07 July 2007

Building a Patio is easy...right?

So the great "build a patio over the July 4th Weekend" adventure began on Wednesday. We obviously had the day off but took Thursday and Friday off as well just to ensure we had enough time to do this seemingly mundane task of building a patio. It should be easy right? We had the stone - two large piles of sandstone and blue slate from the neighbor behind our house who was "just going to throw it away." The neighbors to the west had loaned us a rake, sod cutter and another shovel. We knew where we wanted the patio to be located. How hard could it be?

Apparently VERY hard!

Wednesday consisted of 2 or 3 hours of removing all of the sod and relocating it to the large bare patch of earth in the back west corner of the yard. Now when I say sod cutter, I mean a half moon shaped spade on a curved metal rod attached to a shovel handle. So we're talking full manual labor here folks! This of course deserved an end of the day trip to a co-worker's house to mooch some time in the pool!

Thursday was dirt day. After taking Reilly to the Vet to get re-tested for Heartworm (That's a whole other post!) we spent a good 4-5 hours removing an endless amount of dirt from the sod-less ground. This of course resulted in huge piles of dirt moved from the side of the house and sun room to behind the garage - what will happen to it next is unknown. The evening was spent on a long hot shower and comfy sweats...and a sore body...little did I know that the best was yet to come!

Friday - ouch! Friday morning we made two trips to Lowe's for gravel. Let me tell you that after you load 40 bags of stone (50 lb each might I add) onto a cart, into a Jeep and then out of the Jeep and onto the driveway, your body simply won't work anymore! Of course it doesn't just stop at unloading the stone... you have to actually pour and spread the stone over the freshly raked dirt and of course make sure the damn stuff is level! Once the stone is level, the real fun begins...tamping. We tamped that stone until our hands were shaking...all by hand of course! Friday we didn't work as long as the other days as we drove to Ann Arbor to meet my high school friend Sarah, her husband Mike and daughters Maria and Rebekah for dinner. Considering I hadn't seen Sarah and Mike since their wedding 2.5 years ago, it was a welcome and deserved break in the action!

Saturday. Today. Well, we worked harder today than the other days combined I think! After a trip to Lowes for 20 bags of sand and 10 more bags of stone (like we didn't get enough of the stone yesterday!) we said goodbye to our (now former) roommate Jessy :-( and got to work. Finished leveling and tamping the stone and then on to the sand. The sand seemed to actually go faster than the stone although it certainly wasn't easier on the old body! Once we had sufficiently leveled and tamped the sand it was jigsaw puzzle time. At several times during the process we both wondered aloud if we were going to have enough stone. We had made the patio area a bit larger than originally discussed so we came frighteningly close to running out. We mad it work, however, this may have been our undoing. The middle of the patio is all smaller stones and we realized as we were fitting stones together that alas the stone was of varying thickness. Of course it was too late to stop now and even if we did, would it help? So we pressed on and filled in the whole space. Swept more sand over the area to fill in the cracks and then decided to hose the stones off to see how it looked. It looked better before the hosing! In a somewhat defeated moment, decided to let the sand dry and hopefully settle a bit and see how it looks tomorrow. Basically we're exhausted, our bodies ache and we're hoping we didn't just spend four days building something we're going to hate or have to redo.

Hopefully it's better tomorrow...

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