Monday, August 15, 2011

Water Torture -- by Michelle Alton

Michelle Alton, flying low over Bucks County (Photo by David Lewis)
That's me, in the Piper Cub (with the pilot) during my recent adventure flight over beautiful Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

The Mid-Atlantic States were hit with a deluge (10 inches in this area) this past weekend.  And since there were no fresh stories to post, I thought the soggy saga below was an apt story for the occasion. This  will set the scene for the REAL relentsess part of the story, coming next week!


There’s nothing meek about a leak
Especially when its source you seek.

It could be here, it could be there,
it could be almost anywhere

Or near your bed

Away for a while
But Never Dead.

-Joe DiGilio and Michelle (inspired by Green Eggs and Ham)


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Michelle Alton

This past weekend our area was super drenched with nearly 10-inches of incredibly hard-driven rain. So what could be a better time for a story about Leaks?


Water Torture!

From Day One, it has always been about the LEAKS!

Probably many of you aren’t aware of this, but the national symbol of the country of Wales is the rather lowly LEEK. Never mind that at a produce fair in South Wales, I once saw a six-foot long prize-winning leek that definitely had an attitude! Generally speaking, though, leeks are sort of meek and unassuming vegetables.

But, as almost any homeowner will tell you, “There is NOTHING meek about a L-E-A-K!
Leeks (from Google Images)

We moved into this house in August of 1995, and have just passed our 16th year here.

House in April
There isn’t an old photograph in my archives for comparison, but one of the things that has changed drastically over the years is the pond.  Back in 1995 it was just your basic mud hole. The pond is fed by a creek that runs through the neighborhood, both under and above ground. Probably more than 50 years ago, a dam was built (just out of the photo frame, to the right) and the pond filled up with water. The dam had a spillway, over which the water overflow trickled, ran, or gushed, depending on weather conditions, and then travelled under our driveway, and into the next-door neighbor’s creek. That creek then spilled into a larger pond behind the house two doors down, and then dropped over a scary ten-foot spillway into a concrete basin. It’s next stop was the Delaware Canal, perhaps another fifty yards away.

But the dam had long since failed, and what remained of the pond was basically muck—occasionally a large puddle if it rained long and hard enough.

Soon after moving in we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to return the pond to its former glory? “Yes,” we both agreed whole-heartedly. A waterfall would be nice too, wouldn’t it? First of all, the failed  dam would have to be repaired. OK. I’ll return to this part of the saga iater.

Now, to understand the second leak story, take a look at the photo below.

Deer Sentries
Most of the space we live in is on the second level: Living room, dining room, kitchen breakfast nook, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. All the rooms, upstairs and downstairs, have lovely views.  Perhaps that’s why the deer like to dine at our house.

On the lower floor is a large family room, a wet bar, the garage, laundry room, two large bedrooms and two large bathrooms. The family room, with its “ancient” slate floor, and the front bedroom sit just below the veranda -- the veranda from which it was obvious that water had leaked into the rooms below in the past -- leaks that we would RELENTLESSLY chase over the course of the next sixteen years. And they, too, have been LEAKS with attitudes! 

There was evidence of the leaks from the start-- rust on the baseboard radiators, and other clues that would surface later. Once upon a time the “veranda” had been an enclosed sunroom. We had seen a photo of the dilapidated structure when we were negotiating the house. It was long gone, however; the first leaks must have appeared when the enclosure was removed.

We thought of building a new glass conservatory there. But the cost to beautifully enclose a 12 foot by 50 foot area would have been prohibitive.. Still, wouldn’t a Lindal Cedar Sunroom  look brilliant on this house?

But I digress.

Winter view, from Bedroom, looking Upward

Spring view, from Bedroom looking downward

So now we had a leaking dam and a leaking veranda. Between the two, the challenges to our psyches and pockets would come to be EPIC!  Yes, dear readers, we had on our unsuspecting hands a modern-day “MONEY PIT.”

I’m tempted to keep going here, but I know I’ll lose your attention if this meanders on much longer. So, stay tuned for the hilarious second part of this wet saga, in which you learn how this story got its title.  (Oh...and it WILL get to the "Relentless Pursuit Part," I assure you!)

  (to be continued)
  --Except where otherwise noted,, all photographs by Michelle Alton

Some Bonus Shots  (from my recent flight over Bucks County)
[Click on photos to enlarge them in another window.]

The Piper Cub, coming in over the grass air strip at Van Sant Airport

Us and Our Shadow

Delaware River Meanders

Field "Hieroglyphics"

Bridge to Lambertville, NJ

The River Runs

Near New Hope, PA.  The low dam that provided water power for the old saw mill (now luxury condos)

Your guess is as good as mine!

Crossing the River

Controversial Quarry, Solebury, PA

Life among the Trees

Another Crossing

A biplane, done for the day.


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Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read the rest of this story!!
Love your air photo's :)

Monnie Ryan said...

What, no upside down aerial shots??? Interesting first part, Michelle - look forward to reading the rest!

Dave Phalen said...

Can't wait to read the rest of the story!!

Anonymous said...

Nice segue with the 'leek'...had no idea it was the Welsh national symbol...beautifully written and looking forward to episode deux...

Robert B

Ron McEwan said...

Michelle I thought it most intertaining, after all It made me feel good to know that someone other than myself have these problems. I finally crawed under the house this year after ten years to change and put in a new outside water spikit. As hot as it was it felt good wallering around in the wet mud. Lets hope the realiter doesn't post this story LOL.


Joe DiGilio said...

I like the story but I hate leaks too. They drive me mad. Big or small, I hate them all. They make me jump and shout and a big leak can be so severe that it can wash you out. On to part two. I hope there is a happy ending. Your home and the grounds are beautiful. You look cool in Piper Cub. Bet that was a fun day.

luxomni said...

The picture marked "Your guess is as good as mine" is the old Stover Mill in Erwinna, PA. I believe the house across the street (in the background) belongs to Sally Jesse Raphael.
It has been 50 years since I livd in Lumberville, but I would recognize it anywhere. So, I verified it on Google Maps, and it is.

Michelle Alton said...

Thanks for the great ID info on the "Your Guess..." photo. Much appreciated! Michelle Alton