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Sludge and Taxes

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I worked my a--sorry, shapely posterior-- off today. Started in on taxes in the morning, 10 AM. Finished tallying all my deductions by about 4:30 PM. My gosh. Columns and columns of numbers. Drifts and piles and glaciers of receipts. The joy of self-employment. I can’t believe how much I spend on materials and postage. Not to mention camera, lenses, accessories and new laptop. Phew. It should be interesting to apply all that to what I earned last year.

The carrot for working on stuff I hate all day was the chance to do some more weeding. Pathetic, I know. Most people would have a bottle of wine or a six of beer or a whole bag of Milano cookies waiting as an incentive. Me, I just like to dig weeds, and make places to plant all the stuff crowding my greenhouse.
With the mild winter, there is a tremendous overgrowth of lawn grass in my flower beds. I’ve protected them with plastic edging and raised blocks, but it still gets in. There’s a horrid little white-flowered exotic mustard that came in with a load of sand that is EVERYWHERE. Yuck. I pull it and pull it and, being a self-seeding annual, it just smirks at me and comes back. It’s already setting seed, in March. Cursed stuff. The lawn is solid with it, a never-ending seed source. Pull, cuss, pull. Dig, grunt, dig.

So I worked and worked and put dinner in the oven and went out to weed. Finished one bed, did another, and then did the stone stairs, where I plant portulaca every year. Yeah. Looks good. Exposed soil where there was sod.
My back was already complaining but I went on to wrestle with my pond filter, replacing the lid clips that had frozen off in the winter. The mild winter snuck up on me; I kept the fountain going into December, and didn’t even have to put a heater in until February. And then it froze solid and froze the clips on my external pond filter. They snapped off when I opened it for the first time to clean it. RRRR! Ordered more, thankful for the Internet; waited for them to arrive; fixed the lid (lots of cussing and grunting), then vacuumed the pond with a siphon. First, I palmed the gooky plant material off the bottom with my hands, cringing as horny American toads bumped and fondled my hands in the green murky depths. Eeeeech! It takes courage to stick your hands into two feet of cold water and fish poo.. There’s something unholy about being grabbed by a toad you can’t see, even for a nature woman.
I siphoned the pond, crawling lizardlike around its perimeter on my stomach, did a 10% water change, added dechlorinator, coaxed the tired old pump into starting, rearranged some rocks in the fountain, and was rewarded for my back-breaking effort by a sudden ejaculation of fetid muck from the fountain pipe, right in the face. At that point I could only laugh helplessly. Such is life. You do the best you can, and sometimes your reward is a faceful of sludge.

But tonight, the fountain is burbling, even though the water in the pond is green and smelly. It’ll clear up in time. (Update: you can see all the way to the bottom and it's running crystal clear. Time to rinse the filter, no doubt!) I’ve got a fresh barley bale in there. Decomposing barley straw kills algae. And American toads are making their way to its siren song from every quarter of the yard. They plap across the cement patio, heading for certain sex. I’ll go to sleep to their love song, and the gentle splash of water on rock. I miss Bill. I wish he'd find his way home.


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