Playing in the Dirt

I’ve had brothers. And sons. I’ve yet to meet a little boy who didn’t like to play in the dirt with trucks or cars or shovels. (Girls also enjoy this — but today we’re talking boys.)

Many change their interests over time from building a literal dirt track for their toy cars to other things — girls, computers, money, sports — the list is long.


sometimes big boys continue to love to play in the dirt. Much to the benefit of others when they are reshaping drainage areas to keep water out of buildings. The equipment is larger now — riding size and motorized. Principles remain the same… water still flows downhill and clay, topsoil, sand, gravel, and larger rock work the same for a thirtysomething as a four-year-old.

Hans Hoffmann– an honest man? — worked with shovel and wheelbarrow 1851. Check out his story in New Dreams, a sweet romance set in fictional Elm Ridge, Illinois.


Block by Block

The neighbors are getting weary. They were told to prepare for a long project — but how do you define long?

Visible progress is good. It’s difficult to see most of the activity from the street — that may be a good thing. But traffic is affected. Parking spaces have been claimed by pipe, concrete inlets, rock, and equipment. Lanes are narrow and you have had to wait for a few minutes when equipment is moving that rock or a delivery of more materials is taking place.

Oh — and you needed to go around the other way the day they dug across the street and buried the new drain pipe.

Work continues on non-rain days. And block by block the project progresses. Still lots of finishing to do — it will not be finished until the drainage swale is shaped and topped with mats of straw and grass seed. And the sidewalk repaired in the places where treaded equipment crushed it.

The new retaining wall grows block by block.


Hard at Work In…


I’d seen them working on a late morning walk. And they continued past my supper hour.

According to our guide on the walking tour — the city was working long hours in these year weeks of nice weather to prepare for the increase in tourist numbers due to arrive in another month.

This and other narrow streets were closed to all but authorized vehicles during the day to enable pedestrians – local and tourists – access to shops without fear of getting run over at any second.

The work in progress was changing the surface from asphalt to paving blocks. I was impressed with the equipment to handle the blocks with minimum danger of scratching the surface.


Carpenter’s Delight

The building trades have my respect. The skill and ability to work with metal, electricity, stone, and wood to create useful items and structures is worthy of much admiration.

On a recent road trip, my friend and I visited a fairly new tourist attraction. Based on ancient plans you can see the use of new methods and admire old-fashioned workmanship at the same time.

Size. Scale. Ingenuity. Use of simple concepts like gravity to the advantage of humans. Storage facilities using materials at hand.

I think if I visit this reproduction of Noah’s Ark again, I’ll bring a carpenter along to explain the construction details.



Rule vs. Advice

My practical introduction to the rule occurred as advice in my youth. Mother taught me to sew. Lots of steps involved in creating a wearable garment from a piece of cloth. Measuring was basic. You needed to measure to have the clothing fit. And to have the pattern piece cut on the straight grain of the fabric. (Or on the bias if the pattern called for it.)

Get it right. Double check. Pin in place. Only then did you pick up the scissors.

I later came to discover that this is a slight variation on the “carpenter’s rule”. Measure twice. Cut once.

As you can tell from my opening — it’s not limited to woodworking. I was pleased to see the rule in action as they began work on a new storm sewer.


Measure twice. Dig once.


Words about Water

Today happens to be the spring elections in Missouri. I’ll show up at my polling place, possibly before you read this.

Some of the pre-election literature dropping through my mail slot concerns water. Waste water. Sewage and storm water run off. Population growth. Urban sprawl. And aging infrastructure each has an influence on putting an item on the ballot.

After the polls close, I’ll listen to more words about water. A plan dealing with a local, very local, storm water problem has been developed. It’s time to go public before the first shovel re-contours the landscape. It is said that “knowledge is power”.  It’s also useful to avoid complaints and increase cooperation.


My neighbors and I look forward to the end of Pond Patio.



Obeying the Rules

The men arrived with spray paint a few days ago. They walked up and down the alley consulting their electronic devices and releasing bright colors in spurts.  They dropped a few small, colorful flags at strategic points.

I’ve seen them before. They come in small groups at irregular intervals. Always by request.

A project engineer was surprised and saw complications in each dotted line. For these bright colors represent where the utility lines are buried. And his project involves digging. The more lines, the more cautious and careful the workers need to be. Smaller equipment or hand digging requires more hours. And more money.

On the other side of the equation. Marked utilities, caution, and a general knowledge of what lurks beneath the grass or gravel saves the trouble and expense if a utility line was cut. Can you imagine the conversation if you interrupt electric service to a group of homes? And the cost of the emergency repairs?


Adult coloring in the great outdoors.