Saturday, October 2, 2010

A River Runs Through It

You know what’s no fun? Bulk mailings. Bulk mailings are no fun, as I learned this past week. Especially when you have to mail out 1700 pieces of mail. Maybe some of you out there think that that’s small potatoes, and maybe you’re right. Or maybe you’re being a little judgmental and should take some time to reevaluate how you view the world. All I know is that stuffing 1700 flyers into 1700 envelopes, stamping 1700 envelopes 1700 times with the museum’s permit number, printing out 1700 return address labels, and 1700 address labels, and then putting those 1700 return address labels and 1700 address labels onto the 1700 envelopes, and gluing 1700 envelopes shut and putting 1700 envelopes into zip code order seemed like a lot of work to me. I say seemed because I approached the bulk mailing less as the person who physically was doing the work and more as the person coordinating other people who did the work (including a bunch of volunteers and pretty much all of the staff) - I’m not doing that work by myself, that’s just crazy! But from my vantage point (the floor underneath my desk where I hid so no one could find me) it seemed like a lot of work.

You know what else is a lot of work and absolutely no fun? Cleaning up after Mother Nature. In case any of you have missed the rain that poured down outside your window almost every day this past week, we at Historic Cherry Hill can tell you all about it. We can tell you that restoration workers don’t work outside in the rain. (Talk about a bunch of sissies). Luckily Joe The Hammer was able to spend a day inside measuring the windows, but unsurprisingly not a lot of exterior work can be done in a downpour. We can also tell you the sound water makes when it flows along a needle beam right into the north parlor of the house. It sounds like water coming from a low-running faucet, and it looks like water coming from a low-running faucet, and it leaves a mess behind like water coming from a low-running faucet would when it is running into a historic house and onto the historic wood floors. In case I haven’t been clear enough, earlier this week some rain decided to take a journey following the route provided by a downward-angled needle beam (downward meaning the exterior end of the needle beam was higher than the interior end of the needle beam) right into our north parlor. Now a situation like this is already the stuff of nightmares but what gave this mini-disaster a particularly Wes Craven-Freddy Krueger-Nightmare on Elm Street type of feel was the way in which the running water was discovered –

By the Director…

while conducting….

a special tour…

to a group of graduate students from SUNY’s Public History Program.

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the way they react in a crisis. When the Director discovered during her tour that HCH had its very own Niagara Falls, she tried to pretend that it wasn’t really happening while she continued the tour, and then at her first opportunity she went back to plug up the leak. Interesting approach. Probably better than what mine would have been – acting the part of the little Dutch Boy with my finger in the dam (except instead of using my finger I would have been using my cupped palms to try to catch the water) while I laughed nervously and turned fifteen shades of red.

The Director was able to temporarily stop the influx of rain water into the parlor. Towels and a fan were used to clean up the mess and there was no lasting damage done to the floor. The next day the Director purchased a large amount of plastic sheeting and attempted to temporarily correct the problem on the outside of the house until the project manager from Western, named Jude (I like to call him Hey), arrived to deal with the problem permanently. The permanent solution also involved rerouting the gutter that previously was dumping water right onto the naughty needle beam to instead dump its water in a more appropriate place, namely the ground.

There you have it, straight from the Communications Coordinator’s mouth – bulk mailings and downward-angled needle beams are a lot of work and no, I repeat, no fun.

(And to Big D and The Hammer, in case you guys are reading this, I was totally joking about the whole “sissies” comment. No disrespect meant. Really, please believe me. You guys are very strong, and your nicknames make you sound like a couple of hit men or bald-headed bouncers at a biker bar, or pro-wrestlers, and I just want to make sure you understand that I do NOT think you are sissies. I’m very attached to my knee caps, and I don’t like swimming with amphibians of any kind. Just so we’re clear.)

The river ran through here.

Between the red arrows you may notice a section of the gutter missing which contributed to the amount of water that flowed into the house. 
This view better shows the Director's temporary fix until reinforcements could arrive.  She may be no Bob the Builder, but she got the job done.

The professionals came and fixed the problem.  The shiny metal you see in the picture filled the gap in the gutter.  Also notice the absence of the plastic sheeting.  A nicer look all around.

This picture may be difficult to view, but if you can look past the chain link fencing in the foreground you will see the bottom of the gutter where, thanks to the shiny metal piece shown in the previous picture, the water can now flow to the ground...instead of into the north parlor.


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