Rock Solid


Spousal Unit must have been a stonemason in another life. Or perhaps a bricklayer. Maybe he lived in a flood-prone area and had to put things above the water level. Or perhaps he is simply loyal to his West Virginia roots and despite having blue blood and a nice set of silver, must put it up on blocks.

By it, I mean everything. Slate is his friend. We inherited a buttload of slate from our previous home renovation and now slate is the filler of choice. My awesome handcrafted swing sits on four slabs of slate. The picnic tables? Slate. A bench near the driveway. Slate. The grill and smoker? Slate. Because I like that European cottage garden look, our patio is gravel. Because Spousal Unit has SIOS (stick it on slate syndrome), every piece of outdoor furniture sits crookedly on its own slabs of slate. That’s not exactly European cottage garden look, but I’m not sure what look it is.

Dr. Seuss? Tectonic shift?

It’s not as if the slate were placed within a crevice designed specifically for that piece of slate. It lies exposed upon the ground like a sacrificed virgin. He created a walkway from the driveway to the back entrance from fifty or so rather large slabs of slate. They tumble upon the earth like bones in an elephant sanctuary. Some have succumbed to gravity and erosion and have slid down the yard a little bit. Others have dug into their spot, like militia at a federal wildlife building. Ain’t nobody gonna move them nowhere. A less than sober person would meet his or her maker trying to walk this path.

It’s not that I’m not grateful. I’m glad that the waterproof bins holding our outdoor cushions and pillows are above earth. One never knows when another 500-year flood will hit Nashville and test the waterproofness of the waterproof bins. The chipmunks running from the golden retriever who hunts them are grateful for the five-inch escape hatch they can slide into, drifting sideways under the safety of the plastic bin like Keiichi Tsychiya in Tokyo Drift.

As much as he enjoys slate, Spousal Unit is not neglectful of other masonry products upon which things may rest. A salvaged industrial kitchen sink I use as a garden bench rests gingerly upon bricks, despite it having adjustable legs, which could make it as level – if not more – than it currently is. Part of the playhouse cum tool shed loiters upon round aggregate stepping stones, a nod to the former homeowners’ eighties landscaping.

Since Spousal Unit is an overall great guy who has decent health insurance and tolerates my penchant for weird crap, such as a 1959 camper, I have nothing about which to complain. Therefore, it is simply noting and not complaining that I just stubbed my toe (again) on the brick holding up the potting bench. I am also not complaining that when I tried to make cute arrangements in the junktique cabinet I bought from a friend, everything slides to the back and to the left because the slate beneath the cabinet is uneven. And heaven knows I would never lodge complaint about my efforts to sit on a bench that pours me from its lap because the slate in the back is higher than the front. It’s as if Santa stood up quickly just as I was about to tell what I wanted for Christmas.

No. I would never complain that St. Francis looks as if he took one too many communions as he lists to the left atop his altar of slate. Instead I shall celebrate. I shall gleefully note that at least Daisy isn’t up on blocks. She rests blissfully — if somewhat unevenly — upon a bed of railroad cross ties filled with gravel. I’m also happy to say that Man Child’s 1948 Packard has left home, so there isn’t a car on jacks in our carport. Only a Rorschach test of oil stains remain.

There are worse things than placing everything on blocks, rocks and aggregate pavers. To Spousal Unit, those worse things are dirt and water seeping into the outdoor furniture, or the bins that hold the cushions. To me, it would be worse to not have this particular Spousal Unit lifting up items to keep them safe, however crooked they may be.