Making Progress

July 9, 2008 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

So, pretty much when I first moved to the Piedmont house in 1992, I thought that it might be nice to have a brick walkway. The main entryway to the Piedmont house is via a short, covered porch that links the house with the two-car garage. Perpendicular to that is a little path that runs between the house and the garage to a garden gate in a wooden fence leading to the backyard. The area gets very little sun, but it’s a cozy nook of a place. There is a Crepe Myrtle tree planted next to the garage that overhangs it and spews out brilliant reddish-pink blossoms toward the end of summer. There are steps down from the porch and a pathway that runs lengthwise down the center of the space with two potential garden beds for shade-loving plants on either side. For years, all of the cats who thought this was a great location for their outdoor litter box sort of precluded the idea of using this space for planting any food crops but the last remaining feline met his gentle, natural end at age 18 this past winter.

For years I’ve weeded and mused on the spot. I thought the brick walkway would really anchor it visually. But I had never tackled a project like that and was intimidated. Then I spent an afternoon at the home of a friend of the DP’s. The husband of the friend happened to be re-doing a stone walkway outside his house. So while the DP and the girls sat inside and got caught up with their friends, I sat on the front steps and quizzed the husband on technique and eventually spent the afternoon helping him out on the project. I came back to the Piedmont with renewed optimism about my brick walkway project as I now had my first key component. I knew how to do it.

The second leg in the journey to a brick walkway happened when the X moved into a new house. She decided to have an old, disease-prone tree removed from the front of the yard. She had the stump removed and ground and in the process the brick walkway that had run beside the tree was removed. She replaced it with circular stepping stones. I eyed the bricks stacked neatly against the side of her house and inquired if I might have them. She told me sure.

Hauling those bricks turned out to be a more major project than I had anticipated. The thing about bricks is that they are heavy. I think it may have taken me close to a year to haul them by the trunkfull over to the Piedmont house. Usually whenver I would drop off the Kid, I would put a load in the car. Although there was a period of time when the project fell off my radar screen, which is why the elapsed time may have been a year. But finally I did get every last brick carried and loaded and carried and stacked neatly next to my potential garden path.

One summer, I proposed to the Kid that he and I tackle the project. I purchased several bags of sand, a wooden float, a cold chisel, and a rubber mallet. From previous projects, the Kid already had safety glasses and gloves. Here is a photo from our early efforts.

We worked on the project over a few days that summer but I think I ruined it for us by being a little too perfectionist in my instructions to the Kid. I’ve since learned that the way to approach a project with him is either to use some skill I’ve thoroughly mastered so that I can feel relaxed and flexible in sharing it with him or to embark on something totally new to both of us with the intention of learning it on equal footing. This project, I’ve since decided, was not a good candidate for working with the Kid as I knew enough to be nervous about it but not enough to effectively teach it. We ended dropping the work and I let the walkway languish. For a while I took a detour through the garage when going out into the backyard in order not to track sand into the house. Then I abandonded that approach and simply swept the sand frequently. I got to taking it as a given that a half-finished brick walkway was the look I wanted for that area. The weeds advanced.

Yesterday morning, I tackled that project anew. The weeds are still a presence to an extent, but here are the fruits of my labors.

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Entry filed under: Piedmont.

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