Time Well Spent

As I sat there, serving as a Shop Assistant, for Mary May last week, I realized I really wasn’t needed. I was a broom and a key to lock up the building after class. But you know what? I didn’t mind at all. My three days were time well spent.

I enjoyed the time. While I wasn’t a student, I still learned a few things. I was able to spend time with one of the best woodcarvers around. And I spent time with friends and acquaintances from the Kansas City woodworking community. So, all in all, a good time was had.

I was also afforded some time to breath and reflect. I haven’t written a whole lot in the last year, so this was time spent letting the words come to me. Since this was a hand tool only class and the shop was closed, it was a place of quiet retrospective.

The whole experience seemed to rejuvenate my spirit and helped me clear my mind of clutter. This has allowed me the ability to put words to paper and enjoy the process again. It’s also given me the opportunity to think out my projects and where to go next. I recently finished a Pencil Post bed that I started more than a decade ago. Talk about procrastination! I have one more project to finish, that I started long ago. I’ll write more on it at a later time. I also have five antique refinishing projects to complete. Or should I say four refinishing and one total restoration. But the good thing is I’ve been able to map out where I’m going with these projects. So stay tuned.

I’ve also given some thought to teaching again. While I regularly help out with the Basic and Intermediate Woodworking classes at the Guild, I’ve thought about teaching a workbench class again. The worst part of this class is stock prep. Prepping several hundred board feet of 8/4 Ash takes a lot out of me but is necessary for this class. I’m also giving some thought to a six board blanket chest class. I’ve taught it once before and it seemed to go over fairly good. It’s an easier class that’s done in a weekend.

But time will tell where things go from here. The options are there for the choosing. Isn’t that the beauty of it all? Till next time.


PS: I’m not in the photo because I took the photo.

I’m going to be a Viral Sensation! (Yeah, well…Probably Not)


This last week I took the first step in my post retirement life.  I took part in a video podcast, presented by the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild, as its host.  Our first episode is in the books and if I do say so myself, it went okay.  I’m not a professional by any means, but I thought I handled my duties well. 

While I don’t expect many views outside of our region of the Midwest, I do intend to do my best to promote the Guild and its many attributes.  My first guest was current Guild President, Craig Arnold.  Since it’s an interview format, we learned some things about Craig’s woodworking background.  Things like his Aunt tossing his grandfather’s full set of wooden molding planes in the trash after he passed.  A full set of hollows & rounds gone in a heart beat.  Definitely a tragic lost.

My producer, Chris McCauley and I are still getting our routine figured out.  We intend to be a bimonthly podcast, at least at first.  Father’s Day and the 4th of July have kind of interrupted our schedule.  But we’ll be back on schedule after that.  My next guest will be the Guild’s Training Director, Norm Carpenter.  Norm will give us insight into what it’s like putting together the busy training schedule at the Guild.  After that we’ll be talking to various members and doing our best to promote the woodworking community in Kansas City.

This week, I’ve been serving as a shop assistant for master woodcarver, Mary May.  Her class had originally been scheduled for May, 2020.  I can honestly say, I wish I had actually been able to take this class.  Mary is such a talent and is very charming and personable.  She has been very attentive to all 12 of the students and is a quality teacher and person.  If you get a chance to take her class, take it!  You won’t be sorry.


Happy Fathers’ Day

As Fathers’ Day 2021 has arrived, I think back to my own father and many father figures I’ve had in my life. My father passed away from lung cancer 26 years ago. It was a difficult day for me, but I soldiered through. I was now the eldest male in my family. My Dad was an only child so it was always impressed on me that I was the last to carry on the family name. I lot to put on a kid, but none the less, that’s not what we’re talking about today.

My Dad was a part of the post WWII migration from the rural to the urban setting in search of jobs. But he kept close ties to that rural upbringing and made sure we knew to respect it. He also taught me a strong work effort. That any job worth doing is worth doing right. For that I will always be grateful. Maybe the best lesson was about working to provide for your family. He worked long hours and, thru the years, two jobs to make sure my Mom, my sister, and I were fed and sheltered. For this I will always love him.

My Grandfathers were both farmers. We spent time with them as often as possible while growing up. They were still very different persons. My Grandpa Crouch, my mother’s dad, was a veteran of WWI and had fathered 7 children, 2 daughters and 5 sons. One son died at 1 year old, another from scarlet fever at 13, and a daughter as a young adult. So life had been tough for him. But he loved his grandchildren, all 8 of us.

My Grandpa Thomas was a little bit younger than than my other grandpa. He always said he was too young for WWI and too old for WWII. He was a God-fearing man who worked hard every day and would rest on Sunday. When we would visit he made sure my sister and I had a good time and learned what being a small farmer was all about. He would always find time to go fishing with us.

I’ve had several father figures throughout my life, my uncles Ray, Joe, and Francis. My great uncles Delmar and Dan, and two fathers-in-laws. These men were all a positive influence in my life, though some never knew it. They were all good men and are now all gone.

I have two sons and numerous nephews, my wife has a big family, that I include in this post. I wish them all a very Happy Fathers’ Day. And to all the rest of you, Happy Fathers Day.


Old Dogs & Old People

A new addition to my morning ritual is a nebulizer breathing treatment. Recently, while doing this treatment, I began reading Old Dogs are the best dogs by Gene Weingarten with photographs by Michael S Williamson. Since I currently have an old dog, or should I say, she has me, I thought it would be a good read to pass the 15 to 20 minutes during my treatment. It’s a simple book, a full page black and white portrait of a dog and a couple of paragraphs about each dog’s story. The more I read, the more I identify with the dogs and their humans.

Our beloved dog, Holly, has entered that old dog territory. It seems as if she has aged five years in the last five months. While she has never been the most active dog, she has been a great companion. As a shelter dog, she came to us a little bit reserved and as time went by, a little bit needy for affection and contact. There are so many questions about her story we wish we had the answers to. For example, when we got her from the shelter, the shelter chipped her. While scanning to make sure the chip was properly placed, they found a second chip. So naturally they had to investigate before the adoption could be finalized. As it turns out, the chip was made by a company in the United Kingdom and we were told all dogs in the UK are required to be chipped. Unfortunately, they are not required to have owner information attached to the chip. So we know that she has done some traveling at some point in her life.

Unfortunately, Holly’s latest issue is a malady called SARDs, Sudden Acute Retinal Deterioration. She became blind almost overnight. It has been very hard to watch the changes to her. The high points of her day are now her morning and evening meals. The rest of the time she just lays there. She is showing obvious signs of depression, who wouldn’t be. We have to control her movements otherwise she runs into walls, furniture, etc. She no longer wants to go on walks or spend time with me in the shop. There is no treatment, so all we can do is keep her safe. It is a very sad situation.

While dealing with my own health issues, as a now retired individual, this has been a little harder to deal with. Our pets become a part of our family and when things happen like this, it’s difficult to deal with. I can’t give up on her. She’s been a loyal dog for the 8 years we’ve had her. So, I’ll do my best to keep her safe, comfortable, and love her. After all, it is what we always hope for in life, to be safe, comfortable, and loved.

Till next time.


Inspired by Honor & Service

I haven’t written in a few months so you’d think I’ve been busy in the shop. I only wish that had been the case. In between illness and brutally cold temperatures, I’ve been suffering from the classic writer’s block. I wanted to write, I just couldn’t find the words to put onto the page. That was until this morning when I watched an inspiring PBS show, Craft in America. The title of this episode was “Service”. It dealt with the crafts of several veterans. There was a Marine veteran, of Desert Storm, and a Army veteran double-amputee, of the Iraq War, that made some outstanding pottery and ceramic pieces. There was a lady who made paper out of female veterans’ uniforms. This paper was then used to make a book of the individual’s story along with a paper doll of the veteran. It was truly an interesting way to share their story. But I think the best story was the last one. It told the story of the soldier whose job it is to repair and make new pieces of tack for the horses that pull the caisson that holds the flag-draped casket, of a veteran being interned at Arlington National Cemetery. Every piece had to be perfect both in appearance and for the comfort of the magnificent horses.

 While Memorial Day is still 3 months away, I was struck by the gifts these veterans had bestowed on us. Not just their outstanding crafts, but their service and sacrifices that entailed. These men and women are truly the reason we remain a great nation, even with all of our faults. Freedom truly isn’t free. There is a cost and we need to remember it, ALWAYS.

While I never served, I was raised in a family that served and respected those who did. My maternal grandfather was a veteran of World War One. As he told me, he was a “Doughboy”. My father, father-in-law, and 4 uncles served in World War Two, 1 uncle in the Korean War, a brother-in-law that served in Vietnam and 3 nephews who served in peacetime. Of those in the family that went to war, no one really wanted to talk about their time there. One of my uncles served as a medic, on D-Day, at Omaha beach. The only thing he ever told me was that it wasn’t safe to being wearing that big, Red Cross on your helmet. It just gave the enemy something to aim at.

My family was from a small, rural community, in Central Missouri. I would often spend time in the summer there with my grandparents, on their farm. It was these times that I would accompany my grandfather as we prepared the small community cemetery, where my ancestors were buried, for Memorial Day or as he called it Decoration Day. We would walk the grounds with a large bundle of small, American flags. We would put one at the grave of each veteran. My grandfather knew where every flag went, even the ones that the markers were so old they were unreadable. I miss that time spent with my grandfather. I carried on the putting out of the flags for many years after my grandfather passed away. A few years back I finally made a list of the veterans buried in that small, rural cemetery and passed in on to the current caretakers. In that small place are veterans of the Blackhawk wars, the US Civil Wars, the Spanish-American Wars, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s amazing that such a small community provided so many heroes.

So I close this post with a request: No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on. Please remember to thank a veteran for giving you that right. Because the alternative isn’t freedom, it’s tyranny. Thanks for the opportunity to speak my piece.


Staying Busy


By the time this post makes it to the internet, it will be July 4th, 2020. The year that has been a dumpster fire from near the start and doesn’t look any better in the near future. This has been the year of No March Madness. In its place was Quarantine Madness. It has been down hill from there. I’ve tried not to make this blog a political one. All I’m going to say is a line from a song from the 1970’s, “Come on, people now, Smile on your brother, everybody get together, Try to love one another right now.” Yes, that is a line from the ’ song, Get Together. I love music from the 70’s. It’s the best music, and it is my music. And let’s face it the words are as true now as they were then.

I have to admit that I’ve been pretty good about quarantining. Mostly because my wife won’t let me do anything outside of home other than what is absolutely necessary. My trips out have been limited to about four short trips to the neighborhood hardware store and four trips to the doctors’ office, including outpatient surgery. So, I’m starving for some human interaction and conversation. Don’t get me wrong. I love my wife, but I would love to have a conversation about the merits of one dovetailing technique or another. YouTube can only go so far. My wife thinks I’m losing it when I start talking back to Stumpy Nubs on my computer. But since I fall into the high risk group due to age and a preexisting condition, I’ll have to stick it out.

I have been able to get some things accomplished in the shop. Organization has been the big deal. Since March I’ve put up part of one wall of insulation, hung cabinets on that wall, built a charging station for my cordless drills, built a stand for my Hollow Chisel Mortiser, built a scrap bin, hung a lumber storage rack, built a cabinet for under the wing of my table saw, and I’m getting ready to start on a miter saw station. So I’ve been busy with shop projects. I’ve also refinished two antiques that were of some import to our family. This first was my late mother-in-law’s Singer Treadle Sewing Machine. My wife is quite happy with it and it has been placed in a spot of great visibility in our living room. The other antique was a side table that my mother had rescued from a dirt-floored outbuilding, at my grandparents’ farm 30 plus years ago. Of course, I covered it in the last post.

SingerMoms Table

I still have enough antique refinishing projects to keep me busy for a while. Let’s see, there’s a Gentlemen’s Dresser, a Jelly Cupboard, a Pie Safe, a Craftsman Rocker, and a Craftsman Settee. The Pie Safe, the Rocker, and the Settee are all stripped and ready for sanding and new finish. The dresser is partially stripped and in need of much TLC. And last but not least the Jelly Cupboard needs a lot of TLC. It was rescued from that same outbuilding that my mom’s side table came from. It is going to need some replacement parts made, so I’m saving it for last so it can have my full attention. The only other project left to finish up is my granddaughter’s Pencil Post bed. I took a break from it due to an imagined error that I made. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that it was not an error. But the break did me some good anyway.

So I’m going to wrap this all up. I hope you are able to enjoy the fourth of July as best as you can. Just remember to be safe. This holiday is all about our freedom and what good is that if you’re not healthy. So wear your mask, give your friends and family one of those virtual 6 foot away hugs. Before you know it baseball will be back in some form and all will be right with the world again. Till next time.



I borrowed this title from a 1980 Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor movie because it seemed appropriate. That movie is about two guys that get sent to prison for something they didn’t do, Much like the rest of us (Insert Laugh Track here). But where that movie was filled with real humor, much of what we are dealing with does not. I have been confined to home since March 24th. The furthest I’ve ventured out was to take a walk around the block with my wife, Vickie, and my dog, Holly. Of course, we were careful to keep our socially acceptable distance from neighbors we would encounter. The rest of my time has been spent either in my shop, my small corner of the basement, or in my easy chair watching various stuff on the TV.

Originally, the “Stay at Home” order for Kansas City was to end today, April 24th. But it has since been stretched out to May 15th for Kansas City and May 3rd for the whole State of Missouri. Since I live and work within the city limits, I’ll be here at home till at least the May 15th date. So I’ll be making the most of my time, hopefully, in the shop.

I’ve been working on bringing some order back to my shop. I’ve been rearranging things and putting up cabinets, just trying to get it usable again. While I plan to build some other cabinets for a miter saw/hollow chisel mortiser station, I’ve had to put that on hold due to a lack of the necessary plywood for the build. So my miter saw will remain on its foldable stand and I’ll build a small stand for my mortiser out of some construction lumber I have on hand. Then hopefully, I can get back to building again.

Another thing I’ve been doing is catching up on some YouTube videos.  I’ve really been impressed with some of the work being done out there. Some are very well produced and make me envious. It makes me wonder what I could’ve done if I was younger and wasn’t tech challenged. But, I’ve become fans of Mark Spagnoulo, April Wilkerson, and Anne Briggs to name a few. I’ve also kept up with some of the more recognizable names, like Fine Woodworking and Woodsmith podcasts. It has been interesting as to how they’re dealing with the quarantine experience.

**Time Shift** Woo, it’s now 30 days later! Wow, how did that happen? I guess I’ve been watching too many comic book videos on YouTube. Sorry about that, let me get you all caught up.

It is now Memorial Day weekend and my life has gone in some different directions. First off, after much discussion with my wife, I retired from my job as a bail bonds agent that I had held for over 30 years. Being an older gentleman, with an underlying condition, it didn’t seem like a wise thing for me to go back to a job where I would be exposed to too many chances for Covid-19 infection. So now my work time in my shop has increased and I’ll see what I can do with that.

With the time off, I’ve been working on refurbishing and restoring some antiques we’ve had sitting around the house. Most have been stored away, in various levels of restoration. The first one I finished up was my late Mother-in-law’s treadle Singer sewing machine. It is technically not done yet as I need to find a new belt for it. It worked for about 30 seconds before the belt broke. Oh, well.

The project I have on my bench, right now, is an oak side table that my mother started refinishing about 30 or 35 years ago. I’ve never seen it in one piece, but all the pieces are there. I found it in her basement when my sister and I were cleaning out her house, after she passed away. I remembered her telling me she started on it but lost some screws and left it in pieces and never got back to it. I had to do some repair work to it. The top had gotten broke in two and had to be glued back together. Also, one of the legs had spent to much time on the dirt floor of an old outbuilding at my grandparent’s farm. With a little bit of two part epoxy wood filler, it is good as new. It may not look perfect, but I’ll put that leg to the back, against the wall.

And the last thing to tell you about involves my dog, Holly. Holly went missing for four days last week. I don’t know about you other dog owners, but my dog is a part of the family. Last Sunday morning my wife got up early and fed the dog and let her out. We have a nice big yard and it’s all fenced. That yard is Holly’s domain and nothing had better interlope upon it. I had slept in a little bit and when I went to bring her in she was no where to be found. The gate had been bent and pushed open. Holly was gone!

We did all the things that you’re supposed to when your pet goes missing. We searched the neighborhood, we posted flyers, I posted on the necessary social media sites and filed a report with the local shelters. I was devastated. This is my buddy, my #shopdog. Then the story gets interesting.

The next day, my wife called the neighbor that lives directly behind us. This is an elderly lady that Holly was fond of. She did her best to protect her yard too. The neighbor asks if Holly had been hurt by the deer since she hadn’t seen her for a couple of days. My wife asked “What deer?” Then came the rest of the story. A doe had her baby in my neighbor’s back yard the night before and it was close to the fence. Holly took exception with this deer being that close to her yard and being in the neighbor’s yard. As she proceeds to bark, the doe gets upset about this loud intruder and has to protect her fawn. She stomped toward the fence but Holly didn’t back away. So she jumped the fence and went after Holly. They tangled and Holly apparently got the worst of it as they pushed thru the gate, at the other end of the yard, and she ran away to save herself. The doe went back, gathered up her fawn and moved on. The worst part of this story was we didn’t find out the details till a day and a half later. But it all worked out for the best in the end. On Thursday morning, we were about to go check out a possible sighting, when the phone rang. A neighbor, from down the street, said there was a dog, that looked like the flyer sitting outside our house. I opened the front door and there she was, sitting pretty waiting on me to open the door. She promptly hobbled in and proceeded to drink a whole bowl of water. We had the Vet check her out and other than the pads on her feet being inflamed and a bit worn raw, she was none the worse for wear. All’s well that ends well.

Well, I guess the title of this post turned out to be mostly appropriate. Things really did go a little crazy. With my new retirement, I hope to post more and try to be more on the woodworking topic. But hey, we have to look out for our little buddies, too. So I hope you’ve had a safe Memorial Day and please remember what the holiday is really all about. So many died so you could have that cookout. Remember them. Till next time.


Woodworking in a time of COVID-19

 My apologies to author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, (Love in the Time of Cholera), but the title seemed appropriate for this time in history. I suspect there will be a great many projects turned out over the next few months by my woodworking brethren, out there. Here in Kansas City, we’re under a “Stay-Home” order until at least April 24th. Unless your job is deemed essential, you are to stay home. My job was not deemed as such. So I’m at home watching TV and working on a long list of things I had been putting off for far too long.

Unfortunately, my other woodworking home, the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild, was also forced to close until this passes. So those who have a home shop are forced to work at home. The unfortunate ones who use the Guild’s shop are left out to suffer this closure. While I have my own shop, my path is still complicated. About a month back I started the task of finally putting up fiberglass insulation and walls. I was due to go to the BIG Orange Box Store and purchase more insulation, but I got sidetracked, again. My shop is a bigger mess than before. I’m told that Home Centers and Hardware stores are considered essential. But that doesn’t help me much. If you read my last post, you’d know I’m one of those lucky people with the suppressed immune systems and I’m over 60. So I’m not taking any chances.

So I’ve been working on a few things that I can work on in the house. I have a little corner of the basement where I can do some things. Right now I’m finishing up the restoration of an antique walnut medicine cabinet that the wife and I picked up a few years ago. It was probably close to 20 years ago, so I’m a bit overdue. When I finish the cabinet, hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be starting on finishing up my mother-in-law’s antique Singer sewing machine, for my wife. Then there’s the antique Gentleman’s Dresser, the antique pie safe, and the antique jelly cupboard. As you can see, I have enough to keep me occupied. I’m sure I’m not the only guy that is paying for the “I’ll do it when I have more time” line. Brothers, I feel your pain.

But, before I wrap up this post, I want to say a little something about the real heroes out there. Those that face the COVID-19 virus head on everyday, our health care workers and first responders. Their sacrifice can’t go unrecognized. While my wife has retired after 40 years as a nurse, my daughter, Amy, is out there taking care of patients during this difficult time. She has to change her clothes and wash them before going into her house to see her children. She is just one of thousands, across the country that is on the front lines for your well being. So keep them all in your prayers and don’t forget to Social Distance.



It’s been a pretty eventful last couple of months, here in Kansas City. Our Chiefs came from behind in three straight games to win the NFL Championship. That kept, most of us, on the edge of our seats. But when it was all over the town celebrated like it was 2015. The only exception was everything was RED instead of BLUE. Of course, I’m referring back to our Royals victory in the 2015 World Series. Of course, don’t let me forget, our soccer team, Sporting KC, won the MLS Cup in 2013. Exciting times were had by all.

But while all of this was great, life has a way of changing everything when you don’t want it to. One thing I haven’t written much about is dealing with my Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has a bad habit of screwing with my life in the most inopportune times. And recently has been one of those times.

Most of the time, you would never know I have Rheumatoid Disease, unless you noticed my hands. The biologic drug that I get monthly infusions of, keeps me mobile with little issues, except one. It suppresses my immune system making me vulnerable to all sorts of bugs. This is mostly a problem for me during cold and flu season. I always make sure that I get the recommended flu shot for that year. But it’s not always enough. I usually end up with a cold that leads to a sinus infection, which leads to bronchitis, which leads to holding my infusions until everything has run its course. The result of this is pain and stiffness along with the loss of shop time. The pain and stiffness I can deal with, mostly. I mean I’ve always got some of it but right now it’s a bit more intense.

What I really hate, is missing out on shop time. My shop time is therapeutic for me. It’s my time away from life and to be alone with my thoughts. But when I’m unable to have my infusion the pain becomes fatigue and I just don’t have the energy to enjoy my time in the shop.

This may sound like all I’m doing is complaining. I’m sorry. It wasn’t meant to be. It was meant to be an explanation to some of what a person with Rheumatoid Disease goes thru. We may look normal but underneath life’s a pain, literally. So if you know someone who is struggling with Rheumatoid Disease be kind. While they may look okay they may be dealing with a whole lot more than you know.

Thus ends my little rant. Please don’t take it personally. My next post will hopefully be more upbeat with more woodworking excitement or a reasonable facsimile.



Resolutions or Revolutions? (Nah, just Plain Goals)


First off, let me say to all, Happy New Year. Now comes the fun part. Are you making any resolutions? Let me say I prefer to set goals. If you want to call them resolutions, that’s fine too. I just have never been real big on making resolutions for the New Year. Sometimes those seem more like a revolution in your life. Me, I’m getting older, so I have to say I’m kind of set in my ways. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Don’t get me wrong. I do have things that I want to accomplish this year. It’s just my world isn’t going to stop spinning if they don’t happen. This has been my view of New Year’s resolutions for some time. I’ve made life altering resolutions before and when they didn’t happen, nothing went wrong in my world. So instead of resolutions, I’m going to share with you a few of my goals for 2020.

First Goal: Bring some organization and just a general clean up to my shop. If you saw my shop right now you’d wonder how I ever got anything done. I need to be able to put things in their place. Unfortunately, that can’t happen till I get walls and insulation up. I have cabinets to put up on the walls but right now they are sitting on the floor, taking up space. So this is a big goal for 2020.

Second Goal: Being more productive, in general. This can mean in the shop or just in my life. With the RA, my life can revolve around fatigue brought on by the disease. It’s not a fun thing to deal with but I’ve got to get myself a kick in the rear end. If I don’t do it, who else can. While the disease was not my fault, how I handle the struggles it brings, is my responsibility. I won’t sit back and feel sorry for myself. Sometimes it would be easy to throw myself a “Pity Party” but I won’t allow it.

Third goal: Write more. I started this blog because I like to write and tell a story. Last year, I’ve had a few lapses in my writing. I would like to remedy that right from the start of the year. I have other opportunities to write, I just have to do it. And that is my intention.

Fourth Goal: Teach more. Over the last couple of years I have been involved in teaching at the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild. The bulk of it has been helping out with the Basic Woodworking class. But I have also taught a couple of classes on Building a Workbench and Building a Six-Board Chest. I found these to be rewarding experiences. I look forward to more such experiences.

And the final goal is to prepare myself for the future. Let’s face it. None of us want to work the 9 to 5 gig forever. I’m 61 years old and the idea of Social Security is within sight. So it’s time for me to put some effort into preparing for that inevitability. As I’ve heard it said recently, in regards to Tom Brady, Father Time is undefeated. So I’ve got to do the best I can to prepare for it. Granted I wish I had done that years ago but hindsight is always 20/20.

So what are your resolutions? Are they life altering? Just remember that the world won’t end if you don’t succeed this year. There’s always next year…

Till next time.