Al Cashion: Perfectly confused |

Al Cashion: Perfectly confused

Al Cashion

Beads of H2O coolant materialize across my forehead as ordered by my hypothalamus after receiving reports from thermal sensors in the skin that the fat boy is exerting himself.

My hypothalamus could hibernate in the winter were it not for a little seven by nine wood shop where serenity and sanity dwell.

They’re a nice couple.

Serenity comes the moment I turn on the lights and pick up a tool standing over a nice piece of maple or oak in the bench vise. Sanity joins us when I plug my smart phone into my Bose and turn on my Pandora app.

Contemporary Folk, James Taylor and some Celtic entertain the Nice Couple, myself and my 1908 Stanley Bailey #5 Jack Plane as I finesse it across the oak and watch the paper thin shavings curl up through the plane and drop to the floor.

The sound of the unplugged tool is almost a “shuuush.” No competition to the Bose speaker as Mendelssohn brings a String Quintet or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young inspire me to “Carry On.”

And Swumbo wonders why I don’t like to go out in the evening or on weekends and why I loathe business trips.

The purpose of the labor spent and loss of body fluids is a cradle for the granddaughter soon coming. She is the third of her gender and number six of the herd.

In my mind is a vision of what I want to produce. The final product, its shape and curvature, the trajectory of an arc and the length of a limb will determine itself as I go.

Soon, I am lost in the beauty of the wood revealing its fluid shape and enjoying the heft and balance of tool in hand.

The end goal is to keep the baby’s butt from bouncing on the floor and allow Mama to rock the cute little squealer when necessary.

Regardless of time invested and the work revealing the inherent beauty in the wood, serviceable utility dictates the purpose for the plan. Pieces must join in certain and secure fashion. The tenon must fit the mortise and the mortise must fit the rail ends which must align with the headpiece…………

I frequently find myself with the horse looking at the back of the cart.

No matter how much of my novice talent I put into the piece, how much fulfillment I experience in the process, how efficiently and knowledgeably I work or how beautiful I imagine my granddaughter will look as she peacefully sleeps in it, if form precedes function, it is waste.

“A perfection of means, and a confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem” — Einstein.

Have you noticed the expertise, the finesse, the exactitude, the speed, the precision, the excellence and the perfection in which our society can function? Like a well sharpened tool in the hand, it’s a beautiful form.

The sciences, language, arts and humanities have been broken down into infinitesimal, seemingly indivisible units of study only to be divided again and mysteries solved that others may arise.

The expanse of knowledge is good form. Good enough?

Political theory, voter sciences, poll tracking, result interpretation theory and sub unit theories, migration analyses of specific voter demographic groups, sub groups and interaction with the new homogenous or heterogeneous communities as interrelated to the fluctuations in the predictive models of the Pork Belly futures.


“To win.”


“To Win! Geeesshh.”

Unlimited hours robbed from his family and from himself in the study of markets and investments.

“It’s important.”


“Financial security.”


“So we have enough.”

“Enough what?”

“Enough money.”


“Because you have to have enough money to be secure!! That’s Why!”


The conversation ends as he stomps off angrily from his inquisitor, only to drive home to discover a note on his brides tear soaked pillow saying that she has no security or hope anymore, and she’s sorry but she’s lonely and dying inside and “the kids don’t even know their father anymore” and she’s going back to her folks in Ohio.

He’s baffled and amazed.

“Her folks hardly have a dime. Why would she …?”

Form over function. Cart before horse.

The mortise is perfect, the tenon exact, the rails are lovely but mortise will not hold tenon nor will rail fit head piece.

The baby can fall. The knowledge can fall. The Nation can fall.

A perfection of means, a confusion of aims.

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