In 2009 I became a statistic — one of the millions of Americans whose job was gobbled up in the Great Recession. In the Spring of 2011, I was in a car accident that messed up my neck, shoulders and back. In therapy three days a week, I stopped looking for work.
I don’t remember when but I discovered Poverty, USA was the happiest place I had ever lived. Having fewer dollars meant I had to be creative in meeting my desires. One of my creative avenues to goods was shopping off Craigslist.
In early November, I purchased two kiwi vines from a gal on Craigslist. Vines need to be propped up. This meant an arbor of some sort. Before I could put any serious thought into the arbor, the solution appeared on Craigslist. It was a slate gray steel pergola originally purchased for $400. The Craigslist Seller was asking $100. I figured I probably couldn’t buy the lumber for an arbor for $100 and contacted the seller. On November 23, Poppie drove me to the Seller’s house where I did my Black Friday shopping. Here’s how the pergola looked at the seller’s house:
At home, as we were unloading it, Poppie said I needed to sand the rusty areas and he would spray paint it. I paid another $40 for two quarts of glossy black paint and by December 2, the pergola looked brand new.
On December 11, Poppie and I put the pergola together just south of my veggie garden. Here it is, freshly painted and set up:
The manufacturer provided ridiculously ineffective ground anchors so we left the pergola standing but unanchored. This probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do but I think God knows some of us need extra protection.
Two days after Christmas, we finally went shopping for ground anchors, wire rope and channel locks. Trying to keep the pergola grounded set me back another $65. My “bargain” pergola had now crossed the $200 threshold.
Progress on my pergola came to a stand still when Poppie and I had a misunderstanding as to which of us was to install the ground anchors. Finally learning that anchoring was my job, I got out there on January 25 to wind those things into the ground using a short screwdriver as a fulcrum. I advised him of my accomplishment.
The next day, I’m lying in bed around 8 a.m. thinking about getting up. It takes me a long time to think about it when it’s cold. I start hearing voices. I am not supposed to hear voices because I live on acreage and every single house nearest me is at least 80 feet away. I get out of bed to peek out the blinds. Ohmygawd, Poppie was out there on a ladder at the pergola, unsupervised. Poppie is 83 years old, has two bad knees, a bad back and he can’t hear worth squat even with hearing aids. I frantically jump into clothes, finger comb my hair, and rush out to supervise.
He chose to anchor my pergola with 1/8” galvanized wire rope that has a working load limit of 340 pounds. The wire rope goes over the top of the pergola and down through the ground anchors, tying it all up with channel locks as you see here:
I’m hoping to avoid what happened to Holley over at Roses and Other Gardening Joys. Her metal gazebo blew down. I would prefer for the pergola to twist itself into a pretzel but not blow away. I especially don’t want it to plow through one of the walls of my house during a hurricane.