Tuesday, May 30, 2006


If not officially, unofficially, summertime hit Michigan this weekend with a bam! None of this gradually warming you up to the heat. We went from temperatures in the 30s and 40s to the 80s and 90s in a matter of days! And while Michigan weather is generally unpredictable, this year has been especially so.

I, of course, had picked this weekend as the weekend to re-re-fix my patio (which I'll get to in a moment). That meant I was only able to work in periods of an hour here and there before I had to go inside and take a nap. And did I actually finish the patio? Nope. Still more work to do.

Now then...Memorial Day. For most of us, this day is a celebration. Time off work, picnics with family and friends, and for some people, the opening of the pool. One thing that seems to be missing, however, is any form of memorializing of those who gave their lives for our freedom. Yesterday, at the end of the day lounging on the couch watching Pirates of the Carribean, I realized that our Memorial Day really wasn't much of a Memorial Day. I suppose I should feel guilty about that. Yet, in all honesty, I feel blessed, because I haven't, personally, lost any loved ones serving in the armed forces.

I have one brother who served in the Air Force many moons ago, and another who graduated from West Point and served seven years, most of that as a helicopter pilot. But both are alive and well today, raising families. A bit of that is the luck of the span of generations. My dad wasn't old enough to serve in World War II, but too old by the time the Korean War came around. None of my siblings were old enough to serve in Vietnam. My brother was still at West Point during Desert Storm, and we were again at a general state of peace during his years of service after he graduated.

So, for us, Memorial Day has generally been a day of getting together with my wife's extended family, heading up north a couple of hours.

This year, however, was different. We had to skip the family gathering due to my daughter being sick, and another of my boy's on the verge. Instead, we had a day of sum-sum-summertime fun. We took the kids to the sprayscape (which is an outdoor playground with water that sprays you in a multitude of ways), headed to Wal-Mart, did some grilling, let the kids play with bubbles in the yard, and pretty much just relaxed.

Me, personally? I did make a trip to Home Depot to pick up more "stuff" for the patio. As I mentioned above, this year I was re-re-fixing the patio.

You see, I'm not a patio-building expert. Well, that's not entirely accurate. Because I know the proper way to build a patio. But, frankly, several years ago while digging up the ground to lay the foundation for the patio, I ran into two issues. First, clay. Our house has all of one inch of top soil before it is all clay, which meant I had ho desire to dig down six more inches across a space of twelve feet by twelve feet. So, I didn't. Instead, I sprayed the grass with grass killer and let it die off for a few days. Then, I covered the grass with stones.

And that was where the next issue came. Money. At the time, I didn't want to spent a ton of money, so I cut corners. I mean, did I really need several inches of stones plus a couple more inches of sand? Nah! I could make it with just an inch of stones. That'll do it. Plus, I framed the patio in weather-resistant boards. But, given Michigan winters, those boards were pushed up until they were about fives inches over the patio blocks. I pounded them back down, but they would just pop up again the next spring.

So, a few years ago, I bit the bullet and pulled off all of the patio blocks and applied a fresh layer of base to even things out. (I didn't deal with the boards, however.) But, as of this year, half of the patio was tilting to the side, and the boards were doing absolutely nothing but tripping us as we stepped on or off the patio. So, this year, I had to pull off the patio blocks again, and this time replace the boards entirely, building up the ground around the patio.

I've now invested more money than I would have had I done it right the first place...but whatever. Like I said, I'm not a patio-building expert.

So, today it is back to the grindstone, as it were. I hope everyone else had a day full of sum-sum-summertime fun!

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