A Good Read?


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Posted on Sun, Mar. 20, 2005
Carpenter's tips for life as well as the shop
I read for information, not for pleasure. This puts me at odds with everyone in my house but the dog.
And it is, I've discovered, the most efficient way to accumulate the latest wisdom available and commit it to memory so I can better serve my readers.
I do feel guilty about it sometimes, so when I have an opportunity for expiation, I try to take it.
Fortunately, that's what The Carpenter's Notebook has offered me. The book (CenterLine Publishing, $16.95), by Mark Clement of Ambler, is the best of both worlds: a novel that incorporates information you can use in the workshop.
It sounds strange, I know, but after finishing the book, I'm ready to make the all-too-late suggestion to Jane Austen that if she had just included some furniture-building tips in Pride and Prejudice, I might not have used her book as a doorstop.
Appearing almost seamlessly within Clement's narrative are a few pages of instructions, complete with illustrations, on how to make a toolbox or frame a doorway.
Even if you've never picked up a hammer, it's hard to argue with the idea that carpentry is a metaphor for life, and Clement, executive editor of Tools of the Trade magazine, has run with that.
His story is that of Brendan Herlihy, an unhappy bloke whose marriage is on the rocks and whose real estate career is about as exciting as filling nail holes in cedar siding.
With marriage counseling going nowhere, Herlihy decides to send his girls off to camp and spend the summer away from his wife and with his mother, completing the artist's studio that his contractor father, Gideon, had begun carving out of his shop for her before his death two years earlier.
The notebook of the title is Gideon's, a contractor's clipboard with yellowed sheets of paper that provide Brendan with an outline on how to live his life. Gideon had offered these life lessons to Brendan when the boy was growing up, but Brendan neither understood their meaning nor seemed interested in even listening.
Only now, after his father's death, does Brendan realize that by working hard and using Gideon's tools and rules, he will finally be able to find the answers that will give his life meaning.
"All the lessons Gideon learned on job sites Brendan uses to rebuild his life," said carpenter-turned-writer/editor Clement, whose own father was a professor and with whom, he acknowledges, he wasn't close. Clement, then, is both Gideon and Brendan, applying his carpentry skills to sorting out Brendan's life.
Clement, 36, also applied those skills to his own life. Like Brendan's, his marriage fell apart and ended in divorce. He decided to move to Ambler from Virginia to be near his daughter, Alexis, 3, who lives nearby with his ex-wife.
"Through carpentry, I learned to do the right thing," Clement said. "The very same skills one uses to renovate a house or build a table are transferable to life. That's what I found out, and that's what Gideon found out and passed down in those notes to Brendan.
"If you aren't always on top of what you are doing, if you aren't paying attention to your job all the time, it can put you in danger," he said. "If you are working on the roof and forget for a moment where you are, you can fall off the ladder. These very same skills are transferable to your life.
"I need to be there for Alexis, whether it is watching her play soccer or taking her to ballet class. When you find something that works, you stick with it, whether it is carpentry or in your relationships with other people."
A lot of people approach life in the way that makes them most comfortable. But, as Brendan learns, the time comes when you have to swallow hard and do something that makes you uncomfortable - in his case, ending a marriage that wasn't really doing him or his wife any good and that would eventually do more damage to their children.
"Brendan found his answer through carpentry, by spending the summer rebuilding the shop into a studio," Clement said. "There is a right answer, but you won't begin to look for one until you know that one does exist.
"Brendan, and I, learned the right thing to do."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "On the House" appears Sundays in The Inquirer. Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472 or snipped-for-privacy@phillynews.com.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2005 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.philly.com
Thomas J. Watson - WoodDorker
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Tom Watson wrote:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
You lost me at about the fifth paragraph.
--
Gerald Ross
Cochran, GA
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2005 12:16:53 -0500, Gerald Ross
You musta got lost before that, 'cause I didn't write the damned thing.
I wanted to see if anybody had read that book.
Thomas J. Watson - WoodDorker
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2005 13:46:29 -0500, the inscrutable Tom Watson

<g>
Then why dincha say so? I checked my Leebrary and found no joy.
It appears that Centerline has a sample chapter for your perusal. http://www.centerlinemedia.com/tcn.htm The verdict's not in yet.
--- After they make styrofoam, what do they ship it in? --Steven Wright http://diversify.com Comprehensive Website Development
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And I remember when Saturn was a planet, not the name of a rocket. ;~)
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2005 19:52:18 GMT, "Leon"

If'n you was really old, you'd remember when he was a Roman god.
(watson- who remembers fondly a group of loose women that he used to know - and the name of their vehicle - The Slattern Five....sigh...)
Thomas J. Watson - WoodDorker
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The plot sounds vaguely familiar though the one I'm thinking of involves a ferryman (no, not fairy man, predating Ahnolds Girly Man). Siddhartha I think it was by some guy name Herman something .
As for Saturn - the Planet is Saturn 0, the rockets were Saturn 1 through 5, the car line should be sATURN. Everyone clear now?
charlie b
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2005 21:30:39 GMT, the inscrutable "Don"

Ditto. I enjoy a combination of both. Poor Tawm.
--- After they make styrofoam, what do they ship it in? --Steven Wright http://diversify.com Comprehensive Website Development
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2005 17:25:40 -0800, Larry Jaques

Then I will have to make the sad assumption that you are both lacking in the comprehension skills required to pursue this activity in a fully pleasurable way.
Assuming that you are not being deliberately obtuse; may I point out that I was quoting a newspaper article, not expressing a personal opinion.
Thomas J. Watson - WoodDorker
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On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 06:06:50 -0500, the inscrutable Tom Watson

My mistake. I saw the simple snip in Don's post there and thought it was your personal opinion, over which I lamented. Shame on you, Don, for misleading me. ;-/
--

People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but
most of the time they'll pick themselves up and carry on.
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On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 08:03:55 -0800, Larry Jaques

Actually, I thought youse guys was breakin' my stones, just fer fun ya know.
Thomas J. Watson - WoodDorker
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On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 11:53:34 -0500, the inscrutable Tom Watson

I rectum it's all that poetry what fugdjaup, Tawm. Ayup.
--

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wrote:

Hell, I wasn't offended.
I figured you guys were goofing on me, so I goofed back.
I say we blame it all on C-less.
Thomas J. Watson - WoodDorker
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On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 14:22:56 -0500, the inscrutable Tom Watson

Sure, go ahead. Everyone else does. <sigh>
--

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most of the time they'll pick themselves up and carry on.
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