venturaIt was like a dream come true.   It was a lazy Saturday in the early Alabama summer.  Swinging gently from my hammock on the back porch, dozing in-and-out of slumber, feeling the gentle breeze and hearing only the sound of the birds sing, Dreaming about my next road trip, Ventura Highway, shifting into third gear, so smooth… “Steven!  Have you called Birmingham Brick Mason yet!?”  My perfect day-off was interrupted by the wifey-bird.  “I want to get an estimate on that brick patio we talked about and the retaining wall out back and some stonemason work

I had completed my honey-do list and my nap in the hammock was supposed to be my reward.  “I’ll call Monday, but I know a guy.  I’ll probably get him to do it.”  She continued:  “You know a guy?  Like the guy who replaced the motor mounts on my car?”  Ouch! The pang of guilt flooded me like I’d been shot.  I had to take it to a real garage and have the one replaced that “Backyard Bob” couldn’t get to.  More time, money, and incontinence for her.  Like being married to a guy who is always looking for the best deal isn’t inconvenient enough.

“I told you to look up Birmingham Brick Mason.  They did our neighbor’s patio and fireplace and they did an outstanding job.  You said so yourself.”  She was still shouting.  Oh God, make her stop and using my own words against me just isn’t fair.  Again she shouts, !

I want to make sure I get a fair deal.  The guy I have in mind does great work.  I worked with him during my college years and he really did a great job.  Not the fancy stuff like Birmingham Brick Mason, but we’re not fancy people.  I just want something nice, functional, and…well…cheap.

It had been a long time since I say this guy.  But after a lot of research, I finally had my old friend, Gary out for an estimate.  I was polite, but not too sure of him.  He looked rough, like twenty years of abuse rough. Then my sweetie started rapid-firing questions at me:  “Ask him if he has a website.  Does he have photos of past jobs?  Are there any reviews we can read?  Is he a member of the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce?  Is he licensed, bonded and insured?”  “No, I don’t have all of that,” Gary replied.  “But we can drive around town and I can show you some of my jobs first-hand!  Let’s just jump in the pickup.”  Then she smelled the alcohol on his breath.  She quickly took control.  “No, that’s okay.  We’ll be in touch.”

So we went onto for a look.  The site is awesome!  There are photos of their work and we were impressed at the beautiful patios, outdoor fireplaces, retaining walls and the like.  Their work is not just functional, but elegant and innovative.   I decided to call for an estimate.

Needless to say, I didn’t have Gary do the job.  Now, I get to enjoy our patio, brick fireplace, and the gentle waterfall that runs off of the retaining wall in the back.  Lying on my hammock, I’m enjoying all of what our new found brick Mason did for us and they didn’t break my budget.  The birds sing a little sweeter during my summer naps as I doze and the wifey-bird is happy too.  That makes it worth it all! Now back to 4th gear and California Dreaming….