Patio time

Today Monaca Royal Construction Enterprises (MoRCE) and I finished up the hardscaping project. I am very happy with the result.

It wasn’t easy. For the patio, we experimented our way across substrates. It was simply dry mortar for a few initial tiles in the southeast corner, but wet mortar is stronger, so we switched.

Hand sieving the sand we have on site was slow and laborious. So we switched to instant cement which was more gravelly, more expensive, and a bit harder to smooth out. Mixing cement is heavy work, so we borrowed a cement mixer from our neighbor, Shinji.

I had an “I told you so” moment when inevitably the tiles didn’t fit against the border of the French drain. With some careful cutting with the disc saw, eventually we got there. I commend Shimizu-san and Abe-san for diving into one of their less used skills and making it work.

Today we did the grouting. I learned to hate grout when I did the tiles at Hangar eight and I still do. It’s messy, hard to handle, and easy to screw up at various points along the way. And we did. But we also got it done.

I suggested a piping bag technique that was not too bad and made the work go quickly. Shimizu-san washed the joints to make them smoother. Washing the grout is always inadequate and leaves dusts and streaks everywhere. I hope the forecast rain takes care of some of the remaining cleanup for me.

Not only did we finish the tiling and grouting today, but we also filled in the gaps between the stones in the path. Now I can plant the herbs and grasses to fill the space.

Kawasaki-san told us the other day that he has an embankment of red earth that he’d would be happy to let us take dirt from. He is always so generous! It was more effective than buying a hundred bags of dirt from the home center.

It turns out that Kawasaki-san owns one of my favorite mountains, Futatsuyama – the one I named the kitten after. And that’s where our red dirt came from. All my life’s a circle.

Shimizu-san, Abe-san and I filled and then emptied the MoRCE 3-ton dump truck using shovels and buckets. I prepared for this work with some specific stretching in yoga this morning, but I think I need to do some more before bedtime so that I don’t wake up too sore tomorrow.

Over the week, I baked cookies as treats for our break time. And as a result, I was surprised with a gift of kingyo for the fishtern. I really love the Monaca guys. They are skilled tradesmen and good people.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.