Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

Day 5–Reality Check

Posted by joeabbott on March 25, 2011

P1020338It would take a keen eye to see all that was completed today. A lot doesn’t show in the pictures but only the overt completion of the steps on the left side of the yard are apparent.

After a nice breakfast (back yard-fresh scrambled eggs and delicious toast made from this 8-grain bread) Suzy and I moved into a wonderful Seattle Spring day and got busy with our projects!

First, we tag teamed the crab apple tree and moved it a dozen feet up and to the right of where it had been. She then moved out of the back yard.

There, she and began a long session on our front and side-yard beds: pulling weeds, clearing detritus of leaves and whatnot, pruning the wild and unkempt, and then splitting our many ornamental grasses and replanting them.

After that, everything got a nice, deep layer of mulch.

While she did that, I mulled. My task for the day was to clear the area at the top of the steps on the left and building the platform for a potting shed/green house. The problem I was having is that it looked better on paper than it did in person. Specifically, the ground was just too darned steep!

I finally decided that the solution wouldn’t just come to me and that my “inspiration” required a bit of “perspiration”! So, I pulled out the pick axe and started swinging!

P1020318I managed to clear a 6’x3’ area and was already into the hillside to my knee. To get a platform that was 6’x9’, I’d have to excavate a hole that was up to my shoulder! So I started to do a bit more thinking and tried to come up with another solution. Maybe a split-level deck? Maybe having the access to the shed from a stepladder or stairs?

I was out of ideas so I went and got Suzy.

When we put our heads together we decided to not build a shed/green house. It was impractical in this spot and we were already undermining the hillside. This broke my spirit.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if I was annoyed because I wasn’t smart enough to figure out a better solution. If I was just being lazy and avoiding a lot of work and this was bugging me. Or what. In the end, I had to agree with Suzy: we didn’t need the shed, it wasn’t a great area for it, and we were only building something there on a whim. I was just disappointed as it was part of the plan from the start.

Fair enough. Still, it took me the better part of the afternoon to get over my disappointment.

So, with Suzy’s help, I remapped the area and started building the stairway.

Her main job was to be everywhere doing a little bit of everything. Oh, and while I filled in the hole I’d just dug with dirt from the stairway, she was busy sifting out rocks and roots from the huge pile of dirt I made on Day 1, and filling in behind the retaining wall, filling in holes the chickens dug, filling odd divots in the yard, and sifting out a beautiful base layer for the beds she’ll be building in front of the retaining wall.

Oh, she also finished off the area by the bench … dumping three bags of gravel we’d just picked up. As with yesterday, I think I was out-worked!

At one point I ran into a rock that was sticking out a half inch and making a stair placement difficult. I went into “grudge match mode” to remove it and ended up breaking my pick axe while extracting a rock about the size of a child’s torso!

Tomorrow I’ll finish the stairs (add a border, fill in with crushed gravel) and then clean up the back yard. I plan on taking Sunday off and not working too hard tomorrow. We’ll dry out the remaining 4x4s (I think we have 6 … maybe 8 ) and use them for a bench at the top of the stairs and the gate posts. The small cut-offs will be tossed; I’ll make a base for a raised planter bed (the bed itself will not be made with the pressure treated lumber) with the parts that are suitable.

But, tomorrow will come later … for now, today’s work it over.

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