Paving Stones and Gazebos: The Satisfaction of Success


July 31, 2015 by Jean

new gazeboThis week, I succeeded in completing two projects that have been a source of some frustration (see Solo House Projects: Pavers and Gazebos). The frustration of the screened gazebo for my back deck was that (unlike all the previous gazebos I’ve had up on the deck over the years) I couldn’t do this by myself. I wasted a month trying to hire a local handyman to help me with this; and while he kept putting me off with vague promises of “next week,” the summer was slipping away. Finally, I figured out that he didn’t have time to do the job but was just too nice to give me a firm “no.” That was when I put out a call to friends for help. Last Saturday morning, friends Karen and Rich came over to help me get the gazebo assembled and up on the deck. I did as much pre-assembly as I could, and it only took us an hour to get the frame all assembled and standing on the deck. Although I could have done the rest by myself, they insisted on staying another half-hour to help get the canopy installed (which involves climbing on ladders). It is so satisfying to have this done and to finally be able to sit out and enjoy my back garden. (I’ve been having breakfast in the gazebo every day.)

pavers - back walkwayThe frustration of my paving stone project was not that I couldn’t do it myself but that I had to do it myself! Two months and 220 paving stones after I began, the job is done; and I have four walkways and a patio to show for my efforts. I’m glad I set myself an end-of-July deadline to finish this job because it kept me motivated to work through the hot, sticky weather of the past week. Late this afternoon, just under the wire of my deadline, I put the last paving stone in place, swept sand into the crevices of the last walkway, finished the last pea-stone decorative band, and put my tools away. Now that I’m done, I need to get out the weed-whacker and knock down all the weeds that surround my lovely stone-laying job.

pavers - porch and patio pavers - lavender walk

The real satisfaction of completing this job is that it paves the way (pun intended) for beginning my new front garden. Next week, I can begin digging and planting four flower beds that will border these paved areas. That will take me another two months and will be just as physically demanding as laying paving stones – but I find the creative work of making gardens much more emotionally satisfying.

11 thoughts on “Paving Stones and Gazebos: The Satisfaction of Success

  1. Jean R. says:

    Your gazebo look fantastic! And those pavers—what a huge job to do all by yourself and they look perfect and very functional. You’re probably right about the contractor not wanting to bother with the gazebo job but not wanting to say so. It was a big job for you, but too small for him to make any money at it.

    • Jean says:

      Jean, The pavers were a big job — and one I’m very happy to have behind me. The gazebo turns out to have a major design flaw: the screens hang loosely from a top rail (sort of like a shower curtain) without anything else to hold them in place. The result is gaps along the top and a tendency to billow up from the bottom in any breeze, both things that let in insects. I’ve developed a system to secure the screens to the corner posts with velcro, and it is working reasonably well. Right now, the velcro is not securely attached to the screens; I’ll remedy that when I take the screens down in the fall by sewing the velcro straps in place.

  2. Nync says:

    Jean, you are so amazing! I’m 11 months away from retirement, and I keep reading & re-reading your blog for inspiration. Love the photos, by the way – you’ve done wonders!

    • Jean says:

      Nync, I’m so pleased that you are finding these blog posts both helpful and inspiring as you approach your own retirement. I hope you are able to get as much enjoyment out of these last bittersweet months in the workplace as I did.

  3. Carole says:

    Just beautiful! Truly a three season outdoor retreat! No need for a gym…. I bet you are sore from all that hard physical labor!

    I find it so frustrating when contractors cannot/will not just be straight forward and either give a realistic time frame, or just frankly say the job is too small to make it worth their while.

    • Diana Studer says:

      we had a couple of silly quotes for our work.
      Wish they would just politely say no, thank you.

      Once the paving is in … planning and planting is VERY satisfying, as you see your plans come to life.

    • Jean says:

      Carole, LOL, I’m finding that being solely responsible for the upkeep of a rural home pretty much obviates the need for a gym membership. There seem to be chores in every season that provide both a cardio workout and strength training: gardening in spring, summer and fall; spring clean-up out doors in spring; stacking four cords of firewood for winter heat when it gets delivered in fall; and snow removal and hauling in wood for the woodstove in winter.

  4. Jean this has turned out so well. I love the gazebo where you have it. And the lines of the paths are perfect and ready for plants to soften them. Incredible work.

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

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