He was an odd duck, who was wont to say, when deep in his cups, that he'd rather lay a good brick than a bad blonde. Words like that were not something to endear him to the the young turks of the village - between a pint a' the black and a bit of fluff they thought they had it all. But the older fellows, the ones bent with age and labor, they understood Paddy and took him to their hearts. You'd see them of a Saturday night huddled in one corner of the Burnt Turnip muttering into their Guiness about the death of quality and what a poor crop the fathers' of the lads yonder had sown.
We first met up with him near Aghabollogue; It was a soft sort of a day; the moist air stirred hardly at all and mold was steadily forming in the crevices of a worn conscience - we won't go into his erstwhile connections with the Republicans, or the sad demise of his beloved cousin, another Paddy, of the tragic clan of O'fernachure. But back to our meeting; it was the sort of day that gives gravity to even a mild hangover and leaves a scale of rust on torpid red blood cells hardly yet ready to rise from heart to brain. Paddy stood in the ragged grass of an overgrown cemetery, swaying lightly on the damp ground, carefully measuring, with his bright blue eyes, paths of escape. We lumbered toward him bearing cameras and questions about the dead. Finally, he stood his ground, ambivalent to the end, but willing to accept what fate threw.his way.
His was a common story of good intentions, flawed reasoning and. ultimately, deep misunderstanding. Having been hired to rebuild an ancient church, of which only a partial wall was still standing, he had run into trouble with the local constabulary when they realized he was paving the parking lot with old headstones so he could bring in heavy equipment during the rainy season.
Realizing we were not from the government he consented to listen to our proposal. My dear wife, Patty-my-own, had decided we needed to replace what the deep snows of March had torn from us two winters prior: a grand two-level deck that graced the back of the house like the rump on a redhead. I had convinced her that it was hopeless to build another deck; wood wears, wood rots, wood disappoints. Stone does not. She, in turn, had come to the conclusion that we needed old world craftsmanship. Here we were trying to convince Paddy to emigrate to America in a packing case and do a bit of work for us. When we had ironed out all the details Paddy was in complete agreement; he would fly into Boston in a crate of Guiness and be drop-shipped at our doorstep.
I can only say that from the looks of his work that all went well. Wifey is pleased with her new BBQ spot and I have a place to sit of an evening and sip rum. Paddy has disappeared with the neighbor's cleaning lady. We wish him the best in this bold and brave land he has entered.
I give you this view first only because the patio is impossible to photograph. Being about 17" square the camera won't encompass its majesty. From here on it's bits and pieces. Paddy built it of many things, intending to lead the eye. What he led was the police to our doorstep as neighbors began to complain of missing bricks, slate, pavers and favorite stones. We finally had sharp words, to my utter dismay, when I caught him painting scraps of mdf to look like stone. He finished up quickly after that and was gone. "Gawd bless, Paddy!!!!!!!!!"
The large stones Paddy placed with Chuckles Kubota. The drop off from left to right was about a foot, so a lot of sand had to be hauled in.
This page was last updated on: August 14, 2006
It's not that I have trouble sleeping, not a bit of it; I probably sleep overly much. It is when I sleep that is the problem. Almost any time of the day I can grab a nap. Come evening and I can crash like freight train coming all too soon to the bottom of the hill. But by eleven at night I am starting to get some energy. After that it may be a hopeless matter until 0300. What does this matter, you ask, if you are reitired and beholden to no clock's face for sustenance? Ah, I don't know. It just seems odd when Pat is in bed by nine and up at five most nights.
So, I'm nested into my big leather chair, purchased for an extravagant price to be a comfort to me in my Golden Years, and I hear a noise behind the house. Shay hears it, too, but she isn't alarmed in the least. Are you familiar with the normal Boxer greeting? The dog assumes the shape of a kidney bean - as if both ends of the alimentary canal were about to connect and create a self-sustaining organism, and the dog shudders with delight and moans unctuously as she travels sideways across the floor. She was approaching the back door in this manner when it opens, and there stands Paddy, in the flesh.
He is a inebriated, no doubt, but upright and talking; he is also looking fretfully over his shoulder into the dark. I pull him in and close the door and get him a chair. He tells me he lost the cleaning lady in South Station, in Boston, and has been in an Irish Pub doing his Irish duty. A good thing, I tell him; the Irish pubs of Boston are fine places to iron out the kinks of a worried life. So why, I ask him, is he back in Maine. Turns out Paddy was drinking with a fine fellow, a man from Cork, and all was going well until the man proposed to him. Proposed to you? I ask. What did he propose? I ask, thinking, Oh, no, not another church. Paddy hems and haws and with a barely audible voice says that when he ties the knot it will be with a woman. Ah, I see now what he is on about. Marriage isn't for everyone, I assure him.
But I am suspicious. It does not strike me as probable that "anyone" would propose to Paddy. Not that he isn't a fine fellow himself, but he has more rough edges than a chainsaw. We sit and talk a spell and it comes out, gradually, that Paddy might have mentioned his old Republican past, his explosive past, and been shown the door, the back door, of the pub just ahead of Homeland Security arriving to see to his visa. I have no comment and tell him the guest bed is still available.
Turns out he has given the patio some thought and wants to link the bottom of the steps to an existing walkway twenty feet away. Fine, I tell him, but go a little easy. Keep it simple, straightforwad. Paddy assures me he can do that. Not a problem on earth with simple.
Now Paddy is gone again. He mentioned Canada; how would I know... Here are the pics of Paddy doing simple. I can see he really did try, and damned if he didn't come halfway close.
You can make out the edge of the patio to the left, and the stairs look like stairs. The four concrete slabs were laid just because they were available and now look to be a part of the whole.
We've already had several BBQ meals. Last noc was Cuban steak and black beans.
I fear a cabinet for BBQ accountrements will rear its ugly head before I get back to the shop..
So we bought the place from Rick and Sherry about 4 years ago, and it had wonderful gardens layed out, real pieces of art. But they needed tending, weeding, things like that, and Pat and I aren't good weeders. I at last got value from the gardens by taking all the stone borders and incorporating them into the patio. Now I had to explain to Sherry where her gardens had gone; I have always been a mite shy of the subject of her gardens, but she has never dinged me on their neglected state.
They come by. She likes the patio! She approves. We walk out to the big rock in the background of this pic and she points out that in all the weeds behind said rock there is a rock and moss garden. It's a mess. For over 3 years I have stared out the window and the hump of blue tarp in that area and wondered. Underneath is a pond.
We each do a little desultory weed snatching. Rocks with green stuff growing on them come into view. It's sort of interesting. Rocks are always sort of interesting. I pull the tarp off and see that there really is a pond. It's a large black plastic thing with water in it. I see a frog go by. I am definitely interested.
Over the next 3 days I pull weeds and move bits of moss and stones around. Then I look at the pond. It has suffered a major calamity! Either a landslide or a meteor show has hit it - it's full of rocks! Takes me forever to get all the rocks out; I hope the frog survived.
My thinking is that there is no real reason to cover it. Now that it is empty of rocks it is pretty easy to swamp out when leaves get in, which was the only reason I could see to cover it.
What really got me going was my proudly showing Sherry rocks in the patio wall that I had managed to preserve the moss on and watered frequently. Above is one and to the left is another, with one of the slowly spreading thyme steppables nearby.
Apparently there is a secret formula for spreading moss; it seems to be ground up moss, buttermilk and mare's urine. I've just been digging the stuff up and patting it into place where I wanted more. Of course that doesn't keep household members from sneaking out at night a peeing on the rocks. Saw Waldo do it just recently.