Back before Christmas, Evan sent me some photos of some boxes that were being sold as “shaving boxes”. They are a simple wooden box with a split top. The inside surface of the top has a mirror on it and you can fold back one half of the top to extend the mirror. I think you are supposed to carry all your old-school shaving accoutrements (brush, mug, straight razor, soap, etc) in this and use it while traveling. It does look cool.

Later on, right before he and Cassie came for the holidays he asked me if we could make one together. This is pretty much every woodworker’s dream so we texted back and forth on the subject of design for a few days until we settled upon what he wanted it to look like. This is why I love cell phones (and partially why I don’t blog much – phones are easier); I could sketch something quickly on a piece of paper, photograph it, and send it quickly and easily. This was easier than using a drawing app for me. He sized it to carry his things specifically.

We got busy the day after Christmas. I had some leftover cherry from my bed project and I had already cut these to size and planed them down to the desired thickness. We spent a few hours shivering in the frigid garage laying out dovetails and cutting them until we couldn’t stand it anymore. We had one more such session but couldn’t finish the project and I got it done after they had left. As always, the finishing tool the longest. I actually bought some gel stain in a cherry color because that’s what he wanted and this looked really nice (normally I wouldn’t stain cherry). I used polyurethane on it since it was to be used for potentially wet things and I added many coats until I built up a film to make sure it was all waterproof inside and out. This was what he preferred anyway – most people do.

As with all my creations, I see all the flaws and they bother me forever after. I end up almost wishing I could start over. I suppose many other woodworkers feel that way although it’s difficult for me to imagine, for example, Sam Maloof ever feeling any of his chairs were substandard in any way. Still, Evan seems happy with it and even Melissa put it on display on a shelf for a month or so until he could come get it.



I haven’t been blogging much other than woodworking stuff but to fail to blog about Evan’s wedding would be a fathering fail of Biblical proportion.

It was great.

But of course a few details are in order.

Because Cassie had family in Hollister, they had the wedding in Branson. As a result, family and friends who may not otherwise have made the trip actually decided to do so and make a little vacation of it. The attendance; therefore, was high.

Melissa had worked on the rehearsal with her usual gusto and the rehearsal and subsequent dinner were flawless. The ceremony and reception were at the Keeter Center on the campus of College of the Ozarks and the rehearsal dinner was at the ‘official’ hotel: The Grand Plaza. It was pretty cool to have half the entire 8th floor occupied by friends and family of everyone. Plus the breakfast buffet was open from 7 till 10 and I was up there for the entire time every day. There was always some family member or friend coming in who I could talk to.

There were many little flourishes that set the event apart and provided for memories. Melissa had printed and framed a banquet table’s worth of photos of Evan and Cassie at all ages which everyone seemed to enjoy looking at before the rehearsal dinner started and she had printed them all up into a book which was a surprise gift for them after dinner. Further, she had bought little Arkansas Razorback shirts for the flower girls and ring bearer sort of as a joke on those who were from Missouri but they were well received (one of them was seen the next day at the outlet mall wearing it). I had made their wedding cake topper for them (Han Solo and Princess Leia) which also brought many positive comments.

Melissa had prompted certain people to prepare some remarks to give after dinner; a few were funny stories but most were sentimental feelings delivered with voices choked with emotion. It was a good experience all around.

It was a rainy weekend but Saturday afternoon was clear and sunny for the wedding and reception; after that none of us cared about what happened with the weather. Good thing too since it started raining cats and dogs early Sunday morning and never really stopped. We left on Monday at mid-day and it was still rainy although as we got back into Oklahoma, the rains stopped and it got back to the usual August 100 degree temperature.

After Evan and Cassie left, we struggled with what to do under the rainy conditions. The shopping venues were mobbed as if it were Black Friday. We ended up braving the crowds at the outlet mall and then going to one of the little-known shows with Mel’s sister and my brother (plus spouses and Erin). This bit of dinner theater proved sufficiently entertaining to make it worth doing and we got a very good souvenir photo out of it. One of those goofy ones.

A hundred little things happened to make the weekend memorable. I look forward to having Cassie as a daughter-in-law. I will leave them alone for as long as I can to allow them to get used to their lives together. I look forward to the future.

This weekend was a busy one.

In addition to completing the redo of Evan’s bedroom (now our guest bedroom), Erin paid us a quick visit to pick up her car (after having had the transmission replaced – ouch!), Evan called us to tell us that he and Cassie have set a date and a place, Paige had her baby, and then the Super bowl to top it all off.

It was an event-filled weekend.  I’d kind of like to spread these things out if I can but this time, everything happened at once.  Still fun though.

Well this holiday was quite a time – we have a new fiancé’ in the family after all. We only got to see Cassie when they came over after Christmas to get her ring sized at the jewelry store but that was enough. We had bought tickets to see Mannheim Steamroller and we all went although we were all a bit underwhelmed. Still, we got out of the house and that was worth something – we had not really done much of that up until that point. Too many college bowl games perhaps.

I had good intentions for doing something productive during the break but apart from taking down the Christmas decorations, I can’t point to much of anything. I did go out into the garage and run some wood through the surface planer but I have much more to do. I decided that our Christmas tree is ridiculously old (I can remember buying it when the kids were still preschoolers) and that I would put it out on the curb (after the mountain of other trash that has accumulated because they only come once a week during the largest trash-generating week of the year. Not that I’m bitter. )

But at least, that’s one thing I will not have to drag back up into the attic. I think I’ll start replacing all my lights with LEDs as well so that should be fun. One day I’d like to figure out a way to make it easy to put up the lights outside but I haven’t come up with anything yet.

I have had to sit on this news because I sort of knew it was in the works but now the truth can come out.  This is the biggest Evan-related news since he was born:  he is now engaged to be married to Cassie.  I am really excited – I feel like I’m getting a new daughter.  One who is already grown up!
He recently (December 1) asked us some questions about diamonds and where he might be advised to do his shopping. But on Friday, the 14th, he popped the question.

Evan joined the cycling club in Ft. Smith soon after he started work there and last Saturday, participated in his first duathlon.  We decided to drive over to watch.
But not before Erin came home for her “fall break”.  That is really nothing more than a Friday without classes.  She had a race of her own to participate it which is the race to find a paid internship for the summer.  She had an interview with a company in Tulsa and so spent Friday preparing for and going to that.  She seemed to think it went well.
We got up early on Saturday to head to Ft. Smith.  It was raining off and on both there and at home and fall had begun all of a sudden with temperatures in the 50’s.  This was nothing but good news to me since I love the cooler weather – it was a great day for outdoor activities as far as I was concerned but Erin stayed put in the car most of the time.
We got to see Evan pass by the start/finish line several times for the riding and running sections.  Then when he was done we met up at his place and then headed off to lunch where we watched the Razorbacks on the restaurant TV.
Not a bad way to spend the weekend.  Plus it kept Mel’s mind off her upcoming new job.

There’s an imaginative title.  This past weekend, we kept pretty busy.  On Saturday, we picked up the PJs and headed to Guthrie which is a town I’ve wanted to visit for quite awhile.  It seemed a bit off its game – perhaps because it was a holiday weekend but I figured a tourist town might have all the stores open on the Saturday of a holiday weekend but not so.  We passed several that were closed.  Still, the little town is picturesque and the tour trolleys were operating so we got the driving tour with narration to tell us what we were looking at.  I like that the town is a mix of restored buildings with museums in them and normal businesses.

The most interesting business is the Double Stop Fiddle Shop which does indeed sell fiddles but you’d be hard pressed to get anyone to help you buy one because of the bluegrass jam circle going on most of the time on the shop floor.  It’s a fun free concert though – and if you really like it you can go upstairs to the music hall in the evening and pay $10 for a more formal concert.  But these guys were pretty good; apparently the shop owner and three others.

It ended up unfortunately hot but we’re pretty much used to that by now so we had fun.  We stopped at the Territorial Museum which is pretty much a museum for the Oklahoma land run.  I chatted for some time with the single employee who was there that day; a recent history graduate who was working her dream job of sifting through old documents for clues to the past. She had to man the front door, the cash register, and the gift shop but since we were the only ones in the building, she managed just fine. In fact when I found her on the way out, she was back in the office area restoring an old spinning wheel.

We drove home and made it in time to watch the OSU game on TV until it got boring during the first quarter and then switched to watching the Arkansas game online.  A coworker texted me that she had spotted Erin at the OSU game.  

The next day (Sunday), Erin drove home and we then all drove on to Ft. Smith to spend the day with Evan.  Cassie had driven down from Fayetteville and we all piled into the truck and drove down to Magazine Mountain State Park.  The lodge there is beautiful and we had lunch in their restaurant and then walked outside along the ridge for awhile.  We also went to the visitor’s center whose best feature is the large room full of bay windows and rocking chairs that look out onto a large number of bird feeders and wildflowers.  It was a good day.

Monday (Labor Day) found us finishing up Erin’s laundry and prepping her to go back to school.  That always involves a trip to Wal-Mart to stock up.  She left early (as always) and we slowly got back to our lives.  I guess it’s time to start scraping another sector of ceiling popcorn.

Evan has collected several paychecks now and seems happy at his job.  He seems to have made some acquaintances at work that he hangs out with regularly after work and so seems to not be bored.  There are some nice bike trails near his apartment so he rides regularly. We finally bought him a graduation present: a GoPro camera so he’s been busy with that along with his first large purchase of his career: a new laptop.  He seems to be getting his adult life and career off to a good start.
As a parent, that’s the answer to almost every hope and prayer we ever had for him.  Only one remains:  that he meet the right girl.  That may be happening too; he has spent several weekends up in Fayetteville visiting Cassie and she has visited him a few times too.

After Evan’s graduation he and Cassie went on the wedding tour wherein most of his friends got married. Then he went to stay with Cassie and her family for about a week. That seemed like a little long to us but he had a good time. Finally we called and said “hey come spend some time with us” so he drove home, checked in briefly at his apartment in Fort Smith, and then drove over to broken arrow.

We spent a week sort of getting him ready to move away permanently. You know: sending him to the optometrist for one last visit, buying things he needed, getting him a haircut, stuff like that.

Then it was time to move Erin to Stillwater which he helped with.

Then it was time to drive to Fort Smith with him. His new employer had already paid to move all of his stuff there. But he did need to go buy some furniture for his apartment. So we drove around Fort Smith looking for furniture. We found a bargain at one place or not so much a bargain as it was just an instant living room. It had the sofa, love seat, two end tables, 2 lamps, and some accessories so it was a way of instantly decorating his living room. He needed something to sit on to watch television.

And now he starts work. It’s a big day. He’s well and truly out on his own now. Makes me sad but that’s the way things are supposed to go I guess.

When we were living in California, Melissa worked for a company that gave all the employees a gift at Christmas (as opposed to giving them a cash bonus).  At some level, that kind of sucked but at least they tried and they usually gave some pretty nice things.  For example, one year we were given a gift certificate for one night in the Fairmont Hotel which was pretty fun.  But one year, we got a gumball machine. Most of the people at her office had the same reaction: “Uh… a gumball machine?”

But I was thrilled; gumball machines are pretty cool and it was fun to have. I must admit that when the other employees tell you how last year they got a sweet bonus check, it tends to disappoint.  Still… gumball machine!

Very quickly I decided that a gumball machine is OK but if I made it into a lamp, it would be both cool and useful.  I had Evan’s room in mind and I set to work immediately.  I’m not sure where that bit of inspiration came from but I’m sure it wasn’t original – I have created many things but they were always inspired by the project of someone else.  It was quickly transformed into a nice lamp and I was suitably proud. 

I poured in the gumballs that came with it (which came in a paper milk carton type thing) and they barely covered the mechanism at the bottom.  It takes a huge amount of gumballs to fill such a machine and after buying all they had at Target, I had it about half full which seemed like enough so I called it done.  These days I would probably call a vending machine business and arrange to buy a barrel full but we had small children in those days and we both worked so many such things went undone.

When you own your own gumball machine, you can set them to not require any coins to get the gum out.  This seems like a good idea if you’re an adult and have even a little self control but Evan was a toddler and self control was not yet developed so I arranged for it to require coins.  In fact, I don’t really remember ever telling or showing him that they were gum at all.  He never knew that they were edible and so never even thought of getting one out.  This worked out perfectly from a parenting point of view.

Until the neighbor kid moved in.

It was a blessing to have some little boys just down the street for Evan to play with but as soon as your children start playing with other kids, they start learning things that you didn’t teach them and you can never control what they learn.  Parents know what I’m talking about:  some of those “colorful metaphors” (as Mr. Spock said in one of the Star Trek movies). But they also taught Evan that the lamp in his room was also a gumball machine and those colorful things inside were very tasty.  The fact that I had never told Evan about this (We may not have even taught him about chewing gum at all at that time) made him look like an idiot to the other kids but I didn’t care since it saved me many hours of getting gum out of the carpets.

They came down the hall one afternoon whereupon Evan said the toddler-speak equivalent of: “Did you know that my lamp is full of gum and all we have to do it turn the knob and get all we want?   All we need is some money.”

This is where I did what parents frequently do – channel The Grinch and I thought up a lie and thought it up quick.  I told him that it was broken – yes it was full of gum but we couldn’t get it out.

Apparently the older kid from down the street had heard that sort of reasoning before.  That or perhaps he was a budding little scientist but apparently, he decided it was worthwhile to put it to the test.  They apparently scavenged Evan’s room and discovered a cache of pennies.  I don’t remember if Evan had a piggy bank or not but they came up with the loot somewhere.  All I do remember is them both coming down the hallway towards me with their cheeks bulging and multicolored drool dripping down their chins.  Evan was really excited; he couldn’t wait to tell me that the machine wasn’t really broken.

Well, it isn’t any mystery that obfuscation is not parenting at all and will eventually fall to an assault by logic.  I don’t know if the kid down the street was especially smart or just didn’t believe anything an adult said but I then had to actually do some real parenting and make some rules about if and when gum could be chewed and as such I still have an animosity towards that kid even though it’s really my fault for not seeing that coming.   I can’t remember his name.  I only remember that his mother had a British accent. 

I guess I had spent all my brain cells on converting the gumball machine into a lamp.