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The Pond, 2009

Home Improvement

Taylor & Eli on the trampoline... house in the background

Back way before
28 August 2002

Eli getting some sun on the patio. The slope beyond is where the pond was built

Early patio &
sunning child
14 June 2005

The day we finished the arbor steps. Note the prairied slope just behind them.

Arbor steps &
nothing beyond
17 July 2008

Vrooom. How do I work this!?

Breaking ground
on the project
24 June 2009

Digging in the vicinity of the future waterfall

I learned alot about
backhoe balance!
24 June 2009

Okay, so Alissa wanted a bigger pond, with a waterfall, and I figured it should
have a pool above the waterfall so the water would gather some gravitational momentum
on its way over the brink. Besides, I had this grandiose vision of a long, meandering, babbling
brook... and I think Alissa did too. After much ambivalence, we started the project for real,
using a nice back hoe to rip up the grass & the clay on our little slope in the back yard.

Dig, dig, dig, with a shovel & a hoe...

Shaping the hole,
lower pond
24 June 2009

Bifocals would sure make this a little easier!

I was new to
24 June 2009

I nearly flipped the thing over one time while I was sideways on the slope.

Working around
the fruit trees
24 June 2009

I got a little carried away & dug all the way to China...

Using the Force,
lower pool
24 June 2009

Lookee! I can reach all the way to the waterfall!

The waterfall area
getting sliced in
24 June 2009

I learned a little more about operating a backhoe that fine day. Stuff like,
hydraulics rule. Do not over-extend the bucket arm when dumping
laterally downslope, and always wear that seat belt in case you forget that last
little jewel. Yup. Learned alot, and got lucky, all in one day!

I was at this point, running out of places to pile up dirt.

Finishing the lower
pool digging
24 June 2009

Gomer with a shovel...

Shaping the upper
pool & spillway
25 June 2009

Alissa did a walk-around while I shoveling...

The Shoveler: it's
what I do...
25 June 2009

No anthems playin' in me 'ead!...

Amos watches the
Shoveler shoveling
25 June 2009

While I shaped the outsides, Alissa shaped the insides.

The lower pool
and waterfall
25 June 2009

25 June, we started hand-shaping the pools. I built up the outsides of the pools and the spillway,
while Alissa cut shelves on the insides of the lower pool. She also solved the depth problem, plugging
the portal I'd dug to Nanking, China. We had to deepen the upper pool crater by about a foot, and excavate
a rectangular pit for the prefabricated waterfall box that came with the pond kit. Next day, the boulders arrived...

One of the few things I know anything about: building stone retaining walls

Building the spillway
retaining walls...
28 June 2009

Sure doesn't look like a waterfall right now, does it!?

The lower pool
and waterfall
28 June 2009

Working on the 1st course near the end of the spillway

You'll go blind if
you see that noggin
28 June 2009

The base of the wal had to be anchored into firm topsoil

Placing another
careful selection
28 June 2009

'The box' is that prefab waterfall, which we installed to the right.

The upper pool before
the box was added
28 June 2009

That dolly was rated at a ridiculously-high weight limit, more than a quarter ton!

Little guy moving
biggish granite
30 June 2009

Everything's gotta fit very tightly...

Gettin' mighty picky
about them rocks!
30 June 2009

Oof. My back. My fingers. Arghh.

The eastern retaining
wall taking shape.
30 June 2009

I liked the blend of blue and rose granite.

Another view of
the outer wall
30 June 2009

Looking down the waterfall spillway into the lower pool.

I was obsessed with
the incline here.
30 June 2009

I think we received about 16 tons of rock. This was granite riprap, and it varied from
breadloaf-sized to gargantuan monsters of 400 pounds or more. Some was rose-colored,
some was a pretty, dark blue. The outer wall was easy compared to later lowering material into
the lower pool for the waterfall base. I nearly killed Alissa with one of these boulders (or maybe
I should say, she nearly killed me)! Probably would've been safer to have a beer-and-brats
barbeque with three or four muscle-bound dudes... oh, well. Next time! Then came the liner...

Ready to add the liners

Channels for flowing
water, upper level
30 June 2009

One can really see the channel for the babbling brook in this cellphone picture.

Walls and sluices
still no liner...
30 June 2009

Megan in the crooked castle!

Taking a break:
fireworks tonight!
4 July 2009

Once you get these installed, it's time to put down the liner.

Skimmer (below) and
prefab waterfall
10 July 2009

For me, working out the liner installation was nerve-wracking...

Alissa positioning
the spillway liner
10 July 2009

If you don't like the way it's laying, you just STOMP on it!

Looking like a
vinyl cascade now!
10 July 2009

The liner for the brook is not as shallow as it looks here.

The brook's liner
toward the camera
10 July 2009

Too bad we can't just staple it together, right, Honey?

Upper pool joining
the spillway
10 July 2009

We still had alot to do once we worked this out... Oooh, my HEAD!

Just another piece
of a big puzzle
10 July 2009

I had to hold myself back from sounding skeptical...

Maintaining her
visionary outlook
10 July 2009

The liners, mostly rubber except for the babbling brook's spillway (vinyl), were heavy
and unwieldy. Eli and Taylor helped Alissa and I position them in the pools. I had to bond
the waterfall liner to the lower pool's liner, which is a complete pain! Whether we did it, or the
weather did it (I can't recall), some water settled in the bottom of the lower pool, which helped
to preserve Alissa's hard work of shelf-building. Mike Lee helped with digging a channel for the
return pipe, and Squeak helped out with the plumbing connections. Thanks, guys!

We 'locked in' the prefab falls box in the upper pool this day.

Finishing the upper
pool this day
11 July 2009

Alissa filled in the babbler this day.

The brook got a
gravel base today
11 July 2009

We used a piece of carpet to protect the liner from the boulders' sharp edges.

Building the falls:
carpet for padding
11 July 2009

Cellphone picture of the falls so far, in the morning.

Morning bell for
the falls base
12 July 2009

Dan came over to help with placing the flagstones on the waterfall.

Dan working up a
sweat on the falls
13 July 2009

This was the 2nd construction; I had to take the first one down to lay down the pipe with Mike.

Rebuilding the inner
retaining wall.
13 July 2009

Dan tackled the waterfall while I built the inner retaining wall.

Parallel play:
Bentley & Danny
13 July 2009

Evident here is the gooey, black sealant on the waterfall.

The falls, sealed
to prevent leakage
13 July 2009

She sooo ready to fill 'em up!

Alissa beams at
filling the ponds
13 July 2009

A gentle rain was falling, and so was the temperature, after being hot all day.

Alissa monitors the
dual pond filling
13 July 2009

I was definitely losing steam after 3 weeks of spending my spare time on this project.
Alissa's brother offered his help, which freed me up from the niggling details of leveling
the flagstones on the waterfall. I shored up the inner retaining wall, while Alissa & Dan
sealed the base of the water feature. When the time came to begin filling the pools, Alissa
could hardly contain her enthusiasm. The heat of day transformed into a cool, overcast
afternoon. I kept placing rocks on the sides while Alissa & the boys had shoveled gravel.

Amos didn't know what to think of the whole thing.

He thinks it's his
watering dish...
13 July 2009

How'd it get so cold all of a sudden?!

Patiently, she waits
to start the pump
13 July 2009

Mike brought Alissa big rocks from Rock Springs everytime he returned to Cheyenne.

Mike returns:
more stuff!
13 July 2009

I kept dropping flagstones on the liners' edges.

on Day 20!
13 July 2009

Dan & Alissa had fixed the last few problems, and now, on Day 22, the falls were running!

The Falls are
up and running
15 July 2009

Winter came quite early this year, killing two of our oldest Siberian elms.

Mantle of snow
on the lower pond
10 October 2009

Horned cornice overhangs the lower pool, courtesy of North winds

Corniced cliff:
Spring falls
23 March 2010

A Spring snowfall makes for an interesting picture.

The brook divides
between snowbanks
24 April 2010

Alissa wanted this aluminum eagle sculpture on the little island over the lower pool.

American Eagle
guarding the pond
19 May 2010

She said I couldn't have a lawn jockey, but she gave me this fisherman boy instead.

Andy's so coy,
he ain't tellin' nuttin!
31 May 2009

When we fired up the skimmer, the powerful force of its pump lifted the whole box
from its berth. We had not properly rocked it in place. Dan & Alissa would take care of that
the following day. Alissa and the boys finished filling the "river beds" with river rock, and
Viola! A massive pond complex became fully functional, and the animals appeared!

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Brown Benny, the 8th dwarf...