Done for now…

Stage one is done in our sidewalk project.

(A little background: In January we had a sewer pipe clog due to a large rock that had gotten in the vent. In fixing this, a huge hole was dug in our front yard. As part of digging this hole, a section of our concrete sidewalk had to be ripped out. Our sidewalk was sinking and buckling anyway, so we decided that we would replace the whole thing. Of course, Dad would wait to do that project after we got back home for the summer so we could help.)
Mom and Dad had decided that they didn’t want another concrete sidewalk, but a brick paver one instead. So a couple of weeks ago they went to Lowes and picked out the design they wanted. Then last weekend while at Lowes for something else, we saw that Lowes was offering free delivery on sidewalk paver stones. So after the 4th of July holiday, Dad had them delivered along with a pile of gravel and a pile of sand.

Thursday evening we began work. The first step was to tear out the rest of existing concrete sidewalk. My brother and I accomplished this by prying under it w/ a digging iron and breaking it into managable pieces w/ a sledgehammer. One whack. Oh yeah! Once the old sidewalk was removed, we started to dig up the area for the new sidewalk (it’s wider than the old one) only after carefully removing the sod for use elsewhere. By then it was dark, so we stopped for the night.

Friday, while my brother and I were at work, Dad dug out the area where the new sidewalk was going to the proper depth (8?). After dinner, we filled in the hole with 4? of gravel. (23 wheelbarrows or appx. 575 shovelfuls) That was all we had time for Friday night.

Saturday (today) Dad was at the rental place when they opened to pick up a compactor for the gravel (and later sand and pavers). However, he didn’t get it started until I came out after breakfast and played with it as the rental place gave him wrong instructions… So I compacted the gravel, and then began the long process of leveling and screeding. Once the gravel was level we nailed some retaining edges into the ground. (This, of course, was after much painstaking measurment to make sure the sidwalk was in exacly the right place and sloping correctly away from the house.) Once the retaining edges were in place we dumped in the sand and leveled and compacted it. Then my sister showed up to lay brick (I guess they thought that was the fun part…) So I hauled brick for them and they put it in place. Once the brick was layed we swept sand into the cracks and then ran one final run of the compactor. So as I said we’re done for now. But there’s still a lot of landscaping to do. We’ll take care of that after we get back from the Wilds 🙂 next week. As the youth intern, I get to go as a sponsor. But more of that later. As with any project in our family, humor ran high. Here are some of the funnier things that happened / were said. (I guess this is a reward for reading this long documentary :p )

On Wednesday night, I had introduced Peter to Brian Regan’s website (hilarious funny clean comedian). So at various times while we were working, with Brian’s routines fresh in our minds, they would pop out. (Particually the one about ants as we saw those critters several times.) Also we decided the compactor sounded like a tricycle when you tried to start it. It made a ding noise like a tricycle bell when you pulled the starter cord to full length. This noise was heard frequently as the machine was difficult to start. It seemed I was the only one who was able to start it. But I didn’t try until Dad had failed numerous times. This led to: Ding… Ding… Ding… It’s time to play… Name that Sound! A tricycle! Errrrnk. An impatiant customer at the service desk? Sorry, but we have some lovely party gifts for you. The compactor! Correct, now you go start it.

Also during the course of the afternoon a discrepancy arose over whether a dry mixture of sand and cement needed to be swept between the cracks of the bricks, or just sand. To answer this question we summoned up the new dictionary word. My first search took me to Home Depot. You know, “You can do it. We can help.” “Great,” I thought, “this should have the answer.” NOT. This is a direct quote from their site:

Putting in a new patio, driveway or retaining wall may seem like a simple, do-it-yourself project. But it’s no easy matter to do the job right. Instead, you’ll face a complex project that requires expertise, special equipment and many steps. Why tackle a paving stone project on your own when The Home Depot can do it for you? Our experienced, knowledgeable professionals will handle your entire project from start to finish so you can relax.

So much for “You can do it.” More like, “You can’t do it. So pay us to do it for you.” Yeesh.

Well, this is getting rather long so I’ll let you go do something else. Like visit Brian Regan’s site.


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