Spencer’s 21st Birthday

Spencer turned 21 on Saturday (10/11/14).  How crazy is that?  Both our boys are over 21 now.

We celebrated as a family that evening.  And I, of course couldn’t resist the urge to record the event for posterity.  Spencer was a sport which made it fun.

We took him to the liquor store on Graham Hill Road for his first legal alcohol purchase, then had dinner at El Jardin’s in Santa Cruz.  Spence had the chimichanga… his usual.  Donna and I were a bit over-served so had to rely on Jack to drive us home.

Jack’s Birthday!

Jack has been hyper busy with school these days.. But he was able to come home from the STEM Center (his home away from home) for long enough last Monday evening (10/6/14) to give us a chance to celebrate his birthday.





Happy Birthday Jack!

Pond Replacement Project – 2014


Epic pond replacement project by Larry Fogelquist

A long time ago, in a place far away…. well actually not all that far away… just out in the backyard… but it WAS a long time ago… something like the summer of 1996, we built a koi pond in our backyard.

Our old koi pond – the recently built temporary pond in the background


The old koi pond as it was…

You’re probably noticing that it’s an above ground pond… Why would anyone want an above ground koi pond?  Well it all goes back to my parental neurosis… As I said, this pond was built back in 1996… Spence was all of three and Jack was five… I reasoned (worried) that if we had an in the ground pond that one day we’d find one of them floating face down in it… Not a pretty picture for a new parent.   But we still wanted a pond… Having the pond be above the ground seemed to be a reasonable alternative…. besides, where it was located, we could watch the fish from our living room… Great idea huh…. well the kids are now 21 and 23 so I think we can call this a success.  Problem solved… So if I’m going to go to all the work of replacing it now when everyone is all grown up, why not put the pond into the ground this time… Well when we replaced the patio, we built the new patio out of concrete which was poured around the existing pond… so that made the location of the pond sorta permanent.  Besides, it still is fun watching the fish from the windows in the living room…  Bored yet?  Okay… I’ll get back the topic of the pond replacement project.

So why replace the pond?  Quite simply the existing pond was rotting… one corner was pretty well done for… and many of the 4X4 used in the construction had rotted.  Don’t just take my word for it… Check out these pictures…

So now I guess it makes sense that we replace it huh?

As I see it there are six steps to this project..

  1. Build the temporary pond
  2. Fill and transfer the fish to the temp pond
  3. Tear out the old pond
  4. Build the concrete form for the new pond
  5. Lay down the block for the new pond
  6. Install the liner
  7. Move the filter to the new pond and fill the pond
  8. Move the fish to the new pond
  9. Tear down the temporary pond

Step 1 – was to build the temporary pond.  If I was going to nuke the existing pond, I needed some place to put the fish during the construction of the new pond…  Dumb Larry, I didn’t take any pictures of the temp pond construction process… doh!  It was pretty easy though… It was done and partially filled in a day.  It took way longer than it should have cuz I was feeling lazy and kept procrastinating.

Filling the temp pond

Step 2 – Okay… now it’s time to drain the existing pond and move the fish.

My basic approach was to just move the nectar quality water from the existing pond to the temp pond… I used some tap water in the beginning to smooth out the wrinkles and settle the pond into its shape… but after that it was pond water all the way.

As the pond water was being pumped into the temp pond and the water level went down, it got easier and easier catch the fish… but they were still tough to catch.  They were easiest to catch at night with me using a flashlight to blind them while Spencer and sometime Jack tried to block their escape with a second net.   One by one we got them all with the last tiny one being caught just before the pond water completely dried up.  I didn’t even know I had that tiny little one… So there are 28 fish in all.

When all the fish were successfully transferred it looked like this…


Heddi looking on…

Step 3 – Time to tear out the old pond… sigh… kinda sad.  It’s been a fixture in the backyard for 18 years… and I designed and built it… Oh well, out with the old, in with the new…

First the liner comes out…

Now it’s time to destroy and remove the pond structure…



Heddi… my almost constant companion during all this…


Step 4 – Now it’s time to begin building the new pond.  Because of the measurements of the blocks (6 inches high) and the cap (3 inches high) and the target height of 36 inches AND the fact that the slab isn’t level… I have to build a footing to make the pond level and at the right height.  So construction begins on the footing.  This turns out to be the most difficult part of the project.  Everything boiled down to measure, measure, measure… and level, level, level… I’ve never built a form before so that’s also an issue…

So this is where I am as of 10/7/14…  Stay tuned… I will continue to add to this post as I make progress on the project…

On 10/11/14 (Spencer’s 21st birthday… see next post), after procrastinating all morning by buying the last of the pre-mixed concrete… then slowly driving over to the rental place to rent a cement mixer… and coming back to drill a hole for drainage… I couldn’t think of anything else to delay me… so at something like one in the afternoon, I took the plunge and started mixing, pouring and troweling… Just in case there was any doubt… concrete is really heavy… everything is hard… but I got it done and about 5:30 I was cleaning my tools…

The finished footing with forms removed.  Had to keep it wet for a week or so to help the concrete cure.

Finished pond foundation
Finished pond foundation

Okay… so it’s finally time to deliver the block for the pond construction… I went down to Central Home Supply to order the block.  $2,270.67 later, I had it on order.  A couple days later, it was delivery time…

Next step was to move it to the back of the house… that basically meant me wheel barrowing it back… unbelievably heavy block by unbelievably heavy block… Jack, bless his heart, kicked in to help me.

When this photo was taken, there was still another pallet to go… We started to worry about whether the patio could take all this weigh… seems to be holding though.

Now the actual pond construction begins… I have to glue down the first row… so gotta be careful… the first row is the most important… ‘cept I don’t really know what I need to do to make sure that everything goes well on the succeeding rows…

Now that the first row is laid, time for the real work to begin.  Throughout the project, I kept thinking that, ‘after this, the rest will be easy’.  But even this phase had it’s challenges and time consuming aspects.  The difficult part of this phase was getting everything the spacings to work out.  This is a very hard block, so there is no wiggle room.  It either fits, or it doesn’t.  There were times when one row on one side would take me a couple hours of trial and error… and these blocks are super heavy.  The lightest were 21 lbs, and I didn’t use very many of them.  The ones I used the most were 64 lbs, and 50 lbs…. So every trial was a lot of work.

But first I had to deal with a little plumbing issue.  There’s a faucet that comes out of the house under the window… Couldn’t relocate it inside the walls of the house because a fireplace was in the way.  So I rerouted it on the outside of the house.  Kinda kludgy looking but it’s all covered up with the pond so I guess it’s okay.

Now I can get on to stacking the block…

Now that the block is in place, we can get on to putting the liner in.  But before doing that, I wanted to put down some underlayment to protect the liner from the ground… This consists of a some fiberglass mat… and then the liner from the previous pond to help support and protect the final liner.

Now it’s finally time to fill the pond, add the plants and transfer the fish… gettin’ close!


The outside wall of the pond gave way… Of course there was a tsunami as approximately 1,000 gallons of water spilled out.  I was standing over by the temporary pond trying to net out the last of the koi.  Even that far away, I had to jump for higher ground.  The water first engulfed the backyard, then cascaded down steps into the utility area… then flowed through the fence into the neighbor’s pool.  Unbelievable!

It’s almost a week later as I write this… and I’m still looking for silver linings to this setback.  Believe it or not, there are a couple:  1) It’s very fortunate that this happened during construction because I had a temporary pond right there ready to accommodate the fish… 2)  It would have been quite unfortunate to have had a, probably relatively minor earthquake which could have caused the pond to rupture like this, perhaps even when some hapless person was standing right there.  Rough calculation has that wall by itself weighes about a ton and a half .  Then there is a considerable weight of water behind it…  Having that fall on someone woulda been ugly.  So actually I’m REALLY glad it failed now… But I so totally want to be done with this project.   This pond project is beginning to feel like a life sentence.

Current status is that the fish and plants were moved back to the temporary pond the day after the wall failure.   Been pretty busy with some other higher priority items since that dark day of the wall failure, so have only been picking away at clean up.

Also, it’s taking a little time for me to come up with a new design.  I think I’ve got it though… It’s actually Jack’s idea.  But I like it.

  1. Rebuild the pond back to it’s former height without capping installed
  2. Cut a channel all the way around the top course of block
  3. Install a piece of angle iron within the entire length of the channel
  4. Weld the corners of the angle iron so there is an iron connection all the way around the top course of block
  5. Reinstall liner underlayment, and liner
  6. Refill the pond, transferring plants and fish as I go
  7. Install the capping and trim liner

Okay… Time has passed… Any readers of this post that have made it this far have got to be wondering when… if… this ordeal is ever going to end… that is both the ordeal of building this damn pond… AND the ordeal of reading about it… So sorry… it wasn’t supposed to be this way.  BUT… this is no time to lose faith… the end is at hand.

They said it couldn’t be done… but at last (on 1/11/15), the pond was finished… of course there are a few things remaining to be done.   But it’s been filled up, is holding water and fish are swimming around in it. I think the best way to go about this now is just to wrap this up with pictures.

Now to fill up the pond… gulp!

And they said it couldn’t be done… Mark your calendars… on January 10th, 2015… The pond was essentially completed.  I say essentially cuz there’s still stuff to do… e.g. situate the filter, recut a few capping stones… clean everything up… BUT!  For now, it’s done.  I can pick away at the other stuff over time.

Some photos of the finished product…

And this morning (1/20/15), the new pond survived it’s first earthquake… no damage.

Okay… this endless post is finally complete… Way to hang in there.


Video of Jack’s Summer Whistler Adventure

Every year Jack takes at least one trip to Whistler during the summer to ride.  For several summers he even worked up there as a pro coach so he knows the bike park really well.  This is one of the first summers that he wasn’t up there to compete in the Crankworx Whistler Slopestyle event so he was able to relax a bit and just ride with his buddies.  He made this video of his summer adventures.  True to his style, this video celebrates the fun and stoke of being up there.  It also kinda makes me feel like I’m wasting my life by not bein’ up there.


Larry’s Vegetable Garden

Growing vegetables … this is something I (Larry Fogelquist) haven’t ever done before… But late this last spring it looked like Spencer was having so much fun with his plants that now I wanted to grow something too.   A very big issue for me growing vegetables here is that we don’t have much space for a garden in the ground… That means that everything I did would have to be in containers.  Can you even grow vegetables in containers?  I’ve only seen em grown in the ground… A quick internet search showed me that not only can you grow vegetables in containers, there were actually advantages to doing so… And with that, I was off and running…

I could go into way too much detail about this… The whole thing was quite an operation.  But fortunately for you, my precious reader, I’m feeling a little lazy at the moment so will spare you my endless description.  So for the moment, I’m just gonna talk with these photos.

It’s early October now… harvest season.  And yes, it may look like I’m bragging about my garden… and yeah, I kinda am… BUT… my main purpose for putting these photos in here is so that next January, when the world is full of endless gloom and despair.  It’s cold outside and everything is dead… I haven’t heard a bird sing in months… my skin is all white and I’ve forgotten what fresh off the vine tomatoes taste like… I can be reminded that at least at one time there was life in those containers that are now sitting empty on our patio.


Larry’s First Episcopalian Mass in something like 25 years…

At a recent Rotary meeting, Father Joel, knowing that I was raised as Episcopalian, invited me to come to Mass this Sunday at the Calvary Church in downtown Santa Cruz.  I suggested it to the family, a pack of Catholics, expecting to be shot down.  But crazy as it sounds, they went for it.  So like it or not, I was in charge of our Episcopalian mission.  Oy!  Now what?  Yes I was raised Episcopalian, and I’m very proud of that upbringing.  But I’ve been surrounded with Catholics for nearly 30 years and only attended Episcopalian Masses in all that time when my parents died… and those were a funeral Masses.  Not quite the same…  I wish I had prepped a little… or something…

Time to I pull myself together and man up.  Our little party consisting of my Donna, Jack and Donna Maurillo were counting on me to pull this off.

The parish itself was cool and very typical of what I’ve always known Episcopalian parishes to be… Old, classic, traditional… I felt very much at home… even though it was in fact, a church.


My biggest blunder of the outing was to not sit toward the back of the chapel.  In Catholic town, we’ve got everything dialed and I like to be able to hear so gravitating up toward the front to find our seats was our habit.  But when we were seated, I realized that I REALLY needed to watch everyone else to see what they did…  When do we stand?  When do we sit?  When do we kneel?  But most of all, how do we take communion.  When I was young, we took communion at the rail.  But for some reason I thought the Episcopalians had done away with that.  Here’s a hint for all you wayward Episcopalians who haven’t been to Episcopalian Mass in the last 30 years… They (we), still go to the rail!… kinda different… but cool.  Damn! I totally like this bein’ an Episcopalian stuff.  I might have to get more into it.  Anyway, I totally screwed everything up.   And therefore the rest of my unfortunate party, following my lead, screwed it up too.  Always the adventurer, Jack followed me up to the front of the room.  Donna Maurillo is comfortable in just about any situation so she literally charged to the front… I’m sure that my Donna was pretty certain that I didn’t have a clue so she wisely hung back in the safety of the pews.  I’m sure that I was a total disappointment to Father Joel.  Pretty good bet that will be the last time he’ll ever invite me to attend his Episcopalian Mass…. sigh…

Oh yeah… today’s Mass was The Blessing of the Animals celebrating the Feast of St. Francis.  So Father Joel brought his dog and corn snake in for the blessing.  Afterward Donna held the snake.

What a snake charmer… next she’ll start talking in tongues….

All in all, there weren’t any casualties, and we made it safely back to the parking lot.  But I’m thinking that I’m gonna have to do this more often… not sure how that’s gonna play out in the household though.