Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Spirits and Sawdust - Letters from Josh, Vol. 23

 Letters from Josh

  Spirts and Sawdust 9/15/20                                                                           Letter 23

  Hey there, crew!  How’s everyone doing over there?  If you’re having knee pain today - I can relate.  I’m stiff, sore, and achy.  Lyme disease?  COVID?  Nope, just...flooring!  That’s right, the floors are half down in the new room!  Remember the Professor Plum fiasco from last week?  I had painted the walls a stately admiral blue and then, upon getting a new gallon mixed to put a final coat on...somehow PURPLE ended up on the walls!  I went back to Home Depot, and said “Umm….”  They looked at the cans, figured out the date code on the label, and said “oh YEAH, that’s the day someone put purple in the blue machine!”  WHAT?  They tried to match the color, to no avail.  It was right then and there I fell in love with the shade.  Talk about super rare and obscure.  “Like my paint, man?  TOO BAD, you can’t get it!”  

  So, the walls a peculiar share of purplish blue, the flooring install has commenced.  My brothers stopped by last night, and gave me some mighty help.  We had the music going, the hammers were ringing, and I ran out of the room to go over to the garage saw to cut a piece to size.  Suddenly, the memories that had been flitting in and out of view all night snapped into view.  

  It must have been the table that I write from - a massive walnut slab dining room table we had built when I was 23 with my dad.  I glanced at it as I ran by, building yet another thing, and suddenly thought of all of the memories, efforts, and spirit embodied in these tools.  Back in the room was the nail punch I had learned to use when I was 9.  I remember struggling to get clean cuts and, well...do anything.  The air compressor kicked on, like a telephone call from a long-ago neighbor who had given it to us kid brothers.  I hadn’t thought of Georgia in forever. She used to buy generic grape soda for us grimy barefoot boys, and give us an ice cold can on a blazing July day, the condensation half-rinsing the dirt off our hands.  How I’d like to stop by her back porch and sit in one of those plastic lawn chairs now.   

  My great-Grandfather’s rip saw hung patiently on the pegboard, a grizzled veteran of the Oak battles, waiting for another century of service.  I had it out for a spin the other night, it’s gruff voice patiently grinding through the fragrant pine board.  It was a contrast of the yippy yap of the little dovetail saw from my 7th birthday (I always liked strange gifts) that nipped around the trim of the doorframe, much like the neighbor’s toy dog that always tries to bite me.  

   “Brrrrrr!” whined the miter saw, as I brought the blade down, slicing cleanly through the hard oak board.  My stepdad gave me this years ago, when he was fairly new on the scene, and generously making sure I could install the first floor I’d ever done in my brand new house many years ago.  He really had gone above and beyond with it, and not only did I get a saw, but a philosophy that things were possible to do, and they might as well be done right.    

  Flipping on the bandsaw, there was the generosity of a buddy named Jim thrumming in the noise of the motor, making the difficult cuts possible, one kind deed continuing it’s ripple across my life.  Something that would take a half hour (with grave risk to a hand) now was safely done in five minutes.    

  The hammers rang, and the ghosts of the projects past watched and smiled.  One day, I’ll have built everything that I need to, and these tools can go on to the next craftsman, working at speed on a crisp September evening, using steel and wood to create something a little better, and make the world slightly less jumbled.  I’ll sit and smile, knowing that although the tools may be long gone, I’ll still have the recollections of the sawdust and spirits.  

  I’m sure every one of you has done some hard work in your life.  Let me know, I’d love to hear the stories!

  • Josh   

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