Moving Earth

Aside from writing, which barely qualifies, I’m not much of a DIY (do it yourself) girl. I’m more of a GSE (get someone else) type. However, I felt the need over the past few days to move earth, (but luckily not heaven, because I wasn’t up for that). And so I did, buckets and buckets full.

Planning has never been a priority for me, though not on principle – I’m happy to be planned for. It’s a little like my relationship to instruction manuals – some combination of tedium and terror that outweighs the unquestionable benefits. I prefer to rush in, blueprintless, and hope for the best.

So it was with the patio I started to build on Friday. Patio may be a glamorous term for the handful of stones I laid on the side of the house – the wasteland that serves no greater purpose than passage from front to back and dump zone for shit that would live in the garage were I to have one.

The idea for the patio fermented for only a day or two following a generous offer from my neighbour. Her handy brother who lives in Taiwan was coming to town. The last time he was here, some two years ago, he had attached a little chain to the side of her house and hooked the green compost bin to it. There hasn’t been a post-raccoon-wet-garbage-strewn-morning since. Did I want him to hook me up? Absolutely.

In order to attach the bin to the wall, one needed access to the wall. The three hoses (you’d think we lived in Markham with a big yard), assorted plastic receptacles from garbage days of yore, and a large pile of firewood cut in pieces too long or fat to fit into my fireplace, blocked access.

Like at the doctor’s office during the eye exam, I focused intensely on that spot on the wall, and started moving my crap elsewhere. Of course elsewhere, which there’s so little of, causes a domino effect I’d prefer not to dwell on. I’ll wait for another random offer or calamity to point the way.

Once everything was moved or promised to others, and the bin safely secured, the ground, that had been so well hidden, revealed its blemishes. A win-win solution popped to mind – the marriage of a pile of old bricks and leftover stones from a backyard project (I didn’t do) four years ago, and the side of the house.

I started to dig. They (the they of patio and stone laying expertise) insist on sand to stabilize the stone. I (the I of the urge is calling now) had only the quarter bag of sand my neighbour contributed. Onward I say. (I am sooooo my father’s daughter.)

Equipped with a shovel, a rake and a sturdy metal spoon, I began to move earth. I suspect the way to go is remove all the dirt and rock from the desired area, level and prepare the ground, lay stone. I chose the instant gratification route of clear a little bit, put down a rock or two, then proceed.

In conclusion: (I won’t get into the gory details but here are a few highlights.)

·      My mishmash of samples and a bunch of bricks now form part of my mosaic

·      My knees are bruised and swollen

·      I’m lucky my nails were never important to me

·      My hands are pins and needly

·      I’m told the perfection of my project is fleeting. (“Did you use sand?” “Not exactly.” “Well it’ll be good until you get it done properly.”)

·      I feel stronger

·      I feel done, but there’s much left to do

·      I’m oozing pride and have showed my little patio to anyone willing to look


hey aviva! i've been catching up on your blog. love it! so entertaining. and i need help making a patio in my tip of a backyard!!


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This is to check for spam.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.