“What’s that noise?” I asked.
“Huh?” said Larry, looking up from his iPad (formerly my iPad, now appropriated for a higher purpose, I am assured.)
An Armageddon-like rumble emanated from the iPad’s tinny speaker, the sound of a cement mixer. Over the unbearable, grinding noise of the mixer was a thin, barely audible, German-accented narrative.
“Now ve add ze bag of pre-mixed concrete. Jusst pour it in like ziss!”
It was a YouTube video of a fellow of apparently German descent who was demonstrating how to empty bags of concrete mix and water into a small cement mixer, in the right proportions to make good, strong concrete.
This was a victory of sorts.
Remember how I said that Larry would figure out a way to get 2/3 of a yard of concrete up the fear-inducing driveway practically and safely? Well, rather than have the big cement mixer truck show up tomorrow morning at some appointed hour, and shuttle the wet concrete up the driveway one trailer-load or one excavator-bucket at a time, Larry made a different decision. He decided to rent a cement mixer and install it at the top of the driveway, close to the point of work in the garage, and mix small batches as needed.
Oh, it solves so many problems, not the least of which is manpower. He had scheduled a work day today with concrete contractors, two brothers, but then his helper, our shirttail relative Pat, couldn’t come. Larry had to cancel with the Concrete Brothers and reschedule for tomorrow (Saturday). Alas, in the absence of a return phone call from the Concrete Brothers, we have no idea whether they received the message, and whether they will show up at the appointed time tomorrow. Or any time at all. Reliable people in the building trades are as rare as a sunny weekend in the Pacific Northwest.
If Larry had ordered a concrete truck full of wet concrete, ready to pour and finish? Well, imagine the stress of not being 100% sure that concrete finishers would actually, truly, honestly be here!
So Larry decided to rent a cement mixer and purchase thirty-five 80-pound bags of concrete mix. I think it hurts his pride a bit. If he had it his way, he would go the to the quarry and procure the aggregate himself, using his micrometer on the occasional pebble to ensure its optimal diameter. If he had his way, he would rappel down the white cliffs of Dover to chip off just the right amount of limestone.
“Did you know that concrete goes back to Roman times?” he asks me every time the job involves concrete.
In this case, I’m sure he feels he is really casting his fate to the wind, relying on the pre-mixed bags of stuff you can buy at Home Depot. The indignity.
But then again, merely ferrying thirty-five 80-pound bags of pre-mix up the driveway involved some derring-do. Larry used Pat’s heavy-duty trailer and friend Bob’s truck to load it all up and bring it up the driveway. Then things got interesting because once again, it started to rain earnestly. Getting the bags wet would have been disastrous.
Larry had to squeeze both Pat’s trailer and Bob’s truck into the garage (which already holds the lift and the Corvette, remember). You can see from the picture that it’s a tight fit. But no problem. It just meant that our two family cars had to spend the night outside.
So now Larry is listening to Dieter on the iPad instruct him on how to mix ze concrete. Pat will show up tomorrow. We hope the Concrete Brothers do as well. If they do, Larry will be busy in the Groj all day. If they don’t, then we will actually get to enjoy the predicted sunny weekend in the Pacific Northwest.