A never-ending story

I really tried to wait to post about this project until it was a done deal. But it feels like it’s never going to be a done deal, soooooo….

It was with great anticipation in May when we spoke to our contractor (he of the Wall!) about extending the wall a bit and adding a small patio to really finish off our driveway area.

Originally, the area looked like this. Someone (maybe the owners before us) had put in a flagstone patio — it was OK, but not great (bad picture, sorry).

original patio

For most of the 4+ years we’ve lived here, the area has been an eyesore — a dumping ground for junk from whatever project we happened to be working on. Here, in the lower right corner, you can see it’s where we piled all the old tile from the kitchen floor when we remodeled the kitchen. (Actually the kitchen was probably done at this point…but the tile pile, that stayed for months and months.)


There was barely any time at all in the last 4 years that that spot, just under the breakfast room window and around the corner, wasn’t full of crap.


So, it was with much joy and celebration that I heard the contractor repeatedly say “no problem” when we explained how we wanted to extend the wall and add a (real) patio. Mike had even started it by temporarily laying in some block.

Mike's wall

That was in May.

It looked like this for the next 3 months.

In 13 hours it will be October. And it’s still not finished (although our daydreams of sipping margaritas on a warm summer evening at our new bistro table on our new patio certainly are — for this year anyway).

But it’s oh so close. So close I couldn’t wait anymore. Here’s how it looked over the months.









Those last few pictures of the patio pavers going in span 3 weeks alone (after waiting a month for the pavers to come in so they could start).

And we’re still not done — they still have to come back to add the sand between the pavers to lock them all together. They’ve had to do that for the last week.

You know, I’m used to things taking a long time when Mike and I are doing it ourselves. We have limited time, limited energy, and we don’t do this for a living, so things take a long time. I’m (sort of) resigned to that. It’s why we have a half-finished powder room waiting for us to start again once the weather turns too cold to continue working on our half-finished sunroom. It’s why we’re also simultaneously trying to rebuild our collapsed fire ring and replace the section of fence that runs along the side of the house near the new patio.

But when we’re paying a lot of money to “professionals,” I don’t expect to have to wait 4 months for a project that could be done in 2 weeks tops.

Obviously I need to adjust my expectations. (That happens a lot.)

But why dwell on it? There’s always next year for sipping margaritas on a warm summer evening at our new bistro table on our new patio. (Sing it with me: Next year, next year, I love ya, next year —  you’re always a year away….)

Patience: A minor form of despair disguised as a virtue.
~ Ambrose Bierce


I get so out of sorts when I haven’t posted for a while. More than a week has gone by — a family visit, a holiday, a few fun day trips, plenty of work (home & garden and the paying kind), a lot of good food, some ups & downs with my mother. Nothing earth-shattering — just life as we know it.

But, I did want to give a quick follow-up to Wall!

Yes, the contractor finished the steps to our satisfaction (mostly). What a treat to have easy access to the back yard! We still need to cap off the top corners where Mike wasn’t pleased with how the top step juts up over the adjoining wall. We’re scouting out a decorative feature to put on either side as well. And adding stepping stones or some other transition between the top step and the grass. 

We worked like dogs in tropical humidity once the steps were done. Mike filled in both sides with 2 truckloads of topsoil and I moved a bunch of plants around, readying the space for a new look. The birdbath fountain we bought last year on clearance finally made it out of the box (and promptly started shedding its Chinese paint, sigh) and I got a few new things planted, including the poor little tree we’ve had in its pot for weeks and weeks. There’s lots more space to fill — you know what that means, another trip to the garden center — or two or three. Yay!

 In summer, the song sings itself.
         ~ William Carlos Williams


Probably the last time you heard so much ado about a wall was when one came tumbling down. In Berlin. In 1989.

My version is about a wall going up. At our house. After 14 months of waiting.

Share it with me.

































No, no steps yet…I think they befuddled the contractor. At one point yeserday there were four men staring at the dirt where the steps will go. And they didn’t come back today. But as I told Mike last night, even in its unfinished state, the area still looks better than it has in the entire 3 years we’ve lived here.

Stay tuned for the sequel (Beyond the Wall) in which our intrepid homeowners decide how to finish the newly lengthened driveway (where the gravel is now). Will they choose more asphalt? Pavers? Something else? Oh the excitement of it all. But don’t hold your breath — this will likely take a while. There’s still that pesky sewer issue to fix, front porch to rebuild, closet-turned-powder-room in the works, a deck to resurface, a “honey, what if we…” project ongoing in the back yard, and a half-dozen other items on the to-do list.

The big fun never ends on Pleasant Valley Road. But slowly, slowly, slowly, the house is looking like responsible, motivated, proud owners live here.

 He conquers who endures.
                        ~ Persius