Sunday, May 30, 2010

6:30 AM On Sunday

It seems like only yesterday that we were planting flowers at the Grotto. Since that day, I have put in a few more. Watering twice a day, in this heat, and deadheading has kept me busy. We were up and at Church early this water before people started coming to Mass. A warm, quiet and peaceful morning. Early morning walkers going by....a quiet "Good Morning." Just the sound of the water coming out of the hose and some birds singing. We sat there, on the benches, for a while. Looking at the statue of Jesus glistening in the early morning sun. What a nice way to start the day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Couple More Night Pictures

Here are a couple of pictures that Joe wanted included...taken at night when the lights were working. The color blue is more realistic in these pictures. Click on them to make them bigger. Joe just noticed that it looks like a halo is over Jesus' head.
I went to the Grotto last night to plant a few more things and to water. The key that we use to turn the water on was missing, so I had to wait till this morning. I had been trying to coordinate with our Mary's Garden in colors used, but yesterday...I decided to make this garden different. I planted some lantana and some more petunias. I'll show these tomorrow. We wanted this to be colorful and by planting these two varieties we will accomplish that. I watered ...Joe went and bought me a key of my own, so I wouldn't have a problem with the missing key. The rose bushes are beautiful right now...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All the Lights Are On...May 26, 2010

Tonight all the lights were on for the first time. We were there at 9:15 to take pictures. This first one is taken behind Joe. He's getting just the right shot. Here it is with all the lights on. So pretty at night. Joe officially gave it to the Church today. It's hard to believe that just a short time ago, Joe was sitting at our table, trying to draw his vision on a piece of paper. It has turned out pretty much the way the first pictures looked. He's been there every step of the way. Balisha

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Hot Day for the Engraver to Work

When I arrived, there was the engraver working hard in the 90° temp. He was covered from head to foot with a hood like thing over his head. The statue of Jesus had to be covered to protect it from flying debris. Here he is with his son. His son explained to me that he goes with his Dad to help and to keep people from going up behind him and scaring that he might jump and make an error. He said that they do a lot of work in cemeteries and he could be startled in a quiet place like that. He is particularly busy right now with Memorial Day coming up.
A stencil was used in this process. It is made with a rubbery material. It was taped down and with a steady hand...he operates the cutter attached to a compressor. You need a steady hand for work like's truly an art.

After everything is cleaned up....this process makes a lot of white sandy dust, the names are painted black. These pavers hold the names of our Priest's family. They are in the center of the floor.

This is how the pavers look when finished. People from our Church will be able to order them and have loved ones names engraved. My Mom and Dad and late husband were engraved in one section. Joe and I even put our beloved pets, Laddie and Maggie on a couple of pavers.

The benches were engraved too. One for Joe's Dad and one for his Grandma as you can see in the pictures below.

Well, it is finished. We both have learned so much from this undertaking.....from the stamping of the rocks to the engraving. Joe's meticulous attention has kept things on an even keel and his being there each day... helped to figure out ways to avoid mistakes. The gardens are starting to perk up...we found someone to water the grass...and now we look forward to the dedication. I hope that it will be a nice day.

In The Shade of the Old Oak Tree

7:30 AM on a hot morning someone is at the Grotto...watering. There he sits under the old oak tree tending the garden. A closeup shows that it is Joe waiting for the engraver to come and engrave the pavers. I went over to walk the long distance to the Church to turn the water on for him. His back is hurting. Tomorrow he has an appointment to get an epidural. Hopefully this will help him.
I'll go over later and then post some pictures of the engraver doing his thing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Very Famous Grotto

I just found this vintage photo of a very famous Grotto. Thought you might like to see it. Click on the picture to see some of the detail. Lourdes is in southwestern France, and is famous for the 15 apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes that are reported to have occurred in 1858 to 14 year old Bernadette Soubiros.

Saturday Morning Thoughts

I thought you might like to see another garden at St. Mary's in Byron. This is our Mary's Garden a couple of years ago. The statue has been taken down for repair...we are anxiously waiting her return. This garden is just west of the Grotto.
We are planning a reception for after the Grotto dedication. Finger foods will be served in our Church hall afterwards. I'm planning on making all kinds of Italian cookies, Pizzelles, two kinds of Biscotti, Italian butter cookies, and a Salisbury family favorite (my family) mini choc. chips. I thought these cookies would be appropriate for Joe's family.

The weather has been great since I planted flowers at the Grotto. The grass seed should do well too. The weather ahead... 90's they say, will be a challenge, but with lots of watering the plantings should be OK. The lights should be ready and operating by the first of next week. Today Joe and I are going to buy some stepping stones to place behind the Grotto. That way we won't have to walk on the mulched area as much. The stones will be round, 18 in. and made with an aggregate finish. After a wasted trip to Rockford, we found them at an Ace Hardware in a nearby town. So, that's about it on this misty morning in May. Have a great day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Morning....

The rose bushes are full of buds. I hope that they are blooming when we have the dedication.

We went over to the Grotto last night, to take pictures with all the lights on, but they still aren't working. I think they had to order a bulb. Maybe they should order a few extra for back up.
The area behind the benches was seeded yesterday. Joe and I were under the impression that the Church was providing some shrubbery for that spot and that the building and grounds would plant and maintain them. Joe talked to Father about this and we will see what happens. I think that shrubbery would soften the area...just so they don't get too big and hide the Grotto. It's a rainy day today, but that won't keep us home tonight...we will go see if the lights are fixed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Lights Are Turned On

We made a trip to St. Mary's last night about 8:15. We were going to be there when the electrician turned on the lights for the first time. The rope lights around the statue worked perfectly and gave the effect that Joe wanted. The blue color is so beautiful and accents the bronze statue.

Here is a close up of the niche with the statue. As you can tell the light on the right side didn't work. We were disappointed, but a new light will be put in this week. It's going to be perfect. Father Nnaso, Joe and I sat on the benches and talked about the building of this piece of art. Hopefully, a lot of people will use it. We've seen people sitting there and one little girl had her picture taken, in her white gown, before her first communion. It's a place for everyone to use...not just the members of our Church.
This morning (Wed.) I went over early and planted the flowers. We want the flowers to get a good start before the June 12th dedication ceremony. Check out my post this morning if you want to see pictures of what I planted... It's so peaceful can't help but say a prayer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Should go Behind the Benches?

These are the choices for planting behind the benches at the Grotto. We are still in discussion about this planting. Here's Spirea. Here's Dusty Miller.
Here's Victoria Blue Salvia.

Here are pink petunias.

Panoramic view of Grotto showing the planting area in discussion. Just behind the benches .

Here's a picture that Joe took yesterday. It shows the whole thing....the Grotto, the trees and the Church behind. We are discussing what should be planted behind the benches. The building and grounds committee wants to put some spirea bushes across this area. You have to be careful what variety Spirea they plant. Some get too tall, they can get woody like a lilac bush etc. They are planted all over our downtown area...a popular bush. My idea is to plant a shrub on each point on the corner. Then plant a row of dusty miller, then a row of blue victoria salvia, then pink wave petunias in front. In the fall these plants could be removed and replaced with mums. In the Spring...daffodils and other Spring bulbs. I bought the plants yesterday, just waiting for the go ahead. Iwould like to plant these flowers now, so that they perk up in time for the dedication on June 12th.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Grotto is Finished

The day was finally here. The Grotto is finished. After many hours of planning and building...this project is done. I went to get flowers for Mary's Garden this morning and when I got home, they were in the garage getting the statue of Jesus to take over to the Church. I followed in my car and arrived just in time to see them lift the heavy statue into the niche. Many adjustments had to be made. It seemed that this was the hardest part of the whole project. After lifting Jesus up and down and a little prayer from me...they got it right.
It fit perfectly. The blue surrounding him represents the sky. It will be beautiful at night with the lights on.
I got very emotional at this moment. Joe wanted to put the crucifix on himself. His back is killing him, but he climbed the ladder and put it on the keystone. He has worked so hard for months. No one knows, but me...what he has gone through. The guys stood back and stopped working while Joe had his moment.

One last adjustment and the crucifix is attached.

After putting the statue and the crucifix on, they sprayed the whole Grotto with a sealer. It is a finish that gives it a soft sheen. It dries quickly and the men were scrambling to get it spread around with their brushes. I even pitched in and grabbed a brush and worked fast with the workers. No picture of me, however.

Here's another view of the fast brushing.

Everyone working to get it covered. It is a windy day, and the sealer dries fast.

Here's the crew of guys that worked on the Grotto. I told them that they should be proud of themselves for this beautiful work of art. They all took pictures for themselves. It is a one of a kind piece of art...they probably will never work on anything like this again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Landscaping in The Cold...

Here is is almost the middle of May and brrrrrr! Temps in the 40's. I am dressed like Nanook of the North..two sweatshirts (one with a hood) a winter jacket and wrapped in a blanket. We need seat warmers on those concrete benches. Today the landscaping begins. Now I'll see how the plants and textures and colors come together. A full crew of men were here to unload the trailer and to put the plants in the ground.
I love the blue in the spruces combined with the green and burgundy of the roses. Then the chartreuse hostas set things off.

The guys ask me where I want them planted. With some help from them...I decide. I decided to incorporate the pear tree within the flower garden.

We will leave the back empty. Hopefully the Church and the building and grounds committee will plant this. I hate leaving it empty...When I do a job...I like to finish it.

Here they are positioning the pear tree. We want it the same on each a lot of measuring is done. These guys dug the holes by hand. The ground was soft, because of the it was a little easier.

Here is Joe...sitting on the bench overseeing the work this morning.

They are smoothing out the back of the Grotto. It was suggested that we plant it with a medium tall clumps of grasses. We need to be careful of electrical lines, water lines and the access door.

Here they are smoothing out the topsoil. We will have to wait for the building and grounds committee to mulch it. It will really look more finished with this application.

Here is the way it looks now. Hopefully it will be colorful when the rose bushes bloom, the hostas take hold and grow, and the mulch is down. The landscaper will come back to use a little kill the grass around the plants. It was another exciting day at the Grotto. You know, you can envision these things in your head, but when it all comes together just as you's so wonderful. I headed for home, when they were done. I came in the house and cranked the heat up. My legs are just thawing out and hour later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's Raining

Rain Rain Go Away...A Grotto We Need To Build Today

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Caps are Put in Place

Today is cold and windy again. But no rain...we've really lucked far. The colors have all been applied and scruffed up to tone them down a bit. This is what it looks like this afternoon after putting four of the caps on the walls. I took pictures from all angles. The caps were cut a little too wide. I looked, as we approached the Grotto, and I like the the deeper shadows under the caps. I think it is much more dimensional...not so flat looking.

Here is another view from the other side. Do you see what I mean about the darker shadows? Much more interesting to my eyes.
This is taken this morning. They were fitting the caps at that time. Looking at those'd never think that they are heavy. They are.. believe me. They are pinned underneath to hold them in place.

Here is another view of them putting one in place. There is concrete underneath to hold and then grout will be applied for holding power.

I want to be there when they do the very top cap. It weighs between 450 - 475 lbs. How will they get it to the top? The landscaping is going to be done tomorrow. This was all coordinated so that the shrubbery wouldn't be in the way and they guys wouldn't have to watch out for plants. I think there will be a remember the Robert Burns quote...The best laid plans of mice and men...No matter how well you plan something, "stuff" happens. Whether you are a man or a mouse your plans are subject to outside forces and will be subject to change and disruption. It's not the end of the will be beautiful when done.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Colors Go On

Here we are on a cold, cold Saturday morning. Joe and I are sitting on one of the concrete benches, when the dyeing of the stonework begins. They start out with a terra-cotta color. I look at it and think maybe it is too bright at first. They smudge the dye on the individual stones. They start adding some other colors...a mossy green and a blackish color. Chris is there with his 5 or 6 colors in little containers...applying the dyes where he thinks they will look good.
This was finished by the end of the day. The colors dried quickly in the very windy weather.
Sunday morning...
There can be no work on Sunday, so things will have to wait until Monday. When Joe and I drove up to Church, for Mass, The Grotto colors looked toned down a bit. We began to really like it. We didn't know that each of the stones had been rubbed with an abrasive to tone the color down a bit. It looks good to us this morning. Hopefully it will be finished tomorrow, so landscaping can begin on Tuesday. All of these steps have been going around in Joe's mind. He has so much to deal with and I think it is taking it's toll. I do hope this gets finished this week, so Joe can get back to his normal life.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Morning.....It's Raining

Joe is over at the Grotto waiting for the stone company to deliver the Indiana limestone caps for the walls of the Grotto. It's raining today and the stones haven't been colored yet. The niche will be painted blue again, and the area cleaned up. So, once that is finished...the caps can go on, the plaque put in place, and we are ready for landscaping. If you want to see the plant selections go to my garden blog and check out today's post. Just click on the link and you will go there automatically. We hope to do the planting on Tuesday. It's all coming together...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's Just About Finished

This is what the Grotto looks like today. Be sure to click on the pictures to make them larger. You might be able to see an empty rectangle under the niche. That's where a plaque will be. The Grotto is in memory of Joe's first wife. Today it is almost finished. Caps will be placed on the tops of each wall made out of Indiana sandstone. These will really change the look of the Grotto. They are very heavy too. After those are in place the landscaping can begin. Joe has been there everyday. His back is still hurting and these last days, he is using a cane and sitting on a straight chair. Here is a view...straight on. The benches were so heavy. They weigh 400 lbs apiece. The tops weren't glued, so that they could be taken off if need be.
This is the access door on the back of the Grotto. It is there so that if something would happen that they have to remove the statue or do some work will be easier. You can see that the stones are two different colors. The stones, over the cement blocks, was the last to be they aren't dry yet.

The door was Joe's idea. It is very heavy. It has a powder coat finish, so it won't rust. Now the whole thing will be colored....all of the stones will be in different hues. I hope to see this process. The door will blend in with the color of the stones. The pavers will start to be engraved. People will be able to buy a paver to have a family member's name engraved on it. The niche, where the statue of Jesus will be, will be given it's final coat of blue and then a protective coat. The landscaping will take place on permitting. The final step will be for them to bring the statue to it's permanent home.
I just wanted to share something with you readers. I just ran across this YouTube that was recorded in Lourdes, France. It shows the famous Grotto there. I hope you enjoy listening to it.