Saving Grace ... Again

| 12/24/2008 12:00:11 PM

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In my "Saving Grace" entry, Keith, five years ago, had effectively glued together a sixty foot tall, storm damaged tree, and most recently I was left with a heap o’ dirt unceremoniously dumped on a spirea hedge across the yard.  One thing has everything to do with the other; we are saving Grace again. 

Back to the maple; I’ve named her Grace.  On the ravine side of it, there was a retaining wall - a very poorly built retaining wall.  This engineering disaster was leaning, cracked, and in danger of falling into the ravine possibly taking the maple with it.  It was a potentially dangerous eyesore we’ve wanted to do something with since we moved into the house nine years ago.  Burying the wall seemed to be the best solution; taking it down completely would possibly compromise the stability of the tree.  Estimates were expensive, and when living in a 100 year old house, inside renovations take precedent.   

The Wall

No one knows exactly why or when the wall was built; it really serves no purpose.  One neighbor thinks it might have been built in the seventies.  It was then when the house was raised to upgrade what is referred to around here as a “Michigan basement.” A typical Michigan basement is really not much more than a dugout; it usually has a dirt floor, brick walls, and a very low ceiling.  The fruit cellar in our present basement still has brick walls, and the brick columns throughout the basement remain, but the remaining walls are now cinder block, and the floor and stairs are poured concrete.  Our neighbor thinks the man who owned the house at the time used the left-over cinder blocks to construct the wall just because he liked to tinker and build, (which is evident from some of the rather odd “improvements” inside the house).  Our other neighbor, who just turned 97 years old (Happy Birthday, Gary!), doesn’t remember why or when it was built, but he remembers when it was “plumb and square,” which it hasn’t been in the last twenty or so years, he said.       

I finally got the dirt-ball rolling this summer when a friend of mine had a couple of yards of soil left over from a project that he was looking to dump.  Ah-ha!  Free dirt!  And if you’ve read any of my other blog entries here, you know that “free is good” is my motto.  Though the two yards was just a pimple of dirt in comparison to what was needed, it was a start. 

There were a couple of construction projects happening around town, and Keith contacted both companies to find out if they were looking to get rid of fill dirt.  Yes, they were!  Both companies sent someone out to the ravine to look, and written estimates were mailed – both came in at a couple thousand dollars.

1/9/2009 11:26:32 AM

Cindy, I can't wait to see what you do with that empty canvas!!!!!

Cindy Murphy
1/5/2009 9:32:42 AM

The house was built at least one hundred ago, Michelle. When gutting one of the rooms, we found newspapers used as insulation that dated back to the 1880's. But like the maple, no one knows for sure how old it is. If walls and maples could talk, who knows what stories they'd have to tell. If such things were possible, I like to think the maple would tell a story of a coupla cans of glue, and a whole lotta dirt, and the man who saved her.

Michelle House
1/4/2009 6:44:11 PM

How nice you can save the tree. Cool, that your house is 100 years old.

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