After the break

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Like many school children, my kids get a week off from school in April. We’ve used this week in the past to do a “driving vacation”: a trip by car to somewhere on the eastern coast of the United States. We’ve been to Harper’s Ferry, Washington, Antietam, and Chicago in recent years. Last year we did a tour of colleges for my daughter, though my son considered that neither a break nor a vacation.

This year we left things fairly open because we thought we might need the days to do wrap-up visits to colleges since final decisions are due to universities by May 1. Indeed, many of my daughter’s friends did just such trips last week. Though Katie and I went to Chicago two weeks ago, we canceled our college visit last week because it became clear where she should go next year. Indeed, she knew the answer to this last December but we, her parents, were more stubborn.

Thus we had a week with nowhere to go. That’s not exactly right since I ran out to California for 48 hours to speak at an intellectual property conference. That was from Tuesday to Thursday, so my “Spring break” was split into two halves. During the first half we ran down to Pennsylvania for a wedding, but otherwise relaxed.

The second half, Thursday through Sunday, was for yard work. The weather cooperated brilliantly. Some of what we did was just raking out areas and picking up small branches that fell over the winter. Much of what else we did involved bricks.

The first brick project is demolishing a set of stairs to our side porch (not the kitchen porch). The mortar failed in much of these steps over the last two winters, so my son and I took off the easy bricks. I think we’re about one-third done but the rest will require more elbow grease. I’m seriously considering renting a jack hammer. I have some other work to do on that porch, but I’ll replace the brick steps with some wooden ones.

Old brick steps

The second project involved moving bricks that surrounded an old defunct grape arbor and garden to be edging for other gardens on the property. This will be a summer-long process since there are a lot of bricks and it’s much slower to make the new edging with the bricks standing on end than it is to yank up the old bricks. When my son and I eventually pull up all the bricks, I’ll till the area, get some topsoil, and grade the area into lawn.

Sometimes it feels like I could use or be a full time gardener on this place.


  1. Bob,

    I don’t know whether Katie plays the guitar, bass or piano. If so, she might be interested in some of the music classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Chicago’s north side. It would be a bit of a haul from Hyde Park, but it’s also a ton of fun. The Dylan Ensemble meets on Saturday afternoons …


  2. @Howard: Thank you, I’ll let her know!

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