Cheap Help Is Sometimes The Most Expensive

When I was 6, 7, 8 years old, I knew how to do a lot of things that elude me now. My mother, for instance, came out into our backyard to see what all the banging was about. We lived in a tiny, three-room house held on the ground by its plumbing. There were my brother and I with a hammer with a broken handle, a couple of pieces of wood and some bent nails. She asked what we were doing. We told her proudly that we were building another room on the house and were hacking the doorway through. She suggested (indeed, insisted) that we build the room first and then make the pass through. She understood that the labor on this job would be cheap, but the project would be more expensive than she could afford.  In the picture for today, you can see the beginnings of a table top I’m making for a customer. It involves some pretty extensive inlay. As I set up on my bench to do this work, my cats, who like my brother and I understand all processes, decided to help. They licked my hand, the one holding the palm router, and pulled at my sleeve. They rubbed against me and meowed loudly when I didn’t rub back. I managed a couple of pieces, but finally called out “I give.” I have moved my work into my house. I suppose I could be more forceful with them, but they’re cats. They don’t know any better; neither did they ask to be born in my shop. I am receiving, as they say in Washington, D.C., the punishment for my good work in caring for them and helping them to feel at home.   On the one hand, their help does not cost much. On the other hand, it will add cost to the project. Still, my heart is calm because I have found a way to be gentle like my mother was while at the same time defining a boundary we can all live with.