I Have No Business Mixing Concrete

Posted on October 29, 2011


Fence protection

Yet here I am, mixing by the seat of my pants.

At the Home Depot, there are so many brands that my indecision feels like I’m stuck wearing cement boots. To make matters worse, I must make a decision between concrete and cement. I didn’t know there was a difference. Evidently concrete is cement mixed with gravel. A line drawing on the red 50 lb. bag of Quickcrete shows a man fixing a fence post in the ground with the product. This must be the stuff. I stand up from lifting the bag and feel my spinal cord slowly compress.

I am plainly out of my element, making it up as I go along. But I will not be deterred.

DIY Home Improvement is dangerous territory. But I’m just so stubborn and cheap that I’ll do whatever it takes to keep the rats out, my dogs in and prevent the glacier of debris next door from creeping into my yard while simultaneously attempting to cut costs. I am a charter member of the cheap bastards club.

The commercial lot next door presents a decent enough brick facade out front, featuring Pizza Lovers, Bibi’s Hair Salon and a small grocery. But a wasteland exists in the back where 2 little boys play amongst the junk and weeds sometimes, several inbred perpetually frustrated pit bulls served time in a fenced-in concrete-surfaced pen all day and layer upon layer of refuse dating back from the industrial revolution to the present has built up such that a cross-section would make a perfect illustration in an archeological text-book of the clearly defined layers of junk left from civilizations past.

When it rains or when the rats dig under, pieces of junk from the other side of the fence creep under it in a sort of glacial unravelling of past decades. Shards of blue glass, colored plastic, chunks of concrete, a rodent skull, assorted bones and plastic bag shreds appear and make their home in my backyard for a spell.

To make matters worse, one of my pugs is extremely interested in what lurks on the other side. Furthermore, he would eat rocks if he could, and the result would be death from bursting. The never-ending smorgasbord of potentially tasty tidbits is too tempting, his food detector switches into overdrive and there’s the danger he could ingest something we’d regret.

So I placed pressure-treated boards along the bottom of the fence in effort to staunch the flow, but I’d reached an impasse: How to keep the boards up against the uneven surface of the fence with practically no solid anchor to drive in a nail. Hence my bright idea to stick a 2 x 4 in the ground to act as a post. Hence my need for concrete to fix the post in the ground.

Mind you, I don’t know where this idea came from, it just came, inspired by Divine Providence perhaps. So while I have occasional misgivings that I am going down the wrong road and can’t believe the lengths to which I’m going, something keeps prodding me on, saying “just do it. If you build it they will come,” or in my case, they will stop coming.

OK, I’ll do it. It may not look pretty when it’s done, but I’ll do it.

I’ll become a handyman, a do-it-yourselfer in true cheap bastard fashion.

Home improvement, here I come.

Posted in: Home Improvement