“I don't write about what I know: I write in order to find out what I know.” - Patricia Hampl
It's finished, and I'm ecstatic. My big, lovely, and loud family now has a place to gather.
I still can't believe I built a table. Keri added her artistic touch, too; it wouldn't look nearly as good without her expert staining. The benches, which took more time to construct than the table itself, are also finished.
There are stories here: life lessons about family, making peace with fathers long passed, and trying things for which we feel completely incapable. I'll get to those eventually, but for now I'll start with, "Once upon a time, we decided to build a table..."
I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to the folks at Kreg Tool (shown above). It was by far my most often used tool during this process. And their customer service is awesome! I purchased it specifically for this project, and the driver bit that was included was warped. Without a question or hassle, they promptly sent a new one. Good tools, even better service!
The work isn't pretty, but the cut list is complete. Tomorrow I sand, assemble, and drill pilot holes. Then I stain. Today makes me wish I could do this everyday.
Pouslbo, WA- June 25, 2013
Let me state a fact: I am not a woodworker. At all. There's a history of it in my family, but I didn't inherit the gene.
One of my few attempts at a woodworking project was ten years ago. I made an outdoor planter box for my wife, which coincidentally fell apart about the same time as the marriage. The plants died long before.
But I believe in second chances. This spring when my love, Keri, and I decided to create a home together we knew we needed a large dining table. Between the two of us, we have 8 children. There were two choices: buy one and pay more than we could afford, or build one. We chose the later.
Today I bought the wood, and purchased the tools not already in my dusty collection. Today the building begins.
This is my attempt at accountability. If I tell people what I'm doing, I won't say "f-it!", get frustrated, and quit. Okay, I pretty sure I'll say "F-it!" and other colorful phrases during the process, but quitting is not an option. If the finished table looks nice, I won't complain; but, what I really want is for the thing to be sturdy and functional. Straight, even legs would be nice, too.
I also say, "if I can do it you can, too." This project's a reminder that if I equip myself with the right tools, supplies, and support, then follow directions I do anything -- even tasks for which I feel completely unqualified or too scared to attempt. I'm like George Plimpton in a wood shop.
The past couple of years haven't been easy for me; but, I've made it! This table will be proof.
I shall build my family a table.
Seattle, WA- Sept. 5, 2012
It was the last day of the boys’ summer vacation and I felt like they bickered the whole time. They were suppose to go to their mother’s house at 5:00, but she was late. I was irritable.
The best thing I can do when I feel that way is to grab my camera and leave the house for a meditative respite – usually a short walk or drive. There I look through the camera's viewfinder at what's in front of me, frame a shot, press the shutter button, and repeat until the present returns to focus.
With a gorgeous sunset brewing, I headed towards the South Lake Union neighborhood and its sailboats, floatplanes, and fountains. Serenity here I come.
I got caught in a traffic jam on the way. I looked west from my motionless minivan as the sun dipped below Queen Anne hill. The horizon’s hue changed in front of my eyes. The clouds went from pink cotton candy to gray cotton balls.
“It’s okay,” I reassured myself, “There’s still enough light. Where else can I go?”
As traffic broke, I headed to the I-5 Colonnade trail, an urban mountain bike skills park, hoping for a consolation prize: mountain bikers in action and the chance to experiment with shutter speed.
But the trails were deserted. No bikes, no cyclists. There was nothing to shoot amidst the gray, waning daylight and dust. Nothing, damnit. Absolutely nothing.
Then I stopped thinking and looked around.
Columbus, OH- July 31, 2012
My niece works for the promotions department at a zoo made famous by its charismatic director, who is often seen on TV talk shows. It's a unique opportunity for her, a young woman who has always had a passion for animals. It's also afforded my children and me with up close and personal experiences with the animals for which she cares. We've touched snakes, fed sloths, and hung out with Arctic foxes.
For me, though, the best experiences have been with the big cats. My spirit animal is the Cougar, but I feel a close connection to all of its cousins. I've been fortunate to fraternize with Snow Leopard kittens, Cheetahs, Caracals, and Lynx. But nothing compares to last week's experience.
That's a TIGER kitten I'm holding! This little guy and his brother were about a month old. Adorable, stunning, or awe inspiring doesn't begin to describe them. Try "religious experience." These were my "people" and this experience further inspired me to advocate not only for the Tiger but for organizations that promote the health and well-being of all our big cats (such as The Cougar Fund).