I’ve got the best brother-in-law, hands down.
Jeremy’s been living with us since New Year’s or so — as well as the two weeks before Christmas while working for the DC office of his architecture firm — away from his hometown of Atlanta and their office there. He works for one of the bigger US firms and the project he’s on is near D.C. in Maryland, so they offered to fly him up here and let him work out of their office up here in Georgetown, so he’s been staying with us for a couple of months.
In the last week he did some serious work. Not at his office, mind you, but in our backyard.
Ever since we bought our house, I’ve been working bit by bit in the backyard, tearing out the massively overgrown, untended bushes along the way and working with Jeremy and his dad over Thanksgiving to tear out the last of the bushes and one of the fences between our neighbor’s yard and ours. Always looming large were the remnants of the concrete driveway. Some of it had broken up over time and some of it was still intact and in place — but all of it was still sitting in the backyard and needing to be removed before I could proceed with our plan for a fence and raised beds and everything else in the backyard.
May 17, 2011, before any backyard work.
For the last year or so, I had been talking with friends about eventually having this monumental dudes’ workday in our backyard to break up and get rid of all the concrete. I was going to rent a jackhammer and rent/borrow a truck, Rachel was going to make a crockpot of chili and buy some beer and we’d invite all of my dudes to come over and help us break up the concrete and take it out to the dump.
We were anticipating the worst with the concrete, figuring it would be a bear of a job to get it all out of the yard. Some of it was still intact as the old driveway, and a bunch of it back by the alley had been broken up by erosion and the remnants of a tree that had spread through the yard. But all of it still needed to be broken up into smaller pieces and taken to the dump.
That picture above is how things looked last May, before I started tearing out the bushes. You can see how the driveway was intact close to the house, and moving west to the alley had been broken up naturally into smaller pieces. Also, there was the giant solid step to the right of the stairs that was the landing for the old staircase.
While I was working up in the nursery for the last two weeks, Jeremy started working in the backyard. First with the pickax and whatever tools he could find in the basement, and then with a borrowed sledgehammer. In the span of just about 3-4 different days working out in the yard, he managed to — entirely on his own — break up 100% of the concrete left in the backyard and move it into a ready-to-go pile — including the solid landing step from the old porch stairs.
Seriously, that’s impressive.
I had no idea how much he’d gotten done because I had been working in the nursery with my nose to the grindstone after work most nights. But I’d told him we’d get a truck on Saturday and take whatever he broke up to the dump. It wasn’t until Thursday or Friday when I went out into the yard that I saw that he had literally done 100% of what I thought I would need 10 pals to do.
Saturday, we borrowed my pal George’s truck (thanks, George!) and loaded up all the concrete to take it to the most terrific place in D.C., the Ft. Totten Transfer Center, aka, The Dump. I’d heard a long time ago that they didn’t take concrete, so I asked that question during a DPW chat and confirmed that they would. I printed out the chat and brought it with me, just in case. But they didn’t even ask for it, which was welcome news.
it took us three full truckloads early Saturday morning to get all of the concrete to Ft. Totten, but thankfully, once again, the dump is only about five minutes from our house. The truck was loaded down to the springs, but it turned out fine. Just had to take it easy on the short drive.
Jeremy is leaving this Friday. Though he ate all of our raisins a few times over and occasionally forgot to take his shoes off in the house we will always owe him HUGE for getting his He-Man on and doing work in backyard.
Like a boss.
Thanks, bro. Literally, I could not have done it without you.