Saturday, Apr. 24, 2004, 12:43 AM

Stone Wall

I have been thinking about building a wall for my mom. She has a retaining wall made from railroad ties in her front yard that is almost as old as me, is completely rotten and falling into the yard. The wall, only about three feet in height, keeps a small plot of land adjacent to the street from toppling into her yard. A cross section might look like this:

                      wall            _     street
                       ___           / ______________
                      |   |^^^^^^^^^^
                      |   |
             yard     |   |

So I have been thinking about how I might replace the wall for her on my own, in my very limited spare time. I could always buy new ties, although they will most likely be treated wood from a lumber yard, and rebuild the same kind of wall. I could go through the agony of pouring a footer and building with block and brick and mortar. I could purchase that interlocking omni-brick stone stuff for yard work. You know, the kind with one rough looking simulated rock-like surface and all the remaining flat edges.

No, I am considering the most time-consuming, labor-intensive solution. I am considering a natural stone dry stack wall. And the reasons are 1) they look damn nice 2) I do not need to screw around with footers or mortar 3) I can harvest the stone from almost any roadside or creek bed within two miles of my house.

Of course, I lack all of the tools necessary to undertake such a project. Well, I do have a truck and a functional back and set of hands. Besides, I figure that it is finally time to put to the test the countless hours I spent in college. Those spatial relation skills that I work on for hours and days and weeks on end, honing and refining and perfecting. I am, of course, referring to Tetris. If I think about the wall as the screen and the rocks as pieces falling into place, it should be relatively easy for me to not only complete the project, but to create a masterpiece.

Many years from now when these words have faded into obscurity, and the seasons have performed their ritualistic changing of the guard beyond counting, and the many plaques and sonnets created in my honor slowly trickle through the cracks of time my wall will persist as my legacy.

And should I actually endeavor to attempt such a feat I will keep you informed with vivid descriptions, and possibly pictures.