My parents' house is built on a hillside, so both floors have ground-level access. The lower level exits to the backyard through sliding doors located immediately under a deck accessible from the upper level. There's a nominal concrete pad the width of the sliding doors that extends about four feet from the downstairs doors, but the rest of the area underneath the deck has been mostly dirt since we moved to Colorado. (A small wooden deck adjacent to the concrete pad the previous owners used for their hot tub was demolished last summer.)
Last week, the caterer met my sister and the groom's mother at my parents' house to go over details of the rehearsal dinner, which will be at my parents' since we're closer to the church where the wedding will be held. Dad became self-conscious about the unfinished area under the deck and decided we should finish it (one of the many outdoor projects Mom and I have had planned for years) for the rehearsal dinner.
On Sunday, we stopped in at our local Home Depot with the measurements of the area we wanted to finish, chose a style (Pavestone Plaza I) and color (antique terra cotta) of pavers we could all agree on, and then Dad sat down with the measurements and figured out how many pavers and bags of pave base sand we'd need. A Special Orders clerk went over his numbers and came to the same conclusion, Dad placed the order and arranged to have it delivered on Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, Mom made sure the base was sufficiently level and I laid pavers in a muster "k" pattern from the north end of the unfinished area, south along the length of the concrete pad, then ran out of pavers. I counted how many pavers of each shape went into the previous course (width of the weed barrier fabric by the depth of the deck above) and figured we were around 70 pavers short... and we had several extra bags of pave base sand since we didn't have a particularly deep base. (They aren't called the Rocky Mountains for nothing!) Since we had extra landscaping fabric, Mom laid some down in the sandbox area under the swingset, covered it with five bags of the extra sand, and covered it with another layer of landscaping fabric to keep neighborhood pets from using it as a litterbox. (Before we took out the horseshoe pits that came with the house, several of us witnessed a neighbor's cat do its business in one of them, followed immediately by a dog that dug it up and ate it. The meaning of this tangent is left as an exercise for the reader.)
On Wednesday afternoon, Mom bravely drove my brother's truck into the backyard and hefted 14 50-pound bags of pave base sand into the back of the truck, then Sarah hopped up and rearranged them as best she could to distribute them closer to and in front of the rear axle. It was an interesting drive back to Home Depot, where several different clerks counted the bags to make sure we were returning 14. (I fought the urge to sing anything from Sesame Street about the number.) After leaving a flatbed cart with the sand with the special orders desk, we took another flatbed cart and carefully placed paver stones on it, left that with Sarah at the garden department checkout, and went to special orders to pay the difference from the refunded sand value.
Loading the truck was a riot -- we pulled the flatbed cart up to the back of the truck, put on our work gloves, and I climbed up in the truck bed to take paver stones by the pair from Mom and place them near the cab in the truck bed. Apparently my skinny ass in a tank top slows traffic. I was amused. The drive home was much nicer, although the combination of short bed and lift kit makes the truck's ride strangely bouncy. We drove the truck into the backyard again to unload, took a break for dinner, and Mom and I finished the patio before dark. I'll take a picture in the morning because I was too lazy to take one after we finished.
Not-so-brief explanation of the cut-tag text: On Tuesday, I had a bagel for breakfast, drank the cherry limeade while laying paver stones, had the Horizon milkbox (heh) after lunch, and had the chicken bacon ranch and a Frappucino for dinner after surviving a Wal-Mart trip with so much estrogen it made my ovaries hurt. On Wednesday, I had another bagel for breakfast while working on a still-secret wedding project, had a caramel Frappucino before lunch after Amy bought me a four-pack to thank me for helping her move her classroom materials into her new classroom (which is how I got to ride in a middle school elevator alongside a janitor's trashcan emblazoned with a bumper sticker that read "Yes, it has a Hemi."), and I bought the fruit punch Powerade after loading the truck at Home Depot because I was starting to feel dehydrated. If that wasn't enough TMI for you, let me add this: I'm ovulating. I must resist the bridal party's evil scrapbooking overtures, no matter how cute my ovaries find it.
In related news, my quads need a good stretch before I go to sleep, vitamin B complex is good for joint pain, and when a manhole cover-sized shadow passes over you, point the camera up. I missed a really good opportunity to get a photo of a hawk.