HERRINGBONE WALK w/ STEPS - Oct. 2003
Before: Dennis would like to replace this time-worn concrete walk with brick, set in a herringbone pattern because he's always liked that design. He wants to keep the curvy tornado shape and enlarge the doorstep to a wider, curved platform and wants limestone tread on the 1st step.
"OK, Dennis. What 1st step? Don't you think that section has simply been lifted slightly by a tree root? The overall rise of your property can't be more than 6"! How about a gradual slope in the walk instead? Plus, a 4' limestone outweighs me! And my supplier doesn't carry the bricks I like anymore. AND there's demolition involved....let me go home to figure the price and NEVER get back to you, alright?" Nope. Says he'll help out, haul away debris and can I start immediately?
In truth, I think what I could do here WOULD really enhance his home. It's a really charming place. It started out as a one room log cabin (now the kitchen) in the 1860's. It was enlarged over the years and has some really spectacular features, including a half spiral staircase with steam bent mahogany side walls and banister. The dining room has a fantastic mosaic floor done in four different hardwoods. The house is on the corner of a huge (for suburbia) park-like lot with clusters of naturalized birch trees and a wonderful, ancient yew tree and her yew "babies" all along the side of the property.
I'm scared now! I call everyone I can think of who has the word "trowel" in their vocabulary and who associates the phrase "on the level" with a bubble rather than honesty. Alright Chris, 1 out of two is fine. You got the job!
Having fun yet, Chris? Where's Dennis?
I don't form concrete per se. I FREE-form it.
When all else fails, try a bigger hammer. Check it out.....10 lb. sledge - can barely lift it, but Chris and I took shifts, broke up and cleared the remaining 64 sq. ft. in just a few hours. (We gave Dennis wheel barrow duty.)
Smack it! Crack it! It's just like Bonomo Taffy (How the hell OLD AM I ?? I can still smell that artificial banana flavor!)
Thanks for hauling, Dennis! It's much easier when YOU do the work.....
It's Friday. I've poured the base for less than 1/4 of the job. I lay out a few few bricks, mark cutting lines (lots of cutting in herringbone). Dennis looks, pushes the bricks together, and says he wants them CLOSE TOGETHER. My heart sinks to my knees. I'm actually speechless - a very rare condition! But, DENNIS! Why did you hire ME if you wanted pavers. I don't do pavers! I do brick and mortar. I prepped the ground for brick and mortar! I bought a cube and a half of modular bricks already. All weekend I debate whether or nor to walk off the job. I'll just tell him I can't compromise my artistic integrity....
Day 3 - I spoke with Dennis.....and I GOT MY WAY! Now I'm trying to plot the lay of the land and the way I'll form the step (have to allow for partial side walls which will show.) I can't walk and chew gum. I am so distracted. Chris is a dynamo! I'm having trouble keeping her busy. And I'm totally unused to working with anybody. I constantly expect her to know what needs to be done. So I get smart: make her sit and watch me do a section of foundation and tell her she will be doing it independently tomorrow while I get to setting some bricks.
Wednesday, Oct 8th - day 5+
Thurs., Oct. 9th - day 6. Man, this is going slow! I really underestimated the time frame - did not account for the volume of the foundation. Chris is a trooper. She's been working on the foundation for days and days. She helped me set this limestone, did a little jointing, did the Home Depot runs.....shoot, she even picked up a Carvel cake for my daughter's birthday!
Friday, Oct. 10 - day 7. I tallied the cost to date of materials last night and realize that I have to let Chris go. Otherwise this job will actually COST me $. Oh, well - my error. Live and learn. If I could just make some progress and get this done already!
Sunday, Oct. 12 - day 8
Monday, Oct. 13 - day 9
Thursday, Oct. 16 - day 11
Sunday, Oct. 19 - day 13
Monday, Oct.20 - day 14
Oct. 21 - day 14