Thursday, 19 July 2018

HUMAN WRECKAGE

A New Driveway

Years ago shortly after I was married (for the first time), my wife and I purchased a set of Corningware saucepans. They were clear. I could watch water boil. I did.

Together Ann and I have done extensive work on our Edmonton home over the course of the past four or five years. We’ve done a lot of painting because we both love colour and we believe contrasting walls make a room more vibrant. I enjoy watching paint dry.

Between then and now I endured a modestly successful career in advertising. I was one of those people behind the curtain who ensured that some suit’s silly promises were actually delivered on time. When deadlines ticked down to minutes instead of hours I’d hover behind a harried graphic artist and ask, “If I keep looking over your shoulder, distracting you and offering my unsolicited input, will you work any faster?” If I got a laugh and was told to go pound sand, I figured everything was going to be okay.

Over the weekend our sunken, crumbling driveway was torn up by a zippy, water-bug bobcat, what was left of the asphalt peeled away like cream cheese icing from a slice of carrot cake. I was amazed by the expertise of the driver and dexterity of the dime-spinning machine. A crewman said, “Easy job, no re-bar.”

By the cocktail hour our drive way had become a shallow trench, about a foot deep. After the crew departed I fetched a spade and dug another hole in the churned earth and clay. I filled a re-sealable plastic bag with relics intended to confuse and confound future diggers. I included a hockey puck with chipped edges. A toy soldier from the lost platoon I discovered along the side of the house five years ago. A letter from the Montreal Expos to my last known Montreal address shilling season tickets and mini-packs for their 20th anniversary season and promising BASEBALL THAT FITS YOU LIKE A GLOVE. A figurine of the team’s orange, hairy mascot went into the bag along with a golf ball featuring the Montreal Canadiens CH sweater crest. The last item into the bag was a copy of my new novel The Garage Sailor. My fantasy is that the book will be rediscovered years from now, long after I’ve slipped this mortal coil, and be revered as a classic; it could happen.

Monday the forms were installed. A bed of coarse sand was tamped down in the bottom of the trench. A grid of re-bar was placed on top of that layer, wired together and then anchored to the foundation of the Crooked 9. When the cement mixer arrived Tuesday morning the crew went into overdrive even though they were mired in six inches of wet cement. The muck was poured, spread and smoothed at high speed taking into account the pad’s slope, angles of drainage and the placement of de-bossed seams to ease the stress of expansion and contraction. A remarkably precise operation to complete before the concrete begins to set; I admire people who are good at what they do.

Our new driveway requires 28 days to properly cure, become solid over my entombed bag of goodies. Ann and I have been aiding the process by watering the new surface twice daily. Doing nothing or very little requires a surprising amount of effort; still, it’s been incredibly rewarding thus far sitting around up on the front porch watching concrete harden.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

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