Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

Last day on campus for the year

Posted by joeabbott on December 11, 2013

At my exercise class last night I had a number of folks asking me how the vacation was going; clearly I’ve been talking about this a lot. And yet, I have to say, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been away all that long … that changes today. My first day of vacation was last Friday, which I enjoyed running errands. Then on Monday I returned to campus for a talk, and yesterday I returned for a class. From here out, I have no business being on campus and I plan to honor that plan by staying away; how can we miss each other if I don’t stay away?

imageI awoke yesterday and realized that I should stay out of the kitchen while Suzy gets ready. While I’m sure she enjoys the tea-water boiling or the dishes being whisked into the washer, she has a routine and I don’t need to add stress by injecting myself. While I’d like to help, the best you can sometimes do is to stay away. And so I grab a beverage and head to my upstairs den to start the blog and wait for her to call up that she’s about to head out.

It wasn’t long after she left that I popped on my shoes and ran for the door myself. The ride into campus was quick and I arrived early, where I settled in for a bit of mail before I took the class. Just before 11AM a friend of mine (who appeared in this blog last August) appeared and was scheduled for the same class. We sat near each other and caught up on a few things before and after the class … he’s also enjoying a month off and has been catching up playing some games and dropping the weight he gained while shipping the Xbox One.

After class I dropped by the Company Store, picked up a copy off Office for my home machine and a travel mug for a gift. With that, I gave a wave to campus and left for the rest of the year!

imageOn the way home I dropped by a family member’s home and enjoyed some time chatting with them. I didn’t stay long as I had vacationing to do and then continued south to my home. While usually enjoy leftovers for lunch, I broke habit and ate at a Five Guys Burgers and Fries place that was too conveniently located not to visit. I’ve only eaten there once before and, while delicious, made my belly awfully sore! I was sure I’d have to work harder at the gym that night.

I got home and let the cats run a bit in the yard. As they ran I took a bit of a nap on the couch. I never thought I was much of a nap sorta guy, but I’m loving them!

Upon getting up I fixed a cupboard that had broken one of its support brackets and then started in on my holiday card writing, getting out a solid 8 cards. Only another 30 or so to go! That doesn’t include the cards Suzy will have to write … those are up to her!

imageShe got in from work and we quickly prepared to go to gym class for spinning … the modern day word for the stationary bike. It’s a good workout and we both enjoy going, but makes for rushed days on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

After class I brought in the chicken’s watering dish; Suzy would return it in the morning and bringing it in at night keeps it from freezing over. Side note: I’m really ready for this freezing period to break. I keep hearing about how it’ll start warming and every time I go outside I’m reminded it hasn’t yet! Yup, being a weather-wimp, but it’s hard to get excited about my outdoor projects when your fingers freeze and you need to bundle up to stay warm!

imageAfter running the watering container in, I installed the Office product on my home machine, caught up on a few email correspondents, and finished a book I was reading: The Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Christopher Schwarz.

I got the book as I’ve followed Schwarz in a number of woodworking forums and been generally impressed by his skill and entertained by his writing. Both of exceptionally high quality. The book is broken into a few sections that to my mind run: chapters on tools every woodworker needs, a plea to eschew post-war industrial mass-produced furniture, and then chapters on building a traditional woodworkers’ tool chest to hold your tools. All of this is followed up by a short chapter best summarized as a cry for preserving what remains of craftsman woodworking skills.

While I agree with many of Schwarz’s stands, I was surprised by the pitched tone his invective against Ikea-quality furniture that came out in the middle chapters of the book. When he picked up steam, he started to build onto other facets of his life, such as cooking, and I realized I got far more (less?) that just a woodworking tome. The message pervaded the book but it was only brought to the front in a few pages, so I was able to get back to learning about tools and understanding how to build quality furniture. The reasons I bought the book.

I’ll likely return to a number of pages from The Anarchist’s Tool Chest and will follow the overarching guidance for developing skill in a trade that avoids mass-produced furniture, but I can’t say I’m eager to reread and absorb some of the more fervent arguments the author makes. I’m glad we have folks around to make principled stands and to write excellent works such as this, but I’m less eager to wash myself in the energetic dialog that accompanies such stands. Can one be an anarchist from the sidelines? Perhaps “no”, and so I’m not very much anarchist material.

And that was about it. Doesn’t seem overly industrious but the rest of December is now before me. The vacation really starts tomorrow!

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