Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

I've made enough progress on the office wall that I decided to use the nice weather on Sunday to go get some mortar. I was expecting a bag of Type S mortar to weigh 50 lbs or so. Turns out it weighs 80. If it were only 50lbs my cart might have survived. Yes, that's right. I took my puny wire grocery/laundry cart to go pick up mortar. If it had worked then I'd have no worries about how to go get the rest. As it is...

I set the bag in the cart and the bottom saged a bit. No problem. I might have to push it back into shape later, but so far it looks good. I push the cart to the checkout, pay, and head out across the parking lot toward the subway station.
By the time I reached the subway the bulge had continued to grow, the axle had bent, and the wheel on the right was leaning at an angle. Still, if I can make it home I can spend some time with a vice and plyers to put it all back. The next trip I'll be sure to put down some boards on the bottom to help distribute the weight. No worries.
As I transferred from one train to the next the wobble from the wonky wheel became pronounced. The cart wanted to wander back and forth. Wires are starting to pop loose from the back of the cart.
The elevator for the U street Metro is near 13th street while I normally exit near 10th street. It would add 3 blocks to my trip, but I'd really prefer to use the elevator. And I was already close to that end of the station so either way it's a couple of blocks that I'd rather not have to deal with. So up the elevators.
At this point the cart is looking really bad. It's leaning off to the right so that I'm trying to hold up that end of the basket with one hand while the other is on the handle moving it along.
As I walked along I can hear the plastic in the leaning wheel starting to crack. I slow down a bit and that seems to help. Still, I'm out pacing about half the pedestrians. What is so damn hard about putting one foot in front of another that I seem to be only one of maybe a dozen people in this city who can do it?
So, the African American Civil War Memorial, turn, cross street, past the chinese place, across the alley, CRACK! Two and a half blocks from home the wheel gives out completely. I break it off and see how far I can get on one wheel. The answer is three inches.
BUT! The front legs are still intact! So we continue up the street with a lean and a twist, a lean and a twist, a lean and a twist, a lean and a twist. Step by step we move up the sidewalk. Wires are dropping from the basket every few feet. And old woman watches as I diligently struggle on toward home. We talk for a bit and she shuffles on ahead. I continue this for another half block before giving up.
I take the lightweight stuff and hope that the rest is too heavy to steal before I get back. Leaving the two legged mass of twisted metal behind I head home for backup. I pass the old woman and give her an update.
Back home, I drop off the lightweight stuff, grab the Segway, and head back out. The old woman cheers as I tear off in my high speed electric dolly. A man on a bike is watching to see if I came back or if the mortar was his for the taking. I heft the bag out of the twisted metal sculpture that once was a grocery cart and set it in a foot hole on the Segway. I climb on and rest one knee on the bag. I resemble a pirate with a cement leg. I creep on home and unload.

I also got some blueberry plant cuttings. I think. Could be blackberry. I'm pretty sure I decided against the grapes. In a couple of weeks, when the frost risk has finally ended I plan to plant them along the fence between me and one of my neighbors.

Coming soon: "Mortar Follys" and "Gardening in a Postage Stamp".

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