Sunday, August 22, 2010


It's been a busy, hectic summer and I'm afraid that I haven't worked much on Merriman Park. But I have been toiling on a rather major project for The Lilacs, my "real" house, which is a small bungalow built in 1908. We have always wanted to put in some sort of stone or brick patio out back, but have never been able to swing it, financially. But we finally decided to bite the bullet this Summer, so with great determination and spades in hand we broke ground around Memorial day.

The weather hasn't been very cooperative this season, either being pouring monsoon rains, or blistering heat with tropical humidity (or sometimes both)! So progress was slow, slow, slow! I thought we would NEV-AH complete the task. The job was made all the worse what with the dogs tracking in all the mud and sand. It quickly became impossible to walk across the hundred-year-old hardwood floors in ones bare feet. There was sand EVERYWHERE! Even in the bed. Gross.

Deciding on the type of pavers was not an easy decision either. We love the look of local Kasota limestone, but there was already a poured concrete sidewalk running through the property to deal with. Do we break it up and replace it as well? We opted to keep it ( I have always admired its gentle, meandering curve) and frankly, after the sheer horror of digging the hole and hauling away the seeming never-ending pile of soil for the main patio, tearing out all that concrete was simply NOT going to happen!

We then fell for vintage, granite cobblestones from the original horse-and-buggy-era streets of Minneapolis. A local salvage yard had mountains of them for sale and we liked the idea of reusing period-perfect materials from yesteryear. But these little beauties were sold strictly by the pre-packaged pallet and we were informed by the surly sales staff that 10% of the blocks were unusable because they had grooves carved into them to accommodate the street's antique trolley tracks. And no, they would not be interested in buying back the grooved cobbles, thank-you-very-much. Now what to do?

The answer came when we then found a modern facsimile at a local landscaping yard. These contemporary look-alikes not only mimicked their ye-olde counterparts, but also had the added advantage of being a standard size ( for easier installation) AND they were made from concrete --so they nicely complimented the existing path.

But Will We Ever Finish the Job?

So all that's left to do now is to pull out a few of the bricks and raise them up just a tad to level things out. (I don't think this is so necessary because personally, I like the charming, wavy effect but darling dearest INSISTS upon it being absolutely, PERFECTLY FLAT so I guess he put the kibosh on that idea). But believe you me, with a century old house, it will be the ONLY 100% flat surface. But what do I know ? Sheesh. Then, we have yet to sweep in the sand between the cracks hopefully BEFORE they fill themselves up with all the nasty refuse from the nearby heinous black walnut tree which I have been sworn to NEVER, EVER even mention removing, even though it's an evil, monstrous thing that could have been an actual prop from the original Poltergeist movie, and actually nearly murdered one of my poor, hapless, tow-headed nephews when the little nipper unwittingly toddled near its unholy clutches! KER-SPLAT!!! Landed a ghoulish-green, egg-sized walnut mere inches from little nephew's noggin. I tell you that tree is PURE EVIL, but it will IN NO WAY EVER COME DOWN, no not EVER so I might as well just drop it, right now --FORGET IT!