Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rock. .Check

Last week I showed you all pictures of the waterfall coming out (I am missing it terribly) and the hole being dug. We spent a little time outside each evening working on it.  The kids helped and played as we all enjoyed the cooler temperatures!  It is coming along well, and rapidly.  The work and brain strain was much HARDER than I anticipated (I don't know why that always happens!).  As the pond shapes up, and you can gradually see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, I am getting more excited for the fun landscaping and fish stories to come!
The first thing after digging the hole, was to level the pond up.  Since we were planning on doing some berming around the pond (or pushing up of the dirt for plantings), Jeremy took his pink string and tied one end to two sticks.  He put a stick on each end of the pond and then used his level to adjust the string to where the dirt level needed to be backfilled. 
After that was in place, he used the little tractor to back fill dirt around the pond to the height it needed to be. This made the pond hole around 3 1/2-4 feet in the center, to ensure the pond water doesn't freeze completely, and 1-2 feet deep around the edges, before it gradually slopes down toward the bottom.
When the pond had been contoured and the dirtwork was done, it was time to set the skimmer box and filter falls.  This little box will house the pump.  The water gets slurped through the opening and is filtered as it runs toward and through the pump and into the tube on the left.  The tube carries it about 25 feet up to the waterfall filter box.  There it gets filtered a second time, and flows into a stream bed (which you will be able to see better later) and then back into the pond!
Both boxes should be easy to conceal with large flat pieces of limestone that I have already. Next came a HUGE pile of underlayment--which will keep tree roots and sharp rocks from coming through to the liner and the liner. 
We used the tractor to haul the liner and underlayment out to the pond and then rolled the liner down into teh pond. It was REALLY heavy--and everyone had to help lay it down and unfold it!!
After that was down, the kids really enjoyed playing in there!! 

Friday, we took off right after lunch and stopped in Wichita to buy rock.  The limestone that we usually haul out here will adversely affect the water composition, and can be detrimental to fish (especially no bigger than our pond will be).  This was a 2 ton pallet of creek stone.  It is really smooth and a brownish/gray in color. Kansas Natural Stone in Wichita was really good to work with, and gave us some extra savings on our pallet.  They sure had a "ton" of rock to check out before we could decide! (HAHA!)

We started unloading that rock onto the pond liner as soon as we got home Sunday afternoon.  You can tell by the pictures, that it was getting dark as we finished.   
We basically outlined the top edge of the pond with the rock.  The water level will be about 1/2 way up on most of the rocks there.  We also layed down a layer of stone to the edge of the biggest "shelf" (basically an area that will be conducive to putting water plants on) to keep the small rock from sifting to the bottom. We will then fill in with river rock onto the ledges and in the stream bed. 
Here's a better picture of the waterfall filter box in the background and the outline of the streambed.  We are still not sure how the logistics of the waterfall will actually work, but, no doubt, we will get it figured out eventually!

We have added water to the pond and have a few adjustments left to make before showing some final pictures.  I have piles of limestone rocks everywhere!! It will take me some time to add those back around the perimeter and landscape it back in.  Hopefully in the next few days, we will again enjoy the sound of running water!! If you live in the area, feel free to come out anytime and see our progress!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Home. .it does a body good!!

This past weekend found us in the pickup, headed east for a weekend with my people.  We haven't been able to be there since June. .and we last saw my middle brother and his family in March.  On the way, we stopped to get a pallet of creek stone to lay on the edge of the ever-transpiring pond.  Not far from their home, Devin spotted a huge swarm of migrating monarchs.  We had noticed them in abundance each mile of the trip, but hadn't seen anything like the hundreds of them all swarmed together in the sky! What an incredible sight!
This was the annual class reunion weekend.  I have a 20 year reunion next year, but was hoping to run into the class of '90 this year.  They have a fabulous parade.  We met my youngest brother and his 2 1/2 kids and wife at the parade.  The kids were a riot to watch as they made work of collecting all that booty! By the end, Haley and Cami had their biggest smiles and princess waves going on. They caught on VERY quickly, that if you do that. .people throw candy!!
Grandma told us to keep the candy away from PAPA!! But Teegan wasn't having any of it--he loaded him up.  Poor little 2 year old guy--At one point, he had so many candies in his hands that each time he picked one up, he dropped 2 more.  The look on his face as he frantically looked at all the candy around his feet and then at his full hands was PRICELESS!! We decided that it was toddler HELL--Too much candy and not enough hands!
Even Jeremy got in on the action of retrieving candy!

My aunt and uncle were home from Illinois this weekend for her class reunion.  One of the signs of a big family, is when you have a family member on nearly every 5th year float from 1965 till the present day!!  Aunt Alice is the lady in the white tee shirt second from the right--She looks very much like my dad--and it is always fun to listen to those two tell stories about things they used to do!! The twinkle in their eyes says it all!  They were good buddies, and seemed to find themselves in many adventures!! I'm sure they rubbed off on their 4 younger siblings, because the stories don't get any less crazy as the younger ones tell them!

My mom also participated in her reunion.  She would be the only one on the float looking at me. .the one with the big smile on her face! We didn't get to see her much! She had a class dinner Sat evening, but my sister and I enjoyed visiting with her until nearly midnight after she got home!
My middle brother had a class reunion too, but he didn't ride on the float.  Instead he had his own float, advertising his business as a veternarian. 
Grant and Devin decided to ride on the back of it with Aunt Tina and their three kids.  I was told that they were very helpful. . except for when Grant hit someone in the head with the candy they were throwing!  My sister and her kids rolled in from Topeka just in time to see the parade from the other end of town. So we missed their company!
Teegan, Haley, and Cami had quite a load of candy to take home with them!!
We enjoyed all of dad's family after the parade--everyone from Grandma, who will be 87 next week, to my youngest cousin (whom I have never even met) who will be 3 a few weeks after Cami.  The house was crowded and noisy, with a ton of commotion--just like I like it!!
Jeremy doesn't get that--his family is small and quiet.  So he spent some extra time downstairs at mom's watching football after his stent of socializing!  I just relaxed and soaked it all up--it has been a LOOONG time since we had that much family together!!  At one time there were around 38 of us indoors!  Indoors, only because it decided to rain after lunch. 
Between the rain messing up the afternoon festivities and the dip in temperature to the low 50's--we didn't make it back into town to see many extra people.  I didn't think to bring warm clothes!  Maybe next year!!

It is just a comfortable feeling to walk up the streets with all of the people that helped raise you and see that they are all doing alright too!  Coupled with many hours sipping wine and sharing stories with your own family. . .It don't get much better than that!!  There's NO place like home!!

Stay tuned--the pond took on form after we returned home yesterday--those photos and stories up next!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Breaking Ground!!

My husband and I enjoyed a weekend road trip this past weekend ALL BY OURSELVES!!  He reported to me last Monday that he needed to go on a parts run in eastern Oklahoma and said that if I would go along for the ride, he would take me to the largest pond store in Oklahoma--Pond Pro Shop in Shawnee (this is where I would do my Tim Allen tool time grunt--if I could).  My response was "OK kids, which friend do you want to stay with??" (Thanks Tiffany and Becky!!) So Friday  morning after dropping little kids at Granny's and big boys to FB practice, we headed out!  We feasted at Joe's crab shack in OKC (our FAVE!) and had to stop for Braums ice cream later that day.  The highlight of the trip though was the 2 hours we spent at the Pond store. 
First I outlined where the pond would go with my garden hose. I spent several days making sure that I liked the placement, and observing the lighting
There was a pond very similar to the images in my mind. So it was good for Jeremy to see, because he is the one that will get it all to work right.  He had the lids off their pumps making mental notes.  It was also good for me to visualize the actual size and how the waterfall fit into the scheme. When we were ready to get the supplies, we had a great guy named Jay that spent about 1 1/2 hours with us--explaining different aspects of the building process and showing us the differences in the types of parts available.  Finally decisions were made, and ingredients were purchased--he even threw in a book on pond plants for free :-) at my request (thanks Dave Ramsey!)
The rest of the trip was great too.  It was nice just to be able to hang out with my guy--shopping, looking, dreaming, eating, and talking.
Sunday afternoon we decided to take the waterfall out while Cami was napping.  After 3 hours of hard physical labor, in 95 degree heat, I was wondering whose STUPID idea this was, and who the idiot was that designed the waterfall in the first place.  We had intended to go to the lake when she woke up, but by then the wind was howling, so we persevered on the pond project. . .and broke ground!!
out comes the huge boulder to await its new home near the pond
Pondless waterfall was filled in, and then the old cinder block retaining wall (which we left in place for the waterfall) had to be removed.  The soil there was, and still is horrible--so I will plant that to succulents to cover it up--those will stay greenish all winter too, and will be short enough not to impede the view from the house.
I'm glad that we continued on the project, because I was able to get excited again (after all that hard work of tearing things down, the last thing I wanted to do was start something new!)
That little Kuboda tractor was a great help, and he had the hole dug down in no time.  I finally made him stop after he was so deep in the hole that his tractor was actually balanced on one tire and his loader bucket as he tried to bring out some more dirt!  I think my heart was beating 150 and my blood pressure was near stroke level--I'm sure that the neighbors heard my screaming.  Crazy MAN--I could just hear his trauma story on the evening news!
What a pile of dirt he made!! Much to the kids' dismay--haha!  That soil will be bermed around the pond this week.  It will level up the pond and allow me to do some plantings around the pond. I also plan to put in a bog garden in a couple of areas by taking my old liner and putting it 18-24 inches under the soil with a few holes poked through to retain extra water.  That will be one of the most exciting aspects of this whole project to me--being able to grow some different plants that don't like our dry climate. 
Our bathtub was NASTY after Devin and Camille got done in it Sunday night!! Just couldn't resist the photo.
Stay tuned in over the next few weeks to see how the pond comes out!! For anyone who stumbles on this blog in search of pond ideas, go to the side of the blog in the area of tags and click on the one entitled 'pond' to see the progress!
I miss the noise of water running already, and can't wait to hear it again soon! I'm not the only one who misses it though, as I noticed a resident bird yesterday perched on my deck looking to where the water USED to be! Wishing everyone a GREAT week!  Fall is comin'!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Movin' On Out, To the East Side!

Family who lives far away from us. . .next time you are visiting. .DON'T look for this house!!

Cause it AIN'T around these parts no more!
Check out the size of those beams that they slid underneath of the house--they were HUGE
When we bought this place nearly 13 years ago, it had 2 old homes on it.  Our preacher lived in this little, newer house.  After they moved to our "fixed up parsonage", we rented it to a newly married couple.  They resided there for a year or 2 and then moved on too.  We decided that we really had no desire to continue renting the house out, and tried several times to sell it to be moved off the place.

They put soap on those big beams and slid the house right over them to lift it onto the trailer
We had to put a new roof on it right after the tenants moved out--and ended up selling it to a friend several years later for the price of the new roof--just to get it out of our hair. 

HOWEVER--3 years passed and they never had it moved--and in the meantime, went through a divorce, and decided they didn't want the house moved either.

can you tell that we were pretty impressed with this whole process??

When the home of a bachelor friend of ours burnt to the ground last Easter weekend, J and I decided to give the house to him, if he wanted it--only hours before he came to see if the house were for sale (how's that for a God deal, eh??)
The house is still sitting half way to the road up on the truck!
So right before Labor Day, the movers came to get the house. It took them about 4 days to get the beams under, hoist it up, and move it to the end of the driveway to be ready for the 4 mile trek to its new home, east of our place.
That boy--he was checking out all the movers tools :-)
There's the empty foundation (empty of a house that is!!) You can see all the dead cars and loads of junk behind the foundation. Part of the junk will be buried in the basement with the cinder blocks--and with any good luck, the dead, abandoned cars will be hauled off to their rude owners that left us to deal with them!
We were actually over here to salvage some remnants of carpet to use as underlayment for our upcoming pond project.  Brady stopped by to see the house progresst, mentioning that he had intended to catch the movers to see if they could retrieve the basement stair case--hoping to reuse them in the new place.
Jeremy and Brady to the rescue--first the stairs, and then Brady helped get the carpet snagged from under the debris--cause YOURS TRULY was NOOOOT putting a foot down in that hole (seemingly Brady had killed the biggest "bullsnake" which later became the biggest "rattlesnake" he had ever seen under the house while preparing the walls for the big beams! J didn't want to freak me out, so he retold the story subbing in bullsnake for the rattler--Brady later told me the true story, not realizing that I had already gotten the sweetened version!!  Darn guys)
And there she goes--I was working that day.  J had explicit instructions to grab the camera to capture the moment--I was so glad he was in the shop when they left.  He said that the right side of that house really dipped toward the ditch as they made the corner and the left corner went up about 8 feet higher. 
They had the road to the south blockaded by police, at least as long as it took to get the house onto the highway--It appears to take more than it's fair lane :-)  They had to travel by highway 2 miles before turning onto a dirt road.  It was set onto the new basement and foundation by lunch time!! And it looks great there!
So adios, old house--can't wait to get a tour of your extreme makeover!--I believe that it is being gutted and entirely refurbished--complete with new windows and siding.  I'm so glad that it is getting repurposed rather than torn down!! Best of luck!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monarch Migration

Every fall the monarchs migrate right through Kansas on their way back home to the Mexican mountains.  Migration starts at the end of August and lasts, in some places, until November.  We have been seeing a few monarchs here and there for 6 weeks or better now.  But over the last week or so, they have really increased in numbers.  I haven't seen any clusters of butterflies numbering in the hundreds (which I would love to see sometime) but probably around 20-30 at any given time in the yard.
They LOVE the caryopteris bushes, and many will be seen lunching and flitting around them at once.  There is a great view from the kitchen and dining room of the four bushes-and so I have caught  myself frequently looking to see what type of action is going on out there. Cami has just LOVED to go out and watch them.  She hasn't caught any, but would love to!
I'm asking Santa for a new camera that gets just a little closer.  If you'd like to check out some migration maps for yourself, click here.  You can report your own monarch sightings--it helps the wildlife trackers in their observations.  The site also has weekly updates on monarch migration through November. . if you're curious!!
And just for kicks, I had to post the elusive roadrunner that hangs out around here!  Early this past summer, I spent 1/2 hour chasing this little guy around the yard trying to get THE picture.  I felt like Wil E. Coyote playing cat and mouse with roadrunner--and he won.  I'm sure we must have been a sight. .me tiptoeing through my yard, taking cover behind trees and bushes trying to sneak up a little closer. . .and him running just out of my camera's reach and then starting the game all over again.  Finally he really took off, leaving me frustrated and disappointed.  He was fun to watch anyway. 
When I got home the other day after running some errands, Mr. Grant informed me that I just HAD to look at my camera.  He was smirking something terrible. .just waiting for the look on my face. And I didn't disappoint him!  He caught the picture from inside the living room, with the little guy up on my deck railing 8 feet away! You win a few and lose a few--but this guy eats snakes for lunch--so I want to win him!!
Hope you enjoyed the little peak of some of the exciting wildlife around these parts.  Look out your window--you might see something exciting in your own yard!! Have a great day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Witch Is IN!

The tree, that is!!
If you thought you were having a bad day. . .just check this girl out!!
Cami and I got motivated to go to the basement this morning in search of my smashed witch ingredients.  It's been several years since we put her out--and I was tickled to see all my "ingredients" still on a pile on the floor under the shelves.
The ingredients consist of 4 2X4 pieces (mine are probably 3 feet long), a black long sleeved tee, black sweats or pants, one wig, a pair of black boots, a pair of gloves, one black trash sack, and a big ole witch hat!  Oh yeah, and a broom!!
The boards go into each sleeve and each pant leg and get nailed up to the tree (this tree being at the end of my driveway in a location sure to stir up commotion).  The gloves and boots need to be nailed to the end of the boards. I do this before I nail the body parts to the tree.  Then I nail the boards onto the tree, spacing them out enough to make a real looking body proportion.  The wig and the trash sack/cape get nailed up next.
Time to tuck and fluff the ole girl.
 I used small nails with heads to nail the shirt and cape to the leg boards--holding the sweatpants up into the costume in the back--so you can't see her butt crack--if you must know!
My husband was out of big nails, so I used his screwdriver to put in three screws to hold the broom in  its place under her hiney.
Nail the hat over the wig--I ALWAYS use blonde hair--mostly to keep the neighbors from looking twice to make sure it wasn't me!!
                                                           And there you have it. . .
Someone who is having a WORSE day than you are!!
Remember to stop and be thankful!!