The Cleaning Power of Water

September 14, 2009 at 8:27 PM 10 comments

I’m not ready for Monday. John’s not ready for Monday. Béni isn’t ready for Monday. (He’s been extra cuddly today, which leads me to believe he’d rather Mom & Dad were at home with him than trapped under flourescent lights at work.)

After having our wonderful weekend get away just 8 days ago, you would think we would still be basking in the relaxation and wonder of Switzerland, but no. The dirt and grime of our building’s sidewalk finally got to us, and we crazily decided to take it upon ourselves to clean the sidewalk this weekend. Mind you, there are 6 families that live in our stairwell and we had not been “assigned” this work in any way, so yes, we’re just insane.

The sidewalk in front of our building, like many in Heidelberg, is composed of gray bricks laid in an interlocking pattern. In theory, this looks nice, except when you realized that weed killers like Round Up are illegal in Germany. In come the weeds…and the grass…and the dirt…and the rocks. Our sidewalk was really depressingly ghetto, and last week, when we saw a man using a pressure washer on his sidewalk, we thought he had such a great idea. We went to the Army self help store and borrowed their pressure washer.

Saturday around 11 AM, John headed outside to start the project. I was planning on showering and coming downstairs to help once I was dressed and looking decent. Ha! I laugh because I shouldn’t have showered. You should have seen how dirty we got. More on that later (sorry there aren’t any pictures of us. It just dawned on me that we could have gotten some good ones!)

We soon discovered this was going to be an all day project. We had to pull out the big weeds and grass roots by hand. Then we traced the outline of each brick to remove all the excess dirt but not all the roots would come out, so we had to bend over and hand-pick out the pesky leftover weeds and grass. Then we sprayed off each individual brick to remove all the dirt in the tiny pores. We did this row by row. To give you perspective on how intensive this project was, a distance the width of a parking space took us about an hour. We also had two skinnier sidewalks that lead to separate basement doors, so we did those along with the stairs up to our main door.

Altogether, the project took us 5.5-6 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday.

I. am. sore.

I also had a couple mishaps including accidentally spraying my foot (I had to sit down for a while. It hurt so bad, I was nauseous), having dirt spew into my eye and not having a clean hand with which to wipe it out, and swallowing a few clumps of mud as they flew into my mouth. Yum. This is all in addition to ending up looking akin to the Swamp Thing both days. I had mud splatter all over my face, in my hair, on my shirt and shorts, and from my knees down, my legs were pretty much solid mud/tiny pebbles (like the ones used to salt sidewalks in the winter). I didn’t wear shoes.

At one point, I had to go try to find the owner of a minivan who parked in our area. I didn’t want his/her car to get dirty. There were two separate birthday parties going on in the courtyards between buildings (on the opposite side from where we were washing the sidewalk). When I walked over there, everyone stared. When I asked if that minivan belonged to anyone at the party, no one answered me. Or, maybe they did and I had too much mud in my ears to hear them. *shrug*

In the end, though, we ended up with a beautiful sidewalk on our half of the building. We also got to chat with a few of our neighbors which was nice, and it felt like a little bit more like a community. Hopefully we can get some help with planting and making the front area even nicer looking…if we ever recover from this past weekend!

Though I didn’t manage to take photos of our mud-covered selves, I did snap a few of the sidewalk. Check it out:

Ew! I did this small sidewalk on Sunday

Ew! I did this small sidewalk on Sunday

We also tackled this on Sunday (note: the whole sidewalk looked like this before we started)

We also tackled this on Sunday (note: the whole sidewalk looked like this before we started)

The line where we stopped :)

The line where we stopped 🙂

The difference is crazy! Go pressure washer!

The difference is crazy! Go pressure washer!

showing some of our work

showing some of our work

straight ahead to the car is what we'd done - to the left...we hadn't/didn't (taken on Saturday)

straight ahead to the car is what we'd done - to the left...we hadn't/didn't (taken on Saturday)

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Entry filed under: Our Goings On. Tags: , , , , .

Sweet Home Alabama Cleaning: Not Just for Sidewalks

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chelsea Hurst  |  September 14, 2009 at 8:59 PM

    Wow! That looks awesome. Someone should pay you for that work!

    Reply
    • 2. osarah  |  September 15, 2009 at 11:26 AM

      It was really rewarding to see such a difference. Hopefully we’re paid back by having better relations with our neighbors 🙂

      Reply
  • 3. Cat  |  September 14, 2009 at 10:54 PM

    wow… I’ve always poo-pooed pressure washers, but not so much now! Did Beni get to play in any of the water/mud? or did he have to settle for watching from the windows? 🙂

    Reply
    • 4. osarah  |  September 15, 2009 at 11:27 AM

      Yeah…I had never used one before, and I was amazed at what a great job it did.

      Beni was outside with us on Saturday and mainly played with sticks and ate dirt. Sunday morning at 7:15, he vomited. He stayed inside on Sunday. Hopefully one of these days he’ll learn that eating that junk makes him sick.

      Reply
  • 5. purejoy  |  September 15, 2009 at 3:31 AM

    the transformation is amazing. your soreness was well worth it. way to sacrifice for the betterment of your community!!

    Reply
    • 6. osarah  |  September 15, 2009 at 11:28 AM

      Thanks! It was really rewarding, and it felt good to do something nice for everyone. 🙂

      Reply
  • 7. Vesper  |  September 15, 2009 at 11:16 AM

    geese, your neighbors should have helped! LOL. In my building they are extremely picky on whose week it is to clean the stairwell AND the yard. If I miss one day, I’m scorned by the stairwell coordinator : ) and no, my smiles don’t work, LOL.

    Reply
    • 8. osarah  |  September 15, 2009 at 11:29 AM

      Nah, we didn’t mind doing it.

      We don’t have stairwell chores. We all just pick up when there’s trash outside, and we have a cleaning lady who comes once a week that we all chip in for. It’s well worth the money!

      Reply
  • 9. CN Heidelberg  |  September 16, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    I see them use those pressure washer things sometimes behind my office building. They are cool!!

    Reply
    • 10. osarah  |  September 18, 2009 at 8:34 AM

      Yeah, they really are — hey, do you happen to know of any easier way to keep these brick sidewalks neat looking??

      Reply

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