I Had A Hammer

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TD here.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler is one of my favorite boxers of all-time.  Left-handed, relentless, great chin.  Head like a giant Milk Dud.  He reigned as the middleweight champion (that’s 160 lbs.) for almost seven of my formative years in the 80s.

He was also famous for wearing this super awesome (if not grammatically challenged) sleeveless t-shirt you see above emblazoned with his mantra: destruction and destroy.

Now that I’ve lost a good 50% of readers, let’s talk about my own little destruction and destroy mission this week – getting rid of the dopey river rock clinging onto Via Corona’s exterior like so many barnacles.

IMG_1323As with all things Via Corona, intrigue lies around every corner, or under every rock as the case may be.  At times she reminds me of a song my Dad used to sing:

“Same song, second verse.  Could be better, but it’s gonna be worse.”

IMG_1722Case in point, earlier in the week, a few bashes with a mere mortal hammer revealed that the river rock facade was actually covering . . . wait for it . . . a brick facade.  Belt. . . meet suspenders!

Quite literally any numbskull can swing a hammer and blow a rock to smithereens (as I’ve proven), but can any numbskull rent a 20 lb. demolition hammer to speed the plow?  Well, it turns out the answer to that question is also yes, provided said numbskull has a drivers license and like $70 bucks.  (Not really even sure the license was mandatory.)

Anyway, 20 lb. Makita mini-jackhammer to the rescue!  Or so we thought.

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(Note:  the product above has some kind of side handle apparatus.  This was not a part of my rental unit.  I relied on what’s commonly known as Death Grip.)

The mini-jackhammer caper is actually an adventure in two parts.

First was the part where the stupid river rocks were affixed to stucco.  This was the case for about 10% of the job. Those rocks slid off like Via Corona’s exterior the French in battle.  They offered little resistance and were all too happy to cede their homeland, which was, in this case, a lustrous mint green (yes, mint green) stucco.

DSC_0170The second part, where the accursed river rocks were affixed to brick?  Those were more akin raising a small child (I surmise) – relentlessly challenging, occasionally impossible, intermittently rewarding, and the end result looks different than what you imagined but hopefully you didn’t screw it up so completely that it’ll refuse to take care of you when you’re too old and jacked up to do it yourself.

Now, if all of the hated river rocks had been of the vichy variety, the job would have taken about three hours tops – but Via Corona is a diabolical mistress.

It took nine hours.

Even Kendrick Lamar on Spotify crapped out at the seven hour mark.  Et tu, Kendrick?

In hindsight, this probably should have been a two-day job, but I only had a 24-hour rental and when the clock is ticking you’re duty-bound to swing it in the morning . . .  and the evening . . . all over this land.

Destruction and destroy, indeed.

I believe it’s key in any home improvement project is to add a level of complexity that borders on the ridiculous.  Bonus points of it’s dangerous.  For the 20 lb. demolition hammer adventure, we added a ladder (thanks, Tom P.) and two gawky teenage juniper bushes (you see me taunting one in the photo below).


The ladder assured just the right amount of instability when hoisting an awkward, vibrating power tool overhead.  The juniper bushes, while making me otherwise thirsty for a gin and tonic, were mostly just in the way.

We fixed that . . . eventually.

IMG_1785 (1)

In case you’re wondering (or scoring at home), I only had one “unscheduled dismount” of the ladder.  It was fairly early in the process and I held on to the hammer all the way through the landing.  With the degree of difficulty, it was easily a 10.0 if not for the Russian judge.  Your move, Simone Biles.

IMG_1791 (1)As in all things, the day wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable, complete or frankly necessary without The Misanthropic Hostess herself.  She placed the rocks in pristine piles in the unlikely event House Beautiful sends a photographer for their Gobs of Useless Rocks edition.  She also hobnobbed with the neighbors (who pleasantly and repeatedly reminded us that cheap labor can also be found at Home Depot), made sure I stayed hydrated and generally kept me from dying which was, and is, appreciated.

In the final analysis, the wall actually looks worse without its ludicrous rock overcoat, but in the fullness of time, and with a new coat of stucco and/or HardiePlank siding, TMH has promised that it will look (and act) like a home.

IMG_1772 (1)She hasn’t been wrong yet, but in case she is, I think we can learn a thing or two from Marvelous Marvin Hagler after his controversial loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987.

He moved to Italy.

Finally, since this blog is mostly about recipes, here’s mine:



Want to read more about our renovation adventures? Go here: Via Corona




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