He moves a little slower now. But hard work will do that to a man. His joints creak now when he gets out of our double bed. But he has sinew on his arms, like rope stretched round an old post many times over. Losing none of its strength simply looking a little more worn. Hands that I’ve seen lift a 100 pound sack of feed as if it were a plaything, and yet wet a cloth to wash my face while I’m ill with the delicate ease of a doctor. You see the cowboy stars on television who perform seeming impossible shots with their western rifles. I’ve seen him fire a bullet hole in a bullet hole from a place so far away I couldn’t even see the cross mark. A man we know carries the target in his wallet , that my husband once shot as proof that he knows a man who can shoot ” a hole into a hole.” I’ve dreamed a dream up in my mind and said , ” If I wanted a shelf that looked like this and went here in this space, would you build it for me?” . And out of spare wood from the yard, and his pure imagination , he can build it, and stain it and make it a work of art. His boys think he is the strongest, tallest , smartest, best Daddy in the world. And why not? He’s taught them how to catch a fish with just a string, a hook, and a worm. How to walk tall in a world full of people who tell them differently. They know how to shake hands with a man when saying hello, and how to open a door for a lady. He’s taught them how to skip rocks, crack a Bible, kneel in prayer, and if need be, how to throw a punch. He’s told them you always love your Lord, your Momma, and your neighbor, and IN that order. I first laid eyes on him when I was 16, and told my friend, I’m gonna’ marry that man, and I did. He has been my light on some very, very dark nights, given me two amazing children, been my laughter when I am down, my lover, my strength on some days when I thought I didn’t want to go on anymore, and always, always, my BEST FRIEND. Today he is 48 , and I love him more now than I did that September day when I first saw him across the churchyard. Happy birthday babe, you are my everything.
I’ve noticed something lately. My husband and I really like to watch cooking shows. Good Eats. Everyday Italian with Giada di Laurentiis , Mario Batali, and so forth. They cook all these wonderful looking meals and make it look so easy. Now to flash back and connect this story and help it make sense , my Daddy and I used to love to watch Norm Abram on PBS on the New Yankee Workshop , and he used to make this beautiful furniture, with all this lovely wood , book shelves, and cabinets.
And I got to thinking, Giada , and Mario and Alton have hundred thousand dollar kitchens , with many hundreds of dollars of cooking equipment, blenders, food processors, high dollar ovens, with grills, and refrigerators and freezers to keep the organically grown food at just the right temperatures. They have people on their teams who go out and shop the day of the show at the fresh fish markets, and herb shops , just to make sure that their dishes turn out magazine perfect every single time.
I’m just a home cook, I have the basics. A regular stove. A regular blender. Walmart supplies my choices of vegetables. I can’t run to the fish market and get fresh flounder. I feed my family on our old family recipes. I don’t have people that run to town every day to buy cilantro. I’m a really good cook actually, “So my husband jokes, ‘Imagine what you could cook if you had access to all the stuff that the celebrity chefs had access to?’
Now we turn to Norm in his Yankee Workshop. With his hundreds of thousands of sophisticated wood working equipment, laser guided saws, lathes, biscuit cutters, scrollwork machines. Access to thousands of dollars of exotic woods, ebony, olive, woods I have never even heard of .
Now my Dad is a carpenter and he can build beautiful cabinets , and shelves and boxes. He doesn’t have access to any of those things,so we used to make the joke while watching Norm, “Wow, Daddy , what could you build if you had all that REAL carpenter equipment?”
So you kind of have to wonder , how much of that on television is the person’s actual skill, and how much of it is the equipment, personnel help, materials, and other things that they are given access to? If all they had was the kinds of things that the common person had in their fridge or garage , what kind of product could they turn out then?