Wednesday Woodworking and Writing Update – more cabinets and summer fun.

I haven’t done a Wednesday post in awhile and given my upcoming summer schedule it might be awhile before I do another one.

On the writing front, I continue to add poems to my lectionary collection and have started to collect poems for my “Place” collection.  Likely, I’ll be cutting back on the number of posts I do here over the summer.

I was frustrated that two the poetry workshops I applied for rejected my application.  Even more frustrated that I only applied to two …

I have singed up for a poetry conference that doesn’t do the application/judgemental thing.  More about that later.

Wooding has mostly been boring shop reorg and finally getting this cabinet in place:

The third of three laundry room cabinets. Just needs some doors.

At this point I am out of my recycled plywood and had to buy new.  Next step is adding doors.  Then I’ll start on the lower cabinets.

That’s it from here today.

If you need me – I’ll be in the shop,


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Father’s Day

Since this is Father’s Day, I’m a seeing a number of “Father’s Day Posts” happening.  You may have noticed on your FaceBook feed a number of pictures of people’s fathers.  Some are the, “I’m missing you” since you died. While some are pictures of guys holding babies and a lot of pictures of guys with new tools.

I suppose I should write some kind of father thing.  While I often quote my father, our relationship and my view of him was/is —

well, complicated…

Father was 36 when I was born.  I was that unplanned child who arrived when most men are dealing with teenagers and the first realizations that their bodies aren’t young anymore.  My father was in the midst of a career, budding alcoholism, and the slow disintegration of his marriage.  He wasn’t home much.

My older brothers taught me how to ride a bike, hammer a nail, and wash the dishes.  Father mostly came home late, watched TV and left the child stuff to mother.

I didn’t really get to know my father much until he started in AA when I was 12.  Suddenly he was home every night and interested in what I was doing in school and in boy scouts.  He even went on a father-son campout with the troop.  Just for the record, he was a horrible camper, but smart enough to let me put up the tent (after all mother had taught me how to camp).

Some time around 15 father seemed to decide that we needed do things together – you know quality father-son time – so he started to take me to AA meetings.  It was all he did, work, go to meetings, and sleep in front of the TV.  It was an interesting time in our lives and I did get involved with Al-anon for a few years.

While it might not seem like the best way to spend time with your son, it did teach me a lot about life, who I am, and how to live.  I also learned how to deal with drunks and other ‘problem’ people.  The lessons I learned then have been invaluable to my life.  It was also a time that deepened my spiritual life and where I came to my understanding of God.

Father was generous with me.  He was helpful, always there for me and the one person I could count on when I was in trouble.

However, he wasn’t that way with other members of the family.  He ignored my brothers and was horrible to my mother.  I was 18 when mother finally left and filed for divorce.  He was combative and fought every part of the divorce settlement that he could.  It was not his finest behavior.

At age 21, I moved away from home and father moved into a small apartment.  It was during this time that I realized how much he emotionally depended on me.  He called every day or two and was always buying me lunch or dinner.  From the outside most people thought we had a great relationship.

We did, to a certain extent.  He’d help me solve problems or give advice and I’d listen to him.  Then I’d mostly do whatever I wanted.  I never respected the way he ignored my brothers or his inability to live his life according to the lofty principles he espoused.

When I turned 28, there was a downturn in the computer business and I found myself without a job for a few months.  Resources started running out and I was concerned that I’d lose my apartment.  Father came to the rescue again and suggested we lease a house together for awhile so we could both save some money.

This worked for awhile and in time I got a new job.  Life seemed to be getting better.

Then one morning, he knocked on my bedroom door and with half his face said, “I think I’ve had a stroke.”

My response was, “Shit.”

That started a period of twelve years of physical and mental decline for him.  When he came back from the hospital, it was clear he couldn’t work anymore.  On his social security he could just barely afford his share of the rent and I ended up taking on all the other bills for the two of us.

In time he recovered enough to realize what a burden he was to me and one day announced to me that he’d called the VA and county housing authority.  Since he was a WWII veteran with a service connected disability, the VA accepted him as a patient.  The housing authority told him that he qualified for subsidized housing and since he was a veteran was on a priority list.  He wasn’t hopeful about the housing, thinking it might be years before he got in somewhere.

Turns out, just a few months later, they called him and an apartment in a senior housing project came up and it was his.

The day I moved him in, we sat on a bench and he said to me, “I like the place, but it feels like I’ve come here to die.”

How do you respond to words like that?

We both knew it was true and all I managed to say was, “Yeah, but that could be a long time.”

It twelve years of heart bypass surgery, strokes, gallbladder removal, more strokes, and complications from medications.  It was constantly checking on him, buying his groceries, clothes, and fixing his computer so he could play solitaire.  Then there was the home health care to arrange for, managing his money, and social workers to talk to.

He called every day and if he didn’t I would panic.  Twice I came to check why he didn’t call and didn’t answer the phone – both times I ended up calling 911 and spending days in the hospital chasing down doctors for news.

During this time he gave me everything he had – all his time, all his advice, all his jokes, and all his loyalty.  He even managed to soften towards my brothers and my mother.  He would come to family holidays, church, and would be polite, pleasant, humorous, and even a bit apologetic.

He died a month before my wedding  to Heather in a VA ward, in pain and having lost all of his memories and intelligence to the brain damage inflicted by stroke after stroke.

We were buddies.  We depended on each other, but I always called him, “father” and never “dad.”

Father always introduced me as, “This is Andy, of me and Andy.”

Fathers and sons — it’s complicated.

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Friday Wisdom – Accidents

If most car accidents occur within five miles of home, why doesn’t everyone just move 10 miles away?


More wisdom next week,


Posted in wisdom | Tagged , | 22 Comments

This is My Worst Post Ever

If you’ve ever watched a YouTube channel, you’ve seen video titles like this – click bait.  They’re sensationalized statements that have little to nothing to do with the video and are designed to get you to click on the video so the video creator gets just one more click.  Now, I wouldn’t lower myself to such tactics to get clicks on my blog, but it would be nice to sometimes get more than five views a day.

Today I planned on writing this totally awesome post about YouTube and it’s ability to create division in our society.  As an extra layer, I planned on weaving the current state of Biblical studies in the modern Christian church into this rant.  Trust me my early thinking was epic – I mean genius level.

This morning while I was in church, when I was supposed to be listening the sermon I made some notes about this post that were going through my mind so I wouldn’t forget later.  I just read what I wrote and … oh heck, here’s what I wrote:

Compare woodworking with metal working videos on YouTube as it relates to Bible study and myopic tendencies in modern thinking and social interactions.

Huh?  I don’t even get that. Now I have no idea what I was trying to say and clear whatever post was in my brain this morning was clearly the result of being woken early and having a low caffeine level.  Also on the same page (actually the back of the church bulletin, just after the weekly calendar), is a note for a poem I am working on for my lectionary project.  This week I am working on a poem in response to Matthew 6:1-6.

Are you ready for this?  Here’s my notes for the poem:

Poem: Actors and applause.

That’s actually a lot more clear and concise when compared to the wackiness above.  Hum, and it’s not that bad.  Might be the whole poem, three words.  I kind of like that…

Sorry, back to this failure of a post.  Yesterday I was in my workshop building a cabinet and I was thinking about this YouTube channel I like, This Old Tony, he’s a machinist with a fun sense of humor and some cool projects.  Then I got to thinking, “He only works with metal on his show, while Steven from, Woodworking for Mere Mortals, only works with wood on his show.”

Why don’t woodworkers talk about metal working?  All of our tools are made of metal and without the machinists there would be no table saws or drills or chisels.  Not that I use chisels all that often.  Metal workers seem to have the same bias – you don’t hear many of them talking about the last cabinet they built or the cool cutting board they made for their mothers.

I dare you to go onto a YouTube and find channels that do both.  In our world of social media, the game is getting more and more specialized every day.  You even find divisions among woodworkers such as those who use power tools and those who practice the pure and true art of working wood with only hand tools.  Want to start a comment flamewar? Go to a channel that uses a jointer and suggest that they’d get a better finish with a nice #5 Stanley hand plane.

Well, no don’t do that – they aren’t listening and won’t listen to a contrary view.

This kind of thing does highlight a problem with social media which is the tendency to specialize and isolate ourselves into ever smaller and more extreme view points.  Holistic view points and those who want to travel the middle of the road are finding it more and more difficult to communicate in this world as the extremists shut themselves in internet rooms that don’t allow alternate views.

So where does Bible study come into this?

Hang on, this gets weird.  I’ve mentioned a few times the project I am working on, The Lectionary Project, where I am using a selection of Bible passages to study the book of Matthew.  This list of passages is generally used by preachers to plan weekly sermons that fit the liturgical time of the year (Easter, Christmas, Pentecost, etc).  It’s a three year cycle of passages that aims to provide a whole view of the Bible.

It kind of does and it kind of doesn’t.  It has missing bits.  I’ve managed to slug my way through to chapter six and have noticed that not all the words in Matthew are actually noted in a lectionary reference.  For example, the lectionary passage I am working on is listed as: MT 6:1-6, 16-21.  Verses 7 to 15 are skipped and never appear in any other time of the three year cycle, so if you just used the lectionary as a guide, you’d miss studying MT 6:7-15.

I guess you could say that it was not important to the writers of lectionary list or perhaps not viewed as important to church doctrine.  The fact that it is Matthew’s version of the Lord’s prayer, and one of the fundamental prayers of the Christian Church, makes this omission a bit disturbing.

Over the last few years, I’ve actually become more concerned about the narrow focus we put on our study of the Bible.  We read one or two verses and leave out the whole and no longer see the big picture but rather just pick and choose microscopic pieces and never see the full arch of the story.  In fact, in many places we just make stuff up to suit our needs.

Recently (okay about a year ago) I mentioned something like this to my men’s group and asked how many of us had actually read the whole Bible or even just one gospel in it’s entirety?  Most admitted that they’ve never really even looked at complete chapters, just certain verses as suggested various study guides.  At the end of that discussion we decided to read the whole of the New Testament.  Start to finish, every word, in order along with some of the footnotes and summaries.

It’s been interesting and enlightening.  It’s been troubling and concerning.  It’s brought to my mind the problems that we have with people focusing too much on the extremes.  It’s brought to mind how interconnected we are and how different the whole can be when we open our minds to all the wonders around us.

Someday I might have learned enough to write a post that says this clearly and concisely.

and I am now thinking of outlining a followup to my lectionary project – I think I’ll call it, The Missing Bits.



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