Monday, March 27, 2006

Brick by Brick


Brick masonry is an immensly satisfying hobby. It's one of those things I enjoy but don't do well at all. My projects all have a distinctly rustic look to them. That's fine for the things I do -- mainly small flower beds -- and I am not going to claim I do professional level work at all. No way.

I also won't bore everybody with the brick by brick, bird by bird, word by word cliche. You can beat yourself on the head with that if y ou wish, I think we all know it and are sick of it. I'm not trying to make any grand point, here, just talking about laying brick as a rewarding pastime.

Bricklaying requires concentration and attention to detail. The details make the difference. The mortar has to be the right mix and consistency, or it won't hold. The temperature has to be right -- not too hot or cold -- or the mortar turns to either sand or mud. The first course has to be straight and level, or everything gets way out of plumb. Each additional course has to be even with the one below and level. One detail wrong, and the whole project goes to shit.

The real benefit of bricklaying as opposed to woodworking, at least for me, is that there is zero chance that I'll cut off an appendage ot otherwise cause myself harm due to inattention or random stupidity. The worst that can happen is that the wall will crumble. Since I never build anything more than 3 courses high, that's not that big a problem. I can just rebuild it.

I get a real satisfaction from building. It's one area of my life where I can actually see some results from the hours of labor. Seeing that small (3.5 bricks square by 2 courses high) bed full of pansies of all colors just feels good. This is something I did, except my wife planted the flowers. It may well outlive me, though that time remains many years away, and a lot can happen. Even though the next tenants of htis house will never know anythiing about me, I left my mark here.

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