Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Good stone

So I have written about how I do not like stone. It makes me nervous. But stone and I have had a bit of a reconciliation of late, now that the front patio has been laid. I think all the difference was that it was dry laid. That means it was laid without cement or mortar or, god forbid, "liquid nails." That and the fact that the two masons who worked on it were true artisans. They didn't just do their job adequately, they sought to challenge themselves and do it to a high, artistic standard. They would put down maybe only two stones a day, and shape them and fit them perfectly. It was fun to watch. When I had discussed design and budget beforehand wioth them, I had suggested a more casual job, with perhaps growing things in between the stones. "Growing things?" He asked. "You mean with wide joints? Wide joints would be ugly." So we left the wide joint "stepping stones" to the unskilled likes of Greg and me, and he and his partner did the high skilled stuff.

They incorporated the large, natural boulders we already had out front, and it looks great. At first I was concerned that that would harm the large boulders. But because they did it without mortar, it looks natural and removable. The stones have not been altered. And the mason told me that, ironically, laying the stone without concrete or mortar makes it more permanent.

Concerete and mortar can chip and crack over time so need to be repaired. Also, mortar doesn’t move so can't adjust to minor settling or changes in the soil or freeze/thaw cycles. And with concrete and mortar, you can't go back. It's difficult to remove.

This dry laid is perfect, then. It is solid and permanent, but not irrevocable. I like that. I am very happy that it can adjust and change over time, and that, for a change, it is not set in stone. Phew! And as Kadin put it, "Mom, I'm glad we did that at the front of the house, it is better than that pile of mud." Oh yeah.

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