Coming apart stone by stone

February 1, 2010

Raphael's collection of fossils found while breaking the terrace.


I type to the pounding of the jack hammer madly chipping away at the bedrock the is the ground floor of our house.  Raphael has been working steadily since early this morning on section after section of the living room floor.  He has almost finished the kitchen having reached the limit of the jack hammer.  His next step is to cut the stone into sections with a rotating saw to create crevices where he can insert the jack hammer.  He has yet to attack the dining room.   

We must lower these three rooms, the three that make up the ground floor of our house under renovation for two reasons.  The first is drainage.  Since the house was built on a sloping sheet of rock, a series of drain pipes, grates and water diversion tactics are needed under the foundation to keep the house dry during major storms and humid free the rest of the time.   

The second reason for lowering the floors is to raise them again.  Yes, this does make sense.  The house was built when people were shorter and had no electricity or plumbing.  We gigantic modern-day people need extra space above for our heads and extra space, appropriately hidden under floors, for the wiring and tubing that provide us with outlets and toilets.  Since there are, in some places, one to three floors above the ground floor, it is less complicated to break through bedrock than to raise each upper level including the roof.   

The breaking of the stone is a long, headache inducing work but the worst is what follows, removing all the stones from the rooms.  It must be done wheel barrel by wheel barrel.  Raphael has taken to sorting the stones as he goes for good, potential wall building stones.  And bad, toss on the ever growing pile of useless building materials, stones.  The removing of stones can take days.  He estimates he removed about 400 wheel barrels of rock at this point.   

Despite the jack hammer, this is a moment of peace for me.  The two older girls are with Papa building a cabana is the stone hole, otherwise known as the mud pit, in the center of the terrace, that will soon house a lovely olive tree.  And after a short battle of wills, Angeline is napping, maybe rocked to sleep by the jack hammer.   

I would like to help with the house, and I have.  But this is not a step I can do much about.  I will join him later, kids permitting, to sort through the stones.  I can fill the wheel barrel but he must remove it (full of stone, they way about 300 pounds).  I’ve helped rip up tile, sand overhead beams of the dark brown paint that darkened rooms and pull electrical wires through tubing.  And mostly, clean out all the junk that was left by the former owners.  unfortunately, we came upon no hidden treasure.   

Sadly, this will most likely be the last day of work on the house.  Circumstances have arisen to prevent continued renovation, most likely permanent.  Our future living arrangements are in reevaluation.   

A pile of rock in the kitchen.


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