Saturday, July 09, 2005

Surfing the Development Wave

One of the advantages of doing a journal is that you can tell stories of your daily life, boring a maximum number of people in one sitting. And so I will.

This started a couple months back, when a couple surveyors showed up on our street. In this area of farmland-turning-to-development, surveyors are never a good sign to the long-time inhabitants. There was a gun man (the guy standing by the instrument, usually a real surveyor) and a stick man (usually a kid, who had the responsibility of walking around with the stick so the gun man can take sightings). (There used to be (when I was a stick man) a link man as well, who was responsible for measuring the distance from the gun to the stick, but modern technology in the form of laser-accurate theodolites sent him the way of the dodo). But I digress).

Anyway, the stick man (as stick men go) didn't know why they were doing what they were doing (which was to uncover and mark the right of way markers at the front of the property). "Something about putting in sidewalks". And indeed, soon afterwards a King County Construction crew came through, and filled in the drainage ditches in front of the house, scraping a chunk out of the hillside at the front of our horseshoe driveway, putting in an asphalt walkway and putting concrete curbs between the street and the new walkway.

And they moved our mailboxes, a trio of old battered rural boxes mounted on a metal pole, while doing this. We share this cluster with the Finks, two families from across the street (Fink is their last name - don't send me any mail on this). The elder Mr. Fink has lived here since 1957, and I really enjoy listening to him talk about the "old neighborhood" (He can't understand why the family who originally built this house built it so close to the road, and remembers when the corner lot (soon to to become 9 housing plots) was a orchard). Originally the mailboxes were on the left hand side of the driveway, in clear view of the Fink home - now they've been moved to the right.

As a result of the renewal out front, the Lovely Bride took advantage of the chance to put a stone wall in front of the horseshoe, where they scraped it away. This was an adventure in itself, since she ordered stone that she could lift, but they delivered stone that not only she could not lift, I could not lift, we could not lift together, we could not roll, nor could we load into a wheelbarrow (dented wheelbarrow offered as evidence)/ We also found we could not break into smaller rocks (I went at it with a sledgehammer and was rewarded with a shard of rock creasing my temple, ending the experiment). The end result of this adventure was that the Lovely Bride called in a professional to build the wall for us. Said professional was already working a job locally, had a bobcat, and assure the L.B. that this sort of thing happened more often than anyone really wanted to admit.

So we put in the wall right next to the moved mailboxes. And then we got a note from the Post Office saying that, because of the way King County re-installed the mailboxes, they were too low and too far from the curb for easy delivery. We would have to re-install them or lose mail service.

And the Lovely Bride went over to the Finks to find out if they got a similar note. They did, and Mr. Fink revealed that he had installed the original mailboxes way back in the 50s, and still had the tools from it (Tools, by the way, he bought with G.I. Bill, which ties in with the review of The Bonus Army, below). So Kate, sensing another handiperson/kindred spirit, proceeded to conspire with Mr. Fink to rebuild the mail boxes, raising them and bringing them further out to the road.

And this is the result -


Not bad. We all bought similar mailboxes down at the hardware store, the wood came from scraps from Mr. Fink's woodworking shop, Kate did the painting and put in the flower baskets. It actually looks really nice, and the mailperson sent us a thank you note (as opposed to cutting off service).

The punchline? Two days after this major project was complete, a surveying team showed up on the street again, once again marking out the right of way. The stick man was a kid, and said that it was about "putting in new sidewalks".

Here we go again.

More later,