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The Pond – Cracked Ice and Chrome

Randoms from a Tuesday

After a few years’ worth of use, my phone has finally started to tell me that it’s running out of space. I figured that it might — just might — be the dozens of videos that I had on my phone from all the various Elvis gigs I’ve gone to, so I started to sort through them this morning as I was sitting by the pond. Odd — after I started off my last post complaining about how JULY it was, we have been gifted with a week of mild weather. The temps at night have been getting down in the 60s, so the first thing I do in the morning is open the windows and throw the fans on. It’s almost like I complained and Mother Nature went, “Oh! Sorry . . . my bad.”

No, I do not think I have that much power.

Sitting by the pond this morning was quite pleasant. It was cool, there was no breeze, and it was just as perfect as it could be. I enjoyed not one but two cups of coffee out there this morning, trying to soak up the still and calm. Right now the flowers around the pond are almost all in bloom and the deer have largely left them alone this year – with a couple of exceptions – so I am enjoying the spray of colors. I have a few volunteer sunflowers this year that are growing and the tallest recently started blooming, so now I have a beautiful sunflower towering over the pond.

Never mind that yellow stuff all over the leaves. That is how I have been trying to combat the deer this year – with garlic powder and cayenne pepper. I sprinkle it pretty generously all over the yard and plants, and it seems to have worked, for the most part. The deer have managed to get some chomps in when I have gone too many days between applications, and I am sure the rabbits are responsible for their part of the damage as well. However, this sunflower adds a nice little element to the pond, and I hope it stays blooming for quite some time.

So . . . as I was saying before, I was cleaning off my phone and marveling at the vast array of stuff I have accumulated over the past year or so. I deleted a healthy bunch of it, but there were a few snippets in there that I thought were worth sharing.

Snippet #1: Reflections of history

This last school year as I was standing in the break room, making copies, I looked down and was amused by this ancient box of tacks that was sitting with the rest of the supplies. I am a geek for old fonts and just old office supplies in general, so I picked it up and thought vaguely about permanently “borrowing” it – until I remembered that I had about 82954 tacks in my desk drawer already that randomly spill out all over the place and annoy me. So, no. Here’s the box:

But the best part is when I turned the box over. If I had any doubts that these tacks had spent decades shoved in the back of a supply closet somewhere, those disappeared in no time:

WEST Germany. Also, packed in the USA. Now you KNOW they’re ancient.

Snippet #2: Tell me you’re not a native speaker of English without actually telling me you’re not a native speaker . . .

I received a box of Instant Pot accessories for Christmas because I love, love, LOVE my Instant Pot. The accessories came with a book of recipes that I have a vague suspicion were not written by a native speaker. Don’t worry – I have proof:

I know the directions are cut off, but you can see that for the most part, they use pretty good English. How, then, did no one proofreading this booklet know that “bailecue” is not a word? Also – a 1/2 pound of ribs? Is this for a party of one?

The non-mysteries continue:

Oh, the important of spacing. How many poor, inexperienced souls have spent way too long in the baking aisle, looking for “chuck roast flour”?

But, wait! There’s more! For the low, low price of $19.95, you get THIS:

First, the phonetic spelling of Por Kloin. But that’s not even the worst of it:

THIRTY-FOUR POUNDS of chuck roast!!!!

At least they got the spacing right this time.

Want more? OK, get ready for this scrumptious dessert:

One of these things is not like the other. Heck – NONE OF THESE THINGS should go with the word “shellfish.”

Just in case you needed a side dish for any of these wonderful meals, may I suggest the following?

This is how one might pronounce “steamed vegetables” if a person held his head over a boiling pot of water for a few seconds and then had to speak immediately afterward.

Snippet #3: They Don’t Make Things the Way They Used To . . .

I moved into my house in 2000. The entire time I’ve lived here, the closet that is at the end of my hallway has had the same light bulb, and that is not because I’ve been trying to save it by responsibly turning the lights off after I was done digging in there for something. Year after year, I would marvel at how the light bulb lasted and wondered if I should start placing bets as to when it would finally go dark.

This last winter, the light bulb finally died. I took it down and looked at what kind it was.

Beauty Tone, eh? Well, I was intrigued at what sort of marvel of modern engineering created this wonderfully long-lasting bulb, so I did a little Googling. It turns out that Beauty Tone bulbs were designed to put everyone in the best light – no pun intended. Here’s an ad for that brand:

I mean, I guess I kind of get what they’re going for, but does one have to plan ahead for the mood that one wants for a room, or was it done on the fly? “Excuse me, Percy, but must change the bulb now before I slip into something more comfortable . . .”

All I know is that those light bulbs were the absolute bomb when it came to lasting forEVer, and they need to be made again.

I also love how the blue light gets a hoity-toity name – Beauty Tone Aqua – and the yellow gets to be “Candlelight,” but the last one is just “Pink.” Someone in the marketing department dropped the ball there. BIG TIME. Sunset Rose. Blushing Bride. Dainty Dusty Rose. Bubble Gum. Flirty Lip Gloss. Modesty Mauve. First Kiss. I mean, I could go on and on.

Hey, Westinghouse? If you ever do bring these lovely bulbs back to life, I’m your name gal.

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I’m here, just limping

Ok, I’m not literally limping, but I am most definitely limping in a figurative way. This school year was hard. I don’t remember having a year where the ending was so chaotic, and then even when everything should have ended, it still didn’t. I am still dealing with outstanding assignments (as in, not handed in – not wonderful) and last-minute panic that should have happened a month ago.

But I digress . . . y’know – from the point I wasn’t even making yet.

Two weeks after school has ended, I am finally getting some downtime. My back would like to tell you that my carrying 5-gallon buckets full of black dirt and bags of mulch yesterday was a bad idea. A very bad idea. However, I spent a good chunk of yesterday trying to finish up the planting and preening of the perennial garden, so such deeds must be done.

I took this picture soon after getting the pond filled and operational for the season. Flowers were bought, mulch was put down, and I still had not moved away all my leaf piles, as evidenced from the background.

The pond has been operational for a little over a month, although I was frustrated with how long it took to get it up and going again. This spring was cold and wet for far too long and it delayed everything. As a result, the toads took a while to start their singing and laying eggs, and the frogs never showed at all to lay theirs. It was definitely a weird year. Even without the frogs’ additions, though, the pond is full of little squiggly tadpoles. Up until three days ago, the water was crystal clear, and then I noticed it started to turn murky. Part of this problem involves the copious amount of leaves at the bottom of the pond, blown in during one of our many windy days. I’d fish them out, but doing so would also scoop up hundreds of tadpoles, and I do not have enough hours in the day to sit there and pick them all out of there. The other issue is a lovey cloud of green algae that has very quickly grown throughout the pond. The tadpoles love to hide in there, too, so removing it can be tricky.

I know – it’s just a tadpole. But the animal lover in me just cannot bring myself to knowingly fling a living thing into the grass and then walk away. It may be stupid, but that’s the way I’ve always been.

I had to do a little replanting of some plants that didn’t make it last year, such as 4 out of my six rosebushes that the deer could not leave alone last year. Having never grown roses before, I was unprepared for them being a favorite snack of the pesky deer, who have been mowing down my flowers relentlessly this year, thanks to the late spring. For whatever reason, the unique grass that I had planted on either side of the waterfall decided to die over the winter as well after surviving the past 5 winters, so I had to decide what other kind of grass to plant there. (I wish I was good about remembering plant names, but I most certainly am not!) This past weekend I was in the Chicago ‘burbs and stopped by the wonderfully amazing Alsip nursery in Frankfort. What a plant lover’s dream that store is! I looked around for a replacement for the waterfall grass and decided on maiden grass. I hope it ends up looking nice.

Also found at Alsip Nursery: these goofy looking items. I am a sucker for things that are a good mix between funky and cute, so these had to come home with me. My husband has named the two in the back George and Lennie (Of Mice and Men reference), and the English teacher in me loves that.

I haven’t gotten a chance to do any antique store hunting lately, but I was pleasantly surprised to see this piece of retro design in our local grocery store. The pic is a little fuzzy since I took it quickly, not wanting to be that weirdo who is taking pics in the grocery store, but you get the idea. I was tempted to buy it just for the design, but given the fact that it was about $6 for four cans, and given the fact that I do not drink regular soda anymore, it was a pass for me.

I have been trying to take a walk in the early mornings – even when I am out of town – to keep myself accountable for exercising. When I walked yesterday, I noticed two different does with fairly new fawns. It may say something about my frustration with trying to grow flowers that keep mowing down that all I could think about is how much destruction these two little squirts were going to do to my landscaping.

Good thing they’re cute.

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The cicadas tell the time

I’m going to miss sitting outside in the morning with my coffee, listening to the pond. That quiet that surrounds me during those moments is crucial to my well being, I think. No other sounds can be heard except the water running from the waterfall and the fountain.

See how my fountain looks sort of wonky? Funny story.

I used to have the fountain sitting on top of a platform in the middle of the pond. It had two extension tubes at the top so it was just visible over the surface. It was lovely.

Then a new neighbor dog decided that my pond was going to be his personal swimming pool. Every day he would come over and get in one one side, swim around a few laps, then get out the other side. My fountain sometimes got knocked over by Swim Dog, and during one of those swimming episodes, the extension tube got knocked off and sank to the bottom.

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Um, toads? Don’t you know about the “new normal”?

I’ll admit that I am more than a little weary of the new talking points of this time period, including the one I used in the title of this post. New normal, social distancing, and whatever adjective ad execs and politicians want to use in front of the word “times” – challenging times, unprecedented times, difficult times, extraordinary times, uncertain, etc. I am mildly annoyed that I have to sit through commercials that now talk about COVID and social distancing. Good lord, enough already.

At my house, however, nature knows no social distancing rules. The toads have invaded my pond and they are NOT 6-feet apart.

I know my pond has been the subject of this blog before, but for those who may not be familiar with the backstory, let me digress for a moment.

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