Fridays Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South
I Tell You, It's the Heat
When you move down to the South, people will tell you it isn't the heat, it is the humidity that you have to learn to live with. Well, I have been down here in Florida for three years now, and I can handle the humidity, but it is the heat that can get to me.
Yesterday, I was down at the studio working and a native Floridian stopped by and said to me, "Quit! It is too hot to be working today." I had worked in the morning and went home at noon to take a shower and get into some clean clothes. I had just gotten the shop open again when this guy stopped by. I thought about it and took a "look/see" at thermometer. I knew it was in the 90's outside, but in my studio the temperature was right at a hundred.
I did stop right then, closed up the shop, and headed back home to sit in the AC and vegetate until my body cooled down. If you think about it, Florida had a low population until the average person could own a window air conditioner. To tell you the truth, I don't know how people drive down here without AC in their car.
Like I said, I have been down here three years, and I can tolerate the summers a lot better now, but when the mercury gets up there in the nineties, I start to shut down. Last night, Wanda said we should get to bed earlier, so that we could start work in the cool of the early morning. It was a good idea, and we did hit the hay earlier than usual, but we slept nine hours. Yes, I did get to the shop a little earlier, and it was a bit cooler than the day before, but I am going to have to get into the habit of starting about 6am if I want to get a good day in.
My shop faces west, and all morning I watch that shade line start moving toward my open roll up door. Some time about 12:45 or so the sun starts its way inside, and it is time to stop, do a quick clean up, and get out of there.
The North and the South are really exact opposites when it comes to weather. Back in Minnesota it was the winter months that were hard on me, and I had to wait for the sun to start coming in the studio window before I could start work. Up there, the sun signaled the start of my work day, and down here the sun signals the end of my work day.
The guy in the Studio next to me has been here for over 30 years, and he came here from Northern Minnesota, too. This week he moved down his high school sweet heart. Yes, Minnesota guys are not all that quick. Well, anyway, the point I was trying to make, is his girl friend is new to the South, and he is explaining to her about how important it is to hydrate. When I am working, I am constantly drinking water, and every day I add in a bottle of Gatorade. People tell me that when you stop sweating, you are already in trouble.
The bad thing about perspiring so much when you are a wood worker is that water raises the grain of the wood. So if you are finishing a piece and sweat rolls down your nose on to the wood, you have to quick wipe it off, and always resand that section. If you don't, you will be able to see and feel that spot, and it will be a real flaw.
My son Garrett, called me last week to tell me about a new sandpaper he had tried. He said it was called "Sandblaster," and was made my 3M. I said I would try it. I bought a few sheets at Lowes, and, while it was more expensive, it is great. Maybe it is the best new woodworking tool I have found in the last 15 years.
The sheets are the same size as any other sandpaper. The surface color is deep green. Everything else about it is different. It sands the wood faster. You can actually see the increased amount of sanding dust as you use it. It lasts longer. Each sheet lasted about five to six times longer than my old sandpaper. It lasts longer because the paper does not clog up with sanding dust.
It does cost a bit more, but not even twice as much, and like I said, right away you will see and feel the difference. It actually cuts sanding time down. The only bad thing about finding it is that I have about six or seven hundred sheets in various grits of the old sandpaper I'll have to use up.
That was my first product endorsement, for which I get nothing, except the pleasure of telling other woodworkers about something new for them to try that really works.
Wanda and I went out to eat with some friends last night. It was nice for us because there was only one other couple in the room, so it was nice and quiet for conversation. Also, with so few patrons the service was great. We find that a lot now. Lunch at a restaurant in Tallahassee used to be a mad house, and you had to eat early or late if you wanted to get your food fast. Now you can go any time to any place, and there is always room.
We don't eat out as much, and I guess most other people are cutting back, too. Come to think about it, it is that way everywhere. Lowes and Home Depot have fewer cars in their parking lots, and even the grocery store has fewer people in the checkout lines.
Down at Railroad Square where I have my studio, there was a foreign car repair business that had been there for 33 years. It closed this week. The guy said people are not putting money into their sports cars any more. They are parking them in a garage and waiting for the economy to turn around. The man said a few years ago he could have sold out, now nobody even wanted to see about buying his place.
The times, they are a changing.
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