Yesterday was eventful. Eeee-vent-FULL. In no particular order of importance (except for the first thing): my husband was home sick from work; I successfully executed an idea I had in my head for a technique I’d never tried or heard of anyone else trying (more on that as I continue to experiment); I sold a necklace to a friend for his wife and made more than enough than cover the cost of my new worktables; two friends church unselfishly gave up an evening at home to drive out to Bulverde and help me get said tables (very heavy tables) home and upstairs to my studio…
… and they cut up a fallen tree to bring me home a stump.
Yes, a stump. For me. It’s in my garage.
Now, you may be asking yourself why on earth I would have agreed to let them bring a stump home for me, let alone why I would have described this – with some excitement – as an eventful development. If you are a jeweler – or, more particularly, a metalworking jeweler – you’ve already figured it out and may even be a little jealous. (Don’t be hatin’.) If you’re not, here’s the deal: stumps are highly coveted in the world of metalworking for placing anvils and other poundy-things on. The wood helps to absorb the blows, reducing noise without minimizing the effect of them on the metal being hammered. Especially coveted are oak stumps, which are solid hardwood and nearly indestructible. They are also absurdly heavy. (Can you guess what kind of stump I have in my garage? Mwahahahaha!)
The story goes like this: Saturday, I was at Wired Designs Studio for my first outing as a teaching assistant to Gail Stouffer. While we were there, one of the students mentioned that the previous day, someone had come in to let everyone know about some old school science lab tables she had available for sale. Lab tables, as you may know, are specially constructed to take a beating since they are exposed to heat and liquids (especially acids) and rampaging teenagers. The deal was really amazingly good, so I called the seller and asked her to hold two for me. Then I put the word out on Facebook that I needed a couple of strong guys with a truck to help me get them home – my husband is a dear, dear man and would do anything for me, but has two bad knees and a damaged Achilles tendon, so with my own physical limitations getting two 80+ pound tables into my car and up the stairs to my studio was an impossibility on our own.
I had two volunteers within six hours of putting out the call. Guys from my church. I totally love my church family.
So last night, we all drove up to Bulverde to get the tables. They were totally worth the drive.
My friends Ross and Jason came with a truck a few minutes after I arrived at the seller’s home. She wasn’t there but her husband John was, and he and I stood out by the tables and chatted while we waited. One thing led to another and we started talking shop – he mentioned that he makes forged knives as a hobby, and pretty soon we were talking about banging on things. He had a huge tree down in his front yard, and I mentioned I’d been looking for a stump for my studio for a while. He said I was welcome to look at that tree if I was interested.
So after Ross and Jason loaded up the tables in Ross’ truck, we all walked out to the tree to take a look. Ross happens to be a certified arborist, so he knows a thing or two about trees – and, as it turned out, this particular tree wasn’t a good candidate. Lots of trunk rot and hollow spaces. Then John says, “I’ve got a huge limb down off a 100 year old oak in the back forty – it’s even bigger than this. You’re welcome to take a look.”
Now, I was already feeling like I was taking advantage of Ross and Jason, and I didn’t want to hold them up. But Ross says, “Yeah, let’s go look. Oak would be good! Too bad I didn’t bring my saws, or we could take it home with us on this trip.”
And John says, “I have a chainsaw you can borrow.”
Next thing I know, we’re out in the woods looking at a massive downed tree limb. It’s completely perfect. And then we’re back at John’s shop, where he pulls out the chain saw and fills it up, and Ross adds some oil, and then we’re all hiking back out to the woods and looking at the tree limb again. Well, except for John, who’s hooking up a trailer to his four-wheeler so we can get this massive thing back to the house… and the truck. And I start saying, “Guys, this is so far above and beyond the call of duty, we really don’t need to do this now. Really.” And Ross is saying, “It’s no trouble. I do this all the time.”
So even though it was starting to get dark, and even though we hadn’t planned for this at all, and even though I was starting to feel more and more like a selfish heel at every passing moment, Ross starts cutting parts off the tree limb so he can get to the part we want. (Blurry photo – sorry.)
And it got darker.
And John shows up with the four wheeler and turns it around so its headlights shine on the tree limb so Ross could finish cutting it.
And then all the guys get stung by ground wasps.
I’m not kidding. More than once. I didn’t get stung because I was standing out of the way of the whole enterprise – no one wants a physically limited, overweight 50-year-old woman “helping” with something like this.
So very hurriedly, the three guys muscle the wood onto the trailer and beat feet out of wasp range. Well, John rides the four-wheeler out at the best speed possible when it’s dark and you’re dragging a trailer with a 400 pound piece of wood on it. And no, I’m still not kidding – Ross (who’s an arborist, remember) says that thing is absolutely over 300 pounds and probably over 400.
I had no idea. Now I really feel terrible.
So Ross and Jason take the tables back out of Ross’ truck and jig-saw-puzzle-fit them into the back of my Envoy so they could make room in the truck for the massive piece of wood. Then John backs the trailer up and Ross backs the truck up, and the tailgate/ramp of the trailer goes down into the bed of Ross’ truck, and the three of them muscle the wood up the ramp, talking the whole time about expanded metal supports and how it’s a good thing the trailer has them, and blah blah testosterone manly tools trailer blah blah stuff that goes right over my head. Then suddenly we’re all standing around and it’s done, and I have a huge lump in my throat because, oh my gosh there’s a STUMP in the back of that truck, a stump I have wanted for a long time, and it’s mine and these guys, one of whom I DON’T EVEN KNOW, just practically killed themselves in the heat and the dark and OMG the WASPS to get it for me. And I shake John’s hand and I say, “I cannot thank you enough, you just will never know what a gift this is, thank you, thank you.” And John’s all, “Aw, tw’arnt nuthin’.” (Not exactly, but it was close. Very cool about the whole thing.)
So I get in my car and Ross and Jason get into Ross’ truck and we head back to my house, where they tumble the stump out of the truck and into my garage so it can dry out. And Ross says, “I’ll be back in a few weeks with my crew, and we’ll cut it level (I have tools for that) and get it trucked upstairs to your studio.” And I said, “Oh my gosh, thank you so much, I can’t even tell you how much this means to me!” And Ross is all, “Aw, tw’arnt nuthin’.”
And then they carry these heavy tables upstairs (which, by comparison to the stump, are a bag of feathers) and suck down several gallons of water each, and then we’re standing at my door and it’s 9:30 at night and they’ve missed a whole evening with their families, and I just can’t think of any words which are sufficient to tell them how deeply grateful I am for all of this, and I’m babbling about cooking them dinner and bringing their kids over to swim in the pool and just anything to let them know what this has meant to me. And they’re all, “Aw, tw’arnt nuthin’.” So they say they’ll talk to their wives and get a date that works and they’ll let me cook dinner for them and their families. And I walk out with them because I have to move my car, and at the last minute I remember that I promised to pay for their gas so I run out to catch them before they leave… and they won’t take my money. Like, really, will. not. take. the. gas. money.
And they drive away. And I’m crying because it’s just all too wonderful and selfless and really, who gets this emotional about a stump, for heaven’s sake??
But as pretty as that stump is (and it really is gorgeous), it’s not about the stump. It’s about the selfless kindness of these men, and their willingness to just do – whatever needs to be done. And not even needs – this wasn’t a need – just out of friendship and fellowship. There was simply nothing in this for any of these guys – nothing. They did it out of kindness.
Sometimes the sheer beauty of the Spirit shining through God’s people is almost too much to look at. It’s so bright, and clear, and illuminating – and healing.
And first thing when I got up this morning, I went out to look at my stump. My beautiful, beautiful stump.