Grandmaster and Bro. Construction


Saturday’s work started a little later than usual, due to some errands I had to run in the morning involving Oren’s truck, Corrina’s grandmother, and $100 cash. I pulled into Rising Sand at 11:00, expecting to meet the Grandmaster as we’d planned, but found the space empty save for the cows and Lotus the Dog. I stepped out of the truck, relished in a cool breath of fresh air, and embarked on a late morning puppy-lap with our young canine companion, enjoying the cool breeze of the peacefully overcast day.

Seeing no terribly pressing priorities, I decided it would be best to balance the freshness of the air and stillness of the space with some mixed gasoline fumes and 2-stroke engine roar. I gathered the gator, rake, shovel and saw and got to work, nearing completion on the clearing of the cooler space. Doing chainsaw work by myself, at my own pace, on my own land, conjured up memories of my Grandpa’s countless hours of solitude at his beloved shed — surrounded by his chainsaws, tractors, and small forest — taking in the space, much of the time, from his recliner in the corner.

Like my Grandpa, I tampered, enjoying the space and the work. I had just gotten into a real flow when a grey truck turned into the driveway and advanced slowly past our fields. I felt a slight sinking in my stomach as he stepped out of the truck. Bob. Son of a bitch…

“Hey Bob; how you doin’? It’s good to see ya.”

He made his way over and we chatted amicably about the neighbors and the thisses and the thats of country life and farming. As our conversation carried on, I began to realize that for all his long-windedness, seeming arrogance and general nosiness, Bob is a pretty decent guy with an obvious respect for what we’re doing. Our conversation dragged on a bit, and a bit more, and finally I climbed back on the wagon and resumed work; trying and failing to break the conversational connection. Suddenly I felt a vibration in my pocket. Coop Oren. Whew…

“I’m sorry Bob; I gotta take this…”

“No problem- sorry for wasting your time.” He climbed back in the truck and made his slow departure, while Oren informed me that he’d gotten held up talking to someone at the Farmer’s Market, and would be out shortly. Quite the holdup, I thought amusedly to myself, chuckling at what was most certainly a long-story-short turned long. An hour later, he arrived, and we got to the real priority of the weekend: construction.

The project of the day was the installation of a stud-wall on top of the pack-shed’s sketchy, crumbly rock wall. We took a bit of time for the compulsory pre-project walkaround — rife with all the necessary beard-stroking and head-scratching. Thankfully, Oren had already pieced together the bones of a plan and we got to it: him doing much of the thinking, and I more of the holding, drilling and easy cutting. The afternoon abandoned us as the first section of wall came together, then the second, and finally we turned our attention to the third as the sunset peaked through the clouds on the horizon, directing a warm spotlight glow on our workspace.


The third wall consisted of the most crumbly rocks and profound angles, requiring extra skill on the design, and care in the execution. After adequate beard-stroking and head-scratching, Oren got to penciling on a 2×6″ board, whipping out his phone calculator for some on-the-fly trigonometry. “Let’s see, opposite over adjacent… inverse cosine of omega…” I stood in awed silence; impressed in spite of myself. If faced with a similar situation, I would have measured once, tried fruitlessly to figure out the angles, and made some questionable cuts; jamming a haphazard structure into place and making inner peace with the ineptitude of whatever resulted. Oren’s way, however, had us finishing up the last section with relative ease, pounding in some final supporting stakes before stepping back for a moment of silence, appreciating the work we’d done.


On Sunday we resumed construction, building a small well-house structure for our irrigation setup. From the layout and support of the base to the framing of the trap-door and placing of the roof, I learned what I could, actively appreciating the opportunity to work with a competent and experienced teacher. Someday, I would like to be able to design, lay out, and build a sound structure on my own. Given the current dilapidation of all of our buildings, and magnitude of our plans, there should be plenty of opportunities for practice. Hopefully Oren is down.