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FROM THE VALLEY: If You Saw What I Saw

By TOM VALLEY

It died last Friday. A sad day. It's true that parting is such sweet sorrow.

We'd done so much together. But now, it was history, hasta-luego. sayonara,

here's-your-hat-what's-your-hurry ... gone. After so many years together, I was

stunned.

The “it” was my table-saw. The motor had burned out and it was as useless

to me now as a drum-set in Anne Frank's attic. (If crudeness is what you seek,

it's right up my alley.)

One of my favorite hobbies is woodworking. There's nothing quite like the

thrill of making something out of nothing. Well, obviously, it's not out of

nothing. Whenever I make something out of wood, I usually make it out of ...

well ... wood.

(Note: Well-known astronomer Carl Sagan once commented: “If you want

to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent a universe.” And just

to be transparent, I did not invent wood.)

My daughter, Melissa, gave me the saw many years ago. My previous one

had also run its course and had the gall to quit on me and look for greener

pastures. I personally decided that those greener pastures should be at the

bottom of a river, so I chopped it up and made boat anchors. Getting to the

bottom of things, by the way, was also right up my alley in a previous life. I

was a proctologist. The crudeness thing? I still got it.

In return for my daughter's gift (the saw), I built her numerous pieces of

furniture over the years. Furniture which she promptly sold at yard sales.

Correction: tried to sell at yard sales. She said the things I made were just “too

nice” to mix in with her older stuff. Obviously, everyone who stopped at her

yard sales, felt the same way.

I once had someone ask me if I could build them an “unfinished” picnic

table. So I presented them with a load of 2 x 6's. I'm a strict adherent to

specificity. (Say that 5 times fast.) Whatever.

But similar to the way most people feel when they forget their cell-phones, I

felt naked without my saw. I had taken it for granted and assumed it would

always be there. And now it was gone. Oh, the pain, the agony ... such a sense

of loss. What was I to do? Excuse me for a moment, is it starting to get a little

deep in here?!

Okay, anyhow, I needed to fill that void. I had to buy another saw. And since

I wasn't in the mood to wait around until one was shipped, I went online and

picked one out that was in stock at a local box store.

I placed the order and drove my truck over to pick it up. I threw it in the

back and came home. It wasn't an expensive, fancy machine, just a simple saw

to serve my humble needs. I'm so glad you asked.

Of course, when they say “some assembly required” on the outside of the

box, they aren't joking. I opened it up and there was nothing in there but 2 x 6's.

A joke. See what I did there? I apologize. But that doesn't take away from the

fact that I had my work cut out for me.

Honestly, I hate manuals. I know they are a necessity but they are so littered

with extraneous crap that it's a tough hill to climb before you even get close to

the meat of the instructions.

And crazy? This particular manual – and I'm being absolutely truthful – had

a drawing of an electrical wall-outlet alongside a picture of the table-saw's

electric plug. There was an arrow over the plug indicating how to plug it in.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you: do you really think someone is

qualified to use a potentially limb-severing, powerful, 10 inch table saw if they

don't understand how to plug it in? Good Lord, if you're oblivious to the

concept of electricity, I really think you should put the thing back in the box

and forget about it.

Go play with your Etch-A-Sketch and leave the cutting to someone with

half-a-brain.

Half-a-brain? That's right up my alley, too.

And that's the way it looks from the Valley ... alley.

Tvalley@Rochester.RR.com

The author Tom Valley pondering his next project with his new table-saw.

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