Where were we? Ah, yes, my husband was in the midst of moving all the extra rock, with his tractor, that had been dumped on our driveway while I was slaving away at the solid earth beneath my feet. As I went along, digging and planting, my husband and I discussed building a rose arbor at one end of the garden to give it some height on that side. I said I wanted to grow wisteria ... and let me tell you, folks, that let the flood gates come loose.
Next thing you know, we are have this monster of a truck backing down our driveway ... beeeep, beeeep, beeeep. No little arbor can hold the massive trunk-like vines of wisteria, and I knew that. You need a pergola for wisteria, not a wimpy little arbor. The problem was we investigated the cost of having one made to our specifications and it was upwards of $6000 - that is A LOT of art supplies. We decided to build the pergola ourselves, from an image on my husband's iPhone. If it was to hold wisteria, it was going to need some serious posts to go in. I was afraid that if we dug the posts with a shovel they would not be cylindrical and we would have the equivalent of four solid cement ponds.
Once those 4 holes were dug, we asked our good friend Johnny for pointers. The only part we weren't too clear on was how to insure that it would be square. The railroad ties already in the ground weren't quite square, making everything look "off" that was put along side of it.
And then that was it. My husband and I just looked at each other trying to figure out how we, both without any construction skills, were going to make the image on his iPhone a reality.
We headed to the drawing board. We did a a lot of head scratching. We had a lot of discussions, sometimes over more than one glass of wine, making it so that the next morning our sketches and concepts needed some revision help. We kept at it - charged ahead. I extrapolated every last bit of math that my brain had squirreled away over the years and worked up the drawings to make cutting templates for the pergola ends.
We got down to business. Every day, by 5:30 in the morning, we were out there making our pergola dreams come true. We mixed the cement for the posts with shovels in the wheelbarrow and raced the clock to get all four post holes filled before the cement started to set. My eyes stung from all the sweat dripping down through my eyelashes, but there were was no time to even stop and wipe my brow.
Next came cutting - my job. I knew just how much we had paid for the western red cedar and held my breath on every cut - each piece was accounted for and there was no room for error. Screwing up would have meant needing to order more wood from the hardware store and that could take them a week or two to get some in.
The only break we had was when we took our youngest daughter to her writing camp at Duke University. That was two long eight hour days of driving there and back, but it was a nice break to get to eat in the restaurants at Chapel Hill (North Carolina).
When we returned, it was ladder work time - lots of it, in blistering heat, staining and polyurethane-ing. I did that part, and while I was at it, I let the world know just how good I am at cursing at those darn sweat bees that kept stinging me.
Below is a photo of some of the tools we used. Clamps, jig saw, drill, templates for cutting and a template for marking bolt positions, wrench, a very ingenious wooden contraption made by my husband, and the dreaded level. We held our breath every time we placed that level on a board to check and see if we were on the mark. Oh ... and of course ... the ultimate girl tool - the little pink plastic ruler.
We had ladders, 3 of them, and, of coarse a tape measure. My husband is brilliant, I might add. He created this little wooden contraption to fit over the existing posts and beams that we already had put up so that the next level of crossing boards would go in without any measuring. VOILA!!! I liked THAT! Or rather LOOOOVED that!!!
Now, when I walk down the driveway and see the pergola in the distance, I forget how nervous I was when he was up there on a ladder, with a chain saw, doing his best to level the top of the 8x8 posts and not end up with the ambulance coming up the mountain. I also forget just how much I have shoveled out of the garden and also just how much I have shoveled back in to it.
The wisteria I have planted will grow up those posts. Hopefully, if all goes according to my dreams, there will be plumes of purple flowers draping from all the beams up there as I walk towards the stairs that lead to the back patio.
The back patio needs fieldstones , but we are leaving that for another day when our bank account feels a little healthier. For now I am content with what we have made.
A home. Our home. There were truckloads of soil, rock, mulch, and sod ...
and definately our share of damage was done at Mary's greenhouse.
My back has survived. I won't show you all the photos around the property for I don't want to put you to sleep.
All I know is that I did 100% of the digging other than the 4 pergola posts and I am still walking fairly errect.
I lost salt, sweat, and tears on this project and I have survived more bee stings than I care to count. Below you see my "treehouse" bedroom and the new patio we have made right off my studio door. From now on all my messy projects will be done out there. Those are baby hostas in the mulch - trying their best to survive the 109° heat we had the day I took this photograph when I was out there watering them.
It took a month for this project to get wrapped up, getting out there at 5:30 every morning, dropping off the edge of Blogland, and living with dirt under my finger nails on a permanent basis. But now I can open the gift every time I look out my window, my husband and I have done a really good thing. Now I am free ... other than weeding and watering, I am free to go back to the studio.
Which brings us to the lampshade project.
Here it is, unfinished of course. All those flowers in my garden made it so that I could only think "flowers" on this last shade.
I have actually finished the lamshade since I took this photo. I hung it last night. It looks awesome. So why am I not posting it now? Well, ladies, my husband just went out the door, bathing shorts on, carrying the floats for the lake. It is hot outside, I am going to go and join him. Perhaps I will grab more than just my bathing suit and bring the picnic basket with a few goodies to enjoy. We can toast to eachother. We are feeling like we are quite the team and nothing is in our way of our dreams.
Can you blame me for wanting to join him instead of staying in front of my computer? I promise I will be back tomorrow with the shade photos ... most probably at that time I will also see just how many spelling errors there are in this post. I don't want to waste a precious minute on spellcheck. I am going swimming!
PS. I also realize that I never got around to explaining the title on this post, Instructions Needed, But Not Included. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will get to that. The lake is beckoning.