Thursday, May. 17, 2007
Dear Diary:

In the end, it all comes down to perspective. I interpret it as "valuable life experience". You might interpret it in a more Gumpian way, as in "stupid is as stupid does."

Perspective. It's all in the perspective.

The spousal unit and I have this touching little ritual we enact every year as the snows start to recede. We both solemnly agree that the landscaping around our house is really all we can handle and there's no need to take on any more projects. After all, every year we're edging a little closer to sixty.

So this year the usual solemn pledges were exchanged and then I proceeded to terrace part of the hill in front of our house with a massive rock wall. To give you a sense of the size of this wall and the rock involved, the far right corner is four feet high and the base of the entire wall it is four feet thick, tapering up to about 18 inches of thickness at the top of the wall.

Rock around the clock.

Why did I put in over 40 hours of extremely physical work? Because that section of the hill is insanely steep and I have to use a gas powered trimmer to keep it mowed. Keep in mind that this involves about 15 minutes of work twice a month. Yet, somehow, it seemed perfectly logical to me to build a honking big stone wall to avoid this work.

Logic and I have only a passing acquaintanceship.

Now here's the deal. Many of those base rocks at the bottom of the wall are in the 150 pound range. Basically, they're a Marn, equivalent to me in weight. Am I capable of moving rock of this size? While my pretty gym muscles can do wonderful things in a gym with carefully balanced equipment, I am not capable of manoeuvring a 150 pound rock.

I have to have an enabler, someone to help me do this. Oh yes, the spousal unit, the man who has me solemnly pledge that I won't go nuts on the landscaping, helps me um, er, ah, go nuts on the landscaping.

We are sadly co-dependent.

Crazed Invigorated with the first rock wall, I decided to finally finish off a corner of the rock wall in front of our woodshed, a corner I have been dithering about for over two decades. Don't ask why the dithering, it's just too convoluted to explain.

So I started to tear back a bit of the wall to rebuild the base to make the strongest corner possible. That was when it got ugly and things went terribly, terribly wrong.

Rock walls are like knitting. Well, they are sort of, if you ignore the fact that one involves tons of rock, gravel and soil, and the other involves needles and fluffy stuff. My point is that in them both everything is interwoven. You start to rip back a little and before you know it, you have either unravelled a sweater or 25 feet of rock wall, depending on your material of choice.

Even I'm not quite sure how things got that far out of hand, and I did the unravelling.

Okay fine.

The thing I forgot is that it's much harder to rebuild a wall than it is to build a wall from scratch. For one thing, when you build a wall from scratch, you're raising it up as you go and you shovel earth and gravel in behind it as you're working.

With an existing wall, you have to shovel back all the earth and gravel you originally shovelled behind it, in order to open up a work area. That is an ugly amount of shovelling, a truly ugly amount of shovelling.

Even worse, I put a goodly layer of gravel behind my stone walls because it drains water well and water is the big enemy of a dry laid stone wall in my climate.

The thing with gravel? It doesn't hold its shape well. So, you shovel it back, and then the pile collapses back into your work area, and you have to shovel some more. And some more. And some more.

Oh, and the rocks that originally fit together so very, very well? The rocks that held together for over 20 years without a whimper? I could not get them to fit together no way no how. I had to go get new, improved rock.

To date I have another 40+ hours in wall #2. Can you guess where I am at this point? If you guessed "the corner that you originally set out to fix, Marn, you dimwit" then give yourself a hand, because that's exactly where I am. Yes, another 40+ hours of major blood, sweat and tears and I'm back exactly where I started.

Back to the beginning.

Have I mentioned lately that it's hard not to be bitter? Take my word for it, it is.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 142.21 miles Ten percent there rubber duck. Ten percent there rubber duck.

Going Nowhere Collaboration

Goal for 2007: 500 miles


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