French Drains and Other Joys

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A view of the hall bathroom...

Flower bed and herb garden shots...this is the herb garden, where you can see the little Swedish ground cover at the bottom. Above that is the new arugula, the flowering thyme around the stepping stones, the lush parsley, and, to the left, camomile.

The flower bed is above. I'm sorry the flowers themselves are not very obvious. We've cleaned out some of the weedy-looking calendula, and I'm trying to create more of a perennial bed that will keep its look without continual addition of annuals for color. We just put in some petunia-like perennials that quickly create nice borders. I've also discovered a lot of salvias that take little water and accept some shade.
The new stepping stones look a little bare now, but we've planted creeping thyme around them, which should eventually make a nice green carpet. Flowering thyme is the best stuff!

Now for the office, where the look now is more spacious...

Here's a close-up of the arrangement I planted the rudbeckia towards the rear part of the flower bed in a bare spot.

Next room: the entry way.
If you look carefully, you can see the wonderful rudbeckia blossoms in the arrangement, although it may be too dark.
Here you can also see the mirror hung directly opposite the door.

I took a few pictures around the house today--in its pristine condition-- to share with you.
Starting in the dining room...I'm keeping the table set, to create the aura of expected company.
I thought the light blue cloth contrasted nicely with the brown tile, and brought out the blue tones in it.
The basket over on the cart holds some decorative fruit to suggest a harvest theme.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Granny Franny's Trip to Europe

I Cantori di Carmel


Croatia and Italy

June 16- July 3, 2006

Friday, June 16

San Francisco:
En route

11:15 am Assemble at the San Francisco Airport and check in for your
Lufthansa flight # 455 to Frankfurt.

2:00 pm Lufthansa flight #455 departs San Francisco.

Meals served on board the transatlantic flight.

Saturday, June 17

150 kms
93 miles Zagreb, CROATIA/


9:35 am Arrive Frankfurt. Proceed to your connecting Lufthansa flight #
3482 to Zagreb.

12:20 pm Lufthansa flight #3482 departs Frankfurt.

1:45 pm Arrive at the Zagreb Airport. Claim your luggage and clear
customs. Meet your Ambassador Tours escort and coach driver. Load
luggage on coach.

Board coach and depart for Opatija, located on the Adriatic coast (about
a 1 ½ hour drive).

Upon arrival in Opatija, check into your hotel.

7:00 pm (tent) Dinner at your hotel.


Sunday, June 18

7:00-10:00 am Breakfast at your leisure at the hotel.

Entire day at leisure to relax by the water.

OPTIONAL Riviera Boat Excursion to nearby islands. Additional cost US$25
to be paid to Ambassador Tour::

10:30 am Depart by boat from Opatija. Stops will be made at Lovran and
Moščenička Draga. The entire tour will last approximately three hours
and includes a welcome drink and small snack on board the boat.

2:00 pm Return to Opatija.

Afternoon Independent lunch (for those staying in Opatija).

Afternoon at leisure.

TBA Board coach for transfer to St. Jacob’s Church.

6:00 pm Time for set up and short rehearsal.

7:00 pm I CANTORI DI CARMEL will sing during mass (confirmed).

8:00 pm I CANTORI DI CARMEL will give a full concert performance
following mass (confirmed).

9:00 pm Return transfer to your hotel.

9:30 pm (tent) Dinner at your hotel.

Monday, June 19 270 miles
434 kms Opatija


7:00-9:00 am Breakfast at your hotel.

Text Box: DUBROVNIK HOTEL Hotel IVKA Put Sr. Mihajla 21 20000 Dubrovnik
Croatia Tel.: (011-385) 20 36 26 00 Fax: (011-385) 20 36 26 60

9:00 am Board coach and depart Opatija. You will travel along the
beautiful Dalmatian Coast, south to Dubrovnik. George Bernard Shaw
wrote: “The gods wanted to crown their creation and on the last day they
turned tears, stars and the sea breeze into the isles of Kornati.” This
would apply to the Kornati islands and, indeed, the entire Dalmatian
coastline. You will have views of unfathomable beauty, dramatic
mountains as a backdrop to the cleanest and clearest waters in the

Afternoon A stop will be made en route for an independent lunch.

Other stops will be made en route for photo opportunities.

6:00 pm (appx) Arrive in Dubrovnik. Check into your hotel.

TBA Dinner at your hotel.

Tuesday, June 20 Dubrovnik

7:00-9:30 am Breakfast at your leisure at the

9:30 am Meet your guide in the hotel lobby. Board coach for transfer to
the historic town center to begin your walking tour of old Dubrovnik,
Stari Grad. You will see the city's main street, Stradun, the Rector’s
Palace, the church of St. Vlaho, the Cathedral, the Dominican and
Franciscan Monasteries, , the Custom's Office and the City Hall.

Afternoon Independent lunch.

Remainder of day at leisure for independent exploration.

(A return coach transfer to your hotel will be scheduled for the

7:00 pm (tent) Dinner at your hotel.

TBA Board coach for transfer to St. Blaise Church.

9:00 pm Time for set up and short rehearsal.

9:30 pm I CANTORI DI CARMEL will give an evening concert at St. Blaise
Church (confirmed).

Return transfer to your hotel following the performance.

Wednesday, June 21 Dubrovnik

Bari, Italy by overnight cruise

7:00-10:00 am Breakfast at your leisure at the hotel.

Load your luggage onto the coach.

10:00 am Meet your guide and transfer by coach into the historic city
center. Begin a second tour of Dubrovnik. This tour will concentrate on
the religious monuments of the city, including the Cathedral, the
Orthodox Church, and the Synagogue, attesting to the city’s continued
ethnic and religious tolerance.

Afternoon Independent lunch.

Remainder of day and evening at leisure to enjoy this fantastic city.

Evening Independent dinner.

TBA Reassemble at a predetermined place and transfer to the ferry dock.

TBA Board the ship and depart for your nine-hour overnight cruise across
the Adriatic Sea to Pescara, Italy. Accommodations in exterior 2-berthed
cabins with lavatory.

Thursday, June 22 315 kms/196 miles Bari, ITALY


AMANTEA HOTEL Tyrrenian Park Hotel Via
Stromboli 227 87032 Amantea Italy Tel.: (011-390) 98 24 16 73 Fax:
(011-390) 98 24 28 737
Morning Breakfast served
on board the ship.

TBA Arrive at the port of Bari, Italy.

Board coach and depart Bari. You will travel south toward Taranto and
then skirt along the coast of the Golf of Taranto. Then you will cross
over to the Tyrrhenian Sea and continue south.

Afternoon A stop will be made en route for an independent lunch.

Late afternoon arrival at your hotel on the coast in Amantea. Check into
your rooms.

Remainder of day at leisure for relaxation.

Evening Independent dinner.

Friday, June 23 Amantea

Morning Breakfast at your hotel.

Entire day at leisure for independent exploration and/or relaxation.

OPTIONAL An optional excursion may be offered to the perched villages of
Maratea and Rivello. This will involve a 90-minute drive each way along
the unblemished Tyrrhenian coast to the Gulf of Policastro. Maratea is a
small port beneath the old center which straddles the flank of a hill.
Rivello, afew miles further north, once had a largely Greek population.
Byzantine influences can be seen in the churches.

Afternoon Independent lunch.

7:00 pm Dinner at your hotel.

TBA Transfer to the city center.

9:30 pm I CANTORI DI CARMEL will give an evening outdoor concert at the
Giardini della Villa Comunale (confirmed).

Return transfer to your hotel following the performance.

Saturday, June 24 313 kms/194 miles Amantea/Siracusa

Text Box: SIRACUSA HOTEL Hotel del Santuario Via del Santuario 1 96100 Siracusa, Italy Ph: (011 390) 931 465656 Fx: (011 390) 931 465565 7:30 am Breakfast at your hotel.
8:30 am Board coach and depart Amantea. You will travel to the tip of the Italian boot.

At Reggio Calabria, you will board a ferry for the 20-minute crossing to the island of Sicily.

Reboard your coach and head south for the two hours drive to Siracusa, traveling along a scenic route with the Ionian Sea of Taormina to your left and the massive presence of Mount Etna to your right.

Afternoon A stop will be made en route for an independent lunch (possibly in Taormina).

3:00 pm (appx) Arrive in Siracusa. (Time permitting, check into your hotel rooms.)

4:00 pm Meet your guides and begin a tour of the ancient sites of Siracusa: the Latomie area and the Dioniso Cave, the Altar of Hieron II, the Roman Amphitheatre, and the Greek Theater, one of the most important examples of ancient theatre architecture anywhere.

7:00 pm Return to your hotel.

8:30 pm Dinner at your hotel.

Sunday, June 25 Siracusa

8:00 am Breakfast at your hotel.

9:00 am Meet your guide and walk together to the Ortygia area, always
considered the focal point of Siracusa. The island of Ortygia separates
the city’s two harbors and is now linked to the mainland by a bridge.
You will see the history of Siracusa through its historic monuments –
from the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo to the Baroque masterpieces
such as the Cathedral.

Afternoon Independent lunch.

Afternoon at leisure for independent exploration. You may want to visit
Regional Archaeological Museum which regroups the enormous quantity of
material excavated from digs throughout southeastern Sicily.

Reassemble at your hotel.

6:30 pm Dinner at your hotel.

8:15 pm Board coach for transfer to the Parrocchia Immacolata Church.

8:30 pm Rehearsal and set up at church.

9:30 pm I CANTORI DI CARMEL will give an evening concert at the
Parrocchia Immacolata (confirmed).

Return transfer to your hotel following the performance.

Monday, June 26 236 kms/146 miles Siracusa/

Piazza Armerina/Agrigento

AGRIGENTO HOTEL Hotel Akrabello Villaggio Mose 92100 Agrigento, Italy Ph: (011 390) 922 606 277 Fx: (011 390) 922 606186
8:00 am Breakfast at your hotel.

9:00 am Board coach and depart Siracusa. You will travel inland through the mountainous interior of the island.

11:30 am Independent lunch in Piazza Armerina, an active provincial town with interesting medieval and Baroque architecture.

2:00 pm Then transfer to the Villa Romana del Casale. It is thought this sumptuous villa belonged to Maximianus Herculeus, Diocletian’s co-emperor from AD 286 to 305. The villa contained public halls, private quarters, baths, and courtyards. Most interesting are the series of beautiful ornamental mosaics, some of the finest surviving mosaics of Roman antiquity. You will have a guided tour of the villa.

3:30 pm Then continue on to Agrigento. Time permitting, a stop may be made in Caltagirone.

Check into your hotel.

8:00 pm Dinner at your hotel.

Tuesday, June 27 157 kms/97 miles Agrigento/


7:30 am Breakfast at your hotel.

8:15 am Board coach for transfer to the Valley of the Temples.

PALERMO HOTEL Ai Cavalieri Hotel Via Sant’Oliva, 8 90141
Palermo, Italy Ph: (011 390) 91 583282 Fx: (011 390) 91 6126589
8:30 am Meet your licensed guide at the Ristoro
dei Templi and begin a guided tour of the ancient site of Agrigento, an
extraordinary archaeological zone and excellent archaeological museum.
Agrigento represents one of the most impressive complexes of ancient
Greek architecture outside of Greece. Founded in 581 BC, the population
grew to 200,000 and the Greek poet Pindar described it as the “fairest
city inhabited by mortals.” The Valley of Temples is the site of the
main temples, minor shrines and the museum.

10:00 am Then board coach and depart Agrigento.

1:00 pm Arrive in Monreale. Time for independent lunch in the village.

3:00 pm Reassemble at the entrance to the Cathedral. Meet your guide and
begin a tour of the famous Cathedral and Benedictine Abbey.

4:00 pm Time for a coffee in one of the restaurants overlooking the
valley below or for shopping.

5:30 pm I CANTORI DI CARMEL will sing during mass at Monreale Cathedral

6:30 pm Continue on the short distance to Palermo.

7:30 pm Check into your hotel.

8:30 pm Dinner at your hotel.

Wednesday, June 28 Palermo

8:00 am Breakfast at your hotel.

9:00 am Meet your licensed guide and commence a tour of Palermo. The
city’s name originated in Phoenician times from the word “parnormos” or
port. The town prospered under Rome’s rule but its golden age was during
Arab domination when it rivaled Cordoba and Cairo in beauty. Remnants of
the Middle Eastern influence can still be found in the city. Its other
period of splendor was the Baroque period (17th-18th centuries).

Afternoon Independent lunch in Palermo.

Free time to relax and prepare for your evening concert.

7:00 pm Dinner at your hotel.

8:15 pm Walk together the short distance to the Chiesa Valdese.

8:30 pm Time for set up and rehearsal

9:30 pm I CANTORI DI CARMEL will give a concert at the Chiesa Valdese in
Palermo (confirmed).

Thursday, June 29 Palermo

overnight ship crossing

Morning Breakfast at your leisure at the hotel.

Check out of your rooms and load luggage onto coach.

Entire day at leisure to enjoy this fantastic city. There is much to
see! You may want to visit some of the beautiful Baroque churches,
Norman palaces (the Palazzo Abatellis has some exquisite art), the
Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum (4,000 exhibits
documenting Sicilian life), the Art Gallery. Or just stroll through the
many piazzi and gardens. Or visit the souk-like Vucciria or Soto Market.

Afternoon Independent lunch.

Afternoon at leisure in Palermo.

Evening Independent dinner.

Reassemble at the boat dock.

8:00 pm Ship departs on overnight cruise to Naples.

Friday, June 30 287 kms/178 miles Naples/


6:00 am Arrive at the Naples harbor.

Walk to a nearby café for breakfast.

Then board coach and depart Naples.

ROME HOTEL Hotel Cicerone Via Cicerone, 55/C, Rome, Italy -
00193 Ph: 011 39 06 3576 Fx: 011 39 06 3235385

9:00 am A stop will be made at the ancient site of Pompeii. You will
have a guided tour of the architectural site (entrance included). When
Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, the ruined Roman city lay beneath volcanic
ash and pumice stone. After a long sleep, Pompeii was again brought to
life in the late 16th century. However, it was in the mid-18th century
that large-scale excavations were undertaken.

11:00 am Depart Pompeii for Rome.

Afternoon A stop will be made en route for an independent lunch.

Then continue on to Rome.

5:00 pm Meet your guide at Colle Oppio and begin the first of two
sightseeing tours of the city (the other will be on Day 16). During
these two tours you will see the Collosseum, the Roman Forum, the
Palatine, the Pantheon, some of the city’s beautiful churches, and the
Spanish Steps. The exact program for each tour will be determined by
your licensed tour guides and in compliance with the new city traffic

7:00 pm Check into your centrally-located hotel.

8:30 pm Dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Saturday, July 1 Rome

7:00 am Breakfast at your hotel.

8:00 am Meet your guide in the hotel lobby, board coach and transfer to
the Vatican City.

Begin a guided tour of the Vatican and the Vatican Museums, including
the Sistine Chapel (entrance included).

1:00 pm Independent lunch.

Afternoon at leisure for independent activities. You may want to visit
the Sant’Angelo Castle, the Capitoline Museums, Trajan’s Markets, the
beautiful churches, the Trevi Fountain, or the Spanish Steps. Or go
shopping along via del Corso or Via Cola di Rienzo.

Evening Independent dinner.

Sunday, July 2 Rome

8:00 am Breakfast at your hotel.

9:00 am Meet your guide in the hotel lobby. Board coach and begin the
second of your city sightseeing tours.

12:00 pm Tour will end back at your hotel.

Afternoon Independent lunch.

Afternoon at leisure.

4:00 pm Reassemble at hotel lobby and transfer to the Vatican.

5:30 pm I CANTORI DI CARMEL will perform during the Mass in St. Peter’s
Basilica (confirmed).

Return transfer to your hotel.

8:00 pm Festive Farewell Dinner at a typical Italian restaurant.

Monday, July 3 Rome

Charlie, Lisa and Mom stay in Rome
Tuesday, July 4, Rome

Wednesday, July 5

Frances returns to US via San Francisco

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Here are some more pictures showing the angle of the slope into the ditch.

David has raised the question of clearance with regard to the slope of the dirt from the house down to the drain, and also the clearance against the house wall.
I took these pictures Saturday to show the work so far. You can see the amount of clearance. I believe there is enough, based on what David has stated as criterion.
If you look at the earlier pictures, you can see the kind of angle leading down to the ditch itself. We purposely used boards to show it.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Here are some pictures from Friday around noon. You can see the black cloth extended across the entire width of the gravel area, over the coarse gravel. This is to keep the pea gravel from filtering down in amid the coarser rock and to give a little more firmness to the area.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Luis and Company and the Rectification of the French Drains

I woke up this morning to the crunching of many feet on the pea gravel outside my window. My NPR-drenched mind was more ready to wrap itself around a story about Russian millionaires than to grapple with the week-early arrival of Luis, the landscaper, and his Latino team of workers.
This is the picture looking across the patio this afternoon, when they'd been at work from 7:30 on.

Primo arrived at 9:00, and went out to meet the crew. Later, at 11:00, when I was leaving for my music theory class, we talked for a few minutes. He was quite excited. "These guys are from my country," he said. He meant his region of Mexico, near Guadalajara. "The leader, his father is a good friend of my father. Down there..." he gestures southward "...I teach his older brothers in my class. Not him, he's the baby. My kids, they all know each other." He was beaming, looking quite proud. "These are good workers!" he assured me. You may remember that he did not speak nearly so highly of the painters. I could see what he meant. This crew hardly stopped. I finally got them to stop for lemonade around 4:00, but they went on working until 6:00. Of course, it is nice weather today, so they wanted to take advantage of it, I'm sure.
Luis pointed out to me that the ditch was not well covered by the cloth the Stowe people put down. You can see from these pictures.

They have created a nice drop from the house down to the ditch, and David has given the go-ahead to fill up the depression with coarse drain gravel, and to top it with pavers. I'm including pictures of the pavers, and some scenes of the yard.
There are also a couple of views of the easement, which these guys have completely smoothed out and leveled in one day, with nothing but picks and shovels. They are amazing.

By the way, if any of you look at this, please let me know how these pictures look. I'm trying out a Nikkon camera, not too different from my old one. It is supposed to have a better lense. How do the pictures look? They are optimized for web, and sized at 4.5x6".

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Where Water is Collecting

Now that we see more water seeping into the crawl space, and begin considering where it might be coming from, I have laid out some plastic to catch this storm's rain. From the photos I'm including here, you can ponder what the implications and possible solutions might be.

The first two pictures should show the back yard, looking from the patio north, and then from the northwest corner back to the patio. You can see the water collected on the plastic after a few hours of rather light rain. Note, too, that the gravel area slopes towards the house now. The trench is in the middle of the gravel area, just outside the black-plastic-covered area.

Or, at least, I hope you'll be able to see it. I'm having trouble loading the pictures.
On the end of the house, the pictures should show how much the driveway slopes towards the center. I guess that's good, although the French drain isn't very deep there. That may not be a factor.

In front, you'll see that there is virtually no water accumulating looking towards the garage from the front door. In the other direction, there's a little water on the plastic. That could be seeping through the cracks and the spaces between the bricks. The slope there is non-existent.

These next pictures should be the ones of the front walk, both sides of porch.
By the way, I think Martin's plastic idea sounds good. We could incorporate that with getting the area regraded a bit, and more gravel added.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

This is a more scenic view of the north-side drain into the easement.

You can see how it looked first thing this morning, viewing the opening in the fence, and, through it, the sea of mud in the alley. (Carl even commented on the quality of the clay. He said his wife was quite horrified when he got home covered with it.)

They arrived early with concrete with which to reset the fence posts, and proceeded to do that. Carl says the posts were all in good shape, and just needed to be reset, with a lot of cement to hold them. I notice other fences in the neighborhood that are listing, and imagine that they have soil similar to ours.

By 10:30 they had finished and said good-bye. I asked Carl about the lawn, and he suggested we get some peat moss or other light soil and rake it in over those spots. The grass will just grow through, he says. That sounds easy enough, and I think he's right.

He pointed out the two effluents--the one on the south, going into the easement, for the French drain. You can see the water flowing out of it.

The one on the north comes from the roof. You may notice that the driveway on the north is very muddy, too. I'm going to have to order gravel for that, and more gravel for the back as well.

Please note that one of the north drain views is more scenic and shows the alley.

I also have one more very close-up trench shot here, where you can get a real feel for the quality of the soil and the transition from topsoil to clay.

It wasn't raining at that point, so it meant that some good draining has been taking place. It is, however, raining again now, as David knows, since LA is about to get the same storm we are. I'm assuming Martin and Judith and family and Ann Marie and fam have also been feeling it. This is the coldest storm of the season, and here it is, March. It's also about to bear down on Colorado, so you guys out there aren't going to be dry either. We shall see what the drains do with more rain.

I'm glad Primo won't be here next week. He'd be heartsick to see all the damage to things he's carefully planted over the past months. Now he can really get to work, though, when he gets back. I'll have lots for him to do.

By the way, I also need to get the last stretch of railroad ties fixed. I don't know if Primo can do that or not. We may need a carpenter to help.

I chopped a little wood this afternoon, which made me feel better, and now I actually think I'm getting better.