PSA-230130-Useless Information on Canada

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.

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.

Christmas Card Greetings

Yesterday I finally dressed, and took my Christmas cards to the post office. I needed stamps and while there I bought them, stuck them on the letters, and mailed them. It was the first time I did anything productive after my minimally invasive procedure on the prostate. I hate to think what the recovery would be like had I opted for one of the invasive procedures. Nevertheless, I felt good enough to drive to the P.O. On the way there I began think about how I started sending Christmas cards, why do I do it?

The answer is pretty simple, I do it because my parents did it, and my wife Barbara’s parents did it. I remember as a kid watching my parents team up at the dining room table to hand write, stuff, and lick envelopes. My parents had many friends and they all exchanged cards for the holiday.

That got me to thinking who the heck invented the Christmas card in the first place. History tells me that before 1843 the upper crust British were in the habit of writing lengthy holiday letters to friends. They would then send a servant to hand carry the greeting to the friend. Then in 1843, along came Henry Cole who worked for the newly invented postal service. His job was to encourage people to use the new service. It was he who invented the very first Christmas greeting card on a single piece of heavy paper. On it he printed a traditional holiday scene, and a Christmas Greeting. These cards were printed and pre-posted with a stamp and called the penny postal, and thus the snow-ball started rolling down the hill.

The volume of cards sent by mail is diminishing rapidly as folks are opting to send electronic messaging over the printed card. The U.S.Postal Service, however still sells Christmas stamps. When they started this tradition the stamp depicted only a Christian scene. This year I had a choice between six designs depicting 2022 holiday seasons, and three from last year as well, and twelve more new commemoratives. At sixty cents each stamp, I shelled out $120 bucks for two hundred stamps and the USPS got that much richer.

At one time I would have bought many more just to add to my collection, but since I am faced with disposing of said collection I have learned that stamp collecting, even though it still does exist is no longer popular. My collection dates back to 1947 when I began at the urging of Sister Flora my fourth grade teacher. All I know is that many foolish people like me spend more money than necessary on stamps for their collections. All of them believing it is a good investment and will grow in value. I have yet to see a collector sell his collection at over face value.

When Dad and Mom sent their cards the postage was three cents, today, it is twenty times higher at sixty cents.

Since I am wrestling with the idea of no longer sending cards through the mail, I will test an idea out on you my BLOG readers. Here is my 2022 Christmas letter to you as a friend.

                                      December 18, 2022

Dear Friend:

I love reading Christmas letters. Friends report their activities, and those of their children and grandchildren. When I don’t see a friend for a long time reading all of those details makes me happy. Many times, I learn that someone has moved and I didn’t know it, or worse that a friend died. Watching families grow and shrink are all a part of this magnificent life God has granted us. That is why we celebrate the birth of Jesus each year, because we love Him, and we see His love in the families we know.
My own life is not very exciting anymore, not that it ever was, but things are slowing down. I haven’t traveled since 2016, except to drive to the Grumpa Joe family reunion in Covert. Otherwise, I drive the same car, live in the same house, eat the same food, sleep the same hours, and drink red wine with the same terrific friends. Even my plan to move into an apartment changed, and instead, I did some remodeling by finishing the basement.
The kids are doing well. Jacque has passed the five-year mark with her cancer, but she continues to develop side effects which the doctors can’t decide are from the cancer, or her radiation treatment. As poor as she feels, she insists on visiting her dad most every Sunday. Her two kids are out of the nest, Jenna started college and Joey works as a chef. My oldest son Steve turned 60 this year. I can’t believe he is just a few years away from retirement. His oldest son Ben started college, he’s headed toward pharmacy. God knows I can use another pharmacist to keep me straight with my collection of pills, Bradley continues in high school. Michael the youngest is also an empty nester. Dana and Abbey moved to the towns they work in, and Dan finished his degree in Astro-engineering, but signed up for a master’s degree. He wants to keep on learning more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.
Lovely and I invited her grandson Gerry to come and live with us, and by golly he accepted. That means my family is growing again. Barbara celebrates her twentieth year in heaven, Peggy her fourth, and I left Panduit for retirement twenty years ago.
Work on intarsia art has slowed down because of the remodeling, but will resume again soon. One thing I did was to build myself a shop with walls, lights, outlets, and shelves to keep things neat. Note, I didn’t make a home-made Christmas card this year. During the summer, I help Lovely with her vegetable garden tending to pickles and cucumbers which I call the Pickle Factory. She makes dill pickles nearly every day of the summer. That girl loves her pickles (so do I).
After fifteen years I resigned from the Lions Club board of directors, but remain active as a plain Lion. Instead, I joined the Board of Directors for OASIS a support group for people with vision impairment. So many things to do, and so little time or energy to do them.
For once I have put up my outside Christmas lights before the temp dropped below freezing. In years past I hated the frozen fingers and ears, but loved the Vodka warmups. This year I just loved the Vodka.
Here is wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With all our love,

Grumpa Joe & I.

It Finally Happened

For the past fifty or more years I have been working with woodworking machines. One thing I have learned is that kick-back on a table saw can be serious. For fifty years I have taken extreme care to set up my cuts so the possibility of a kick back was minimized. Today, I experienced a serious kick-back. A small piece of wood caught the spinning blade and shot back at me like a bullet. Ouch that hurt! It happened as fast as a bullet too. There was no time to react. In fact I didn’t realize the kick-back until the piece hit my arm at the inner elbow. I thank God that it didn’t hit me in the head. I would have dropped like a rock.

Insurance companies are always citing that accidents will happen, and show the probability. It is not that you will never have an accident, no matter how careful you are, it is only a matter of when it will happen.

In my case this happened because I was too comfortable with the cut I was making. The piece I wanted to end up with was small, and I thought the time it would take to jig it to reduce the possibility was not worth the effort. I know now that I was wrong. If the piece is small the possibility of a serious kick back is as great as working with a large piece. Small pieces get sucked into the spinning blade and are shot back with tremendous velocity.

Today, I learned a valuable lesson. Slow down and take every cut as if it is the one than will kill you.

Accident Statistics

A National Consumer League (NCL) fact sheet reports even more disturbing numbers, “an estimated 33,400 individuals required emergency department treatment to address injuries caused by table saws. Of these 30,800 (92 percent) were related to the victim making contact with the saw blade.” (2)

NCL goes on to explain, “More than 4,000 of these injuries require amputations – an average of 11 per day.” (3)

A survey conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported the estimated total of table/bench saws related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms for a two-year period was 79,500. This total represents 78% of the estimated total stationary saw injuries of 101,900. The numbers are based upon National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data. (4)