I was rooting around some old writings and stumbled over these notes from when we were constructing a brick path and some raised beds for the front yard of the place we were renting.
September 4, 2002
These scenes probably illustrate why we aren't handymen...
September 4, 2002
Scene: Mark and John are talking about the placement of wooden forms with Gretchen in the front yard.
Mark (to John): ". . . you've spent the day dinking around and now you have a better sense of how things are working.
John (slightly indignant): "I wasn't dinking around. I was trying to find the precise point where the paths meet so I could make all the formwork line up."
Mark: "You were dinking around."
Gretchen (attempting to move the conversation forward): "It's important."
John: "I want the brick pattern to line up so it looks good."
Mark (suddenly suspicious): "Is this pattern part of some pagan thing? Are you going to stir up the astral cooties?"
John: "No. This isn't pagan. It's decorative. Besides, you came up with the pattern."
Mark: "Yeah, but you were leading me to it. . . "
Scene: Two hours into an attempt to line up various warped pieces of formwork within a network of strings.
John (kicking a board into place so it lines up with a string): ". . . Stupid. (wham) Wood. (wham) You. (wham) Will! (wham) Obey! (wham) MY! (wham) WILL!!"
(Board moves into place. Pause as John discovers that one end of the string has gotten caught on another form by the door and that the string was in the wrong place, and that in all likelihood, the board he's been kicking was in the correct place all along.)
Mark (asleep in house): "Zzzzzz."
Scene: John attempts to motivate Mark in the importance of proper angle measurement.
John (pulling string from side of landfolks' house): "OK (to Mark) this string needs to come from a 45 degree angle over here. Actually, that doesn't matter so much as that it makes a 90 degree angle from this string here (indicates string coming from own front door), which makes a 45 degree angle from our house. I know that the string from our house is right, but what I don't know is where on the string the path from the side gate intersects. That point is where the two strings intersect; it needs to be a right angle. Once I know where that point is, everything else builds up from it (maniacal looks becomes even more fanatic). Once I have that point, I can build everything; 51 inches this way marks the width of the path here, and 51 inches the other way marks the end of the path there. (Senses a wavering from Mark, looks at him) Does all this make sense, or do I sound like some kind of mad man?"
Mark: It makes sense; I just think you're putting in too much effort for results you're going to get.
Scene: Having gotten most of the forms within acceptable placement parameters, Mark and John are laying down bricks.
John (picking up a white brick from the bed of builder's sand). "EVIL! (little rubber 1 / 4 inch spacers scatter to the ground) It's a Brick of Evil sent to torment me! Be gone, Evil Brick!! (Throws brick into blue recycling bin set on top of the plastic trash can that acts as a cistern).
Mark (coming back from sand pile): "You can't throw that brick in there."
John: "It really is a Brick of Evil. It'll screw up the pattern. It's longer than the others. I measured it this time to be sure."
Mark: "Where'd you get that bin? You can't steal the landlady's recycling bin. Take out the brick."
John (taking the offending brick in hand): "But this is a Brick of Evil."
Mark (walking over to landladies' front porch with bin): "You're talking about masonry and I'm talking about moral issues."
John (looks at pile of other bricks waiting to go into the fledgling pattern of bricks): "Do you have a cardboard box or something? I need to put this Brick of Evil away somewhere or it will sneak back to torment me later."
Mark: "Put it in the living room."
John: "Really? (Thinks back to all the times Mark has complained about all the books, magazines, art projects, portable Aubrey Holes, clothes, magnetic toys, plates, three-ring-binders and other detritus in the living room.) Wow. (Places Brick of Evil under a coffee table) Cool."