Our Castle Walls 

A comment last evening that the stone wall looked like it belonged in a castle made me think about inspiration. Perhaps the mason was inspired by several trips to England and Europe and not just free building materials. Castle walls were built by hundreds of workers though. 

England 2013 293Here it’s become a bit of a one man show. The front, both sides of the waterfall and now the back all show SO almost every rock is pre picked and placed. There is very little inside fill. Tedious but rewarding for the mason.

I wander along when the mixer finishes and help place the stones. Then I clean the wheelbarrow and go back to gardening. Repeat a couple of times a day, if things are going smoothly. Meanwhile he does a ton of finishing work and finds the next stones.

I was pretty excited when we backfilled because it means I can stand on the back side easily. I can also walk on the wall. Today I was totally pumped because the rebar is cut to the finishing height. Now I actually have no idea when he did this but I finally noticed. The amount remaining seems so minor compared to where we started at.

We have just the final big rock to place for the waterfall and then to put the old fashioned pump into place (with new workings hidden). 

The “end” of the wall is just behind that and now we’ve started building it up. That section and about 4′ on the front of the wall are the only portions that go to the house height.

There is real hope and a fair degree of certainty that it will indeed be completed by the end of the summer. Which means we could indeed have the patio done before the snow flies. Maybe even a hot tub! 

We’ve been “on the fall list” for Peter and Precision Landscaping for about four years. He may actually fall over in shock if we are actually ready. For that to happen we need to do some excavation for the next concrete pad which will be home to the outside kitchen bar area. This is relatively small compared to all our other pours but we will do it in conjunction with tying the first long low retaining wall into the stairs of the second wall. Lost yet? Don’t worry as I will blog all those steps and then it will make sense. 

In the meantime this amount of momentum actually breeds excitement and more momentum. We are both geared up for the final push. Heck I’m even happy to see the mesh come out for the final little section of the wall even though working work it is such a pain. 


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One Behind Us 

At long long last one wall is behind us. It seems to all of us that we’ve been doing these crazy retaining walls forever. 

In less than a month of getting underway in the late spring we have the first one started completed. So that’s the west wall. I am finding the completed project hard to capture well, on camera, to show the true size and grandeur.

But there is no resting on our laurels as up next was the need to backfill it so it can settle out. It seems that the stairs and the adjoining to the very first retaining wall will come later but remember I am just the lackie and not the Mason nor the Visionary.



Backfill happens with the Bobcat as does a lot of compaction but only about 2 feet outward from the wall. All the base leveling and compaction along the wall is done with the rake and my two feet. I often think it’s a good thing I carry around a few extra pounds when I am playing human packing machine! It feels so awesome to have backfilled this area although it will require some fine tuning when it is time to put the stairs in. It is still no less steep but the wall is doing exactly what he designed it for so that’s a plus and it’s going to be sturdy long after we are gone.


We, although if I am honest, mostly him have also been hard at work on the second side. This was commenced last year but our technique was a little bit different as we finished from the short end up to where we quit last fall. With the first wall we finished the house height first and then went back to the beginning. So it turns out we are farther along on this second long wall than I had actually anticipated. Like seriously we are going to finish it this year!! That’s pretty exciting for us as it means we can then hire Precision Paving and Landscaping to come out and do the patio. We have been looking at the stone samples and talking about the different functional areas.

 In the meantime Ron is working on his waterfall feature and sourcing the supplies required for this. That’s his “baby” so to speak. Me I just keep throwing rocks down in behind and building that sucker up as fast as it can go. We’ve finished the hidden width of the wall and are now able to backfill for the second time on this wall. The scaffolding is crazy high as I discovered when setting big rocks with the Bobcat on the weekend. waterfall with key for scale

larger view of waterfallBernie 


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Post “post”

A long awaited post about the newel post and balustrade that really isn’t a reveal. Alas we did not manage our goal before spring work kicked in but I still feel the progress  worthy of a post. Especially since we are in the process of watering trees and I’m bored waiting for the semi in front of me to finish filling up. 
The one lone outstanding project in the basement is the stair railing. It’s slow going and we’d had a minor hitch that, theoretically, has held us up a bit. The 3 wall mount holders (find real word from ron) we ordered arrived but 1 of them was missing parts. 

But truthfully, even if it had all arrived, we might not be done. The balustrade and newel post had to be custom sized and then restored. The final cut seems to be waiting to mature to just the right time.  

Now in the carpenters defence he has done an outstanding job of 90% of the spring work alone. He continues to spend a portion of each day on the consulting gig under way so does have limited time. 

We also discovered that the spindles  are all different sizes and there was no filet boards for placemat. So he will have to custom create those as well which is more complex because they aren’t attaching to the stair but rather to the spandrel. In the meantime he picked out 6 spindles  that are quite similar and I will set about redoing them. Now I’m tying to creatively think what one could do with a ton of leftover spindles. 

Now it’s 3 days later and this update  hasn’t even been posted yet so small amounts of progress have been made. He measured again and made the final cut last night. Now there is some “jiggling” that needs to occur before I can do final stain and varnish. 

We will continue to work away on it as evening time permits and perhaps soon we can tick that item off our list. 


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Last Day of April

It’s the last day of April and we are marching boldly towards the finish line. So close! Will we make it? Continue reading

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Still winter? Still working away! 

The plus side to the snow was how pretty it was when the sun came out.

Prior to the weekend, when it snowed, we had one plus 10 day so I did manage to get Continue reading

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Spring Push

The geese and the owls are serenading us at night. The crocuses have popped up their pretty heads to delight our eyes during daylight walks. All of this signals that spring is here and it’s time to push hard. Continue reading

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Dream Big 

One of the up side to confined space vehicle travel is surf time. This pastime keeps me from being too antsy about sitting still and allows me to dream.

Today, on our way home from Continue reading

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