Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Complexity of Adversity

It's about 80 degrees and sunny, a beautiful day, and I have a splitting head ache.

There is an old adage that goes something like this: "If two or more things could go wrong, the worst one will". But what about when two, or three, or even more things go wrong, all at the same time? It can seem like things, inanimate things are conspiring to not only make 'winning' harder to achieve, it starts to seem like there is some unseen, ‘dark force’ effectively moving you away from the goal. You know, like the rip tide that forces you parallel to the beach no matter how hard you swim for shore.

It's like that (or so it seems) for me right now.

The 'things' that conspire are large and small and in between. Though I know better, at least intellectually, my peasant genes reacts the same in every situation. I get mad when the raccoons come at night and gorge on the bird seed and suet cake at the feeding station. That does not set me off so much but when I flip on the prison yard lights out back in the middle of the night and they just look up, their red eyes staring back unblinking as I do my frantic mad homeowner dance … and they just continue to stare back .... until I have to begin walking out there at least onto the gravel walk way that pokes at my bare feet and THEN they climb down the fence and amble back to the woods, well that makes me mad. And then, flipping the lights on a half hour later to repeat this same ritual all over? Now that makes me boil over.

Then there is the pump/pond/leak syndrome:
Having a pond, a waterfall, and a fountain all seem fairly straightforward. Indeed for most it might be so, but for me, not so much. For some reason I have been snake bit on this one. I have for the last couple weeks been fine tuning the relationship between the pond, the pump, the skimmer box, the water fall, and the fountain. Most of what I have learned (reading books, websites, parts/equipment/materials manuals and spec sheets, talking with suppliers, how to tomes etc.) has made sense and all worked together pretty well. Still, I am having problems getting this whole lash up to run smoothly. The fault in the past was a leaky liner. OK, the guy in the mirror owns that issue, but together he and I have done a meticulous job (and it does need to be meticulous to be effective) of chasing the down and patching the leaks.

OK, no leaks: we’re better than half way home, now we dive in to the more fun part; landscaping, plants, fish, animals, right? Well there is an inherent problem with the sizing of the pump and the skimmer box (the enclosure the pump sits in outside the pond). The guys I bought these items from sold me a skimmer box that is just a bit too small for the pump. Oh the pump fits inside no problem, it’s just that the pump has the capacity to pump the box dry because the inlet port (from the pond) is too small to allow sufficient flow. I have to nearly submerge the skimmer box, and even at that, the flow capacity is so sensitive that if I loose an inch or two of water level (not hard to do as my pond has a pretty high ratio of volume to surface) the pump goes sucks the bix dry. This is of course very bad for the pump and a situation I cannot tolerate. I’ve been trying to devise some work arounds but it looks like I’m going to have to go back to the pond guys and get them to trade me for a bigger box. I could go for a smaller pump, but the pump (capacity) is scaled to the volume of the pond and if I go smaller I will likely have problems with insufficient water exchange which then effects water quality for fish, plants, animals etc and usually results in excess algae blooms. Everything is connected to everything.

Ok so just pull the box and plunk in a bigger one right? Well in the cosmic scope of things it is that simple. But the actual doing (on the local scope of things) is a pretty challenging task. There’s digging the box into the earth here at Rocky Acres, no small feat given the landscape crew I have. Getting it the right depth in relation to the desired water level of the pond, getting it plumb, level, and set so it is not going to be developing any stress cracks once it’s full of water and a humming (vibrating) pump.

This little challenge brings out the McCubbin in me. Our family coat of arms I imagine has the typical crossed swords (more likely peasant mattocks and hay rakes) and armored helmets (felt hats?) with a banner below sporting a proclamation thus: “McCubbin – My Head Is Harder Then This Brick Wall”. But even so, this ground hog day scenario has gone past its prime and I’m ready to move on.

The grass! I made a terrible mistake in late winter/early spring: Once the days start to get a little longer, but before it warms up much, the moss in your lawn takes off, getting the jump on the grass. My neighbor suggested I put on some weed and feed to kill the moss. I thought about it and figured ‘what can it hurt’? Well the lawn took off like the yard out front of Homer Simpsons Nuke Plant. Seriously, I think I can actually hear it growing! So of course that means mowing more frequently and then what happens? The rider develops a mysterious electrical short and won’t start! I can mow this place in about an hour with the rider, but with the yuppie electric push mower, it’s easily double the time. And of course, the way the grass is growing it’s not just longer but also more frequently. Ugh!

A couple small landscape projects: I want to get another load of dirt in here to smooth out the yard where the trenches were dug to slip the beams under the house when it was raised. But that’s where I have the huge pile of rocks staged to go into and around the pond once the plumbing issues are resolved. Everything is related to everything!

In the background, or perhaps more appropriately like a drop cloth spread over it all, I have this chronic sinus issue. This really is like carrying your lucky cinderblock around in your saddle bag: it’s just a constant drag on almost everything.

The re-surgery I had last month went well, and I seemed to be recovering appropriately. The runny nose was pretty much gone, but the cough remained. The Doc said not to worry over it too much yet. He cleared me for more physical activity and as I was ramping up I came down with another sinus infection last weekend. A sinus infection is really a minor malady, even when it’s bad it’s more akin to a hang nail than lung cancer, but it’s set me back, physically and psychologically. And like a hang nail, it's always there, more or less. The constant pressure head ache is a little reminder that little green friends have taken up residence and are multiplying like rabbits …inside your body. This one has gone straight to my lungs so I’m coughing up green lung cookies. I sound like a two pack a day smoker, partly because of the infection but also partly as a reaction to the steroid anti-inflammatory drugs I’m once again taking. Oh and there is the antibiotics and their attendant impacts on the digestive system (don’t get too far from the toilet!)
A couple of friends have suggested that things seem to get a little problematic as we get older. I know ow I'm old, (I'll be 60 tomorrow!) but old does not have to mean infirm, and I dedicated to an active old age.

It’s a collection of little things but I feel like that dark force has a hand on my shoulder every time I turn towards the bike.

I’ve got a couple pressing projects at work with deadlines in the first part of next month. Once I have those in the bag, I’m going to take a few days off. I should be over this sinus problem by then, the weather should be favorable (about 80 degrees today!) and I’ll have some time for a few things I need to do and a few things I want to do.

Oh it’s not all sideways. The fuchsias have just exploded. If we remember to keep them moist we should have a ton of blooms in a week or two.

The color pots I worked on a month ago and scattered around the patio and the front porch are hitting their stride,

and the perennials are colorful as well. It looks colorful if a little unkempt around here, That darned grounds crew also needs to get busy weeding.

Oh yes: Claw sharpening:

And then rest in the shade.

I'll get through this bad patch, I hope to ride a complete series of brevets befor the season is over and I'll have to get busy to get strong enough for that.

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