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The Gift of Making: My New Brick Walkway


For my birthday this year, I was gifted one of the most thoughtful presents I’ve ever gotten: the gift of making. I live in a cabin in the woods of Northern California and I have a patch of dirt to one side of my front door that becomes a big mud pit in the winter when our rainy season starts. In the summer, it’s the shady side of the house, so my pup Sugar had dug a hole to lay in and stay cool. Not cool. I’m all in favor of rustic living, but this was a bit much.

My dear friend Karen gifted me a brick walkway for my birthday. More specifically, her gift was getting all the materials, bringing them to my house, and teaching me how to lay a walkway. Karen made her first walkway 10 years ago and was offering to share that knowledge with me. Pictured above is how far we got on the weekend we started the project, so it’s not quite done yet, but it’s a great start.

Here’s what the area looked like before bricks. Karen told me to prep the area by getting it as level and chunky-rock-free as possible:

Here’s the hole that Sugar had dug. I needed to fill it in to get everything level:

Karen offering to get the materials was not only a generous gift monetarily, but getting 500 bricks to my house wasn’t easy either. She had to stop loading them at 400 when the wheel wells on the Volvo started to get dangerously low. Thank goodness for my sweet neighbors Billy and Gregory who lent a hand bringing the bricks down to our construction location.

Next, Karen showed me the many patterns we could make with the bricks and I picked one I liked (the one on the left):

She taught me how to spread out the sand and then start laying the bricks, giving me pointers on how close to lay them and to make sure none are wobbly:

This is how far we got. Next up is finishing the tail end and then brushing bags of sand over the top to fill in the cracks evenly (and gravel to fill in the bigger side spaces — yes, I found out my house and planter are not exactly straight).

Karen’s present was so brilliant because she not only gifted me with something I needed that will last for years, but she took the time to show me how to do it, so now I have knowledge that will last forever. I’m excited to finish this project and start bricking another area of my little forest.

Sugar, naturally, has now taken to sleeping in the planters:


I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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