Here’s the “Before” version of my Mother’s Day present:
That’s 140 cinder blocks stacked in our side yard. I have a plan, and what I want for Mother’s Day is for Mr. Vox to participate in it via manual labor. We have a 14′ wide patio in our backyard, and I want a vegetable garden. Unfortunately, our springer spaniel (who I will refer to as Junior Douchebag in this context) has been digging holes in my flower beds and I have yet to figure out a good way to stop him. My plan is to build a raised bed off that side of the concrete in a squared-off U shape. The open end of the U will point back toward the patio and house, and between the arms of the U will be a little gravel pad with a fire ring in it.
Even by using cinder blocks, the cheapest of the cheap garden bed materials, it was going to take like $260 to build just the bed area. I knew I had to do better, so I put an ad on Craigslist asking people with cinder blocks that they’d get rid of for free or cheap to let me know. After about a week, I had a guy e-mail me this morning and said he’s clearing off a piece of ground for an elderly relative and he’d sell me as many blocks as I wanted for $.50/each. That’s less than a third for what it’d cost to buy them at Lowe’s or Home Depot. I called Mr. Vox and told him to grab his leather gloves so we could go get them after work.
We went out and met up with the guy, and we loaded about 38 blocks into my little Nissan truck before the springs got worryingly low. I told the guy we could either come out and make multiple trips if he didn’t mind us just going ahead and doing it, or we could meet him another time he’d be out there. He thought for a second, and then he said, “I’ve got my truck and trailer here. Let’s just load the rest of them on the trailer and I’ll take them to your place for you.” Can you believe that?! He didn’t want any extra money or anything, though I did talk him into $10 for his gas. He helped load the blocks and unload them here at our house. He’s my hero.
While we were out there on this lot he’s clearing of junk, I was casting my eyeball around like the antique pickers I see on TV. I chatted him up about a big, old Hills Brothers coffee can that I was quite interested in (probably a 10-gallon can) and he said it was full of old lead, since the guy who owns the property makes his own bullets. No pick. Then I saw these pedestal-looking old iron thingies that I thought my friend Jodi would really dig as plant stands, and he pulled some other crappe out of the weeds and explained that the whole arrangement was an old mechanical blacksmith’s bellows and that each of those stands were selling at antiques shops for around $800 each. Never mind. But then I found another rusty metal thingy. Perhaps just to get me to quit looking around so I’d go back to loading up cinder blocks, he told me I could have it.
See that roller thing on top? Well, the whole thing is a telescoping stand, and it was used in a woodshop to help feed really long boards into a planer. The stand would help keep the boards from bowing as they were getting planed. Groovy, eh? So I’m going to hand it off to Jodi and see what kind of awesomeness she can make from it. She’s one of those folks who can look at old crappe and see a masterpiece.
In the meantime, I am thoroughly pooped out from hauling all those cinder blocks. I think if I have a glass of wine, I’ll pass out as soon as my head hits the pillow. I believe I’ll go pour one right now.