Step 1. The Zen of Patio Construction, or, The Patio is Building You

I am building a patio.

It all started when I developed an all-consuming love for gardening and everything related to gardening. I’m even taking courses, this winter, to get two separate certificates proclaiming me to be a horticulturalist and landscape designer. One of those courses is called “Landscape Construction” and covers such things as how to build a patio.

I figured, and I quote, “how hard can it be?” This is the same thing I figured when I decided to try and make my own shoes this spring – and, come to think of it, when I plunged headfirst into the world of gardening. Sure, there have been some casualties, but for the most part I have a knack for gardening. Things are working out well. (Things did not work out well for the shoes I tried to make, but I just stuffed the materials into my ‘crafts in progress’ drawer and called it a day. Don’t admit defeat! Just say it’s going to take a while. For really, it is not the shoes that I am building, but a new version of myself.)

Step 2: Plan To Construct Yourself, not The Patio.

I blame my overzealous belief in my own aptitude on education. Education was designed by boneheads for boneheads, or to create boneheads out of regular children. Sometimes also to make accountants out of regular children, a terrible and inhumane travesty. Teachers would always be saying things like “this will be very difficult, so pay attention.” Then they would set about explaining some concept or other. If you understood the concept right away, you would do fine. If, however, you had to rely on hard work or the teachers’ explanation, you were screwed.

Totally and utterly screwed.

Which meant that, for 13 years of my life and during the impressionable time of youth, I had the idea that I would get everything with very little work (or occasionally not at all) pounded into my skull.

Step 3: Gather Supplies… The Universe Supports Your Patio.

As for my inability to build this particular patio, I place the blame squarely on society. Someone, at some time or another, should have explained to me that a) making a patio is hard, b) you need many supplies AND a measuring tape AND probably some sort of saw or tile cutting device, and c) saws and / or tile cutting devices are big and scary. Also, all of the supplies are really, really heavy.

I have been working on this patio for approximately 8 years (actual time: 1 week). I’m building it for my parents in their yard while they’re on vacation, as a surprise for them. I have driven to their house, moved giant blocks of concrete with my bare hands, lined up tiles, stained wood, moved the giant blocks of concrete again, dug into the soil so that the concrete will be level, moved it again, and then moved it AGAIN until my hands are ripped and bloodied. I feel very tough.

Step 3: Connect Emotionally with the Spirit of Patio.

Then I look at my work and am shocked to discover that, somehow, I am absolutely no closer to being finished than I was when I arrived that morning. I drive home, confused, and vow that the next day will (somehow) be different.

Finally I caved and asked a handy person I know for advice. He explained nebulous concepts like “pressure treated wood” and “how to make tile stick to concrete” to me. It was terribly helpful. My parents arrive home tomorrow, and I hope to have this finished by the end of today.

Step 4: There is No Patio. All Things Are One.

Then, with all of the extra free time I will have before they get home tomorrow morning, I’m planning on building them a working waterfall.

I mean, how hard can it be?