Sunday, June 05, 2005

Patio Project Day One

Yesterday was the first day we really began prepping for the cobblestone path and patio. I'd hoped to get a little further than we did, but I'm often a little more ambitious than realistic.

I got the entire side yard and front path area rototilled. The old rototiller we got from Mary's parents rumbles and bounces around, but it does the job nicely. It's old (old even when Mary's parents got it) 5 horse power machine with tines in the front. Last week, Miles and I debated the virtues of front tine versus rear tine in rototillers. Of course, you couldn't fill a thimble with our combined experience with rototillers, but it was and interesting discussion nonetheless. True to common wisdom, our front-tined rototiller bounces around some and is a little tricky to handle. Luckily, I'm big enough to control it - and I've gotten good enough that I can come within two inches of the house/fence.

Of course, about half-way through it all, the rototiller broke.

Yup, just broke. A set of wheels/pulleys on a single bolt just popped off. Without it, the rototiller wouldn't do anything but make engine noise. Fortunately, for me, the engine still ran (b/c I know nothing about engines). I took a look at the newly liberated parts and saw that the bolt holding them on had worn down like a table leg on a carpenter's lathe. A section about half an inch long was worn down to the diameter of a toothpick.

And, wouldn't you know it, the local hardware store had recently closed down and moved away. So I headed to Philomath to find their hardware store. Walking around a hardware store always makes me feel a little more important and knowledgeable than I am. Guys just belong in hardware stores, so, by association, I'm more manly because I'm in one. Two dollars and ninety-six cents later I walk out with my little bag of bolts and a squeeze bottle of chalk.

Was I able to get the rototiller back together? Yup. It successfully bounced me around the yard for an hour longer.

Then the task of actually digging up the yard began.

Mary and I discussed the size/location of the paths and patios - we're going to have a LOT of area to cover with the cobblestone.

Except for under old deck, and next to the driveway in the front, we won't have to remove more than about 3 or 4 inches of soil.

I started digging away and immediately hit bedrock near the back doors. I couldn't rototill everything under the awning because of a PVC drainage pipe. And the soil there hadn't seen moisture since 1995. And I don't have a pick-axe. After nearly bending my shovel blade I decided to water the area - of course I would have been out there all night if it weren't for Mary's suggestion of using a sprinkler. I shoveled a bit more outside the deck area and found myself spending more and more time "thinking" about how this was all going to work out. After one round of "thinking" I had an actual thought to quit for the night and clean up.

I started the sprinkler (using the handy-dandy timer) and went in for the night.

Now I'm just procrastinating heading back out. The rain has stopped and I actually see blue sky, must be time to work.

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