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Jeremy's journal

Although I have done it all these thirty years or more, although I live my life surrounded by other people who are always doing it, still I think that there are few activities so worthy of inspection as the reading of novels.

Juan Gabriel Várgas

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Thursday, May 20th, 2004

I've been working for a little while (about a week since I bought the lumber I guess) on building a new pair of gates for our driveway. The old ones were poorly designed -- two 5' gates hung from metal poles at either side of the driveway and meeting in the middle, swinging toward the back of the driveway. The problem was, they did not actually swing; the wooden gates were far too heavy for the hinges to support, so they were actually resting on the bottom corner at the center of the driveway. When you wanted to open a gate you had to either lift it up, or drag it along the asphalt -- either one is a hassle.

So here's my bright idea: One 8' gate hanging from the pole on the outside of the driveway (i.e. the side away from the house). It has a caster on the side that is not on hinges; so instead of swinging it rolls open and closed. Additionally it has a drop bar to anchor it in the closed position. The pole on the inside of the driveway comes out as does the short fence from the house to the pole, and a 3' gate hangs from the fence post at the side of the house. It swings toward the front of the driveway. So the deal is, you usually keep the big gate closed, with the drop bar in the ground, and go in and out through the little gate.

I finished building the big gate on Tuesday, and today I hung it on the pole. It looks pretty good, and it rolls just fine. (I may at some point need to replace the cheapo caster with something more durable though.) Ready to start work on the little gate. I will rent a jack-hammer from Home Depot to take the pole out of the ground -- this is kind of exciting as I have never used a jack-hammer before.

posted evening of May 20th, 2004: Respond
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Friday, June 18th, 2004

🦋 Weekend update

We went to a Kerry house party tonight, at Mark and Marina's place. It was a very nice time -- not quite inspirational, but definitely encouraging. Kerry's elder sister Peggy spoke about the campaign, and about her brother's commitment to getting the U.S. out of the hole it's presently in. Ellen and I decided to do some volunteer work over the summer.

Lots of digging in store for me tomorrow! I hope it is not too hot -- Ellen has a lot of plants for me to put in the ground, plus two large bushes for me to take out of it. (One is dead, and the other needs to be transplanted.) And I want to make a start at extending my stone path back along the side of the house, underneath the gate I built. Tomorrow afternoon there will be a going away party for Jim (who is moving to Vermont).

posted evening of June 18th, 2004: Respond
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Sunday, August 8th, 2004

The saga of repairing my patio continues...

The story so far: when we moved into this house it had a broken-up, uneven bluestone patio in the back yard, and I thought I would like to learn how to fix it, make it flat and even. Ellen's cousin Danny came over and offered to donate some slate flagstones he had in his side yard toward the cause. (At that point I thought the patio was made of slate.) After getting them home I realized they would not work in the back yard, and decided instead to build a walkway/garden border in the front yard. I did that last summer -- it came out really well (or at least "really well for a first masonry project by someone who didn't have much of a clue") and I had some slate left over. This spring I extended the walkway back past the side of our house, next to the garage. And I was ready to start on the patio itself!

So two weeks ago I drove down to Brick, NJ, where there is Bedrock Stone, excellent stone yard that I recommend wholeheartedly. Bought a pallette of 1 1/2" rectangular bluestone and a pallette of broken bluestone pieces; and on the way home I stopped at Maplewood Garden Supply to get 3 cubic yards of bluestone dust. (Note: the dump truck which brought the dust would not have been able to get into our back yard, were it not for the new gate I built. Nice feeling.) That stuff has been sitting in our driveway for the past 2 weeks; and when my father came to town this weekend, I asked if he'd like to help me work on the patio. He was game, and we completed the work I was hoping to get done -- namely, the narrow part of the patio (4' X 27') that runs from the driveway to the main patio. This part had previously been extremely broken up -- hence the new flag stones -- and repaired in patches with slate. We put in a layer of dust to even the ground beneath it, and laid in new stones, and built a low border from the broken stone pieces. The old flag stones that I could salvage are stacked in the driveway, waiting to be used in extending the main part of the patio back into the yard a little ways, which may happen as soon as this fall. First I need to get to evening up the main part of the patio, where the stones are mostly whole or else cleanly broken, so I will be able to use the existing stones. (This is good because they are 1" thick and thus possible for me to lift without a second person.) That will be happening at the end of the month, if all goes according to plan.

posted evening of August 8th, 2004: Respond
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