Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2007
Dear Diary:

In retrospect, the fact that it partially dissolved the spousal unit's shoes should have told us something.

Oh. Hi. Long time no see, eh?

Oh, man, where to begin …

Well, I turned 56 on May 22.

Bink guards the bricksFor my birthday I got a few tons of crushed rock!

Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

I also got 600 interlocking paving bricks to go on top of this rock to make the walkway I've always wanted!

Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Then I had to dig a trench 40 feet long, over four feet wide and eight inches deep to prepare the walkway I've always wanted.

Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Not.

Crap. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? One minute you're happily contemplating a lovely project, and the next minute you actually have to help make it happen. Apparently there are no walkway fairies.

Admire my hole in the ground.It's hard not to be bitter.

As an added bonus, my nose was rubbed yet again into the fact that gym fitness and real life fitness can be worlds apart. Especially when real life fitness requires that you move endless wheelbarrows of rock and earth from here to there.

But now the earth is moved, the rocks have been added to my rubble wall and I have a lovely trench that is just begging to become a walkway. The spousal unit is sorting out some drainage issues. Once all the various drainage pipes and tiny culverts are laid we can start rolling in the crushed rock, the compactor, the landscape fabric, the sand, the compactor yet again, various edging materials and then FINALLY the paving bricks.

Be still my foolish heart.

The project began a few days before my birthday when one of the mega building supply places near us had a fabulous sale on paving bricks. I wheedled, I cajoled, and before the spousal unit quite understood what had happened there we were at said mega building supply place plunking down hard earned buckazoids on said paving bricks.

When they arrived I almost fainted because instead of the mix of red/black/gray bricks I had ordered, many of my bricks were distinctly mottled with white gunk. It turned out that after a winter of being stored one on top of the other minerals had seeped to the surface of each brick. There are no words for my disappointment.

We telephoned friends in the landscaping business and they told us that if we laid the bricks as they were, in a few years our local acid rain would leach the minerals from the surface. If we wanted to do it more quickly, we could wash the bricks with muriatic acid.

I am 56. I may not have enough years to see my bricks in all their glory. So the spousal unit brought home two plastic jugs of muriatic acid. There were the usual caution symbols on the label, but it's the same symbols that you see on a bottle of bleach, so how dangerous could it be?

This would be the part where we play the ominous organ chord.

So we treated the muriatic acid as if it were some sort of mild bleach. We donned rubber gloves, dragged the hose in place, casually poured some of the acid into a squirt bottle, and squirted it on a brick. It immediately foamed in a very satisfactory way, the spousal unit scrubbed the brick with a plastic brush and we could see that the acid was eating those mineral deposits wonderfully well.

He'd slide the foaming bricks over to me and I'd spray them with the hose, not being too careful about where the water went. A couple of dozen bricks in, we both noticed that the fumes were kind of wicked, so we brought one of our fans out, mounted it nearby to blow the fumes away.

About 250 bricks in, we decided to call it a day. It was then that we noticed that the top layer of the spousal unit's shoe had dissolved and that the acid seemed to have worked a bit on his sock. Odd.

After supper, on a lark, I decided to Google muriatic acid.

It was then that I found out that it was actually … are you ready for this … hydrochloric acid. Remember hydrochloric acid? The stuff that your chemistry teacher had fits about? The stuff that was thrown in the face of people in gothic novels, leaving them extremely disfigured?

Yeah, that stuff.

Yep, we'd been messing around with a 30 per cent solution of hydrochloric acid with minimal safety precautions. Google told me that at most we only needed to use a 10 per cent solution and if we used that concentration we should treat it with the utmost respect because the freaking fumes were powerful enough to rot out metal.

This would be the part where I run around screaming and waving my arms and yelling, "OMIGAWD WHY DIDN'T ANYONE WARN US?"

The spousal unit and I can be considered living proof that Darwinism doesn't always work. But then again, we are past our breeding years, so perhaps the universe has decided that the damage has been done and there's no point in culling us now. The universe works in mysterious ways.

The following day when we cleaned the remaining 350 bricks, we treated the muriatic acid with the respect it deserved. I have officially christened the walkway-to-be The Walkway of Near Death and Disfigurement.

A charming way to wend our way home, eh?

There have been many more projects, of course, because what's the point of summer if you can't work yourself into an exhausted crabby heap? My thoughts, exactly. However, they will have to wait for another day. The man has arrived to pump out our septic tank and I'm not going to miss that kind of excitement.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 251.71 miles Ten percent there rubber duck. Ten percent there rubber duck.Ten percent there rubber duck.Ten percent there rubber duck.Half way there

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2007: 500 miles


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