March 7th, 2009 - Late Evening Woodwooding Edition


On February 13th, which happened to be a Friday, just as the upcoming March 13th is a Friday, (I'm not particularly superstitious, anymore, but there is something a little weird with that. Retract that, it's just interesting, not weird. The real mathheads say there is no such thing as coincidence. Everything is random and just because we came up with this Gregorian calendar to make some form of reference for ourselves, it's our own fault if we get two Friday the 13ths in two months consecutively. All the numbers from zero to nine repeat in multiple iterations inside Pi if you calculate it out far enough. Which is kind of cool. But the series Pi itself does not repeat, ever. As far as we know. It's a transcendental number. It doesn't get much more profound than that. I'm not a mathhead, but I am interested in what happens with logic, numbers and how people perceive and are affected by them. Uh-oh, I feel another blog post coming on...) 
Be that as it may, it was the day before "Valentine's Day." Let me say that Sharon and I don't celebrate VD, we acknowledge it, we don't exchange gifts and we move on.
Any day of the year could bring a gift and it would be much more of an exciting surprise than a heart-shaped pizza on a pastel-bullcrap greeting card holiday. As you may have gathered, I'm not big on Valentine's Day. I really feel for the lonely, single people that have to deal with all the Valenhype, because I was one of them for many years. It sucks. Anyway, that day I had been doing a lot of around-the-house-puttering, and usually when I get started on those sorts of hands-on things, I get all sucked into more and more projects and can't seem to stop. I also had a woodworking-based feeling brewing in my soul, sometimes I just feel like carving or making something out of scrap wood. I had been also been feeling guilty for spending too much time at computer, so suddenly I felt a compulsion to carve a heart out of a large piece of wood for Sharon. And there's no denying it, it was for myself too. I wanted the therapy of some hammer and chisel time.
I dug out the largest piece of scrap wood we had in the stack, which I think is a piece of Ponderosa Pine from a 'cat tree' that had long outlived it's usefulness. Pieces of it now can be found in various projects around the house. I was chiseling away with my favorite three-inch Sandvik chisel (Grampa Anderson's, re: ancient and GREAT) and my favorite orange Stanley dead-blow shot hammer. There was wood flying everywhere, the basement smelled of pine and life was good. It was an escape. I thought of Anthony Quinn and Salvador Dali. Three or four hours later, what began as a eight inch by seven inch by two-foot split-rail slowly took shape into a nine-inch by six inch relatively rounded off wooden heart. It had a large knot right through the left atrium and some very cool grain in different places, more symbolism hidden beneath the basic "form" of the concept you have in mind, I like that. 
I was ready for it to pop right in half a couple times as I was whacking on it, but it never did, nor did the knot start creeping out. I have to admit I was a little proud that I had formed the thing using only a hammer and chisel; no saws, power tools, etc.  Just me tracing the grain with my two tools. 
Later my hands and especially my left thumb however, were not quite as proud. 
It wasn't 'done', per se, and needed finishing, but Sharon came home and I decided to show her what I was up to, as I wasn't so sure it would be done the next day. Fateful mistake. Never show the "art-work" to the receiver before it's finished. This is where pride as a Deadly Sin comes in.
I presented it to her and tried to convey that it wasn't necessarily a Valentine gift, that it was something that I had wanted to make, actually felt I had to make, and that I hoped it represented the times when I was thinking of her and couldn't say the right thing or didn't say anything when I should have. At least that's what I was thinking, I'm not sure my actual words delivered that message. (I of course see now that they didn't...
I'm not good at dedications, coronations, eulogies, or on-the-spot speaking. Or speaking in general. It was what it was, a wooden-heart sculpture thingie. 
She tried to be genuine and gracious about me creating it as a gift, but I could tell it didn't click with her. I said I would pick it up again tomorrow, but began feeling guilty about spending a lot of time on something not contributing to the financial good of the household, and it slipped into the background of our lives. I felt a little disheartened about it (if you'll pardon the term) every time I saw it lying there on the workbench, but it's hard for me to work on stuff like that if I'm not inspired, and there's always something else, else, else... 
So today, (Argh! It's a month later!) I was going to pick it back up and dust it off. I had decided to change my approach and bring some rasps, Surform tools, and maybe a Dremel if I got desperate into the mix to get it to a form that I considered "done." 
Just as I was ready to get to go downstairs with an armful of tools, we had a conversation that ended up deflating my feelings about the whole thing.
Sharon is my 'complement'* in life, which means she completes my whole, often to my edification, stupefaction, and revelation of pointing out my obliviosity. (new word, don't look it up)
What it came down to was that I was feeling guilty because I hadn't finished the project after dangling it there in front of her, and she was feeling demeaned because it had turned into a "non-gift" and now I was picking it up again like it was the next day, when it was actually three weeks later.
In the back of both of our brains I believe we were thinking, what were we really going to do with a piece of sculpture in our tiny house already full of pieces of clutter. 

* Usage Note: Complement and compliment, though quite distinct in meaning, are sometimes confused because they are pronounced the same. As a noun, complement means "something that completes or brings to perfection" (The antique silver was a complement to the beautifully set table); used as a verb it means "to serve as a complement to." The noun compliment means "an expression or act of courtesy or praise" (They gave us a compliment on our beautifully set table), while the verb means "to pay a compliment to."
Note it is always I that gets us into trouble... 

Sharon left for yoga with a friend, and I brought all my stuff down to the basement and stared at my wooden heart. 
I still wanted to see the thing through, but I was a little miffed that I had left my favorite orange Stanley dead-blow shot hammer down at the mini-storage, as I wanted to beat on something and how could I think I would actually go back there the next day and use it...?! Am I that much of a self-deceived procrastinator that I would think that I would actually DO something the next day, just because I said or thought I would...?! 
I was, as Sharon had just just pointed it out to me. Damn! I needed another hammer. 
It was then that in a distant synapse, in a galaxy far, far, away; deep in a spongy fissure of my applesauce brain a spark jumped a gap. I had THE ANSWER to both of our issues: I would make a wooden mallet out of the frickin' thing...!!!! I had a beautiful hickory hatchet handle. I had motivation. I had a handle wedge. I had hand tools and I wasn't afraid to use them. I MUST FORM WOOD!!! 

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you - "The Love Hammer!"


Symbolic, no...?  I'm thinking if it splits while I'm whapping something, I'll have a broken heart.

The Business End of the ventricles and the interventricular septum. I'm thinking I might cut a groove shouldered in from the face and find a way to attach some sort of metal-banding, reminiscent of the circus mallets used for the 'Ring the Bell' game and pounding-in tent stakes. The idea is that the band keeps the face from splitting and mushing out too badly. I need to do a little more research on proper placement, finishing treatments, and attachment of materials.

The top view of one of the world's most basic, and yet most functional tools. 
I love my hammers! Now my Carpenters', the Ball-Peen Family, the General-Purpose Family, the Tack, Rock, Mini's and of course my favorite orange Stanley Dead-Blow Shot will be joined by another soft-faced, yet serious individual of the tribe.



It works...!

I would also like to add that I am of the mind that not everything has to have a practical aspect, some things (for me at least) just have to be created and can exist just to tactile, extravagant, symbolic or for no reason at all really. I suppose for the sake of aesthetics, I guess. Like a rock you pick up because something tells you that have to. Unfortunately, this is what has gotten our house to more than 50% of it's current status. Shar, you have some catchin' up to do...!  Get more stupid things!

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