Tuesday, May 30, 2017

April showers bring May allergies.... and a new patio

This year was the worst for allergies yet. April 28th, Friday evening, my allergies hit me with the force of all that is evil. Eyes itchy, sneezing non-stop, completely congested... oh brother. I was out of commission. Unfortunately I couldn't be out of commission. Saturday the 29th I had to pick up my bees. I ordered two bee packages this year and took the class. There was tons of drama with the queens, but that is a story for another post.
Long story short - that weekend I sought the advice of my local pharmacist who gave me excellent recommendations:  keep taking the Zyrtek, supplement with Sudafed for allergies, Flo-nase for the congestion and if that doesn't work, come back for the Zatidor eye drops before you rip your eye-balls out. By Monday I had to get the eye drops I was so miserable. By Thursday, it turned out, I was allergic to the eye drops. You've never seen anything like it. My eyes were completely blood shot, tearing, and itchy like crazy. Not to mention the gunk! There was so much gunk coming out of them they sealed shut over night. All of this stress strained the rest of my system and by the following Tuesday (when I could see a doctor) she decided that in addition to all of the allergy nonsense I had an upper respiratory infection. I took an entire week off from work because I was totally useless. And I'm still coughing, although things have gotten much much better. And to top if off, May has been a little bit miserable. We had a three day heat wave, temps in the 90s out of nowhere, and then promptly back to the 60s. I'm not complaining about the cool weather because soon enough it will be broiling, but it's still weird. And the cool weather allowed me to take care of another long overdue project, replacing the "deck".
Remember the deck? I layed down four wooden pallets, topped it with weather proof fencing and voilá! Instant deck. This worked just fine until last summer when the pallets started rotting through. It started to become more of an amusement park fun house ride than a safe and secure deck. So it was time to replace it with a patio.
Here is the deck in its last hurrah. It served it's purpose well. 

One of the collapsed pallets that proved the most wobbly. 
 The Senior Inspector was curious but didn't seem to exhibit any great feelings about the removal of one of his garden thrones.
 Once the furniture was moved, he did settle comfortably in his favorite chair.

Meanwhile, the Junior Inspector monitored everything from the ground. 
 Cleared space is approved.

Next came the incredibly laborious job of leveling the ground. Ooff! What a job.

 Once it is mostly flat sand needs to be added.
I added 200lbs of sand and smoothed it out. I was so tempted to run the rake through it to make a faux zen garden. But the thought that I would have to smooth it out again took that desire away right quick-like.
And as I stood there surveying my handiwork at the end of the day, I realized I could not be done this evening. What does that giant sand pit look like to you? Now, what do you think it looks like to a cat? A deluxe kitty litter box! Am I right? So the work continued to prevent any treasures appearing in it overnight.

I was removing bricks from the walkway next to the porch for this project.
The walkway is only ever totally clear in the winter time when I'm not really using it. And the rest of the year it one giant weeding nightmare project. Plus the flower beds between the walkway and the porch just aren't substantial enough to do anything wonderful with. I decided that if I lifted the bricks from there for the patio, I could then expand the flower/vegetable beds. 

After getting the first load back to the deck in the wheel barrow (checked out from the West Philly Tool Library - yay!) my earlier suspicions about the vast sand pit were tested.
The Senior Inspector was mighty interested!

But to my great relief and surprise, that sand pit looked like the best kitty-bath in the world!
The Senior Inspector had himself a grand time in the sand.
And I let him.
(Sorry about the video quality. I'm working with my vintage Canon from ought five.)

I managed to make quite a bit of progress before it really was time to call it quits.
I covered the leftover bit with an old shower curtain to thwart any other kitties who think more like me.
At the next opportunity I finished my patio!
The sand is key. It allows you to make the whole thing completely level and for a time, thwarts any weeds from sneaking into the cracks. 
The above brick was sticking up at least 1/4" higher than everything else. So you just pull it up, scoop out some sand until it lies flush with the rest of the bricks. Fabulous technique!

Once I had reinstalled the furniture, the Junior Inspector checked things out. 

 New deck approved!

The project made quite a mess of the garden, and I'm looking forward to having that cleaned up. 
My lovely new veggie garden at the side of the house has tomatoes, kale, and fennel along with various flowers.
But I don't think this project is quite finished. I have extra bricks and I think it would be wise to make a pathway from the patio connected to the rest of the bricks in front of the shed. This would be nice just for general barefoot travel and also for a good place to put the grill.

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