Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Time for a New Name

Well, it appears, thankfully, that the name Soggy Bottom will have to be retired. Mid-week last week, our contractor, Michael White, and his excavator, Lindsay, and three of his men dug in, as it were, and started laying the curtain drain across the yard to drain it of all the spring waters. This drain will also come in handy when it rains and water comes rushing down the mountain. There are springs all over the mountain, including our yard. Michael tells me that water runs laterally and, as we all know, water follows the path of least resistance. So, when there is a curtain drain nearby, all water wants to flow to it, since it's the easy way out, and then the drain takes it away. Sounds like hocus pocus to me, but guess what, it works. The yard has already begun to dry out, AND, the basement has also started to dry out, but this drain does not fully take care of the basement problem and this week they are going to begin work on the drain around the base of the foundation. These guys worked so fast on the curtain drain, and there is so much that has happened, it's going to be hard to recap, but I'll try.

The first thing Lindsay did was remove a few scrubby shrubs from the south side of the house:

Their initial plan was to first dig the trench around the south, east and north sides of the house to install the drainage system and pour the concrete walls against the foundation and then see if we even needed the curtain drain across the yard. However, they decided that there was so much water in the yard that if they didn't take care of the yard first, the trench around the house would fill with so much water, they would be fighting a loosing battle. So Lindsay began to attack the hillside and clear even more overgrowth than what Paul Hess and I did. It it was decided to install the curtain drain on the east and north side of the well instead of on the south and west side of it, which meant Lindsay and Mike had to take down some trees and clear a whole lot more nonsense. As they cleared brush they found all sorts of stumps of trees that had been taken down in the recent years. Lindsay's little back hoe had no problem yanking them right out of the ground.



Once Lindsay had more land, he started digging the trench. They discovered huge boulders underground and a ledge, which I guess is a stone formation that isn't just a rock that can be lifted up and moved away.

From this ledge they found a couple of veins of water.

They feared that once they installed the drain, our well would dry up. We don't have a deep, artisian well, down inside bedrock. We have a shallow well that collects surface water and underground spring water. Apparently it was only 8' deep. So, they decided they would dig us a new, deeper well, that would extend below the curtain drain. It was during the digging for the new well that they discovered the ledge, so placement became a bit tricky. They did find a place beside the underground ledge and they tell us there was a bit of apprehension as to whether it was all going to work. They did some futzing around to find a balance of water flowing into the well and water flowing into the curtain drain.

The yard was so wet Lindsay's back hoe really sunk into the yard.

The old well is covered in plastic in an effort to keep bacteria out of our drinking water. The big pipes to the right of the old well are called tiles and are for the new well being installed just to the right of where they lay.

By the time they had gotten to where you see above, they had already laid drain pipe from the street and up to and around the wells.

To install a curtain drain, they dig a deep trench, put in a layer of gravel, then the blue pipe with holes in the sides, then sand, then a mesh fabric to keep too much nonsense from getting into the pipes, then they cover the whole mess back over. The whole thing has to be pitched correctly so that the collected water then flows downhill.

Once the well nonsense was taken care of, the rest of the trench went in very quickly. Stretches of the blue pipe are deep under ground, while the very end of it appears to be only a foot underground, but they tell me that it actually lives a foot below the bottom of our basement floor. It just doesn't seem to me that the yard slopes that much.

And here is how they have finished it for now.

The blue pipe sticking up out of the ground will eventually be buried. They are leaving it exposed for now so if they run up against more water as they dig the trench around the foundation and dig out from under the the two rooms that will eventually be the kitchen and den, they will pump it right into that end of the drain.

Lindsay has done some temporary grading of the yard just so it's tolerable for the time being. They still have to connect the new well, the grey hump on the left above, to the house. To do that, Lindsay will have to dig another trench from the new well to the house. Presumably, he will then dig up the old well, the black hump in the middle, once we see that the new well will remain stable and provide us with potable water, and smooth out that hump so it blends into rest of the yard. Mike says that they will have back fill left over from digging the trench around the house. He is going to have Lindsay dump it out in the the middle of the north yard and create a less drastic slope between the front yard, where the leech field for the septic system is located, and the north yard.

As for the rest of the overgrowth and the piles of nonsense Lindsay made when clearing the hill, Lindsay may come back sometime this winter and help me clear the rest of the overgrowth so I can burn it. The town apparently lets yard stuff be burned between January 15th and April 15th. He says that I can then rototill it all under and plant grass or wildflowers in the spring. The difficult thing about rototilling it is there are those huge boulders all over the hillside.

For now, I leave you with one last shot of all the water that now comes out of the curtain drain now that it is in place.

Delayed Gratification

For Mickey's 5th birthday we got him a new bike - he grew out of his first one so fast! - and tickets to see "The Lion King" on Broadway. He has always been drawn to the story of "The Lion King", first the movie, then a book that is a condensed version of the movie, then a souvenir book we gave him in anticipation of seeing the show, and just recently, the Broadway soundtrack. Tom and I had already seen the show, and when we saw it we said to each other "this would be a great show to bring a kid," and now we have a great kid to take! He's so good when attending movies and live performances - we're very lucky!

When I went to the box office to purchase the tickets for his birthday, I tried to get tickets for a day as close to his birthday as possible, BUT they had to be orchestra seats, in front of the balcony overhang and on the aisle. October 11th, the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend, was the soonest we could do. So on that morning we hopped into the car and drove down, having some McDonald's on the way for lunch. I love New York City, but am I glad I do not live in all that nonsense anymore. We saw the show and then treated ourselves to dinner at Suenos, our favorite Mexican restaurant ever, and then we headed back home. A very long day, but very worth it.

The seats were great, and we put Mickey in the aisle seat so he could have the best view. The very first number is one of the most exciting theater pieces I have ever seen. Julie Taymor, the director, created costumes and puppets that fantastically portray all the African animals. The giraffes are my favorite.

The lights went to black, but there were aisle seat lights and orchestra to pierce the dark. Rafiki starts the show with this loud holler in the dark,

and when the lights came up Mickey's eyes were as big as silver dollars. And then the animals started coming down the aisle, headed for "Pride Rock" up on the stage. The most fantastic was the elephant. What I loved about the elephant was the actors inside the legs of the elephant waving to Mickey as they passed by.

When the hyenas finally made their entrance in the show, Mickey made his way onto Papa's lap where he stayed for the remainder of the show - even after intermission.

He LOVED the show and not a day goes by that he doesn't listen to the soundtrack. I must say that some of the music is beginning to get under my skin, in a good way. I'm just so glad that we have a son that loves theater, music and dance and already has such an appreciation for it as well as an incredible grasp and understanding of it. What's next? Mary Poppins?