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Slices of Life By: Jill Pertler-The patio project

July 4, 2014
Northern-Sun Print
I am tired. My back is sore. My arms ache. My husband put me through the ropes this weekend. He had me completely tied up with yard work. Our little project involved considerable moving of earth and sod as well as lifting and placement of 4,524 pounds of patio blocks. But that’s just an estimate. We’ve always been do-it-yourselfers. We enjoy projecting together. Some couples are good at recreating. If they found an extra pile of cash they’d go out for a night on the town. We’d purchase a bunch of lumber or maybe resurface the driveway. Give us a garden that needs planting, a sink that needs installing or a deck that needs painting and we’ll be happy and content together for a whole weekend. It’s how we roll. Lately, our ambitions have intensified. I blame it on too much TV. We watch home improvement shows where a team of 50 landscaping experts take on a beaten up yard and in two days transform it into paradise. Seeing retaining walls, water features and outdoor kitchens installed on-screen motivates my husband and me to think we can do the same things ourselves. Problem is, we aren’t landscaping professionals and we’re about 48 warm bodies short of the TV crew’s size. We don’t let insignificant details like that stifle our self-confidence. No way. We head to the home improvement store and order two tons of patio block to be delivered on Friday and are sure we can have them in place by Sunday afternoon. To be fair, we have a crew of our own, but you know how it is with kids and yard work - or any work. Sometimes it’s easier to do it yourself, because having them help involves teaching and teaching takes time and a weekend is only two days long and things have got to get done before the sun sets on Sunday, you know? Besides, previous commitments - jobs, sports and other activities - made our offspring unavailable for much of the project’s duration. They helped some, but by and large it was just my husband and me. He got the big shovel; I got the little one. We went to work creating a patio and placing a few paver blocks to make a walking path. Sounded simple. It would have been, except the paver blocks were - in a word - heavy. And awkward. Each one had to be placed on a level surface. To create such a surface, sod and soil had to be removed from the ground. Sod and soil are heavy. And awkward. Once we had an area cut for each block, we poured in a layer of sand - from 60 pound bags. Sixty pounds is heavy. And awkward. Every hour or two, I needed a break to catch my breath. My husband played the role of Energizer Bunny. To be honest, he did most of the work, but I did most of the sweating. Day two proved to be the toughest day of labor I’d ever experienced - besides the four times I was in actual labor. Finally (finally, finally!) we placed the last block. Actually, my husband placed the last block. By this time I was supervising. It was a glorious feeling of accomplishment mixed with perspirative exhaustion. Our bodies ached in a good way that comes from working together and getting the job done with your favorite project partner. Now we get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor. At least until our next project next Saturday. Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication.” You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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