Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - January 29, 2016


"Measure twice, but cut once"

One day last summer, husband Art and I drove the 20 miles from our Wisconsin cottage to a home improvement store to pick up some seven-foot 2 x 4s to build a closet in one of the bedrooms. Art had built a similar one the previous year in another bedroom and had used his Cadillac to transport the wood. It has an opening between the trunk and the back seat, allowing him to thread the long pieces through.

But when we opened the trunk at the store to load the lumber, the opening had vanished!

Well, not exactly. This past summer we took my Cadillac. It is a different year and so a different rear seat arrangement ... one with no opening.

As chance would have it, Art's relative Bob was to meet us for supper that evening. Art knew Bob would be driving his pickup, so he called him and offered to buy him supper if he would first come by the store.

Art recently reflected on this story because of what happened during our lunch last Wednesday with a friend. The little slip of paper from Dave's fortune cookie read: "Measure your cloth ten times, you can cut it but once." I had always heard "measure twice, cut once," but I guess 10 times means you can be really sure you're doing it correctly.

I thought about daughter Mariya who has been working on small home improvement projects lately. A woodworking class she took in high school has served her well.

She recently texted a picture of her large-TV mount project, adding that she was exhausted after she was done.

Since there was only a half inch of room between the edge of the TV and the alcove I wanted it in, and the fact that the studs weren't in the best place to attach the mount to, the process of mounting my TV was very in-depth. It took six hours of measuring, drilling, placing and nervousness that it would all come tumbling down, but I finally got it done to perfection.

The "exhausted" part came from worrying she'd make a mistake and all the time spent repeatedly measuring.

The first time daughter Katie made pfeffernuss cookies using her Grandma Vaughan's recipe, she was partway into making them when she realized she needed a sifter. She asked to borrow mine. Then she discovered how difficult it was to cream the lard by hand. That prompted a request for my mixer. She didn't have measuring cups for dry ingredients, so she asked the "S" voice on her smart phone how many cups were in eight ounces. The response was "one cup." Katie then used an eight-ounce plastic cream cheese container to measure the flour. When she mixed the spices together, she forgot whether she had added salt, so she had to dump that batch and start again. That left her a bit short on anise.

But she learned!

When I was younger, I wouldn't measure or check things out very carefully when working on craft projects and I always got so frustrated when things didn't work out. Now I try to be careful when I'm working on projects to make sure I have all the materials, tools, etc. that I need to be successful.

That showed up in her more recent projects.

When I made the "Star Wars" pillows for Mariya for Christmas, I made sure the pillows were the size I wanted them to be and double checked that the lines were straight and clean.

My Halloween costumes for the last few years have involved crafting:

- My "Star Trek" costume involved sewing three stripes on both sleeves to denote a captain's rank and I had to change the symbol in the left corner to denote a captain. I used Netflix episodes and Google to double check that the materials and designs I was using were accurate.

- My Maleficent costume required at least a couple hours of research on what her headdress and costume looked like and finding tutorials on how to make the headdress and then purchasing the right materials. As I made the costume, I would constantly double check that what I was doing was accurate to the movie.

Curious, I asked Google the origin of the expression "measure twice, but cut once." One site, www.bookbrowse.com, said an early reference to the adage appeared in John Florio's Second Frutes in 1591: "alwaies measure manie, before you cut anie."

Another site, www.oxfordreference.com, said the saying was a Russian proverb that translated as "measure seven times, cut once."

But while I was researching the origin of the expression, Art thought of another example where checking twice would have saved some work. When his brother worked for the telephone company, one of the installer repairmen told him about the strangest experience he ever had. The customer wanted a wall phone on a short wall that jutted out from an outside wall. To avoid damaging the wall when he made the hole for the wire, he would drill it from the basement.

Because walls and floors can sometimes be thick, the standard drill bit was two-feet long. He measured upstairs from the outside wall and then went into the basement to drill the hole. But after six inches of the bit had disappeared into the flooring, there was no sign of it upstairs. This was repeated several times until all 24 inches of the bit was in the floor, but nothing could be seen upstairs.

Puzzled, he happened to look outside and noticed the house had an overhang. By measuring from the basement wall, the bit would have come through the floor farther into the room by the amount of the overhang - which put it very near the grand piano. He carefully removed the bit from the floor, re-measured and drilled again ... and never told the customer about the hole in the inside of the piano leg!


Left-top: Mariya's television mount; left-bottom: the TV supported by the mount; right: Katie also spent a lot of time on a Halloween Catwoman costume. Here she is with boyfriend Matt as The Joker.



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