Friday, June 5, 2009

Don't You Just Love Spring Skies?


Because yesterday was a little frustrating, I'm starting off the entry with a happy picture. Give me blue skies with puffy clouds and I am a happy camper!

When I crossed off yesterday's first list item, I crossed too soon. We did not get the fixtures in as planned.

Well, we did get them in, twice, and had to take the skimmer out again. We are having the toughest time getting it to seal, and it leaks terribly.

Here are the holes for the skimmer intake and the filtered output.

Cutting them out with a razor blade.

And screwing in the plate as we hopefully anticipate a tight seal.

After two failed efforts and an hour of showers, we lost motivation to go (maybe it was only me) back outside and do it a third time. It's one thing if you know what it wrong. It's quite another to go and redo something when you have absolutely NO idea what you did wrong the other two times, therefore fully anticipate a third failure.

We did get to some weeding in the garden, always good to keep up on that. I got eight large beds done. And right before dark we put in some of the herbs we'd been starting on the back porch. Had to get them out, as something was eating them all!

While chatting with my friend last night, she confirmed that the biggest sign of being stupid is to repeat your actions, expecting a different result each time. LOL

I tried calling a couple of people for help, but had no luck. So I called the pool supply place this morning and was told that I not only needed the rubber gasket, but also two additional gaskets.

OK, sounds fine, except that the pool was fine without the two additional gaskets before! Hmmmmmmmmm.

Here is that filter I worked on the other day to change out the sand.

The whole top of it had to come off the round sand container.

It looks nice and blue and sparkly, but if we don't get the system going soon, it will be nice and green and swampish!

I'm going to use the sand that came out as root starting medium.

The pile we've got to get out of here soon. But I don't think we'll have time until next week.

Planted most of this 3 by 8 foot box in cutting lettuce again. The wire is to keep the cat out of what she believes is her own giant litter box. It's in the shade so I hope we'll be able to grow through the summer.

Michael's Sea Monkey is over an inch long now. It's in one of the gallon pickle jars.

We lost a day of work yesterday messing with the pool. Today is not available due to rain this morning and now getting ready for office cleaning. Tomorrow is our day of rest. Sunday is, well Sunday. Almost always busy.

Sometimes, don't you wish you could just snap your fingers......



Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pool Is Nearly Ready!


Do you think we were ready for a new liner?

Our work on the pool lasted until about 12:30 yesterday. Some dear friends of ours came over to help. I miss having a big work crew. All the extra boys cut the work down to about 2 hours.

I have two regrets about yesterday.

We were so busy that I did not document how to do this project. That was one thing I wanted to do with this blog; make sure that each thing we did I photographed and shared so that others could learn from us. Whether it was what worked or what didn't work.

So I not only did not photograph it all, but I also am getting tired of how I take pictures of people.

It is my nature to not be demanding of people's attention. So I love to take pictures of people, but rarely do I call them to look up. I most often just take shots of what they are doing. But I miss seeing their smiles and their eyes, as well as showing the joyful sides after the events, of everyone taking a moment to stop and smile for one another at the camera.

I want to improve this in my photos.

Anyhow, we had started siphoning the pool Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning it was mostly empty. Michael was still working on that while I began taking the pool filter apart to change out the sand. It was then that our friends came by to help.

My dear friend brought her younger three boys over and they quickly began bailing out what was left.

Slicing the old liner up and tossing it out, the new liner was put in. The idea is to drape the liner, dangling above the ground along the top of the pool, holding the vinyl with clamps. You add a little water and the vinyl stretches down, wrinkle-free, and settles into the pool wall.

However, and I wish I had a picture of this, the pool wall is nearly completely rusted through. I can't afford to replace it, so we are just keeping our fingers crossed we can get a couple more years out of it. It actually has duct-taped holes.

So the pool wall was not going to be able to support any weight. The goal then was very simple. Get the liner in A) with as few wrinkles as possible B) without putting holes into it and C) without the wall collapsing.

Piece of cake!

I felt confident the boys could handle this and I worked on the filter the whole time, but for a short break to share my garden happenings with my friend. The filter was kind of a pain, as I was figuring it out as I went along. There are no instructions on how to change the sand. After a couple of phone calls which took about 1/2 and hour total, I found that you need to have water in the sand ---- water I'd taken out in January ---- so that you can move the innards around and dig the sand out with a little scoop. I used my one cup measure from the kitchen.

So, once that was done I began scooping. Jeremy, asked if we had a wet/dry vac, and since that was one of the recommended ways to remove the sand, he went and got the one we had attached to the studio as a filtration system for the eggshell carving I used to do. It was rather small, so it took a while. But the job was done!

Smoothing out wrinkles...

And while the pool was filling later, Michael went for a "swim".

The rest of the day we picked peas, cherries, and strawberries. A little fertilizing. Did a lot of watering, as it was getting a bit dry, and also in preparation of the weeding we are going to do today.

We left to go to our home group last night, and realized while we were in town that we'd left the water on to the pool and to the garden. So we had to come all the way back home and miss our friends.

I really thrashed my knee yesterday, hauling 5 gallon buckets of sand. I could hardly walk last night. I'm a little better this morning, but still limping a lot. I need to stay off it, but there is too much to be done.

DONE - Cut vinyl and install the filtering attachments back in
- Finish filling pool
- Replace deck board
- Weed and mulch garden beds
- Cut out fireblight I spotted on the gooseberries, cranberries, and cherries
- Bag up the vinyl liner for the landfill
- Spray back pasture fence line and garden fence line
- Move rain gauge to new location

Glad for a slight drop in temperatures today!



Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Sewing class was a hodge-podge of activity. I spent most of the time cutting out patterns and drawing out a couple of bodice patterns for myself on poster board. Then I helped some boys work on a vest.

Others were working on skirts..




OK, if boys hold still long enough while girls have hair things... you know what happens. This was cutting out the vest.

And doing some ironing of the pockets to be installed....

And sewing lapels together...

A few of us gathered together afterward at a home and just enjoyed a meal together, let the kids play Air Soft and ride horses, and visited, shared some recipes and gardening news. We had a lot of laughs talking about our kids and funny memories.

Then we took off to do a little shopping at the home improvement center on the way to the Boy Scout activity, which was meeting at the college disc golf course.

I had the opportunity to chat for a while with the scout leader, who is a soil science professional, and learned some things about the local soil I did not know. Very interesting stuff.

We came home and did chores in the dark and began siphoning out the pool so we can change out the liner today. YAY!

List today? After Bible study, chores, breakfast and stuff...

DONE - Remove pool liner
DONE - Replace pool liner
DONE - Remove old filter sand
DONE - Replace sand in pool filter
DONE - Refill pool
- Install pool fixtures
- Spray back pasture fence line
- Weed garden
DONE - Pick peas
DONE - Pick cherries
DONE - Pick strawberries and runners

Since these are all kind of big, I'm holding it off there. We've got to leave early for our home group tonight.

Looking forward to cool waters!



Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Weekend of Celebrations!


We had our home school graduation celebration on Saturday, and a bridal shower on Sunday. So it was filled with good times with friends.

Our home school group has about 60 families and is very active. It has been a wonderful thing in our lives. Even though Michael is not a graduate of either the high school or middle school groups, there was no way we were going to miss joining in the celebration!

A really wonderful message was given by the already graduated son of some dear friends of ours.

And live music was part of the service as well.

Afterwards we went to a party for one of the graduates who is very special to our hearts. We used our lazy sabbath Saturday to make her a card while we kicked back and watched a movie. I am not into scrapbooking - too smart to get into something that I know good and well would be addictive LOL - but those little decorations are perfect for making cards.

I took an image from the internet and faded it out, then printed it up for the inside of the card. We really had a good time making it and it was nice to make it more personal.

At the party, where we ate, chatted, and played Guesstures and Taboo, I asked if there was anything I could do to help the next day at the bridal shower and my friend, who was planning it, asked if I could come up with some games.

Well, I love games, so I spent some time on the internet and found a few.

One that is not really a game, but close, and very helpful to the bride-to-be, is to buy thank you cards for the bride. Hand out the envelopes to each party-attender and have them address the envelopes. These are put into a drawing, and the winner gets a prize. In this case a quick-start basil planting kit. The envelopes and cards are then presented to the bride so that she will not have to find addresses as she is already swamped with things to do planning for the wedding. Nifty, huh?

Turned out a friend and I wore the same shoes.

In this game you hand out pens, hardback books, and paper. You have everyone sign the bottom right corner without telling them why. Then you announce that as a gift to the bride they will all draw a picture of how beautiful she will look on her wedding day.

As the groans begin to grow, put the book and paper on your head and demonstrate that this is how it will be done. They enjoyed this and the bride got some silly mementos.

Played a game where you sat everyone in a circle, put a few gifts out amongst them, and read a wedding story that had a lot of "right" and "left" throughout. Each time the words were read, the gifts had to be passed in that direction. At the end, whomever had the gift got to keep it. In retrospect, I think there should be one gift for every 3 or 4 players. I did not have enough going around to keep everyone busy passing, with only 3 in about 20 players.

I had a few other games we did not end up playing, but it was good to have extras. The last one was to dress up the bride. Armed with newspaper, tin foil, tissue, tape and scissors, four teams each took up the mission to design one of the following: skirt, bodice, sleeves, and headpiece.

After 15 minutes it was time to dress the bride.

Beauty hurts.

You may now place the ring on Mr Right's finger.

The happy couple!

Look at the detail of that heart headpiece. I completely missed that until now.

Will the real Mr Right please stand up?

Fun! Off to sewing class again today. Then we'll spend time with friends, then Boy Scouts tonight. Long day.



Monday, June 1, 2009

The Birds and the Bees


We got most everything done on our list last week, but for spraying, again. That will be this morning. Coming back up from picking cherries I chanced upon a VERY busy bumblebee and spent several minutes trying desperately to get him in focus before he zipped off. However, he barely stayed in one spot longer than 2 or 3 seconds, so I was sorely disappointed.

And we found a nest in the kiwi arbor of robins' eggs. I looked at a chart one time of how long it takes bird eggs to hatch and leave the nest. I was amazed. Some are out of the nest in only 3 days! I just tried to find the link but was unable to.

Cherry picking was fun. These are only bush cherries. They are like a mild sour cherry. They did not ripen all at once, so we are going to go pick more today. We also got rained out and had to hide under the bushes for a while, picking the inside.

Here is the fungus that gets the cherries; Brown Rot. I had to rip out all the sand cherries I had put in years ago. They were so susceptible to brown rot that the entire bushes were a pile of mold. These are not so bad. We just lose a small percentage.

The grapes we will not be able to eat this year, due to spraying. But they sure LOOK great! LOL

The van before:

And getting clean. The car was almost unrecognizable afterwards. LOL

And the exterior windows sure look a lot better! They were pretty gross.

The potatoes are out of control! I've not been getting boards up, and the straw is barely hanging on. One of them has started to flower. I think the rest of the potatoes will go in the ground. I just need a bigger garden plot.

I like to keep my salad fixings all made up. We came up and put together salads worthy of the finest restaurants!

The asparagus forest. You can't see the forest for the spears?

If you've never smelled fig leaves, they are so uniquely scented. I visited my folks and their fig tree yesterday. It too had not fared well this winter. Just one of those years...

Laying out the string to mark where the new locations for the posts on the greenhouse will be.

I am really not looking forward to digging those out and moving them. One of those chores that I'll have to force myself to do.

Oh, yes. Our list for today:

DONE - Finish mowing goat pen
DONE - Mow around compost bins
DONE - One hour work on rocks
DONE - Pick more cherries
DONE - Pick more peas
DONE - Pick more strawberries
DONE - Pinch runners
DONE - Clean off patio
DONE - Put away sprouting stuff
DONE - Water lettuce
DONE - Plant more lettuce
DONE - Cover lettuce box with wire
- Re-pot houseplants
DONE - Prune/Tie grapes
DONE - Spray grapes
DONE - Tie up blackberries
DONE - Spray fence lines