Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Clean Slate

Sometimes the only thing to do is wipe the slate clean.

When we first bought this house, there were grand plans and deep pockets.  The long list of plans included a deck and all new landscaping (and accidentally running over that speed limit sign...).  Then life decided to show us a different set of plans.  Although these were the toughest plans I've worked with to date, and included some really, really tough losses (loved ones, jobs, savings) they also came with some really big blessings - getting to spend precious time with loved ones, learning that there's more to life than work (or a paycheck for that matter), a clean bill of health, a happy marriage, two new grandchildren and a deeper understanding that life is precious and time is fleeting.

Like John Lennon said, "Life's what happens when your busy making plans".  Plans these days are pretty much a clean slate. "Planning" is much more organic in the sense that we have a general idea of where we are headed and we otherwise "plan" to suit the weather.  I will say this, the things that get accomplished are executed with a sense of pleasure that was missing prior to these last few years. Before, it seemed that the more money I made, the more  money I needed in order to pay for the stuff that I thought I "needed" to make it all feel good - pretzel-y, right?  It was a pretty vicious cycle.  These days I try to first, do what's right, and second, do what feels good to me - nothing too complicated. I like to think I've always operated from the standpoint of what was right and good, but adding those two little words "to me" have made a huge difference in the way I look at life and my general happiness.  

.....which is my long winded way of getting to the point of today's post.  

To me "garden" is first a verb, then a noun.  I love to garden.  It was the thing I thought about the most when we starting making plans for this house...

I had plans of a low slung deck with

large teak adirondacks and a low table 
where we'd put our feet on the edge and talk the night away.  

There would be a gravel path with slate stepping stones with

boxwoods, hydrangeas, and rose beds all tied up with 

a picket fence and an arbor full of roses...

So, after a few whirlwind years, and with a new perspective, I am back to garden, the verb.... to the doing, rather than the plan.  I have yet to really garden at this house, but last year after the loss of my sweetheart dad, I planted a vegetable garden.  I tended to him for so long that I didn't know what else to do with myself and all of the tending I had grown accustomed to giving.  All I can tell you is we never ate so many tomatoes - ever.  

This year, after getting outside and painting the addition, a different task, but nonetheless a therapeutic one, it was time to start tackling the garden.

this is the entrance to my office, which is off the kitchen.  See the arrows pointing at the skewed stepping stones?  I have no idea why they were just out there floating like that - they didn't even make sense as it relates to a natural gait. I used to think I would throw them away and get nice "new" stones set in gravel.  These days, I think much more economically (both in the physical and financial realms).  So bearing in mind what my sister always says, "from tiny acorns, mighty oaks grow", I thought, fixing this path is a project I can accomplish on my own without added labor and a minimum amount of cash...

I started by pulling up all of the slate.  Cleaned up, for the most part, they were all in pretty good shape except for one - see it up there cracked in half....  Then I trenched a clean path and filled it with Quikrete Earth Essentials Paver Base.  I came across this at Lowes while looking for pea gravel - I actually like this much better with the slate -

 It was $3.90/per bag x 6 = total cash spent $23.40 + tax. The bag has a helpful chart to help you determine how many bags you will need.... 

It was surprisingly easy and definitely easier trenching out the path after all of the rain we've had lately, so if you haven't had any rain, you may want to consider this if you decide to carve out a path of your own - you might just want to give that grass a good long, slow soak....

I poured four bags of the base into the path and 

 used a garden rake to even it out, 
and the back side of the rake to smooth it over.

Then I placed the stones in a pattern that pleased my eye as well as my gait
and used the last two bags to surround the stones and set them in place.

I probably should have "tamped" them with a mallet or something, but they seem pretty well set to me without the effort.  And shortly after taking this photo, we had a healthy downpour of rain - again - not a stone out of place.

If i get ambitious, I might just add a brick edge on either side like the image from the plans - I'll keep you posted....

So there you have it - Who knew that $24.00, six bags of paver base and a couple of clean slates could make a girl so happy.

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