Last week I found Thomas sitting in my path. I was traveling a straight and narrow path that had scheduled me for a 15 minute–half hour max–stop at the Hilo Coffee Mill. I needed to re-glue the three carving blanks that had come loose from their carving boards during the previous Sunday’s Introduction to Carving workshop. And I had a lot of other stops on my “to do” list. As always, that list ran longer than I could reasonably accomplish in a day or two, or seven. Sound familiar? But anyway, there sat Thomas sipping coffee and gazing at the screen of his laptop.
Thomas and I started talking story, a mode to which he seems naturally prone, for he couldn’t have learned the trick in the short time he’s lived in Hawai’i. We talked story for two hours. Philip joined us midstream, and we probably could have gabbed the whole day. Maybe some day we will, but that day I couldn’t extend my indulgence that far.
The Carousel of Aloha Project makes an obvious connecting among the three of us, or maybe I should say that the Project highlights the connection that has always existed. And I when indulge in the richness of that connection I become more open to engaging in other serendipitous encounters. Later I quipped to the unknown woman in line in front of me at the supermarket, “chocolate chip cookies?”. She was waiting to buy all of the ingredients including a foil baking sheet. And we began a short conversation that revealed that she and her husband had just moved to the Big Island, and he’s retired. So I gave her my Carousel of Aloha business card and encouraged her and especially her husband to visit the website.
I have no idea if those 10 minutes will measurably advance the Carousel. I do know that I felt happier as I left the store, and I think that she did too. And I believe that the unplanned two hours I spent at the Mill changed me in a way that make possible those 10 minutes.
We are building the Carousel of Aloha, the carousel of ALOHA. As I travel down this path I realize, however slowly, and appreciate more and more the importance of building not only with basswood and glue, but also with aloha
Last night, as I lay on the day bed and attempted to compose a blog posting about that day’s Introduction to Carving Workshop, I found that I lacked the energy to continue. So I stopped, read a magazine article, and went to sleep. So much for writing when memories still have that fresh picked bouquet.
This morning the chores try to re-assert themselves claiming that I have neglected them in the name of frivolity, but I know better even as I know that I also must yield to the requirements of my daily life like taking the rubbish to the dump or cooking dinner. I know that I spent a rewarding afternoon in Volcano yesterday. I also believe that most, if not all that folks who shared that time with Juanette and me think likewise. We had other key members of the Carousel of Aloha team come by for a good look and to perform some very useful tasks that I simply couldn’t handle.
I often find myself in situations in which I face more useful tasks that I can handle well. That’s one of the curses of having a fertile mind; an over-abundance of play things. In my case, the clutter also suffers from wealth of interconnections among the several toys. Thus I wanted photographs of each of the people who carved, but I forgot to bring my camera. I had signed releases in hand, but I lacked the means of pulling the trigger, so to speak. Happily Philip arrived with gear in hand.
I couldn’t have taken the pictures anyway because facilitating the workshop took all my time and energy. I couldn’t have even set up the workshop room were it not for help from Rich and Thomas. Those Portable Carving Stations (PCSs) only qualify as portable because they come apart into three sections for transportation and storage. Collectively the 13 PCSs weigh more than I care to carry in my small pickup truck. Thanks goodness for willing helpers who drive larger vehicles. Clint joined us for the caravan back to the Mill to re-store the PCSs, and several others stayed around to sweep and schlep after the formal end of the workshop.
We need to figure out how folks who want to continue to carve can do so with a little help from their friends. But addressing that need lies further down the road for me.
Now I turn my primary focus to the trip that my wife, Patricia and I have had in the works for months. We’re gone for the last three weeks in October in pursuit of high art, fall foliage and lobster dinners. Before we depart, I still need to prepare for the second Intro to Carving workshop in mid-November lest I make for a too stressful return. For example, I need to make more hibiscus carving blanks and I should address the problem of insuring that those blanks stay attached to the carving boards. Anybody got a bandsaw?
My legs feel tired and stiff. That comes as no surprise to me because I spent most of the day fabricating carving benches in preparation for the Introduction to Carving Workshops that we have scheduled for the next few months. Fortunately, I had a couple of helpers who turned what would have been a trying couple of days labor for me alone into a very productive morning. I have long said that two people working well together can accomplish much more than twice what two people working separately can do. And in this case three people working together made short work of the task. Well maybe not that short, but we surely made a fine collaboration.
When I take part in a good collaboration I always get a warm fuzzy feeling; I always get filled with hope for the human species and find reason to break into an easy smile, something that the evening news never provides. Therein lies the attraction to the Carousel of Aloha Project for me, the knowledge that my work matters in this world and that together we can. I know that we’ve probably all that slogan attached to election campaigns both locally and nationally, but that doesn’t mean that it must be an empty slogan, and empty promise. I have faith that it won’t be for the Carousel, but faith must partner with sweat, ingenuity and good old fun before we can take our first turn on the big wheel.
In a few days I will put my chisels to the wood. I’ll try out the new carver’s mallet I ordered through the internet. It’s a big hummer that weighs in at 18 ounces or almost as much as a framing hammer. I tried it for a few minutes a couple of days ago and thought that it was a tad heavy. Good for the heavy cuts of roughing out but more than I want to wield for a whole day especially when carving fine details. I suffer from intimidation. I fear that I won’t be able to render the hibiscus that the class will carve at the end of September. I’ve felt this way before. I felt this way many times during my three weeks in Oregon carving with Ken Means, but I always managed to work my way through the fear. Going beyond the apparent limits that fear creates is another aspect of this project. I think that it has to do with finding our true selves, of becoming more of what we really are rather than settling for the best that comfort allows.
Tomorrow I will work in the garden. I will use other tools, quiet tools that I don’t have to plug into the wall. I’m carving out our landscape too, and that too feeds my soul. But now I need to rest my body.