I spent the next week interleaving bouts of helping Bruce at the house he's building and performing all sorts of fun errands around town, both social and practical. Throw in two, count 'em TWO Christiansen Sunday dinners, a graduation party and a couple of Bruce-led yoga classes and it all made for an action packed week that passed by in what seemed to be a flash.
What I never counted on that made the week even more fascinating was the crazy weather. I thought I knew crazy weather from being a Texan, but I've never seen such a variety of seasonal influences in a 48 hour period! There was one day in particular where it snowed in one form or another pretty much all day long - big white ice balls, tiny hard pellets of ice, perfect white fluffy snow, small hard snow, giant clumps of flakes snow - absolutely amazing to a girl from Texas on May 2. Even the locals seemed to be impressed by snow of this magnitude so late in the spring.
I had the temerity to take Bruce on in a two part cross-locale snowball fight that ultimately resulted in me walking into the yoga center with a big round wet stain adorning the middle of my cotton pant covered thigh. I lost by throwing like a damn girl in the pitched heat of battle, due to genetics and all. I had strategies in place for supply and defense, but it's always the steady aiming part that does me in.
When I first arrived in Logan, Bruce and his brother Lance (at left, who will actually own the house when it's completed) had just begun installing the ingenious hand railing that Bruce had designed. A framework of beeswax cured steel (beeswax so it has a soft slightly glossy black finish) is threaded through with row after row of gleaming twisted steel cable drawn taut by the clever tensioning system Bruce came up with using a minimum of hardware and strategic welding.
We first installed the inside railing, which flanks the stairs and forms a perimeter for the upstairs landing. Bruce had spent days and days producing all the components, and then the three of us worked in tandem to install them in what seemed like no time. It changed the look of the place quite a bit once it was installed, defining the space and giving it a boundary. When the last bolt was tightened, Bruce dove directly into manufacturing the parts for the much larger railing that would surround the outdoor deck. .
After several days of steady work, the parts were all produced (by drilling, welding, grinding, sawing and sanding) and Bruce set about drilling holes into the concrete around the perimeter of the deck where the bolts for the heavy steel posts would be anchored. Lance had been busy fashioning (bending and riveting) and installing a beautiful hand-made stainless steel base to serve as a footing for the rail. At left you can see Bruce drilling through one of Lance's stainless boxes into pure concrete. That Bruce really knows how to have fun.
The most egregious act of derring-do that occurred during my brief tenure was the installation of the two huge steel posts at the corners of the deck. The boys attached the ultraheavy steel columns to the forklift, lifted them into place and then worked to level them so that Bruce could weld each one onto its own steel footing. The ferocious wind and an intermittent poltergeist in the welder made Bruce's job of laying down a pretty bead of melted metal even more of a challenge, but he triumphed over the conditions as usual and the posts went up without a hitch.
I did a little bit of welding on the rail my last day there, but the poltergeist manifested again shortly after I took the helm and caused a brief hiatus while Bruce figured out it was a problem with the plug. Before I left, the outside railing had come very close to being completed and it was satisfying to see the progress we'd made since I'd arrived. And that sort of satisfaction is really just a bonus, because a large part of the reason I go to work with Bruce is all the things I learn every time we work together. It's like attending a school or an intensive seminar to me and I just love it.
I also very much enjoy the time I get to spend with Bruce's parents, Judy and Pat Christiansen. They're so kind and generous and make me feel so welcome and at home when I visit. I horned in on their regularly scheduled activities like garage sale Saturday and Sunday dinner and even got to help with cooking dinner for Judy on Mother's day. I made (with Judy doing all the heavy lifting) a pear pie recipe that I had gotten from her the last time I visited. It's one of my favorites now that I've made it about 10 times!
On Monday, May 10 I had one last breakfast with Bruce and his girlfriend Elin at a Logan restaurant I've come to love called Angie's. It's a local diner that gets everything note perfect and serves up some damn delicious food. I felt the same sadness I'd felt on my last visit around leaving all these great folks behind, but alas - it's just a part of being on an adventure that you can't avoid. The road beckons and Idaho is just ahead.