I am now a part-time zebra.
I’ve been up to my elbows in a mosaic project, and to make space, I had to move a lot of dirt. When you spend hours shoveling dirt and mixing concrete, a certain percentage of these materials land on your skin. And they settle into the generous layer of sunscreen you have applied. Hours later, when you are sitting in the bath, scratching layers of grime off your arms, you’ll notice that the lines you scratch appear gray (dirt-sunscreen mix) against the light brown of your arm. Faintly zebra-like.
My summer theme: Got dirt?
This idea was inspired by two friends: Sam and Veronica. Sam is my artist friend who personalizes her yard with mosaic she makes. Veronica led the art camp in which I taught kids to make mosaic stepping stones. Mosaic has been on my mind, and I decided I would make stepping stones at our place. First, I trimmed part of the Jasmine vine to the right of the door, while leaving all of the vine to the left. This was followed by moving a lot of river rock, shoveling loads of dirt and pulling tons of weeds. Yard re-dos aren’t crucial the way faulty plumbing issues are, but for a Do-It-Yourselfer like me, they give a gal a boost.
There have been multiple trips to the home improvement store, hefting 60-pound bags of concrete mix. (Yes, that was me, yelling a Tarzan/Jane roar and beating my chest.) A man behind me at checkout said, “It’s not every day I see a woman with a cart full of concrete mix.” To which I replied, “It’s very satisfying!” What does all this concrete-mixing, dirt-shoveling and rock-moving do for a mom’s manicure? Who cares? These things at the end of my arms are not decorative. My hands are tools!
We have an unusually-shaped garden patch to the right of our front door, the result of a room addition that predates us. Over the years I’ve tried different ways to use it. I planted things, and I added potted plants. I rearranged. I pulled weeds. I ignored weeds. I have three kids to keep alive, so sometimes yard projects wait. A long time. But I wanted to try to make the area different. I wanted the weeds gone. I decided that a colorful mosaic “floor” was an option. There were a few dozen bricks available for free, when renovation was complete at our neighbor’s house. I wasn’t sure what I wanted this area to look like but I wanted change, and figured I could adjust it later if I wanted to. Eventually I decided to make a curved path of bricks, with mosaic stepping stones and ground cover.
|BEFORE. This is our garden patch before my re-do. |
I didn't end up buying new plants, because we have plenty.
Simply rearranging the potted plants gives the area a new look.
|AFTER. Here is the same area. Who knows? |
I may change it at some point but it has given my soul a boost to try a new look.
|I repurposed an old kitchen drawer for my paver mold.|
It's an original drawer from our 1956 kitchen.
This drawer was sitting in our garage for years.
I knew it would come in handy someday!
|Here's a photo I took during my re-do. |
Leveling the area involved moving more dirt than I expected.
|I used chalk and a tape measure on our driveway to map out the shape I wanted to create.|
|The "Aloha" mosaic I did on our wall is one of the first mosaic pieces I ever made--probably ten years ago.|
The weed cloth above will keep the weeds out (or to a minimum)--I hope!
|This photo isn't really a Before Photo.|
I'd already trimmed a lot of the vine before I took the photo.
The vine hung almost to the ground and really blocked a sight line to the front door.
|So far I'm liking the pavers I made.|
I love that the space is now more open.
But now I see lots of areas where I need to touch up paint,
so I guess that the To Do list is never truly finished!
The bulk of this work was completed before the recent major heat wave descended on us. This was coincidental, but the timing was good. It’s sweaty work, even when it’s not a million degrees outside.
The summer is off to a good start. In addition to all this yard work, I've spent more time with our kids. They have needed a break from the hustle-bustle of the school year, and it's a win-win to have a different pace.
Sweating in the sun and scraping layers of dirt off each day may not be your cup of…lemonade--but it’s quenched my thirst for a re-do. Personalizing my space always feels so satisfying. My mosaic projects may not save the world—but they are bringing more color and joy into my world, and that’s worthwhile.