A Cage For Containers

The final stage of my construction process needed to begin. Working in a small space presents its own set of challenges forcing me to think about how I am going to approach the problem. A little bit of thinking about the problem gave me a direction to start with and as the project progresses there would be times where I could modify my approach. Coupled with all of this is the upcoming interview. I wasn’t expecting there to be an interview or job available so quickly. Earlier in the week I was scrambling a bit in order to get my CV modified for the job. Now looming ahead is the interview.


The credenza got its last layer but this time it was wax. I wanted to put something on the top surface that would be durable so that it would protect the surface from any abuse that it would suffer in the future. Wax also gives the surface an added layer of smoothness. It has been all about the feel of it. There are imperfections that are not easily discernible visually and physically rubbing ones hand on the credenza those imperfections are not felt at all. It actually feels quite pleasurable. I had to quit rubbing it though as it had to be moved out in order for the next project to begin.

The credenza is heavy and it was sitting on top of two empty but weighed down plastic tubs. These allowed me to work on the credenza without having to bend over too much. One by one i removed each bin and then slowly drag and lifted the credenza into the living room into its allocated space. Next came the clean up. In such a small space it is important to remove as much of the dust as possible. I don’t want it to be carried into the living space ruining the carpets. I tend to go in and out of the room quite often. Once the cleaning was done I moved all of the boards into the room and arranged them on top of the bins. I figured that priming them while they are whole would save me some time later. This way I could get a nice layer of paint on them. I had to sand them first and luckily I have a sander now so the process was quite quick. I arranged all of the boards along the wall in a neat pile. Once sanding was finished I again swept and cleaned up. There was quite a bit of dust that had built up from this sanding process. I primed all of the boards and then arranged them along another wall so that they could dry.


This construction stuff is not the only thing that I have to take care of. We have to eat and groceries have to be bought. The trouble is that downtown where we live there aren’t any grocery stores. In order to buy them from a larger shop one has to go quite far in order to get them. We have a few choices when it comes to groceries and I chose the shop with a hardware store nearby. I wanted to make a curry so I went to a store that, from my prior knowledge of the brand, had a better selection of ingredients. I also had to get some different screws for my project. As I was sanding and priming the boards the plans for construction kind of crystalized in my mind. I just hoped that I estimated correctly and got enough of these pine boards.


Inside the hardware store it felt kind of weird. It was kind of empty inside and I walked around looking for the screw aisle but also having a look around to see what was available in this vast space. The selection out here in Saskatoon differed from the selection one would find in the city. There was a whole aisle dedicated to gun paraphernalia. There was certainly a lot more outdoor gear here. Eventually I did find the screw aisle as pondered the right screw to buy. Should I buy more tools for the job? I decided against it. I was going to have to deal with it with what I have already. At the checkout the cashier looked like she was heavily medicated and worked quite slowly. A family of some kind of christian sect walked out. They had distinctive garb on making my conclusion apparent as they walked out. Their fashion was traditional in the historic sense, similar shoes and headgear along with a formal prudish yet practical design. They stayed together and walked out together. An old lady at the door asked to have a look at the receipt. She stood right by the door a few feet away from the cashier. She had her highlighter in hand ready to make a mark at the spot on the receipt where the chain wants us to direct our browser so that they can ask questions about their service. Thanks lady I will gladly enter my info and answer those questions for a chance to win. Not! Well maybe if I remember and find the time.


I had to go outside in order to go inside the mall. No real direct entrance through the giant department/hardware store. Poor planning on whomever built this thing. Inside it felt like a dead zone. The mall doesn’t have all of the available stores leased so that the emptiness of an early January becomes more pronounced. The people inside were hanging out inside because it was pretty cold outside. These freezing temperatures have been with us since we got here. I was wondering if it was like this all the time in the winter. Today there were some flakes falling from somewhere. I think that the forecast said that 0.3mm of snow was expected. How can they make such a statement? It is so precise. I walked around the grocery store checking out it’s selection and then rushed to the bus stop in order to catch the bus home.

Dinner was going to be a bit late. I warned Chrl about it so that she wouldn’t starve waiting for it. With all of the things that I had to do today I slowly strayed from my schedule and lost an hour there somewhere. It was a big task to get everything prepared. I followed a recipe that I found online but the result was a bit too watery for my liking. I tried to reduce some of the coconut milk but didn’t have the time to finish that. Nevertheless, dinner was pretty good. I modified the recipe a little bit adding a little bit more flavor to it. A good recipe will take some time to finesse into something that approaches good. It is a good start however. Every day since getting here I have tried to cook a nice meal for the both of us. Sitting down for dinner and eating together has been one of my desires. All those years eating dinner alone had gotten to me especially over the past year. Once all the cooking is done sitting there by myself in any of the kitchens that I had was lonely. Now when we sit down together we have a nice conversation that usually begins with what we had done and moves into other territories. There was enough leftovers to pack for lunch the next day so Chrl was sorted.


The next day was construction day. In the morning I had my usual coffee and stood outside in the cold getting some air before beginning my project. In the cold I thought about how I was going to proceed. My resources are limited with respect to the amount of material meaning that all of the cuts that I make have to count. Did I make all of the right calculations? Is there enough material to proceed? I had to trust my judgement. When I was buying all of the material I calculated that I needed fourteen one by four six foot lengths. I grabbed an extra one just in case. These fifteen boards fit nicely on top of one by twelve six foot boards that would serve as the top lid and seat. Multi functionality is needed for such bespoke projects. I started cutting. I needed so many pieces of each length. The nice thing about this project is that all of the lengths were less than three feet in length and that I could get multiple pieces cut from one board usually leaving less than six inches of waste at the end. I was being very careful with all of my measurements and cuts making sure they are square. I checked each one as I stacked the lengths together. Each of them were pretty uniform. I would have gotten nicer lengths with a better machine but I need to work with what I have. I felt some of my old construction skills seeping out from my memory. As I progressed things became easier as I got to know my new tools better.


Once the stacks were and all of the cuts made I was left with less than two feet of waste. Whew that was a close calculation I thought to myself before beginning to assemble the pieces into what I was trying to make. These two cages for containers will sit quite prominently within the sitting room. They will function both as seats and as storage for some of the stuff we have. Each of us will get one and each of them hold a fairly big plastic storage bin. We have a lot of these and they are also a standard size making replacing one easy. The pine boards are also surprisingly light. I have over engineered these containers so that all of the weight that would be on them and in them are held up in a sturdy frame. As construction began to take shape a few minor calculations had to be made in order to align and space everything right. The boards are less than one inch thick and less than four inches wide. This is standard in North America. It just makes calculations a bit more tedious. I had also factored in some play in the construction so that the bins would fit snuggly but not tightly into their allocated space. I trusted my calculations enough that I wouldn’t test the fit until they were finished.


It took me all of Thursday to finish the construction. Each screw needed to be pre drilled so that I wouldn’t split the wood. I was beginning to run out of screws as I was constructing the second container. Luckily I had some spare screws. I had bought ones that were just a bit shorter than I wanted. They seemed to do the trick in places that didn’t require a longer screw. This construction served as a distraction to my upcoming job interview the next day. A lot more was riding on this interview than ever before. This job would help me transition into a better life here. Our lives are going to evolve here for the next three years at least. The way we are looking at things and the direction that we want our lives to take requires an income. I pondered some of these points as I drilled holes and screwed in screws. Construction began with the base and then proceeded upwards attaching the vertical support pieces before finally attaching the second level. The perpendicular horizontal pieces needed to be custom fitted and cut. I didn’t buy a hand saw but used my pocket tool for the cuts. They weren’t the prettiest at the beginning but all of them turned out okay. The final piece to put together was the lid. This was the easiest to put together but the hardest to line up properly. I was glad to finish at the end of the day.


Friday the thirteenth… one always seems to notice that date. It seems ominous and foreboding. Some of the lore stems from the Templars being arrested on the thirteenth, some of it stems from urban myths that have spawned over the years not to mention the slasher flick from the eighties that scared so many. I didn’t notice the date or at least pay attention to it in the morning. I just knew it was Friday having spent the past few weeks inside the little work space or just unpacking thoughts have really been confined to this little space besides the few outings that I had shopping for things that I need. When I woke up in the morning I faffed a bit with a few things. Looked at my work from yesterday and thought about what to do with it next. I tried to treat it as any other morning in order to relax and stay calm. I showered and shaved and put on my best under the circumstances clothing. The walk to the hospital would calm me down.

When I went to the hospital earlier in the week and introduced myself I was surprised in a way to secure an interview for today. The manager with whom I spoke that day took down my phone number and said that she would call if there was any changes. There wasn’t any calls but I wondered if I could remember where her office was. I should have taken her phone number or email address down so that I could confirm. As it stands it I am just going in on the strength of that one meeting. I went a bit early in case that I had a hard time finding it. It was along a certain corridor near the nuc med department. I was sure of that. I found it and looked at my watch I still had thirty minutes it’s time to have another coffee. Coffee is something experts say to avoid before such interviews as it may increase nervousness. One more will actually bring me up to a level that I like to operate on.

Chrl wrote me a nice message that I read as I was walking for the interview after having my coffee. It helped confirm the thoughts that I had sitting there in the atrium drinking my americano from the conglomerate outpost in the middle of the hall. A little bit of nervousness means that there is some importance in the successful outcome of this interview. I care what happens and I hope that whatever I say will reflect positively on me. Deep breath and knock on the door. I wore my thick warm jacket it felt warm inside here. The door opened and my potential manager opened it and we smiled as we said hi to each other. We had a short informal chat about the warmer weather and my projects at home. Shortly the lead technologist knocked on the door and introduced himself. He was quite tall and generally large. He sat at the side at the round table. I sat at the desk facing the manager and slowly we began the interview. We chatted generally at first going over my professional career. We then followed it up with questions about what I would do in various situations. These scenario questions are quite common. I’ve heard them before and every time I answer them differently but consistently basing them on important principles. I tried to make eye contact with both of the intervewees. It helps that I have so much experience because I can draw on examples of things that have happened to me during my career and use them as examples to illustrate certain points. We chatted for about three quarters of an hour.


Walking back home I felt a sense of relief. The cold didn’t feel as cold and the sun felt a bit brighter up in the sky. Chrl was still home as her class started a bit later that day. She said that it was a good sign that we chatted for so long. I was happy that it went as well as it did but there could be another candidate for the job that is more qualified and experienced than me applying for the job. It is still not in the bag. Waiting for a response will be nerve racking. What if I don’t get the position? I have some work to do that will take my mind off of this. There is some sanding to be done on the containers. I want to smooth out all of the corners in order to give these containers a warm feel and appearance. Later of this day we have to go out and visit one of Chrl’s classmates. This is our first outing together over here. I got to work after lounging around for a while.


As I sanded these containers I began to feel like this construction phase has to finally finish. I felt it in my bones as I hunched over some hard to reach spot. This has gone on long enough. As much as I enjoy doing this it would be nice to be able to just relax finally. Ever since the last day of work last year and maybe even before that I have been running around busy with all kinds of various things. If I am to begin working I should relax and allow the next phase to bubble up into whatever it will become. Swirls of thoughts relating to my future passed through my mind. Everything that I want to do will involve some sort of work. Realizing any lofty goal takes work and perseverance as well as thought and luck in order to become reality. I was mindful of the clock and didn’t finish all of the sanding that I wanted.


Chrl’s friend lives in the southern part of the city. These two get along really well as both of them are mature women with some life experiences behind them. Drea used to live in the Yukon in a small town. She really loves it there and wants to return. There is a difference between small town folk and city folk. Everyone knows each other and looks out for each other. Drea moved there a while ago while still a touring musician. She made the north  her base from which she could go and explore the rest of the world. She comes from a small town in Ontario and overcame a tumultuous childhood in order to succeed and grow into who she is today. She is happy to be going to law school but is surprised along with Chrl how “high school” some of her peers are. This is supposed to be, actually it is a place of higher learning. They are enrolled in a professional program and they have to deal with a lot of immature behavior. For instance their marks have been released for one of their exams. The marks were really low and there were many classmates that inflated their marks to make it seem like they did alright. There are cliques within the class that seem to look down on others and Drea having lived a life before law school naturally stands out. Her keen intellect and brash personality clash with some and she related a story of putting one of these cliquey people in their place by the lockers. She said that she just had enough of the bull shit. She is not good at hiding her emotions and calling stuff for what it is. She was having a conversation with a classmate and that guy interjected with some comment. It was the proverbial straw so she let him have it.

It was a nice to be out but we needed to get home and the last bus was immanent. We had a few drinks at Drea’s it was a relaxing night. Us men that were present. Drea’s partner and myself were really just there to offer a few choice quips and to share a few stories of our own. As we left Drea said that I avoided sharing anything about myself. I bobbed and weaved my way through the night without revealing too much. It’s hard to get a word in when there are two talkative people there. It will have to wait until next time.

The next morning I got up and was determined to finish off these containers. I had a bit of sanding left to do so I got to it. I was happy with the way it was turning out. It makes no sense to rush things too quickly. If I skimp out on this final finishing then forevermore the container’s appearance will reflect that. The finish will detract from all of the work that went into this. It’s like the credenza with all of its layers of paint. If I were to rush it it would look like it was sloppily done. It wouldn’t have that “wow” factor of a job well done. Besides if I do this right, now, I could get away with painting these containers with just one coat. “What is once done right is done for ever.” It’s a quote by someone that has stuck in my mind. This is a motivating quote that gives me energy when it’s low and there is more work to be done. I primed all of the surfaces that were exposed by my sanding and then we went shopping for groceries.


The end of construction was coming to an end and I wanted to celebrate. I proposed that we have a nice dinner together. A recipe that someone had posted on their timeline caught my attention recently. It was a steak dinner that looked ideal for what I wanted. It was not just steak but potatoes and salad. Something that I could whip up quickly and that would convey my joy. We are still in the process of unpacking but as we do we are finding that we are lacking certain items. We went to a super shop that has a lot of stuff. We walked the aisles picking out different items that we needed and some that we probably don’t. Shopping together allows us to keep a check on each other. We minimize the costs and unnecessary purchases by debating the utility of our choices. We calculate the price per item in a box of many. We still ended up with a giant bill.


Even though We had a lot of stuff we still took the bus back. We felt a bit guilty after having spent so much money on things. I had four bags that I had to carry from the bus stop. I felt like a mule but I looked at is as a challenge. Chrl carried the bulky lighter things. She is a lot better after her injury but we don’t want to push it. I let her unpack the groceries and got back to the containers. I wanted to give them one final light sanding before laying on the final coat. The containers looked good and felt smooth to the touch. The final coat needed to be applied fairly thick in order for it to cover the structure well. These containers are decorative but also functional and I envision them one day sitting in some kind of playroom or garage. I will get a lifetime of use out of them. I painted late into the night.


In the morning I inspected my work and was quite pleased not only that they looked good but that I was finally done. I could now do the final installation of hardware. I bought some legs for these containers that I also painted with the same color as the rest of the structure. Putting on nice new hardware increases how these things will work inside our space. Once that part was done I carried these containers into the room to proudly display them to Chrl. The moment of truth came when I put the storage bins into their places. Everything fit! I must give props to math for all the calculations that had to be made in order for this project to come to fruition. I can finally take down all the polly that was hung up as well as cleaning out the rest of the construction material in there. All in all having kept the place tidy there wasn’t too much dust left. Whatever was there clung to the surfaces stubbornly as all fine particulate matter does. Things have to be wiped clean.


Before beginning dinner I had to run to a different grocery shop. It turns out that the super shop doesn’t have everything. It didn’t have two particular ingredients that I needed for the steak. I needed some fresh thyme and rosemary as well as some wine to pair with the dinner. In Canada wine is sold in a separate location from groceries. I got used to getting everything from the shops in the UK. Here I chose the grocery store specifically for it’s proximity to a cold beer and wine store. I just wondered if it would be open on Sunday. Sometimes these stores are not. I made good time finding all the things that I needed. When I got back I began the process of cooking. Chrl was busy with her school work. There is a lot of reading that she has to do as well as projects that she has to complete. She is smart enough to do it she just needs to focus on all of the work that she has to do. Moving and all that is associated with it takes up a lot of time. During her first semester she felt a bit overwhelmed but now she is starting to get into the groove of it and she is happy with her progress. I’m happy to see her in such a place. This dinner is also to celebrate her progress. This recipe is quite easy but it also requires care and attention in order to have it turn out right. I got the table ready setting out all the plates, glasses and utensils that we need. We need steak knives but we don’t have any. That won’t spoil our dinner though.


I made the chef’s speech “here we have romaine lettuce with fresh garlic, avocado and bacon bits. Baked potatoes with parmesan cheese sauce and finally steak with garlic and fresh rosemary and thyme butter sauce.” All of the dishes turned out well. THe only thing I did slightly wrong is that I put a bit too much salad dressing into the salad. We sat there eating and talking and looking into each other’s eyes. This dinner felt like the first proper dinner. The place is looking like it is coming together. I had a job interview and Chrl is passing all of her classes. We are living together in a new city having a go at living together. We are looking optimistically into the future and are diligently keeping in mind the lessons we have learned in our lives in order to increase the success of our endeavor.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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