My wife Ann and I have a project taking shape.

My wife Ann and I have a project taking shape. Like many endeavors, it began with one tiny offhand comment, which is in resonance with Lao-tzu who observed, "The longest journey starts with a single step."

While sitting on our patio as is our normal evening routine, Ann said she wished our patio was "a little larger." Those three little words were an egg of an idea that I promptly fertilized by responding, "What do you have in mind?"

We picked up our wine glasses and stepped into the yard to begin tracing an imaginary boundary for an addition. The more we sipped, the more appealing the project became.

The next day I called our "go-to" construction guy Francisco Ruiz. I asked if he knew anybody interested in a little job like this.

He did and came over to see what we had in mind. We sketched out invisible lines in the grass where it would begin and end. I mentally calculated that somewhere around four yards of concrete should do it.

He said heíd bring his guy over and weíd get some concrete numbers and measurements ó pun inevitable. Who knew how big our little germ of an idea would grow in that short interval?

To lay out what we wanted, I dropped by Loweís for some spray stuff to mark our grass. Instead of buying an aerosol that our puppies could track into the house, I opted for a bundle of little orange flags on wire posts. These turned out to be perfect. We walked around sticking flags in the grass as we went. Voila! An outline of our patio extension began revealing itself.

The main advantage of the little flags was they were easy to stick in, pull out and move. The main disadvantage of the little flags was they were easy to stick in, pull out and move. See where this is going, or should I say went?

Yep, we kept pulling up and putting down until what began as a patio began looking more like a parking lot. Our project became Jabba the Hutt eating our whole backyard!

Ann and I came to our senses and sized the thing back a little closer to reasonableness. We shrank the parking lot closer to a skating rink. Our original goal of making our patio "a little larger" is alive and well but took some steroids. Oh well, thatís OK as weíll make very good use of more area.

Iím amazed where Annís three little innocuous words are taking us within such a short time. Itís a good thing because Bug visits from Japan in a couple weeks and will surely like the expanded patio.

Yesterday Ann grinned and casually mentioned that Bugís TV should be "a little larger." Lao-tzu whispered in my ear, "Donít move or say anything" but was too late.

My auto-pilot mouth responded, "What time does Best Buy close?"

Otis Gardnerís column appears here weekly. He can be reached at