The Chancellor and I worked like slave labor in the backyard this past Memorial Day weekend. It's been eight years since the pool and landscaping were installed and they are starting to show their age, especially in the brook stone mulch around the patio.
Sunday was declared "brook stone" day and we got to work early in the heat. We both had basic strategies in mind to clean the brook stone, strategies which I'll call Hers and Mine.
Hers consisted of picking up each stone out of the mud and muck and filling a bucket and the dumping that bucket of semi clean stones on the patio.
Mine was to shovel out stone, dirt and debris onto the patio and sort it out later, like the wheat and the chaff.
Each had advantages and disadvantages. Mine was fast and Hers was painfully slow, Hers ended up with somewhat clean stones and Mine with a large pile of mess.
Did I mention mine was fast?
In the end we compromised at this step and did both. She did it her way and I, mine.
After lunch, we were left with a large pile of stones to clean and return to the bed. Again, we had differing approaches to the problem. She went back to washing each stone in bucket of water while I devised a contraption to separate rock and debris from the iron screen chair set and the hose.
The version 1.0 contraption was a flop but I was pretty sure I was on to something, it just need tuning. This separating the stones from the muck looked like a task man had performed for centuries, at least at archeological digs. I could build an inclined ramp with traps for the debris or rent a shaker. Everything I came up with would only make sense if we were doing this for life and I simply decided the hose wasn't enough power for the job. I needed a bigger, more powerful hose. I needed the pressure washer.
The race was on. She had seventeen rocks done and I had none, but I knew I could pull ahead if I could only clean larger groups of stones in mass production. I gave up on the chairs and just started pressure washing them on the ground and soon I had a large pile of clean rocks to put back in the freshly cleaned bed.
After overspray from the power washer prevented the manual method, she moved over to help me in mass production.
We started working together but of course we had differing philosophies about cleaning the small groups of rocks on the ground. She wanted to pick out the larger debris first and then power wash and I just wanted to power wash the crap out of the pile. This turned out to be what I would later call The Great Conflict.
To this list we now add "Should the debris be picked out of the stones first?"
We never did resolve it. After each new group of stones were separated out, she would bend down and pick out the big debris while I waited anxiously with the power washer. I would squirt the pressure washer a couple of times near her to let her know I was growing impatient with her picking the debris out. We argued over it instead of working and it went that way most of the afternoon until we needed supplies.
Then I "let her win" by volunteering to make the trip to Home Depot for weed barrier and she happily picked the debris out and then power washed without someone revving up the power washer above her.
At the end of the day the stone beds looked great but the mess on the patio looked like New Orleans, post-Katrina. We just turned off the power washer and walked away. I felt like FEMA.