Adventures In Masonry: When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Last weekend I was making mac-and-cheese on our one-burner hot plate in our one-room garage, and apparently became distracted enough to burn the noodles that were, tops, seven feet away from me. The ensuing text messages seemed an appropriate way to kick-off this post…

See? See why I tolerate the eye-rolling? Possibly the only dude that could make me laugh while I’m scraping charred Velveeta shells off the bottom of the one pan we have in our “kitchen.”

And he’s right because I really can do anything, which most of the time is like “wow, my ugly cedar beams are no longer maroon!” but sometimes it’s also like “I measured that three times and wrote the numbers down and… you’ve got to be flipping kidding me.” Yeah… I’ll get to that in a minute.

My point is just that a lot of the time I write how-to posts or show fabulous pictures of things I do right, but it’s not always easy. I mess up my fair share, and a lot of the time I can laugh at it (like that time we bought the wrong exterior door for the garage… twice), or count it as a learning experience. Then there are times when I just kind of want to shove a trowel through my eyeball and end it all, and occasionally I catch those times on video.

I actually couldn’t bring myself to post the video of this one, but I did take some stills from it to help tell the story.

For those of you who weren’t around here in April, blocking up some of the old windows in the basement was the first time in a long time I actually used the “c” word. You know… “can’t.” I got over it with the help of my Own Personal Engineer, but it was not fun. And I’ve been alternately dreading and avoiding blocking up the final two windows, until this weekend when I finally had to suck it up so that our newly installed water pipes don’t freeze.

So here’s how it went:

It’s 40-something degrees outside and windy as hell. I have a constant drip of snot coming from my nose and an awkward pit to crouch in while trying to block up an irregular sized hole in our old foundation.

First block goes in okay, this might not be so bad.

Second block…


You gotta be fucking kidding me.

I try for 10 minutes to wedge this block in, move the other block over, chip off some irregular pieces to make it fit.


This is me, taking a moment and trying really hard not to lose my shit.

And then MysteryMan comes over, and I think even though my face isn’t in the frame of this picture, you can tell by my hand gesture what types of things I have to say about the foundation, the hole, the block, and my own ability to accurately read a tape measure.


Then I take a few minutes. MysteryMan gets the masonry saw and we debate the possibilities of cutting the block down further. Since my head is no longer threatening to explode with the force of an atomic bomb, I am able to think outside the box… uh, block. And we decide to make the hole bigger instead of the block smaller.


And this is where this story dissolves into a cloud of masonry dust and– poof!– when everything clears there’s a perfectly blocked window in its place.

Actually, there’s no happily-ever-after picture here. I did finish the window, and it is one ugly hacked-up masonry job, but it’s done. I just couldn’t bring myself to go look at it to take a picture once I finished. I may need a few days for this one.

The other window didn’t turn out too bad, though…


Just for the record, those are getting covered up with cultured stone eventually (and a deck, in this case) and also… cross “blocked off existing foundation windows” from my bucket-list, because I am never doing this shit again.

5 Responses

  1. OMG, you two are too funny! Thanks so much for a good chuckle on an otherwise crappy day for me.

  2. No! Say it ain’t so! “Block off foundation window” (after I remove existing foundation window) is exactly (*exactly!*) what i had planned for tonight! And here I was thinking it’d be kinda fun and I’d knock the whole thing out in a couple hours! Damn!

  3. I was laughing too. I’m always cursing my house. II have been thinking for years why isn’t there a tv show called “This old Crappy House”.for the rest of us. So many houses were built wrong, poorly insulated, etc.

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