Saturday, March 26, 2011

More Bridge Pictures

It's finally dried out enough that I was able to get down along the creek to get some pictures better documenting the current condition of our stone bridge.  I'll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves here.

The east side first:

And the west side:

I also snapped a few pictures of the creek itself, including the one below:

I didn't notice it when I took the picture, but the above photo clearly shows the high water mark from the flooding that damaged the bridge.  Note the debris hanging in the tree branches:

It will be a few months yet before it's dry enough to start any work on the bridge.  Although I hope there is not too much additional deterioration through the spring, in one sense the delay is welcome.  I've realized that (for me at least) 70% of any project around here is mental.  If I jump into a job too soon I'm a nervous mess, doubting myself and feeling incompetent the whole time.  Even if I successfully complete the job at hand, I'm not going to enjoy myself while doing it.  But if I have time to think the work through, to 'wrap my brain around the job' first, I'm much more confident when it's time actually dig into the physical work.  At first the damage to the bridge was overwhelming to me.  But one month out from the flooding, I'm feeling mentally ready for this challenge. 

(With no ill will meant to our local farmers)
 Here's wishing for a dry summer!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The First Blisters of Spring

I was busy today.  I spent about five hours repairing tile at the end of our driveway.  And it was lovely.  : )

There is an old clay tile that passes under the end of our driveway along the ditch.  Originally, each end of this tile was secured by a small stone wall (what else would you expect at the Einsel House?).  However, the stone wall on the south side of the driveway had collapsed sometime before we bought the property.  Fixing it was on the to-do list, but it didn't make it to the top of that list until after the flooding we had a few weeks ago.  Here's what the south side of the driveway looked like after the deluge:

The rains had collapsed a portion of the tile and deposited a large portion of our driveway thirty or so yards down the ditch:

Charles and I scooped up some of the escaped driveway stone last week and used it to fill potholes in the driveway.  And I went to work on the collapsed tile today.

The old tile was very nearly plugged by washed out stone and debris:

Tile extended by just over four feet, with a new wall started:


If you insist on zooming in on this (and Blogger lets you) please ignore the fact that I'm squinting against the sun:

The green box marks buried telephone lines.  It did made me a bit nervous, but I was careful not to dig out anything other than the ditch that had been there previously.  And just down the road there is an above ground pole on the same side of the ditch as the green box, leading me to believe that the phone lines run parallel to the ditch and not underneath it.

This job was hard work; the new clay tile, the stones and the buckets of dirt and escaped driveway stone were all heavy.  And digging out the clogged ditch was made difficult because the washed out dirt and driveway stone was littered with broken pieces of the old tile and stones from the original retaining wall.  Still, this was a job that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Mother Nature provided a lovely day, and it was great to be out in it.  The work was physically hard, but it was straightforward and there were no unexpected surprises.  And it helps that all the supplies were free - the clay tile I added spent the last 30-some years sitting in a back corner of my parents' barn, the stones for the retaining wall all came from our property, the fill dirt came from the pile left over from putting in the springhouse steps last fall, and the stone on top was scooped up from the pile the flood had washed downditch. 

The ditch could use a bit more cleaning out, and there are a few potholes still to be filled in the drive, but if the weather holds we should be able to finish those bits up tomorrow and then we can make the call to have the drive topped with a fresh coat of gravel.

And tomorrow is the first day of Spring!

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's Pretty

Of course, sunshine is pretty too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Technically that's not quite right.  Troubled Bridge Over Water would be more accurate.  Or Water Under Troubled Bridge. 

Eh, I think you get the point.  Let's just cut to the pictures.

I'll start with a before.  The picture below was taken in September, 2009 just before we closed on the property.  It shows some settling, but the stone walls were intact.

And what we've got now.  First up the east side.  There's actually more stone hanging on here than I expected, but it's precarious at best.

Notice the collection of debris on the top of bridge near the upper right corner of the picture.  That debris shows the high water mark which was reached sometime around dawn last Monday.  Below is the same picture with some (ahem) high quality computer work to show the high water mark.

I was honestly surprised when the water dropped to see that some stones on the east side of the bridge do still remain.  The left side has collapsed and the right side is bulging severely, but it's better than I expected.

The west side though is much worse:

I did not take any pictures Monday morning, but the one below will give some idea of what the bridge went through last week.

That photo of the bridge was taken after a storm in the 1990s.  In it you can see that the water is nearly level with the top of the box culvert (the smoother water at the center of the picture).  Last Monday the water was about two feet higher.  It completely covered the culvert and when it came under the bridge it was under enough pressure that it shot out of the culvert about a foot above the level of the rest of the water.

Even before this flooding we knew the bridge needed attention.  The original plan was to rebuild the bridge in its original state and splitting the project into four summers - west wall first two summers and east wall the following two summers.  But after last week it's obviously time to 'make a new plan, Stan'.  (Sorry, couldn't resist another Paul Simon lyric.)  Various family members have been sharing ideas and no final decisions have been made, but the general consensus is that we need to start by removing what remains of the current stone walls.  All of the stones from the collapsed walls will need to be carried to the creek bank and stacked to be reused later.  Hopefully we can dismantle what remains of the east side of the bridge before it collapses, causing the remaining large stones to break.

After that there are two possibilities.  Assuming it's not completely out of our budget, we could remove the current bridge entirely and replace it with a precast box culvert that is larger than the current culvert.  We could then have new sidewalls built using poured concrete reinforced with rebar.  If a new culvert is as expensive as I expect it to be we could keep the current culvert (assuming it survives this spring) and simply have new side walls of poured concrete with rebar.  Either way we would then use the salvaged stone from the original bridge to rebuild stone walls in front of (and hiding) the new concrete side walls.

It dosn't take long to type that out, but the reality of the job feels much more daunting.  For now I'm limited to the mental gymnastics involved - it's still much too wet to do any work along the creek.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

In Better News

It's still raining outside and there's been much discussion regarding the stone bridge over the past week, but I'm going to devote this post to other (much less depressing) things that have been going on here at the Einsel House.

First - this arrived in the mail last week to brighten the end of February:

I knew my aunt was working on this (she let me pick the pattern) but I was still surprised when it came.  It's stunning - the stitches are all so delicate yet so perfect, and it came so beautifully framed.  Thank you Aunt R!  The sampler has found a home upstairs already, and hopefully by the next time you're in Ohio I'll have it surrounded by a collection of old family photos.  : )

Another piece of news here is that Charles and I ordered new living room furniture.  We had tentatively talked about new living room furniture for our 10th anniversary this summer but after spending a week quarantined in our living room - with the cheap Craiglist couch we picked up last summer - I suggested we celebrate a few months early. 

Appropriately I suppose for an anniversary gift, there was a large amount of compromise in choosing furniture.  In my mind I could see two wing chairs with a small round table between them against the east wall of the living room.  But Charles was picturing the antithesis of a wing chair - a "Papa Chair" as he called it; think of the largest poofiest recliner you can imagine.  (You get bonus points from my husband if the recliner you pictured has armrests that open to reveal beverage and remote control storage.)

In the end I gave in, our living room will not have any wing chairs.  But Charles conceded some too.  The chair we ordered is a conventional recliner, but it is one of the smaller recliners we found (and he will have to rely on an end table for that beverage and remote control storage).  The striped fabric below is what will be on Charles's "Papa Chair" and we will get two pillows for the sofa in the same fabric.

The paint card is for "Sweet Annie" which is the color of the living room walls and the paisley fabric is what I used to make the room's curtains.  I have extra curtain fabric to make a few additional pillows for the new sofa.  I don't have a picture of the fabric for the sofa, but it is called "Caramel" and that's a pretty apt description.  We have about five more weeks of waiting before our furniture is ready and I'm quite anxious.  I hope it looks as good in our living room as I think it will.

Another room in the EH that is already looking better is the kitchen.  In my last kitchen post I was not feeling so keen about the peach colored doors.  Remember this:

I'm now much happier with this:

That picture is of the back kitchen door, but the front kitchen door is now also sporting a "Flannel Coat" paint job.  I also replaced the tarnished and painted over brass hinges on each door with new oil-rubbed bronze hinges.  I like the new hinges so much that I may have to go ahead and change the door knobs as well.

And yes, I've been contemplating new paint colors for the kitchen walls, but at this point that's a job that's rather low on my priority list.  Much higher on my list of priorities is addressing some lingering issues caused by the recent flooding.  Fun stuff....