From the beginning the "basement" was our nemesis. The continual repair, rebuilding and restoration was literally a two step forward and one step backward process for several years. This photograph shows three things. (1) Note the three floor jacks, two black and one red. There are 12 jacks in the basement. We began installing them in 2005 in order to stabilize and level the floors. In the process, and for the next several years, we discovered there is a delicate balance between floor leveling and keeping enough weight on the mortarless fieldstone foundation walls to keep them from giving way. Ours was a painful trial and error process. (2) The block wall was installed in 2008 as a means of stopping the sloughing of dirt from beneath the original 30" stone stem wall. In 2010, concrete 14"X 8" footers were poured for the continuation of the block wall at a right angle to the one in place. When we left in the fall of 2010 we felt that all was well. (3) When we returned in the spring of 2011 this cavern greated us. The dirt had sloughed from beneath the now dangling, precarious and dangerous 30" 200 year old stone stem wall. We were shocked and more than a little discouraged, but grateful we hadn't lost the whole wall.

Meet Elaine Sherman, Renaissance women extraordinaire. She is sitting on the pile of rubble that came from the "cavern" in the previous photograph. Over the next five days, she and husband Phil worked a miracle. They prepared (hauling and cleaning) the space for the new block wall, they mixed by hand enough mortar to lay over 100 block; they cut and laid each block, blending and joining the concrete block with the natural stone walls; they then hauled, in a bucket, over a ton of 1" inch gravel to pour between the new block wall and the original stone stem walls to buffer movement of the wintertime freezing and subsequent moving of dirt, rock and wall.

This is Phil Sherman who is contemplating the work just completed with sure knowledge that it was a job well done.

Two more floor jacks ---- but the real focus should be on the superb blending of block and stone at one of the corners.

ARTISTIC and at last secure!!