Thursday, October 23, 2008

Home Improvement or Disaster Recovery?

Remember that big ol' hole in the ground?

Well though we should have been done with it weeks ago we have been plugging along and barring any more surprises we should be done with the porpoise enclosure by this (sunny) weekend. (by the way, if you click on these pics they should get BIG)

We got his and hers matching colds so that put us back for a bit, and then this project is a little like landscaping with rocks. By that I mean the materials and techniques are not particularly conducive to a 'quick and easy home improvement do-it-yourselfer, weekend project'. (This stuff is heavy!). And the extreme makeover home edition crew didn't get the memo I guess. Then too this project has been a little bit snake bit from the start. For example: When we went up and bought the first load of materials I came home with among other things a mix of plumbing fittings. I bought, and the pond guys sold me, two long pieces (one long, one really long) of 1½” flexible PVC pipe. This stuff is much more expensive than that rigid white stuff you plumb the barn or UG sprinkler system with. But it’s ‘pond specific’ (read stupid expensive). But it really is a lot easier to work with. Somehow, between the pond supply place and home (about a 50 minute drive one way I might add) the really long piece had mysteriously morphed from 1½” to 2” diameter pipe. Sure they will gladly swap the 2” for what I really wanted and they thought they really supplied, but they are temporarily out of stock. That sort of thing. I'd tell you about the TWO! Subesequent round trips required to get the right replacement piece, but, well, you are starting to get the picture. And I underestimated some of the other ‘pond specific' supplies I’d need. (McCubbins are not just short tempered, they are also 'frugal')

This liner material isn’t just your garden variety black plastic from K Mart. Oh no, it too is ‘pond specific’. It is essentially a big expanse of rubber mat, the kind of stuff that truck inner tubes are made of.

Very ‘fish and plant friendly’, UV resistant, heavier than a beached whale, and oh yes, worth it’s weight in ceramic ball bearings. I believe we are probably doing more to 'thaw the credit freeze' than Henry, George, and Ben Bernanke combined. When I brought that first load home the little truck was running down the freeway with the headlights pointed at the sky. The combination of half a ton of pond liner, liner pad, pump, filter box, hoses, fittings, clamps, filters, etc. in back, off set by my incredibly lightended wallet up front made for funny steering.

Since the liner is pond specific, I’m sure you can appreciate that this stuff can’t be spliced with ordinary duct tape. Splices require two separate and specific types of pond specific tape (sold by the foot of course) layered in a specific order, a surface prep chemical material (I suspect it’s just inner tube patch glue) and another special silicone calk to finish off the edges. I’m getting a real education, not just in mechanics and hydraulics, but also global finance practices.

I complain but really this is fun and like any landscape project it is very rewarding to see results.

Some of the neighbors wander down from time to time to kibitz, cluck their tongues, and essentially check on our progress. I’m sure they probably question the wisdom and the progress, but clearly they are interested and have become used to Rocky Acres doing things in a big way, we being the only ones along the lane to have raised our house post flood. They may see a mess,

but I can see a waterfall, fountain, and lots of aquatic and riparian plants adrift or swaying in the breeze. It’s going to be great. Like raising the house, upgrading the cabinets, floors, and other items, this is part flood recovery (the old pond was pretty much trashed by the flood) and part home improvement project.

In the process of wiring for this feature I took a little time out to install and wire the ‘runway’ lights. We had these before the flood and of course they got hammered in the flood and the subsequent reno-demo-vation. So here we are almost a year post flood and I am just now getting around to this, seemingly simple fix. But you know, ’everything is connected to everything’ so naturally, I couldn’t just replace the lights, because when they jacked up the house, the house movers had to cut through all the underground wiring along the house, and well, like I said, everything is connected to everything. Oh, and chasing electrical shorts is a little harder when it is UG then when it is in the crawl space.

The ever curious inspector.

Break time for the chain gang.

We have had a few bikish moments, not as much as I would have liked but this pond business is not something best left for rainy days, and I would like to get it finished. Starting new projects is really good, finishing old ones fantastic!

Post Script: I apologize for the disjointed presentation here. I'm no techno-wizard, (I only recently figured out that a computer doesn't require a starter rope) so obviously the finer points of BLOGGER are just beyond my grasp. But here too, I'm having fun and I hope you are too.


  1. That Olympic sized swimming pool is looking great. Let me know when it is done and I'll bring my swim trunks down.

  2. Flippers and face mask too! Maybe a spear gun if you have one, we're thinking Baracuda to make the swimmer's experience a little more 'epic'.