BFA Thesis Exhibition Circa 2005 – Jess

The following images and text appeared in my daughter’s Tyler School of Art, Bachelor of Fine Art Thesis Exhibition circa 2005. It’s a tribute to Dorthy and Bonnie Liebegott, may they rest in piece.

My Dad told me that the women on my Mother’s side of the family are crazy and that I will be like them one day too.

Thesis Exhibition Circa 2005 - grammysew
Dorthy Liebegott, a.k.a. “Grammy”


Fanny and her daughters.

But I don’t think that when I am older I will worry constantly like my Mom or send my family gifts with notes written in broken English like Fanny did.

And I don’t think that I will sit in one of the blue chairs at the cottage and drink a coffee cup full of Budweiser before bedtime like Gram used to do either…

I called my grandmother Fanny and my great grandmother Gram.

Bonnie Liebegott, a.k.a. “Fanny”

When I was two or three years old, I overheard my parents yelling for my grandmother, whose name is Bonnie… I thought they were saying “Fanny”. The name somehow stuck because everyone thought it was funny.

The camouflage curtains at the cottage used to give me nightmares as a kid because I imagined seeing monsters in the pattern. 

The nightmarish camouflage curtains.

Apparently Gram spent a lot of time in her sewing room making the curtains, which is very unfortunate because they have haunted at least two generations of children since she made them…

Camo curtains.

I guess that’s why we keep the cottage the way she had it before she passed.


My dad calls it “The Land Before Time”.

Fanny insisted on driving a classic Ford Wagoneer instead of her brand new Jeep.

Pap Liebegott’s old Ford Truck.


She also had a cell phone that she is afraid of “wracking up” the bill on.

In fact, she didn’t even use the cell phone one Christmas when she got majorly lost on her way home from our house. She drove two hours in the wrong direction on the turnpike before getting off at the Valley Forge exit to use a pay phone.


I absolutely despise the plastic owl that sits on the porch steps at the cottage.

It is a movement-triggered lawn novelty that makes this wailing hooting death noise at you if you walk in front of it.

“It’s my watch owl”. She told us once. “Warns me if anyone is coming.”

At the end of the summer my parents used to take trips to the cottage to help Fanny rake leaves.

This always involved lugging those crappy old  baby pools out of the shed and dragging them around the lawn all day.

Leaf season.

Fanny used to say; “Boy…He must be whipped”instead of; “He’s tired”.

It was really annoying.

Walter’s alleged son, Matchbook.

So was Fanny’s friend Walter.

One time Walter tried to convince us that the football player on his match book was his son.


We miss you Grammy and Fanny!

Frog Pools

Day #28

July 22, 2018 – Last night it rained hard all night long. All the excavated holes were filled with water. It was a giant muddy mess. While the neighborhood frogs enjoyed their new Frog Pools we contemplated our next move. 

I ran out and purchased a sump pump and we basically dewatered all day. Between the sump pump, Fanny’s old green plastic cups and several buckets we managed to get the water levels down a bit. 

In the process we realized the ground water levels were running at about 18 to 20 inches below the surface level. In this situation the holes quickly filled back up even though the rain had subsided. 

One of the holes, between the drain pipe laterals, seemed to fill much more slowly than the others. After deliberating we made a decision to dewater this hole, place a Quik-Tube form, backfill  and pour. As it turned out it was the only pier we were able to pour.

We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up and covering the excavations for the coming monsoon. 

I’m really hoping that the weather is better next weekend!

Muddy Mess
Rain all night created a muddy mess.
Frog Pools
Excavations filled with ground water.
Frog Pools
Neighborhood frogs enjoying their new Frog Pools.
Sump Pump
Inexpensive sump pump ready to drop in the hole.
Sump Pump In Place
Pump lowered into the excavation.
Sump Pump Discharge Piping
Discharge piping.
Sump Pump Discharge
Covered Excavations
Excavations covered for the week.

Quik-Tube Forms

Day #26

July 21, 2018 – To speed up the construction process I decided to use round Quik-Tube forms at the interior piers.  These are essentially cardboard tubes with a wax like coating. The tubes are placed in the excavated hole, backfilled and then filled with concrete. The trick with this type of form is to keep them as dry as possible during the installation and backfill. Once they encounter water they become soggy and begin to break down.

We placed, backfilled  and poured three Quik-Tube forms and one square plywood form with bagged concrete. This makes a total of seven (7) concrete piers and thirty-five (35) bags of concrete.

The piers that were poured yesterday were also stripped and backfilled. 

The weather is forecast to rain tomorrow. It’s going to be a mess!

Quik-Tube Form
Quik-Tube form is ready to be marked at the proper elevation and cut to length.
Quik-Tube Forms - Mixing Concrete
Hand mixing bagged concrete for a Quik-Tube pour.
Stripping Forms
Stripping plywood pier forms.
Backfilling Piers
Backfilling concrete piers.

Three Piers Submerged In Muck

Day #26

July 20, 2018 – This morning I discovered the three piers that I set last week are submerged in water and muck.  My original plan was to set all nineteen forms in place and pour them with one concrete delivery. Realizing that this would not work I decided to pour the three I had in place with bagged concrete. 

I  calculated five #80 lb. bags of concrete for each pier, a total of 15 bags.  After dewatering and de-mucking each one I set off to Lowe’s to get the concrete. Because of the weight of the concrete I had to make two trips. Each trip was 30 minutes out and 30 minutes back. Uggghhhh!

We are now coming out of the ground!

Towards the end of the day I set in place another square form. We will pour that one tomorrow. I’m now considering Sonotube forms for some of the piers. Gotta speed up this process.

Three Piers - Pier #1

#1 braced and poured in place.

Three Piers - Pier #2
Uplift strapping.
Three Piers - Corner Pier #3
Corner pier #3 braced and poured in place.
First three concrete piers poured in place.
Pier Form #4
Square plywood form set in the hole.

Building Pier Forms

Building Pier Forms

Day #25

July 15, 2018 – Today was building pier forms day.  I decided to change my tactic on the concrete pier forms. Rather than building and setting them as I go, I decided to concentrate only on building the remaining forms. I will have to set them in place when I have more help.

I made two trips out to Lowe’s and back today. On the first trip I got seven 12 inch diameter Sonotube cardboard forms for the piers along the cottage. On the second trip I got enough 2 × 4’s to complete the remaining eight square pier forms. Just to summarize there are a total of nineteen (19) piers. Seven formed with Sonotube, eleven formed with square plywood forms and one formed in place with whatever we need to use.

I was putting the finishing touches on the last form when an afternoon thunderstorm blew in. We hurriedly covered everything with tarps and called it a day. Next weekend, weather permitting,  we will continue setting the forms in place.

Pier Forms Continued

Day #24

July 14, 2018 – Building and setting of the concrete pier forms continued today. It was just as slow as yesterday. Footing holes two and three along the kitchen addition had to be widened to accommodate the forms, however the holes were dry. As it turns out the old adage it true, you cannot place a square peg into a round hole. 

I have decided to change up the design a bit to help speed up the pier construction. For the seven (7) piers along the cottage I can use a round Sonotube form with instead of a  square form. We will bury these in place right before the pour. 

I am thankful for the use of Troy’s building level. It has worked out perfectly in establishing the tops of the piers in relation to the finished floor. Tomorrow the pier form building day continues.

Pier Forms 1 & 2
Concrete pier forms and and two set in place.


Pier Forms 1, 2 & 3
Concrete pier forms one, two and three.


Building Level
Building level used to establish the pier elevation relative to the finished floor.

Concrete Pier Forms

Day #23

July 13, 2018 – I started the afternoon with high hopes of placing a bunch of concrete pier forms. The first hole that I uncovered was by the pump house. It had partially caved in due to the wet soil conditions at this location. 

On two sides of the hole I noticed terracotta piping. One side is an abandoned downspout system and the other, the kitchen sink drain piping.  The kitchen sink side had a hole in it.  It appears that we have been draining water into the ground at this location for quite a long time. That is most likely the reason that this area is so wet.

I dug up two pieces of the terracotta pipe and cleaned out the hole. In half a day I managed to get only one pier form in place. Tomorrow I will continue building and placing pier forms. It’s going to be a long weekend!

Terracotta Pipe
Existing terracotta drain pipe uncovered at the fist pier location.

Concrete Pier Forms
First concrete pier form set in place. Two sections of terracotta pipe dug up and removed from this hole.

Clean Up Day

Day #22

July 8, 2018 – Today after the clean up from the concrete pour we covered all the footings for the week, packed up and headed home. 

Next weekend we will begin forming up the piers.

Decided to celebrate a very good weekend with a sushi dinner at Sapporo East on the Carlisle Pike.

Clean Up - Wheel Barrows
Wheel barrows cleaned up and parked by the shed.

Expanded Parking
Seven loads of 2A modified limestone spread and leveled for the new expanded parking area.

Footer Holes Concrete Pour
All concrete footers are poured.

Footer Holes
Freshly poured footers covered from the weather.

Sushi Rolls
Sushi celebration diner at Sapporo East.

Spicy Scallop Sushi
Spicy Scallop Sushi

Concrete Pour

Day #21

July 7, 2018 – Up early this morning. Double checking all the footers, putting in  grade stakes for the concrete elevation and de-watering where necessary. Checked the inflation on the wheel barrow tires and we are all ready for the concrete pour.

Had a little coffee time before the concrete truck rolled in at about 7:30 AM. 

Everyone took turns on the wheel barrows and we had 2.75 yards placed in the 19 holes in about 25 minutes. Not too bad. The yardage worked out perfectly.

After we cleaned up it was off to Shy Bear Brewery for a celebration dinner.

After we cleaned up it was off to Shy Bear Brewery for a celebration dinner.

The new addition is well underway! Tomorrow I think we will take a break.


Pre-Pour Coffee Time
The pour team having coffee before the concrete truck arrives.
Concrete Pour - Concrete Arrives
7:30 AM concrete truck is on site.
Filling A Wheel Barrow
Troy filling a wheel barrow with concrete.
Filling A Wheel Barrow
Ryan filling a wheel barrow with concrete.
Filling A Wheel Barrow
David filling a wheel barrow with concrete. Lance on deck.
Lance wheeling across the site.
Ryan wheeling across the site
Concrete Truck
The concrete truck.
Concrete & Rebar
Concrete and reinforcing in the hole.
Concrete & Rebar
Concrete and reinforcing in the hole.
Concrete Crew
This is my awesome concrete pour team!

Preparation for Footing Concrete

Day #20

July 6, 2018 – I was up early and out to purchase reinforcing bars to place in the footers in preparation for the concrete pour.

Wolfley Excavation was on site early this morning to continue spreading stone for the new expanded parking area. He was able to get 4 more loads delivered and spread before the quarry closed. It’s looking pretty good. The concrete truck should have no problems getting in and turned around.

At noon I confirmed the delivery of 2.75 cubic yards of 3000 psi  concrete with Juniata Concrete out of Mifflintown for tomorrow at 7:00 AM.

Tied up and placed rebar all afternoon waiting on my help to show up. Left the footers uncovered all night to try and dry them out a bit.

Preparation looks good. Big day tomorrow!


Stone Truck - Preparation For Concrete
First stone delivery this morning.
Stone Truck - Wolfley Excavation
Stone delivery for expanded parking lot.