I've been meaning to build a garden in front of the house for some time now - one of many side projects to improve this place so it will be easier to sell once we find land, and this was part of that (other stuff is more boring like painting door frames and washing window wells). I called some local landscaping places and they quoted me around $850 for the 32 sq ft garden with retaining wall, built up bed, and a couple of shrubs. Crazy! So I went on the hunt for materials to do it myself, which ended up as the great stone hunt. Since I don't know anywhere where I can legally collect a bunch of stone, I tried a big construction materials company in town that sells mostly to contractors. They wanted $400 for the stone I would need to do the job. Blergh.
Since southern MN is practically made of limestone and I see them dynamiting and hauling it away from construction sites, I was determined to find a place that had reasonably priced stone. I finally found it - an actual stone quarry just a little outside of town.
Marrok and I went on our great stone adventure today, which involved wearing a hard hat and lining up (in my little Pontiac Vibe) with a stream of semi-trucks and belly loaders to weigh my car and then clamboring all over a pile of limestone 'chimney rock' to pick out pieces. 600 lbs of stone (for $9!!) in my tiny car and off to nurseries for plants.
After dropping off stone, I picked up 400lbs of organic humus fill and some bushes and spent the next few hours putting everything together. I'm impressed how much easier it is for me to haul around rocks and 40lb bags of soil - aikido is really helping me to shape up a lot. :)
For a total of $50 and 5 hours of my time (most of it wasted being slow because I spent too much time shopping for plants and rearranging rocks) and I have a really nice little garden in the front of the house! The more I'm learning about construction (I talked to the people at both the construction supply and quarry extensively about stone home building, concrete forms, veneer, and masonry, the more convinced I am that I'll be saving myself $30,000 and being my own home contractor. I don't devalue the use of a good contractor, but I think with the architect overseeing the general work I'll do well enough myself finding people to subcontract for all the important things.
Rocky had a blast scampering around at the lumber yard and wandering the nurseries with me. After that he played in the sprinkler while I gardened and then after dinner Mbala and I took him and Kimahri to the local dog park. I'd never been to the one closest to us - it is only partially fenced so I'd been avoiding it (Kimahri isn't an off-leash sort of dog, being a shiba inu!). However, much to my delight, partially fenced means there are two huge fenced areas and then a big partly fenced trail system with a river. There were a ton of people and dogs there and we all had a lot of fun. We'll definitely be going back regularly.
I love being tired and covered in dirt. :)
This weekend I've got a bunch more things to do outside, hopefully the weather will cooperate. It hasn't lately, either thunderstorming or being 100 degrees (it was 95 all day and I was about dying all day though determined to tough it out) - apparently if things keep up this year could easily be a record for the hottest year ever recorded in the state. I picked up the things I need to fix some chips/spots on the cars - I've never done auto refinishing but I read a lot about it, so will be giving that a try. Again, I got quotes of close to $1500 to get the cars done but it cost me $30 in paint. It sounds like a pretty easy process - sanding down little rust spots, priming, sanding, painting, painting, painting, and clearcoating. I got the paint directly from the car manufacturer so it should match perfectly, if it doesn't it's not really a big deal. We'll see how well I can do!
I wish I had time just to learn to do everything myself. :) I know some things it's really worth the money to hire someone else, but unless I was making $150+ an hour, doing these things myself seems a no-brainer.
Aikido is going to kick up to longer sessions during the week so that we can progress faster. I'm already pretty tired after the classes are done, so this will be a great challenge! We've got weapons class tomorrow morning, looking forward to that as usual. I know weaponry isn't 'really' part of aikido but I love it. There's just something so cool about the movement of staff and sword.
A long soak in the tub and book sound really good about now!!