The rains have come and I am back

Dear patient reader,

I feel I owe you an explanation for why I suddenly stop writing on this blog last April and am now back again. I thought this would be a banner year for family history research, gearing up for the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower next year and getting a chance to pay attention to other lines of my family that have been neglected of late due to my focus on my Mayflower lineage.

Instead of imagining the lives of generations of my immigrant ancestors risking a dangerous overseas passage to the New World, however, I found myself staring down the very real risk of having my own house succumb to the waters.

Four and a half years ago, my wife and I bought what we hoped will be our forever home. It was a lovely mid-century ranch home on a large plot of land, and even had a pool and a tiki lounge that had been added in the early 1960s. It was full of potential, but needed a lot of work as it hadn’t been kept up for the last couple of decades. We didn’t have money to get it fixed up, but we’re DIY folks, so we figured we’d chip away at the issues as we had time and money. But then the water level in the pool began dropping increasingly fast last winter, and we had to act despite having neither time nor money.

We imagined what we thought was the worst case scenario—an underground leak in the pool that would involve ripping up the entire concrete pool deck to find and fix the leak(s)—but that turned out to be just the beginning.

When we removed the concrete deck, we discovered completely liquefied soils—our backyard had become quicksand. The soil was supersaturated and could hold no more water, so water from what turned out to be dozens of leaks was flowing in rivulets under the concrete towards the house. Thank goodness we have French drains around the foundations, we thought. As we were digging a network of trenches to start draining water from the saturated soil, we discovered that our French drains were actually reverse French drains—perforated pipes were sloping towards the house, and joined up with a perforated main drain at the base of the foundation that ensured that the soil under the foundations was the destination of any water that entered the drain. The soil that rippled in waves as we walked across it was what was holding up one quarter of our house.

So from late April to late November, we’ve been doing nothing besides going to work during the day and working on saving the house and fixing the pool and backyard at all other times. We cancelled birthdays, our anniversary, planned vacations—anything that would take time away from fixing the mess we found ourselves in. Hence my sudden, prolonged, and—until now—unexplained absence from the blog.

It was crucial to get the work done before the rainy season began, as an unfilled pool becomes a floating concrete boat (and destroys itself in the process) when the surrounding soil is saturated. We left the pool filled for most of the work, but had to empty it a month and a half ago to patch the cracks and leaking pipes. It was an incredibly stressful time, but we finished in time and now have a beautiful pool once again, a house that is sitting on dry land, and a new system of solid and French drains that will keep it that way. And not a moment too soon, as ten (or more) days of solid rain were forecast to began yesterday and they showed up on time and heavier than expected. But for the first time in nine months, I find the sounds and sights of rain relaxing.

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