I should have my head examined. After enjoying one full day of vacation, I was instinctively drawn to a corner of our property that "needed attention." For the past two years, we have lived with a pile of bricks that used to be our chimney. That particular escapade involved one long day of hauling and piling and inhaling dust and soot that used to live inside our house. Over the course of a day, what was once a three-story horizontal structure became a vertical pile behind our garage. On that day, I was aided by a neighbor who was more compulsive than I. He wanted to bring that thing down as quickly, and safely, as it could be done.
Now, two years later, none of the creative ideas that we had spawned for that pile of masonry had become reality. But that wonderful, terrible thing happened: I had some time off. My mind started ticking off the possible projects: double-pane windows, attic stairway, re-inventing our irrigation system. I asked my wife. She envisioned a gray water system that involved "learning how to weld." I found myself back at that pile of bricks.
How hard could it be to make a smooth surface and lay out a couple hundred bricks? Again, there was some consultation with my wife, and we found ourselves going down a five hundred dollar rabbit hole, buying gravel and moving tons of earth and sand. It had to be easier than that. As it turns out, it was easier than that, but not by much. I started digging on Tuesday just after noon. I got help from my wife and son, and by dinner time I had turned over seventy-some square feet of dirt.
The next morning, I got an early start and began hauling off some of the extra earth that was in the way of bricks that we wanted to place. Before noon, my wife and son had rejoined me, and the number of helping hands swelled to nearly a dozen as neighborhood kids dropped by to see what was going on. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Making a brick patio."
"Cool. Can we help?"
There was a little Tom Sawyer in the air as we used up the kids' attention span, and then there was still a lot of bare earth. My wife and I, emboldened by our progress, pressed on. There was a break for lunch, and we were able to coax a little more help from the short people with some Tombstone pizza and Otter Pops. With the sun now directly overhead, my lovely and patient bride gritted her teeth and realized that I meant to be done with this project before dark. To our collective credit, we worked harmoniously and efficiently. There was a new brick patio in our back yard before dinner on the second day.
My guess is that I will have a day or two to recover and bask in the glory that is our new living space. What worries me is what happens next Monday when I wake up with "nothing to do."