Mega Excited 

My title is a pun on the name of the paving tiles that now are an intrinsic part of our patio. The biggest area is done in the paving stone pattern called Megalibra. But the guys call it W and a Chicken. Yes seriously but more on that later because whatever the pattern name you also have to call it awesome.

All right now that the awesome sneak preview has been displayed I can get down to the details. Although maybe everyone just wants to see more of the nearly complete project but alas I am recording it all here. The last two posts Starry Starry Night  and Hold The Press are a little light on details.

We’ve been on Peter’s radar for a few years for our patio. It’s not that he wasn’t available but that we weren’t ready so this year with the retaining walls completed it was TIME! We had done a significant amount of the prep work the last time we had the bobcat when we were preparing the site for the hot tub pad and back filling the retaining walls. We had removed the stockpile of huge rocks, cleared out the growth and debris and done base level work. We both recognize that most people would just include this in the scope of work for the contractor but as we established a long time ago we aren’t most people. The plus side to this is that when Peter rolled in he anticpated that it would take four days and it was slightly less than that. Two workers were here on Saturday to lay the base down and level it out. We spent three hours Sunday am working on the ground levels around the base area which definitely made Monday and Tuesday smoother. It was a cold miserable day not that Ron noticed the wind in the bobcat but I did on the shovel end. The area outside of the patio is actually now ready for top soil and seed in the spring.

When the full crew rolled in on Monday

they set to work putting down the sand for the concrete paving tiles. It’s obvious these guys work together as they were like a finely oiled machine without a lot of standing around doing nothing.

There is some time spent bull shitting while working and they are pretty darn funny to listen to. The guys are no strangers to the fact that I’m a pretty fair hand in the kitchen but they may have been a bit surprised by how much time I spent outside hauling, laying paying stones, helping Ron dig out the pond area and general clean up.

Apparently it isn’t normal for the homeowner to give them a hand but I think they found us a help rather than a hindrance.

I also cooked for them and had soup in the oven both days before they even rolled in the drive way. There was also coffee and cookie breaks because doesn’t everyone work better fueled with good food and warm drinks?

And it’s not like they could take a quick break and go to Tim’s or out for lunch. It was great having a crew around the dining room table and telling them the story of the first home owner, Mrs. Richardson. They say that she used to feed the work crews dinner (farm time lunch meal) and then if anyone laid down in the fields behind the wagon to have a sleep she would see them from the attic and fire them when they came in for the next meal.

I wasn’t in the firing mood but rather on the other end of the spectrum. I was so happy with everything that they did. I’m pretty sure they didn’t share my enthusiasm for laying paving stones and perhaps I wouldn’t have been as energized if they had made me lift the W. I specialized in the chicken

although I thought it looked more like an armadillo. Which apparently is too long to say while you are holding onto something that weighs like 45 pounds and you are trying to figure out where it goes in the pattern. Which looks rather random in some views but seems less random in other views.

Speaking of random, Peter does a mean random. Like a true random. The outdoor kitchen area and the fireplace/pizza oven area tiles were Lafitt. They come in square and rectangular shapes and Peter just pounded this out.

The whole entire patio area was to be encased in 6 x 9″ edge stones called Roman Euro Rustic. When the truck unloaded all the pallets (18 of them) and T rolled them into the walkout area with the bobcat I noticed one off to the side and was curious. I didn’t remember picking out a 6 x 6 tile so I checked the plan, chatted with Ron and then called Peter over. Apparently the 6 x 9 tiles weren’t available so it was substitute. I told him I didn’t think I would pull a Sarah Baeumler and delay the project till the other size was available. We liked the other size as it didn’t seem so small compared to the big huge tiles.

The end of day one saw all the big megalibra tiles put into place and the outdoor kitchen area completed. The fireplace/pizza oven was prepped and the 6 x 6’s put in place and then the whole thing was “put to bed” with tarps for the night.

Which was nice because it meant the dog could finally go outside as he wasn’t allowed around the freshly leveled sand and the workers being the friendly sort he is.

Day two was the finishing work so less chat and haul with more saw running. They had two saws cutting away the wonky edges so that the stones butted up against the rock wall or the edge tile.

IMG_20171031_114538Noisy and dusty so I wasn’t super sad to miss that because I was at work. I left the snacks and the soup so I don’t know if they missed me at all!

The pond area at the end of day one had the metrix blocks in with the heavy liner but we needed the pump and the fittings before we could proceed.

So Ron completed that work Tuesday am and then the base, sand and paving stone were laid there.



There was also the discussion and the subsequent work around the hot tub area. Ron wanted big rocks on two sides of the hot tub right against the concrete pad, I wanted them on top of the paving stones so no weeds would grow. Either way the paving stones had to be cut so the guys didn’t care we just had to make a decision. Yeah whatever, sometimes I win little ones but not this time. They had to get the rocks there which meant driving on the new patio so thick boards were put down, rocks loaded up, set down to mark, picked up, paving stones cut out, rocks laid down and repeat. All in the cold with the wind blowing down your back.


When they rolled out at the end of day two it was just the pond area that was missing the paving stones that was tarped. Seems they needed 19 pallets and only had 18 so only if luck was on our side would it get complete before winter truly descended.

Ron in the meantime had taken the bobcat down and picked up a few more rocks for the pond and hot tub area.

I really wasn’t all that hopeful. Peter wasn’t sure he could get more Megalibra pavers on short notice. So I was totally over the moon when I came home today and saw the pavers in place, the remaining rocks in place and just the little pond area needed the small rock fill. We have to figure out a “camouflage” rock for the pump and plug-in but that’s a spring job as is the sand in the joints.

It’s patio party time!! Alas it’s also snow time but what the heck we put the chairs out like we were going to have a fire! The mat is in front of the hot tub and the BBQ is back in place.  It feels so weird to step out the walk out-door onto a level surface! I’m already planning the lounge area and the quiet reflective area to complete the transformation but alas it’s not a TV show so that will have to wait till spring!

It’s also totally amazing that it is so close in reality to what the original drawing depicted. Plus it was done so quickly and professionally by Precision Paving. Shout out to our friend Peter and his skilled work crew for working so diligently to complete it.

Strangely enough I’m looking forward to next spring when we can start the final stone builds; outdoor kitchen cabinet,  fireplace/pizza oven, connecting retaining wall (about 10 feet) and the verandah base. Then it is time to build the verandah and balcony; just in time for the house to celebrate it’s 100 years!!


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Starry Starry Night 

Starry starry night

Soak your muscles nice and easy      

Look out on a winter’s night 

With eyes that know the lightness in my soul

Shadows from the trees and watch the northern lights   

Catch the breeze and feel the winter chills. 

Starry starry night 

Photo Credit to the very talented Dan Sigouin

This seems more like the start of my personal blog equipoiselife where I focus on writing enticing openings to draw the reader in. This house blog is much more matter of fact. But for some reason Don McLean’s Starry starry night stuck in my head during our first hot tub and I modified the words for this opening. 

Yes finally the hot tub I’ve longed for has been researched (that’s a long story), bought, paid for (ouch — can you say overtime shifts here I come), delivered, filled,  balanced and ready for enjoyment. 

The prep work for the patio included the hot tub area. Then Ron quickly formed up, got the rebar in place and ordered concrete all in a couple of days. It worked out well because it was nice out and we didn’t pay the normal off season fee for it this year. It was a straight in pour which was nice as it was just Ron and a friend doing it during a Friday afternoon. 

The hot tub shopping experience didn’t start out well. Who would have guessed that they are all closed on a Thursday night. Not us. To make time tighter we were either away or busy weekends almost all of September. Then to make it more complex we trialed a new decision making process that Ron has been researching for work. It required, of course, a spreadsheet. The end result was a hot tub that is going to last a really long time and be enjoyed for many hours. 

Up next this year, she says with fingers crossed for good weather, the patio. The end is so near!!


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Hold The Press

Hold the press, seriously. Prepare yourselves for what I’m about to write!

The two big retaining walls are DONE!! He did the last pour today.  Continue reading

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One Away 

It’s all over in one pour but now the finish lines seems elusively far away. That because the stone mason, who likes to start and complete one project, has galavanted off to start the next big project. I’m like “we’re one pour away, can we finish it today?”. He’s like “no there is more pressing stuff to do.” Me in my head; what the frik is more pressing than finishing this bloody wall?

Apparently he felt there was good cause. There is concrete to get poured again this fall and so that’s a priority. The reason it’s a priority is that we have picked out and Peter has ordered our paving stones for the patio. Which means that after five years of pencilling us in for the fall he’s actually going to create us a patio!! 

Which means we need to figure out what size of hot tub so we can pour that piece of concrete. And yes Ron knows you don’t need to put concrete under a hot tub but feels it’s a good idea. 

So with three pours away we stopped working on the wall two Sundays ago and did prep work with the bobcat. Lots of backfill,  rock picking, scut work for me. 

Then he did two pours during the week and has the front of the wall finished. It’s just one little side section over the top area of the waterfall that needs completion. Just one pour — can’t we get back to it? Doesn’t he want to cross this off the list I think out loud here on the blog. 

Then I go away for the weekend and come home to the bobcat working away.  This time he was laying down the base for the concrete areas. Somehow I missed most of the skut work that day. Lucky me because that would have meant running the tamper which is bloody hard work. Never mind what the tall guy says about it doing the work. 

But now that the foundation work is done for the pads he’s been busy forming up. The areas are so small but they still need rebar and the correct elevations etc. 

Then there is the electrical prep work to do. The ends of the walls have lights ready plus the fire pit and pizza oven need lights so there is more questions to ask and answer there. 

The conduit was laid and the line ran out and to through the wall with minimial issues for me. But that’s because I was at work while he was doing most of this. 

The weather has been holding and so he hussled along in the evenings getting the forms up and all that prep work done. His goal was to get the concrete poured asap. That turned out to be today at 2:30. While I was at work so hey that was easy for me again. A friend came out to help a bit with the spots that needed to be brought in by wheel barrel.  No hoarding needed because the day time high was 25 and the low tonight is supposed to be 8 so again that’s a super positive element. 

There was a little bit more design discussion this week in regards to the size of the landing and how the stairs will tie in along the wall. I just pretty much nod and accept his suggestions. Very occasionally he does the same for me. The outdoor kitchen now has a small little ending wall as that was my suggestion to help incorporate the landing post. Which is clear as mud to all of you but makes sense to us. You’ll see next year. 

In the meantime we also did some shopping and bought a hot tub! I’ve wanted one, again, since the day we left the city house. We did a complex convuluted decision making process but “whatevs” because hey we bought a hot tub! It’s in stock so as soon as we are ready it will be ready. That will require a little more electrical work so I guess the stone mason had better change hats. 

But wait – not too quickly as there is just ONE MORE POUR before the walls are finished! Then perhaps I can resign as a stone mason.


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The Fourth Quarter 

It’s the start of the fourth quarter here and the excitement is building. The first three-quarters were like a Continue reading

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Our Castle Walls 

A comment last evening that the stone wall looked like it belonged in a castle made me think about inspiration. Perhaps the mason was inspired by several trips to England and Europe and not just free building materials. Castle walls were built by hundreds of workers though. 

England 2013 293Here it’s become a bit of a one man show. The front, both sides of the waterfall and now the back all show SO almost every rock is pre picked and placed. There is very little inside fill. Tedious but rewarding for the mason.

I wander along when the mixer finishes and help place the stones. Then I clean the wheelbarrow and go back to gardening. Repeat a couple of times a day, if things are going smoothly. Meanwhile he does a ton of finishing work and finds the next stones.

I was pretty excited when we backfilled because it means I can stand on the back side easily. I can also walk on the wall. Today I was totally pumped because the rebar is cut to the finishing height. Now I actually have no idea when he did this but I finally noticed. The amount remaining seems so minor compared to where we started at.

We have just the final big rock to place for the waterfall and then to put the old fashioned pump into place (with new workings hidden). 

The “end” of the wall is just behind that and now we’ve started building it up. That section and about 4′ on the front of the wall are the only portions that go to the house height.

There is real hope and a fair degree of certainty that it will indeed be completed by the end of the summer. Which means we could indeed have the patio done before the snow flies. Maybe even a hot tub! 

We’ve been “on the fall list” for Peter and Precision Landscaping for about four years. He may actually fall over in shock if we are actually ready. For that to happen we need to do some excavation for the next concrete pad which will be home to the outside kitchen bar area. This is relatively small compared to all our other pours but we will do it in conjunction with tying the first long low retaining wall into the stairs of the second wall. Lost yet? Don’t worry as I will blog all those steps and then it will make sense. 

In the meantime this amount of momentum actually breeds excitement and more momentum. We are both geared up for the final push. Heck I’m even happy to see the mesh come out for the final little section of the wall even though working work it is such a pain. 


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One Behind Us 

At long long last one wall is behind us. It seems to all of us that we’ve been doing these crazy retaining walls forever. 

In less than a month of getting underway in the late spring we have the first one started completed. So that’s the west wall. I am finding the completed project hard to capture well, on camera, to show the true size and grandeur.

But there is no resting on our laurels as up next was the need to backfill it so it can settle out. It seems that the stairs and the adjoining to the very first retaining wall will come later but remember I am just the lackie and not the Mason nor the Visionary.



Backfill happens with the Bobcat as does a lot of compaction but only about 2 feet outward from the wall. All the base leveling and compaction along the wall is done with the rake and my two feet. I often think it’s a good thing I carry around a few extra pounds when I am playing human packing machine! It feels so awesome to have backfilled this area although it will require some fine tuning when it is time to put the stairs in. It is still no less steep but the wall is doing exactly what he designed it for so that’s a plus and it’s going to be sturdy long after we are gone.


We, although if I am honest, mostly him have also been hard at work on the second side. This was commenced last year but our technique was a little bit different as we finished from the short end up to where we quit last fall. With the first wall we finished the house height first and then went back to the beginning. So it turns out we are farther along on this second long wall than I had actually anticipated. Like seriously we are going to finish it this year!! That’s pretty exciting for us as it means we can then hire Precision Paving and Landscaping to come out and do the patio. We have been looking at the stone samples and talking about the different functional areas.

 In the meantime Ron is working on his waterfall feature and sourcing the supplies required for this. That’s his “baby” so to speak. Me I just keep throwing rocks down in behind and building that sucker up as fast as it can go. We’ve finished the hidden width of the wall and are now able to backfill for the second time on this wall. The scaffolding is crazy high as I discovered when setting big rocks with the Bobcat on the weekend. waterfall with key for scale

larger view of waterfallBernie 


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