Friday, April 30, 2010

The Grotto ...One Month From Breaking Ground...

Here it is...doesn't look like there have been any changes. But yesterday the trim, keystone, and concrete work continued. The keystone (triangular shape at top of niche) wasn't cut properly, so Joe wanted it replaced. Yesterday they put the new one on and it looks much better. Do you see the wooden support at the bottom of the niche? Joe invented that, while doing some woodworking. He was going to have to hold a cabinet up, while he screwed it into the wall. Knowing that it would be heavy...and I was his only helper :) ...he came up with this ingenious idea. The wooden support was placed under the cabinet, at just the right height, and held it there while he affixed the cabinet to the wall. They cut the support to size and used it again, while building the Grotto. Here he is....deep in thought. His mind just whirling with things concerning this project.

Father Nnaso came by and we visited for a while. Joe was at home. We talked about how Joe had gone through every detail of this project...right down to the kind of washers and screws to use. Father and the people who work at the Church have followed this from every step, just as we have. They look out the windows and take a break to come outside to see for themselves this Grotto being built. To think that we only broke ground on March month and it's just about finished.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Making That Concrete Stick...

Here are the pictures I promised. They were taken with Joe's camera. Here you can see how difficult it was to make the concrete stick upside down? One man on top, with a handful of concrete and another underneath with a trowel trying his best to get it to hold. Look at him standing on a bucket... Here he is smoothing it all out after waiting for it to set up a bit.

This process took most of the workday. It is finished now and coated with a layer of a blue tinted mixture. They tried a couple of shades of blue...before finding just the right one.

Remember that there will be lighting around this niche. Today is cloudy and cool. I hope it doesn't rain, so they can get things ready for the stonework next week.

Camera problems

I haven't posted this picture yet...thought you might like to see it. It's Bob and Joe, bringing Jesus to our house. You can see the snow on the ground. The work on this started in Sept. so many long months of detail and hard work have gone into this project... all through the winter. It was first a vision in Joe's head and he took it from there. The statue has had a long trip...from Italy to Byron and our garage... we're just waiting for the time that Joe will be able to take the it to it's new home. Click on the make it bigger.
I'm having some computer problems. My camera program will not download the pictures that I take. Something is corrupted in my computer and I am having to wait for Joe to take a look at it. So, no pictures for a bit...until this problem is resolved. I can tell you, however, how things are progressing at the Grotto. I was there a couple of days ago and they were beginning to work on the niche, where the statue will go. It is curved at the top and has a mesh material to hold the concrete. They were having a dickens of a time making that concrete hold. They finally had to resort to doing it by handfuls. One of the workers was on the top of the wall, while the other handed him handfuls of concrete. Then Chris was there with a trowel trying to make it stay. Picture this....putting concrete on upside down and trying to make it stay. It kept plopping down and he had to do it over and over again. Finally they would get some to hold and then had to wait till it dried, somewhat, before adding more. It finally was finished and Joe came home and worried about it all night. He was still concerned in the morning, when he went over to the site. Chris assured him that it would hold and they went on to put another coating on...this time with the color blue. That night, we drove over and saw the niche that was the color of the sky...just waiting for the statue. Yesterday, Joe was enlisted to do some of the physical work. The trim around the niche, made from Indiana sandstone, and the keystone were put in place. This is heavy work...and tedious. He came home late and rested for a bit. He told me that (I don't think he will mind my telling this) he almost cried, when they finished yesterday. This was the part that he had worried about so much, and when they were was such a relief that it was successful. He was filled with emotion. We went out for dinner and drove by the Grotto. The ground around it had been spread with black dirt and we could visualize it being finished. Hope the weather holds, so that they can work the rest of the week. Hopefully, I will have pictures soon. This is the best part and I want to show you all how it looks. Grrrr!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Camera Problems and Rain

Been having trouble with my camera....grrrr! Guess I'll have to just tell you what has gone on since my last post. The concrete sidewalks were poured on Friday. All went well, but then they had to scramble to cover it all due to showers. If only they had poured the day before. The sidewalks are OK on Saturday. Just a small crack that has to be repaired. It's raining today off and on, and it is Sunday, so no work. Hopefully tomorrow work can start again and the trouble with my camera will be history. Have a nice Sunday.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Grotto Today....April 22, 2010

Work didn't start until this afternoon. Joe was ready early and had to wait for them. These guys are getting the sidewalks formed, so that they can pour concrete tomorrow. It's supposed to rain in the afternoon. I hope that they get an early start. I went over to mark where the gardens will be. Mike will kill the grass and then put black dirt on top. We used a spray paint and made an arc, by measuring and putting dots of paint and then just connect the dots. Joe decided to have the nursery plant the trees and shrubs. That will alleviate some work for us.
This is how the curved edge looks today. Mike put black dirt all around the curve to finish it off. We may put mulch in the area next to the curve. Probably nothing will be planted there. I think that wave petunias would be nice. They would do just great with all the sun. We'll see.

I think it is so cool, how the corners are done. Pavers are cut and fit in just so. It makes for a very tidy look.

This is how the paved area looked before the black dirt was put down. It's beginning to look like a Grotto. I hope they can pour the sidewalks tomorrow. After the weekend the stonework will start. It should be very interesting....I hope to be there when it all happens. The finished paved area will be covered with plywood, so that nothing happens to it. As I write this...Joe is lying down. He was really stressed out, when he came home today. There are so many details for him to attend to. Remember that he is 74...hard for him to be there all day and have to deal with all the problems that pop up. I took him a strawberry shake later in the help him keep his cool. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Picnic at the Grotto....April 2o, 2010

I took a picnic lunch over to eat with Joe. Fried chicken, potato and mac salad, chips, drinks and two chocolate chip cookies. We have a picnic table on the front lawn of the Church, and the people who work at Church sometimes eat there. After lunch I got my chair out of the car and sat for a while watching Mike do his thing. It's like a giant puzzle...each piece has a spot. The pavers aren't uniform in size and this is giving him problems. If you start off 1/8 inch the time you reach the end of the can be as much as a paver off. When I left he was trying to figure out what he should do. He works alone, so it is time consuming. I still think he will be finished today.

The Grotto Work Continues...The Pavers... April 19, 2010

The weather has been great here in Byron. The work on the Grotto progresses a little each day. I was shopping in Rockford yesterday and had just got home when the phone rang. It was Joe asking if I wanted to watch something neat. "Come on over and bring a chair," he said. I hurried to the car and loaded my chair and camera in the back. When I got to St. Mary's, there was only one worker there. I will call him "Meticulous Mike" Just the kind of person you want...doing the job of putting the pavers down. The paver area was all smoothed out and ready for Mike to do his magic.Every thing was so precise. It has to be perfect to fit these pavers in the pattern that Joe chose. One corner at a time. He can't be a fraction of an inch off...or it will affect the whole thing.
Everything measured out and squared off. It was interesting to watch this guy start to work then could see the thoughts going around in his head. Every step was well thought out. He is meticulous...

This section is a difficult application. The lights are the round circle areas. He has to get these pavers to fit so that each light is the same. I'll take more pictures when the light area is actually done. There were nubs on each paver that made fitting more difficult. He and Joe left to get a that he could cut them off each paver. Putting them down, one by one, a job that is hard on the knees. Kneeling on brick all day...glad it's him and not me.

I think that he will finish the pavers...maybe today. Then he can pour the sidewalks. Hopefully we won't get rain. I'll tell more about the finishing of the pavers tomorrow. I was really glad that I went over to watch. This is developing into a very interesting project for our Church. A lady stopped by yesterday and said that she had visited many Grottos in her lifetime. She wondered if this could be a tourist attraction. I don't know the answer to that, but it will be a beautiful addition to our Church and hopefully many people will use it. Joe and I are so excited about this ...he spends many hours a day and I do my best to keep things going at home. When he comes home, he is spent. I have worried about him, but it does no good. He's a man on a mission right now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 15, 2010

Looking at this doesn't seem like much has been accomplished since the last pictures. You can see the lights have been put in and the gravel has been put there.. in layers. The larger gravel on the bottom and then a fabric was put down and then a finer product on top. The fabric was laid to keep the finer gravel from filtering down through the first layer. Then the area was tamped down. This is all preparation work for the pavers. Joe is on his way, right now, to the stone company, to pick up the pavers and benches. This is a heavy load and requires a flat bed truck. From what I understand...the pavers will be put in place, and then covered with plywood to protect them, while the stonework is being done. What a many details to take care of. Joe has been there be available to answer questions and just be there if needed. There is no shady place for him to sit. Today, the weather has changed, and will be cooler.I have noticed that there is more community interest now that the Grotto is taking shape. People are wondering what this is. Other Churches are looking with interest. People driving by slowly and waving. The hope is that people will stop and sit there for a few moments and meditate, slow down the pace of the day, and maybe say a prayer. It isn't just for members of our Church...anyone can use it. This has been months in the planning and a lot of tedious work for Joe. Things seem to have just fallen into place on this project. The people who are working on it are doing a good job and all get along. I think that this project is going so smoothly because of ...Divine Intervention.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13, 2010 Another Beautiful Work Day

Today was a very productive day. Everyone showed up to work on this project. The sidewalks, that will lead to the Grotto, were dug out. So lucky that the weather is cooperating. This couldn't have been done, if it had rained.

The block wall was finished in the back of the Grotto. The opening is where the statue of Jesus will go. The electrical work began today.I'm anxious for the stonework to be started. It should be an interesting process. Joe thinks that if all continues at this speed..they may be finished by the end of the month. He was there most of the day again. We took a drive this afternoon and drove up to the Church from a different angle. What a beautiful sight...the St. Mary's Grotto is taking shape.

Monday, April 12, 2010

And the Work Continues

After three days of not working, the work once again begins. I don't know the correct terminology, but this is a wall being built of blocks for supporting a door that will be behind the statue. It will be put in place and will be a locked access door, so that if they ever need to work on the statue...they will be able to do it easily.... otherwise there would be no way to get at the statue without harming it. Today was a great day for working on this. The weather was perfect. I went over to take this picture and watch for a bit....helping out at our Mary's Garden, while I was there. Joe stayed all day and he's home and tired tonight. He is really dedicated to this project. People in our Church and people in town are watching, with interest, while this is being built... from the ground up.
Some decisions were made about the plantings around the Grotto. I ordered a couple of Dwarf Spruce trees and six pink rose bushes...three for each side. I already ordered some little hostas for the border. More tomorrow.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Forms are Removed

Yesterday the forms were removed from the Grotto. Joe was there early in the morning taking down the wooden supports himself. He's been so anxious to get this project going. Today he took the measurements to a stone company in Rockford for Indiana sandstone caps for the top of the walls. They won't be able to work on it again until Monday. Hopefully the weather will be good.
Joe selected two trees to plant. They are Chanticleer Pear Trees. on each side. I am planning the small gardens on each side. Probably Hostas and 3 rose bushes in each garden. We haven't decided on the rose bushes yet. It all depends on the size of the planting many plants we will need. There will be pavers on the ground that can be engraved with names of people to be remembered. Benches in memory of Joe's Dad and Grandma. There will be more information down the road. It's only just begun.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Concrete is Poured

It was a nice day yesterday until late afternoon, when the storms started. They were able to pour the concrete for the Grotto. It's beginning to take shape. You don't realize how much detail there is to take care of. Everything is planned now if the weather will cooperate... it will get done.
Joe is there everyday, while the men are working. He is on site so that if any questions come up he will be there to answer. The dedication is to be on June 12th.