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It all started when I accidentally found a container that a potter friend had given me long ago. It is a beautiful bonsai dish—but the potter forgot to add holes for drainage. I showed it to my wife and she said, “Oooooh, that’s pretty. Can we get a hammer and chisel and put a hole in the bottom?”

How do you put drainage holes in a ceramic container?

How do you put drainage holes in a ceramic container?

“No,” I replied. “A hammer and chisel would only shatter it—but there is a tool that will drill a hole…”

“Is it a difficult or complicated job?”

“No,” I replied, “it’s so easy that even a girl could probably do it.”

About an hour later, after she started speaking to me again, we decided to make a trip to Home Depot to purchase a “glass and tile bit” to use with our DeWalt drill (hereafter, in redneck manner, referred to as “the DeWalt”). It took a bit of looking to find what we needed.

Looking for a glass and tile drill bit at Home Depot

Looking for a glass and tile drill bit at Home Depot

We found the bits that we needed in the Bosch display and I chose 3/8 and a ¼ inch bits to use for our project. I didn’t think we would use the ¼ inch bit and I proved to be correct.

1/4 and 3/8 inch Bosch glass and tile drill bits. Just what the doctor ordered

1/4 and 3/8 inch Bosch glass and tile drill bits. Just what the doctor ordered

We got together the necessary items for the job—the DeWalt, glass and tile bit, water, the container, and a piece of slate for the work surface. The water is to reduce the heat generated by the friction of the drill.

Drill, glass bit, water, and a container to drill a hole in

Drill, glass bit, water, and a container to drill a hole in

The glass and tile bit looks like this. Be careful when asking for help at the store because a lot of times the clerk will try to sell you a masonry bit which is a different item and won’t do the job.

vBosch glass and tile drill bit is a good item to use when creating neat flower pots.

Bosch glass and tile drill bit is a good item to use when creating neat flower pots.

The DeWalt has a “keyless chuck.” To use it, hold the drill as shown below and run the drill slowly while holding the black thingie. This will tighten the drill’s grip on the bit and things will work properly.

tightening a keyless chuck

tightening a keyless chuck

Pour some water in the container and start drilling. This is a slow process. You will need to put a bit of pressure on the drill to make it work but you don’t want to push too hard. If you try to go too fast the dish will crack.

Pour a little water over the surface to be drilled to keep it cool. Watch the pressure

Pour a little water over the surface to be drilled to keep it cool. Watch the pressure

When the hole begins to develop, it is advisable to have an assistant hold the container to keep it from spinning when the bit goes through.

Have your helper hold the container when the hole is almost done--it may catch and jerk

Have your helper hold the container when the hole is almost done–it may catch and jerk

And there it is—a nice clean drainage hole.

A nice clean drainage hole. YaY

A nice clean drainage hole. YaY

I think we should have two holes, don’t you?

bonsai dish with drainage ready to plant

bonsai dish with drainage ready to plant

Well, Sweetie really liked that one. She started gathering containers. “Look,” she said, “This bowl will make a wonderful pot for my geranium. All it needs is a drainage hole.”

Another container that needs a drainage hole

Another container that needs a drainage hole

And she went to work.

Next thing you know she'll probably be going to yard sales to look for old china dinner bowls to drill holes in

Next thing you know she’ll probably be going to yard sales to look for old china dinner bowls to drill holes in

I sometimes like to use clay saucers to make elf man gardens or to show off small bonsai trees. We drilled a hole in a clay saucer while we were at it.

Drill a hole in a clay saucer and use it for a dish garden

Drill a hole in a clay saucer and use it for a dish garden

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching Sweetie play. By the way, Sweetie’s name is Dekie Hicks and she runs Wheredepony Press and makes books for people who write them. She likes her bonsai trees, too and you may see some of them on her blog site: ponderingthepony.blogspot.com

I watched as she paid attention to the drainage in her “new” flower pot:

Rocks and pot shards added to enhance drainage.

Rocks and pot shards added to enhance drainage.

I watched some more as she potted up her new geranium

potting a geranium in the "new" pot.

potting a geranium in the “new” pot.

There’s the newly potted geranium and what I refer to as, “Happy wife, happy life.”

A fun afternoon playing in the yard

A fun afternoon playing in the yard

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

On Monday, April 14, Living and Giving will open at its new location on the corner of Broad Streetand Fourth Avenue in beautiful downtown Rome, Georgia. Aside from the fact that the plant and gift items are appealing and well-chosen, and not considering the beautiful smiles that accompany the attentive help and service, I just love Living and Giving for the displays. The shop owner, Lisa Landry is a true display artist and the shop is her canvas.

I was delighted when Lisa asked me to help with a couple of projects related to moving the store down the street. I have documented progress that you may see by clicking HERE(March 16)HERE(March 23), and HERE (April 6). I stopped in a couple of days early to check out the progress. There was a sign on the door that nicely said, “Leave me alone, I’m doing my creative thing.” (Those are not the exact words, but that was the perceived meaning). I found Lisa working at the front counter.

Lisa Landry working on some unknown creation at Living and Giving

Lisa Landry working on some unknown creation at Living and Giving

I was greeted warmly and Lisa guided me back to her “plant area” which was developed around the fountain that we had built a couple of weeks before. I was pleased with the transformation.

The water feature looks different with plants around it

The water feature looks different with plants around it

When we first installed the fountain the water falling was too loud. If you look closely at the picture below you can see a piece of brown slate placed so that it will break up the water fall and reduce the sound volume.

Using a rock to fine tune the sound of water falling

Using a rock to fine tune the sound of water falling

Lisa had told me before that customers liked to come in and pick out a plant and then a pot to put it in. There is always someone available at the store to repot a plant in an artistic manner. I found a table of plants basking in the light from a high window with a tray of pots below it.

Pick a pot, pick a plant, walk out with something pretty and different

Pick a pot, pick a plant, walk out with something pretty and different

Lisa was tickled with the logo and artwork on the front window and she took me outside to check it out. I think Monica Sheppard did a wonderful job of conceptualizing and illustrating the store’s message.

A beautiful logo and window dressing by designer Monica Sheppard

A beautiful logo and window dressing by designer Monica Sheppard

A couple of weeks previously we had cut down a large boxwood bush. Lisa had picked out one of the pieces to place inside the store. She researched ways to preserve the leaves. Here is a picture of the ladies guiding the installation and pruning of the tree from the outside in

Lisa standing outside the shop telling me how to prune a tree

Lisa standing outside the shop telling me how to prune a tree

The boxwood display ended up looking like this. And she’s not finished yet.

building a shop display under a tree

building a shop display under a tree

I liked the blue fountain which made a subtle, muted sound.

Decorating with sound and color.

Decorating with sound and color.

I asked Lisa if she needed any help moving things and she said, “I just want to be left alone to do my thing.” I decided it was time for me to leave. I smiled as I passed a sign that was waiting to be hung.

"If we make each other smile then we just can't lose,"

“If we make each other smile then we just can’t lose,”

Living and Giving will be open at its new location starting April 14, 2014 from 10 until 6. Tell them John the Plant Man sent you,

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what? usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

This sign was awaiting placement as the Living and Giving shop was being moved down  the street in Rome, Georgia

This sign was awaiting placement as the Living and Giving shop was being moved down the street in Rome, Georgia

The big event is that of the moving of the wonderful Rome, Georgia shop Living and Giving from its current location on Broad Street to a new location across the street and a block down. The shop owner, Lisa Landry, had asked me to build a rustic water feature that would help showcase her plants. My two previous posts tell of the search for the right idea and the right materials. You will find these articles HERE(March 16) and HERE(March 23). I decided to use the feed trough I had found along with old brick, split-faced, concrete blocks, and an old lion’s head that Lisa had hanging around her house. It took a while to get the materials together but we were ready to start on a Saturday morning,

An old feed trough will be converted to a water feature

An old feed trough will be converted to a water feature

We placed a two-block high row of blocks along the wall and put caps on them to hold the brick and then another row of the split-faced blocks to the front. The fountain is waterproofed with a single piece of Firestone rubber liner. We laid the liner out and spent quite a bit of time thinking and adjusting.

A sheet of Firestone rubber will keep the project from leaking

A sheet of Firestone rubber will keep the project from leaking

I figured out where and how the liner would go. I glued one piece of liner to the wall and installed the plumbing that would take the water from the pump in the trough up and through the lion’s head and retuning it to the trough. We must take great care at this point to see that all water is contained within the system.

Finessing the guts of the water feature

Finessing the guts of the water feature

The rest of the project is to cover up the rubber liner and the pipe, making the fountain look like something that an old farmer had built to water his horses a hundred years ago. We are creating an illusion. I had decided to use a cement mix called Hypertuffa which is made by combining cement and peat moss. Using this material we will get an antique looking texture and a nice patina will develop over time. We mixed peat moss with the Sakrete product pictured here:

Half of the ingredients for hypertuffa. Peat moss is the other half

Half of the ingredients for hypertuffa. Peat moss is the other half

To make sure the hypertuffa stayed in place we cut and fastened chicken wire over the rubber being careful to avoid any punctures. Trial and error finally gave us the proper consistency and we stuck it on by hand, smoothing as we went. If you do this remember that gloves are essential. Here is what it looked like to start with:

Sticking hypertuffa mix with chicken wire

Sticking hypertuffa mix with chicken wire

We proceeded with brick laying and cement mixing for a while. Here is a progress photo:

vprogress with the cover up

progress with the cover up

I took a few days off from the project to allow everything to dry and set up. A few days later we installed the pump, hung the lion’s head and turned that sucker on. We will use some slate to do some fine tuning for sound and splattering. I am looking forward to seeing how Lisa arranges all her plants and goodies around the water feature.

It still needs fine tuning--but it works

It still needs fine tuning–but it works

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what? usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

I’ll get to the redneck report in a bit—first a report on the copper trough for the Living and Giving water feature. (click here to see the article) It seems like the copper was not all that difficult to find, but it cost a bit more than the perceived value of the show off effect. I went “back to the drawing board” and came up with some good ideas that I was pondering as I started a spring cleaning project around my junk pile. I had totally forgotten about the feed troughs.

can we turn this rusty feed trough into a water feature?

can we turn this rusty feed trough into a water feature?

Joel had asked me to haul these troughs to recycling, but it snowed that day and they never got further than my junk pile (which I keep well-hidden). So I started thinking about how to build a water feature (it will be against an old brick wall). I decided I could use pond liner for waterproofing and then make it look like an antique horse trough with old bricks and hypertuffa. Hypertuffa is a material made with cement and peat moss. I made a lot of flower pots one time using this process. They look like this:

hypertuffa--a mixture of peat moss and cement

hypertuffa–a mixture of peat moss and cement

I’m going to build the water feature next weekend so I will document the process. Stay tuned.

Did I mention that my junk pile is out in redneck country?  Every now and then you will see a book titled something like. “I Lived Ten Years With The (Indians, natives, pygmies, headhunters, etc.)”—Well I, John the Plant Man, lived ten years among the rednecks. I ate their chitlins and drank their beer (actually, it was more like they drank MY beer). I even wrote a book about the harrowing experience.

Bud and Travis are two of my favorite characters mentioned in the book. As I was pondering the feed troughs Travis rode up on his lawnmower. Here’s a picture of Travis from a couple of summers ago:

Travis loves his riding mower

Travis loves his riding mower

Travis is quite a philosopher. “Hey, John, you stayin’ busy?”

“It’s been slow on account of the weather,” I replied. “We’re getting pretty busy now, though.”

Travis said, “With all the snow and rain I bet you ain’t been making much money.”

“I been getting’ by,” I said.

“I don’t call it getting by,” Travis replied. “I call it ‘floatin.’” He moved his hand in a wave-like motion. “You just kindly float along as best you kin. Sometimes you get to sinking and you got to flay your arms around a bit and grab you some air.”

He took a sip of his Natural Light. “Yeah, I call it floatin.”

I wrote an article about Travis titled, “Pimp Your Lawnmower Redneck Style”

I mentioned my other redneck friend, Bud.  I wrote an article about him, too. Bud is one of the best gardeners I ever met. Click here to read about his garden.

If you want to know something about farming, ask your favorite redneck

If you want to know something about farming, ask your favorite redneck

 

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

I’ll start with the trough. My beautiful friend Lisa Landry owns and operates a delightful home décor shop on Broad Street in Rome, Georgia. She called me a couple of weeks ago and told me that she was preparing to move the shop to a location one block down and across the street.

The first thing she asked me about was a tree to go inside. It’s a neat idea and I have that one under control. The second thing was a water feature. We talked about all sorts of looks and then settled on using a water trough. Lisa looked at picture after picture until she found this one

A beautiful aged copper trough for a water feature

A beautiful aged copper trough for a water feature

The problem is that I know what the feature will look like and we have a lion’s head to put on the brick wall for the water to come out of—we just don’t have the trough, Can you help us find one? Email me at wherdepony@bellsouth.net, leave a comment on the blog, or find me on face book—John Paul Schulz (Rome, Georgia). Thanks in advance.

I wrote an article about Living and Giving the Christmas of 2011. CLICK HERE to see it. I’ll do another article on the shop after the move. I’m sure it will be amazing.

And on to the cancer report. For background, I have been fighting cancer for several years. I had a laryngectomy (voice box removal) in September, 2012 A few months later I was fixed up with a button in my throat that I could push when I wanted to talk. It’s pretty cool.

I am writing this on March 16, 2014, and a year ago I was going through radiation and chemo treatments for recurring tumors on my shoulder. Everything was tolerable and I got through it but it takes a long time to get over those treatments. I’m doing well but still recovering a year later.

On January 28 of this year Dekie and I went to Emory in downtown Atlanta for a CT scan. I got the scan and we had a wonderful snow adventure in the form of an eleven hour trip home.  (Click HERE to see the article about the trip).

I didn’t tell anyone at the time, but we got a call that same afternoon from the doctor’s office that there was a lymph node abnormality in the scan and that I would need to get a PET scan the next week. That sort of information is a little bit scary, but my reaction, as always, was “Oh, well. I’ll do whatever has to be done.”  The following week I had the PET scan and got the dreaded call that I would have to schedule for a complicated biopsy.

At this point I just accepted the fact that I would have to go through more chemo. Dekie and I started adjusting our spring plans around possible treatments. Another snow storm in the Atlanta area postponed the biopsy until March 12, and last week I went in for a “trans-tracheal ultra-sound guided biopsy.” It was a bit complicated. They put me out for a while.

The day before the biopsy, my friend at the bank said, “I sure do hope it comes out all right.” I told her that I was mentally prepared for bad results.

She said, “John, that’s not your usual positive approach.” I explained that I figured if I set my mind on good results and they were bad, I had lost something somehow but if I accepted that they would be bad, then either I would be right if they were or totally elated if they weren’t.

After the biopsy I was told that I would be notified in a few days. I had already accepted the possibility of chemo treatments.

And, Friday afternoon the phone rang. It was the doctor’s office.

“Mr. Schulz,” the voice said, “I have some good news. The report came back negative. You are clear of cancer. Congratulations.”

I could barely say, “Thank you.” Tears ran down my face. I am still going through the mental process of accepting the fact that the results were indeed good and that I do not have to take the treatments.

I have almost finished an inspirational book about cancer treatments and accepting them with humor, optimism, and a positive attitude. The proposed title is

Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days

–An inspirational approach to reducing fear by facing cancer treatments with optimism and humor.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

What all can I think of to say about this wonderful plant that blooms for Lent, just as its name promises? It tolerates shade, deer don’t eat it, it blooms when the human psyche most needs it, it’s easy to grow, perennial, and it increases its population by free-seeding.

Lenten rose (or 'hellebore')--a true harbinger of spring

Lenten rose (or ‘hellebore’)–a true harbinger of spring

As the cold, the snow, the freezing rain and the dark days of winter begin to change to more acceptable weather, I look for the flowers of the Lenten rose—also botanically known as hellebores. In most cases the blooms hang down, preparing to drop their seeds at their feet. I stretch out on the warming ground to get a picture of the open flower against the sky

Looking up at the Lenten rose flower with the sky blue background

Looking up at the Lenten rose flower with the sky blue background

Lenten rose makes a very practical and pretty under-planting for plants that perform later in the season. Here is a grouping of hellebores in front of hydrangeas and acuba. The combination works well.

planting of Lenten rose, hydrangea, and acuba. A good mix for shady places

planting of Lenten rose, hydrangea, and acuba. A good mix for shady places

The hellebores also work well in larger natural areas. It is not common for a plant to colonize an ivy bed but the picture below is proof positive of the possibility. Lenten roses are available in several pastel colors as well as white.

Lenten rose naturalized in the middle of an ivy bed under a maple tree.

Lenten rose naturalized in the middle of an ivy bed under a maple tree.

A year or two after the initial planting of the Lenten rose you may start to notice the appearance of seedlings around the parent plant. The seedlings should be left in place for a while to mature and then may be transplanted. If you wish, however, you may just leave them in place and they will form a colony.

lenten rose seedlings appear a year or so after the momma plant is installed.

lenten rose seedlings appear a year or so after the momma plant is installed.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

I call it “Stuff.” It’s all the stuff you have to do to get ready to do some more stuff so that everything will be ready to do what you WANT to do. In making a garden work, timing is everything.

Over the last year and a half (more or less) I’ve been working off and on with a large property out in the country, trying to turn a special place into an even more special place. Joel loves his farm, and over the years he has planted a large number of daffodils. These, of course, have multiplied and later this spring we will need to divide them. I will need to find a place to plant thousands of them. I’ve always admired pictures of “drifts” of daffodils around a lake, so we’re cleaning out around a small lake to make room for a couple of thousand daffodils. Here’s part of the site:

I want to plant thousands of daffodil bulbs around the lake.

I want to plant thousands of daffodil bulbs around the lake.

To get ready for the bulbs, we have cleaned out the undergrowth, small saplings, and vines. The next thing I will do is to clean out the edge of the woods here and there. That’s been an ongoing project, but here’s the last section that we need to deal with.

Cleaning the edge of the woods will make room for even more daffodils

Cleaning the edge of the woods will make room for even more daffodils

On another day, I drive up to check out “stuff” on the mountain work site. There is a bit of winter damage that has to be taken care of. We took the time to cut back the loropetalums and some other plants so that they will grow out nicely in the warmer months to come.

loropetalums after pruning off winter damage

loropetalums after pruning off winter damage

Another project that I am watching is the re-surfacing of an old gunnite swimming pool.  Here is a picture of Christian Esme’ chipping the old plaster off in preparation for the application of something new and better.

Preparing pool for re-surfacing. Lovely view of the mountain

Preparing pool for re-surfacing. Lovely view of the mountain

This year’s stuff is much different than the stuff I dealt with last year.

The funny thing to me was that as I was pondering on what to write about today, I decided to look back at my articles for March of last year. There were none. While I was thinking about that, Dekie showed me the desk blotter calendar from March 2013. She figured that we had traveled 3500 miles to Emory and back for cancer treatments in just that one month. The dates marked with an X designate radiation treatments. March promises to be much more relaxed this year.

Desk calendar for March 2013. The dates marked X are the radiation treatments.

Desk calendar for March 2013. The dates marked X are the radiation treatments.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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