Another week is coming to an end. It is amazing to me that during these busy times just how quickly that seems to happen. I read many posts on my facebook and all around about school beginning and mothers putting their children on the school bus to begin the new year at school. Those days are long past for me, as my children are both grown, but I have many fond memories of that time in my life.
The other day when I posted the picture of the fireplace mantle that my friend Cari and I built for my house made me start thinking of that time. Our young ones were toddlers and our older children were in elementary school and each morning in the autumn we would take the wagon or bikes or strollers for the little ones and walk the older boys to school together. It was usually cool in the morning and we needed to wear jackets and sweaters, even though we knew by noon it would be warm and sunny.
We would arrive home and go to either Cari’s house or mine (we lived only a couple of houses down from each other) and one of us would always have a nice pot of coffee and some sort of sweets were an absolute necessity. After our morning snack and planning our day, the two young ones (her boy Steve and my Danielle) would play together while Cari and I would either scroll saw or paint or do some other type of woodworking.
We each had a small ‘shop’ in our garage. Cari had a side wing built onto hers for her shop, as she had a few more tools than I did. We did what most would call ‘light woodworking’ – mainly scroll sawing and routing with some use of a table saw. We didn’t build intricate boxes or exquisite cutting boards, but we mainly cut out pins to paint and crafts and birdhouses and things that we could paint and sell to the other moms at the school or to the nurses at the local hospital.
Cari was also a cardiac nurse, and worked a couple of shifts a week. The other nurses sure loved the hand made stuff and were some of our best customers. Before I had even met Cari I had known many other nurses at the large hospital nearby and they were great customers from the get go. They actually made me decide to start a ‘business’ as I had made one thing for a friend to give to her sick sister and she brought it to the hospital to give her and a group of nurses saw it and they all wanted one. I guess you would call that the beginning of my ‘career’.
Cari was creative too, and it was she and her father who introduced me to the scroll saw in the first place. Her dad was an engineer and very exacting. He believed in showing you how to do it and then letting you do things on your own. He remained available if you needed help, but like Bernie, he felt that the best teacher was experience. He loved to see us working and did all he could to support us and teach us many different skills.
Seeing that picture of that mantle we built brought back so many memories of those times in my life. Cari and I built that mantle in one day, with the kids playing underfoot. We had the miter saw on the driveway and there were kids buzzing back and forth and I remember checking and measuring over and over to make sure we got the cuts right. We used to kid and say “No man could do this”. The one piece of oak crown molding we used cost over $70 I remember, and the fireplace was angled on the wall. We had one shot to make the cut right and if we messed it, it would mean the piece of wood would be useless to us. That was the last piece we cut for the day and I remember the sun was beginning to set and we were losing our light in the driveway. We contemplated waiting until the next day, but we were anxious to see the project finished. We cut the wood and it fit darn near perfectly. You could barely fit a piece of paper between the wood and the wall.
When the project was finished, you could place a marble on it and it wouldn’t roll. It was a pretty good job for two women with kids winding. Even the men were impressed. I think for me it was the beginning of wanting to do bigger and better things. It was so fun and satisfying!
|From The "Good Ole Days"|
Cari and I remained close for over ten years. We watched our children grow up together, spent holidays together and spent almost every day together laughing, creating and even crying. Then there came a time when I had to move and we kind of lost touch and our lives went in different directions. I find that life is like that. I have learned to appreciate each good day for what it is because as I said in the beginning when I started writing this blog, the only thing you can be certain of in our lives is change. We remained friends although not on a daily basis, as I lived too far to see her every day. Little by little we drifted apart, as even good friends sometimes do.
About two years ago, Cari passed away from cancer. She had had a bout with it previously when I was still in her life, and she used to spend the weeks after her chemo in my little apartment with me to get away from things and recover. She had gone through both chemo and radiation when we were still close and after five years of being clear, was considered ‘cancer free’. However, her husband told me that it had come back after I had moved here to Canada and it took her very quickly. I had seen her a couple of times when I returned there for visits, but she had never mentioned it to me. He said she wanted it that way.
I think about Cari a lot – especially in these fall days when I hear stories of kids and school and the air is cool in the morning as it is now. In retrieving that picture, it was in a box I have of hundreds of pictures from that time in my life that I spent with Cari. There are pictures of kids and parties we had and projects and I found myself sifting through it and smiling and remembering. I hope that some way and some how she knows that I have achieved some success in what started with what I learned from her and her dad. I also hope she knows that she does live on through me and my memories of our friendship and what we learned together. I hope she is proud.
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"