The American Road Trip • Part I

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DSCF0839AMERICA IS NOT LACKING highway to drive.  Anyone want to throw a bag of clothes and the dog in a car?  You can motor any direction for a few days.  One of my favorite trips takes one through Missouri along I-44, to O.K.C., and west as far as you want to go.

Recently I helped a friend relocate, and made the trip twice in one DSCF0801week.  The second trip, pulling 4200 pounds, was at 55 mph.  Truly the speed of exploration.  Empty highway, rain clouds on the horizon, windows down, what could be better for relaxation and reflection?

Along my leisurely way,  following the sage advice of billboards, I sampled some of the local fare.  And managed to gather information for a new blog, AmericanLunchbox, soon to go online.  Barbecue from two states on two consecutive meals! Yummmmm!!!! Ain’t America great?

Big SHOUT OUT to Gray County Westbound Safety Rest Area, in Texas!

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EMERGE • darlys ewoldt

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darlysewoldt emerge 3Emerge came into this writer’s possession directly from the artist during the Philadelphia Craft Show in the autumn of 1998.  The acquisition was made as a motivational device, reminding me of a sculpture I doodled in the 1980s but never executed.  While I may be forgiven my lack of progress only because it involved a car-sized piece of granite, serious stone-cutting tools, a studio, and a year unencumbered by responsibilities, I would be remiss if I did not document this fine sculpture and publish it’s journey.

From Chicago via Ms. Ewoldt, Emerge stayed in the Philadelphia region for 16 years.  Very recently the sculpture has been gifted to a dear friend, to be featured in a private gallery in the Scottsdale area.

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J-B WELD Epoxy Putty Kit

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 AFTER REMOVING THE 1920’s mortise lock, a gaping rectangular hole was evident in the door.  The new Schlage locks, ordered and ready for install, would not install until this void could be addressed.  Why?  Because the extra drilling for modern locks would have turned the French door into a Swiss Cheese door.  A lock installed in a compromised door helps no one but the unlawful.  Never figured on the space left by the removed lock, but it was a temporary setback.

 J-B WELD Epoxy Putty KitA bit of handyman-style investigative work came up with The Dutchman Patch.  I cut a piece of wood to fit the space formerly occupied by the mortise lock, and glued it in with Liquid Nails.

Next, a prodigious amount of wood putty was mixed.  Not your average putty in a can, but an epoxy-based two-part invention from J-B WELD.  Exceptional stuff!  It cured in a few hours, and I was ready for sanding!  A little touching up, and the door now looks like it always had modern locks on it!



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Q-tips Cotton Swabs

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logoTHE UBIQUITOUS Q-TIP.  There is nothing quite like an American-made cotton swab.  Assume, for a minute, you never use Q-tips for their most common function, strictly following the medical community’s instruction (who really listens to their doctor, right?).  There are still a zillion uses.

Showing me an electronic keyboard for sale, I remarked to the musician, “It looks brand new”.  It was, actually, two years old.  The seller had detailed all the nooks, edging, and crannies with Q-tips moistened with rubbing alcohol.  So began my instruction into detail cleaning.

DSCF0610A family friend operated an auto-detailing business.  The cars came out the door factory-new.  What was the trick?  After general cleaning, washing, and waxing, a couple more hours, armed with a box of Q-Tips and a cup of cleaning solution, laboriously getting into every crack among the interior and exterior trim.

And most recently, applying wood glue to a horizontal upside-down joint, where we do not want any drippies!  My near-vintage Guild acoustic guitar repair came out famously!

Return those flimsy imported drugstore-branded cotton swabs immediately and demand quality!  Insist on genuine Q-Tips!

The cotton swab was invented in the 1920s by Leo Gerstenzang after he attached wads of cotton to toothpicks. His product, which he named “Baby Gays”, went on to become the most widely sold brand name, “Q-tips”, with the Q standing for “quality”.

Midwest Products • Hobbyist Materials

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DSCF0615THE OFFER WAS TOO GOOD to be true.  A Made In The USA acoustic guitar, dreadnought-sized, was for sale.  In exchange for a reasonably slim stack of crisp Yankee dollars one could own a genuine Guild D4, a treasure from the heartland of American Folklore.  Yet something seemed amiss . . . 

Ahh, it becomes apparent. It is the six-inch crack in the solid mahogany side of the guitar.  An impact crack, fortunately, rather than that caused by heat or humidity.  The wood can be buttoned up. We have the patience . . . the technology.  The knowledge?  Not yet.  But a visit to Jake the Snake cleared all that up.

A little super glue to tack the edges together, then thin wood glued across the crack from the interior.  How thin?  1/32″ of an inch, it turns out.  Beatty Lumber Company will not get my business on this one.

DSCF0590Up the street, though, is an old-time hobby shop.  I know, because I’ve passed it several times a week for the past 30 years.  And it turns out . . . 1/32″ basswood is a stock item.  They also had the right glue, Titebond.

Armed with a sheet of veneer hardwood from Northern Michigan’s forests, and domestic glue I’ve trusted in the past, I set about successfully repairing my USA-made Guild in just a couple of hours. The Circle Is Unbroken . . . 

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USA Pans 6-Well Donut Pan

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Homer_Simpson_2006EVERY AUGUST, THE MOST difficult decision of the year comes up.  What to get Mom for her birthday.  After a while, it seems most people have everything they want;  when something is needed, they buy it.  So the chance to find something Mom wanted but had not purchased was an exciting event!

What did Mom want?  A donut pan.  Never heard of it, but this new invention, the internet, cleared that right up for me.  In the true spirit of everything Homer Simpson stands for, one can buy a specially constructed pan to allow baking of donuts at home!Donut2

The Asian manufacturers evidently have not caught on to the American craze of home-baked donuts; the most prevalent search hits pointed to a local company.  Over 50 years of experience with materials and commercial end users have made USA PAN the go-to manufacturer of quality bakeware.  They had the donut pan.  It is made in the USA of heavy gauge aluminized steel  The price was right. SOLD! 

logoMade in the USA by American Pans in Pittsburgh, PA, the Largest Worldwide Manufacturer of Commercial Bakeware.


Green Heron Tools • HERShovel

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WATER SLIDES AND BUGGY RIDES are OK for some tourists.  30% milk-fat ice cream & funnel cake.  But around these parts, it’s farming.  Crops & animals.  It was no surprise recently, while visiting an exhibition at the Penn State Landisville Experimental Farm, to find myself in front of a display of shovels.  Ahh, tools!  Love every durn one of them.  And these, especially!

shovelAs it turns out, I have seen these particular shovels before, having bought one at a home show a few years ago.  My Mom loves it, and even Dad chooses it over a conventional shovel (strong enough for a man, made for a woman?).

Conceived by two Pennsylvania residents.  Made in Pennsylvania (in America).  Designed expressly for bodies which are not engineered for digging.  Fortunate to find, manning the booth, one of two woman behind the company, I was able to get a clear understanding of what went into their shovels.

Both Ann (my partner) and I have backgrounds in health — she has a master’s in nursing. Our health backgrounds played a major role in realizing the need for tools and equipment designed to work with women’s bodies. We understood the connections between tools & health/safety — and Ann, in particular, has a very good understanding of body mechanics (how to use/move your body in ways that get tasks done while preventing injuries). We do workshops for farmers and gardeners on ergonomics, body mechanics etc.
Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.41.48 AMAs for design of the shovel — we had a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, which enabled us to convene a design team that included, in addition to ourselves, an agricultural engineer, an industrial engineer with a specialty in ergonomics, and an occupational therapist. – Liz Brensinger , Master of Public Health
When you want a perfect gift for the active female gardener in your circle of loved ones.