Advice Old and Older

28 09 2014

And these few precepts in thy memory see thou character.

Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor any unproportioned thought his act.

A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh  with a froward mouth. (Proverbs 6:12)

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer, but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. (Proverbs 15:28)

He that hath knowledge spareth his words, and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise, and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:27-28)

The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead…. He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:16, 21)

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

It is as sport to a fool to do mischief, but a man of understanding hath wisdom. (Proverbs 10:23)

A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips, and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue. (Proverbs 17:4)

As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that deceiveth his neighbor and saith, “Am I not in sport?”

(Proverbs 26:18-19)

The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Provers 18:24)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful…. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart; so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel…. Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27: 6, 9, 17)

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. (Proverbs 13:20)

Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man thou shalt not go, lest thou learn his ways and get a snare to thy soul.

(Proverbs 22:24-25)

Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth and a foot out of joint. (Proverbs 25:19)

Beware of entrance to a quarrel…

Only by pride cometh contention, but with the well-advised is wisdom. (Proverbs 13:10)

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. (Proverbs 16:32)

It is an honour for a man to cease from strife, but every fool will be meddling. (Proverbs 20:3)

But, being in, bear it that the opposed beware of thee.

If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death and those that are ready to be slain, if thou sayest, “Behold, we knew it not,” doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? And He that keepeth thy soul, doth He not know it? And shall not He render to every man according to his works? (Proverbs 24:10-12)

A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring. (Proverbs 25:26)

The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;

In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin, but he that refraineth his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)

Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge, but a fool layeth open his folly. (Proverbs 13:16)

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame to him. (Proverbs 18:3)

Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge, but he that hateth reproof is brutish… The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:1, 15)

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction, but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured. (Proverbs 13:18)

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way, and he that hateth reproof shall die. (Proverbs15:10)

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy: for the apparel oft proclaims the man…

Wisdom is the principal thing. Therefore get Wisdom, and with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee honour when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. (Proverbs 4:7-9)

Neither a borrower nor a lender be: for loan oft loses both itself and friend; and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

This above all – to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.

Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity than he that is perverse in his lips and is a fool. (Proverbs 19:1)

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness, but a faithful man, who can find? (Proverbs 20:6)

Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. (Proverbs 19:20-21)

William Shakespeare (Hamlet:  Act 1, scene 3)


By the Waters

27 09 2014

By the Waters

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

the Prophet Jeremiah

Woodcraft 17: Dead Wood

26 09 2014

That evening, shortly after my sister and I had gone to bed for the night, I heard my grandfather call my father on the telephone.

Now, back then, long distance calls were not frequent.  Because of the expense, people tended to reserve such calling for special occasions: Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays….  I could think of no special occasion for this call.  My mother had phoned my father the evening of our arrival in the Fox Cities.  She had pretty much said, “Hi!  We’re here. The trip went well. I love you. Good bye.”  She kept it short.

I heard my grandfather say, “Georg, my son.  You have taught your son, Konrad, many things about wood….”

Indeed, he had. A game we had commenced playing about the time I started grade school involved grading lumber.  The game got harder as I got older because of so much to appreciate.


People in the forest products industry subdivided softwood into three main classes: yard lumber, structural lumber, and factory & shop lumber.

Intended for general construction, yard lumber could typically be found in community lumber yards and was used in the manufacture of housing. Yard lumber was subdivided into finish lumber, common boards, and common dimension lumber.  Dimension lumber was further subdivided into planks, scantling, and heavy joists.

Mill workers cut structural lumber to meet requirements for greater strength and subdivided it into joists and planks, beams and stringers, and posts and timbers.

Factory and shop lumber didn’t need to come in long lengths or wide widths.  Smaller planks and boards were acceptable as long as the wood itself was clear and useful for such millwork items as sash, frames, doors, moldings, and cabinets.

All these various pieces of wood had grades based upon the presence or absence of defects such as cracks, splits, beetle borings, knots and knotholes, and even stains. Anything that would weaken the wood could be considered a defect, and anything that would spoil the appearance of the wood could be considered a defect.  It all depended upon intended use.  So, a piece of finish lumber could receive a grade of A, B, C, or D.  I could understand that system; that was the way teachers graded tests and quizzes and papers and other assignments at school.  The better the board, the higher the letter grade.

Things got more complicated, though.  Common boards didn’t get letter grades.  They got number grades, 1 through 5.  Number 1 Common was a pretty good board.  Number 5 Common was pretty poor.  Dimension planks got one of three number grades.  So, too, scantling and heavy joists.

Hardwood lumber had its own grading systems.  One system pertained to hardwood dimension stock, which had at the time only a small portion of the market.  The other system pertained to standard hardwood.  The grading system oriented on how much of the wood piece’s surface area would yield either clear or sound cuttings relative to specified sizes.

Here’s the sequence of standard hardwood grades:  Firsts.  Seconds.  Selects.  Number 1 Common.  Number 2 Common.  Number 3A Common.  Number 3B Common.

For example, for a piece of hardwood to be graded Select, it had to meet these requirements:  Six to sixteen feet long.  Four inches or more wide.  If the surface area of pieces measured 2 or 3 square feet, then 91.66% of each piece had to work into clear-face cuttings.  Only one cutting was allowed, and it had to be at least 4 inches by 5 feet, or 3 inches by 7 feet.

I could go on, but you’ve probably had enough by now.

My grandfather said, “You’ve taught your son, Konrad, many things about wood. What have you taught him about trees?”

I fell asleep trying to figure out what he wanted to know.

 woodcraft 8

Come Often To Us

21 09 2014

I’ve watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly! indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!

This plot of orchard-ground is ours;
My trees they are, my Sister’s flowers;
Here rest your wings when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary!
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough!
We’ll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.

William Wordsworth

butterfly 1

Woodcraft 16: Surprise

19 09 2014

I didn’t explore the neighborhood for very long.  My mother would be returning sooner than later, so I walked around a couple of blocks, took a look at a nearby playground, and then went back to the house.

Mom was just pulling into the driveway as I came along the sidewalk.  Grandmother was at the front door of the house, wanting to know right away how things had gone.  Joanna broke out of the car and bounded over to Grandmother, anxious to give a report.  She commenced immediately in a long description of the park and the boat ride.  Mom got out at her usual speed: casual.  She walked to the front passenger side and stood waiting for Grandfather.  She did nothing to help, but she stood there just in case and so as not to be rude and leave him behind.  Grandfather struggled a bit, but managed to get out and on his crutches.  He closed the car door himself.

As he approached, Grandmother said, “Come on in, everyone.  Kurt and I have a surprise waiting.”  She meant the cupcakes, of course. They would make a nice afternoon snack.

“And I have an additional surprise for you, Grandfather,” I said.

“You do, Konrad?”

“You do?” Grandmother also asked.

“Yes.  I’ll show you after you see what Grandmother has.”

We went into the kitchen and sat at the table.  Grandmother brought the treat.  Joanna beamed with delight.  Grandmother brought milk from the refrigerator and coffee from the pot she always had ready.  She also heated some water for her own use; she liked drinking tea in the afternoon and evening.

“So tell me, Grandfather,” she said.  “What did the people at the hospital have to say?”  She called him August in the presence of peers.  Among her children, she said Father.  With grandchildren at hand, she said Grandfather.  That was family custom.

“You may be at ease, Grandmother.”

“I will be at ease when you give me some facts.”

We could all tell that Grandfather really didn’t want to talk about it.  My mother gave him one of those nudging looks, the kind that says, “Go ahead.  It’s the right thing to do.”  Joanna and I had seen it many times.

Grandfather realized that my mother would speak for him if he didn’t.  He said simply, “I have lost another pound.”  Then he reached for a cupcake.

“August!” Grandmother called, forgetting herself.

Mom shoved the platter out of his reach.

Grandmother handed him a plate with a slice of whole-grain homemade bread on it. 

Grandfather looked at it and shook his head.  “Joanna.  Open the refrigerator and get me some of Grandmother’s strawberry preserves.”  He figured my sister would be only too glad to please after all the fun she had had earlier that afternoon with him.

“August!” Grandmother called again.

“Sit still and eat your cupcake, Joanna,” Mom said.

Grandmother handed Grandfather a little tray containing what looked like butter.

Grandfather shook his head again. Looking at my mother, “Rebecca, you of all people should know that oleo isn’t fit to eat. Tell Halfrida.”  He referred to oleo-margarine, a substance that had little if any milk in it.  Since my mother had been reared on a dairy farm, and since her parents were still in the dairy business, Grandfather figured he could gain her support.  At the time, dairy farmers in Wisconsin opposed the marketing of oleo to the point of hostility.  It was bad for business.

“I know it’s not as good as butter,” Mom said, “but it’s better for you.”

Ach!  I’d rather have old-fashioned lard, then.”  In older times, country people usually collected lard in little crocks every time they cooked pork.  Especially if they were poor, country people used lard as a spread for bread. Even if they could afford to keep a cow, they would usually sell the butter made from milk and cream because they needed the money it could fetch.  Instead, they would eat the fat from the hogs they slaughtered and rendered.  Small farmers found little market for lard, even though my mother and both my grandmothers said it made the best pie crust.  National pork processing companies sold as much lard as the market would bear, which kept shrinking year after year.

“We don’t have any,” said Grandmother.  “I stopped stocking the stuff when we moved from Waupaca.”

“I know.”  Grandfather ate the bread plain. With an empty plate, he looked at me as if to ask me to get him another slice.

“And no, Grandfather, you may not have another,” Grandmother said.  “You have more pounds to lose.”

“More pounds to lose,” he repeated.  “And if I am too weak to move as a result, what then?”

“You won’t be weak,” Mom said.  “You’ll be better, stronger.”

Ja, ja…

My mother said to my grandmother, “The doctor said that August’s legs are better.  Both of them.”

“What both?” Grandfather asked.

“Oh, don’t carry on like that in front of the children,” Grandmother said.

“Your diet is helping,” Mom said.  “Your legs are looking good now.  You can begin walking well now.”

“So they say,” Grandfather said.  He looked at me.  “What is this surprise you have for me, Konrad?”

I beamed.  “Come, Grandfather!  I’ll show you!”

“Come where, Grandson?  Where are we going?”

“Out back!”

“We are going out into the back yard,” Mom corrected.

“Yes,” I said.

Grandfather got up from the table, took up his crutches, and followed me.  The women-folk all followed him.

I held the door open, and he swung out.  He paused, looking at me.  I pointed and said, “Look!”

He did.  He stood still for a moment.  Then he swung himself along the length of the yard straight to the ash tree.  I followed.  Once there, he stopped and stood still.

The purple ash tree, its trunk all but perfect in shape, shone in the sun. The whiteness given it by the light only enhanced my handiwork.

Grandfather for a time stood speechless.  Eventually, however, he asked, “You did this, Konrad?”

“Did what?” Joanna asked.

“Hush, Granddaughter.”

“Yes, sir!”


I nodded.

Grandfather nodded.

“Dad says…  I mean, Father says that a tree must grow straight and be clean and clear if it is to produce the best wood.  I made this one better.  It’ll now produce the best wood for you, Grandfather.”

“But Kurt,” my mother began.

Grandfather glared at her with a potency that demanded, “Silence, woman!”

Mom kept silent.

“You have done quite the job here, Master Konrad,” my grandfather said.  “We shall have to keep a close watch on this tree.  A close watch.  Indeed, I believe I will go back to the patio and sit and watch for a while, even now.”  He turned and moved back toward the house.

I followed.

The women-folk followed me.

We stopped at the patio.  Grandfather took a seat.  He looked at everyone looking at him.  “What is for dinner, Grandmother?” he asked.


Grandfather looked at me.  “As you know, dinner is at 6 o’clock.  Take your sister out to the playground nearby and have some fun.”

“Sure.”  I added, “Mother lets us watch cartoons on TV in the late afternoon.  Sometimes.  Would you like to watch some with us?”

“I don’t know that we have the same programs here in Neenah that you have there in Port Edwards,” Grandmother said.  “Our signals come from Green Bay.  Yours come from Madison and Wausau.”

My favorite character was the gray and white rabbit. Joanna’s: the black and white mouse.

 “I like the woodpecker,” said Grandfather.  “If he’s on, let me know.  I could use a few laughs.”

woodcraft 3

In Beauty from the Skies

14 09 2014

The hills are clad in purple and in gold,
The ripened maize is gathered in the shock,
The frost has kissed the nuts, their shells unfold,
And fallen leaves are floating on the lock.

The flowers their many-colored petals drop;
But seed-pods full and ripe they leave behind,
A prophecy of more abundant crop,
And proof that nature in decay is kind.

But still the dahlia blooms, and pansies, too;
The golden-rod still rears its yellow crest.
The sumach bobs are now of crimson hue,
The luscious grape has donned its purple vest.

The forest trees, so long arrayed in green,
Wear now a robe like Joseph’s coat of old,
Brighter than that on eastern satrap seen,
Tho’ clad was he in purple and fine gold.

The woodbine twined about the giant oak
Blends with its purple-red a brighter shade.
Co-mingled thus our praises they evoke,
Tho’ we know well this glory soon must fade.

The fields are green with grass and new-sown wheat,
Tho’ here and there a brown stalk may appear,
A dying rag-weed, ripened by the heat,
To reproduce an hundred-fold next year.

The melon yellows in the kindly sun,
The peach puts on its blush like virtuous maid,
The gourd its snow-white band like brow of nun,
While flower and gum the air with fragrance lade.

The swallows gather on the fence and wire,
Chatter a loud farewell to barn and nest,
And then on wings which never seem to tire
They fly away in southern bowers to rest.

The thrush no longer sings its tender song
In osage thicket, or in locust hedge,
But pipes its notes the Negro boys among,
On cotton plant, or Alabama sedge.

The blackbird lingers by the flowing brook,
Or perches proudly on the shock of corn;
The lark still hovers round its meadow nook,
And soars and sings as on a vernal morn.

The robin, too, is loth to quit the lawn
And visits yet his nest beneath the eaves;
I hear his cheering notes at early dawn–
To part with these old friends my spirit grieves.

But soon these feathered songsters must away,
Ere winter’s frosts shall chill them thro’ and thro’;
In other lands they find the summer day,
The opening flower, and the refreshing dew.

The air, tho’ chill, is not surcharged with death,
But health-inspiring germs it bears along.
We drink in vigor with our every breath,
And life appears like spring, each day a song.

God spreads a carpet for our weary feet,
Richer than those which grace the palace floor;
The rainbow hues are in it all complete,
And tints, I think, of full a thousand more.

God with His hands of wind for woof collects
The forest leaves, and weaves them with the grass,
With nap of richest hues the fabric decks,
And spreads it out for feet of every class.

A haze at times may veil the smiling sky,
The sun his golden locks exchange for gray;
But soon a western blast comes sweeping by–
The mists depart, and glory crowns the day.

The lowing cattle roam from field to field;
No more content in narrow bounds to stay;
The ozone in the autumn air has healed
Their every ill, and lo, the dull beasts play.

This season has its lesson each should learn–
The fading leaf reminds us of our doom;
But whether like the stately tree, or fern,
In hope we travel onward to the tomb.

We look not for the Winter, but the Spring,
When we shall glow in beauty from the skies;
Each now his tribute sheaf of praise should bring,
Then hear his Lord’s “Well done!” O glorious prize.

Joseph Horatio Chant

An Autumn's Work


13 09 2014

aster mass

My life’s long radiant Summer halts at last,
And lo! beside my path way I behold
Pursuing Autumn glide:    nor frost nor cold
Has heralded her presence; but a vast
Sweet calm that comes not till the year has passed
Its fevered solstice, and a tinge of gold
Subdues the vivid colouring of bold
And passion-hued emotions.    I will cast

My August days behind me with my May,
Nor strive to drag them into Autumn’s place,
Nor swear I hope when I do but remember.
Now violet and rose have had their day,
I’ll pluck the soberer asters with good grace
And call September nothing but September.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox