The engineer

Hillary would rarely bring it up unless the topic of higher education explicitly came up. I would bring it up for her without prompting fairly regularly. I was never totally sure if it annoyed her, or made her the tiniest bit proud or some combination thereof.

From the perspective of schooling, Hillary did not have a great time getting through Mechanical Engineering at Queen's University. But she did get through it. As far as I was concerned, this was all it took.

More, thought, it was a concise way to explain many things about how her mind worked. Her ability to conceptualize complex systems fairly quickly. How she approached physical tasks.

To me, it described how she could unpack the completely stuffed trunk, then repack it and have found room for two more bags in it.

It covered her precision with recipes. Following directions explicitly and accurately making her by far the more consistent cook and baker of the two of us. It also gave her that little shudder of concern whenever I announced that I was winging something for dinner.

I loved the way whenever we had a mechanical problem or issue that she would look at all sides of the broken thing. Moving it around, building up a picture of it in her head. Then eventually coming up with a possible solution based on how the thing actually worked. This was a small step away from magic as far as I was concerned.

It led to stress between us when we worked together on a renovation or building task sometimes. Hillary would measure dozens of times. Precisely positioning the picture in the middle of the wall. Ensuring that the flooring we were laying down was correct to the millimetre. I was sloppier, but would get things done way faster.

Working on where the cuts needed to go. Hillary ensuring I measured at least a dozen times before every cut. I kid, I kid, but seriously, three was her number.

Together though, I was able to give her confidence in her measurement and setup. She was able to force me to take the care needed to do a better job. The middle road between us was a pretty successful path.

My references to Hillary as an engineer, my engineer and similar phrases was an inside joke. One laced with respect and an acknowledgement of how deeply I knew and understood her.

A couple of days earlier during the initial teardown. Hillary had finally just cleared out most of the initial carpet and disintegrating, uh, under carpet stuff.