Michelle and I occasionally forget that we have a toddler and infant. During those moments, we decide to do things like install a patio in the front yard; something we’d planned on for next year. Still, the idea of sitting in the front yard this summer, sipping a beer or gin & tonic while interacting with the neighborhood was a big enough attraction that we forged ahead. Saturday morning after Ella’s tumbling class, she, Michelle and I piled in to my grandpa’s truck and went to pick up stone from Oregon Decorative Rock on Columbia Boulevard. Ultimately we required one of the experts on site to provide a tie-breaking decision. Even though it wasn’t my preferred choice, I couldn’t find any fault in his logic regarding the weight and therefor cost of Michelle’s preferred stone. (900 lbs worth)

Once we had the stone on site, we dug up the rough patio area (below, marked with a hose), then shoveled the sod and a few inches of soil in to the pickup. Somehow the area ended up larger than we’d started with, so the truck was quite full. While I was heading out to Wood Waste Management (awesome), the spare tire on the truck popped off and started draggimg behind the me. I pulled to a stop, crawled under the bed, and discovered that the spare is like 110% the size of the designated spot and my shoveling arms were too tired to lift the spare over the latch. After several attempts with deteriorating results, I used the shovel and rake as opposing levers and was finally able to get the spare on, got my soaked self the rest of the way to the recycler, unloaded the sod and dirt, filled up with sand, and got home.

Less than 30 seconds after starting to shovel the sand, it started raining hard. It was Midwest hard, so I figured it wouldn’t last. I kept shoveling, then it turned to hail, and the wind came up. I bolted for the vestibule and we watched as strange torrent of rain fell on Portland. Storm gusts accompnied the rain, and it moved through the tall firs threatening to snap the giants with its unusual directions. Then, it was over. I changed my shirt and got back to shoveling sand. Michelle and I then placed stones haphazardly only to find we were about 4-5 stones short. It was quittin’ time though, so we grabbed dinner at Laurelwood and slumped in our seats through dinner.

The next morning I ventured out to get those extra stones, and once 10am rolled around, I started scoring pieces with a circular saw and masonry blade, then used a chisel to snap the pieces trying to make the edges look as natural as possible. This went on until around 1pm when we finally finished cutting and then had to finish up leveling, pounding, and sanding. By 2pm we were finished, but cleanup required finding a place for the extra 1/3 ton of sand, most of which ended up on the side of the garage “for future use.”

Being a glorious weekend, it was actually great to be outside. Ella spent much of it riding her trike down the sidewalk and back, and yelling “Hi Eric” or “Hi Erin” to the neighbors across the street. It was delightful, and we ended up with a patio that we can enjoy over the summer while engaging the neighborhood.

Perils of spring weather

Michelle and I took full advantage of the glorious weather to work the yard in to shape. We also added a third raised bed in the front yard, which Michelle agreed to with some trepidation. It’ll be nice to have another bed that gets more sun and won’t be as likely to have heirloom tomatoes plucked by passer-bys.

This evening after a second full day of yard work, we decided a walk to Pause was in order. On the walk there, we discovered that the two warm days was enough to get the ants out, and we passed through hatch after hatch of flying ants. The patio at Pause was even getting swarmed, but I seemed to be taking the brunt of the, well, nuisance. The nuisance quickly turned in to sheer terror when one ant landed on my ear lobe and crawled up and in to my ear canal. A quick finger after him wasn’t enough and he crawled in to some place that tickled like hell. The movement somewhere that only water and wax goes was the stuff of childhood nightmares. The tickling was roughly where my jaw hinged, and it was not normal. For the next 4 minutes I thrashed my head around, used my finger to suction and plunge, and finally flooded my ear with water. That seems to have done the trick, though I kept having to remind myself that the ear was a closed-enough system that nothing could go too wrong.

Still, I hope that never happens again.