Chapter 18: A Hard Ground for the Wife

Jen is a good wife. For a few weeks, she had to do the laundry hanging with her feet on sand but she didn't complain a single time. She even told me it was "okay" and I could focus on other areas if I wanted to. Perhaps she could sense that I was reluctant to work on it as well. Paving was not really something I enjoyed doing. Pavings bricks is really fun, bent from morn' till the set of sun. At times, it felt like an adult playground. Erm, not that kind of adult playground but that kind instead. There are sand, stones and tools. All those things, you see.

One afternoon after work, I decided that that day was the day I would attempt to push the limits a little more. The laundry area was not a large area. It was situated where most visitors would avoid. A perfect location to mess things up. With the leveling ruler Steph lent me and a trusty old hammer that I picked up long ago, I started my on my quest of glory.

Treated timber was still liberally scattered around my area. So I had no problem picking up as many pieces as I wanted for the job. They were in great condition and wouldn't be out of place on somebody's roof truss. With those, I lined the edge of the pavement I wanted, tapping on various points of the member to achieve the level that I wanted. Before long, I had a reliable strip of benchmark to help me level the sand, and subsequently the paver blocks.

Progress was slow. It was already dark when I started to lay my first pavers. That was still better than my first attempt, when I spent hours on a few rows of pavers. Stopping for dinner delayed it further. At least, I didn't have to travel far to do a few hours of work.

This round, I attempted to stagger the pavers so that they interlock to provide extra hold. The key to a good pavement was one with minimum earth and paver movement. For too much movement may result in unevenness or even damage on the pavement. With a leveling ruler, it wasn't difficult to keep the pavers generally level. You just need a little patience and discipline to conduct more checks before moving on to the next row. I know the professional pavers do not do that. They simply do not have the time to burn. Besides, it is much easier to place everything down and compact the shit out of the whole thing. Without any mechanical tools, I could do nothing like that.

My only worry was how was I going to fill the locations that required the "half bricks". Worse, the area surrounding the drain pipe covers. I decided I would take each step at a time.

By 8pm, I decided to call it a day. Jen looked please with the work and I taught her where to stand to do her laundry in order not to slide the pavers out of position. For the next couple of days, I continued working on the area for a few hours a day.

It turned out okay and Albany began to dance on it. The problem lies in the edges now. Steph told me tradies use a wet saw to cut them. I didn't want to spend a few thousands on a machine unless I wanted to do this long term as a sideline. I just wanted to get this done and over so I wouldn't need to touch paving for a long time. I would worry about doing it better the next time. I read it was possible to chisel the pavers manually but I didn't want to tell anyone about my intentions, lest they gave me scorn before I could even try.

The next day, I got myself a chisel. It wasn't one of those special chisels made for this purpose. But who cared.

Surprisingly I managed to chisel a decent one after two failed tries. I asked myself what the fuck was I doing there, chiseling stones like a cave man. Upon realisation, the answer was clear. I was a stubborn cheap skate who deserved to be chiseling stones like a caveman. But hey, if it worked, it worked.

The edges of my chiseled pavers would not look too good. I was just a cave man, not a Roman artisan. What do you expect? I challenge you to do a cheaper, better and faster job than this caveman. 

Before long, the edges of half bricks were filled. However, I have a problem. Making small pieces using the chiseling method was near impossible. Thus I had to leave the perimeters of the drain pipe covers for another day. I counted there were 4 covers in that small area alone. Damn. I told Jen I had to leave those alone till I found another solution. She told me it didn't bother her and she was happy she had a solid ground to walk on.

After sweeping the excess sand away, the pavement looked mighty fine.