Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Rock related injuries and the first stones moved into the pond!

Once we'd got the island stones in place things ground to a halt in the Japanese Garden - this was partly because it was Winter (the last stone was planted the weekend before Christmas 2007) and partly because putting the stone in caused me a bit of a problem.

For years I'd had a very small umbilical hernia - but it had never caused me any pain, even when pregnant. However, carting loads of rocks about and heaving the flintstones trolley up the garden had taken its toll and caused the hernia to enlarge slightly - but still not be a problem as I'd always stopped carrying stuff as soon as I'd become aware that it was begining to pull or ache.

True to form, the weekend before Christmas, I'd reverted to managerial duties (bossing everyone else about!) once I'd started to ache. I was directing operations about manouvering the big stone when it began to wobble - I was nearest, so jumped forward to push it back into a stable position before it fell.
Foolish or what?!

The resulting increase in the size of the hernia and the discomfort (okay, pain!) I was in meant that surgery was the only option, so February 2008 saw me ready to go under the knife. The surgery was a success .... unfortunately the recovery was less good as my body didn't like being messed about with and bits of me ground to a halt, resulting in the copious use of enemas and cathetars - not a time I like to dwell on too much really!

It took almost 5 months before I was anything like back to normal, although I was allowed light gardening duties before then - but the scar tissue I'd been left with mean that bending over or doing anything that squashed my insides was a bit of a n0-no for a while. Not good and I became increasingly frustrated by it all as I am not famed for my patience!

It also meant that Himself had to do most of the heavy work all last year and I still have to be careful about what I can and can't lug about.

Anyway, once I was sufficiently recovered, we decided to start getting some of the big stones onto the shelf around one side of the pond because I couldn't plant any pond plants until that was done - and I was just itching to get started on that as it would make it begin to look like a 'real' pond at last!

I'd decided that I wanted the pond to look as natural as it could be, so I imagined that a stream came down the mountain (?) into the garden and entered the pond from roughly where the right hand corner of the fruit cage is. In spring, this stream would carry the snow melt (yeah, yeah, I know - I've got a vivid imagination and I'm on the top of a hill in a town in the UK, but bear with me on this one...!) and rocks, stones, pebbles etc,` which would end up all mixed up together in a tumble of 'stuff', some of which would form a pebble beach, some would tumble a bit further - I'd got used to being laughed at for my fanciful ideas by this point, so was going to carry on regardless of my sceptics!

I decided that I needed a large stone to 'catch' the pebbles and form the beach so, having chosen the appropriate one - and I was told in no uncertain terms by Himself that I could only have ONE shot at this, so I had to choose the right stone first time (aagh, the pressure, the pressure....!), Himself then used the scaffold tower and chain pulley to lift the chosen stone up from where it had lain for about a year, levered the stone onto the flintstones trolley, dismantled the tower, pushed the trolley to the correct bit of the pond and rebuilt the tower over the trolley in the new position. I was still not allowed to pull/push heavy stuff, so I watched from the sidelines whilst making admiring and supportive noises and providing drinks!

Proof of drinks provision - some days there were chocolate biscuits too!
Ooops, I've just realised that some of the plants that were under the kitchen window last summer when this photo was taken are still there! Oh well, they've survived ...and they'll get planted this year! (hopefully)

Having got everything positioned, Himself filled a donkey (a huge bag with handles at the four corners, used for carrying heavy loads for the building industry) with some of our sandstone rubble to use as a counterweight - because the stone had to be lifted up and out beyond the far side of the tower to get over the shelf.
The counterweight wasn't heavy enough and the scaffold nearly toppled into the pond, so extra weight was added - by me. I was that counterweight!
I have to say that it is probably one of the most uncomfortable jobs I've had to do in a long line of uncomfortable jobs! I had some very sharp bits of stone sticking in some very soft places!

The stone in place on the shelf.
All the stones that were placed on the pond shelf had a layer of fleece liner underneath them to prevent any damage to the butyl liner and so avoid leaks. Himself's idea - I wouldn't have thought of that!

The first layer of pebbles on the beach.
I got ridiculously excited about putting this stone in place and playing with, sorry - placing the pebbles as it finally felt like we were getting somewhere - probably because it was such visible progress, whereas a lot of what we'd done in the digging, soil moving, leveling etc was 'hidden'.
It was a good day!


gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Glad you're making a recovery. It must be hard to watch the work being done when you seem like a doer. I always enjoy reading your posts and your humour (my grandfather was English so I love adding that u in when I can :) ). I think you should write a book about your pond building adventures!
PS Are these polka dots new or have I just not noticed them before?

camellia said...

Please do take it easy – old injuries are old enemies to talk softly to... You'll have a beach! I can't believe it. I'm jealous! It's getting there, I can see it...

O.I.M said...

i am astounded by the amount of work you've done. I especially love your tai-chi circle. I can't wait to see what the finished pond and garden look like.

sorry to hear about your injury but glad that you are better. besides it was good that you were relegated to providing drinks...can't have Himself and company dehydrating and wilting like a pulmonaria in the heat of the August sun..there were rocks to be moved after all :)

Kylee said...

Wow! That's a huge project! Glad Himself was on board with it! ;-) Also glad to hear of your recovery. I too have an umbilical hernia, and have had it since I was a baby, but it hasn't caused many problems over the years. When I was pregnant, the dent near my belly button was a little disconcerting, but no problems!
Keep up the good work there!

spookydragonfly said...

You and I are very much alike...we don't know when(or do, but don't care at the time)to stop with the heavy work! We both paid the price for our dream come true! Hopefully, you'll be taking it easy this year...I love reading of your progress and all the photos!

Nutty Gnome said...

Catherine - hi. Thanks for your comments. Yes, I am a doer and it drove me up the wall when I wasn't allowed to do stuff. I was not a patient patient!
A book? Hmmm - I'll have to think about that one!
The polka dots are fairly new - First-Born has access to my dashboard to do 'techi' bits, so things do change suddenly from time to time. I've noticed my 'followers' thingy is different today!

Camellia - I love your phrase "old injuries are old enemies to talk softly to" - I hadn't thought about it like that, but you're so right. I promise to be careful! There'll be more of the beach in my next post......!

Irena - Himself was very good last year at making sure I behaved myself, so making him a few drinks was the least I could do in return!
I'm glad you like the tai chi circle - I can't wait to use it. Work is slowly starting up again on the garden and Himself has bought some new toys - oops, tools(!) to cut the wood for the tea house, so I'm getting more convinced I might just have that finished this year ....providing he orders the wood!!!

Kylee - welcome to my world! Himself is wonderful, I couldn't do it without him :) !
My hernia repair is fine now thanks- I just have an ongoing problem with a line of scar tissue that causes me pain/discomfort from time to time - just to remind me to behave myself I think, and not to hoyk too many big rocks around the place!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Spookydragonfly - you are SO right, I am always getting told off for not stopping soon enough - but it's there, and I think I'll just do this little bit....then an hour later I realise how daft I've been (again!).
It should be easier this year as most of the big stones are in place. Just got to do the stones around the bottom pond, the bottom part of the stream, the waterfall, etc, etc - hmmm, maybe not quite so easy after all!!!

Ruth said...

Didn't I say starting a blog might lead to a book!
I will turn the polkadots yellow some time soon, promise.
Love first-born x x x

Ruth said...

Oh and it wasn't me that changed the followers bar, maybe there is a blog goblin out there.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi darling. Can I have green polka dots to match the header please!
I'm still not convinced about a book - there'd only be you and Catherine who'd want to read it - and I'm not so sure about you!!!

Would the blog goblin be responsible for me having to check some comments before they get published?

love you - see you soon,
mum xxx

Woody Wilbury said...

Crikey; not so much gardening as civil engineering! Did you by any chance have a previous life at Stonehenge?

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

If I have a pond query guess who I'll ask.


Nutty Gnome said...

Ey up Woody, nice to see you - thanks for popping in. Now do you see why my greenhouse didn't get cleared out last backend?!

Stonehenge! Maybe, maybe! I think it's genetic. My mum (the Mad Gnome) built ponds too and they always seemed to involve moving big rocks around - perhaps not quite as big as ours, but's obviously all her fault!

Rob - hi. Ha ha, thanks for that vote of confidence - having looked at the photos of your fabulous surroundings I don't think you need any advice on any aspect of gardening......but civil engineering with stone age equipment, now that's a different matter!!!

Shady Gardener said...

I cannot imagine how much work this is taking! And what wonderful help (patient, hard-working) you have! Congratulations!! Also, I'm glad to hear you're feeling better. Chocolate breaks make me think it's time for lunch! ;-)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Shady, good to see you. Yes, my trusty assistants are wonderful - and amazingly tolerant! I feel like I ought to do a sort of 'thank- you' post to all of them, but fear it may end up like an Oscar night speech!!

Chocolate breaks are vitally important - I especially love dark chocolate Hobnob biscuits, but can be tempted by just chocolate (or just biscuits come to that!), or lunch, or tea ....or any sort of food really :)!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Wow, you risked life and limb for this pond. I can't wait to see how it all turns out!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Monica, nice to see you again. Thanks for popping in. Yes I have had my fair share of injuries doing my 'little'(!) project.

I bruise very easily so am always covered in bruises that I have no idea what I did to cause them!

I was going to be out there today doing a bit more, but it's chucking it down (good Yorkshire phrase for raining heavily!), so I'm on internal house renovations by the looks of it!

I'm now champing at the bit to do some more work!

HappyMouffetard said...

Wow - what a project! Glad you're recovered.

Gem said...

It is looking so good! You may even inspire me to put our creek bed in behind the house! ONE DAY! LOL

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi HM, nice to see you again. Yes, it is a bit of a project - and I've got several more lined up in different bits of the garden for when I've done this. I'm a sucker for punishment when it comes to gardening!

Gem - good to hear from you. Hope the ember watch has settled down. Thanks - I'm glad you like it. I reckon you should go for the creek bed - one day, tee hee!

Bren said...

This is a wonderful blog... I am going to follow you for a while because I have learned so much from the past 15 minutes I have been reading here. Thank you for sharing your love of gardening. Your user name caught my eye... cute!!!
Happy Bloom Tuesday!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hello Bren. Welcome - and,wow, thank you for your wonderful comments.
I've just looked at your blog and you really know your stuff, so I feel quite chuffed (English word for 'a bit smug' is probably the nearest I can get to a direct translation!)that you've learnt from my blog - except if it's how NOT to do things!!!
I'll look forward to you popping in again.

Carolynn said...

Wow, that injury sounds like a nasty bit of work. I'm glad to hear you've made a substantial recovery and have used the time to sharpen your managerial skills. The garden really looks great, so far. Excellent job. Where do you find the time?!?

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Carolynn - hernia surgery wasn't a pleasant experience, but I guess it served me right for not knowing (or ignoring!) when to stop!
I'm glad you like the garden. We tend to spend most weekends on it if the weather is good, plus I don't work in the school holidays so I can potter about to my heart's content for 6 weeks every summer - which is fantastic in so many ways!!!