Later that evening, we stopped by Mrs Black’s around 8:00 pm as promised. She welcomed us at the door and ushered us into the house. It was still daylight out being the middle of summer and so we took our drinks out onto the patio. From there, we were able to admire her beautiful garden that she spent so much of her time tending. It turns out that she was the winner at the Horse Show with the round that we had watched so she was very happy. We wandered over to the horse barn and made a fuss of the four horses that were stabled in there. They had the run of one of the pastures through the day but were stabled at night for their safety and to be fed.
“Do you ride” Mrs Black asked Jody. “Years ago when I was a small kid, I took riding lessons but I haven’t been on a horse for some time” Jody said. “Why don’t you call me in the week and let’s go riding together. You will enjoy it” said Mrs Black
We wandered back to the patio and had another couple of drinks and then took our leave. On the drive back to our house, Jody mentioned how nice she thought Mrs Black, Valerie, was and maybe we could be friends. I said that my relationship had to stay at a business level at least until we had finished her projects which wouldn’t be until the winter but that “there was nothing stopping you from following up with her offer to ride”.
In bed that evening, Jody was already asleep when I got there. I thought about waking her up but decided against it. I lay there for a while thinking about the days events, running into Valerie and then her inviting us to drinks and her invitation to Jody to ride that coming week. I thought about my feelings towards both Jody and Valerie and my head was spinning as I tried to work it all out. I finally fell asleep and dreamt that I was riding a horse around and around in circles and that Valerie and Jody were making love in the hay barn.
Work was progressing very nicely. We had finished the cellar project moved on the concrete stairs for Mr Dingman. I needed Glen on this job as he would have to frame up the forms for the steps themselves which would be poured out of concrete. It was a difficult project to work on being on the side of a hill. The heavy-duty crew of Mike, Harvey and Matt overseen by Bill had removed the existing concrete steps. We had to use a jack hammer which I rented from the local equipment yard but it went quickly enough. We loaded out the rubble, that is all that we had not used for fill in the new steps. We had changed the design a little and the new steps would rise up about 6 feet and then there would be a landing. From there, the steps rose again about another 8 feet or so to connect with the patio at the top of the hill but at 90 degrees to the first set. On both sides of the steps and landing would be wrought iron railings both for safety and aesthetics and the exposed concrete on the sides would be finished in stone to match the house.
I had Glen forming the steps and landings with Harvey Johnston to help him. There was not too much that the rest of the crew could do while that was going on so I had Bill take Mike and Harvey into Mr Caldwell’s field and load out the rocks we would need to face up his fireplace. A couple of days later, they all went back to the step project to tie the steel reinforcing into place. It was a real difficult project to work on because it was on the side of the hill. It was hard to stand to do the work.
I went back to the office and made arrangements to rent a pump truck to get the concrete where we wanted it and at the same time, ordered the concrete itself for the coming Friday. It was not a big pour, only about 9 yards of concrete but it was very awkward to handle. It was almost impossible to get the concrete where it had to go without using a pump truck.
Early Friday morning, all of us assembled at the step project and had a final look to make sure that everything was in order and ready to go. We had also rented a small vibrating poker to get the concrete to settle without any voids. This was a little gas-powered unit that I was going to entrust to Mike to operate. He had experience with them and knew not to leave it too long in one place or for it to touch the forms if at all possible. The weight of the wet concrete and the vibration could play hell with any formwork.
The pump truck arrived and set up as did the concrete trucks. The pump truck flushed the pipes with a bag of cement mixed with water and we were ready to go. We had the concrete set at a very low slump in order to help it not to settle to heavily and we slowly pumped the concrete into the forms with Mike using the poker to good effect. It was a slow process as we knew it would be. If we rushed it, we could damage or even collapse the forms and that would be an absolute disaster. So slow and easy. Bill and I were working the trowels and leveling the steps as we carefully moved upward and away from them one by one. We had to insert small steel tubes that were 8 inches by 2 inches where the railing feet were going to be placed as we very carefully worked our way upwards. We reached the top landing and Mike pulled out the poker. Bill very carefully leveled off the top step and landing and set the inserts for the railing. The pour had taken nearly an hour and a half but we had planned for it to be a slow project. I tipped the pump driver and both of the concrete truck drivers as years of experience had taught me that this small token of reward paid huge dividends if we did run into a problem pour. We had forms move on us before and required that we stop pouring and shore everything up. These drivers knew that by waiting for us to do what we had to do, it would be worth their while.
By then, the sun was beginning to heat things up so we covered the concrete with hessian and gave them a good soaking. the next day, we would treat the steps with a concrete sealer to prevent dusting and to help harden the surface. Later that afternoon, Bill and his crew would pull the face forms from the steps and re-face the exposed concrete with a cement wash to fill any voids.