Thursday, October 20, 2005

Picky, picky

There. Showed that concrete who's boss.

Backstory: When they build houses here (or maybe everywhere, what do I know?) they build a temporary shed for the watchman to sleep in, and to keep the tools in and stuff.

They got pretty happy making our shed, and poured it a concrete floor. In fact, when we moved down here, it had two rooms (not including the chicken coop), with running water, electricity, a phone line and a woodstove. Oh, and also our (former) bed - three feet from the chicken-mite condo. (I don't know what they're really called, but there are these little bugs that live in chicken coops and I call them chicken mites. You could step quickly in and then right back out of the chicken coop and immediately find eight or ten of these tiny, colorless little bug things crawling on you. That bed never came back into the house.)

Anyway, the shed eventually came down, but Alex wanted to keep the cement. First he wanted to park on it (not a convenient location), then he wanted to keep it for outdoor entertaining (not a convenient location), then he said it would be a good place for the kids to play (no more so than any other part of the yard). The outdoor entertaining part was what he cared about most.

So we've been talking about building a path from the gate to the house, which led to thoughts about other things we can do out there, and on Tuesday we were talking about different possibilities and I mentioned that the instructions I found for building a stone walkway can also be used for a stone patio. Which might be nicer than random poured concrete that's not even a regular shape. He thought that might be okay, and between us we even came to the conclusion that there is a better spot in the yard for it to go. I double checked. I asked him straight out. And he said the cement floor could go. That was Tuesday.

It rained all day Wednesday, but I wasn't kidding this morning when I said I wanted to get at the concrete pad with a pickaxe. And I turned off the computer and I did.

The shed itself was pretty much square, but one-fourth of it was a chicken coop with a dirt floor. So what remains today is a cement pad that is three quarters of a square (which I forgot to measure, but I'll get back to you with the dimensions). I started with the section against the fence, because Alex had already mentioned about cutting out at least a section of that so we can put in some bamboo to fill in that space along the property line. Also, the land slopes down from there, so it's probably the thinnest part. (Turns out it ranged from about one to four inches thick.)

So I got my pick, my safety goggles and my kitchen timer (45 minutes till I had to go inside and clean up to pick up the girls from school.) And I whupped some concrete butt. It'd be nice if my digital camera had higher resolution, but I think you can tell what I did there. For perspective: that's a child-sized chair, and the blue thing is a 5-gallon paint bucket.

Figuring out how to swing the pick so my hand didn't absorb the recoil was pretty easy. Aiming was surprisingly easy - the amount of aim needed for wholesale destruction, anyway. You know what the hard part was? Keeping my mouth closed. The goggles protected my eyes, but raisin-sized chunks did manage to fly directly into my nose at two different points and I had to consciously breathe in and then shut my mouth before each stroke landed or I would have been munching dust for sure.

And the painful part? Bathing after I was done (and washing dishes this evening). I discovered I had a teeny little raw spot on my left thumb and it stings like a something-not-very-nice whenever it gets wet. There are also two small blisters on my other hand, but they don't hurt because they didn't pop. Maybe I'll try it with gloves on tomorrow.


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