Thursday, 5 November 2009

A Solution

They showed up at 8 am on the appointed Monday (and every other morning). A whole army of them (well, 6 or 8). They didn't knock on the door or anything, just came through the gates and set to work. With jackhammers.

And, given our corner location on a well used road, of course they were keen to put up their signs.

I never did figure out why they have a teddy bear on their truck, but Bill says it's a British thing.

I had asked the woman in the office who scheduled the job whether we needed to do anything in preparation and she said no, they'd move everything. On the other hand, they needed to be told where to put things, like big planter pots and the like.

I wasn't going to get to just sit in the house and let them deal with everything. I don't think the square foot garden will ever be quite the same, not that I blame them -- there just wasn't enough room for all that junk and all those men and equipment. I asked them to put aside a dozen or so of the concrete paving stones. I thought they would make a better path in the square foot garden than the red wood chips that kept blowing away.

Then came the questions, "Are you American?" What part of America are you from?" "What is it like in Oklahoma?" "Have you been here long?" "You don't sound like you've been here that long, you still have your accent; it's lovely." "Do you like it here?" "Why would anyone live here instead of in America?"

It's rather strange having three or four muscular young men, hang on your every word. I had got used to people's interest when I was out in the work world, but it's been a couple of years, so this caught me off guard. I finally managed to extricate myself back into the house with, "Well, best let you get on with things; no work is getting done at this rate!"

In the two weeks it took, they almost got used to me taking pictures. I almost got used to the constant noise: jack hammers, chatter, radio (and singing along), trucks dropping off supplies, picking up skips.

After a couple of days I was made aware that it is customary to provide workmen with tea and coffee several times a day. According to Bill, supplying the kettle, the condiments and the cups wasn't appropriate; I had to do the waitress thing, taking and filling orders. I didn't mind too much, it was just something else to fit into the schedule and they just had to do without on Tuesday mornings when I was at the sewing group.

The garage door stayed open to allow access to water for the concrete mixing. The 10-year old trampoline I've never used was a convenient lounge at lunch time and the bike seats were coat racks, of course. I kept finding apples in the garden with only 2 bites removed and kept wanting to explain this was not the way to make their 5-a-day, but I guessed they didn't want a mother, just a tealady. They rang the door bell increasingly often, to use the toilet, to get access to the water outlet, to ask advice about the job.

At the end of the day it suited them to leave wheelbarrows, mixers, etc. in the garage and the back yard. They put down paving stones leading from the front and back doors across the mud for me, after I stacked up a supply of shoes in the front and back porches. All the hard standing was removed at once on the first day to put in the skip for re-cycling (and cheaper disposal costs). Once that was all gone and the ground was more or less leveled, the paving work began.

Bill had asked for the brindle coloured bricks as they would best blend with the house, but we were surprised by the fancy charcoal edging. I wasn't sure I liked it at first, but soon found I didn't really notice it. Truth be known, I much prefer lawn to bricks, but that just wasn't realistic given the position of the house and the amount of work either Bill or I are prepared to do in the garden; we do well to keep up with the green areas such as we do.

The process of creating the design with the

bricks and of marking and cutting the puzzle pieces with a huge circular saw was interesting to

watch and I thought the result was a big improvement on what we had before, though Bill didn't get quite what he thought he would.

Oh, and by the way, it's Guy Fawkes' again. No doubt the fireworks will be going most of the night.

1 comment:

Jane said...

Wow! Looks amazing! Did it get very dusty inside the house? Looking forward to seeing the final thing. Jane