Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rockin’: An Elaboration on the Name Change

I originally named my blog based on the things I was interested in. At the time, I didn’t anticipate that my love of dry stone masonry would become a major focus for this writing. As things happen, I have become involved in another stone project and will be spending some time writing about it.

I come by my love of stone work somewhat ancestrally. My maternal grandmother, Johanna Sommariva Cotter, was born in this country, but her immediate ancestors were, on the paternal side, stone masons originally from the region around Belluno, Italy. I didn’t find this out until I began working on my first major stone project, the repair of an 80’ x 20’ slate terrace at a home in Meriden, Connecticut in 1974-1975.

My next two large masonry projects were at our present house in Lake Forest Park. One is a retaining wall; the other is an extension of the front patio and two sets of stairs with inlaid brick.

The retaining wall is a dry stone wall set into the hill to the south of our house assembled out of 32 tons of Eatonville basalt (a beautiful dark gray stone that comes from quarries on the south side of Mount Rainier. The wall is 150’ long and averages 5’ in height. This was very much a family project, as I drafted all four of my children at one time or another to help. It took 4 years of spring/summer/fall weekends to complete, but now looks as though it has always been there and is likely to be there for a long time to come.

When we moved to our home in 1991, the front patio was a 10’ x 20’ concrete pad with four large rhododendron bushes between it and the north side of the house. We replanted the rhodies to the east side of the house (they subsequently died) and were left with a dirt strip between the patio and the house. As the major remodeling inside the house was coming to an end, I asked our contractors to build a set of forms for a path across the north side of the house that would extend beyond the end of the patio and three sets of forms for steps; one connecting the house to the footbridge across MacAleer Creek, the second connecting the back (south) side of the house to the upper lot, and a third, much smaller, set from the roadside mailbox to the lawn leading to the footbridge. All of these forms were filled in with bricks set in sand and laid in a parquet pattern. Over time, some of the treated wood used in the forms has begun to deteriorate (18 years in contact with soil in a rainy, shaded environment seems to be a good useful life to me) and has gradually been replaced, but overall, it is holding up well.

So, now there is some context for the blog’s name change.

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These are the things that interest me. If any of them are of interest to you, great. Read along


About Me

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.