The Mountain Comes to Pat

I was going to start this particular essay with the quote about Mahomet going to the mountain when it wouldn’t come to him, but when I researched the saying, I discovered that Muslims find that quote offensive for some reason having to do with racism. I’m not sure why it’s racist. Do be honest, I don’t know why a lot of what is currently racist is considered so. But that isn’t germane to this particular post, which is, in fact, about the mountain coming to me.

I arranged for rocks to be put around my house and garage to protect the foundations, and more recently, to fill in the right-of-way between the sidewalk and the street with rocks instead of unsightly weeds and rampant tree growth on leftover roots from a felled tree.

This has been a long, drawn-out process. The first of the rocks, which had sort of an ochre tone, were laid last fall and another installment this spring. The rock project has been on hiatus for a few months, but the workers were here last week to get more rock to finish putting around the house, creating more paths, as well as doing the right-of-way. Unfortunately, the current batches of rock are more rose than ochre. (The pile of brick red rock you see in the photo below is the breeze for the paths.)

The workers used all the pink stones for the right-of-way, since it doesn’t matter as much if those rocks don’t match the rocks around the house, and they went back today to see if they could get the right color. Although we thought the pink rock was a mistake, it turns out that all the rocks are from the same quarry, just a different “dye lot.” Technically, it’s not a dye lot since the rocks were never colored (except by nature), but still, the rocks are a completely different color. Luckily, the people at the place where the workers have been getting the rock dug down beneath the pink rock and found a couple of tons of the original color.

I’m sure the workers are even more pleased about than I am because they are the ones who would have had to take up all the old rock, mix it with the pink rock so that there wouldn’t be two separate colors of rock around the house, and then lay it all back down. Tons of rock!! Yikes.

So what does this have to do with the mountain coming to me? Apparently, the quarry is a mountain that is being blasted to smithereens, and some of those smithereens are ending up here on my property. I suppose, since I haven’t been able to get to the mountains since I’ve been here, I should be grateful that the mountain is coming to me. Seen in such a light, it will give me a better appreciation of all the rock that’s being laid around here, though I must admit to feeling a bit guilty because of my participation in the destruction of that particular mountain.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

What the Wind Blew In

I had a lovely surprise today. I went outside as usual to check the weather, though I really didn’t have to — I could hear the strong winds and knew they would be pushing mountain air our way — but I wanted to see what if anything the wind blew into my yard. What I discovered was . . . workers!

I didn’t expect them today. The one worker who lives nearby comes on the weekend if he comes at all, and with the wind, I was sure they’d find a different job rather than battling with the weed blocker fabric that needs to go under the ornamental rock around the house and the breeze pathways.

And yet, here they are!

Apparently, it’s too windy to do any of their other work, especially putting on siding and trimming trees, so they came here to get caught up a bit. One is working outside and the other — lucky fellow! — is working in the basement out of the wind. I’m especially delighted with the work being done on the basement. It’s an old project that was never finished. The cement floor was put in, which I was most concerned about since the old crumbled concrete floor seemed so dangerous and gave the basement a dungeony feel. I haven’t really been concerned about the cracks in the walls being fixed since they are superficial, and more importantly from my standpoint, I won’t be using the basement for storage. If I do need it for storage, I have a much bigger problem than an unfinished project because I should be getting rid of things rather than accumulating more stuff.

I am concerned, though, about having the sump pump put in, which I reminded them about today. The water table here is high, and when there are copious rains, as there occasionally have been, basements get flooded. It’s sort of silly to be concerned about it during a time of great drought, but in my experience, droughts tend to end with huge rainfalls.

Still, whether necessary or not, it would be good to have one project completely finished.

We also talked about what to get to hang my tools, and once those racks are up, the inside of the garage should be completely finished. The gutters would then be the only extant garage project, but installing them is not a project for a windy day.

I am truly delighted with the paths that are going in. Not only will they add to my safety, they will define the yard as well as fill in a lot of the space I would otherwise have to care for. Right now, caring for the yard is not a problem. To be honest, it’s not a problem because I haven’t been doing anything to care for the lawn, but when I do need to start taking better care of my yard, a couple of patches of grass will be about all I can handle. And I do want some grass since it adds to the curb appeal. Besides, what’s the point of having a lawn mower if you never use it?

The paths aren’t far enough along to show in a photo — mostly all you’d see is the gray fabric, so here are photos of the hen and chicks I planted last year. They are doing surprisingly well considering the harsh winter we had.

As you can see, the dandelions are also doing well.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Watching Workers Work

I’ve spent a nice lazy day watching men be anything but lazy.

My contractor has a new employee, one who is old enough and knowledgeable enough and conscientious enough to work by himself, so he’s been coming to lay decorative rock and dig pathways to fill with crushed rock called “breeze.” Why is it called breeze? I don’t know. All I know is that it will be nice to have flat paths to walk on as I get old and unsteady.

It’s interesting to me how everyone who has come to work on this house or yard has become caught up in the planning and offered fun and practical ideas for improving the lot and making the place accessible for the old lady I will become. (Of course, since these men are all considerably younger than me, they probably already see me as that frail old woman.)

I certainly hadn’t planned on doing all this (or rather, having it done), but once I can see where the worker is going with his idea, I can’t unsee it. And so, gradually, my yard is taking shape. It truly will be a mini estate when it is finished, with wild areas, garden areas, grassy areas as well as big bushes and small trees creating various “rooms.” And amazingly, when it is all finished, the entire cost of the house and landscaping will be a tiny fraction of what a similar property in any other part of the country would be.

It also looks as if the foundation will be repaired soon. This same worker who is laying down the rock will be digging away the dirt around the foundation, fixing the cracks, and then putting it all back together. As much as I appreciate the aesthetics of the landscaping (and the practicality of it), I am especially looking forward to having the cracks fixed. The house is sound even with the cracks, but since the biggest cracks are in the corner where my bedroom is, fixing them will give me great peace of mind. Not that I worry about it, but fixing the foundation ensures that I will never have to worry about the house collapsing while I am sleeping.

I’d take a picture of the work, but to be honest, all it looks like right now are rocks and dirt. Hmm. Maybe I need a waterfall. Then I’d have an interesting photo to post!


If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here:

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Pretty White Walls

The insulation and the walls of the garage are in, and now the painting begins! The walls are white (not blue as they appear in the photo), to make sure the garage is nice and bright.

I’m still a way from being able to use the garage. Once the walls and ceiling are painted, the opener will be installed, and then gravel will need to be brought in to fill in the space between the driveway and the alley. I think the contractor wants the ramp/sidewalk from the house to the garage done before some of the rest of the work to make sure I have a safe way to get from one building to the next, but I’m not sure if the sequence matters as long as the sidewalk is done.

From the beginning, the contractor has understood that I’m fixing the place up now to prepare for my old age so I can be self-sufficient as long as possible, and he’s been very good about pointing out things I should be done, even things I wouldn’t have thought about. But he’s used to elder-proofing houses and yards, and I’m not used to being an elder. Though I’m getting there. Things I didn’t think I’d have to worry about for a few more years, such as going down the steps to the basement, are definitely things I need to worry about now. My bum knee, though it is healing and isn’t preventing me from doing things I need to do, doesn’t like stairs. (It’s a good thing we decided to make the garage big enough for storage because my original idea of storing things in the basement has become defunct.)

It’s nice having someone look at the place from a different point of view than mine. From his standpoint, I’m sure I already seem old-lady-ish, so it’s not much of a stretch for him to consider my safety, especially when I stumble because of a depression in the yard. Such unevenness will be taken care of with loads of dirt — they have to bring in dirt anyway to fill in where the old garage used to be, and to fill in around the garage — so it will be easy enough to expand the fill site. Besides, he’s going to be putting in pathways for me. (Made from something called breeze?)

It will be fun to gradually fill in the corners of the yard and the various secret spaces created by the walkways with interesting plants and artifacts, so that if I can’t go far, I can still have a micro adventure in my micro park. Such an undertaking will take years, of course — not just because I can only do so much at a time but because things take a long time to grow.

The contractor also seems to understand that I like the work he does, but that I also like the companionship. Knowing that congenial people are here, working for my welfare adds an additional dimension to the experience of owning a house and adds to the richness of the experience. Their presence has certainly helped to keep me from feeling completely isolated during these Bob times.

And it gives me something to look forward to on the days I know someone will be here.

Luckily, from a companionship standpoint, things are far from finished. Even though the garage is nearing completion, there is a whole list of other things that need to be done, such as the water lines replaced, the foundation maintained, the gutters fixed. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Today, I am focusing on the garage and the pretty white wall.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator