Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More on the Pergola Project

It is pouring rain as I type this out. Following is a continuation of the pergola project that kept me so busy last year. In hindsight I can clear up a few details. Because this patio base was built facing into a slope, it had to be elevated. Because it was elevated, the side that would normally butt against the building was higher than the the cement slab foundation. Because of this, I designed this patio so it would be "freestanding". There is a space of about one foot between the side of the building and the patio.
I poured forms so the perimeter of the patio is a solid cement "wall" the width of a brick. This wall is then topped with bricks. More on that to follow. Here is the next step of the building process taken from my on-line journal.....

Low Key Monday
Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I’m getting burned out on this patio project. The worst is really over at this point. The concrete forms are all poured, now I need to fill this area with crushed limestone to make a base for the bricks. The clay/dirt base was tamped down and covered with landscape fabric. This fabric is held down with the limestone leftovers from the last project a couple years ago. This limestone had been stored on the driveway side of the house in some 20 plastic buckets that originally held kitty litter. That reminds me: back when I was working at a supermarket in Lancaster, PA. a customer asked Ronnie, (one of the stockboys) where the cat litter was located. Ronnie yelled down the aisle to John, “Hey John, what aisle is the shitty litter in?” This was totally inappropriate back in 1971, but we all laughed!

While working on all this, my package arrived with the latest E-bay purchase. When I redo the doors here in the house I replace the 1920’s door knobs and back plates with earlier styles. I have the styles of this house so mixed up and besides the older sets just look so much nicer. This box contains a set of door knobs and plates that match a set I already own. I’m very disappointed when I unpack the box. The merchandise is bright and shiny, it is definitely old but it does not feel right. The finish is rough. Whoever cleaned this either: sandblasted the pieces or brushed it all to death on a wire wheel. Not wanting to make a mess in the garage, I set up my buffing wheel outside. Now I go to town smoothing out the rough finish. What a difference some red rouge and a cloth wheel make.

As I was putting the tools away I had the camera in tow to document the progress of this project. That digital camera is so much fun! Stumpy was up to something. Sure enough; he was tormenting a poor little Gecko. After taking the picture (you can just barely see the little guy on the piece of wood) I put Stump in the house for a bit to give the Gecko time to find a new hiding spot!

Stump was pissed, he wanted to be outside. I turned him loose again and he went right to where his “friend” was. That cat was sniffing the grass and going crazy trying to find his new “buddy”. Mr. Gecko was smart and was nowhere to be found!

When I was last in New York (there is one more installment on that trip to go!) I purchased a copy of Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. At the end of the day in my Morris Chair along with a glass of cheap box wine, I’m transported back to England of the 1920’s. Next to the early mornings, this is my favourite time of the day.

At nine it is now dark and time to round up the cats for the night. I can usually find them in Michelle’s driveway, right next door. Tonight is no exception. Daggy goes into the back study by herself. Stumpy, I have to track down and carry into the house growling. He is pissed a second time at having to return to the house. This is tempered when he gets his bowl of wet cat food as a reward for being a good cat!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Pergola Project 2006

I'm itching to do some outside work. The weather is not conducive for yard and outside house work yet. I've culled through my online journal and decided to post the pergola project that took up a great deal of my time last year. I'll do this over the next few days....enjoy!!!

When is Sunday??
Saturday, April 22, 2006

Things have been so crazy here: I have been so intent on getting caught up on my trip and all I have totally gotten mixed up on my days. This morning I go to the paper box on the corner to get a paper. Nothing so unusual about that: I put six quarters in the box for the Sunday paper and am outraged to pull out a Saturday paper. I’m all set to call the paper to give them Hell for not filling up the paper box with the right paper. The huge pan of home fries and onions are just about done as I’m fuming over the newspaper’s oversight. Then it slowly dawns on me, today is indeed SATURDAY!

How did I get to such a state? It’s a long story…… For a long time a major annoyance has been the mess located at the front of my workshop. This area has been a storage area for my brick horde and has been pretty much untouched for the past three years. It looks it. I have toyed with the idea of adding another patio in this area and even a pergola type enclosure. For the past few weeks I have been toying in my mind on constructing a simple pergola attaching it to the side workshop. Once that is up; it will be a simple task to brick in a patio.

Early Monday afternoon I head to Lowe’s for the first batch of lumber. It has been a while since I’ve purchased treated wood. Talk about sticker shock. The three 4”x4”x12’ and two 1”x6”x10’ was over $60.00. But with that lumber in my truck I HAVE to get started with the project.

The real pain is all the measurements that need to be done. The most important thing to remember in a backyard like mine is to keep things in proportion. The side of the shop this patio will be at is 16 foot wide. If the pergola extends about half that distance, it should be just about right. Using plumb bobs, squares, stakes and string the spot to dig the center post is located. It has been very dry for the past few weeks. The ground back here is hard as my heart. The soil seems to go in layers. The hard top layer is decent dirt which then goes to a layer of dirt and pea gravel. Under this is a light clay that is easy to dig out using the post hole digger. This hole goes to a depth of two and a half feet. Stakes and braces are installed to hold this first post exactly square and straight.

There are two bags of cement left over from the last patio project. This old stuff was a bear to mix. It took a lot of smashing with the back of the hoe to get it all thoroughly mixed. I’ll make sure I don’t have any bags of cement left over from this job!

Set this first post in cement and start working with the 1x6’s. I have to run a board across the side of the shop to attach the stringers to. I wish I had the foresight to plan this all out ahead of time. Instead, I just jump into a project and figure out solutions as I hit the problems. Get the side angles all cut and the board installed.

At this point I start the brick moving. All the bricks stored here have to be moved. I’m reminded of that poor guy in Greek Mythology who had to spend eternity rolling a boulder up a hill: only in my case I’m moving bricks!

Tuesday is spent installing the other two posts. This is such fussy work getting everything lined up and measured just right. Working alone makes this just that much of a longer job.

Wednesday after walking at the University with Debbi, I go on a lumber run. I end up with two 5/4 x 6 x 16 and ten 5/4 x 6 x 10. I’m into this mess now! I hate to move 16 foot lumber. It takes a lot of tying down to secure this safely in my truck bed. The back streets are my route home, no interstate with this load!

The miter saw is set up to chop the lengths right. Now this is where things get complicated. I learned that you don’t get burned out so quickly when you do a variety of different jobs. I had earlier made up a template for a fancy cut out for the ends of the boards. In between cutting the boards to length, I’m cutting out this fancy work with a saber saw. There are 14 cutouts that need to be done.

The first cross board is installed on the posts. It is at times like this I wish I had a helper. I can’t fathom how many times the ladder needed to be moved and that cross board adjusted to get it to the right height and level. All I know is I was beat by the time I was satisfied with the results.

Wednesday night I’m relaxing with Brideshead Revisited and a glass of box wine. At 8:30 I hear some yelling outside. A car is pulled into the insurance parking lot across the street. The engine is running, headlights on and door open. This young woman is screaming and shrieking at this surly thin boy. “I’m sorry, I f—ked up, It will never happen again.” Things continue in this vein for a while. The sulking boy tells this woman to not f--king touch him and tries to walk away. This woman is using her wiles crying and grasping at this boy. They walk around the block leaving the car running and abandoned for over half an hour. I want to tell this boy if he is smart he will run away from this as fast as he can. Finally they return. Was this resolved? Who knows and who cares? These kids and their drama!

Thursday is spent installing the rest of wood. I get a set routine down that makes this job a bit easier. With the wood all up I’m feeling pretty good. Now I move out the last of the bricks. It has been so hot, even with my do-rag my hair is driving me nuts. It has been a ages since I’ve let it grow so long. A trip to Northport barber shop is in order. Glens chair is empty as I walk in. I plop down and tell Glenn to “buzz it all off!” He laughs and asks if I want a number 2 or 1 ½ blade on the clipper. I take the 1 ½ blade and in no time I’m covered in my shorn hair. I can feel the breeze on the sides of my head. After trimming around my ears Glenn rubs the top of my head with the cool towel. It is such a great sensation.

After my haircut I drop into City CafĂ© for a vegetable plate. Martha is on so I get her going. I tell her I’m all upset after my experience at the barber shop. She immediately starts laughing. “What happened hon?” she asks. I tell her I went in the barber shop and told Glenn, “I want my hair to look like Buzz Alden the astronaut. Instead they buzzed it all off!” She laughs and tells me I’m such a mess!!

Friday I realize that if I’m ever going to remove the truck cap stored on the side of the workshop, it will have to be now. I used this truck cap when I was moving my stuff down from New York. I should have gotten rid of the thing years ago. After being in the same spot for years, it is buried under prickers, ivy, and small trees. I got cut up real good cutting this mess away. The cap is not heavy, just awkward to handle alone.

Once out in the open the ivy is pulled out from where it had grown between the inside supports. The thing is scrubbed down and hosed off. Next week I’ll get an ad in the paper to get rid of it.

I missed my workout at the Y on Wednesday, I won’t do that today. It is a black sky to the west as I’m walking. The weight and exercise areas are surrounded by large plate glass windows overlooking the street. I’m on the leg extension machine when the storm breaks. The trees are being blown sideways and lightning flashes light up the outside darkness. A transformer explodes and the lights go out. Shortly power is restored: by the time I’m finished with my workout it has stopped raining. The sky is still threatening on my way home. I get to thinking, were the cats outside when I left for the Y? I get the answer when I get to the front door, two wet cats run from underneath the truck parked in the driveway. They get dried off, and I get a nice hot shower!

That has pretty much been the story of my life for the past week. I think it explains a bit why my sense of time is all screwed up!