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Column - Nothing ever goes back in the way it came out

It was the jigsaw puzzle from hell. And it reinforced one of life's most valuable lessons.

Nothing ever fits back in the way it came out. Ever.

In my back yard I have a sidewalk made out of interlocking paver bricks. A few years ago after a heavy rain, my son's friend came down hard on the sidewalk with his skateboard, smashing a small section down into the ground. An easy fix - I took out 10 or so bricks, put in some fill and leveled it out.

Over the next four years, the sidewalk became more unlevel over a much larger section. It was all wavy and uneven and in the center was a huge dip where water pooled every time it rained.

A few months ago, I decided I couldn't put off fixing it any longer. I didn't think it would be that difficult. Take the bricks out, lay some paver base, level it out, pack it down and put the bricks back in. Piece of cake.

My problem when I tackle a home improvement project is that I WANT to be able to do it. Although I have an abundance of energy and loads of physical stamina, I lack one important quality - skill. I am a home-improvement-project idiot. Needless to say, the sidewalk repair did not go as planned.

Anticipating that putting the sidewalk back together could prove challenging, I took a photo first. I also had the foresight to lay out the bricks exactly in the same order as I took them out.

It wasn't long until I encountered my first problem - I didn't start far enough away from the sidewalk and I curved it too much. I painstakingly placed each brick, in order, on the grass, only to have them bump into the existing sidewalk.

That meant I had to remove the bricks in three separate sections. I numbered each section so I would know which one to put back first. Then I got to work filling in the dips with paver fill. I poured it in, then took a wide, flat board, slammed it down on the fill and jumped up and down on it as hard as I could to pack it down and even it out. I'm pretty sure my neighbors were watching this entire process, shaking their heads with amusement at another of Jo's feeble attempts at do-it-yourselfing.

Then came the tricky part - putting the bricks back in. At first I was amazed at how well it was going. Wow! I could rip up and reinstall a sidewalk all by myself! Superwoman!

That lasted for a dozen bricks.

Then it quickly spiralled out of control. For some reason, the bricks would not fit in according to how I had taken them out. I moved and rearranged them several times to no avail. No matter what I did, the pattern was not patterning.

Instead of panicking, I moved to the last section of bricks that I took out, thinking I could finish it from that end. Once again, it went well for about a dozen bricks. Frustration mounting quickly, those stubborn bricks refused to be put back in the way they came out. I referred to the picture and it appeared as though I was doing it correctly. Why weren't they going back in?! To make it worse, now all the bricks I had carefully placed on the grass, in exact order, were jumbled and disorderly. ARRGGHHH!

I tried about 10 times, getting more impatient, frustrated and disgusted with my ineptitude. I decided to walk away and try again later - with the same result. Those dang bricks refused to cooperate. And by now, two had broken.

Finally, I had to admit defeat. I gave up and called a handyman, who got that perplexing sidewalk puzzle put back together within a couple hours, leaving me bewildered as to how my careful planning could have gone so terribly awry.

I had every intention of completing the entire sidewalk that day, I had been confident I could do it. But you know what they say about good intentions - the road to hell is paved with them.

Nope. I'm pretty sure my road to hell is paved with interlocking paver bricks.

"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

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