Monday, July 23, 2012

Out of the Drought

I have a gigantic sunflower growing along side of my fence.  The stalk measures a good 2 inches in diameter and the flower is already ten foot tall and the sunflower head is still forming. 

I didn't plant the seed for this plant, in fact I haven't planted sunflower seeds in years.  I have black oiled sunflower seeds for the birds and while it is stated to be sterile, little sunflowers pop up all over under the bird feeder.  They never reach a height much past a foot tall.  This gigantic sunflower, the way sunflowers are supposed to look could be a mutant black seed from my bird feeder, dropped 20 yards from the feeder and finding fertile soil and growing.  If it didn't come from my bird feeders, it more than likely still hitched its ride to its growing spot via some flying and feathered aviator. 

The fact that this is the largest sunflower I have ever grown is one thing.  With most of my sunflowers I have practiced benign neglect, pretty much putting the seed in the ground and then hoping for the best.  These flowers get watered only when I run the sprinkler in dry conditions and only if they are in line with an area I actually care about watering.  This guy ended up in my vegetable garden area.  Its the sandiest portion of my garden but isn't really good for growing flowers and is roomy and allows for rototilling. That the flower wasn't worked up with the many "go-overs" the garden endured to get the veggies the best growing conditions and the least competition from weeds, is something of a small miracle.   The sunflower wasn't recognizable as such until the last month when it took off in height.  Before that when I took the time to think on it at all, I believed it was some kind of weed that would need to be dug out later.  It got away from me, well I got away from it, preferring to ignore the vegetable garden in the early going, only to note what came up and what didn't. 

But the drought struck and I halfheartedly watched as my lettuce wilted, and my peas were spotty at best.  I thought of watering but realized it was too little, too late.  When the rains didn't come into July, I watered the sweet corn and the zucchini hoping to salvage at least those two.  But the raccoons played in the sweet corn and took the very good cobs of corn and left nothing but the husks.   I thought nothing could kill zucchini but apparently there is a wilt that can and did. 

The sunflower was ignored in my sad garden, until it was the only thing of note in that sandy, dusty barren area.  It just grew until it shouted to me to look.  It was a small tree, and it commanded attention, at least it commanded my attention.  It was growing out of sandy ground that hadn't seen a good rain in 6 weeks.  It grew tall in spite of all this.  It hasn't wilted in the intense heat of an unusual summer.  We will likely set records this summer for triple digits not seen every week ever in recorded meteorology.  We have become cranky and tired of the heat, and the burned, straw grass and the plants that have just dried up and disappeared.  But the sunflower not only grows, it will soon flower.  I now look forward to the huge yellow head and will watch it as it follows the sun across the sky.  Its not every day you grow a sunflower like this.  Its not every day you appreciate that flower.  Its not every day you know you are seeing one small miracle and one of God's best. 

Its not every day but today it is...

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Another morning to get up and drag around the hose and hook up the sprinkler.  The new oscillating sprinkler I purchased at Home Depot a few days ago.  On a summer of moderate watering I go through a $20 sprinkler in a year.  They always do the same thing.  They quit oscillating. This has been anything but a moderate watering year, this has been the decade's drought summer, so I knew from the get go I was on borrowed time with the sprinkler. 

And its hot.  Another 4 day spurt of mid 90 to a finale of a 100 degree temperatures.  With the 100 degree day came high humidity and the promise of thunderstorms that would at the least dump some much needed rain on our parched throats.  The summer of promise has become a summer of just getting through.  We kind of know, just as a rush of January snow and cold, signals a long, cold winter, oppressive heat in June means a long, hot summer, and we just know to endure.  But just as cold and snow makes cabin fever a very real and cantankerous malady, heat alleviated only by sitting in the AC all day, gives rise to some very cranky adults who suddenly turn into petulant children, sniping at every thing is sight. 

So I mindlessly rise up after a night's sleep that is already pushing 75 degrees at day break, feeling anything but refreshed, only thinking I needed to get as much done outside as possible before it became unbearable to be outside.  The fact that generations of people, my ancestors included, had lived through heat spells and survived without murdering their spouse, and did it without AC, hasn't helped much.  I look at a picture from a 4th of July celebration in beautiful, downtown Brant and notice immediately that everyone is wearing long sleeves and the men are even wearing jackets.  Yes, they did dress up for events back then.  There was no Friday casual and certainly no holiday leisure.  Despite having the convenience of electricity and the wonder of air conditioning, we still manage to be cranky, short tempered and impatient when the weather doesn't bow to us.  I have news for all of you, WE are not in control. 

The ending to the present mini heat wave came on Tuesday, the annual local ice cream social put on by the Historical Society of Hemlock.  This bunch has kind of dwindled to three old ladies and a "just slightly younger lady", ME, scooping and being the committee of ice cream presenters.  I was not looking forward to standing in 100 degree heat scooping ice cream that would be the consistency of custard before I got a third of the way down the four gallon buckets.  I imagined the crowd would be down as most would prefer to sit in their AC or at the least in front of a fan than all the ice cream sundaes and free music on the museum grounds could afford.  I was right, as the crowd was down, and in a way our stab at nostalgia was as bygone as the fact that people don't go to summer celebrations dressed in long sleeves or summer jackets, the ladies in hats of some kind,any longer.  100 years ago, they would have loved this annual picnic.  It would have been a cause for celebration, to socialize, to beat the heat with good ice cream and summer toppings.  They would have sat under huge shade trees or in the bandstand, Hemlock once provided.  The bandstand has been gone more years than anyone living can remember and the shade trees are now ash trees, dead from the emerald ash borer.  As we are so fond of saying, "It is what it is", and we go ahead and do the ice cream social.  I scooped ice cream that all too soon turned pudding consistency, but for the small crowd of older folks who showed up they were happy and grateful to just come.  The weather was something to talk about and something to remember along with other summer's of great heat.  And they came because it was the chance to get out and talk to people.  It is the very human need that fosters all celebrations and gatherings.

I could choose to be grumpy as I scooped mushy ice cream, or I could choose to enjoy the company of people who perhaps wouldn't be here next year.  I could smile on the young politician trying to garner votes among the people who still vote, religiously, for the office he was seeking.  He seemed to genuinely enjoy being out and among these people and that's a good thing.  We choose to endure and we choose to get through the rough spots.  How we do those things makes all the difference.

I listened to a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace the other day, forwarded to me by an Army buddy of Kurt's.  I always love Amazing Grace, but when its done with a full complement of Scots bagpipers and drums, it sets my soul to soaring.  There just are musical pieces that do this to me.  Music can instantly transport me to a great memory or just cause my heart to swell in some way I can only say is awesome.  I thought of the extremes the Scots endure in land and weather and how they endure.  They appreciate the good because the bad is so often a part of their lives.  They are stronger for having endured and their music speaks of endurance.

We didn't get the rain though thunder boomed and lightning popped later that night.  Some areas did get a good soaking, but not us.  So, I drag around a hose, and say a small prayer that I am not being foolish to water some daylilies and pray that the well holds up.  Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound....rain would be a sweet sound right now also.....

Monday, July 16, 2012


Most women notice when they find they have their mother's hands.  I have my dad's.  Ain't that a kick in the ass....

Its a random thought but one I noticed from a picture we had taken of our family taken at the Laurenz family reunion.  It was only missing Annie and Pete, two big 'missings', but unavoidable.  I just counted myself fortunate that Korey, Jen and Vittoria were home, rather unexpectedly and could stop by the reunion for a bit. 

I loved the picture, the babies frozen in time for me, as they will be so different the next time I see them, even Luca who I see every week will be growing, getting another tooth, a haircut, or a bump or bruise from a tumble he'll be taking as he stretches the limits of his walking, no rushing into life.  Vittoria is heading back to New York City this morning with her mom while Korey heads back to Milwaukee to finish his project for work.  It was a brief reunion but oh so welcome and so appreciated. 

Summer always seems the time for reunions.  Family reunions, yearly festivals which are reunions of a sort and those events that mark a definite page in history.  I had all of them this summer.   Two weeks ago we marked the 150th celebration of Richland Township.  Hemlock, as a city designation, was never incorporated so the anniversary's of age have always fallen on Richland Twp., even though I am sure in most people's minds, it is still Hemlock's anniversary.  The planning for this started over two years ago.  I must admit, though I attended the first planning meeting, I really became no further involved aside from what the Historical Society was doing.  So many things were coming to a head in my life then that I didn't seem to have the energy to become involved.  Something I now regret, but also a lesson learned.  When opportunities are there, take them.  If we wait for someone else to do it all, it will never be to our satisfaction, but we have no place to complain. 

I was eight years old at the 100th, centennial celebration of our town.  I remember the excitement and the pioneer dress my grandma made for me with a matching bonnet.  I remember the parade that added to the feeling later, that my eighth year of life, was my best year on earth.  But I remember little else from that celebration.  I look back at pictures that my mom so clearly recalls and reminisces about, and its kind of a blank to me.  It looked like great fun and great community participation. 

During the 125th, or quasquicentennial, I had three young children.  My sister and brother and their families were all in Michigan visiting and we were running hither, thither and yonder trying to catch everything going on.  Mom and Dad were very involved and everything just stampeded along.  Annie, who was about four that year, wore my pioneer dress, and I wore my grandma's.  I added a white pinafore apron, I made, (my first and pretty much, only apron sewed by me.  The way I bake, I should never be without one, but anyway....). The boys and Kurt wore bib overalls and matching neck scarves.  It was a couple of days of just going from place to place in a dizzying and now, blurry rush.  Ryan won the kid's pedal tractor pull and made the Saginaw News with the picture of him pedaling. The world was still our young oyster, and we rushed headlong without really knowing where we were going and why the rush. It was the last such celebration I would have with my grandparents or my dad though that didn't seem possible at the time.

Twenty five years went by in the blink of an eye this time.  My kids are grown and gone.  I have two baby grand children and those I dearly love who gave me my sense of community and continuity are gone.  Mom retired from caring much about this 150 celebration, this sesquicentennial.  The force to love her heritage died out with my dad and she prefers now to be an observer.  It seems sad to me, but I am coming to find, it is her way.  I can accept it and take from it the lessons it has to teach.

The finale to a yearlong celebration of Richland Township's sesquicentennial started with a community potluck dinner at the Richland Twp. Park.  A very nice turnout and so much food you couldn't pile it all on a plate.  Something that is enduring and comforting, the rural areas still know how to put on potlucks.  I have never been to one where the "pot was unlucky".  There was a period costume contest.  At the last minute before we left I scrounged up a pair of bib overalls and an old, old scarf and tied my hair up in a babushka.  I dug out an old pair of saddle shoes I still possessed and went as "Rosie the Riveter".  They didn't say what period it had to be.  I had great fun.  The best costume went to a 125 year old authentic maternity dress, saved by Shirley Pankow and modeled by Carol Wardin.  How special that people quietly have done such things.  Viewing those things I look back on the things that someday I will likely have to choose to part with and what I will save. 

I will save the quilt my Grandma Walter made for me from fabric scraps of old clothing my mother gave to her.  I can still identify many of the scraps from dresses I once had.  I will keep the walnut hope chest, Grandpa Laurenz gave to Grandma on her 19th birthday, six weeks before they married.  Along with it I will keep the straw boater hat, Grandpa courted Grandma in.  I have a small wood, hump back box, that came with Grandma Walter's family from Germany.  Inside it is a small cedar box, left in my dad's home when we moved in.  Inside it is the trinkets and things of a young girl's life.  I will keep it.  I will save some pieces of things my dad built for me and the kids.  They are his legacy more than anything else.  Of my mother, I hope to save her writings and her recipes, her artwork, as they are my small, farm wife of a mother.  Her love of drawing and writing and gardening are things she has passed on to me that need no reminder. What my children may want to keep I have no ideas.  The boys will likely want things such as their father's guns and decoys to remind them.  Annie, I am not sure, but passing down some things is worth the hassle and the time. 

The parade for the sesquicentennial seemed smaller this time and the crowd much less.  It is the way of small town celebrations.  Less young people to help carry the loads and those that are here now, often have no connection with the history of the town they now reside in.  The exhibits and the work were appreciated.  The township worship service on Sunday morning was wonderful. 

Bits and pieces of what makes me, me.  Yesterday we had the annual Laurenz reunion.  Not a great turnout, but its a risk you take with it being summer and cousins with young children busy.  Many of the cousins kids no longer live around here.  I was fortunate I know to have had two sons and families there this year.  Still, it seems its for us the cousins who can still come and the aunts and uncles who make the effort.  My frail mom walks beside her younger brothers and they bend low now, to help her.  They are all gray and fortunate to still be among us.  We don't know how much longer the four children will still be here, so we take the time. 

Reunions are a funny thing, but family is still, in all of these times of endless strife and depression, the tie that binds.....

Monday, July 9, 2012

Well Crap....

And I mean that literally.  It was Sunday.  We had gone to church with Mom for her birthday and then taken her out to breakfast.  My brother and I spent an enjoyable few hours reliving the best of what we had been as brother and sister and ultimately as a family.  We reminisced about Dad and the many things that had made him special.  Mom got that faraway look on her face that I see often, as if she's seeing beyond us or looking forward to the time she will be smiling and on his arm again.  I looked forward to a quiet afternoon after a hectic, heat stressed week.  Quiet and mundane things like laundry and just hanging out.

Its God's good humor that Sundays are not the only day of the week that can be special or a-special.  A couple of loads of laundry finished up and hung out.  A rainbow of colors on a clothesline.  Until a couple of years ago I had reverted from my earlier love of clothes line dried clothes to the dryer, which was faster, and more efficient in my time stressed world.  I kept the clothesline which remain in my yard for drying bed linens and blankets, quilts.  Last summer I came back to hanging laundry out.  There is something about summer dried clothes that just feels right.  It takes time, but I have time, and in my rush to find things of late, I realize that time is a precious thing and simple doesn't mean backward.

I have only two rules for line drying.  No socks on the line except in emergencies and Kurt's rule, none of his whitey tighties hanging for the world to see.  Of course, now the world knows this, but my blog world is relatively small....

The clothes were out on the line.  I was checking some furniture I had stored in the basement and came up the carpeted set that leads directly into the living room.  Yes, I have two sets of stairs going to my basement, and this, more or less has to do with an extra basement room added over 30 years ago.  Coming up the stairs I noticed a dark blob on the second step from the top.  Suspecting it was something left from one of the dogs, either end, mind you, I turned on the light and discovered there were bits of fur making up much of the blob, with tiny bits of skeletal bone sticking through.  Well swell, it was the carcass of a decomposed mouse.  A few weeks ago I had smelled a dead mouse in the basement room, the stairs lead into.  It was strong and I had looked all through the furniture and behind the chimney for the body.  For some reason I didn't use those stairs or only used them to go down and didn't spot Mr. Deceased.  I am amazed and somewhat humiliated that I never smelled the mouse from the top of the stairs in my living room.  It is open to those stairs and the mouse body was only a couple of steps down.  I pride myself, (and yes, Lord, I am humbled again), on my keen sense of smell, and I really missed the boat on this one.  Even my ever loving of every dead thing she can find, dog, Tally, missed the mark on this one.  I just hope that the myriad of people I've had in my house the last few weeks missed the wondrous odor and didn't think I had buried bodies in the basement.  I'm also hoping that the dog odor I am accustomed to, and ever mindful of, covered up the deceased stink. 

I gathered two dustpans and "swept" up the body and the childhood memory of an old chicken coop aroma wafted into my nostrils, full force.  A whisk broom finished up the leftovers and then a good dose of carpet cleaning spray, white vinegar, and finally a steam cleaning, and I hoped fervently the dead mouse aroma would not haunt me every humid day, as I think there are a few of those in store yet this summer.

Job done, and I headed outside to take down the dried laundry.  Danged if I carried the basket in and didn't notice a dog smell after I had walked around a bit.  Well crap, dog poop on the bottom of my flip flop.  I had really stepped in it.  Flip flop off and hosed and scrubbed and left in the sun to dry, at least there was that.   Floor mopped up. Back in the house and well double yuck, Tally had vomited on the living room carpet.  She is well known for her sensitive stomach and her proclivity towards eating things she shouldn't.  I swear she's part pig as she loves to root around in the compost box for what, I don't want to know.  Dustpans put into action again and vomit disposed.  Carpet spray and vinegar, but decided the whole area needed a large scale cleaning, which would wait until evening and everyone, meaning Kurt and everything, meaning the dogs were upstairs in bed.  Midnight is such a fun time to do things, just let my natural menopause tendencies kick in.

Tennis shoes on, back outside to move watering hoses, and well CRAP, stepped in it again.  Sometimes you just gotta laugh because its Sunday and you can't cuss.  My friend's dog ate a bottle of hand cream the other night, at least Tally didn't do that....

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Heat Wave

The sun is rising.  Its Sunday morning.  In a few hours we will be taking Mom to church.  Its her birthday and she will be 79.  She is mostly gray haired now, a fact debated by my brothers and sister, as to choice, and increasingly frail, her arms no more than sticks.  She seems fragile to me for someone 79, as she moves very carefully, but still drives and still insists she can do what she wants.

We have survived, (at least for now), another heat wave.  Two straight weeks of 90+ temps here in the Saginaw Valley have left everyone on edge and testy with each other.  The eastern half of the Nation is suffering this heat wave, so Michigan is not alone, but temperatures topping 100 degrees and plus is not something we have known here in my lifetime.  Annie in Nashville has seen temps of over 108 degrees and that is the case all through the South.  The old song, We're Having a Heat Wave has new meaning now. 

With the usual Walter flair for timing, (mostly bad), my sister and her family visited in the first week of the heat wave.  They came from Colorado where while it is dry was much cooler.  Normally they try to plan their every-other-year visits home to coincide with my other brother's trips home from Delaware, as that's the only time they will see each other.  It didn't work out this year, so Kerri, Paul and Zac arrived in Michigan via their Dodge truck and 5th wheel RV, camping along the way and visiting the western side of the state before heading to the sunrise.  It was still June when they arrived and of course, it was the first of our 90+ degree days in a row. 

Wildfires were raging near their home city of Colorado Springs, so they were desperate for news and internet connections to view the devastation. They visited nephews on the way in, and were actually only at Mom's for a brief few days, something we are all aware at this point in her life.  Our mom does not like change any longer and prefers to live quietly with really and truly, life's simple pleasures, her companions.  It often seems very lonely to me, and more often seems devoid of joy, but I guess that is a relative term as joy is something perhaps for the young who have not the wisdom earned to realize lasting contentment.  Some days I think I have it figured out and others, I don't have a clue.

Kerri and her family left on one of the "cool" days of the two week purge where the thermometer only went to 92 degrees.  My brother, Chris and his family arrived from the other direction, two days later, in the next start of intense heat on Sunday night.  Kurt and I had made a bet to see if we could keep the AC off in our house through the month of June.  That seemed like a fairly easy thing to do at the time, as June is not usually a month where air conditioning is a must, except for this year.  But we found surprisingly, that we could open windows wide at night and have the house cool off enough to then close the windows in the mornings and have the house stay comfortable all day.  We are blessed with trees surrounding the house and a garage that stays cool on the west side of the house.  But what seemed comfortable to us was stretched when we had a cookout over here for Kerri and her family before they left.  With more people in the house and a day of heating, the house was warm to most who were here, and I was labeled stubborn in the mode of my mom by many of my family.  But that was June and by July I had to contemplate at least, turning on the air conditioning.

Chris and family stopped by unexpectedly on a Monday when the temps were heading to record highs, though they hadn't gotten there quite yet.  They complained as everyone had about the heat and how bad it was here.  Of course, it was going to be that hot in Delaware, but we weren't going to argue the fact with them right then. 

We spent the 4th of July at Ryan and Alison's lake house.  The neighborhood on the lake does a pig roast that feeds friends, neighbors and relatives, but this year the thermometer heading to a record breaking 102 degrees, had us all eating and heading to air conditioning even in cottages that had never known the term.  The 4th of July was the first really uncomfortable night we spent with fans running on every side of the bed and the air cooling outside to only 75 degrees during the night.  We broke down on Thursday and cranked on the air.  It didn't seem to help much.  We cleaned beach next to the pond and actually got on the floats we hadn't used in two years and we were suspended in water that was as warm as a winter bath.  Along with the hot temps had arrived the humidity and air that had no breath.

Friday saw the last really hot day of the heat cycle.  It was a day much like the previous and won't stand out in memory, (I hope), for more than the cycle of the record setting heat wave.  Saturday had us glad, for once we lived on the sunrise side of the state and could enjoy a cooling breeze from the northeast across Saginaw Bay.  The southern part of Michigan still sweltered under the heat for another day of near 100 degrees.  We topped out at 85 here. 

This morning I got up to watch the sunrise, sitting on my front porch.  I contemplated my mom turning 79, and inevitably her mortality and life in the coming year.  I looked across the fields to a new large barn being built on Roosevelt Road and wondering if there would be horses at the place that had installed fencing last fall.   I liked having the changes to landscape that needs a reason to change and stay current.  I love the country and my neighborhood, but I now realize it can't remain stagnant.  That's a good thing and one I want to really remember, when I feel time speeding by me. 

My niece is a senior in high school.  She's never heard of VISTA or what the Peace Corps once did.  We need to do a better job as a Nation to teach this generation's children of what we once were and what we can become.  We survived the heat wave, at least for now.  This might be labeled the summer of the tropics and another way to test our Nation's mettle.  I hope we pass...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Back to Nature

I should be outside as we had some very early morning thunder storms which gave us rain; much, much needed rain.  It is now cloudy and as soon as the  sun breaks out the humidity and heat factor will surge.  I should be outside cleaning out my weedy rock wall.  The rock wall is so weedy, it is next to obliterating the rocks in the wall.  I should be doing that, but I am here instead paying my respects to a little duckling.

Kurt came in yesterday excited that we had ducklings on our pond.  He knew Momma Mallard had a nest somewhere in the tall grass off the pond as we saw them almost constantly of late.  This was the first case of ducks nesting on the pond in its almost 10 year history.  Cattails have overtaken 3/4's of the pond edging, and its on our list to clean out certain areas of them, but we realize they provide cover for nesting ducks.

Kurt saw the ducklings about a half to a full dozen of the little guys twice yesterday swimming close to Momma.  He was delighted that he had those ducks and hoped that at least half would grow big enough to fly away.   We know that ducklings have many natural enemies so half surviving was probably optimistic. 

This morning I heard him yelling outside at our dog, Tally.  I assumed she was chasing baby bunnies again which she does frequently when outside the fence.  I feel like "Watership Down" these days as we are almost over run with "wasically wabbits".  So far they haven't destroyed any major plant life, the unusually high bug population this year  seems to have done more damage. 

I had been feeling happy for lack of any better word this morning.  The rain had helped and even though I knew we would return to heat shortly, things seemed to be going better.  Then Kurt came in carrying a cardboard box, telling me Tally got one of the ducklings.  When I asked if she killed it, he said no, but he had it in the box, as when he tried to put her back in the water, she flipped on her back.  He wanted to see if she was just shaken so left her in the box for an hour or so while we land trained the dogs. 

I was pulling weeds out of the sand beach by the pond after the dogs were done and put in the house.  Kurt came out carrying the duckling and carried it to the far side of the pond in a clear area to put it back in the water.  He now knows he should have released it in the cattail area or waited until he could find the mom and siblings swimming, but he was anxious to know if the little lady could swim.  So he put her in the water and she took off swimming but he quickly realized he had made a grave mistake.  The little swimmer was immediately assailed by one of our pond's small mouth bass.  He started yelling as the bass would pull her under, but she would re-emerge still bravely swimming.  He threw rocks behind her hoping to scare off the bass but he kept nipping at her as she swam across the pond towards me where I watched with a sickening feeling.  When she got closer to me, I began throwing rocks and she turned to head to the safety of the cattails her only hope.  But one last time she was pulled under and didn't resurface.

Kurt was frantic and my calm, hunting husband actually had tears in his eyes over the little duckling's fate.  We knew the odds were against most of the duckling's surviving, and hoped against hope because we rescued her from certain death in the jaws of Tally, we believed she had been given a reprieve.  He blamed himself for letting her go in open water, alone where he knew bass would eat her, (which is far more than I knew and now unhappily, I am informed).  Her odds were never good, but we believed for a short time she had beat the odds.

An ordinary day made a little less bright for the loss of a little duckling that had we not come to her rescue would never have known her fate.  She might have been hunting fodder for her very rescuer in a couple of years, but my big, strong husband was grieving over the little fuzzy baby, only a couple of days old, he didn't save and probably allowed certain death when he put her back in the pond.  This was the reason I married him, his gentleness at unexpected times and his grief over the "least of these".  Its why we are still married after 35 years. 

It is survival of the fittest in nature and when we say we like living among the wild creatures, it is one of the lessons we have to be taught and retaught.  Time to go tackle that rock wall, wiser and sadder, but realizing the rest of the ducklings are still swimming in our pond....