Monday, November 25, 2013

In which I have a forced "vacation" from working on the ole' girl

Sometimes life just gets in the way.  Last week was not a great one for us at Slum and Blight.  Through some miscommunications, the masons who were supposed to come and build up to top of the foundation wall with two courses of cement block were not contacted by anybody on the job (we all thought somebody else had done it) so they went onto another project.  Greg was able to find someone quick, but since they were unfamiliar with the job site, it has taken quite a bit longer than we thought to get the job done and it is still not finished, a week after it was supposed to start.  (As of now, it is half-way done)

I traveled down to Boston last week and came back on Wednesday and Thursday found me down at my usual place under the building.  I started to feel sluggish and chilled.  So chilled that I was constantly going to my car, putting the heat on 80 and blasting it...but I couldn't get warm.  I went to the CoOp for a nice bowl of chicken soup and sat in the dining area, with all my coats on, shivering.  When I got back to the building, the masons had gone, having had some initial start up problems.  I waited for them for awhile and then found that they were not coming back that day.  So, I decided it was too cold to work and I went home.  <-----wimp!

When I got home, I was still shivering, so decided that I needed to get under the covers...four comforters and two blankets later and I was finally warm!  I took my temperature and lo and behold 101.7 degrees. I noticed that my muscles, which have been sore for weeks, had begun to ache.  I had no energy.  After and hour or so of this and feeling miserable, I texted my doctor and explained what was going on and that it came on seemingly, in a matter of minutes.  He told me to come down to the office, where 15 minutes later, I sat shivering in his exam room.  He ruled out a few things and tested me for the flu, gave me a script and sent me on my way.  
My fever wobbled between 101.1 and 102.  At one point, I got out of bed and my teeth were chattering so hard that I couldn't function.  I was miserable. I had a hell of a time sleeping that night because of the aches and pains.  I awoke to find my left shin had become inflamed with a bright red rash and had swelled out a lot.  It was painful to the touch.  My mind raced through possibilities:  I got bitten by a tick and had lyme; I had shingles; the osteomyelitis I had as a kid had come back; etc.  
I texted my doc a photo, but he was in meetings all morning.  When he was able, he called to say that I had contracted cellulitus, a skin infection from bacteria getting under my he said "you've been working under that building and who knows what lives under there!"  He gave me some antibiotics and after the second one kicked in, I was on the mend.  My fever broke Saturday afternoon, and as suddenly as the symptoms came on, they left, though not the swollen and blistered skin on my leg.  It is now Monday and the swelling and redness is still there, but not as bad.  I and trying to stay off it so it can heal, but we are leaving tomorrow to fly to Florida for Thanksgiving, so I want to try and get the swelling down as much as possible.

Yuck! Not what I need right now!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

In which we are still digging, but now we have photos!

Still diggin'!  I feel like we are digging for buried treasure, but so far have not found any.  Today is a long awaited photo montage of our work underneath the building and the new walls that surround the basement space.  We have to try and dig the floor down to the concrete pills that will support the new posts in the center of the space.  These pills are 9 feet below the floor boards above.  In places, like where the cardboard box is in the photo below, there is solid granite, but just five feet away from that the granite is soft and comes right out of the ground with a bit of whacking from my trusty sledge hammer.

What we have here is all the cement and granite rock that I have pick axed and shoveled out from underneath the building.  It is quite a lot...I've been doing this for about 2 weeks now and Greg has helped for the last week or so between making coats and dresses for the holidays.  There is a much better photo of one of the piles at the end of this entry.  You can see where the short walls come up on the North side of the building, the rest of the wall will be framed out in wood and two large windows added under the windows above them.  

Since it was impossibly expensive for us to raise the building higher, the last two feet or so of the walls will be concrete block filled with rebar and cement.  The walls are filled with interlocking rebar rods, it was quite the matrix of steel...our foundation guy said it took two solid hours of vibrating the cement as it poured to get the mixture solidly down in the forms.  He told us we could try and drive a Mack Truck through the wall and wouldn't succeed.

I think the building will be around for a long time now!

This is where we started to dig yesterday.  Four hours of back breaking work to get about 5' of space.  That area of dirt under the crib is 15" of granite.  

The pile of granite on the right in this photo all came out of the area in which we were working.  The stones sliced nicely and we will try to use them in a path or walkway or something.  After yesterday, we have about 20 good pieces.  More in the pile outside.  

after digging, we comb through the dirt and pitch all the big rocks, then shovel and cart the dirt to the other end of the basement where we will fill in around the corners, etc.  

 My first big pile of old concrete floor.  In some places, this flooring was 5-6" thick.  
This pile is about 5 feet tall now!

Our contractors and the foundation guys are amazed that we dug down as far as we did!  Which is a good thing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

In which we have walls, but we are still sore!

Forgive the absence of photos today, but I am dog tired.  I have been under the building for the last 10 days, cleaning up while the foundation folks do their work.  We now have poured walls all the way around the building, which is exciting!   Because we couldn't raise the building too much higher...It is 8 feet off the ground, after all, there was no space to pour walls to full height, so the front wall and the right side wall will finish with two courses of cement filled concrete block. (or is that concrete filled cement block?).  We have full head room in almost the entire basement, save for two spots where we are going to have to do some serious rock breaking!

Greg and I worked ourselves to the breaking point on Tuesday.  I started in the morning, breaking up the last of the cement floor...some places it was five inches thick....and throwing it outside the building for the excavator to pick up.  Greg came down after he finished his masterpiece wedding dress for a client (she was thrilled!) and helped dig and redistribute fill.  We now have the back half of the basement space dug down to 9 feet or so.  Once the building gets lowered down and we put in the 6-8 inches above the floor, we will have a minimum of 7'6" of headroom in most of the space.

It is now Sunday.  Greg and I worked tirelessly on Friday to dig some more of the floor out.  I am working on an area (about 1/4 of the basement space) that needs 15 inches or so dug out.  It is lousy with soft granite ledge.  My process is digging around the ledge and then whacking it with the sledge hammer or taking the pick axe to it.  Most of the time, the ledge flakes off in 30 to 50 pound pieces.  Greg got me to start further splitting the granite so that it splits into flat pieces that we can use for a walkway or something.  We have about 15 flat stones so far.  We worked from about 8 until 3 and then came home to hot showers and bathrobes.  I have been in my bathrobe ever since!  We took yesterday off and will be back under the building today to try and finish scraping down the floor to grade.  We are almost the new front wall, but will have to wait for the cribbing to be removed by the building jackers before we can really finish all the work that needs doing.  Our foundation man is taking off for Florida for the winter, so he told us that we needed to get the floor prepared to pour in the next two weeks!  I think we can do it.  He was very complimentary of the basement space and told us so, which we need to hear every once in a while.  We have had several visitors over the last few days whose eyes glaze over when they step under the building.  They all have that tell-tale look on their faces that seem to say "You crazy people!"  Greg admitted that we are a little crazy...which I deny.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

In which we get $$ from the city of Belfast!

Greg's great grant proposal netted us an amount not to exceed $15,000 from the city of Belfast through their Community Development Block Grant Building Facade program.  We identified several areas on the exterior of the building that were in need of renovation (new windows, doors, siding, roof, trim, etc. and Greg wrote a compelling grant proposal that was accepted by the town.  It is a one to one matching grant, so I think it should just about cover the cost and install of the 39 windows we just ordered for the building.  It could go to the cost of putting back the porch, or for the siding, know, since ALL of the building needs renovation, pretty much any project you might consider.  

Anyway, a hearty thank you to the city of Belfast, Maine for helping us out!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

In which there is video....again

Every boy's dream, to stand around and watch earth moving equipment in full action all day long.....

Saturday, November 2, 2013

In which I am sore and work continues

From the five of you who read this blog, I bet at least two saw the concrete debris flying from underneath the building over the last several days.  That was me.....  I moved the pile of concrete bits that you see below so that the HUGE excavator that is coming on Monday to finish digging around the building can more easily gobble those pieces up and cart them away.  I think there is at least 2000 lbs of concrete there, and I moved every damn piece, by placing or throwing them from underneath the building.  OK, there were several pieces I had to flip, end over end, in order to get them to move.  After moving all that concrete, guess what I found underneath??  More f**$%ing concrete that hadn't been broken up.  I can't wait for this phase to be over and the ditches around the building back filled.

If you saw the debris flying, you may have noticed the holes in the front of the building.  The whole darn building was lowered down onto the foundation at the rear and picked up in the front.  Come Monday, there will be a 9 foot deep trench around the front of the building and we will continue to dig until we strike oil, or have a deep enough hole for the drainage line.  No wet basement space here!  After being down under for several days chucking rocks and bits and clearing out debris, I have a feeling that our basement space may be larger than we anticipated, which is fantastic news.  The ledge seems to be fairly fractious so far, so I am hopeful that the two large areas of ledge will come out with a jack hammer. Where the door comes into the space, the ceiling height is about 7'6" which doesn't bother me at all.  

We found three huge granite pieces buried under the front stoop.  We now have four for the retaining wall.

The ole' girl is now completely off her old foundation. The interior floors have never been so straight!