Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sixteen tons

Freda and I spent a back-breaking day on Wednesday picking rocks, stones, branches, roots out of the topsoil, and then raking it out level to prepare for seeding with grass seed.

It reminded me of the song with the title of this blog entry (lyrics below), as it felt like we had moved 16 tons of rocks and dirt.

I called the propane people to raise up the tanks, as the backfill by the house was 1' too low. The guy said just have the gravel there, and the field crew would raised up the tanks. When the field guys arrived, they looked at me as if I was from Mars when I related the convesation, and said they would move the tanks, and I would have to raise the level of the fill where the tanks were located, and then call them again to replace the tanks. Not too impressed because all the people with the equipment were gone and I had to move all the sand/gravel fill by wheelbarrow.

Note the pile of branches and roots in the foreground. There were piles like this every 8-10 feet. We went around with a wheelbarrow and picked up all this stuff and dumped it in the woods, and then picked up the piles of rocks and dumped them at a spot by the far end of the house to control erosion and weeds.

This is the tanks after being replaced. Note the propane guys put a cover over the regulator.

The air conditions guys came by and raised up the air conditioner.

When this photo was taken, the window wells were just sitting in place, and were not fastened to the wall.

Unfortunately the AC people didn't fill this hole in with putty again after they raised the AC unit. And the crew was supervised by their QC manager!!!! Very funny!!!

I have called him 3 times now and still nobody has come out. When I spoke with Mr QC Manager the first time, he said he would be out that day to fix it up. Hah!

Sixteen Tons
Written by Merle Travis, 1946
Made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford, 1955

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"


I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake* by an ol' mama lion
Cain't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line


If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you, then the left one will


* canebrake - n: a dense growth of cane (especially giant cane). See

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Changing out the doors - Day 1, part b

This is the door to laundry room from the garage. The wooden buck has been removed and the concrete is exposed. David and Sean did this work on Tuesday. David is returning on Saturday morning to complete teh trim and buildouts for the new doors.

Changing out the doors - Day 1

;Our house was designed for handicap accessibility and general utility, which means 36" doors. Somehow, 34" doors ended up getting installed. Here Sean is taking the nails out of the trim after it was removed from the garage to basement door.
;Here David is installing the new 36" door in the basement.

I will post a photo of the garage to laundry room door later.

Completing the general drainage sloping - Monday

Here Cammy is placing another large rock. We had to bring in so much fill to correct the slope that the first layer of rocks is basically buried. Of course, this means that we must have window wells to hold the gravel and dirt away from the windows. We absolutely didn't want window wells but we had no choice if we are going to have proper drainage.
This is the area behind the kitchen barbeque deck after more fill was placed to correct the slope so the water will run away from the house, instead of towards it.
We saw three eagles flying around. One of them is a young 'un.
This photo shows all three eagles.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Grading the lot for drainage

Starting to grade the lot for drainage. The previous grading of the lot (after removing Mount Berry) had greatly reduced the scope of the problem, but had not reversed the slope of the land which was falling towards the house. In order to promote positive drainage, Cammy dug a trench to start a swale that will carry the water away from the house. Arnold, in the small dozer, has started the general grading that will funnel the water towards the swale.
Here you can see Arnold pushing some rocks out of the way. They can be used for things later.
Here Cammy is placing one of the large rocks which forms the second row of rocks which will enable us to have a flat area behind the barbeque deck. We plan to place the flagstone that Rachel helped us carry to the house in this area.
Arnold is starting to cover the septic field with topsoil. In order to pass the final septic inspection, we have been told that the septic field must be covered with 4 inches of topsoil and grass must be growing on it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Busy gardening

I haven't posted a photo of the front of the house since the landscaping was done.

This photo that shows the grass seed has sort of started to catch on in spots, but only with a half-hearted effort.
This is the flower bed that Freda and I worked on today. We had purchased these flowers to pretty up the sign at the entrance to the development, but just hit rock within an inch when we tried to dig the hole for them! So we decided to plant them here. We had the same experience, so we did a raised bed. Because the soil (hah! it's 80% rock! 18% sand and 2% clay) is so poor, I made 3 trips with the wheelbarrow to another place on the property where there was "better" topsoil (it was 80% sand, 10% clay and 10% dirt), which we mixed up with a large amount of peat moss and a couple of bags of topsoil that we had left over from planting the roses.

Needless to say, we are pretty exhausted from all the planting. I have not yet posted a photo of the 3 lilacs, a mock orange, and a purple sandcherry that we planted. Those holes were dug primarily with a crowbar (for levering out the rocks!) We are watering those shrubs carefully as that was too much effort for us to let them die because of lack of water!
We must be gluttons for punishment, because today we went and helped our good friends Helen and Steve with their front garden. It was very large and too big for them to manage. They dug out a lot of irises and gave us a few. I planted them here along with a mallow (very wilted in center of photo) and couple of maples that I dug out from beside their house (at left, and at center back). I didn't supplement the soil here, so these plants will have to be made of tough stuff in order to survive! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Our grass is sprouting!

Isn't it exciting!

And our sod has turned a general shade of green again, instead of the golden colour that it turned within 24 hrs of being installed. Thanks to much watering by Freda.

We have great dirt too, if you ignore the small rocks and sticks and twigs... :)

Friday, August 11, 2006

The fireplace mantel and house numbers!

Dave installing the mantel.

We have house numbers! They look great, don't they?

Charles placed these - he has a real eye for that. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Day 488 - Front landscaping completed




Saturday, August 05, 2006

More birds + deer

This little bird flew into the garage, and Freda rescued it - I took this photo once Freda managed to coax it on to this stick.

Freda slowly carried the bird out of the garage and into the open air. It must have been stunned for a bit because it sat on the stick for another few minutes before it flew off.

I took this photo during Tawny's morning walk - you can see a deer crossing the road. (You probably need to click on this photo for the larger version in order to see the deer.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Planting the flower beds

Freda has been working in the dirt - note her dirty gloves and the stack of empty flower pots at the bottom left of the photo. Freda found some real deals on roses - picking up several from two different nurseries for between $4 and $5!

Now that's a significant discount to the regular price of $25.
This photo shows (a) how the parging is finally fixed - the first guy who did the parging did a terrible job and then wouldn't come to fix it so Charles had to hire someone else to fix the first guys mistakes.

This photo also shows (b) a mallow (the plant in the corner) that looked completely dead after yesterday's heat (+35C), but revived after being watered.