Inside, Outside: Work on the Basement and Parkway

While we both got up pretty early today, the first part of my day was quite slow. I got to watch a movie, and then spent some time working on an upcoming 20×2 Chicago talk I’m doing. But Liz was off running a lot of errands.

Around 1PM, with us both back at the house, we threw on our work clothes and started in on our respective projects.

Me, in the basement. One thing I learned while chiseling out brick: you can’t wear a FitBit. The vibrations register as “taps” and basically start turning the thing on and off with every blow.

A view of my progress, when I stopped for lunch. I honestly hadn’t gotten all that far, and keep in mind… Bob had already removed one or two bricks, to give us a starting point. It’s very slow going.

Towards the end of the day, I went out to see Liz’s work on the parkway. She focused on clearing down all the excess soil – and wound up with these filled yard bags. Not pictured: two full garbage cans, topped off with soil.

The parkway, clear and clean. This really is quite something to behold, but you probably don’t remember how crazy it was here. We’d see the overgrown parkway every day, walking out of the house… and it’s an amazing contrast. You can see a bit of the difference in these photos.

A few of the large stones Liz dug up. Some bigger pieces were left, as they were originally placed there by someone else to guard against the gas and electrical lines buried deeper down.

A view of my work area. While Liz was clearing away mess, I was making more of one.

The process for me of removing the bricks got much faster, once I started to get the hang of things. Originally, I was trying to drive the chisel straight into the mortar, and that was just a heavy and laborious process.

I slowly discovered that hitting the chisel on an angle made things easier. As did brushing out all the debris before each set of blows. I also got to learn how to chisel away exposed mortar much faster… and to also use the chisel as a lever, to further loosen (and in some cases pry out) bricks.

I still feel that if Bob was doing this, he could have gotten through the entire wall by now (I still have a second layer to work on, after the first). But at least the process for me has gotten faster – the longer I worked, the better I got at it. Noticing the change was quite pleasing and surprisingly, honestly.

Many of the bricks cross over our cut point. And several of the bricks have broken, in my attempts to remove them. But this is the pile of “whole” bricks I’ve managed to save, which will be used to build an arch over the top, once everything’s said and done.

Looking forward to tackling the rest of this tomorrow.

Clearing the Parkway
Cutting into the Chimney Bricks in the Basement

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