by Steven D. Johnson
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"Wood Is A Pleasant Thing To Think About"
Hours and hours of solitary work on the "unhandy" house provided me a rare opportunity to delve
deeply into my music collection...albums I have not listened to for years. Patricia Barber's "Café
Blue" album is one I had nearly forgotten. She is a bit hard to classify in a genre. My iPod dumps
her albums into the "Jazz" category, but "Blues" would be accurate, too. Perhaps attempts at
classification are unfair for someone of such immense and diverse talent. Her song "Wood" from her
breakout "Café Blue" CD is an example. Borrowing from the prose of Virginia Woolf ("Thus, waking
from a midnight dream of horror, one hastily turns on the light and lies quiescent, worshipping the
chest of drawers, worshipping solidity, worshipping reality, worshipping the impersonal world which
is proof of some existence other than ours. That is what one wants to be sure of. Wood is a
pleasant thing to think about."), Barber wrote a 57-second song restricting herself to a rhythm of
eighth notes for all four of the vocal parts (all of which she sang in different tracks) as an
example of minimalism in song structure.
I suspect if Ms. Barber were to design a piece of furniture, it would be solid and simple, but
with an underlying complexity that would assure its endearment to all who "lie quiescent" and admire
it, for generations to come...much like her music.
If you ever bemoan the comparison of your careful and loving craftsmanship to the mass-produced,
corner-cut, mechanically-fastened pabulum served up by most furniture stores, remember that someday,
someone is likely to awake in the middle of the night and lie quiescent, worshipping the solidity
and reality of your work.
Cleaving to Homonyms
A number of readers resolved my search to find a true homonym with exact opposite meanings (see
The Code" in the April Wood News Online) with a word that even has woodworking
connotations. The word cleave can mean to divide or to adhere, to split or to join, so I will now
merrily close the book on this quest knowing that I can cleave a log, then cleave the pieces into a
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