(9) A Breakfast Conversation and An Amateur Carpenter


(photo by Lee Ka-sing)


(9) A Breakfast Conversation and An Amateur Carpenter

"They are saying food in Japan have gone so wildly mutated that a new classification of food should enter the 21st century encyclopedia. Look at this one, a fish with beak of a bird!" exclaims Mr. Bento. It is breakfast time and both Mr. and Mrs. Bento are having their standard coffee and toast. Mrs. Bento leans over to her husband's iPhone and finds a frog with one leg; a strawberry that repeated itself four times taking the shape of a flower; a giant tomato, belching out numerous size and different colour offshoots from its belly, begins to look like the Arcimboldo vegetable man. What strange, beautiful and dangerous hybrid offsprings from that recent Fuhushima nuclear disaster! Oh Japan! Mrs. Bento instantly gets a flash back of huge square water melons - a picture taken in a Japanese laboratory years ago. "Weird science," she murmurs. She also recalls a photograph taken by a friend in the nineties. Her friend called it "Tomapple" - she meant it sort of a GM, genetically modified apple and tomato. Even before the millennium Mrs. Bento had no problem in relating to the term GM. What is the term now for a pear grown in nuclear soil? Thanks to her daughter Ginger, with the knowledge gathered from curling up in sofa with her and the cat Cigar night after night, watching every sci-fi series they can find on Netflix, she comes to know the term for altered human - the mutants.

Mr. Bento is not that interested in TV. He never watches anything just for the sake of pure entertainment. He'd rather build himself a sturdy wooden table bookstand, so he can flip some jumbo picture books, say, The Complete Paintings and Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, Human Footprint: Human activity in Satellite images, or Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of York, which is a reprint of the maps of Toronto around 1878. He began doing some basic woodwork after moving to Toronto. It was always hard and expensive to find qualified handymen for even the simplest wood job, let alone plumbing, electrical or roof-top maintenance. Out of necessity Mr. Bento started from building book shelves, shelf supports, and soon upgraded his skills to tables, and recently he'd just built a bed frame - a tailor-made bed frame with enough height underneath to accommodate boxes of odds and ends he shipped from Hong Kong. If you have the right mind and time, ask him about some basic know-hows to doing good carpentry. He would muse on the question for a little while, and give you several good points.

• Tools tools tools. There are a lot of good tools available for doing woodwork in North America. So get the right tools for the right job.
• Know the kind of wood you are working with. There are different kinds of wood, soft/hard, cheap/expensive, grain/no grain.
• Basic scheme and structure for what you are building, for example, a 2 section shelving unit.
• The importance of finding supporting points (he remembers once he built a book shelf that's fat-belly)
• Don't ignore the details. A little enhancement made to support the structure will secure the finished piece a lot.
• Experience. Practice does not always make perfect. But it will improve your skill and proficiency. The quality of the new piece will always supersede the previous one.
• Never refuse a good friend to help him build a nice table bookstand for reading. Help him improve his body posture and soul trip by reading more books standing.