Joe Falls, Joe River, Joe Lake

Thirteen years ago, I had a pond installed in my backyard. I designed it, but this time I had a professional do the digging and the work to make it. I say this time because this is my second pond. The first I hand dug, and built from scratch. I always wanted to live on a lake, but never allowed myself to afford it. Instead I built the lake where I could enjoy it 365 days a year by looking out my kitchen window.

Over the years the pond has been doing its job of giving me endless hours of viewing pleasure while converting organic matter into sludge. Falling leaves, dead lily pads, fish waste and such have be accruing and settling to the bottom. Last fall the water turned a milky white and research indicated that was the result of too much organic matter What began as a 36 inch deep pond is now only 30, and that bothered me. I made-up my mind that this year I would dredge the bottom and recover the depth. It would have been easier to hire a bull dozer to scrape the entire pond out of mother earth and to start over.

I began this project in March and gave up on it in late May. First I drained it to the lowest level possible using the drain pipe. The plan was to pump the remainder down to the bottom. I never got there. The first pump I used was a weeny and couldn’t suck well enough to get a flow going. It reminded me of trying to suck a very delicious and thick milk shake through a very tiny straw. Being the cheap skate that i am I didn’t want to buy a new pump, so finally I decided to use the pump that is normally in action recirculating the water year around. It has much more sucking power and the outlet diameter is two inches. All that was fine, but I needed a piping system to handle the flow out of the yard. After several mental redesigns it came to me. I would buy a cheap two inch flexible hose and duct tape it to the pump exhaust port. (Duct tape is much cheaper than plastic pipe fittings especially when it takes multiple trips to the Home Depot to look for same.)

The hose arrived while I was traveling, and I began the final pump down the day after returning. Hooray, it worked! and the water level went down another twelve inches. leaving me with the final inches of what appeared to be water, but it was a slurry of muck which stalled the pump again. It didn’t have the power to suck out the final inches. What to do next? I need a pump the size of what the local firemen use on their trucks. I didn’t even bother to ask them. The next day it rained and filled the pond over the drain again. I was back to square one. Another two days passed before the water level receded by gravity. The bigger pump along with the large diameter hose got me back to the final mucky pool. I tried several ways to position the pump so that it only sucked water and not muck. No success. The final option was to bail out the final pool by hand. After filling two five gallon buckets that way I decided to think about a better way.

I slept on it for another two days. Then one morning I said to myself, “that’s it, I’m done.” I removed the pump from the muck and reinstalled it into the skimmer where it belongs, turned on the water, and watched the pond refill to its normal depth. An hour and a half later I plugged in the pump and the water began to flow. First Joe’s Falls began falling and flowing through the Joe River, and finally ending in Joe’s Lake. I’m happy. The pond is shallower than I would like it to be, but it is a lot cleaner since I got to remove a lot of debris from the part that was emptied.

Joe Falls
Joe River
Joe Lake

The next step is to buy some new goldfish to fatten up by the end of summer. They will provide some good eating for the Great Blue Heron that will stop by on his way south for the winter. In the meantime, I will enjoy watching the fish and water lily’s for the next six months.

Iris Cove

Just another day in paradise, this morning was glorious. I say was because it is already after noon. When one finishes breakfast at ten o’clock noon comes quickly. Thankfully, I haven’t kicked myself out of KETO this week, God knows I have tried. On Thursday I thoroughly enjoyed a sub sandwich from Jersey Mike’s bread included, then washed down with a sugar cookie. This morning I feasted on a mushroom-spinach omelet with thick sliced bacon.

Last evening I went for a bike ride with a friend and as usual I was way ahead and stopped to let us catch up with each other. I did something stupid on the start-up and wound up prone on the street. The last time I dumped on a bike was fifteen years ago when I hit a patch of wet leaves on the trail and found myself skidding on my side for twenty feet. It just goes to prove that if you ride long enough, you will have an ass dumping accident. At one block from home I stopped again to allow us to even up, and a white haired man stopped at the same corner. He shouted out “how are you doing?” “Fine” I relied. “God bless you,” he answered then drove off. Strange.

I was determined to find a new series on TV to watch and tuned into one called “Red Oaks.” The story revolves around a country club called of course “Red Oaks.” It takes place in the eighties and resembles “Mrs. Robinson.” Of course all the characters are filthy rich except the kids who work there parking cars, life-guarding, teaching tennis, or carrying golf bags. It is funny how all the staff sucks up to the rich membership. I would never do anything like that. I found it amusing and will continue to watch.

I spent another afternoon in the garden cleaning the other half of my pond which took a lot longer than I wanted to spend, but it was worth it. I cut back a huge bed of irises and the cattails for the first time in twelve years. I learned that one of the things drawing the pond water level is the irises. Another culprit is the cattail. I pulled a root that turned out to be two feet long and the diameter of a garden hose. If ever there was a pipe pulling water out it was that root.

Cattail Root–One Inch In diameter by two feet long
Iris Cove

The water level in the pond was down by six inches and I started the water to fill it. After half an hour the level was where it should be. It’ll be interesting to learn how the level changes now that two of the main culprits have been cut-off. At the end of the day I came in exhausted and sat at my computer staring at a screen fighting off sleep. I vowed that if I am still at this house next year that my garden will be as magnificent as it has been up until two years ago. The garden must be in my blood, just like bike riding is.

Talk-over Debate?

Thank you Lord! The weather is kick ass beautiful, and the temperature is downright civilized. I took advantage by a attending the funeral mass of a friend’s mother Josephine. She is eighty-four years and old mother of seven children all still talking to each other, six boys and one girl. The family attending took up a third of the available seats.

Upon landing at home, I dressed into my garden clothes and headed for the pond. One of the filters is clogging and the water level is down four inches. With the temperature in the seventies I decided to take the pump out for the winter and to clean both filters. That took about a half an hour. With so much beauty left in the day I kept rolling and began raking muck out of the water while the level is low. That took me an extra hour and a half. I used two kinds of rakes this time, first a leaf rake to skim out the decaying leaf matter, and then the garden rake to yank out the surviving water lily foliage. I had never used that rake before and expected it to do some serious damage, it did. The result is a bucket full of water lily roots which I now have to deal with over the winter. Oh well, I thought about thinning the lilies out a bit since they covered ninety-five percent of the pond surface. To keep a pond healthy there only has to be seventy percent coverage. At that coverage the alga bloom is in control. Less than that and the algae takes over. Frankly, I would rather look at out of control lilies than at algae.

After cleaning the muck and depositing it into the blue barrel for recycling I was done petered out, and hungry. I had a keto friendly snack of cheese and ham roll ups and a tall glass of berry flavored ice-water. Now this body has rebelled and is stuck in surf the internet mode on the internet.

The Vice presidential candidates debate this evening and I intend to watch the fight to the bitter end. I only hope my candidate destroys the opponent. Hopefully, it won’t be a talk-over type of debate. I’d really like to hear both side’s points of view. I hate when the candidate speaking gets talked over by his opponent or worse by the moderator.

I finished reading The Lost World, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I was not disappointed. The author managed to get the expedition out of the pre-historic valley in a believable, but exciting way. The grand finale was the report to all the cynics who were anxious to dispute any and all claims the expedition made about their findings. Not having photographic evidence did’t help the expedition, in lieu of pictures they chose to bring back living proof. They unboxed one of the creatures they found living in the valley, a pterodactyl. The proof seemed to shut up the disbelievers and excite the supporters. I recommend this story to anyone who likes adventure. * * * * * and surprise endings.

Day 52-SIP-Life Goes On

Every Spring I am blessed with a visit from a pair of mallard ducks. This morning, I spotted a rather violent splash of water in my water garden so lovingly referred to as my pond. The sun was shining so I knew it couldn’t be lightening or any storm related violence. I slowly crept up to the window with my camera ready. Low and behold, the splash was from the lady mallard landing in the water. Her faithful partner landed shortly thereafter. I have studied mallards to determine f they mate for life like swans, but they do not. In fact they are very promiscuous in their habits. Nevertheless, they like to sun themselves in my sacred little lake. Later this morning they will disappear until tomorrow at the same time.

Mallards Having Fun

I have dreams of the mallards raising their family in my back yard, but that has not been realized yet. I am hopeful that someday they will do it. The idea of seeing a dozen fuzzy little baby birds swimming around with mom is just too much to not want. I have watched parades of mallard families out for a training swim with their mother in the pond near the town of Frankfort. All I can say is that mom is relentless. She shows no mercy on her young. She swims around the entire pond and they have to keep up or they are lost. She never stops to rest, she just keeps on paddling, and the little ones keep up the struggle to show her they can make it.

At this time, the wetlands behind my house are loaded with Canada geese all nurturing their newly hatched families. There is already too much vegetation blocking my view so I won’t see any of the youngsters until mom and dad begin the flying lessons. Then I see them taking off in formation and circling overhead before landing again. They remind me of the jets doing similar exercises from an air base. When I wintered in Arizona I was ten miles away from Luke Air Base where they trained pilots. The way they fly and the train is so like the geese it is amazing. When I see pairs of geese coming in for a landing I also visualize F 15 fighter jets coming home.

Spring is also a great time to bird watch because so many birds are migrating and stop in the yard to feed and rest. My yard is loaded with warblers that are not yearlong residents They will disappear until some time in fall when they reverse migrate. The slate grey junco and the black juncos are now gone, or very rare. They migrate to the north into Canada to have their families. Meanwhile the flock of Canada geese that call Illinois their home is growing by leaps and bounds. Most likely because there are so many acres of fields planted in corn and soy beans that their food supply is plentiful, even in winter. One can see a thousand geese gleaming a newly harvested field. The next week, the same flock will be in another field doing the same. All I can say is that the farmers lose a lot of grain during their harvest.

A few years ago, we had a bout of mosquito borne bird flu called West Nle Virus which took out huge populations of popular wild birds. There was a day when I thought for sure I would never see another chickadee. Yet, many years later the chickadee and all the other birds damaged by the West Nile Virus have come back strong. We will also come back strong after COVID-19, but now we must suffer until we develop immunity. At this point, the only way I know of to get immunity is to get the disease and live through it.

Day 11-Another Day in the Garden

I woke up this morning to another cloudy day with a promise of a warm temperature. My KETO breakfast consisted of egg salad loaded with chopped scallions, onions, celery, and green pepper. Lunch was some very old freezer burned Groton fish sticks with cheese and a few green grapes. Supper will be fried Tilapia, cauliflower mash, and a mixed vegetable medley of brussel sprouts, green beens, and onions. I weighed this morning and I have not lost any weight for a couple of weeks now. That’s what I get for falling off the diet and overdosing on carbohydrates. I am about ten pounds away from my goal which is to weigh what I did when I was in the prime of life. Not that this isn’t the prime, but at the point when I was a serious bicycle rider, overly horny, and had energy to spare. Some of those prime qualities are beginning to reappear since my weight loss and I don’t have the carb sluggishness. But none of this has anything to do with what I began to write about.

I have just a few more days remaining before I completely clean my gardens from winter detritus. By then more plants will be pushing their way through the ground and buds will begin to appear on shrubs and trees. That is when I begin the Monet Vision 2020 overhaul. My goal this year is to minimize the amount of work I do ever year to create a new vision. Instead large spreads of colorful annuals I want to use existing perennials to turn the garden into a lower maintenance picture. I also intend to do better at vegetables by adding a salad garden. Big dreams, not really, but that is what day-eleven of self imposed exile is doing to keep my mind occupied.

Yesterday, I dredged the pond and removed about six cubic feet of heavy decayed leaves. It took an hour and a half to wear me out. Today, I attacked the backside of the pond and cleaned it out, but I only lasted for forty-five minutes. At least I now have the entire garden encircling the pond cleared. Next, will be the north garden defining the the property line between neighbors. After that, is the garden that provides the background for the pond. Eventually, I’ll get to the frontside of the house. I take a philosophical view of the front side. I don’t look at the front, but I spend a lot of time looking at the back garden. Sorry, folks, but I have the Italian approach to my gardens, i.e. why should I expend effort on making things look good for strangers. I learned from my friend Marco with whom I spent a whole day in Italy at our manufacturing plant. We went to lunch at a deli which looked like a dive from the outside, but once inside it was magnificent; paneled in mahogany, with granite countertops, sparkling glass show cases, chandeliers, mirrors, and tons of delicious foods to please our palates. I commented on the surprise of seeing such a dump externally, but at the beauty of the interior. Marco then told me the Italian custom to spend money living elegantly inside your home, and not spending money to show off to your neighbors. Made sense to me.

 

 

 

 

I am also hooked on watching mini-series TV programs, the latest is “Homeland.”  First I watch regular TV if any of my favorite shows are on, if no regular tv I watch a movie from On Demand, and if the movie ends early I will switch to a series.  A typical series consists of six to twelve episodes of a continuous story, each episode is one hour long without commercials. So far, I have completed “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel,” three-seasons, “Jack Ryan”, two-seasons and now  I’m nearly finished with”Homeland” season one. I love watching spy movies and both Homeland and Jack Ryan are based on CIA type plots. All I can say is if only ten percent of what I am watching is true I can understand why the world hates the USA and the CIA. We do a lot of bad things in the name of protecting our country from bad guys. Bad things happen both ways. The atrocities committed by our enemies are worse than those we commit against them. Two of the series have been about Muslim terrorist plots and nothing in the stories has convinced me that the muslims are poor good-guys that we are picking on.

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