Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things
by James Glaser
March 14, 2008

I have to admit living at the beach last week was nice. No, I wasn't being a beach bum. One of Wanda's good friends gave us their condo on the ocean for a week as a wedding present, and it couldn't have been nicer. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and we are back in the reality of the work-a-day world. Only now we are husband and wife.

One thing pretty interesting was getting our marriage license. We were in a small rural county in Georgia, and they wanted to know if Wanda was taking my last name or if I was taking hers. Also, they wouldn't let me buy the license without Wanda there, too. If we would have taken their marriage course, we would have only been charged 25 dollars, but we didn't, so it cost us 61 dollars.

Anyway, we are now back home, and happy as two peas in a pod. See, I'm already picking up that Southern way of talking. I think the stress of getting ready for the marriage ceremony, and spending the better part of a week on the beach tuckered us out, and at least for me, it has taken until today to get back on track. I have a list, pages long, of things I have to do, but I have learned that if you stay on task, you can start crossing off things almost every day, and by the end of another week, I'll see that I have actually gotten some things done.

Now that I am back to working at the studio, people are coming in every day and wishing Wanda and me well, and they are catching me up on all that has been happening the last couple of weeks. Being in Railroad Square with the artists and crafts people is almost like living in small town America. You get to know the people, their spouses, and after a while their children, too.

I had a lady in this week who is helping me put together a web page for my gallery, and that will be fun. I don't know how long it will take, but I knew I needed help. I have seen some web pages that people have done for themselves using "Web Pages for Dummies" and don't think they look good. This lady is the designer and webmaster for galleries and art studios from San Francisco to New York, and they do look good.

After a couple of weeks of being away from politics, I find that the election is no longer on the front burner for most of the people in the Square. Many are seeing a down-turn in the economy with their art sales, but craft people seem to see an up-tic in sales as more and more people are wanting to buy something hand made. Craft items are usually in a lower price range and that helps.

"Hand Made in America" is the theme that I use when I talk to people about my shop. I tell people if they have someone who is hard to shop for, like fathers usually are, buying something that is hand made by an American craftsman is a pretty safe bet. The people who show with me in my gallery are very skilled. Crafts are judged on design and the quality of their construction. So, almost anyone can tell if what they are buying is something of quality or not. Art is more subjective, especially when you start looking at abstract works. Then it comes down to the eye of the beholder.

I am kind of lucky that I work in hard woods. My work can look good, and it can feel good when you touch it, but it can also smell good, too. Painters only have the visual spectrum to entice a buyer. I have sold a few pieces to blind people and to me, that is a real complement.

I bought a new tool, and that is always fun. It is a Performax 16-32 drum sander — made in Minnesota, which was a big selling point for me. It is mostly a finish sander, and you can do boards up to 32 inches wide. I wanted it for sanding boards I glue up for cutting boards, and for sanding thin boards that I'll be making boxes out of. I have wanted one of these machines for years, and I finally convinced myself that I couldn't get along without it, although I have gotten along without it for 30 years. I don't know if you know it, but guys get addicted to tools, and as you get older, your addiction tends to require the more expensive tools. I am thinking of this tool as my wedding tool. For a wood worker that is almost romantic.

I called Wanda on the phone today and asked, "Is my wife there?" I think that caught her off guard for a second, but it sounded fine to me.

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