8 yards

That’s what the concrete truck—technically an in-transit mixer—brought today. We had three yards poured yesterday and we’ll get three more yards on Friday. Eight cubic yards is 216 cubic feet. That helps, doesn’t it? If you can imagine a block, a cube actually, two yards (six feet) on a side, you’ll get the idea. (Two cubed is eight, six cubed is 216.) I don’t want a cube of course, I want a driveway. Yesterday we got our new sidewalk, curb, and gutter. (You have to pay for these things even though they are used by the public. Your tax dollars NOT at work!) Friday we’ll get the walkway that connects to the porch. That’s the last of the concrete projects.

Bare ground doesn’t stay bare long. The plants come in whether you want them to or not. So you have to do something with the ground. Decorative gravel and stepping stones. Drought-tolerant ground cover. Perhaps a garden.  Or maybe a lawn. But you have to manage the space or you’ll have dust, mud, and thickets of hardy weeds. A weed is just the name we give to a plant we don’t like. If we liked dandelions and wanted them around they wouldn’t be weeds.

Around my neighborhood we have lots of cats. Not the kind of cats that live inside but the kind of cats that roam. They like my big back yard because I don’t have a dog. They see my open space and think “now THAT’S a litter box!” They see my wife’s beautifully tended raised beds and think “LUXURY litter box!” If a dog craps in your yard you go talk to the owner and say “hey please keep your dog in your yard” and they (mostly) say “OK, sorry, will do.” But you can’t use that argument with cats. I used to have a bird feeder. Lots of finches, man. Very cool. But the neighborhood cats would all gather in my back yard watching the feeder, hoping one of the little fellows would fall. If one did they’d pounce on the poor bugger and make a sort of meal of it. Really they’d just kill the bird and maybe gnaw on it but these were well-fed cats. They didn’t do it out of hunger. I know a cat is natural-born killer so I didn’t hold it against them, they were just doing the cat-carnivore thing. Perfectly natural. But I did not put up the feeder to provide cats with recreational hunting opportunities so I got rid of it.

My neighbors, I’ve no doubt, are salivating over my new driveway. They need a place to turn around, after all. This big wide slab of new concrete will beckon them. They won’t use their own driveways and they won’t go the other way on the street. No, they have to turn around in front of my house. I don’t understand it. I can go west on my street and get to where I’m going or I can go east on my street and get to where I’m going. I can enter my property whether I’m going west on my street or I’m going east. That does not seem possible for my neighbors. They have to turn around in my driveway.

I don’t think the city will be happy if I put in one of those tire-puncture devices along the edge of my new driveway. You remember these things from the drive-in movie theaters. Fee-based parking lots have them, too. You can drive one way over them but not the other. Obviously I’d have to get a retractable one, and just my luck I’d forget and drive my vehicle over them and get four ugly flats in one fell swoop. So I guess that’s out. There’s always a gate. They have these cool remote-controlled solar-powered gates that will swing open for you and close behind you like a garage door. But I’ll be broke after this project and I can’t afford that. Plus it seems like a lot of expense and hassle just to express irritation at my neighbors. I’ll probably just park one of my vehicles in the driveway and that will discourage them. My fancy new concrete cost a lot of money—if they want to chip in I will change my tune.

Last night a couple of dogs nearly ran on to the still-wet freshly-poured sidewalk. I did not want dog prints in my sidewalk. It isn’t really my sidewalk, I have to let other people walk on it. But I paid for it so I wanted it free of rocks, initials, falling leaves, hoof prints, foot prints, or shoe prints. We had barriers and cones up to warn people but dogs don’t read. One of my neighbors lets her dog out to run around freely and he nearly left his mark. But we chased him away. The other dog was unknown to me. Someone on a nearby street also lets their dog out to run freely. Doesn’t seem like very responsible dog ownership, but what do I know? I was worried that the deer that march with impunity down our street on a regular basis might step in the pour. I sat outside at twilight but I didn’t see them come by. They have a much bigger target this evening, but they seem a little spooked by the barriers and the yellow caution tape.

My new driveway will cut down on a lot of mud, dust, and weeds. But I’ve still got lots of bare dirt. You can’t concrete everything, unfortunately. Some of it you have to manage. I don’t like lawns so those are out. The cats don’t like lava rocks, for some reason they are reluctant to walk on the small pumice stones, so I’m sure I’ll get some more of that stuff. We like rock gardens and xeriscapes and such. We’ll get to that at some point, but for now I’m going to watch my concrete cure. It beats watching paint dry.

 

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