The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Thus spake the Scots poet Robert Burns.
And that pretty much sums up my last three weeks. I had big plans. Clean up the shop after a miserable winter. Start completing projects that have been laying around, uncompleted, for far too long. I had schemes a’plenty to fill up the month of April. It started well enough. I had finished a sternboard for my friends’ sailboat and my passion for woodworking was renewed.
My daughter, son-in-law and our two little grandchildren came to visit for a few days over their Easter Break. But living two hundred miles away and attending nursery school means that the little darlings are exposed to a completely different “germ pool” than “the old folks at home”. It’s impossible to forgo close contact with the “babies”. I mean, they’re the future. Their laughter and shenanigans filled the house. And what grandparent, worth their salt, would think twice about runny noses and a little coughing.
The Missus and I began coughing and sputtering as we waved goodbye to our children and grandchildren. My wife, God Bless her, is living proof that women are stronger than men. She managed to keep her ailment to what appeared to be a severe seasonal “cold”. I, on the other hand, had a completely different experience. I started coughing. I mean coughing constantly, constantly and hard, really hard. Then the first course of antibiotics. Then the second course of antibiotics. Then the chest x-ray. Then the diagnosis, pneumonia.
I had deluded myself in the past, thinking that I had had pneumonia. You know, the atypical kind that we are fond of referring to as “walking pneumonia”. Well, I now know that the two conditions are far, far different. I, quite literally, spent the better part of ten days in bed. I couldn’t have imagined how weak I could be. Believe me, you don’t want pneumonia!
So why am I writing about this in a woodworking blog? Simply this. If you’ve been engaged in woodworking for any length of time, your lungs have been exposed to some “bad actors”. Even those of us who are hand woodworkers, who preen and puff out our chests and say that we make shavings not dust, are still exposed to those same “bad actors”. So, even if you’ve never been a smoker (and, truth be told, I don’t know many woodworkers over fifty who haven’t been), give a second thought to the use of dust masks and other protective gear.
I still remember my grandfather saying, “well now, God only gave you two eyes, so you better have a care for ’em”. I also remember him saying, “bejasus, if I knew I was going to live this long, I woulda taken better care of myself.” I’m here to remind you that you’ve only got two lungs. They’re pretty important.