Sunday, July 13, 2008


To use Wendy-speak, we have achieved slabbiness. Translation: we have a slab. A big ole piece of concrete. It was a big day, so I’ve got lots of pictures for you. It unfolded as follows:

2am, 3am, 4am: Troy is waking up with his head full of details, trepidation, and excitement. (Christina and Isaac are sleeping quite soundly.)

5am: Troy gets up and checks the weather: big front with nasty looking severe weather moving in from the west. Doesn’t look good. Troy mentally prepares for the worst. We can pour in rain, but lightening may get too dangerous. It is already humid.

5:45: Christina and Isaac finally get out of bed and eat what they feel are appropriate breakfasts (nothing, and milk and toast, respectively).

6am: We are all outside dressed in our grubbies waiting for the pump guys.

6:20: The pump guys show up. We’ll call them Bob and Doug. They case the joint, check things with Troy, set up their hoses, and we all wait for the first truck, expected at 7.

7am: David and Wendy show up with Jan to offer us tremendous help and support.

7:10: The first truck shows up. He is able to drive the truck between the garage and shop to the west side sparing damage to our front yard. (Oh, joyousness.) He fills a good portion of the foundation and then starts pouring at the west end. Bob and Doug have looked at the available help and decide they’d rather do the bulk of the work than wait for us to do it. They normally only run the pump, but for us they ran the screed, directed the truck drivers, finished with the bull float and generally ran the show. In other words, they were a godsend. (With apologies to Troy for any offense, but I think you’d find that he agrees.)

8:10 & 8:40: The second and third trucks arrive, respectively. It’s raining very lightly on and off. By the third truck, one of the ruts between the garage and shop is a good 20 inches deep and the truck tips precariously. This was the driver Bob & Doug were least impressed with (they knew almost all of them), and the air was full of grumbling as that truck was emptied. In general, the drivers were geniuses at directing the concrete flow from the end of the shoot. Since the shoot length was fixed, they had to swing the shoot back and forth while driving the truck backwards and forwards to be able to fill along the width of the foundation.

9am: The fourth truck arrives. We’re getting close, but can see that we will need the fifth truck, and that it will be enough. Relief! The cement from this truck is dumped into the pump unit and finally Bob and Doug get to do what they came for. They filled the north side where the shoots from the trucks couldn’t reach. By this time, Troy and David are working with them like long time partners and only need slight head jerks to direct them where to go. Wendy, Isaac, and I are not really encouraged to help, and we consider ourselves “reserves.” Jan also makes it known that he is very interested in the action and refuses to sleep through it.

9:25: The last truck arrives! The main slab gets finished, and then we use the excess concrete to replace most of the sidewalk to the east door. The previous sidewalk was 1. extremely uneven to the point that it was a danger to unsteady people, snow blowers, and lawn mowers; 2. missing two sections (I don’t know why but it looks like there never was a sidewalk there--right in the middle of the path there was 30 inches of grass!); and 3. was painted with a big logo of a rival college football team. So you see why it had to go. We were prepared enough with forms for about 80 per cent of the length of the sidewalk. So now we have a step down in the middle of our sidewalk. But it’s still an improvement.

And then my sense of time is gone. A lot of things started happening at once. Guys got paid, and left; David and Wendy left to do their own work, and Troy, Isaac and I kept on slugging on. We covered the slab with plastic because it still looked like heavy rains were expected on the radar. Then it was time to get moving on the bolts which will anchor the walls. Once they were laid out where we needed them, we got into a pattern of Isaac and Troy pounding them in and me filling in the concrete after them. The concrete got tough by the end, but the bolts seem ok.

Soon after that, it got even more humid and more sunny and the radar cleared up. So we ripped off the plastic so Troy and Isaac could remove the center 2x4’s (which the screed ran on) and fill in the gap with concrete. We got one wheelbarrow of concrete from the last truck to fill it in, but ended up mixing up a couple more to have enough. It was done a little late, but as Troy kept telling himself, “It’s a shop, not a piano.” Troy also ran the power trowel over the surface, but it was a little late for that too. I called the rental place to let them know that we would not have the stuff back that day. They did not seem surprised.

And let us not forget the clean up. Shovels, hoes, wheelbarrows, rakes, hammers, crowbars, power trowel, bull float (both rented), and boots all caked with concrete. (Oh my!) I must have had some small breaks because I had a chance to change clothes three times, necessitated by the weather and work. I was just grateful I was working at home so I had a chance to do so. (It really was muggy and gross.) And while Troy and Isaac were working on the finishing work, I was transplanting the grass plugs removed from around the sidewalk to the west side where we still have big bare areas. (Although they are shrinking, assuming the plugs take at all.)

We didn’t really get a chance for lunch, but let me tell you we were all grateful to sit down to some dinner at 7pm. It was a long full day, stressful in a good way; but we have a completely adequate slab and did not violate Troy’s rule: No bleeding!


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