Monday, September 30, 2013

So, So Close

The patio is so, so close ... and yet so far. My hope was to have finished the surface yesterday. This would mean that only the soldier bricks on the front and on the side facing my neighbors would be left to do. That was my plan and my hope. I almost got there. Almost.
Unfortunately, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. With patios ... not so much. It looks like such an insignificant amount of surface yet to cover. Still though, it involves a few more bricks than you might think. I'm guessing somewhere between 75 and 125. Even going from first light until almost dark this was all I could do. I just ran out of time, out of light and out of energy. From this angle, you get a little better idea of just how much still remains along the other side.
So, as I usually do when one of my plans doesn't quite work out, I've created another one. I had hoped that maybe I could score a few more vacation days this week. Instead, it's Mother Nature that's messing with that plan. Rain is supposed to move in midweek with chances running through Saturday. So, the revised revised revised (yes, that's three revisions) plan is for me to finish the surface this weekend, weather permitting, and start on the soldiering. Then, try to score a few days off next week during which Lawrence and I can start on the roof for this bad boy.
For right now, that's the plan. We'll see how that works out.
I'm taking the scuttling of my original plans as a subtle message from the universe to slow the hell down. (I am so wiped out it's pathetic. I ended up taking a half a sick day today from work because I just cannot function.) A handful of drugs and a few hours of rest later, I do feel a little better but I'm still a charter member of the walking dead. Hopefully, this slight delay will give me time to rejuvenate and be ready to jump in again with both feet in a few days.
I'll admit, I don't deal well with failure. I was really disappointed that, despite my best efforts, I still couldn't get the surface covered. I really did try. So, for now, I'll take some consolation in the mother's comments last night as I lamented the as yet unaccomplished goal: "You got a hell of a lot done."


Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Return of the Rotozip

I was up shortly after light and outside by around 7:30. I was moving a little slow, but tried to quickly get into the groove. The bad news was that it took about five minutes to grind things to a halt.

I knew at some point I was going to need what I affectionately call "half bricks" to fill in awkward areas, including around the five posts. Their more formal name is 2x8 Holland pavers but my description is exactly what they are: a brick, cut in half, longways.

I tried to head this off by collecting some of these pre-cut gems from either Lowe's or Home Depot. What I found during the past few days was that neither store (at least not around here) carries them. D*mn! Looks like a clear case of having to do it myself. So, after a lengthy hiatus, I dragged out my trusty Rotozip.

Having to stop and do custom cuts slowed me down considerably, but there's something to be said to be able to cut a brick to fit! Or, in my case, about eight of them.

Just as I was getting into a groove, Lawrence arrived. He quickly set about ciphering, carefully figuring out what else we'd need from a structural standpoint. Then, we went to buy it (along with some more mortar and cement mix for the bricking). It took a while to buy, load and unload 540 pounds of material and 32 2x6 boards of varying length.

By the time we'd done that, my momentum was lost. I persevered and managed to add about 100 more bricks to the surface, far less than I would have hoped. Dark clouds began to herald the coming rain, so I began to get things cleaned up and put away. Here's the patio when I started. I didn't get to capture today's miniscule contribution because it's drying under a tarp since the forecast falls for heavy rain.
I'm hoping that the rain will finish overnight so that I can get an early start in the morning. The goal? Complete everything but the "soldiering" along the front rim and the rim on the far side. Here's hoping ...

The Next 275

It's now Saturday. In seven hours, I plan to get up and go back out to the patio project.

I have to get an uber early start because we're getting rain tomorrow. It couldn't have waited just one more day. Dammit! I got the two vacation days I wanted and did I ever make the most of them.

I was like a woman possessed on Thursday. I think I got down roughly 275 bricks. On Friday, I was moving a whole lot slower and by the time I thought about taking a photo, it was dark. Here's Thursday though. How's THAT for progress, especially when you put it up against my previous post?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The First 100

I was outside at 8:30 a.m. I quit for the day around 6 p.m. In all those hours, I managed to accomplish this.
In fairness, all those bricks you see along the left perimeter? I had to mortar those. TWO rows deep. That took the bulk of the time. I also had to chip both along the house's cinder block and along the patio surface to get rid of some wayward patches that would have thrown things off kilter otherwise.

In all, it was progress. But when you look at the bigger picture, it sure doesn't seem like I got very far at all.
That's it? Really? And I worked ALL DAY?! Yeah. The good news is that this week's weather is supposed to be awesome. The bad news is that I may -- or may not -- be able to take vacation Thursday and Friday as I planned. Cross your fingers. I'm anxious to get back on the job and make some REAL progress! Here's hoping.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

They're here! They're here!

At long last, the bricks we bought at Menard's last weekend have arrived. They were originally supposed to be delivered Thursday afternoon.

But on Wednesday, they called and said they had to bring in more from another store so it wouldn't be another five days. FIVE DAYS? I just about had a cow. With a weekend of near idyllic weather, I couldn't have that. Luckily, by the time I got home, there was a message on my answering machine. The bricks could come, but not until Friday. Well, OK then. Still here in time for the weekend.

But on Friday, another delay. Friday morning was becoming Friday afternoon. But then, that didn't happen either. When I called Friday night, I got told Saturday morning. When no one called to say they were en route this morning, I called them again. It will be another hour or two, I was told.

This was putting a serious damper on the plans I had to brick the patio, starting this morning. I had a huge mess to get cleared up -- and more than 900 bricks to put down. I couldn't clean up the mess because I needed to put a Bagster in the driveway. And I didn't know if I'd have to move one car or both when, and if, the bricks finally arrived.

I wanted them put in the driveway at the back but feared I'd have to settle for having them brought to the front.
Instead, I got an ideal situation: the driver used the crane atop his truck to set them down NEXT TO THE PATIO! This means I won't have to traipse up and down the driveway with them. It also meant that once the truck was gone, I could begin cleaning up the mess of old rock by setting up another Bagster. So, today was a day of waiting, running around, and then cleaning up the mess. Tomorrow's agenda: Putting bricks down. Finally!

Friday, September 13, 2013


I have played with a lot of cement. You usually can't put roughly 900 bricks in place without it.

But for the first time ever, today I played with cement that came in a truck. A big truck. This truck. (Oh and that's Lawrence walking into the scene!)

And we got our 12x18 foundation poured. It was a horrid experience. Uber messy. Physically demanding. A job you CAN'T take a break from. And you have to move, fast, fast, fast!

I don't think the concrete had enough water in it because it started to set up even before we had all of it off the truck. It was unseasonably cool here today. Had it been in the 90s or above 100 like it's been for the last week or two, we'd have been seriously screwed.

As it was, we managed to get it done. It's not pretty (I neither expected nor need it to be) but it appears to be solid and level. I'm going to cover it with bricks soon so I wasn't concerned with having a perfect surface. What's unfortunate is that I have a moat of concrete in the backyard. It came from all of the excess we scraped off during screeding. I couldn't stop to level it out and it dried in place before I could. It will require a sledge or pickax to bust it up and get it low enough to just throw rock back over or to place pavers on. I bought 3.5 yards of concrete, mostly as a precaution because we had to fill the five holes we created to place the post. Seems 3, or more likely 3.25, would have been better. Live and learn.

So, I spent a few hours ankle-deep in cement. I was at it so long and the concrete was setting up so fast that at one point, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get out of it! It would be ironic to be an ornament, forever stuck on my own patio! But who knows? Perhaps I've created the next fashion craze: Mafia shoes!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Drive Time

Things I think about on the way in to work: The million billion little edits I have to make to the materials that are awaiting me. How many more million billion edits the client may have sent overnight, while I wasn't looking. I'm going to have to clear out the entire shed to get to those post hole diggers. God, do I REALLY have to dig more? Next hole I dig after this post adventure, I'm just going to fall in and call it a day. How are we going to solve for the gap between the existing gutter on the back of the house and where the new covered area starts? Yeah. All that stuff sloshing around in my head. And I haven't even had coffee yet ...

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Day of Laboring

On Sunday, I was outside before 8:30. I tore into the rocks around the old deck site that needed clearing. Nearly three steady hours of work and I'd barely made a dent in it. It was hot and steamy and I was already wearing down.

After a short break, I decided that I would try to at least get the lawn mowed, hoping that I would make it through before the approaching storm front arrived. As it turned out, I would only just make it.

I had to settle for brushing off rather than hosing off the mower. I hurriedly pushed it into the shed and then began tossing in everything else that goes in behind it. Before I could even shut the door, the mini monsoon arrived. Wind began tossing and turning the things that I hadn't yet gotten to. I made a mad dash for the carport, along with the now dilapidated cart I was using to haul buckets of dirt and rock out to the Bagster.

Just then, a massive gust of wind began driving piercing rain through the sky. I was first assaulted by and then soaked through with rain! There wasn't an inch of me that was dry. That's how a hot and exhausting work day ended.

The good news was that the nasty little storm front made for a MUCH cooler and less humid day today. I was outside by 7:30 and by the time Lawrence arrived an hour later, I had made some good progress. By the time he left, shortly before 3, this is where we were.

Amazing what a difference 24 hours had made! Our next adventure: digging five postholes that will eventually hold the top of our covered patio. Then, the next stop is CONCRETE for the foundation. Yep. We're REALLY moving forward with this project.