The latest gardening project is also the biggest I have ever undertaken. About two months ago, we decided to completely remove our front lawn. Completely. We ripped out three trees, a very large hedge, a sidewalk, ten rose bushes, a big flower bed, the lawn itself, and so on. Our goal was to open the yard. At the same time, we wanted to install sprinklers and put in more drought-resistant grass and plants.
Everything went according to plan as far as the demolition goes. The trees came out fine, the sidewalk cement was shallow and broke easily, and the roses were a 5 minute job at best. The hedge ate my trimmer and the chainsaw never worked, so we ended up taking that out by hand over three Saturdays, but still… easy. Then we dug the trench for the new 4-foot tall cinder block wall that we are putting in where the hedge was. At this point, God displayed His wonderful sense of humor.
I live in the desert. A desert is defined by its lack of rain, so would someone like to explain to me why it has rained for five consecutive Saturdays now? The only possible explanation is that God has a sense of humor. Even when the forecast called for sun, it has rained. Even on rainy days when it was supposed to be light rain, it has been heavy. Unfortunately, you can’t lay cement when the world freezes. That left us with a choice: we could pour the cement foundation for our garden wall in the rain or wait until next spring. We poured in the rain.
I have never, I repeat, never been so wet in my life. Not even after a shower. Not even after a thousand showers. Not even after a thousand showers of a thousand hours. But I did learn a couple things from the experience:
- You can pour cement in the rain as long as you take special efforts to protect the poured cement from getting too much water. Covering it with a tarp or plastic trash bags works perfectly. You also need to protect the ground where you are pouring the cement from getting too saturated.
- Mixing cement by hand is not only back-breaking work, but it is REALLY back-breaking work. Cement mixers were invented for a reason, and you can trust the common logic that most tools are not invented for kicks and giggles. The cement mixer has a purpose. Use it. The above logic does not apply to the Back Hoe which was invented purely based on the male need to dig holes.
- Eighty-pound bags of cement actually increase in weight the more times you lift them. They have some strange chemical property that attracts the heaviest elements from their surroundings. These elements then bond with the cement creating something that may have at one time weighed close to 80 lbs. but currently weighs closer to 80 bagillion tons.
- Cement bags are made of paper, and paper seems to lose its strength when wet. I think you can figure out the rest of that one.
- 3000 lbs. of cement loaded onto a cart will, in fact, cause even the sturdiest carts at Home Depot to complain about their lot in life. And while the carts may have wheels, a wheel that has been driven six inches into the floor will not turn no matter how hard you push on the cart.
- And last, but definitely not least… God inspired someone to create actual companies that will come and pour actual cement for you. No, really! They will. You just have to give them money. And not only are these companies good and useful things, but you will never find me working for one of them. Ever.
Cement may be one of the most incredible and amazing substances ever developed, but I no longer care.