trees into Lake Joe, and begin to decay, the process will consume the oxygen in the water, and the fish will die. In the fifteen years that I’ve been raising goldfish in this lake, I have only been able to winter them successfully twice. In my first pond, I never lost more than four fish over the winter, and I never bought new fish, they propagated. The difference is the depth of the water, aeration, and the filtration system. In the first pond I designed and built all the components, and this pond was done by a professional. It might be time to dig it up and start all over with the same amateur design I used for pond #1.

This story began with me whining about how much work there is to expand the vegetable garden, and it ends with a Nova like burst of energy required to rebuild a pond from scratch, It isn’t going to happen, I’ll spend five bucks every year to add new goldfish just like I do with the flowers.

Garden Dreams

FINALLY! The weather is beginning to cooperate a little. Of course the warmer temperatures bring on true spring fever. In my case spring fever means I get tired and want to sleep in the middle of the day. Like right now. Our flowering trees are in full display this week, and we rejoice at the beauty of it. Some trees are nearly all leafed out but others, like the cotton woods are still only budding at the tips of their branches.Historically, the Old Farmer’s Almanac warns that the last official freeze date is May 15. Since we experienced some minor snow showers last week I believe the official freeze date is holding, and I won’t waste my energy planting anything just yet.

I did take advantage of a plant sale being held by the Friends of the Library. They announced their official pick up date as May 13, and I’ll be there to bring home some baby geraniums to plant in the big pot that guards our front door. I love geraniums. Probably because my mother had them every year and wintered them in the house. She placed pots of them in front of each bedroom window to get light, and because the bedrooms were kept cool, the plants loved it. The smell of the geranium plant stirs me almost as much as bright sunshine at 6:00 a.m. every morning.

Today my grass cutter, Jose streaked across the lawn on his stand up mower, and I flagged him down. I’m not sure he has official papers to be in this country, but being a smart man, he married his anchor. I asked him if he would help me expand Lovely’s vegetable garden. Like a dummy, I told her I would double the size of it so she could expand her pickle factory. She is not letting up on me, and now I have to deliver. The problem Jose has is that his hired help left him for a better job, and he can’t find anybody to replace him. Damned cheap labor can’t get any cheap labor.

My indoor project is coming along, but most likely after next week it will go on hold as my outdoor projects will take over. I promised myself that I would drain the pond and clean it this year before I installed the pump for the summer. Then there is a slight remodeling of the landscape next to the waterfall. The grasses that I planted a few years ago are expanding at the speed of light and need to be thinned out. The only positive way to do that is to use chemical weapons. Pond grass roots deep and far. Pulling on the stems only serves to wear out the puller. Since both sides of the waterfall are lined with boulders, digging out the grass is hopeless.

Spring is a good time to split daffodils and resurrection lilies. I have two large clumps of each that I must dig up, separate and then replant further apart. Most likely I’ll spread them around the yard to spread the joy for next spring. I once saw a photo of a field filled with daffodils. I meant it was filled as far as the eye could see. Maybe it was photoshopped, but the attached article explained it was the work of a single lady gardener who kept separating and replanting the bulbs. She had no help, but after forty or fifty years she had several acres of yellow flowers covering her property. In my mind, all I could think is that she didn’t do anything except eat, sleep and replant daffodils all her life. As much as I loved that picture I will never have the property, but more importantly I would never have the drive to do the work. How could I wile away my days at the computer surfing the internet if I was out replanting daffodils from sun-up til sun-down?

This summer the Monet Vision may actually become a vision worthy of seeing, that is, if I can tear myself away from this machine, and my work shop downstairs to make it happen.

I did it once, I can do it again!

Spring is in the Air

Officially, it is still seven days away from the formal end of winter, but spring is in the air. Winter will lose the battle and allow the sun to return and warm the planet again. One would think that with all of the freezing and warming that planet Earth would begin to crack, maybe it does. Earthquakes are caused by the tectonic plates shifting under us. Who knows, I may be on to something, and win a Pulitzer prize for geologic science.

What I do know is that the trees and shrubs are beginning to bud, although ever so slightly. My desire to sit at the computer to write for my blog is waning as I find myself staring out the window at the sunny days. The to-do list for the garden is building in my mind, and I have some really nice projects lined up. The problem will be to find the physical energy to do them. At the moment the ground is still frozen and hard as granite in the morning, and becomes mushy soft and slippery (that’s what she said) when the day heats up. So I sit at the computer and ponder how I will clean the pond to restock it with fish while daydreaming about the flowers I will plant to make the Monet Vision a vision. Each day I retire totally worn out and ready for a ten hour nap.

I can’t really complain about our winter this year, because I only had to shovel snow once. Most winters the shoveling is a daily task. Same goes for low temperatures. This thing about global warming may be real, except our winters vary from year to year, and I’ll never believe that man made global warming is a real thing. It is more like a communist plot to over throw the civilized world. With summer coming even President Joe Biden will be able to walk out to the street to buy his ice cream cones from local Mexican street vendors. If we are very lucky, he will wander off and get lost.

My memory is beginning to fade. I am actively making dates to conduct vision screenings at schools and then forgetting all about them. This morning the contact at a pre-school reminded me that she will see me tomorrow. After seeing my deer in the headlights look she followed up with a reminder that I made the date to screen all of her kids and that today was just the Tuesday-Thursday classes, and tomorrow will be the Monday-Wednesday classes. If anything scares the hell out of me it is the thought of losing my memory. Once it begins it tends to go fast. Seven days to go and counting fast.

Halloween Left-overs

This year I was optimistic about the number of kids that would come trick or treating. After all, COVID has quieted down in our area and everybody is anxious to get out. A month before the event my grocery store ran a sale of Halloween candy. I bit and bought a bag of 250 pieces of Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Twix, and M&Ms. Guess what? The crowd was minimal. I don’t think we had fifty kids come to the door. Of course it helped when my neighbor two doors down set up a giant air slide that he uses for his grand kids and I saw several kids pass by my house and make a b-line to the slide. Thank you Sue, but next time give me a warning. Now I’m stuck with all my favorite candies tempting me to kiss KETO goodbye. The system doesn’t work if I eat KETO breakfast, lunch, and supper, but snack on candies in between.

I worked a couple of hours this afternoon troubleshooting my pond pump which mysteriously stopped pushing water to my water fall. I pulled it out a couple of days ago when the temperature was in the low sixties, today it is in the thirties and a few hours ago it was snowing. Not very good weather to be playing outside in water, but it was a great day to play inside with water. I disassembled the pump and found nothing that would stop the impeller. I plugged it in on the bench and the impeller spun. After putting it back together I had two bolts left over and no nuts. I searched for a few minutes and thought maybe I have some of these nuts in my cache. I have hundreds of nuts, but not the kind I needed. I moved every tool, and part I had on the bench but found nothing. I scanned the floor around my bench with a spot light, nothing. Then the brain kicked in and started retracing my steps, I did walk the parts to the slop sink to clean them, so I scanned the sink, nothing. Then the light went on above my mind, look in the drain. Yep that’s where they were.

A second assembly later I declared the pump ready for a test, indoors that is. I left off the 90 degree elbow with the check valve, and put the pump in a five gallon bucket with water to test in my basement slop sink. The water shot up and gushed forth. Next, I thought why not see if the valve is the problem. I reassembled the elbow with the valve, and then thought long and hard about plugging it in. Do I venture ahead and test with the possibility of having to clean up four gallons of water, or do I drag the thing up the stairs to test it on the patio. I chose the patio. It took a few minutes to get it in place, but that was easier than mopping the basement from a man-made flood. I plugged it in, and water gushed out of the elbow, Great, I thought then it turned off. What? Why did that happen? My mind raced through a checklist of possibilities and then it dawned on me the bucket was empty. In that instant of turning the pump on it emptied the bucket. Whew! Problem solved.

I carried the bucket and the pump back to the basement and refilled the bucket with water. The manufacturer recommends storing the unit submerged in water to keep the seals from drying out and causing the oil to leak. Even though I am satisfied that the pump is healthy I still have a problem. The water fall no longer works, The next step will be to look for things that may be plugging the plumbing. If I live until April and I remember where I left off I’ll tackle it then. Right now I’m dreaming about wintering in Arizona where the only way I know if it snows is when the mountain tops above 7000 feet turn white.