Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stepping Out

Now I know that many of you think that I am nuts for doing all the things I do with all my projects (and you may very well be right) but I just want to go on the record that...


It seems that after helping me build my stone bench, my friend Ellen decided that she'd like to build some flagstone steps over at her place.

You see, there's a small but treacherous hill between Ellen's house and her next door neighbor's. Ellen routinely skids down this hill for a chat and a morning coffee with Kathy next door. But then she takes her life in her hands trying to the scale the dang thing on her return trip.

Add in the occasional glass (or two) of red wine at a Friday night firepit and the hill becomes a slippery mountain of doom.

Clearly steps are needed.

I had learned from my back-tweaking flagstone experience that the key to working with flagstone is to invite a crowd of strong and healthy folks to schlep the stuff into place.

Ellen is no fool and so that's what we did.

We started at the bottom of the hill and dug out a spot for the first step. Jessie and Patrick placed the flagstone pieces while Matlina positioned the rocks just so.

Patrick places the second step with Ellen coaching and Jessie standing ready.
Ellen kept a close watch on the positioning but honestly each step was a collective effort as we each added a bit of dirt here or dug out a small rock there to get everything level and secure.

A quick spray to clear off the dust and steps are born!
Jessie is an expert with all things concrete so offered to mortar the gaps in the flagstone. Of course Ellen just happened to have a bag on hand - she has everything in her garage!

It's hard to capture the slope of the hill - trust me when I say it's a challenge to climb it.
We were pretty pleased with the final product and Ellen added the solar globes for nighttime safety (often there's a firepit and red wine on Saturdays too).

The only problem was that all those coffee visits (and some rain) had washed a lot of the rock off the hill leaving some bare spots. Normally, no one probably would have noticed but with those eye-catching steps...well the hill became a focal point.

The only question left was where could Ellen find the gravel she needed to recoat her hill?

Did I mention that I ordered 8 tons of pea gravel for my backyard pathways...and still had 3 tons of it left?

We assembled our team of shovel-wielding neighbors and set to work on the Great Gravel Gadabout...

(Alliteration is really hard with "G's")

I wish I'd remembered to take pictures of the pile while it was still on the side of our house so you could see what we had to go through to get it onto Jessie's flatbed trailer...just imagine the five of us using the old-fashioned bucket brigade approach...only replace the buckets with shovels and fill the air with grunts and groans and the occasional epithet.

Does it looks like 3 tons? It sure felt like it!

Getting it off the trailer was a little easier - Dave manned the wheelbarrow while the rest of us took turns filling it or spreading gravel on the hill.

Then we had to wash down Jessie's trailer to clear off the inch thick layer of gravel dust that had settled on every surface.

Dave and Patrick are pretty skilled with the hose and brooms.

Now don't those steps look pretty? And wine proof?

Not too bad looking for $65 in garage sale flagstone.

We just need to know if they are are pina colada proof!

Matlina and Patrick drink up their reward.

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