I've done some pretty silly things in my time here on earth that has brought laughter and joy to those around me. However, sitting in front of my new home mixing over six thousand bricks probably takes the cake. My wife and I are building our semi-retirement dream home. It is a compact, yet spacious place on a lake. Building a new home raises anxiety levels because of all the multitude of decisions that need to be made. You must make choices having to do with color, style, and size for everything from kitchen cabinets to lighting fixtures. Will the carpet go with the tile and if so, how will the paint and window treatments blend together with the carpet and tile? Since this might be the last home that we will build, we want to make it perfect and eliminate any potential mistakes.

Recently, we sat down with our builder and gave him all of our final decisions relating to color, style, size, and look. We told him about the style and size of the windows, siding color and trim, color of shingles and bricks and cabinets and countertops. It took us several months to decide upon all of the options and choices related to building a new house.

Our builder took note of the choices that we had made and seemed impressed and even pleased with our selection until he got to the bricks. What caused him concern was that we had picked two different types of bricks each containing several shades of beige. The first type of brick was completely beige even though there were variations in that color. We thought that it needed a little more pizzazz than merely theme and variation on beige. Therefore, we picked another type of beige brick that had accent colors of muted rust and muddy gray mixed liberally in among the dominant beige. When you mixed them together, we thought that it would make a very pleasing blend of beige with some definite accenting colors for contrast. It was perfect; we thought.

However, our builder didn't agree with our perfect analysis of the situation. He objected to having a blend of two different bricks, because he wasn't going to be responsible for how the bricklayers mixed them. He had fears of rebricking areas because they hadn't mixed up the bricks enough to suit us.

Al picking up bricks I resolved the problem by doing the mixing of the brick by myself. After hours of mixing and blending just the right combination, I think that I solved the problem. In spite of the cold wind from the West as I created my brick masterpiece, I was warmed by the knowledge that I was assuring near perfection for our home. However, our neighbors had a quirky introduction to one of their new residents.

Al stacking bricks As I worked at blending beige bricks, I started to think about the landscaping that needed to be done in the spring. If our neighbors or contractor thought that I was a little peculiar with the brick thing, wait until I get to the hostas, maples, day lilies, Korean spicebushes, and daffodils.

Through this experience, I have developed some suggestions if you are planning to build a new home. However, these suggestions can be applied to any problem-solving project that you might have. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do you want to accomplish? Get a clear idea of your goal. You could be toying with the idea of going back to school or starting a new career. Whatever it is, commit it to writing and a sentence or two.
  2. What do the experts think? Take your idea to a person who is already where you want to be. If it is simple like picking the right shade for refurbishing your living room or getting into shape, get advice from someone who is knowledgeable. You don't have to reinvent the wheel.
  3. What do you feel? How do you feel about the advice you received? Accept or refine the ideas of others to fit your unique wants and dreams.
  4. What can you do to improve your chances? Cover your bets. Mix your own bricks or in another way make it happen for you.
  5. Finally, what's stopping you? Just do it.
Al's wife picking up bricks

My wife felt sorry for me mixing bricks in freezing weather.

Al's wife stacking bricks

Now, it is I that feels guilty.

Al stacking more bricks

...and the works goes on for six hours.

all the bricks

Day one is complete....4000 bricks mixed, 2000 still to go.