Sunday, October 5 2008
This morning I drove to Kingston Plaza in Uptown Kingston to buy six eighty pound bags of concrete at Herzog's. I was trying to do the right thing and get it from a local non-big-box hardware store. In so doing, I paid, it turns out, 25% more per bag. That was the last concrete I will be buying from someone other than the Devil.
Some sad-looking white hip hop slacker guys in loud outfits had been paid to stand on the corner of Washington Street and Hurley Avenue holding signs touting massive going-out-of-business-sale savings at Steve and Barry's, a massive store at the north end of Kingston Plaza. I'd never been in Steve and Barry's or, for that matter, the business that had preceded it in its cursed spot, and I had no idea what they sold. But learning that everything in the store was on sale for less than eight dollars piqued my interest. It turned out that Steve and Barry's was a clothing store for men and women. They seemed to specialize in urban (aka "ghetto") fashions, particularly DayGlo tracksuits, hoodies, corduroys with gigantic cording, and poofy winter coats with fur trim. I tried on one of the poofy coats and it was a little too small for me, so I went looking for something I could buy. It was hard to find a shirt with no writing on the front, but eventually I found something I could see myself wearing. Sorry, Steve and Barry's! Kingston is a tough market!
Using four eighty pound bags of concrete, I finished the footing for the north wall of the greenhouse, which spans a fourteen foot swath of uneven shale-floored terrain as shallow as four inches deep on the west end to over 15 inches deep on the east end. In places where the footing wasn't especially tall, it was a simple matter to patty-cake wet concrete into place, but in regions of greater depth I relied heavily on makeshift forms. These consisted of rocks (which would bond permanently with the concrete) and scrap boards propped in place by large rocks (which I would be able to remove later). I was always careful to clean the underlying shale as thoroughly as possible, removing dirt and ancient pockets of clay (decomposed shale) so the concrete would have something solid to adhere to. Unfortunately, a batch of concrete I'd mixed up the other day had proved weak (it was from a bag I'd kept in the garage all summer). Unlike some bad batches of concrete I've mixed, it actually did set, but it a bit softer than it should have been, remaining scratchable by fingernail a day after it should have turned to something resembling stone. Today's concrete (all of which I'd purchased this morning) completely buried this weak concrete and hopefully it won't cause me trouble as I start stacking a heavy masonry wall above it.
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