Friday, Dec. 03, 2010
Dear Diary:

A few years ago our neighbour gave us the seconds, the slightly imperfect bits he made while building a glass wall for a client. It was an extraordinary gift and much appreciated.

Within moments of its receipt, the spousal unit and I began bickering negotiating about where exactly to put it.

This went on for three years. This was embarrassing because our friend kept asking us when we were going to put up the glass. We had to admit that we were dithering.

The year we put the pond in we also put in a huge cement base by the pond to hold the glass, which weighs over 400 pounds. Finally. A decision. Except, um, when we got the pond finished we realized that it was just too "in your face".

While I'm normally a passionate devotee of "nothing exceeds like excess", even for me the combination of the two things was way, way over the top. Back to the drawing board.

Finally this spring, the spousal unit and I agreed that the glass would look nice just to the right of the walkway heading in to our house. It would be visible from almost everywhere in the yard and it would gradually slip into view as we drove up to the house.

With a decision made, you'd think that things would go quickly. You would be very, very wrong. I dug out ferns and plants, we dug down several feet to put in drainage stuff and on top of that the spousal unit poured a reinforced cement slab with bolts sticking up to hold whatever support we had built for the glass.

Two weeks gone. Next the spousal unit had to set up two big work tables to assemble the glass, insert spacers between each bit, build a wooden frame around the outside to keep the glass square, masked every edge of every bit of glass with tape so it didn't get gunked up with silicone and then siliconed the gaps.

Four days gone. Gave it three weeks to cure. Then, with our hearts in our mouths, we flipped the whole stupidly heavy thing over, so it could be masked and siliconed on the other side. We aren't engineers and we weren't sure if the silicone (which only filled the gaps between the glass about halfway) was strong enough to hold together each 200 lb. plus panel as we flipped it.

It held, but man did it sway. I am getting too old for this.

Again, another three weeks down while we waited for the newly siliconed back of the glass to cure. In the meantime, the spousal unit went to a metal fabricating shop and ordered an aluminum frame for the glass. We should have done this early in the spring. The shop owner said he would fit us in when he could. One month went by. Then another.

I started envisioning a winter with two enormous tables on my porch with two stupidly heavy bits of glass on them.


Finally the metal frame came. The spousal unit bolted it in place.

The glass had originally been designed to be a large rectangular panel. One side is very textured, the other side very smooth. Our friend was appalled when we told him that we were breaking his panel in half, would join it to make a kind of arrow shape, and in order to make the pattern repeat we intended to butt a shiny side against a matte side.

He made it clear he didn't like this one bit. Awwwwwwkward.

The final, heart stopping step was to move each of these stupidly heavy glass panels from our porches over to the metal frame. They're glass. They're clumsy. The spousal unit spent a week considering everything that could go wrong. He fabricated carrying harnesses and slings for the glass. He made a wooden frame so we could ease the glass on to the metal frame.

Clamps, braces, you name it, he had it on hand.

Our friend may not have been happy, but he's a friend. The weekend we were ready to move the glass he and his son came up, we eased the harnesses and slings on to the glass, tipped it upright, and the four of us moved the first panel into place.

While this was a challenge for the guys, it was at the upper reaches of my strength to keep my corner under control. I can't express the relief I felt when the first piece slid exactly into place and was clamped securely. We were all tired, so moving the second piece was even tougher, but the spousal unit's meticulous preparation paid off big time.

It all aligned perfectly. More clamps, more braces, and we were ready to silicone it to the frame.

We all stood back and surveyed it. It was even better than I hoped. Our friend and his son were surprised and delighted. It works.

Finally done.

The glass was installed a few months ago and it still surprises me. This will sound weird, but it's almost alive. It changes constantly. It's oriented east-west so in the morning when I go out the door it glows. At sunset, it is backlit as I walk towards the house.

As the seasons and elevation of the sun change, as leaves come and go, it constantly morphs. The spousal unit built a frame to fit inside it and we've wrapped the frame with blue Christmas lights. At night now the glass glows, an odd, alien creature deep in the woods.

Totally worth the wait and the bickering.


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