Greetings from Seattle

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 
That sends the frozen ground-swell-under it, 
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
                                            Robert Frost - Mending Wall
Maybe it was frozen ground, or moles, or movement of the earth or gravity over time. About a month ago a section of our retaining wall came tumbling down.

With all the other big jobs crossed off the list, it was finally next up, and time to mend the wall. To mend it, tom had to dismantle a larger section, and then work to get a level foundation row.

Unlike Robert Frost's walls, or stone fences, in New England, which had to be mended after every winter, our has stood the test of time quite well.

It was the summer of 1980, the third summer in our house, that we began to tackle the really big job of terracing our yard.  Except for one day when we had some friends come with a pick up truck with a winch to pull stumps, and another day when we rented a small front loader tractor to move dirt around, we did it all by hand.

We had heard about a recycling yard down by the Duwamish River that had sprung up when the old Lucile Street Bridge was demolished to be replaced my a new one.  There we could get broken concrete for $1.00 a pick up load. That was our building material.

All summer we worked, scrambling over the pile to pick out pieces with smooth surfaces, a manageable size, and no protruding re-bar.  We lifted and carried them to our old pick up truck, stacked them into the bed, hauled them home, moved them to the tail gate, and lifted and stacked them on the ground.  

When we had a supply, Tom began building.

This was was put in before the patio was poured. ↓

This wall was built and then back filled with the tractor to terrace the back yard into two levels.↓

 In spring and summer, the plants cover much of this wall.

Then began the 300 foot march to the street all along the west side of the property.
 We would go get loads of broken concrete, stock pile them, and then Tom would build.  Each piece was handled at least seven times before it found its place in the growing wall.  I helped with all but the actual building.  The kids were seven and five and we spent our time entertaining ourselves mostly around home.

 The wall was in place long before the greenhouse and shed were built, and they are built right over the wall.

In those 34 years we have just had one other section that needed repair so far.  Now the newest repair is done.
 The wall is mended.
We were a lot younger when we did this the first time.  I don't even try to lift such weight anymore.  And Tom had to take much more frequent breaks and will be groaning with aches and pains for several days now. 

But he did it, and a beautiful job it is, too.


  1. You and Tom, and your beautiful home, embody the reasons I wanted to move to this part of the country. Your sense of place and dedication to beauty, they just fill me every time I see your posts. Thank you for being a part of my life, Linda and Tom. :-)

  2. He did a fabulous job fixing it and on the original building of it. You pair of trendsetters. Everyone nowadays thinks recycled concrete is a new thing. You know better.

  3. Yes he did a beautiful job. A pat on the back (aching back) for him. MB

  4. That is a big job! Looks great all fixed! :)

  5. Beautiful job. Get out the ben-gay. Such a lovely yard, you two are talented gardeners.

  6. That's an amazing story about your wall. You can look back with pride on all you accomplished.

  7. your yard is a masterpiece of labor and love!

  8. Oh yes! Tom did an absolutely fabulous job. The wall is so lovely and adds such beauty to the garden. But gosh! It does look like hard, heavy work.

  9. I love your garden. It looks very beautiful and by seeing it i feel calm. You both are doing great job!

  10. You both have accomplished a lot with your property. It shows beautifully.

  11. I love that... You and Tom are so clever

  12. Incredible job Tom, both in building and repairing your wall!


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