It has been a long slog, but the remodel of the inner circle of the labyrinth is finally complete.
The whole thing started only a week ago even though it feels like it was a month of Sundays. As you may recall, the weed/grass situation vis-a-vis the special rocks in the inner circle was becoming impossible. After due consideration, we decided that “something” needed to be done. Neglecting many other projects, not the least of which is getting the Dragon’s Teeth re-situated and the rain garden weeded, I proceeded to dive headlong into the revamping of the inner circle.
Let no one think that this remodelling project was the only thing accomplished in the interim. No massages were cancelled, and I kept the laundry done, the dog walked, the cats fed, and the garden watered and tended while all the following was going on. And in addition, Jim went off to work for his final few days at the Commissary.
So, to recap, I began be removing the rocks from the inner circle.
As soon as the land was cleared, I began digging a shallow ditch around the circle where all those rocks used to be.
This process didn’t take nearly as long as I was afraid it would. I spent a couple of afternoons on this phase. It was quite ironic that I was already generating dirt that needed a place to live within literally hours of having moved the pile of dirt that was formed from just such projects in the past onto the root cellar. However, that particular project resulted in some low places that needed fill, and so my labyrinth dirt went towards accomplishing that.
After the ditch was dug and leveled, I put a nice layer of road base into it. Last Saturday morning, the day after his “last day of work”, Jim went off to Lowe’s and acquired rebar and quickcrete. The rebar was cut to appropriate sized pieces, wired together, and placed in the ditch.
It is propped up on nice little flat rocks so that the concrete will flow in and around under the rebar, thus making the resulting pour strong and stable.
Note the little cement mixer. There is an amusing little story about that: Lo these many years ago on a fine spring morning, my dear spouse looked at me and said, “I’m going to run some errands.”
This was no big surprise, errands are run on a regular basis around The Havens, but on this occasion he was gone a very long time. Eventually, he returned home in a state of elevated mood and informed me he needed to take the truck off to pick up something he had purchased. It seems that as he was driving past the Civic Center he saw a sign for a “Tool Sale” and decided to look in on this seductive event.
What had caught his roving eye was a small cement mixer, for which he promptly forked over a little more than $100. I need not tell you that I had no concept of why it might be a good idea to have a cement mixer. In all my childhood experience, whenever cement needed to be mixed, it was done with a shovel in a wheelbarrow, and whatever was good enough for my Daddy was good enough for me.
“No really,” my spouse informed me with great pleasure and excitement. “It’ll come in handy, you’ll see!”
It wasn’t that much money, didn’t make it impossible to pay our bills that month and he was so happy about it. I didn’t give him a hard time.
I have to say that that cement mixer has never seen a year since when it was not used for some project or other. He sure as heck was right about it coming in handy, and last Saturday was no exception!
We started off the project with 15 bags of quick-crete. This is basically concrete mix in an 80 pound bag. We knew we would need more than that, but that was as much weight as Jim cared to put on our little pickup, and we figured after we got that poured we would have a pretty good idea of how much more mix we would need. Laboriously, Jim moved each bag to the wheelbarrow and moved it to the mixer, then lifted it up and poured it in. Adding water, the little mixer turned and turned and the concrete mixed up nicely.
Then Jim tilted the mixture and poured it into the trench, while I pushed it around with the hoe so it didn’t over flow. While he went through that process again, I spent quality time with the trowel smoothing out the pour and agitating it to bring the fines to the top so we would have a nice surface.
Eventually, we got to the part of the circle where the bench and the pile of rocks was. At that point, it was not possible to tilt the concrete directly into the trench. We brought our mortar board out and poured it onto that. From there, it was my job to shovel it into the trench and smooth it while Jim was mixing the next batch. We came to the end of the 15 bags, and decided it was time to take a break.
We estimated that we had made it about 2/3 of the way around, and so we thought we would need 8 more bags. Just for insurance, Jim decided to buy 9, figuring that if there was left over we would be putting it into the garden retaining walls in the next few days. Jim took his break on the drive over to Lowe’s. I forget what I did while he was gone, but it didn’t involve a lot of sitting around.
He got back with the second load, and we proceeded to pour some more. It only took another couple of bags to get to the point where we could pour directly into the trench, much to my poor arm’s relief. (For the record, my forearms are still sore from that little section of shoveling wet concrete.)
Ironically, our estimate was off. It turned out we needed ONE more bag to complete the pour, and so off Jim went to procure that bag. As he made the trip, I placed the direction rocks into the wet concrete and generally admired the job. It seemed obvious in retrospect that we would need 25 bags to complete the job, because clearly it was going to take EXACTLY one ton of concrete to form the inner circle. In short order, the buyer returned and we finished the job.
After we cleaned up our tools, I documented the finished circle, still wet and curing.
One of the things I decided about this project was that I was going to document my rocks. So, the following morning we set up a portrait studio over by the sauna, and I proceeded to transport all the special rocks to that location and shoot them individually, along with a tag that indicated where they were from. Each photo was also assigned a number.
Here is an example of the result.
It was during this process that I discovered that my ability to write numbers in order was impaired. I have one rock whose number is 43.5 because I forgot to list it until I was far down the list. I also found myself re-numbering rocks when I turned a page and read 117 as 111 and so labeled several rocks with the same identification number. But I got it straightened out, and it was actually important because when I placed the special rocks back onto the circle I made a map of where they got put.
I am having the pictures printed out, and I will make a notebook with a page for each rock. The page will list its number along with information on who procured it for me if it was a gift, and any little story that revolves around it. That way, in the future, other people will be able to understand what is special about each rock without having to extract the information from me personally. This also guards against any memory losses I might have.
As I was taking rocks off the labyrinth, I was gratified to be able to remember the details on most of them. Despite that, there were several “Mystery Rocks” that turned up during the process. I did not toss them out because of that. My decision was to replace them back in the circle close to the location where they were unearthed. Maybe in the future the clouds will clear and I will remember where they came from.
Anyway, it took me two days to get them all back into place, what with the mapping project and having to actually do massages for clients in between working on the project.
But this afternoon, I finished the job. It really looks good.
Here’s a close up of the North West end of the inner circle.
Eventually, the concrete will weather a bit and not be so blindingly white.
I have to say that the whole project has made me realize just how incredibly blessed I am with family, friends, and strangers contributing rocks to the inner circle. Without them, I wouldn’t have Antarctica, the bottom of Sydney Harbor, the Great Sandy Desert, or the floor of the Arctic Ocean. I feel very honored indeed.
The only thing left to do is to create the notebook and redraw the map.
But first, I have to go walk Ruby.