“The only thing Columbus discovered was that he was lost!”

Windom Earle: Garland, what do you fear most… in the world?
Major Briggs: The possibility that love is not enough.

Time is zipping along right now. I’m getting into week four of hammer club this week, and this is where it lets up a little. At first we were kind of immersed, going five days a week, and now it will ease off to three days, which is great with me.

In the second week we visited the cement masons, and had a day of work with an older vet and a guy around my age who’d been working with concrete for half of his life now. I was pretty sure going into it that I didn’t want to be a mason, and I left thinking the same. The guys were really nice, and showed some onsite GoPro footage about what it has been like pouring slab at the ass crack of dawn in the to-be Amazon buildings downtown. They did let it slip that the men in their org pour the slab, while the women were downstairs, patching what had already been poured. I know it’s inevitable sometimes, but I don’t want to spend eight hours a day cleaning up mistakes or what was missed. Working outside before and as the sun comes up sounds like a dream, though, really. I guess the die was cast when I got my first job at 15 as a papergirl.

We were all shoveling sand and rocks, and moving wheelbarrows around. I volunteered to slit open a bag of cement to pour into the mixer. It was fine, like mochi flour, and I was overzealous when I picked up the bag halves, and the cement went POOF and coated my chest and went into my eyes, past my safety glasses. I felt ridiculous, like a child, having to admit that I had cement in my eyes and being led off to the sink and air hose by the nice older mason. He and I talked baking and children; he has daughters, too. The ladies and I made stepping stones with our mixed concrete, and that was fun, but has very little to do with things like pouring slab day-to-day.

After troweling and beveling the edges, the next step was to lay a stencil and color the top of the stepping stone. I thought the provided brick stencil pattern looked very boring, so I made my own out of a cardboard doughnut that I cut into a spiky sun shape. “The warranty’s off yours,” the younger mason told me. I sprinkled powdered pigment on the top of the concrete, over the top of my bespoke stencil, and worked it in with my trowel. When I pulled it off it looked marvelous and weird among my classmate’s staid brick patterns. “Rebel,” the woman next to me said, and smiled. She’s a football player with a high fade and heavy gold chains.

Both of the masons shook their heads. “You’re speechless,” I said. “You’re amazed.” I got silent high fives for that. I know they didn’t want me, and I don’t want them, so I’m glad I could inject a little amusement into their day of leading hammer club through its paces. I need to remember to bring my camera places. I might as well–I couldn’t feel more out of place really. I don’t care.

Last week we spoke to the electricians, and I didn’t get anything into my eyes, so things were looking up there. I bent and cut conduit and worked with wire. This week we’re going up North to visit the sheet metal workers, and we get two days in the shop to have a serious introduction to a large variety of tools. Our shop time is supposed to culminate in a project that we get to keep. I’m going to make a storage bench with small spaniel stairs for the end of the bed. Even if they choose not to use it all the time now, I think it will become valuable to them in the next ten years.

This weekend Franny and I are making a big push to finish our Twin Peaks costumes. She is doing a lot of painting and I am doing a lot of assembling. I need to and will finish tonight, since I have “school” this week. Franny has more time to paint and dick around if she needs it. She’s grounded for busting curfew recently and is working on a lot of art as a result. Her boyfriend is writing her letters since I’ve got her phone on ice, which I think is actually very sweet. My sister is quietly delighted that Franny will not have her phone next weekend when we’re out of town together. I blabbed this to Franny and she said, “Well I wouldn’t be texting the WHOLE time. This is a special trip.”

I know I should be running the drill myself this weekend, but I like working with P. so I tend to just hold the wood while he runs it. I am doing sawing and general assembling, which is fun. P. is invaluable for consulting with, since I’m not working with any existing plans. I think without him I would tend to overbuild, and I need my costume to be as light as is reasonable, while not falling apart. It’s a lot more fun than building the beehives, to be honest, since there was a lot of, “Oh god, actual creatures need to live here once we’re done” and it was funny angled boxes that needed to be pretty perfect. So the costumes–I’ll publish the pictures on Friday, here and Flickr, before we skate out of town that morning.

This year’s festival marks the 25 year anniversary of the show, so it’s slated to run through Monday, instead of just Fri-Sun. On Monday I’ll be missing my forklift certification, which is unfortunate, but I don’t think it will hurt me in the long run. Yah-tah! I’ll be back soon.

2 thoughts on ““The only thing Columbus discovered was that he was lost!”

  1. You are so good at describing specialised things that people do, really getting to the heart of it. I always learn so much from your posts, particularly when it’s stuff that I hugely respect but physically will never be able to manage.

  2. Thanks. I have to be a journalist of my own life. Because I had a terrible memory! I think it will be easier to remember now. But I still write it down, it case I ever say, “Now why did I not become a cement mason?” :)

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