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A Story of Two Stone Pillars

We built our house in 2004, and towards the end I noticed a pallet of castle-rock, which we used on the front of our home, sitting on a bare patch of gravel. “What’s that for?” I asked.

“It’s leftovers, we’re going to take it away,” Paul (mason) said.

“Oh.” I looked at the gravel drive connecting to the road. “Did I already pay for it?”

“Yep, but we’ll credit your account.”

“You know, Paul. I think I’d like to keep it. I’m thinking of building some stone pillars out front some day.”


Night turned into day into night; spring into summer into fall; rain pelted, snow fell, hail hammered; ten revolutions, earth made around Sol as it spun silently, hurtling through the frozen vacuum of space, a pale blue dot of so much significance, and yet, so little:–and through it all, through all the wars and famine and strife the pallet of castle-rock weathered all until one happy day, the sixth of August, 2014 it became this:

Stone pillars



I tried, two times, to contract a mason to make these pillars over the previous years, but found no takers, not even a bid. After my experience last summer, previously documented in prior posts, I figured I’d do it my damn self. I actually like the mason stuff, at least, I think I do because if I didn’t I’m thinking I’d actually try harder to find someone to do it for me because, given the amount of time it takes me, it would be much more economical for me to do more of what I do and use income from that to hire someone to do what they do because they could most certainly do it quicker for less.

I created an account on Pinterest and looked at scads of pictures of stone pillars, and then, while in the Garden Center at Menards one day, I saw a dry-stacked, Belgian stone, lighted glass-block topped pillar;  and, I thought, I can certainly do this; except, that I would use the castle-rock. First, I needed a foundation around the electrical. I dug down until I hit rock, and roots, which in Door County, where I live, is something less than 12″. I used concrete blocks, ready mixed concrete and quarry wash. On top of the foundation I built a 16″ square of more concrete blocks, filled with concrete and rebar except for one of the four hollow tubes (for the wire). Then, I raised the castle-rock around the core and back-filled with rock and more mortar.


I had a live wire to the pillar on the right, and also a run under the pavement to the contralateral pillar; so I wired a GFI outlet to the pillar with the live wire and ran the power through the conduit into the open core to the dusk-to-dawn sensor. I wired both lights then to the sensor which I had mounted inside the fixture so I didn’t have to drill through the stone for an exterior exposure, which seemed to make a lot of sense initially.

Electrical into outlet, out to sensor, out to lights.

Electrical into outlet, out to sensor, out to lights.

However; when dusk came, the lights went on, then they went off, then they went on…

I then realized that the switch sensed the light source and turned off, then with the decrease in ambient light turned on again, and repeated, ad-infinitum like a slow-motion strobe. I still didn’t want to drill a hole through the stone and in the spirit of the pen being mightier than the sword, i. e. the mind greater than the rotary stone drill, I shined my my not inconsiderable intellect into the darkness of my oversight and deduced that the light sensor was activated by photons, whether those photons came from Sol or my light did not matter; so, I only wanted it to receive photons from Sol. Therefore, I surmised, I could point said sensor away from the light source, towards an inside corner, painted black (non-reflective surface) and the photons would be absorbed as heat and not trigger the sensor.

Did it work?

Well, the lights are on.



I am glad they’re done. And when I come home late at night, I get to drive through these :^)

Besides, I’ve got another two months of stone paths around a pond, and a stone arch–moon wall, I’ve been meaning to build; and, I’m only down three toe-nails and the right middle finger, still black, have yet to shed them.