I was due to produce a live webcast last night as part of my monthly Live Q&A for The Hand Tool School. Unfortunately the power running to my neighborhood had other ideas and it seems a transformer blew knocking out everything. It is indeed ironic that The Hand Tool School is not able to function when the power goes out. Such is life when you are a virtual business.
Something magical happens when the power goes out though. Once you get over the initial annoyance, things get very quiet. Pulse rates drop, front doors open, neighbors chat on the front lawn. Children play hopscotch and catch on the sidewalk. Dogs get walked everywhere and impromptu block parties spring up as the charcoal grill gets lighted.
For me the initial annoyance and racing pulse lasted a bit longer. I really enjoy my live sessions. It keeps me honest like only a live audience can do, but it also gives me a chance to directly interact with other woodworkers. Paying members or not. You see my live session are open to everyone. Call it a marketing plan to attract new members if you will, but it has turned into something I look forward to each month. Inevitably someone new wanders in to the chat room and contributes an idea. Last month someone with no exposure to woodworking dropped in and was immediately bitten by the bug. After a flurry of email exchanges, and a skype call, this individual now calls herself a woodworker. So I was decidedly peeved and horribly disappointed with the lack of power. Most importantly I feel like I’m letting people down when I don’t show for an event like this. I quickly dashed off a tweet from my iPhone that I didn’t have power. Then I painstakingly logged in to my web site back end and added a message to the top of the demo page from the same phone. Ever write HTML on an iPhone? Soooo fun! I then started to reply to individual emails from 40 or 50 people asking what was going on.
But once this frantic stuff was over there was nothing to do but soak up the silence. The sun was setting but there was still enough light filtering in to the shop once I opened the garage door that a soft raking twilight settled over everything. I slid my joinery bench out into the driveway, clamped a case side for the corner cabinet I’m building to the top and began cutting shelf dados. Lightening bugs sparked, neighbors walked by and said hello, and the world went on. My buddy Al Navas commented on G+ that, “in the old days, people would have traveled from the local region with candles burning to attend my session” This conjures up images of the opening credits to Little House on the Prairie with covered wagons rolling into my driveway and friendly folk gathered round to visit and talk about woodworking.
Sure enough, not 10 minutes into my joinery work, my neighbor across the street came over to visit. Then next door, and two doors down. Soon we had a small clutch of us gathered talking about tools and projects to be done around the house. The topic quickly strayed from woodworking and I quickly became too distracted to work anymore myself, but I have to admit that it was one of the best evenings I have had in a long time.
So why do I insist on working entirely (almost) by hand? Call it nostalgia for an earlier, more “civilized” age, but when you strip away all the extra stuff in our lives and just focus on the blade and the wood grain I find true peace. No reality TV, no tweets, no hum of air conditioners. Just good conversation, barking dogs, laughter, chirping birds, and the sound of a dado plane slicing through Western Red Cedar.
How sweet it is!
By the way, the June Live Q&A has been rescheduled for this Saturday, June 16th at 10AM eastern time. Stop by my Demonstration page and chat with me. All are welcome.