Don’t Mention The “P” Word!
By Carol Ann Curtis
My husband hates when I say that I’m thinking about “a new, little project.” He’s lived through several of my projects and knows just what can happen once the craftsmen and I get started. Let me share my most recent project with you. It sprang from the previous project of taking out the stepping stones that wove through our yard. What was I going to do with 56 cement pavers? Put in a little patio, of course. That meant hauling sand, pavers, and pebbles to the backyard. To make this simpler we had to buy a wheelbarrow, of course. That item meant that we couldn’t get into the tool bodega anymore. I mentioned to our gardener that I’d like to put up another bodega for the gardening tools and within five minutes his cousin, who is a mason, showed up.
My husband has a theory … Mexican families hold an extended family member conference every few years. At this conference, they decide who will specialize in which craft and match cell phone numbers for quick service. Anyway, with his cousin ready to work it was on to the new project … a bodega for the tools, wheelbarrow, and lawn mower. I have three theories about Mexican craftsman’s estimating skills now that I’m onto my eighth project:
They don’t have the skill of estimating supplies mastered, and therefore you’ll end up with more of almost everything than you need.
They have mastered estimating supplies perfectly and have you order too much to guarantee that you’ll keep them employed after the current project is done.
They have mastered estimating supplies perfectly but want to ensure that the materials store and other local businesses makes enough money to stay in business and that the neighbors can share in the leftovers.
For whatever reason, our mason had us order 400 cement blocks, even though the bodega was being put against the back and a side wall of an already existing structure; plus, the front wall was mostly going to be a pair of large, metal doors. He had us also order one meter of sand and another of gravel. Even after the bodega was completed, our driveway looked like its own materials store. We had almost 300 blocks and mounds of sand and gravel left over, so what’s there to do but put the materials to good use.
The mason stayed on and edged a large flower bed in the front yard with blocks, making lots more space for new plants to be purchased and planted, thus helping out another local business. He then dug up a soggy place in the backyard and created an area for potted plants. This used up more of the gravel and blocks, but meant that we needed more decorative pots and plants. We ensured that the new pot store outside Joco would make it for a while longer. Finally, he’s built block posts for a bench and a couple for bird baths and feeders. Yep, now we needed a large rock for the bench seat and bird supplies. We made news friends when we visited the “rock store” and had them wrestle a 160 centimeter slab into the yard for our bench seat.
Even after all that, we ended up giving away the last of the gravel, sand, and blocks to our neighbors. We currently have a clear driveway … but this will only be for a while, since I am thinking about working with an artisan on mosaic wall decorations. Anyone need some extra tiles?
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