French Drains and Other Joys

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.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006













It's Wednesday evening in the week of drains. Drains and rains, rains and drains. My friend Caroline says she doesn't remember a winter like this, when it kept raining for so long. It's turned cold again, and the storm heading down from the Arctic is more like a January storm than one in March--so said our local usually-stoic weather forecaster. He's the one who usually tries to give us golfing weather when it's already darkening to rain outside. Now he's not so optimistic.

So, it's a good thing the job here is almost done. I took most of the pictures this morning, when the trench outside the diningroom was still open. You can see how the gravel goes in, and there are some close-ups of the soil. You can see clearly where the topsoil leaves off and the clay begins. Also, note how much water is in the ditch.
In the afternoon I took some pictures showing the grass more or less back to normal. The lawn is slumping in spots, and I wonder if that will need taking care of.

You will see that the little fence behind the garden shed has been replaced, but the big fence is still in progress. I am also concerned that the patio is cracked through--undoubtedly a combination of the Bobcat's continual passing over it and the wet soil underneath. I'm going to ask Carl what he suggests.

We had a bit of consternation this noon when I got home from my small group meeting. The guys had severed some coaxial cable out in the alley, which surprised them, since they'd accounted for all existing underground entities, they thought. Pebble Beach had no idea what it could be. I called Mary Lou across the street, thinking it could have to do with their short wave radio, but she said that wasn't it. So we have no idea. I guess we won't worry about it. In any case, it's Stowe's responsibility.

My cold still hangs on, and, if anything, feels a little worse today. (In fact, Mary Lou across the street says I should prepare for three weeks' duration. Yuk!) I spent the afternoon resting, and plan on an early retirement tonight. I'm eating lots of soup. In fact, I made a delicious mustard green soup with some of the greens I salvaged from the herb garden (which has survived rather nicely, in spite of everything). You just saute about 5 garlic cloves in olive oil, add a chopped onion, some chopped green onion, about a bunch of mustard greens chopped (but not too fine--just small pieces), cook until wilted; then add two cans of chicken broth, a can of water and cook for 20 minutes. At that point, add 1/2 cup of small pasta and cook for another 10 minutes. It's just delicious.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006






It's Tuesday evening now. I'm actually feeling a little better, and the project is moving along amazingly well. I would say we are two-thirds done at this point, or maybe more. They have already filled in the ditch in the gravel area and recovered it, albeit roughly, with gravel. Part of the ditch you saw them beginning this morning in the grass beyond the railroad ties is now covered back over with grass.
I took a picture looking down into the ditch that still remains uncovered, directly opposite the sliding door in the diningroom. I also show a load of gravel. For you older guys who may think this is not enough technical detail for you, please realize that I hope to have Gina show these pictures to Finley, who will appreciate the heavy equipment more than details about soil composition. I'm trying to meet all needs.
The guys had to get into the ditch with their shovels toward the end, because the soil was so wet that the ditch sides kept collapsing on them. As I was taking the picture, they warned me to be careful, since even the patio was getting undercut.
In the last two pictures you can see a little gravel and some water. It rained last night and off and on today, but not copious amounts fell. The soil is very wet.
You can also see in one picture how the ditch curves around toward the front of the house at the north-west corner.
I am quite amazed that these guys are able to cover up so quickly and thoroughly when they are done. They were out cleaning off the street in front (lots of clay-y mud) before they left.




It's around noon now on Tuesday. These guys are fast workers; no sloughing off at all.
I've got a few more pictures.
These will show the actual breach of the ties. They've been very careful not to damage anything. then you'll see the process of digging the ditch behind the ties. After that, I show a couple of views of the north side, with the cloth lining the ditch and the pipe. This part is shallower--I assume because it's approaching the road.



Okay, I published a couple of pictures and am now going to put up several more.



Tuesday. I see that I called Monday the 7th, which it wasn't. I hope that won't confuse anyone.

Today they have dug the trench in the gravel area, begun the breach of the railroad tie area, and are now filling this section of trench with gravel. The pipes are in.
David called to ask about the composition of the soil--whether we'd gotten below the clay layer into either sand or granite. Unfortunately, we haven't. Carl says it's clay all the way down. He's saved a bucketful of the earth to show whoever might be interested.
I've tried to get some pictures showing the trench from close up, so you can see how this is progressing. I still have my cold, so I'm staying close to home. Kitty is very irritated about all the very large, noisy creatures in the yard and refuses to go near the door.
We'll see how the layout is on the next group of pictures. I was a little unhappy with yesterday's, since the text was not with the pictures it described. I'd have to go in and work on the html to change it, and right now I'm not in the mood for heavy-duty html, so I hope this will work okay.
These pictures should give you an idea of the early morning work.

Monday, March 06, 2006











Afternoon of March 7, 2005

Here are some views from this afternoon. They've already completed the ditch across the northwest side and have now penetrated the south side with the Bobcat. And it looks like they're preparing to be here a while.
You can see how much water there is in the deep trench close-up.








I thought this might be an easy way (well, relatively speaking) of keeping you all up to date on the progress here.
I'll try to keep it up to date.
You can see here at the top the Stowe Construction truck that arrived around 8:30am pulling a trailer with a Bobcat on it, and accompanied by another truck carrying a backhoe.
The Bobcat is a cute little excavator that made it around the northwest corner with no trouble at all. It started right out clearing gravel.
You can see (also up above) that David's ditch was full this morning after a weekend of rain. It must have dropped over an inch altogether. There is standing water everywhere.

I've got a touch of the flu (undoubtedly from my SandCastles friends), but this may be a blessing, since I'll be able to stay home all day to monitor the progress. I'll try to keep you posted.