What shall I do?

I know I want to run a 5k and half marathon. Okay, so I want to run, but I will end up power walking instead. Maybe try out some new ethnic cuisines. Travel to some new spots. Try some new classes. Support a new charity. Some may be exciting adventures, some may be boring. I welcome your suggestions for something new to try.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

#13 - My Pond

Years ago we purchased a pre-made pond kit at Costco.  It was a hard shell and we set it up next to our patio.  We didn't even dig much of a hole for it, but rather a shallow hole to rest in and then propped it up with parts from an old concrete birdbath.  It wasn't pretty, but it still gave off the sound of water with a fountain.  When we built our deck six years back we extended it farther than our concrete patio and took up the spot where the pond was.  So we cut a hole in the deck and laid the pond liner in it and continued our enjoyment of water.  We liked the pond so much we put in a real pond in our lawn.  When I say "we", I mean the people we hired from the Home Show.  They specialized in putting greens, but were getting into the pond business and gave us a great deal to be their guinea pig.  For another few years we had the big pond and the little pond, neither of which I could ever claim to be a creator of or do any significant work on other than writing a check.

A few summers ago the hard pond liner cracked.  She served us well, but it was time to throw the old gal away.  So for almost two years I have had a huge hole in my deck. The pets have loved it, using it as an entrance to the netherworld of under deck exploration.  We did get a quote to cover the hole, but at $1800 for labor and materials we said, "um, no".  Yes, it was an eyesore, but with two kids in college you can turn a blind eye when asked to lay out that much cash, especially when it is NOT for a Chanel handbag.  I just looked past the hole to the nice pond out in the lawn.

I did search for another pre-made hard liner, but never found one the same shape.  So as a new challenge I decided to tackle the hole and turn it into a pond from scratch with my own two hands.  Luckily there was no hole to dig, only a hole that needed some sand to soften the dirt.  The deck had been boxed in with the framing around the hole for support so I bought a flexible pond liner and got out the old staple gun and started attaching the liner to the frame.  It went pretty well for awhile, but as I tend to cut corners and take shortcuts I decided to just fold up the excess liner rather than cut it to size.  As it filled with water it became apparent this was not one of my better ideas. The water pressure pushed the excess liner out under the deck frame like a balloon and there was a slight leak from one of the creases.  This would need to be fixed.  But I needed a new focus before tackling that problem.

I decided to work on the pump and filter to make sure the waterfall would work properly. The pond guy had sold me everything I would need.  Well, everything I would need if the dang pipe didn't need to go at a 90 degree angle.  Plus the fittings were so tight I could barely get them together even when using a blow dryer on the pipe to expand it. I hit Lowe's to see if they had the more flexible tubing, which they did.  Hooray! However, they have no fittings for the tubing...boo hiss.  I managed to use the fittings the pond guy provided by using my dremel tool to sand the ridges off two of them. This made plastic dust get all over my clothes and resulted in experience #12 (read previous post) and delayed any further work on the pond for the day.

On day 2, I emptied the pond and fixed the liner so it was the correct size for the hole without any excess.  I then put the waterfall together.  The fittings were still tight and required a blowdryer, but I somehow managed to get them on the pipe.  The waterfall for this pond is just a single fall from a black plastic reservoir.  It is unsightly, but the pond guy had sold me rocks to stack around it.  Lots of rocks.  Rocks that were supposed to be put together like a puzzle to both hide and support the reservoir with a flat rock placed on top.  This did not go as planned.  My first attempt was a bit wobbly so I decided to try and put in one more rock to stabilize it better.  Plop, plop, plop, plop...one by one the rocks all tumbled into the pond.  Attempt number two went much better, except after standing back to admire my handiwork I saw the pond liner was scrunched up under the reservoir and was leaking onto the deck rather than back into the pond.  This time I took all the rocks off by hand and only one or two fell in to be retrieved.  The third time was the charm and actually turned out looking the best.

Once the waterfall was set, I added some stones over the edge of the deck to give it a more finished look.  At some point one or more of the dogs will step on one and end up in the pond, but I'm hoping they won't do it a second or third time.  Last step was the plants.  Pond plants are nothing new to me so that was the easy part.

I shun hard work and manual labor whenever possible, but on those rare occasions when I push myself I do end up with some nice results.  This is way better than a big hole in my deck and a nice addition to the big pond.  Tomorrow I shall BBQ ribs and steak as I sit out on the deck and enjoy my handiwork...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

#12 - Lost & Found...the Metal Detector

My 12th new experience was not planned.  Far from it.  And it was the result of one of those bizarre things that happen infrequently in our lives, thank goodness.  I was actually working on what was to be my 12th experience and without ruining the surprise I will just say I was using my dremel tool and ended up with fine particles of plastic all over my clothing.  I hopped off the deck onto the lawn and started brushing the dust from my clothes.  There was a lot on my pants and as I was brushing my hands over the sides of my legs my wedding ring flew off on the backstroke and landed somewhere behind me in the grass.

I searched for a few minutes with no luck.  I called Ariel outside to help and we searched for another hour with no luck.  We both even went out to the street behind our house to see if it somehow had flown over the fence.  I scooped muck from the pond to make sure it wasn't in there.  We walked barefoot over area.  We got on our hands and knees and felt all the grass.  Now my ring isn't exactly tiny so I would have thought we could have felt it, but that area of the lawn happens to be pretty thick.  While making some phone calls for some sympathy and advice, Ariel headed inside to google who might sell metal detectors and found that our local sporting goods store had them and one was on sale.

I made a quick trip to Sports Authority and bought the sale machine for $89.  It did not list that it could find gold, but they said I could bring it back if it didn't.  It was almost 9pm by this time and the light was fading fast.  I put the detector together, added the batteries which I thankfully had the presence of mind to purchase there (although at an outrageous price).  I manned the detector sweeping it over areas of the lawn.  When metal is detected it makes a loud whine.  I threw my other ring onto the grass, which of course landed right on top and was very easy to see to make sure it would pick up the signal from a gold ring, which it did.  We had some false tones and Ariel searched the grass as I would keep sweeping that area to show where the tone was.  After several misses where it was just picking up some metal buried under the lawn we got a hit! Ariel dug around and found my ring buried well inside a thick clump of grass.  We had been over that area on hands, knees and feet several times without success.  So kudos to the metal detector and kudos to Ariel!

The metal detector is kind of neat.  I will try it in the front yard to see if I can find the diamond earring I lost there last year while gardening, but I'm pretty doubtful on that one.  Still, it's worth a shot.  And it may just come in handy in the future.  If nothing else it can be a really expensive stud finder.  But I'm not complaining about the price. This wasn't my original wedding ring, it was a bigger "I can afford this now" type of ring purchased about 10 years ago.   So the metal detector was worth EVERY penny!

Now back to work on the project formerly known as #12, I'm just hoping it will be #13 and nothing new hits in the meantime...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dbox Update...

My #5 new experience was trying out the Dbox at our local theaters.  This is a simulation type experience where your seat moves to the action on the screen.  I saw Battle Los Angeles and it was awesome.  Lots of movement with the constant action on the screen.  I loved it!  I recommended it.  I encouraged everyone to try it.  But that was then and this is now.

Trev was home when I tried the Dbox and he loved it as well.  Ariel is now home for the summer so I took her along to see the new Pirates movie so she could experience Dbox too.  What a big disappointment.  While Dbox can be terrific, I discovered it is all about which movie you see.  You need a constant action packed film to make the extra cost worthwhile.  Pirates has some action, but also plenty of non-action scenes and for those the seat is as steady and calm as the doldrums.  There was far more non-movement than movement.  And we found when the movement comes sporadically, it ends up being distracting to the movie rather than enhancing it.  If this was the first movie I had seen using Dbox I would never try it again.

I am going to write both Dbox and my local theater to give them feedback.  At double the cost of a normal ticket they need the experience to be enjoyable enough so you continue to use it.  It is still very cool technology and it is the first class legroom section of the theater, not to mention for those of us that are vertically challenged you can also see over the person in front of you.  But for the price you still expect a few extra bells and whistles...