Monthly Archives: May 2010

Dovetail Practice Continues and Gwyn

This is my 5th day of practice dovetails. After a weekend of playing golf and enjoying gardens with my parents, it was fun to get back to the shop. The basement is cool and inviting. I cut some pieces of similar size to the first set of 4 I cut. Each cut I make is with considerably more confidence than before. Each time I bring the mallet down to meet the chisel, I feel like I have been here before.

My muscles are starting to get a bit of memory. They are starting to develop a sense for how hard each mallet blow should be. The holding of the chisel, the placement, all of it is coming together. I have a method for clamping down the pieces which seems to work well. It wasn’t the same method I used when I first attempted a dovetail, and there have been a few different approaches. It seems I was worrying too much about getting everything clamped down tight, to avoid the piece moving. One Jet clamp does just fine.

The two pieces of oak with pins on each end, took me the same amount of time to cut, as one piece took a week ago. Actually it took 3 minutes longer to do twice as much work, and being the son of a mathematician, accuracy is important. The other important thing to note is that I have gotten cleaner results than I have previously attained. The pins pictured have not been cleaned up. Usually I spend a fair amount of time fussing about them, before I take the photography. I want them to look good. These still need a little bit of clean up, but much less than any set I have previously cut.

The benefit, as I see it, of doing repetitive dovetail practice is that I am able to find a method which works well for me. I have looked at a lot of videos, read quite a bit and seen a number of different ideas for how get an accurate fit. Ultimately, for me, it is more a sense of being on the right path, knowing that continuing with this practice will get me to my goal.

And what of that goal?

Tonight, on the way back from my parents, I stopped in Iowa City, to attend my friend Rodney’s daughter’s high school graduation. It was lovely, I got to see a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in quite a few years. Andy Gnida, a brilliant builder here in Iowa, and I talked about woodworking, tools, and generally caught up. Andy has forgotten more about woodworking and building than I have learned. It was fun to tell him about my adventures. Of course, I told him about my plan for cutting a bunch of small dovetail boxes by hand. I said, “When I am done, I will have a new skill, which I can use for the rest of my life.” And he responded, “And you will have a bunch of little boxes.”

It looses a bit in the translation, but it made me chuckle. That is my goal, to have a new skill. Another bit from the evening which made me chuckle was Gwyn. She is two, and many of you may remember my post a while back, where she would take the little plastic screwdrivers out of her tool box and yell, “Screwdrivers”. Gwyn was walking with her father, whom I have known for over 20 years, and she pointed at me, “Hey, you remember Meeks.”, in a very grown up voice, sounding as if she had introduced the two of us at a cocktail party. It was even more fun that talking about woodworking. When Gwyn, Steve and Mary, were leaving the party, Gwyn gave me a hug, with a pat on the back. Apparently that is the best hug one can get. The first time we met I only rated a fist bump, this upgrade was nice. I am honored.

So I had a good day, both in woodworking and in general.

A Day At The Reiman Gardens in Pictures

I haven’t been able to do much relating to woodworking, as I have been having too much fun hanging out with Mom and Dad. Yesterday Dad and I golfed. Today Mom and I went and viewed Reiman Gardens. It is a beautiful 14 acre complex next to the Jack Trice Stadium, home of the Cyclone football team. They even have a Butterfly Garden, which was especially cool. Today’s post, is mostly going to be photos, as that will best sum up what we did.

The first picture is from the Butterfly Garden.  This is one of the coolest examples of camouflage I have seen.  It looks like the eyes of an owl.

The next photo is also of a butterfly.  I have never taken many butterfly pictures, actually I don’t know that I have ever taken a butterfly picture, but I learned today, that one must be patient.  Some of them will eventually land and hang out in one spot for a while, then you can get a good shot.  It is important to remember to have your shutter speed pretty fast, so any movement is stopped.  That being said, there were still plenty of pictures which didn’t turn as I had hoped.  Those blurry examples of failure will not be included today.

More insects, who have entered the larva stage and emerged as a beautiful, much less gross looking insect.

I have lots of pictures.  The below picture I have titled, “Butterfly en repose, after a bit of water, on blue spongy things, in a glass bowl.”  It holds two distinctions, the first being, my best butterfly picture of all time, the second being, my worst titled picture of all time.

More pictures…They have 24 gnomes hidden around the gardens.  Mom and I found 22 of them, including the Mid Iowa Wood Carvers entry.  It is brilliant. The gnome’s name is RipVanArtWinkle, which is very clever.  All the other gnomes are made of concrete and painted, so the hand carved one is quite special.

Lastly I have a picture of a pond which I quite like, so I am including it too.

It would be silly to have a blog about going to a garden without having a picture of a flower.  This is a bromeliad.

So that was my day with Mom at the Gardens.  We had fun.

Abysmal and Great Golf

A few minutes ago I was thinking about the round of golf my father and I played today. I am not sure if it was the worst score I have posted in the last 10 year, but it might have been. I was abysmal. The rating of abysmal was only attained because of the stellar finish on three of the last four holes.

The day began as many do, when one is a golfer, filled with optimism. We arrived at Beaver Creek with twenty minutes to spare, and when we checked in were told that the previous group had called in and canceled. Fantastic break, we could head straight to the first tee. Beaver Creek is my favorite course, and the one which I have played more than any other over the last 15 years.

From the white tees, the lap around the course is 6259 yards. When I first started to play the course, the trees were newly planted, now they have grown considerably and developed a rather unpleasant attitude to the little white balls which I kept hitting among them. There is an old saying in golf, ‘The trees are 90% air.” This may be true, as the leaves don’t really impede the flight of the ball. The branches do however. I didn’t track the number of trees I whacked the ball into, but I can say that if I did it 10 times, which I am sure I did, that I hit a statistically unbelievable 80%. It seems much more likely that the famous old saying is bunk.

My best ever 18 at this course, when the trees were younger, included an eagle on 7, and was an 84. The course is a par 72, and on that wonderful day, I was only 12 over par. It still gives me the warm fuzzies to remember my triumph. Today it took me 4 holes to get to 13 over par. I did par the 5th hole, which I tried to remember when we were playing the 9th, and I noticed that I could easily fling myself onto Highway 141, and end the suffering. I did not fling myself into the path of an oncoming SUV, but instead hacked at the ball until I got a 9 on the last hole of the front nine.

I couldn’t figure out why I was playing so poorly. I hit the ball left and right, but seem unable to hit it straight. So onto the 10th, after a hot dog and coke at the turn. I decided to try to get the ball in the fairway, not that I hadn’t been trying, but I was going to use my 4 iron, and hope it improved my chances. The thwack of the iron against the ball told me I had hit it flush, and sure enough, it landed 125 yards from the green, center of the fairway. I hit a towering 9 iron into the green and it was pin high, but a little bit off to the left, a poor example of a chip shot and the two puts later and I had a bogey, which normally isn’t something to celebrate, but considering I had already had a 12 on a par 5, it didn’t seem so bad.

Perhaps I was going to have an ok back nine. This thought crossed my mind and I got a par on the 11th hole. The 12th hole was excruciatingly painful walk. Three holes later I was questioningly my manliness and scanning the horizon for another major thorough fare for which to fling my sad excuse of a golfing body.

After 14 holes of trying, and mostly failing to fix my swing, I decided to get my driver out and swing away. Up until this point I had been trying to swing at about 80%, in an attempt to maintain some sort of control on the shots. The harder I tried to take it easy and fix things, the worse it got. So on 15, with a reasonable wind at my back, looked down the 533 yard fairway, and let it rip. The ball sailed off towards the horizon, straight as an arrow, and came to rest near the 200 yard marker. For the non-golfer, this means that I hit my drive 333 yards, which is pretty good.

I hit a 4 iron into the green, missed just to the right, almost chipped in for eagle. In the end, I two putted for a par. The 16th hole need not be mentioned, as I have blocked it from my mind. The 17th hole was a par 3, I hit a towering 8 iron, again swinging at 100% and it too flew straight and stopped 8 feet short of the pin. Two puts later and I had yet another par.

On the 18th hole, I hit a 280 yard tee shot, also straight, and then a beautiful half swing sand wedge to about 3 feet from the pin, which I tapped in for birdie. Two pars and a birdie on the last 4 holes. When I got home I didn’t remember the total score, which was 103, but instead chose to revel in the few successes.

The 18th held another distinction, in that my father also birdied it. He hit a nice drive then a great pitching wedge to reach the green in regulation. His 30 foot birdie put was a thing of beauty, and easily won the shot of the day. It was even better than my drive, because as everyone knows, ‘Drive for show, putt for dough’.

Though we both put up numbers which were considerably north of what we had hoped, we had fun, enjoyed the beautiful day, and vowed to work on our games more this year.

Start of Memorial Day Weekend

It is incredible to me how this year has flown past, as it it were a penguin, who was dreaming he had wings and was particularly speedy.  I am coming up on my 150th post in a few days.  I am a full on addicted blogger now.  Most days I blog about woodworking, some days I blog about Henry Wood, and on occasion I take a flyer and do something about a camel, as I did yesterday.

I have said on more than 1.5 occasions that the key to success in learning woodworking for me, is to not be a zealot about my plans.  I have started a 30 days of dovetails and tonight would be day 5, but tonight is also the start of memorial day weekend.  I am going to take the weekend off from dovetailing and spend it with my parents in Des Moines.  Howie and Sandy are cool.  They will feed me, I will will do some lawn work, and there will be a fair amount of golfing.

When I arrived tonight mom had a lovely hamburger with gouda cheese waiting for me.  It was especially tasty.  Gouda may be the funniest cheese to say, but it also an especially yummy member of the familia fromage.  Afterwords Dad and I went to TCI, a local golf course, and spent some time on the practice putting green.  My putting, if it were being analyzed by a golf pro, would be described as somewhere between stinky and abysmal.  After focusing on short putts I improved to mildly malodorous.

After Dad and I got home, Mom and I did a lap around the house and she showed me her latest gardening triumphs.  Her containers are starting to look marvelous.  And that was a fair synopsis of the day.  Nothing too note worthy, except for one side note.

The drive from the thriving metropolis of Martelle Ia to Casa Del Meeks in Polk County, is about 2.5 hours.  During that time I mostly thought about Winston the camel and Libby the black panther, from yesterday’s blog.  It is possible that Jo is going to write another chapter to the story, in which case, I am going to continue to write the parts of the animals.  I really enjoyed creating Winston, and I hope to get to write more of his story.  Everyone loves a good camel story.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend and tune in tomorrow for more of…well…to be honest, I don’t really expect anyone to read my blog this weekend.  People will be much too busy eating food cooked with propane and propane accessories, to bother with getting online.  So in the interest of full disclosure, my blog is likely going to be a collection of mindless ramblings with little structure, numerous spelling and grammar errors and possibly a picture of two from mom’s garden.

There does seem to be a consistent reader from South Africa.  So whomever you are, hello.  It is a holiday weekend here in the U.S., that is why everyone is going to be ignoring the blog.  So I will likely just write the post for you.  I don’t know who you are in South Africa, but I imagine you are pretty excited about the World Cup.  I know I am.

Ok, that is all for tonight.

Camel Fears After The Long Quiet

Slummy Single Mummy is my favorite blog. Yesterday I challenged Jo to write a blog piece today, which included the camel she mentioned in her post. She took the challenge and wrote a delightful piece. This is my humble attempt to capture the same moment, from the point of view of the camel.

For a long time afterwords everything was quiet.  It scarred him a bit. His friends call him Winston, he is a camel.    When it started he was able to get out, and when he did, he ran.

During his formative years, when he was growing up in the desert, most considered him quite clever.  He did better than most camels his age, when it came to an education.   He was the top water finder in his class.  His mum explained that, “Camels are much brighter than the humans or other animals give us credit for being, ‘we are just modest.'”

It is true, camels are pretty low key.  Winston liked to eat, drink occasionally, have a nap, and then go for a long walk.   When he got older, he went out on his own, and through a series of adventures, which are too numerous to tell, ended up in Clifton.  He found that zoo life suited him, or more accurately, it did until everything came crashing down.

When the dust settled, Winston lay near a partially collapsed building.  The main facade had survived and was quite sturdy.  He had stopped running when he saw it, as it appeared to be the only part of the world that wasn’t violently moving all about.  For a long time there were screams, crying, and chaos, but eventually the sounds died down.

There was plenty to drink, and Winston didn’t feel particularly hungry.  He mostly felt unsettled.  Though he had enjoyed his life among all the other interesting animals at the zoo, it had occurred to him that the desert had considerably fewer buildings that could come down on one’s head.  He assessed the situation, it looked a little bit bleak.  He decided that he should go for a walk, look around a bit, and that might help him form a plan.

Walking down the street, past the crumbling House of Woodworking, around fire hydrant which was leaking, he stopped behind a pile of rubble.  He turned his head to one side and listened.  It was coming from his left, not far off.  A sound was piercing the deafening silence.  Winston listened closely, it sounded like a piece of metal being shifted.  There wasn’t any wind, so he eliminated that as a possibility.  It could be as simple as a shifting bit of what was left of Clifton, it could be danger, he didn’t know.

Winston thought about the black panther, whom he had been watching sneak around her pen, just before the world changed.  Libby was a wonderful feline.  She was always impeccably groomed, friendly, and fearless.  Though admittedly, she didn’t need to do any hunting in the zoo, she kept her skills sharp by daily bouts of practice stalking.  The gazelles didn’t trust her, but Winston thought she was a delight.  They would often chat while she lounged in her tree, talking about the jungle and the desert, their families, and how they both enjoyed long walks and naps.  Winston had never been very stealthy, but this seemed like a pretty good time to give it a go.

Carefully he walked down the street towards the sound.  He hoped it was one of his friends from the zoo, or at the very least, anyone.  Winston was quite sure he didn’t like being the only one in town, and a tinge of loneliness was nipping at his mind, making everything seem a bit more desperate.  He checked where he was stepping, so as not to make much noise, and as it turned out, he did a very good job.

He came around the pile of rubble, and bumped into a rubbish bin, which was ironically empty.  The woman spun around, she looked right at him.  He froze.  He was quite sure that is what Libby would do, and she would become nearly invisible in the jungle shadows.  There weren’t any shadows, a complete lack of jungle for as far as the eye could see, and he was not the least bit invisible.

Winston looked at her, she was quite nice looking, seemed harmless enough.  She didn’t make any sudden movements, she just looked at him for a bit.  Though he couldn’t talk with her, such that she could understand, it was quite normal for humans to talk to him.  She however didn’t talk but instead made a noise, not dissimilar to the sounds that the weasels make when distressed.  He wasn’t quite sure what she was trying to say, but it seemed like she was suggesting they go check out the lake.  Winston followed her slowly, as he didn’t want to frighten her.  He wasn’t alone anymore.  Winston was pretty sure that he had just made a friend.    He made a camel noise, thinking she might like to hear it.  He also suspected she might start talking to him then, and refrain from further pained weasel noises.

The world seemed less scary now.

For Jo, thanks for taking the challenge.

Best Yet

I decided I wanted to spend an hour a night working on dovetails, tonight I spent 2 hours, as I was having fun.  Admittedly, some of that time was to give my chisel a sharpening, but that didn’t take too long as I hadn’t let it get too bad.  Yesterday I got the pins cut for one side of my box, so today I cut the tails, and surprisingly they turned out pretty good compared to my previous attempts.

I decided to cut the pins for the front of the box, which also went well.  Being that I was on a roll and hadn’t had a disaster yet, I through caution to the wind and cut the tails and then put the whole thing together.  As a collection of dovetails, this is my most consistent  yet.  This reinforces the point that everyone makes, that it just takes repeatedly cutting them to improve.

I also did something differently with these four sets of dovetails, from a mental perspective.  Because I have set a goal to cut a whole bunch of them, over the next 30 days, I did care about precision.  I just did the best I could and was more relaxed.  What was interesting is that when I had them all done, there were some gaps, but the problems were, to some extent, fixable with some chiseling.  Getting the box together and then tweaking the imperfections led to a much better result than any of my previous attempts.

Because all the smart kids say to make sure each of the pins and tails are a little bit proud, I needed to sand them down a bit.  I used a combination of my belt sander and hand plane to clean it up.  This too was satisfying.

Now these are the absolutely simplest dovetails one can cut.  One tail and two pins is not the same as two tails and three pins by any means.  So I will probably cut another set of these simple pins, or maybe two, or three.  I will cut until they are really good, then try a more complex setup.  The fun part is that I now have a 4 box sides that I can actually make a bottom for, and have a finished thingy.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have chosen to photograph the best of the group, as that is the theme of tonight’s post.  They aren’t all equal to the one shown.

I also want to take a moment and say how much I am enjoying using ‘Archie’ the mallet.  He absolutely rocks.  I tried a few hits with the old mallet, just to compare, and there wasn’t any comparison.  Archie is heavier, better balanced, and feels more comfortable to hold.  My decision to make things for woodworking, as a way to learn woodworking, seems to be providing both helpful tools, and great satisfaction, which are two key ingredients in keeping one motivated to continue.

Well that is all for tonight, nothing too funny or exciting, but I got some good practice and am now within striking distance of my first box.

A Better Day

I love cutting dovetails.  Ok, maybe it isn’t the dovetails per se, but the moments when I learn something.  There were several comments yesterday encouraging me to keep at my practice, which I very much appreciate.  I love practicing, so one doesn’t need to twist my arm too much.  What was most interesting was the comment that perhaps I was spending too much time obsessing about each set I cut.  I think this ‘hit the nail on the head’.

I was obsessing too much and thus it led to my being a grouchy pants yesterday.  Now I am feeling much better.  So I decided I would try a different approach, one suggested by several people.   I will devote 1 hour a day to dovetails for the next month.  No need stressing about each set anymore, I will just keep cutting them and in 30 days, I am sure I will be better.

So tonight I cut some small pieces of oak and set up the pins to be cut first.  This only took about 7 minutes.  I then made my cuts and started to chisel out the waste.  I have been using a chisel which I found in the garage, which I had sharpened and quite liked.  It is old, looks like it was an inexpensive chisel when purchased sometime in the late 12th century and I consider it to be in the same class as my Irwin.

I have been using the old low quality chisel a lot of late.  I like the little old chisel, partly because it was likely my great uncle’s.  I also figured it might have better steel, being that it is old.  I haven’t questioned these assumptions at all.  So as I was chiseling out the waste for the first set of pins I started to wonder if it was really doing a very good job.  It didn’t seem very good.  So I sharpened it and started again.  It had a razor sharp edge, polished back, and went dull very quickly.  It didn’t hold the edge at all.  So I have likely been using a very dull chisel mostly.

I remember last weekend when Sean was talking about steel losing it’s temper.  I don’t know the history of this chisel, and it may well be complete crap.  So I grabbed my much thinner Irwin, which wasn’t perfectly sharp.  The second set of pins took about 25% of the time of the 1st.  It was night and day.  This was very exciting to me.

I have talked about my love of quality tools, but I assumed that since I had an entry level chisel, that it couldn’t be any better than the one’s I found in the garage.  It is though, by a mile.  So I am going to put the other chisel to the side, and stick with the Irwin.  It is only a 3/8, which isn’t ideal, but until I have better chisels, it is the best one I have now.

I had fun tonight, but as everyone knows, the pins are easy.  I am going to cut some tails tomorrow, and they will likely not fit very well.  That is ok though, as I will just keep at it.  I feel like I got a little bit smarter today.  That makes me smile.

Now I am going to sharpen the Irwin until it is back to scary sharp, even though it is far from dull yet.  I do love sharpening.

Pissed Off

I love competition.  Playing a game or sport makes me feel alive.  I have always enjoyed competing and when I lose at something it just inspires me to try to get better.  Most games are simple, be it chess, or baseball or tennis.  If you study or practice you will improve.  If you study or practice more than your opponent you will eventually win.  I don’t mind losing, but the satisfaction from winning against a previously unbeatable foe is magnificent.

Growing up with my father as my baseball manager, I was taught me good sportsmanship.  It is alright to lose, as long as one tries their best.  Sometimes the other player is just better.  I don’t mind losing at all.  When I was a senior in high school, my buddy Rob Kahler and I were spending spring break in Florida.  I played tennis with a freshman girl one day.  She beat me 6-0, 6-0, and it wasn’t as close as it sounds.  It didn’t bother me at all, she was just really freaking good.  I would say I am tolerant of failure, well most of the time.

There are times though, when I feel such a sense of anger, that it is almost unbearable.  Those times are almost always when I am trying to master something and it is taking longer than my little gray cells tell me it should.  I can remember weeks of practicing pool, only to have a bad day, and being really angry at myself.  Or devoting hour after hour to the study of endgame theory, only to drop a silly pawn and lose.  I always congratulate my opponent, but then I sit and fume.

It is impossible to improve if one doesn’t have passion.  I believe this to be true.  I am not sure if it is necessary to beat myself up or not.  So today I finished the tails for the last piece of my box or drawer sides.  They are not very good at all.  I am really pissed off.  I can’t think of a good reason to be so angry, none what so ever.  My analytical brain tells me that I shouldn’t be good at them yet.  I have cut under 10 sets of dovetails, and if it were as easy, there wouldn’t be any satisfaction.

I imagine a young apprentice sitting in a shop, the old master talking to him as he makes his cuts, showing him how to hold the chisel as he pares off the little bits of excess.  I see the candle lit room, with the apprentice practicing again and again, until he gets it right.  There is the smell of fresh baked bread, from the masters wife, wafting in from the kitchen.  He keeps at it, because he knows that anything worth doing, is worth doing right.  Next to him are piles of attempts, and it is clear, that he worked very hard to get good at cutting his pins and tails.  I imagine all of this, to help me feel better.

It does not make me feel better, as I am imagining it while I am still fuming about the crappy tails and pins I have just cut.  Damn those tricky joints.  It has been said that patience is a virtue.  In fact, it has been said by my mother often, and I believe it to be true.  I am still angry and bitter, no matter what anyone says.

But here is the other side of the coin.  The fits of self loathing that fill me today, well they don’t last too long.  They will be replaced when the logical side of my brain finally beats the emotional side into submission.  When this happens, I will get some wood, mark some pins, and start a new.  I know I will.  And when the day arrives that I am typing up my blog, to show off some really nicely fitting dovetails, I will scarcely remember today, or the anger.  It will be completely worth it.

But for now, I am still pissed off.

Tending To The Garden of My Mind

It is the little moments in life, the tiny sparks that might go unnoticed by most, that I believe one should stop and ponder. As days turn into weeks and then years those moment, if not carefully guarded, may fade into the mist. I can not, as an example, remember the name of my high school home room teacher. I remember that she was a pleasant woman. I never had her for a class, but every morning for 3 years, I sat in her room and waited for the day to begin. She was not so important to me that I mourn the loss of the memory, but it is more that this lost memory, one that should be easily recalled, is a cautionary tale.

I wonder what other precious moments have receded into the depths, so far back, piled upon by the mundane, that they are gone from sight, gone from recall.  Never again shall the joy of those memories fill a contemplative summer eve. It is strange that I am able to remember Ms. Petra, my Junior high home room teacher, but only just barely. I can name but one person from my junior high home room class, and that is Jackie. She was blonde and best friends with Karen Hunter, whom I had a terrible crush on for several years. How can all the other people be gone? Where did they go? I liked the people in my home room classes, both high school and junior high, and yet after 20 plus year of focusing on ‘at this moment’, they have vanished. I have not stopped to ponder, I have not tended to the garden of my mind.

Perhaps this is why I decided to write about my journey in woodworking? I know that I seem to forget the little details that give a memory it’s luster. Sometime I have talked about my past, to get it into the record. Teri and Tracy Holtz are there, though readers will remember them as the Krenov saw horses I created a few months ago, I will remember them as the adorable twins from 5th and 6th grade.  I wonder about John Koester, whom I haven’t seen since my freshman year at Iowa.  I remember him, but where did he go to?  Where is he now?  All I know is that in 1985, he was the funniest man I had ever met.

So what memories did I make this weekend, what rare gems, what seemingly mundane images, do I wish to put down here. It was a good weekend. I went to hang out with ma and pa Meeks. We had a nice time. Saturday morning was filled with mulch. Mom and I went to Ames and bought a giant container, which she will fill with flowers, and set near the front door. There were a lot of design ideas battered around between us. As I have said, “Gardening and Lawn work are the evil twin of woodworking.” The reason they are evil, is that they are fun, and this distracts me from woodworking. Mom and I also bought two pick-up loads of mulch, and got it strategically placed where she wanted. We accomplished a lot, and then ate pizza for dinner. A medium sausage and a medium sausage and mushroom, from Papa’s Pizza in Polk City.  That last bit probably doesn’t need to be recorded for posterity, but I was on a roll.

After we ate, I went over to see Sean, the gentleman who sold me the hand planes two weeks ago. He sold me his brass shoulder plane that he made 25 years ago. It is a gem. I mentioned it yesterday, but wanted to revisit it, because of the wonderful comment he left on yesterday’s post.

Brian I am so pleased you were able to acquire my shoulder plane. That plane represents what I believe my years of love for woodworking is about (problem solving). I believe you have what it takes to be a fine craftsman, desire, patience, and the interest of the history of the work and tools. I am proud to know you and when you use that little plane think about the old guy who made and used it. Good Luck Kid!

When I read this a few minutes ago, I realized that I needed to take the time to say thanks.    Sean was wonderful to me two weeks ago.  I very much admired the plane but couldn’t afford to buy it along with the 4 1/2 and the 5.  He suspected I might be back, so he stuck it in a drawer and didn’t show it to any of the people who came by to buy up his collection.  Thanks Sean, for the kind words and the wonderful plane.  I will treasure it always.

Today was a good day too.  Dad and I went golfing at Jester Park.  They have a nice little par 3 course, which is brilliant for starting out a new golf year.  The nice thing about a par three course, is one gets to work on their short irons.  The par is 27, and I shot a 35.   Dad shot a 42, and we both agreed that it was a good outing.  I had one shot, w hich was especially satisfying, a pitching wedge which landed 6 feet from the pin and stuck.  I made the put for birdie.  Not an important memory, but a happy one, and I want to keep it, so it made the blog.

After we golfed, Dad and I watched the Red Sox and Phillies on TV, the Sox won 8-3.  We are both Reds fans and didn’t care much about either team playing, but it was good baseball, and a good memory.  I drove home and the day has come nearly to an end.  Tomorrow I will get back to the learning of woodworking, tonight I may just think.  Perhaps take out a few of my good memories, give them a polish, and make sure they are doing well.  So for now, I am going to eat a freshly made chocolate chip cookie, one of my mom’s specialties.  Yummy.

Katrina The Spy

I ordered a jambon sandwich and a coke. Jambon is french for ham, and it is one of my favorites. As a spy, in the days after the the Brandenberg gate became a footnote in history, who had taken over the analytics of the Russia unit, it wasn’t quite as thrilling as ‘the old days’. That being said, I still skulk around, send secret messages, and mostly try to justify my existence.

An hour before it had started raining, not a hard rain, but a steady cleansing rain that made the streets shine and left the air heavy and steamy. The waitress had used a towel and dried off the seat and table at the 20th Century Cafe. A little out of the way place in Lyon, it was like a hundred or maybe a thousand cafes all over the city, all over France for that matter. These small diner offers one an opportunity to be in public and remain relatively safe.

A tall slender woman, impeccably dressed, with dark hair, green eyes, and a thick russian accent, approached the table. I was expecting her, so I stood up to shake her finely manicured hand.

“Hello, I am Steven, you must be from Xerton Corp?”

“Das, I am Katrina, it is nice to meet you.” She said with a firm handshake and a business like demeanor. Her name isn’t Katrina, but to be fair, mine isn’t Steven. She knows that I know her name is Elana, but if people are listen, as they always are, this sort of silliness is common place. We continued to manufacture small talk.

“How are you today, did you have a hard time finding the place?” I asked, sitting down and while waving the waiter over to take her order.

“No, not at all, I am new to the city, but your directions were spot on.” came her response with a delightful smile.

The waitress brought a cup of coffee for Katrina, and I nibbled on my sandwich. Eating a sandwich at a spy meeting is generally considered very unspy like, and patently uncool. I consider it important for two reasons. It looks much more natural for people to actually eat at their clandestine meetings, and secondly, I missed breakfast.

She talked for a bit about the business deal her cover company is engaging in with my pretend company. We have been discussing this fictitious for several month, always at a different location. Document were always exchanged, drinks were usually had, and on a couple of occasions, we would order breakfast through room service. It’s good to be a spy.

Today would be less fun, as there was some important intel which actually needed to be analyzed, and sent up the food chain. I pulled out a folder, removed the documents, which looked very official. She took a few minutes and pretended to read it.

“This looks like it has all of the changes we have agreed upon, I believe we have a deal.” She looked up and smiled, removed a pen and make a show of signing in a half dozen places. Within the 30 pages of the contract were probably two sentences of instructions for her, which she would dig out later. When she was done signing, I looked it over, slid it in my briefcase and handed her a copy, which I had signed, she signed it too and the fake deal was done.

“This is a great day for both our companies, on behalf of me and my board of directors, I am pleased that will have been able to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal. I am sure both our companies will grow and prosper under these terms. I have a small gift I wanted to give you.” She removed a tiny rosewood box and set it on the table.

“You didn’t have to do that, I appreciate it, but you didn’t have to.” I smiled, and opened the box to see the small brass item. I quickly closed the box and stood to shake her.

She leaned in and gave me a kiss and…

I woke up, the tiny brass shoulder plane was on the bed besides me. It is 25 years old, and was made by Sean, who I purchased the 4 1/2 from and the 5. It is really sexy, though not as sexy as a Russian spy, but that is ok.  It was still a good dream.  Much like I would be a terrible President, I would be a terrible spy too. It is best that I focus on woodworking and not secret messages.