It all began with Mikey, who suffered a fall that left him paralyzed from his chest down and drastically altered his active lifestyle. He is an electrician who enjoyed many outdoor activities before the accident. Mikey sees the glass as half-full and never half-empty. He dwells on things that he can accomplish and not his diminished physical abilities. After Mike recovered and adjusted his lifestyle to fit his circumstances, he disclosed a desire to learn basic woodworking skills.
He and I began meeting in my workshop once or twice a week to ground him in the basic milling and wood joining techniques. He developed the skills quickly and we were progressing to more complex projects when, during one fateful session, Mikey asked about the mini-lathe in the shop. He expressed a desire to try woodturning. We mounted the lathe at his comfortable working level and I taught him everything that I know about turning.
It became apparent that Mikey was destined to be a wood turner and needed more advanced instruction and advice than I could provide. We invited two accomplished turners, Jimmy and Tom, to join our Tuesday sessions in the shop.
From that early beginning, the program rapidly expanded. Mikey’s turning skills increased and he acquired a more powerful lathe with a larger capacity to facilitate his progression toward larger bowls and segmented pieces. More woodworkers began showing up to share their knowledge and demonstrate their skills. Over a period of two years Turning Tuesday evolved into a social gathering as well as a woodworking skill share.
Currently, twelve to fifteen friends, on average, visit the shop on Tuesday. Realizing that most of us are fortunate to be retired and may be considered codgers, we began referring to the shop as Codger Lodge and our gathering as Turning Tuesday.
Mikey is an inspiration to us all. He accepts his paralysis without complaints and he is relentless in perusing his goals. He has surmounted all obstacles and become an accomplished turner in his own right. Mikey’s lathe is his passion and “Flat work” woodworking has gone by the wayside. The pattern routed hand-mirror project that we were working on before he was attracted to the mini-lathe is still stored in the shop, waiting to be completed.
The poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, never met Mikey; however, she must have known someone like him to inspire this work.
The Winds of Fate
One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.
Like the winds of the seas are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through the life:
Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.