Monday, November 5, 2012

Recovering my flooded tools

So I lost some stuff in the flood too. Not anything compared to the loss of life or the loss of homes or the loss of all the contents of homes or the loss of cars or the loss of medicines, but I had things in my friends' basement, and some of it got destroyed. Mostly tools. My beautiful compound angle miter saw is toast. So is my hand-held jigsaw. A beautiful door that I co-built with an ex many years ago, that has gorgeous stained glass by another friend seems to have survived.

Then there was my toolbox. It was covered in mud and it smelled foul. If you've been in one of the  flooded houses, you know the smell. Salt water, mold, fungi, oil, sometimes sewage, and lord knows what else. It's in people's walls, and under their floors, and in all their belongings that got waterlogged. And it's in my toolbox. After spending the morning and much of the afternoon with my soup swap, cooking hot meals for donation, I finally got the courage to open it up. The tools were wet and rusty and muddy and stinky. I put newspaper all over the floor, and I used a combination of anti-bacterial wipes, steel wool, and old underwear to clean each little hand tool til it shined. I'll probably have to throw out those with wooden parts. I wouldn't have predicted that I would have found joy in this activity, but the truth is that with a few exceptions for favorite small tools (my awls and my 6 inch ruler) I had never paid such close attention to the construction (casting, joinery, tempering, etc) of these gems. But as I sat on the floor assessing if I could save each one—scrubbing and abrading and wiping—I started to think about the people who made the tools, and the love and attention they must have given in the creative process. And a little flicker of joy passed over me as I thought about the connection between those craftspeople and me, and as I wondered if they could possibly remember my particular tools for any particular reason.

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