Don’t say you didn’t see it coming…

by ✍ June 18th, 2014

(Repeat of past blog entries, summarized, stirred, and baked…)

Our house is over 30 years old. We chose its floor plan and were there while it was built. We were wed in it shortly after that, having already known each other for some ten years. (Guess our ages.)

We’ve always thought of it as a “pine box” house. We’ve gutted it over the years. First, with energy-efficient insulation, roofing, and windows. Then hickory floors (and travertine in the kitchen and bathrooms), hand-made alder cabinetry, and marble showers. Granite countertops including “blue louise” in the kitchen. If you’ve never seen blue louise, it looks like a photo of the earth seen from a satellite.

Outside, mi esposa is a master at xeric gardening. In the front yard, her cactus (and odd rocks) collection draws comments all around. Odd rocks? She’s a professional gardener, and an acquaintance contractor delivered (using a crane) a huge (6 by 4 by 1 ½ foot or thereabouts) lava rock. The backyard is lush with xeric grasses and other plants, often nourished with gray water or roof harvest. Evergreen bushes and trees, cottonwoods, various flowers. (That’s where Junior lives.)

Did I mention odd rocks? Geodes, fossils, petrified wood, and other oddments here and about. A gravestone for Kitty Hippy’s predecessor, Fish. Blue louise scraps. Flagstone and river rock pavement and flower beds.

The driveway was 30 years old, too. A Russian Olive tree grew at its side. The tree shaded our cars in summertime, shaded our bedrooms, and gave us a nightly barrier against the harsh streetlight nearby. It also provided a home for a danged robin who insisted on waking me at precisely 4:42 on summer mornings with a call I came to memorize. And one of its main roots heaved the driveway.

A ripple, then a growing tidal wave, grew in the driveway to a height of about a foot above normal. That, plus normal wear and tear (including erosion caused by winter road salt brought in on our tires), eventually created a hideous, trashy looking driveway. We decided to replace it.

First, we decided, the Russian Olive had to come down. Its root was too much. In just one day, a crew (mi esposa’s fellow contractors, of course) came in and whipped down the tree. The area looked barren, but so be it. Next, the driveway crew. First, a behemoth steam shovel busted up and dragged away the old driveway, bit by bit. They chopped out the major root and all its little friends. Finally, the heartache of laying a new driveway began.

Installing a new driveway is surprisingly complex, what with digging and flattening, placement of containing borders, multiple layers of various materials, and on, and on. It took a crew of three men four days.

A truckload of various supply oddments parked on the street at the end of the driveway. The workers unloaded planks for the sides of the driveway and plastic for the underlayment. Carefully, they put up the planks and put out the plastic, beginning at the head end of the garage. Long steel rods of reinforcement lay in the back of the truck. That would be next.

So this driveway worker walks into a bar…

for those who didn’t know about rebar, a tooth-gritting follow-on:

Bartender says, Yer lookin’ kinda gray… Hadda hard day?

Yeah, the worker says, just got off the road. Pour me a stiff one. Dry. On the rocks.

House or roll yer own?, bartender asks.

Just shovel it on out, groans the worker, laying bills flat out on the counter.

Okeedokee, says the bartender. Keep on truckin’.

I can dig it, says the worker.