Monday, October 30, 2017

Apathy of the Human Spirit

I am going to vary my "wood" blogs for a moment in order to comment on what I feel is the growing apathy of the human spirit. This is a large subject. I am not a professional in this field of psychology, but it is something I become more aware of daily.

By apathy among people, I mean people who are happy in their "comfort zone" of life and do not want to "rattle the cage." Apathy is defined in Wikipedia as: "A lack of feeling, interest, and concern. A state of indifference. A suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation, and/or passion." People who are not interested in speaking out if their beliefs are hindered in any way. "Let your voice be heard" is not acceptable behavior. Who am I to argue against any of this. Each person has a right to his or her own lifestyle and how they want to live it. However, things in life do not change unless there are people who are willing to speak out and fight for their beliefs. The status quo continues and the powerful people have the ability to control a lifestyle according to their desires and motivations.

This is not a modern day occurrence. The Romans were ruled by the few. When there was a revolt, it was slammed down. Corruption and self dealing finally led to the downfall of Rome. The French and the Bolshivic  revolutions happened when the apathetic population finally, after centuries of power control by the elite, let their voices be heard. When the power structure was threatened, they attempted to put it down. The people rose up, apathy went away, and their world was changed for the better. Look what happened to Germany. Hitler rose to power with a powerful few at his side, had an excellent "marketing"program, and there existed a general apathy from the populous. Look what occurred when the world finally realized what was happening. Apathy changed to action and Hitler was defeated.

I mentioned that I am concerned with a "growing" public apathy. Looking at the past, I guess today is no different then history. Humans are human. Nothing changes unless people are determined to change things. Step up, be counted, have conflict if necessary, BUT let your voice be heard if one wants change. I see too many people gripe about issues, but never take the net step to speak out.

America was built by patriots who dared to let their voices and actions be heard. Washington, Hamilton, Hale, and many others. What happened? America severed British control and started the greatest country in the world in 1776. What would have happened if these patriots would have just sat back and accepted the status quo? The United States could have become multiple countries as the British parceled us out to Spain, Mexico, Russia, and others.

Let's look at others who have "let their voices be heard." Gandhi. Churchill. Lincoln. Roosevelt. ML King. Gloria Steinem. Castro. Gabby Gifford.

I understand these people are anomolies. The world will never have many of these super achievers. But, each person can, if determined enough, shed their apathy and make a change in little ways. Ways that will make life better not only for them, but for their neighbors, fellow countrymen, and the world.

***The above was written in Summer 2017. LOOK what has happened since:

The Weinstein sexual abuse scandal has rocked Hollywood and many other entities both public and private. For many years, people kept silent about what they knew was wrong. Finally, Rose McGowan spoke out in a forceful manner about being raped by Weinstein. The flood gates opened with 58 accusers. This protest is spreading to other accusers. This could be the most influential social movement in American history. No longer will sexual abusers get away with their acts.

In order to protest civil rights abuses and racial injustices, NFL players decided to "Let Their Voice Be Heard" by kneeling during the American anthem and flag raising. This was not out of disrespect for the flag, America, or our military. It was a forceful way to protest and demand change in racial relations.

Hard to imagine these issues have been around for years, with a lot of people aware, but by hiding under the rug life was safer.

 Enough said. I will get back to creativity on my next posts.

John (Gabby) Gabrielson
Natural Creations.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Reclaimed Cypress Tables #2

I just looked at my first blog on creating stump tables from river reclaimed cypress. It was 4 YEARS ago. No, must be a typo. Have I been at this thing that long? Guess so!! I have survived with no crushed toes, cut off fingers, my hand arthritis is still there but a martini at night helps, made a few bucks, and believe I have made people happy by incorporating my creations into their homes.

The evolution of my work has been interesting and fun. Every piece of cypress turns out differently in color and grain. Here is a stump that has over 800 life rings. When recovered it was covered with 150 years of silt and scum. But, when cleaned and sanded it turned into a great reddish brown, showing all its rings. It seems like the older a log, the more color it has. I have proven my son Eric wrong when, upon asking him for ideas on the piece, said I need to cut it up for firewood. No imagination my little 45 year old son.

Sections from a 800 year old river reclaimed cypress. Before the fun started.

First cypress table from the rough sections

Second cypress table from the rough sections.

Here are four side tables from the same log with over 300 life rings. They do not have the color the 800 year old ones have, but they are still cool. The colors really come out with more coats of clear finish. I usually do 4 coats, with sanding in between.

I had a couple of logs that fell apart and I cut them into smaller pieces. Check the various colors from 2 separate logs. OK, but what should I do with them? Tried getting my interior designer daughter to incorporate them into some of her beach decors. There was a polite, no thank you. What do I know? Met a glass blower artist at an art fair recently. She might try and incorporate glass elements into the voids. Guess this applies to the saying - take the blinders off. You never know when something cool might evolve.

These are cut from the above rough sections.

Recently I had a log that was totally hollow, but solid on the outside. It was filled with silt and had interesting voids. Amazing what a power washer and a Dremel tool can do to open up the beauty of a log that had been submerged since the 1800s. I was very happy to place it with friends for their new house.

I am going to vary my log comments for a minute to talk about other uses for logs. My friend Cara recently had to cut down a lovely, old white pine. She has an old farm house and thought she could salvage boards from the pine for her floor. Here is the result before and after finishing. What a great use of old, beautiful trees, rather then shoving them into a landfill. GREAT job Cara.

One last tidbit on trees. Our community recently removed some magnolias that had become overgrown and a nuisance. Here is an end cut of the base of one of the trees. It shows the growth life rings and how fast a tree grows in this Florida climate. There are 2-3 rings per inch. My reclaimed, original growth cypress logs have 25-30 rings per inch. Each ring is a year of the tree's growth. This slow growth of original timber produces beautifully grained and tight wood.

Well, I have finished my Starbucks coffee and am off to find some new stumps/logs. Or to finish sanding some of my current stock. Often the "search" turns out to be more fun than standing over a table with my orbital sander. Remember, never pass up the opportunity to put that strange looking log into your truck. It might be a treasure, or just a bunch of bug infested fire wood.

Take Care
Spring is here. Watch out for critters in the woods.
Margaritas are wonderful this time of year.
Protest the WH and Trump against destroying our national wildernesses and parks.
Never trust a Swede with a chain saw.

John "Gabby" Gabrielson

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Decrease of Women Power thru the Ages

Now I am really straying form my blogs on reclaimed wood. This is about what I believe is the decline in women's rights thru the ages. I became interested in this subject as I witnessed the inequality that exists today between women and men. This has been brought to my attention especially as my two super granddadaughters are soon to enter the real world. I want them to have an equal fighting chance with their male counterparts, and be tough enough to challenge them.

Let's look at the importance of women in society thru the ages. Then compare this with today's environment.

American Indians.
Prior to the tribes being destroyed, women were the important element in the tribal structure. There was a clear division of responsibilities. The men were the hunters and the warriors. The women bore the children, raised them, did the cooking, made the clothing, tended the gardens. It is interesting that the women were the force behind all tribal actions. The men were the only ones allowed in the governing pow wows, but they were controlled by the desires of the women being the scenes. Not so today in urbanized Indian communities.

Scandinavian Vikings.
Women were revered. The men were the warriors, but the women ran everything else. Some would even fight beside the men in raids around Europe. If a woman was abused, the abuser would be banished from the settlement. If a man raped a woman, his "manly parts" would be cut off and could be hung at the house of the woman. Then banished. This certainly is a lot different than today when the rapists can get off scot free and the accuser woman is criticized and emotionally hurt for years.

Prior to the recent downfall of this country, there was a reform movement to reduce poverty. The government actually paid qualified families in cash rather than food stamps and other welfare. In return, the families had to insure their children went to school and a number of other things. This worked. AND the government only paid the cash to the woman of the family. They assumed, rightly so, that the woman would spend the money on needed items of food and clothing. Rather than drinking it up. Now, is this further evidence of the importance of woman? This worked until corruption and the oil crisis blew the country apart.

Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
I recently read: "in Italy when Mama is mad, better watch out, but if Nona is mad, better run." I found this true when we visited Italy a lot a few years ago. There is a constant respect for women, especially as they age. Elderly grandmothers live with their children and are not pushed into nursing homes. They are respected for their wisdom and lifelong family contributions. And they continue to contribute to the family life.

OK, then when did all this change? Maybe the respect for women's rights never did occur in America as in older countries. Maybe we are too new to have established this tradition. Except, look at the pioneer women. They were tough and considered equals. They ran the house and often fought alongside their men. Maybe the urbanization of America was the cause. Who knows.

Maybe it started with religion. the Catholics only had men in their hierarchy until recently. Birth control was an issue - often against women's rights. In certain areas, like Salem, unusual women were sometimes branded as a witch and burned. Maybe it was that few women worked outside the house, vs today when it is 50%. "Women's work" was not as respected as "what the male breadwinner"did. This possibly created a sense of who is more important.

Today we have abuse in the workplace. Unequal pay for equal work. Rapes that were not dealt with like those by Bill Cosby. Rapes on college campuses that were pushed under the rug for years. Gang rapes on the Panama City Beach last year while people stood around and watched. Trump and his response to Megan Kelly and his "fondle" comments on the bus. And on and on. This is a total lack of respect for women.

Finally today, we have an environment where women are not scorned for speaking up, whether it is on campus or in the workplace. Courts are awarding massive settlements as in the FOX News abuse cases. College administrators are finally taking the side of the abused woman and punishing perpetrators. Equal pay for equal work is becoming more common.

This is all great. But we have a lot farther to go for equality for women of all races and backgrounds.
We all need to be aware of this abuse today and let our voices be heard to fight it. Maybe cutting off a rapist's penis and testicles isn't such a bad idea.

Well, I have once again vented on one of the issues very important to me. I apologize for offending anyone. If you disagree, that is your privilege and I respect this. However, those who believe in this issue, must let their voices be heard. That is the only way changes can be made.


Thanks for listening to me.
Have a happy and healthy 2017

John "Gabby" Gabrielson
(they do not call me Gabby for nothing)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

What is this Aging All About?

OK, as long as this is my blog, I am taking the opportunity to post a totally different thing than my usual wood and creative stuff.

I just turned 75 and am semi retired, or just messing around depending on who you ask. Am I old, over the hill, should be taken care of, or what? As I say "bull shit." That 75 is just a number on my driver's license. Probably look 75 or 80, but feel like I am 55.

If you are bald, grey hair and with a few (or more) wrinkles, often we are put into an
"oh oh, better take care of them" category. When I go grocery shopping at Publix, the bagger always grabs my cart to take to the car,  I suppose assuming I will croak if I do it myself. I "nicely' tell the person that I can handle it and it is good exercise. I know they are just being kind and probably do it to younger people also. Then people will say "pardon me SIR", or "you first SIR." I am not a SIR, I am a happy, healthy 75 year old that could whip many of these kids, well maybe in my dreams. Then when you are trying to help move something heavy, which I could do, people run to take over. I don't need help. Shove off. Boy, do I sound like a grumpy old man.

My name is Gabby. Not good for a 75 year old I guess. People, other then friends, are reluctant to call me by this name. Maybe it should be something more respectable of my age, or not something a kid would be called. Big rip. I am Gabby.

I find "aging" a very interesting and challenging time in our lives. We ache more, fall down more, have memory losses, and look forward to that afternoon nap. I have found a little Aleve helps a lot, and maybe a glass of wine or two. It is interesting because of the perception that we are in the twilight of our years. Sure our time is limited, but this is where the challenge is. What do we want to do for the rest of our lives, whether it is 2 or 20 years. We can either knuckle under and feel sorry for ourselves or "go for the gusto." I go with the Gusto option.

Sometimes I am amazed with my "wisdom." Not that I am smart, but I guess living for 75 years gives me a lot more insight into things. I find it fun to use this wisdom in new ways and with new ideas. I have learned to temper my comments to my children. It is so easy to "tell them the way." I have found that my way often is not the best, especially in the new tech world we live in. So, I now keep my big mouth shut until I am asked for advise.

So, now that I am 75, what do I do now, especially if I feel like I am 55?  Well, that is a good question. I hate to speak out much due to it seeming like I am preaching on how to lead a better life to my peers.. This is not my intention at all. Each to their own desires. I find it a very introspective time. With the free time we have as retirees, the "world can still be our oyster," OR the world can be a depressive prison. I read a lot on what us "Boomers" or older, "should" do in in our later years. Words are fine, but I have found it takes internal motivation to lead a better, more fulfilling life. This can be hard, unless one really wants to change, and often change a lot.

I have found old ways and beliefs often have to be thrown into the dumpster. I have been burdened with "if only I had done this", or "doing this is below my status," or "what will people think of me." I have broken through this barrier by myself and with help. It was not easy for awhile. Fortunately, I am "thru the dark tunnel" and looking at a beautiful sunlit life ahead of me. Sure there are and will be many bumps along the way, but I yell at myself that I will be able to handle them.

I keep telling myself: laugh a lot, DO NOT take life and it's events seriously - things will pass, take the blinders off, eat that extra bagel, take a nap, sleep until 9, love - love- love, bring joy to someone everyday - especially strangers. As a good friend has said: "we are only here for a visit and each passing day makes our time shorter."

OK, that is off my mind. Now back to wood and creating blogs.

Happy New Year everyone. LIFE CAN BE  AND IS GOOD. GRAB THE GUSTO.