We Have a Moat

Crumbling piers from the old porch.

In our last episode, dear reader, we left my house naked and embarrassed, the old porch ripped away, bits of plywood exposed, with a long drop from the back door to the ground. The next step, my contractor told me, was to dig footers for the foundation of the new construction. Footers, he said, were the most weather-dependent part of the project.

This is where the footers are supposed to go! But will they get to them before the rain washes the paint away?

And so, after weeks of drought, we entered the rainy season. Every morning, the skies were dark with clouds, and every evening brought storms and showers. I was surprised one afternoon when David texted me at work and said, “We have workers in the back yard.” Even though it was raining at my office, the skies were holding off at home, so they decided to dig while they had a chance. When I arrived, there was a low-boy trailer (now I know all the lingo) parked in front of my house, with the backhoe in the back. It was thrilling. Work was being done! I set about fixing dinner, but when I looked up after a while, I said to David, “It’s starting to get dark, and the truck is gone, but we still have workers here. Are they going to need the guest room?” That’s when he broke it to me: The truck driver had gone to get emergency repair parts, because they had dug right into our brand-new septic line! Yes, the septic line that I wrote about having installed just a few weeks ago! The guys worked a little later than any of us expected that night, but they fixed the septic line and dug holes for the porch footers and a little U-shaped trench where the outer wall of the kitchen will be. Now we needed to have the footers inspected before they could pour the concrete.

It was a tiny respite. The next day was, as Elton John would say, when the rain set in.


Our footers were little ponds, and the trench became a moat guarding the dream of a kitchen. Days and days went by, and dirt began to run off into the holes. The walls of the pits began to collapse. We were going backward.

Then, on one of the endless cloudy mornings, I was sitting in the living room in my nightgown, applying makeup and sipping coffee, as is my usual workday routine. I went to stand up and take my coffee mug into the kitchen at 7:10 AM, when I looked up and saw a strange man just a few feet away, looking right back at me. I didn’t know whether to scream or cheer. As I struggled to make my mad scramble look cool and casual, I scooped up my freshly-ironed shirt and fled upstairs. That day, the workers cut those footers nice and sharp again, and the inspector slid through unobserved sometime later. We were approved.

And wet. Somehow, a week later, concrete was poured into these holes, and the next day it rained cats and dogs. Several inches of water covered the top of the concrete, and I whined to my son that the footers were going to be mud. “Oh, no,” he soothed. “That is a common misconception. Concrete does not actually dry. It cures by an exothermic reaction.” Oh. I taught him, you know. Not that, but I did teach him for eighteen years. Now he teaches me.

Came home to supplies in my wet driveway! My contractor is optimistic!

At this point, we are waiting for another inspection. I have come to understand that the county requires an inspection for every ten minutes of labor. It takes forever, but if this porch collapses, I know who I’m going to hunt down.

The foundation wall and the piers come next! We’re going up!

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