There Is Hope For the Next Generation

Grandma Peggy and I are constantly asking what will happen to our grand children in the future? I, for one, believe that they will adapt no matter what kind of country America becomes. What troubles me is that they will never see the same America that I did. They will never see a country of opportunity, but they may see a country filled with expectations. They will expect free stuff, like a free house, a free car, a free phone, free health care, free college, freedom from work. The list is endless. What they won’t experience is the joy of being free to live a life based on one’s own ability. They won’t know the joy of excelling at a job and advancing, or better yet, the joy of starting a business which becomes successful.

Somehow, they will cope with a socialized America. They will live joyfully as drones and go to the collective-whatever to work for the same wage as everyone else because sameness is what makes them joyous. I saw this same joy in the faces of those in East Germany, and in the communized states of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The people of these countries were so filled with joy, the government built fences at the borders. To assure their joyous faces wouldn’t spread to neighboring capitalist countries they erected guard houses every three hundred meters and manned them with people whose job description was “shoot to kill.” The fence, and guard houses stand in a wide grassy field one hundred meters wide on either side of the line. Most of these people are so happy to spread their joy they sneak across the field at night and lay still trying to blend in with the grass when the spotlights pass over. A few make it as far as the fence, others lay bleeding and dead in the grassy field.  Those who reach the fence must climb four-meters of cyclone fence with spiraling razor wire at the top. Again the lights shine and the machine guns sputter a line of bullets through the night sky and find the bodies scrambling up the fence, all happy and gay with only the single-mindedness to spread their joy.

Very few joyful people make it into the scummy capitalist countries to spread the message of  happiness. Most find their greatest freedom as they lay dead and bleeding at the foot of the wire wall.

Then, I see a video of a young woman named Elle May. I watch it, she inspires me, and raises my belief  that my grand children will still have the same opportunity to live in the America I live in.

 

Horn Man

A year ago I got the bug to make some Christmas gifts. I began a project in late November to make twelve Intarsia flowers for the women in the family. I struggled to complete five in time. The project over whelmed me. This year, I began making gifts in September thinking it would be enough time. Except, the people I made gifts for had aged and I no longer felt comfortable making teddy bears for my grand kids. When I began Intarsia, my oldest grandchild was four. Today that same child is nineteen. When it all started as a hobby, I set a goal to make an intarsia piece for each grandchild. I managed to give my first three kids a hand-made intarsia art piece. Then there was a lull in grandchild production. By the time new kids were born my life had changed dramatically. Four more kids came. Dan was a toddler when my wife Barb had her heart attack, and my drive to make intarsia art faded to zero. Barb died, and three more kids came during my grief. I lost the idea, until last summer when I realized my life calendar is running down. The idea of making Dan a teddy bear didn’t compute because he is thirteen now. The same went for the rest of the kids, they are eight and ten. I took care of my ten-year old grand-daughter last year with a flower. The two youngest are brothers and are avid fisherman, each got an intarsia fish, Brad got a largemouth bass, his brother Ben a stripped bass. So that left me with Dan.

Most Intarsia wood workers are craftsmen not artists. They make the art from pre-designed patterns. I did this for the flower and the two fish. I bought pre-designed patterns and made the art-piece as a craftsman. I decided to design the last work from scratch. I had made enough art-pieces to feel comfortable with the art form and needed to jack up my experience a level.

I thought long and hard about what kind of piece to make for Dan. He is not a fisherman like his cousins, he is a swimmer, and a very good one. I couldn’t imagine how to design a piece of art made from wood to depict swimming. I am not creative enough, but I did vision him playing his trumpet.

I called his father and asked him to photograph Dan while he practiced. I received two photos and chose one to work with. At first, the project excited me, then fear took over. I froze with the fear of actually designing a piece and executing it. For two months, I could only think about how complicated a work I had decided to take on. I procrastinated by making the two fish ahead of the one I designed. My design would be the reward for completing two projects ahead of time.  By the time I got started on the Horn Man it was November which is a short month in the wood shop because of Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations.

I finally began with my grand-daughter who helped me transfer the photo into a line drawing. Once I had the line drawing it took a couple of days to decide where the cut lines would be, which colors of wood I needed, and which direction the grain would run.  Actually, this was the easy part since I have spent over forty years in a business which relied on my visualization and transfer of designs into workable drawings.

With the baby steps initiated, I began to gain confidence in completing the piece. There were several set-backs along the way. The largest cost me too much time. Originally, I decided to make the piece a traditional two-dimensional intarsia piece. There was no way for me to execute a two-dimensional design easily. I needed to shim some parts and to slab cut others to create the third dimension. Making the trumpet was one such set-back. I scrapped what I was doing and chose to make a three-dimensional trumpet, except I didn’t have enough information to make a 3d horn. I spent time on the web searching for images of trumpets and printed out several pages of trumpet details to study.

It became clear that the Christmas deadline could not be met. Lucky for me that Dan lives in Texas and I was going there in January, so the deadline moved to mid-January.

I finished the Horn Man a week before Peg and I were leaving for the West. Just before the final glue together, I felt the piece needed something else and I decided to add the musical score. A month earlier I acquired a piece of wood which was perfect for the music, it is so dark it looks black. The wood was a nightmare to cut. It is so dense I wore out many saw blades before I finished the music lines and the notes. Four days later I finished it, then I scrapped it because it overwhelmed the piece with its size. I was now three days away from leaving for Texas. They say necessity is the mother of invention and I redid the music using some very thin plywood that cut super easy enabling me to finish the music in four hours. The end result turned out to my satisfaction.

The photos tell the story.

DSCF0515

Dan Practices Trumpet

The Photo Transferred to a Line Drawing

The Photo Transferred to a Line Drawing

IMG_0898

Lots Of Loose Pieces With Some Minor Shaping On Some.

Starting To Take Shape

Starting To Take Shape

Facial Detail

Facial Detail

Hand and Valve Detail

Hand and Valve Detail

What's A Horn Without Music?

What’s A Horn Without Music?

The Music is Too Loud!

The Music is Too Loud!

Horn Man

Horn Man

 

Not a Grass Farm Anymore

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerSo many things to write about so little time or desire to do it. Memorial Day was spent quietly. A walk in the early hours, followed by breakfast then a trip to the Breidert Green for the VFW Program. I’ve lived in Frankfort for seventeen years, but this is the first Memorial Day Service I attended. I was drawn to the program to hear my two beautiful grand daughters play in the band. The flag was lowered to half mast followed by the invocation. The Hickory Creek Tiger Band played three numbers, The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, and a third number that I don’t recall. The mayor read the names of all known service people currently serving. After, a Veteran read the names of all the deceased vets from Frankfort. The VFW color guard gave a twenty-one gun salute. Three members of the Tiger Band trumpet section played taps in echo fashion. It brought tears to my eyes. Even though I avoided serving, I grew up with WW-II, Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq. In between those there was the Bay of Pigs, Lebanon, Grenada, and some that I’m sure I have forgotten.

I drove the girls home and chastised my son for not being at the service. He was busy painting his garage door.  

The rest of the afternoon, I spent trying to barbeque some chicken breasts. I say tried, because I ran out of gas on my grill. I had to use a roaster oven to finish. Thank God I paid the electric bill. Peggy and I ate a late lunch. We cleaned up then sat on the patio.  We listened to the sound of the waterfall. A pair of mallards waddled through the yard trying to find a path around us to the bird seed. Finally, we went in to let them enjoy the seed. I’m hoping they are in a family way and will bring their young to the pond. Wouldn’t that be a joy!

This evening, I re-boxed some golf balls for shipment to Iraq. After that I took a baby step to sort through Barb’s favorite poetry and prayers for the legacy scrapbook I am assembling. Another baby step went toward getting my bike ready for the road. In years past, I would have had fifteen hundred miles logged by now. This year I’m struggling to get started. I figure a baby step toward making the bike ready will get me to take the next step, i.e. bring it up from the basement.

Wow its warm. It is our first warm day, and I have every window open and all the fans running to stay cool. Even this laptop is adding heat to my discomfort.

Tomorrow, I will bring the bike up after breakfast. In the afternoon we will shop for more flowers. With all of the trees, shrubs, and perennials we planted around the pond last week, the yard is beginning to look like a real garden again. Goodbye grass farm.

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