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A carpenters square sitting in a dumb waiter cab

My carpenter’s square sitting in my dumb waiter awaiting the ride from the garage where my shop will be to the upstairs where the library is.

For years I have worried about skewering myself, or someone else, with my construction squares. I recently discovered that I can send my square up and down the levels of my house in the dumb waiter. It is a relief to me not to try to keep my balance and carry the thing at the same times. Even though I have never had a really big one, any square is a big deal since it takes a lot to square the world.

After the hammer, I think my next tool introduction was to a square. It was magic. My Dad’s father who was a contractor showed me the magic of a square. I remember being taken up in rapture by the fact that I could go all around the place with it and line things up. Every corner in the house was fodder for a toddler with a contractor’s square. Maybe that is when I developed my worry about whacking something or someone with the square. As I look back the square I was lugging around was about the same size as I.

When I was working on the cabinets for the kitchen in this house I used my square a lot. I also discovered that it is not possible to get something on square if the edge is not straight. I marked cuts on cabinet fronts over and over and never got them exactly right. I am still glad I backed up and did not cut even though the measurements said things were straight and lined up. From those cabinet door fronts I learned in a simple way what I knew to be true.

Sometimes the world is not square.Of course,

I knew that all along but one tends to forget, or ignore, things that don’t quite square up. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it is not. When we notice every thing that is not square in our world all we see is imperfection. Living all the time in an imperfect world hardens us to finding beauty in perfection or imperfection. The mind’s ability to smooth details and fill in missing information to create a cohesive whole from sensory input is a true gift.

If we had to consciously examine each detail of each thing we perceived, each and every time we perceived it we would have no time left for the joy of simplicity. Sometimes it is right to examine every detail and know that something is not square. The world can be a harsh place and somethings things that are usual should not be. It is right and true when someone sees that for what it is. I don’t need to carry my carpenter’s square with me like I did when I was a child.

Losing our home to wildfire and our almost two year journey back home has taught us about things that are square and things that are not. What it has taught us is to rejoice when things are square and not to give up hope when they are not.