Making Dust

Intarsia is considered a craft, but it is also art. It is a little known art form which evolved from fifteenth century marquetry. Although marquetry is usually a picture in wood made from very thin and flat wood which is carefully inlaid onto another flat surface like a tabletop. Intarsia is very similar except the wood is thicker and shaped to give the picture three dimensions. Both Intarsia and marquetry came into existence somewhere in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A more modern form of Intarsia has come into being in the twentieth century. The latest form is less formal and more whimsical. It is what I endeavor to practice.

Many pieces that I craft are my original designs. So far the most pieces I made are from patterns designed by gifted artists. After making several pieces from patterns I began to experiment by adding a small touch of whimsy of my own. This practice is now evolving into completely original works.

My first Intarsia work circa 2000 A.D. Two Dolphins from a pattern

More work from patterns

Work from a pattern that has been embellished

COVID 19 Nurse, Thermometer added to a pattern design

The cloud, sky, grass, and the dandelion are touches to a pattern

The lure is an embellishment

My first original work. The image is from a calendar photo.

Horn Man from a photo of my grandson practicing his trumpet

Three Red Roses, from a photo

Cecil the Lion from a photo

Night Hunter, from a photo of a Barred Owl in Flight

Hummer Snack, from photos taken in my garden

Two White, One Red Rose, from photo

Coming in 2023 but to be unveiled later because I am just beginning the pattern design. A typical original work like Horn Man, Cecil the Lion, or Night Hunter can take up to five hundred hours of cutting, shaping, sanding, framing, and finishing. Because I pride myself on being a wood worker, I also make the frames. The round frame shown on the last photo has been my biggest challenge to date. Cecil the Lion is my favorite, and Horn Man took the longest.

I have gotten my inspiration from Intarsia artist Judy Gale Roberts.

Taught Hatred

During World War Two I was taught to hate the Japanese. It didn’t matter that I never knew a single person of Japanese heritage, but the teaching was effective. I learned to hate Japan and Japanese people. At the time we had limited sources for news, mainly newspapers delivered to the house, or newsreels at the movie houses. Our regular paper was the Sun-Times dropped on our porch every day. I delivered the paper myself to many neighbors. Although we didn’t go to the movies often, but when we did, we saw government screened images of the war before the featured film. I would have been five or six years old at the time. Mom and Dad didn’t go to the movies often, so the film images of war that I saw were limited. The headlines on the newspaper featured large scale photos of war with large bold print proclaiming battles. Inside, the stories added wordy pictures of the carnage that went on. Whatever it was, I don’t really know, but I was seeded with a lifetime hatred for all things Japanese.

Shortly, after WW II ended the United States became involved in the Korean conflict. This time I was a teen ager and went to the movies regularly. Again, the brainwashing about Koreans who vaguely look like Japanese began. I still hadn’t met anyone who was of either Japanese or Korean ancestry.

It wasn’t until I went to the University of Illinois that I began to meet people of different races. There was a large population of Chinese, Indians (from India) and a few Iranians. Many of my professors in engineering classes were from India. That is when I finally began to see different people as people and not as war. It turned out that one of them was an Iranian named Dark Mirfahkrai. We became fast friends and I once asked him if he would stay in America after he graduated. He explained that he pledged his allegiance to the Shah and felt a moral obligation to return to his homeland. I learned that foreign people were not much different than I was. I did dislike foreign teachers only because I couldn’t understand what t hey said. Their pronunciation of English was horrible. But thanks to the quiz-classes that were a part of the lectures I survived. Most of these were led by upper class men who were headed for Master Degrees.

When I entered the working world another source of input crept into my life. There were always story’s about how our major industries were being lost to the Japanese. My fellow workers were often very vociferous about companies that raced to leave America for cheap labor in Korea and Japan.

In the nineteen sixties we were invaded by Japanese car companies with cute economy cars that were considerably cheaper than USA made product, namely, Nissan and Toyota. Nissan was so afraid to market a Japanese sounding car that they didn’t put their real name on the product. Datsun was really Nissan, and stayed Datsun for a number of years. I fell in love with a cute little Toyota Corolla station wagon, and bought one for less than eighteen hundred dollars. The VW Bug was priced at that and I was tired of the problems I had with mine so I opted to change.

Owning that little car is what caused me to develop a deep seated hatred for Japan and all things Japanese. Up until the Toyota I owned cars for a minimum of eight years, I sold the Corolla after two years and during those twenty-four months it spent six months in the dealer service department. That is when I coined the phrase “Jap-Crap.”

About that time I met my first real bona-fide Japanese person. Mike Fujimoto was Council Level Boy Scout volunteer. His name was well known throughout the Chicago Area Council and he was a true Scouter. I attended several of his training sessions and he turned my thinking around about Japanese. He was American born of Japanese migrant parents, just like I was American born of Hungarian parents. He was in scouts to give his son the best possible experience he could have, as was I. I didn’t hate Japanese people as much after I met Mike, but I did hate Japanese cars and their shitty quality. I never even looked at a Japanese car for forty years after that. My kids, on the other hand, would not buy American. I had friends at work who bragged about their great experiences with Honda and Toyota, but I stayed firm. What finally got to me is when my Assistant Chief Engineer Hank told me he had to take his Honda in for service at 140,000 miles to replace the gas filler tube. I finally relented and bought a Toyota Avalon sixteen years ago and I still love it. Everything still works, and there is no rust anywhere, and it still runs great, and I now love Jap-Crap.

This brings me to the real reason I am writing this story. I just finished reading “Bridge to the Sun” by Bruce Henderson. It is about American born Japanese men who joined/or were drafted to fight in WW II. It has totally erased my hatred for Japanese Americans, and Japanese people. I learned that these people should be commended for putting up with fighting two wars simultaneously, first was WW II against the Japanese, and second the racist hatred they endured from their own people, us, me.

Tall Tales

This morning I got up at 6:30 a.m. to an early start. Since it is Sunday, I went to 7:30 mass at Saint Anthony’s Church in Frankfort. After mass I usually hang around to talk to my old time buddies. This morning was no different. One of my friends Gene, asked me “what exciting thing have you done today?”

“I woke up,” was my response, but Gene really wanted to talk about the weather. We woke up to a snow this morning. It was what we call a “dusting.” That is snow that is so fine that it looks like dust on the planet. It is now noon and the snow is still falling but the flakes have grown to the size of quarters. The air is so still the flakes fall vertically to the ground. Since the ground temperature is above freezing the flakes melt immediately. Gene commented on how mild our winter has been. I reminded him of January’s past when in 1967 we had a very mild month, and then the snow hit the fan at the very end. It didn’t stop until Chicagoland was stopped, dead still. When twenty-seven inches of heavy snow land on you it brings everything to a stand still. That is all it took. A group of us began telling stories about how we were affected. Gene’s family ran a grocery store and he told about a butcher who carried a quarter of a cow for half a mile from his truck to the store. That is one big hunk of meat. That story began a new line from Al. His story was a “remember when” they used to deliver ice to houses, and the ice man would use an ice pick to chop a huge block of ice from the really big block of ice on the back his horse drawn carriage, and hoist it up to his shoulder to carry it into the house. Back then not many people owned refrigerators, so we all had ice boxes. Not to be outdone, I told about the guy who drove through the neighborhood, street by street hawking fruits and vegetables. My mom would streak out to buy beans, onions, fruits, etc. for cooking, and the table. Wally chimed in with the guy who cruised through the alley’s behind the houses in his horse drawn wagon calling out “rags and iron.” He was the original Green movement recycler, and made a living off of it.

Anyway, I guess I could answer that the most exciting thing that happened to me today since I woke up was to participate in a fifteen minute “can you top this” discussion about the good old days.

On my drive home I wondered if bringing those services back to the front door would be a viable business today? It didn’t take me long to determine that it wouldn’t because no one is home during the daytime anymore. The modern lady of the house now works, and is not always at home to take advantage of such a service. A little more thought and it occurred to me that the modern family would substitute the internet for the horse drawn wagon and the man. On-line grocery shopping with home delivery has become a real thing since COVID hit our towns. In fact the on-line grocery store carries a lot more than fruits and vegetables. Another difference between then and now is that families don’t cook things from scratch as when we were growing up. There are far too many convenience foods offered in frozen packages that merely require defrosting and heating.

Upgrading Frustrations

I finally succumbed to an annoying message that kept appearing daily on my screen about the need to upgrade my machine. Stupidly, it is my first mistake if 2023. Clicking on the “Install now” button has yielded a mystery. First it asked for a password to get into iCloud. Immediately, another window asked for a password for my Apple ID. Since I had just revised these passwords two days ago, and wrote them down, I felt confident this task would finally go easy.

After entering the second password, a new window appeared asking for the pass-code from my iPhone. I typed it in, and now the screen has frozen with a spinning wheel. The only option it gives me is a “Forgot iPhone passcode?” I can only assume that the spinning wheel indicates that this beautiful pile of engineering wonderment is searching for something. The passcode is something that I use everyday each time I want to look at my phone since the darn thing times out after 2 nano-seconds of inactivity. The wheel has been spinning for thirty-five minutes now.

What do I do?

Let it spin in the hopes that eventually it will install the updates? Shut the machine down and start all over again? What is that definition of insanity? Repeating the same activity over and over again hoping to get a new outcome.

I feel the world is going to self destruct with all of these computers being loaded with passwords requiring passwords to access. Where is the AI (Artificial Intelligence) that is supposed to forego the need for human intervention? Yet, on a daily basis we hear company after company spewing the results they get using AI.

As I am writing this rant my iPhone just beeped a message stating the following:

HU2bSs information.

We have detected suspicious activity on your account and have locked it as a precaution. Click link below to unlock your account:

https://l.ead.me/approved . . . .

If you do not verify your account before 24 hours, your Paypal account will be terminated. Sincerely,

Paypal Team

Is this a coincidence or is it related to the problem I see happening on my desktop computer?

If it weren’t for all the friends I have made on this BLOG I would go into hiding and never again show myself on any computer related correspondence again. It will be the only secure way to keep my sanity and my safety. The world is teeming with corrupt individuals working tirelessly to pick my pockets and enrich themselves. The more passwords and safety systems put into place by the computer companies the bigger the challenge becomes for the hackers to break into computers.

I truly believe there is a design answer to this dilemma. Keeping unwanted entry into computers must be built into the machines. It is doable, but is it profitable? It seems that there will always be some small portal through which thieves can gain entry, and steal to their hearts content. In the meantime, we suffer at the hands of thugs who insist on making a living by stealing. Eventually, our computers will take on the appearance of the Pyramids of Egypt. It has taken thieves as long as two thousand years to find the portals to some of the burial vaults within. If they could create such a secure system over two thousand years ago, surely we can create a better one today in our computing machines.

It has been one hour since the spinning wheel began it’s journey, and it is time for me to hit the kill switch and restart this machine. At least I was able to write a story about it. As soon as I post this piece I will enjoy the kill.

Time For Another Memorial

Today is the first day of the rest of my life, and it is time to set some new goals. Number one on the list is to create a memorial for my second wife Peggy. It is time that the world learns about how beautiful she was. I can’t promise that it will be today, or tomorrow, but it will take place this winter.

Second on my list is to finish the workshop of my dreams.

Third is to design a new Intarsia pattern and to execute the work for display.

Fourth is to fill my garden with Whirligigs all happily spinning away in unison.

Fifth is to retire from retirement from the Frankfort Lions Club

Sixth is to love my family as much as I can.

Seventh is to beat the squirrel

Eighth is to blow up the Apple facility responsible for scrambling the contents of my iMac with their endless need for passwords and updates trying to make my desktop into an iPhone

Lastly, eight goals as lofty as those listed are enough for any man my age.

Happy New Year 2023!!!!