Monday, June 30, 2008

On the Cutting Edge

"Always take the short cut; and that is the rational one. Therefore say and do everything according to soundest reason."

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations ix 33

On Saturday I finished nailing down the porch floor. I got out the trusty pneumatic floor nailer and had at it.

Since the threshold of the door extended over my ledgerboard i got to go "old school" and hammer in nails too:

I told Lisa I would have the whole thing done in an hour, but it really took me two and a half.

That was where I left everything on Saturday because we had guests coming in the afternoon to swim with the girls and stay for dinner.

On Sunday afternoon I snapped a line along the edge of the porch to even my boards up. I had let them "run wild" because I couldn't be sure how tightly each would butt against the house.

I put a new blade in the circle saw and with as steady a hand as I could muster I sawed the edges. Hence today's title:

I then sanded the the top of the cut edge to round it off a bit. Then I hit all the end grain with wood hardener. It looked so good, I did the entire porch with hardener for good measure. After waiting 4 hours I used wood filler to plug up gaps since the tongue never completely fills the groove. I didn't want little openings for water to migrate into.

After that was set up I hit the edge with 220 grit sandpaper and put a final coat of wood hardener over what I had just sanded.

This morning I got up early and put a second coat of stain over the whole porch. Tomorrow we should be able to walk on it.

Like Marcus Arurelius I have sound reasons for everything, but it certainly doesn't lead to the short cut!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'm FLOORED By How it Looks

Yesterday, in between rainshowers I was able to attach the 1 x 8 sheathing over the porch frame. I had cut it to fit already and had painted it in the garage.

Then I took my porch flooring and started to sand. Every board got hit three times with the random orbital sander. First with 40 grit paper, then 80 grit and finally with 120 grit. By the time I had done that all the old varnish and stain was gone from each one. I took a few boards and hit them with the exterior stain I'll use on them. It is a semi-transparent oil based stain. The color is "Cedar" which was the closest to amber shellac color I could find.

When they were pretty dry I got out my pneumatic floor nailer and got the first few boards down, it took a lot of measuring to make sure they were cut and lined up correctly. I'm leaving the board ends to "run wild" as it will be easier after they are all installed to go and cut them all even at once.

I screwed the first board into place so it would hold firm when installing the others. When I went back to fill the holes. I tried cutting plugs from some extra fir I had, but it kept falling apart. I went down and got a scrap piece of maple from the kitchen floor. It worked fine for plugs.

Then I went and stained the rest of the boards and let them dry overnight. I'll install them today.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On the Straight and Narrow

Yesterday I started going through my salvaged flooring that I'll be putting down on the back porch. I will be using vertical grain fir tongue and groove flooring, just like was originally on the porch. I weeded out boards that either were missing the bottom groove or a tongue, or had surface damage.

I had Rowan use her calculator to see how many boards I would need by dividing 115 (inches of porch length) by 3.25 (width of each board) Her answer was 35.38. I said that meant 36 boards, plus two more for the overhang outside the edge of the 2 x 8 frame. That meant I needed 38 boards. I got a sharp glance from the ten year old who said, "Dad, just make sure you have 40 boards."

I used 53 inches as my rough length, finished length should be 51.5. Many of my salvaged boards were over 9 feet long so I was getting two shorts out of each. When I had finished with what was good, I had a total of 42 boards.

Here is what they looked like when I was cutting them to length:

I started to clean them by using my mixture of denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner with steel wool and realized this was going to take a LONG TIME.
Pete stopped over to drop his saws off to me and help with the 1 x 8 sheathing that goes over the porch frame. He suggested that I call Taryl to see if I could use his planer.

Since Lisa was at an administrator workshop I took the girls with me and went to Taryl's last night. The planer was sweet. For most boards I took off about 1/64th of an inch. Here is an example of the "after":

I will hit the places that aren't clean yet with a random orbital sander today.

But was even better was that the girls got to swim for an hour in Taryl's pool AND feed his horses.

So the upshot is that my kids have volunteered my labor for any project Taryl needs help with in order to get pool time.

And the way this all ties into today's title? The reason for using vertical grain fir on a porch is that with the grain running up and down rather than horizontally the boards are much more resistant to rain and cupping since they will be outside, even if they are covered by a roof:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Runner Up!

Yesterday was the 3rd Annual University Heights Chautauqua. The new wrinkle in this year's event was a baking contest. There were four categories: Cakes, Cookies, Bars, and Pies. I don't like to brag, but I took second place in the pie category:

And as I said to elder daughter, the fact that there were only two entries does not diminish the prize in the least. Every other category had at least 5 entries, prizes were awarded to top three in each. The winning pie was a multiple berry pie with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. What was really fun was that after the contest everyone got to taste each entry. Everyone that is except for those of us who were performing as part of the program, since the band was on stage at time. The girls and Lisa said that everything was very good.

For the record I made mulberry-rhubarb pie. We had seen several mulberry trees on our Ride the River bike tour last Sunday. Saturday morning I got up early and went out with a very large bowl and a tarp. I spread the tarp out under the tree and shook the branches. Then I carefully shook the berries on the tarp into the bowl. Here is my bowl when I got home:

It is a big bowl, I had over 8 cups of mulberries after I washed and picked through them. Sadly I didn't take a picture of the finished pie! Here is the recipe:


  • 2 1/2 cups mulberries
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie


  1. Mix together mulberries, rhubarb, sugar, and flour.
  2. Pour into unbaked 9 inch pie shell. Dot filling with butter or margerine, and add top crust.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    Bake until pie is done, about 30 minutes.


  • add at least 1/2 a cup of flour, mulberries make a runny pie, I think that contributed to my second place finish!
  • I baked closer to an hour rather than 45 minutes.

On Saturday after I picked mulberries, Pete came over and we built the frame for the porch over our new footings:

Next will be working to get ready to put the decking back down.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Look Who's in the Media

Today's Iowa City Press Citizen contains a little guest opinion written by yours truly regarding other major floods in Iowa City history. Here is their published version of what I wrote:

Is this the worst flood in city history?

While we have been horrified by the images of devastation, the 2008 flood may not be Iowa City's worst flood in the past century. While the media rightly notes that this flood is much worse than 1993, if you trace back just slightly more than 150 years, the flood of 2008 may rank as only the fourth worst to hit Iowa City.

In June 1918 there was no Coralville Reservoir to hold back the Iowa River. After an exceptionally rainy spring, major flooding struck Iowa City on June 6, 1918. According to an 1985 article by Irving Weber, Iowa City was without electricity for three days: In the same article, Weber goes on to say:

"During the 1918 flood the lower area of City Park was 12 to 15 feet under water. At its crest, water flowed over the wood planking of the iron arched Park Bridge.
"Probably the greatest disaster of all was the fate of the three large Englert Ice Houses loaded with 9,000 tons of Iowa River ice. It was the first time in history the Iowa River was filled with ice in June."

Weber also gives the reminisces of Madison Street resident Fred Gartzke, whose boyhood home was at the site of the present Iowa Memorial Union:

"I recall paddling a canoe down Madison past the Water Works plant, which had been sandbagged to the first floor windows to keep the flood waters out. A mark on the west door shows the height of the 1918 flood."

That high water mark on the Water Works door was also recalled by University of Iowa Facilities Services Group Assistant Director Al Stroh in an article commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 1993 flood: "Although the flood of '93 was bad, the water level was still almost four feet below the flood of 1918 -- as marked on the west side of the old city water plant."

Current Iowa Citians often forget that a large part of the area along Capitol Street -- from Benton Street to the south and the Iowa Memorial Union to the north -- were residential homes until the 1920s. Many of these homes in this 10-blocks-long and two-blocks-wide area were subject to frequent flooding.

So which was worse, 2008 or 1918?
It depends on how you count.

U.S. Geological Survey records for the Iowa City stage south of the Burlington Street dam as follows:
• June 6-8, 1918: Maximum gage, 19.6 feet; maximum flow, 42,500 cubic feet per second.
• June 15-16, 2008: Maximum gage, 31.5 feet; maximum flow, 41,100 cfs.
Gage is difficult to compare over time because the bottom of the river does change. So 2008 had a higher gage but at 42,500 cfs, 1918 may still rank as worse.

What about the infamous line on the old Water Works door?
Sadly, last week a group of Iowa City School District teachers and I went to the Water Works to get a picture of it, but we could find no line anywhere. When I walked down to the Water Works at 1 p.m. Monday, I could see that the water was up to the sills of the first floor windows, so it may be best to say that 1918 and 2008 are tied.

What of the two floods that were worse?
In a 1975 article, Weber describes how he tried to find out what the record floods were:

"Sam Mummey of the U.S. Geological Survey has provided figures showing the river stages since records were kept annually at Iowa City, beginning June 3, 1903. In addition, the years 1851 and 1881 are recorded, though the 1851 figures are qualified with the notation "about."
• July 10, 1881: Maximum gage, 21.1 feet; maximum flow, 51,000 cubic feet per second.
• June 1, 1851: Maximum gage, 24.1 feet; maximum flow, 70,000 cubic feet per second.

Weber concludes his article with the statement:
"Indians still in the area in 1851 indicated they knew of one other flood which their mark west of the Old Capitol showed was one foot higher than the 1851 flood. The year of the 'Indian Flood' is not known."
As we face the daunting task of repairing our community after this tragedy, I hope my neighbors will take some small solace in "it could have been worse..."

Mike Haverkamp is an Iowa City School District teacher and amateur history buff.

A companion piece that ran with it was written by local history expert Bob Hibbs:

Measuring water flow vs. human misery
Bob Hibbs • Iowa City: A Sense of Place • June 21, 2008

If Mike Haverkamp claims the 2008 flood at Iowa City is the fourth worst on record -- behind 1851, 1881 and 1918 -- I suspect the claim fairly reflects reality. On the misery scale, however, 2008 is without doubt the tops because far more people are affected.

Some interpretation is needed when Irving Weber writes that, during the 1918 flood, "City Park was 12 to 15 feet under water" because much of the park has been filled substantially during intervening years. The river also has been moved west of its original historic location that was much closer to the site of today's Mayflower Residence Hall.

Many City Park areas have been elevated by four feet, while others are as much as eight or 10 feet higher now than would have been the case during the 1918 flood. The Normandy Drive neighborhood -- a.k.a. "Mosquito Flats" -- also has been filled substantially. These fills at City Park and Normandy Drive without doubt have added substantially to the flooding of Coralville along Clear Creek, making comparisons far more complex.

But is it the water level or the misery that should be measured? Far more people affected today, so this is worse -- right?

Consider this photograph showing the old and new Park Road bridges beside each other in 1961. The decks seem to be at similar elevations. Given Weber's comment that "water flowed over the wood planking" in 1918, and given the Press-Citizen's reporting of water at the bridge deck in 2008, could it be that water levels may have been comparable during 1918 and 2008 at that site?

Gage levels in feet rarely provide comparable data, often are misleading and often misinterpreted. On the other hand, the cfs flow data might be good, depending on source. Any hydrologist from ancient times could figure the area of a river cross-section, determine incline and from those data compute flows. They are always "about" or "approximate," although those words are rarely used. The "Indian Flood" is prehistoric, and there were no doubt many floods during that era that far, far exceeded anything that has occurred during historic times. Prehistoric times should not be mixed with the historic record.

Of course this leads to the questions about whether we should be building at all in floodplains. Has our Athens of Iowa demonstrated adequate leadership in floodplain management? Oh, watch out, we could get into a serious contemporary discussion.

Bob Hibbs is the author of "Iowa City: A Sense of Place," volumes one and two, published by the Press-Citizen.

We'll see if anyone comments on their online site:

Haverkamp Article

Hibbs Article

Friday, June 20, 2008

It Was Uplifting! (Not the President's Visit)

Yesterday Pete and I raised the back porch roof. It was an excellent example of the "mushroom factor" so common in old house projects. In this case, the porch floor was bad and needed to be replaced. In order to remove the floor, we needed to first take out the columns sitting on top of the floor, in order to take out the columns we had to first lift up the roof and support it some other way. In brief the mushroom factor is: "To do project 'A' you must first do 'B' which means you must first do 'C' which means you must first do, so on and so on up to 'N' which is a VERY LARGE number.

To start we put blocks along the porch roof, and then screwed a 14 foot long 2 x 12 onto those blocks:

We then measured the distance from the bottom side of the 2 x 12 to the ground. We notched out 4 x 4 posts 1/4 of an inch HIGHER than that distance. We got John's 30 ton hydraulic jack and started to lift the roof:

When the roof was just high enough to slip the notched part of the posts under the 2 x 12 we slid them in and screwed the posts to the 2 x 12. We then lowered the jack and took it out. This height allowed the columns to be free from the bottom of the porch. We cut the nails at the bottom and twisted the tops out. Here is one column removed.

At this point we had to stop and look at the presidential helicopters that were flying overhead as George Bush came to look at flood damage. We gestured appropriately (at least we thought it was appropriate) at them, and got back to work.

This pic from today's Iowa City Press Citizen website was too good to not include:

Bush is kissing Iowa City mayor Regenia Bailey. In the background is Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff. Baily was my senior high school prom date.

After the excitement of the helicopters flying overhead, we could finally remove the back porch decking!

Here is the frame for the porch. The porch was only four feet deep and six feet wide.

I have decided to add two feet to each side of the porch. We then measured and dug footings for the new portion of the porch. Today we will fill the footings with cement and get ready to increase the frame.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Post About Working!

Finally I can write a post about working on the house. Tomorrow Pete is coming over and we will jack up the back porch roof, take out the columns and replace the decking.

I asked to borrow Pete's Sawszall so I could take out the railings, he said he'd drop it off when he came to get my heat gun. When I came home at noon from work, the railings were already removed!

The porch looked a lot more open:

With that already done I decided to see how much it would take to remove the steps. I have always hated our back steps, everyone does. They are pitched at an odd angle and the cement pad they rest on is so badly dipped that it collects over 4 inches of rain every time we get any precipitation.

I remember leaving via the back porch one night back in April of 2005. We didn't live here yet, and were in the process of emptying the house. Most nights I would come over after the girls were in bed, usually about 9 PM and work until 2 AM, go back home, sleep four hours and get up to go to work. As I was leaving I tripped on the damned stairs and recall the thought going through my head as I was pitching into the dark, "Dammit I've done all this work here and I'm going to die of a broken neck without ever having the opportunity to enjoy the place."

Luckily I sprawled into the yard and was unhurt.

Anyway I got out my big-ass pry bars and set to work. Here is the beast, tipped on it's side.

After I finished my neighbors introduced me to their electrician who had worked on my house when Mick and Helen lived here. He asked for a tour, so I showed him around. He was very impressed with our work. As I showed him out the back I said to be careful, as I had pulled the stairs out and they were set back in place without anything attaching them to the porch. His comment was that he couldn't count the number of times he'd been here and seen groundhogs go under the porch as he approached.

I know why the steps were so damned crooked.

Monday, June 16, 2008

And Now For Something COMPLETELY Different

In the midst of our flood angst on Saturday the phone rang. Our six year old answered and then listened and then turned to me and said in her absolute best British accent, "Daddy there is a man on the phone for you."

Imagine my total shock when in true "Monty Python" fashion I hear an English voice say, "Mike? This is Bernard with LoMax Records in London, we've corresponded regarding Chubby Parker."

Bear with here. I have a fair amount of old sheet music that I pick up at garage sales and junk shops to learn songs for both my solo performances and for the band. Mostly I tend to get 1920's Novelty Rags and other goofy comic songs. One time at least 10 years ago I mentioned on the Banjo-L listserv that I had sheet music by a banjo player named Chubby Parker.

That lead to an email several years ago from Bernard, an Englishman who was researching Parker. I scanned the cover and sent it to him. He called Saturday saying that their project (my guess is that is a boxed CD set of early WLS Chicago Barn Dance performers) is set for an October release. Would I consider sending a high resolution scan of the sheet music for the liner notes?

Here's where it all ties together...

I knew I had moved a big pile of sheet music up to the second floor storage room at the Tech Center. It had sat in my office for years. I told Bernard I might not be able to get to it for a while because of flooding. He was very understanding.

After I hung up I decided to look through what I had here at Foxcroft. When Bess built the house in 1928 Helen was already an accomplished musician, having taken piano lessons from age four. Helen also played clarinet and accordion.

The grand piano sat in the living room next to the front hall closet, both pictured above, and Bess designed the closet with a set of shelves for sheet music. I had kept some of Helen's music and added more of my own.

I looked through the pile, that you can see in the picture above, below the hats. I found not only the cover I knew I had, but ANOTHER Chubby Parker song. Apparently I am the only person on the planet with these things!

I emailed Bernard and he was delighted. I will scan both and send them along to him.

His reply also included this:

P.S. The Royal Festival Hall in London is hosting an exhibition to celebrate this release, running for six weeks from late September through to early November. It will contain photographs of many of these artists, some instruments, memorabilia and film, footage. I wondered if you might consider allowing us to exhibit your sheet music with a credit to your good self. It would be as safe as if it was exhibited at the Metropolitan in New York. I think people would find it a delightful thing.

So of course I will send the physical copies as well.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ride the River

In Father's Days past we have packed our bicycles and done Ride the River in the Quad Cities with Lisa's sister and her husband. Since we couldn't get to Rock Island (I-80 is closed east of Iowa City) We did our own ride the river tours today.

I rode over to my office this morning. Burlington St. bridge is still open, but wet since they are pumping out of UI Main Library and Lindquist buildings onto the street.

Tech Center is still dry. Here is the water across the street

And the water below our building at the corner of Capitol and Benton:

I came back over the Benton St. Bridge. Here is a closeup of the downriver side of Burlington St. Bridge. The large rusty thing at the top of the picture is the Iowa Interstate Railroad Bridge the highest span across the river in Iowa City.

Lisa and the girls and I rode on the tandem and the tag along to see the water later. Our first stop was Hawkins Drive and Highway 6 below Carver Hawkeye Arena. The water is up pretty high on the railroad overpass above Rocky Shore Drive:

Then we rode over to the UI west side arts campus. Water has come up to the back of Hancher Auditorium, the premiere performance stage in town:

It has also surrounded E.C. Mabie Theater. I performed in the UI's Summer Rep Theater on that stage in 1979.

Beyond Mabie is the UI Art Museum, all the works have been evacuated, including the giant Jackson Pollack.

(photo from:

We then went to City Park. Lower Park is completely flooded. Here is the now submerged Park Road Bridge:

I then walked alone around Upper Park and came down to take a picture of Lucky Shelter #13, the one that we always rent for 4th of July picnics:

The GOOD NEWS is that there are some indications that the Coralville Resevoir may have crested last night, it was predicted to not crest until tomorrow. That is dependant on the amount of rain we continue to receive. However if that is true, we may crest 1.5 feet LOWER than predicted.

I told Rowan today on the ride that we have now at least tied 1918 flood level records, which were higher than 1993.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

As IF We Didn't Have Enough Water!

I did make it across both of the last two bridges left open this morning. After thinking about it last night, I went back to my office and removed some of the items that I had moved to second floor. Given that we are now supposed to get a foot more water than had been predicted, it gives me peace of mind to get most of my files, etc. out of the office. I also brought home my great-grandmother's wicker plant stand, if things get wet and humid inside, I didn't think even leaving it on second floor was a good idea.

Per a request from my most devoted local Iowa City reader, here is a picture of the girls' backyard swimming pool:

This is a new pool, replacing the pool we used for the last two years:

The old pool had a 12 foor diameter and was 2 and a half feet tall. The new pool is 13 feet in diameter and 3 and four feet tall.

We filled it with half city water and half rain water. If I had diverted my downspout I could have completely filled it with rain water!

Iowa City officials have said they do NOT expect to lose the water works to flooding but I am taking no chances: youngest daughter is under strict orders NOT to pee in the pool! While we COULD drink it after boiling, I'm telling the neighborhood that we have supply to flush toilets if needed.

Speaking of pools here is the fish pool with rainwater, the dirt bottom makes it look bad. This is a weird shot with the reflection of the neighbor's garage in it:

Obligatory flood shot: Here are the girls sitting on a sandbag wall at the QuickTrip enjoying our slushies after riding along Riverside Dr. yesterday:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Here's a Little Glimpse

More From the Iowa City Press Citizen website This photo must have been taken Thursday afternoon:

For friends and family: The blue buildings are the City Carton processing buildings across the street from my office at the Tech Center. The brick building in the upper middle of the photo is the Iowa Book and Supply Warehouse. Our building is the one immediately to the right of it. As you can see the CRANDIC railroad tracks are underwater.

When I left Tech Center at 4:00 yesterday There were freight cars on the Rock Island railroad bridge. I *think* they might be placed there in order to add weight to the bridge in an effort to keep it in place. I just heard on local radio that engineers are drilling holes in street bridges to relieve pressure build up as the water rises under them to prevent lift...

I'll be leaving to help evacuate our building soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Depressing Flood Update

Normandy Drive, where I worked on Monday, was issued a mandatory evacuation order last night. Flood waters topped the sandbag wall today. Here is a picture from the Iowa City Press Citizen website

PC Photo by Matthew Holst Steven Miller, Senior Construction Inspector for the City of Iowa City, watches the mandatory evacuation of Normandy Drive, Thursday, June 12, 2008, in Iowa City, Iowa. Miller coordinated the building of the retaining wall to protect the neighborhood and was nearly brought to tears when floodwaters broke through.

My opinion: Miller worked like a dog for 5 days straight. He is what every worker who serves the public should aspire to.

Here is a link to a podcast I created today during my technology implementation class:

flood podcast

We let class out early and I went to my office which is one block from the river. The latest projection puts the river crest on Monday nearly one foot higher than our doorway. I put all my personal items to a second floor storage area, along with other tech staff we moved my computer lab to the third floor of our central administration office building, and put my desks up on concrete blocks. The water is now even with the building across the street in front of us, and water is also rising behind our building through the storm sewers. I'll shoot some images tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Brother the Sandbagger

When we were in school my brother, Tom, and I frequently rode our Schwinn Twin cruiser tandem to school. As the older brother I sat in front and steered. This meant that I had to frequently scold Tom for “sandbagging:” taking his feet off the pedals and coasting.

Tom spent yesterday sandbagging too, but it was anything but coasting. His in-laws live in the “Mosquito Flats” section of Iowa City. Their backyard used to front the Iowa River. Yesterday their backyard WAS the Iowa River. I came over to help him and his wife and sons.

The benchmark for all flooding is 1993. The Coralville dam, upriver 5 miles, was overtopped to the tune of 5 feet above the spillway that summer. Residents of Mosquito Flats were out of their homes for over a month. Yesterday Corps of Engineers representatives (who control the dam) told residents to expect a water level at least one foot higher than ’93.

The big difference this time was a coordinated volunteer effort. Engineers laid out a line along the back of all the properties. Using GPS they shot elevations of yards then drove stakes and made tape marks as to how high to build sandbag walls. The community turn out was great, high school kids, college students, residents, kids, were all out in force. City trucks dropped sand, the corps donated bags.Crews filled bags, volunteers with pickup trucks would load sand and drive as far as they could into back yards. Human chains unloaded trucks and built walls. The Salvation Army came with sandwiches and drinks. Mormon kids on mission in Iowa carpooled and showed up in droves. People I knew who didn't live anywhere near, showed up with pizzas. Elderly residents who couldn't physically work spent the day baking cookies and bringing them out. A member of our church who lives in the neighborhood broke her leg last week. She spent the entire day in a wheelchair at the sand pile with a shovel filling bags.

Here is Monte, who we spent most of the day working with:

(Photo from

Here is some wall building:

(Photo from

And the sandbag fillers:

(Photo from
When I went home last night we had finished about 8 properties with about four more to go. With luck it can be finished today, as the river is rising another foot today.

Monday, June 02, 2008

June 2, 1933

Helen's Diary:
June 2
1933 Made cake and finished green dress. Leo Stone here 10 o'clock till 11. Went to Commencement party with Don. Not bad. His dancing has improved. Went home and talked about World's Fair- Bed at 3 AM


In more contemporary Foxcroft news I finished digging out the pool yesterday afternoon. Now I'll need to work around the top to get the dirt away from the limestone edging.