Tuesday, December 30, 2008


My old friend Marty Schlabach (yes there is a nice pun/play on words, in the title) came to visit today. He wanted some help with a set of wooden blocks for his granddaughter - Emma. We had a great time etching the letters on this set of blocks he made. You would have definitely laughed out loud at us as we tried to figure out what 40 letters to put on the sides of the 10 blank blocks in the above picture...... not counting the flat boards. How many of which letters? Don't forget that there are three A's, two M's, and one each G, R, O, P, and E! --- yes we did notice that spells grope! That is a total of 50 letters actually, so we needed to figure what additional letters we wanted so Emma can spell lots of words. We want to leave the blanks so they spell out a nice crossword pattern for display. A check of the internet to figure out the relative frequency of the various letters in the English language. And when we got all done and thought we had them perfectly laid out, we etched them carefully keeping track of which letters and how many we had done..... got to the end ---- one blank side left over????? It took another 10 minutes to figure out what letter should go on that last side.

Thanks Marty for lunch, for the extra set of blocks I can etch for Maya, and for the great - if somewhat confusing - afternoon!

Monday, December 29, 2008

First real treatment done!

Above and below are pictures of my new friend! Once again, that's not me. You can see the laser lines that help them align me in the machine properly. When turned on, the machine projects a beam of radiation into my body - seems like about 10 seconds each? The really cool thing is that they actually project the beam 12 times. Each beam goes through at a different angle all around the neighborhood. The drawing below is a diagram of half of the steps. Each beam causes some damage to all the cells it passes through. But the area they really want to zap extra hard is the small (red) area where all the beams cross. That area will get 12 times the radiation of any other area, causing less damage to the parts of me I want to keep, and more damage to the parts of me that I'd just as soon be rid of! Pretty clever if you ask me!
Just a note that I found my camera that has been missing for about 2 weeks, so I'll try to get some actual shots of the machine.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Maya Christmas

This box was an immediate hit - especially with Nonnie Linda providing the go power. Linda ran out of steam before Maya did! Robotic Elmo took a while longer to warm up to, but eventually a hug was in order! Check out Robotic Elmo here. He is somewhere between wonderfully cute, and a little on the scarry side!
Thanks to Dawn Knox for the pictures!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christmas Top

As a guy with a huge collection of spinning tops, this is an especially good story.

One Present: Christmas Top Spins for 140th Year

As people all over the country consider the implications of scaling back their holiday shopping this year, they might be interested to learn about a little boy, born during the civil war, whose love for one simple present has lasted more than a century and is still being celebrated today

DEER PARK, Wash., Dec 08, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- In Deer Park, Wash. this Christmas, a six-generation family tradition will mark its 140th anniversary. The small brass top David Linsley received as his only present when he was 6 years old has been spun on Christmas Eves since 1868.
The tradition began in Red Wing, Minn. where Dolph Linsley bought the spinning top for his young son. It was David's only present that year. He treasured the new toy so much that he began a personal tradition of spinning it every year on Christmas Eve. This year in Deer Park, Wash., the Forman family -- descendants of David Linsley -- will celebrate the 140th anniversary of the Christmas top.
When David died in 1937, his son, James Linsley, continued his father's annual holiday ritual. The top went to James' daughter, Ruth Linsley Forman, in 1974. Since Ruth passed in 2004, her husband of 60 years, Robert Forman, continues spinning the top on Christmas Eve at family gatherings with children and grandchildren.
The top is tarnished and dented with age now, but still reflects the fine craftsmanship of another generation. The spinning Christmas top is featured in "One Present," posted on YouTube.
There have been only two years when the top did not spin on Christmas Eve. David's family was completing their move to Litchfield, Minn. on Christmas Eve in 1904. David and his hired man unloaded three teams of horses and a pair of mules in the winter darkness. Driving their stock through Litchfield's main street, the mules woke the village with their braying, but the top was still in transit, packed deep in one of the wagons. The other time was in 1959, when James and Martha traveled to Rockford, Ill. for a holiday visit with the Formans and forgot to pack the top.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sharing some pictures from Maeve

Maeve says she got bored and spent some time experimenting with Photoshop. Some very cool results below.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Three Thirty Three!

This has been the year of the machine! Starting last December with the DaVinci robotic surgery system, I have met lots of very cool high tech machines. Today it was the Oldelft Simulix-MC ... one part of a system to figure out where to aim the radioactive beam that will presumably kill off that little colony of cancer cells left over after last year's surgery.

I was positioned on that table in the bottom left of the picture. A bean bag chair like device was placed under my legs.... legs are kind of nestled into place, and then a vacuum pump draws all the air from the bean bag, leaving a very sturdy mold that will allow them to place my lower half in exactly the same position for each of the 35 treatments. Unlike a lot of medical stuff these days, when I'm done, they can let the air back into the bag, and use it over again to help save someone else!

The table then rises and rotates into position with me in between the upper and lower arms in the center of the picture. The head above is an x-ray machine, and the black and white box below is the receiver/plate holder. If you look to the far left, a vertical white box with a small red window near the top puts out a laser beam that strikes my right side just above the hip... another laser beam from the opposite corner of the room, targets my left hip, and one above lights up a spot on my stomach. Jill, the technician, gives me three small tattoos at the spots where the laser beams hit. The combination of these marks, and the leg mold, will align me properly every time!

Several X-rays are then taken, and later in the day, I am carefully aligned in a CAT scan machine at another hospital in town for corresponding CAT scan images. Highland hospital's CAT scan machine was out of order today. Lucille has brought along my leg mold!

Over the next few days, with the help of computers, the CAT scan and the x-rays, will be used to create a program that will precisely target my cancer. Starting in about 10 days, 35 radiation treatments will damage all the cells in a very carefully mapped and confined neighborhood. Healthy cells will recover over the weekend breaks, and after the treatments. Cancer cells, with their rapid growth and reproduction, will not be able to recover so well, and will end up in pretty bad shape, unable to continue their process.

A strange process of killing off part of me so that the rest of me can go on enjoying this fabulously wonderful life with which I have been blessed!

Thank you to Dr. Liu, Jill, Lucille, and to the folks at Strong Hospital willing to cover for the broken CAT scan machine at Highland.

The title???? My 333rd post!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Never read a book in your booth!

One of the rules of selling at craft shows is to never read a book in your booth. These neighbors were neither in their booth, nor reading, so I guess they were OK????

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Our neighbor across the aisle makes great boiled wool hats and handbags.... click here.

Who even knew about boiling wool?
Detail shown above!

Friday, December 05, 2008

This could go on for a while!

Two of my favorite people -- Maeve and Maya in their matching Exeter shirts!
Maeve is hoping she is starting a family tradition!

Monday, December 01, 2008


No pictures today, but I want to update you on the BIG C.

Prostacint scan revealed absolutely nothing. The good part of that is that whatever is in there is very small because this scan is pretty sensitive! The bad part is that with a rising PSA, there is definitely cancer somewhere, and the prostacint scan did not give them a definite location.

The next step is 7 weeks of radiation treatments in that neighborhood where my prostate used to reside..... that being the most likely location of the bad guys!

Currently waiting for approval from my insurance company. Next Thursday, (if approved) they will make some sort of jig that will hold me in the same position for each of the 35 Zaps!

I presume I will start going in for treatments around the 15th? ---- finishing around the 1st of February? Will keep you posted!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Community Puzzle

This is another in the "stuff we made" series. While were not directly involved in the creation of this large community puzzle on display in the lobby of the school where we did a craft show this weekend, I did design the original community puzzle. The challenge from a local school back in 1993 or so? was to create a universal puzzle piece (about 4"x4") that could each be decorated by kids, teachers, and staff at the school, and then put together in any order. The first one was cut on our CNC router from MDF, and was a great success... I found a small picture of the original.

For that one, each person decorated the piece with something about their family.

I decided that this was a great product idea, and I decided that making them from real puzzle board was a better idea, and the Community Puzzle was born. The largest one to date that I know of was 16,000 pieces. The folks at St. Gregory's School, chose to create one large image shown above. The folks who did the one below, each did their own puzzle piece in their own style, and then put them together. I sold the Cummunity Puzzle to a friend back in 1998, and it was quite successful. It was then sold again in 2007 to a company that specializes in training programs. They are still available at a very reasonable price, and are great for schools, church groups, parties, weddings, etc... everybody just gets creative, and you end up with a very memorable puzzle! I've got a few still sitting around that I'd let go for $10 each plus shipping.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Turkey Day Gang

From the left - Wyatt, Me, Maeve, Anne, Maya, Cheryl, Deanna, and Casey!
Mom woke up not feeling too well, so she and Dad are missing... :-(
I guess I have to admit it -- Wyatt is just a tiny bit taller than me now!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Baby Brother

David Barton Olney - 9 days old, on November 12th, 1950!
Thanksgiving, 2008 - I'm grateful for all the wonderful people that I'm related to!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another one for Dad!

By now I had appeared. Looks like I might be about 2? That would be 1947? We both look pretty pleased Dad will know where this was taken. Looks like a cemetery on the right behind us ... some sort of shed or house behind to the left. My guess is somewhere around Naples, NY?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A surprise for Dad

This is my Dad - Mel Olney - at 14?
Back of picture is labeled - "2nd. Year High School"
Some old pictures showed up recently, and this is my favorite.
A couple more favorites will show up here soon!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Family Farm

This is more like a wind garden, but every little bit helps! And this one got going ahead of the big wind farm! Located in the village of Cohocton, NY.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Toy Train

I've been meaning to start a project to blog about the artwork in our home. We have made a lot of the stuff ourselves... Don started making toys about 36 years ago. Cheryl and I have made more stuff for the last 13 years or so, and we have traded and/or purchased many other items made by friends at craft/art shows. These will appear in no particular order, though I think I'll start with the toys.

Today's item is a toy train that I made back in the late 1970's. It sits on a small shelf over a closet in the room I call my office at home. Made from scrap wood from the Overhead Door factory in Cortland, NY, it is 27" long. A couple of notes about this train. As with many of my early toys, it is a simple design, shapes bandsawn from the wood, with limited added detail. In this case the only added detail is a smoke stack, and 4 little peg people, and wheels of course. In the picture below, you can see that I put small pegs through the wheels into the axle to be sure the wheels stayed on. Expansion and contraction causes these pegs to slide out a tiny bit over time if the toy just sits on a shelf, but if played with, every rotation of the wheels pushes the peg in. If you click on the picture above to expand it, you can see that the peg in the front wheel of the coal car has worked its way out a bit.

Most of my work over the years has had simplicity and safety of production as a primary element of the design. In the case of this train, I totally blew it when designing the coal car. I was quite wedded to the single piece construction concept, which made the making of a hollow area for the coal a problem. My solution - while holding the cut out shape on the table of the radial arm saw, I pulled the saw out into the wood multiple times, moving the wood over a bit each time, until I had hollowed out the curved area you see in the picture below. The curve matches the diameter of the saw blade. To my credit, I had a stop on the arm of the saw so that it could not come out too far, but still! I never let anyone else do this part of the work, and while the radial arm saw bit me very well one day in 1973 or so, there was never the slightest mishap making this piece. I have lots of my old toys, but this is the only copy I have of this train. There was also a simpler 3 car train, but I don't have any examples of that one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Six Seventy Nine

Cheryl and I both fell in love with Stefani Tadio's wonderfully detailed and colorful paper and thread art. She is pretty cool too!

Thought I could link to her pictures, but I guess I did it wrong. I'll try to learn to do that later, but click here to see a nice selection of her work.

And, in the very cool way of the universe, there are cosmic connections too. She and Steve live on the next road over from where I grew up in Fairport, NY. I haven't visited yet, but from the description, I think I could see her house from my old back yard? She lives right next door to the Bilger farm, and across the road from the Wagner farm! My school bus drove right by her house every morning on the way to school, from around 1952 to 1963!

And in another one of my favorite smiles I get from the universe, her house number is the same as an apartment building I lived in back in my radical sixties days! 679

She wrote some pretty nice stuff about us in her blog.

Thanks Stefani! For your cool work, your friendship, and your kind words ..... I'll get to work on those punches soon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Not too bad!

Well, the scans are done. I can eat now, and drink a lot less ... though I feel quite thirsty. The 96 minute scan yesterday was not too bad. I had Juan put a table beside me so I could lay my arm out to the side instead of over my head. While that was not comfortable, it was quite a bit less uncomfortable! I looked at the pictures afterward, but of course had no idea what to look for. Pretty cool to see my insides though! At this point somebody does some computer enhancement to add colors, etc. which should tell the doctors something about where we go from here. All in all an interesting experience which I could well do without, but for which I am most grateful!

Much thanks to Lynette and Juan and to the unknown folks who will prepare the images for the Doctors!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yes We Can!

These new pins are to encourage continuation of all the work we did on the election! We just got started nicely.... we've picked a great leader .... now we need to do the actual work.

I'm also going to take that phrase and apply it to my life. Not that I haven't been doing that right along, but it seems an especially important sentiment right now. I'm toward the end of a week of having a series of scans to determine the exact location of the cancer in my body. It has been a week of drinking a gallon of liquids every day. I'm sure you can easily figure the number of trips between the refrigerator and the bathroom?

The prostacint scans are very interesting, and sort of uncomfortable. The actual scans are pretty much nothing.... just lie there and let the "camera" take a time exposure image of the gamma rays emitted by the little radioactive prostate cell seekers! ------- But you have to lie very still! Not too bad on the 20 minute one, but the 69 minute one is sort of a bear! Tomorrow is the last two scans, but since the radioactive guys weaken over time, they need to extend the time for the scan because there are a lot fewer gamma rays... should be fun?

Yes I Can!

Monday, November 10, 2008

My neighborhood hospital and constant friend for the next few weeks.

About a year ago, I was feeling much like I feel now. I had gone from "perfectly healthy" to "not too sure" very quickly when my PSA was quite a bit above my normal when I had my August physical. While the surgery that followed that cancer diagnosis was very scary, and the recovery took a lot longer than I had thought it would, the results seemed good. Two successive PSA reading of ZERO - as expected - with no equipment to make prostate specific antigen I had no reading!

This year's August physical and PSA reading gave me another startling experience. Instead of ZERO, the PSA was now 0.16 (a rise from the .1 that I had been told was "the same as 0" ???) Another test a few weeks later showed .3, and I was definitely back on the worried side of things. Those numbers seem very tiny compared to the the numbers we males usually hear, but remember - the equipment for making that stuff is gone!

A bone scan and a CAT scan both show that nothing serious has spread, but this week I am in the middle of a much more extensive prostacint scan that is supposed to locate the small number of cells that are in there making PSA. This will undoubtedly be followed by a round of radiology treatments to knock out those little unwanted visitors! The path of that little beam of radioactive rays will be carefully planned based on this scan.

Once again, I'm confronted with a scary diagnosis, along with a lot of assurance that the planned treatment is the best option, we have caught it early, radiation has a very good track record, with low chance of recurrence, etc. Once again, I feel confident, but the "but" is a little bigger this time.

I'll repeat what I said in that December 2007 blog entry:

Any positive thoughts, prayers, or spells will be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008

Just for fun!

This one is for Mom - the collector of Bunnies!
An exciting note --- I've gotten comments on 9 of the last 10 entries :-)

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Thought I'd get to work today on the first campaign button for 2012!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting Day

Cheryl, Dad, and I walked over to the polling place today.
Results not in yet, but we did our part!

How lucky we are to live in a country where this is the way we do things!
Two stories from the voting line. The woman behind us in line told us about a patient of her's who had signed herself out the the hospital "against medical advice" in order to vote. Another guy at the other polling place in the room, was talking to the inspectors about how he could get his Mom from the hospital across the street over to vote!

Monday, November 03, 2008


If you don't have any other reason to vote, you can share mine!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

West Coast Family

Noah and Jeffrey! Those look like some pretty serious pumpkins!
Thanks to my sister Kim for the picture!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


My friend Jeff Nelson of Hudson River Inlay, creates wonderful marquetry on furniture. He has even created wonderful inlay for Steinway.
Just for fun, he likes to lay actual leaves and other items on his tables to fool the eye. For just a moment, you want to reach out and touch the leaf to be sure... your eye says it is a real leaf, but your mind just isn't exactly sure! Here on the web, you can "touch" by clicking on the pictures for a larger view.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Not sure why I'm doing this!

This one will be sans pictures. My friend Salena over at The Daily Rant, sent along a challenge to write about 7 "weird and random" things about myself. Part of the deal is that I'm also supposed to link to Highway Hags ..... that I'm willing to do because I love their blog too. Both of these blogs are written by women truckers, and both are very interesting. The next part of the deal is to "tag" 7 other bloggers with the same challenge. That part I'm not going to do, for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that I don't really read 7 other blogs, and secondarily, I hate anything that smacks of "chain letter".

I'll make an attempt at the 7 "weird and random" things. My first thought is that my neice Maeve and nephew Wyatt would immediately say --- "only 7 Uncle Don?" Second thought is that they both read my blog, so I have to be somewhat circumspect?

1. While our business - Louise's Daughter - was started by my wife Cheryl, she and I are both very much involved in the design, making, selling, schlepping, booth setting upping, etc. However, since the figures are pretty much all women, and they have an ethnic sensibility, pretty much everyone thinks Cheryl does all of it, and I just sort of tag along to do the heavy lifting! At shows I get very annoyed at the "what's this white man doing in what is obviously a black woman's booth?" looks that I get. I often get told that it is just proper payback for us white males getting all the credit for all those years, but I still get annoyed! (see the comment on the Wedding Day entry below --- I'm still not absolutely sure she is joking?) On the other hand, I very much understand my woman woodworker friends who complain about folks asking when their husband will be back!

2. My right ear works a lot better than the left one. After finally getting my hearing evaluated professionally - which was a lot of fun by the way --- the audiologist told me that my left ear does not work as well as the right one. DUH! My regular doctor called it "old ear".... Maeve and Wyatt will love that!

3. My daughter-in-law and I share this one. We are both a bit annoyed that Maya (her daughter and my granddaughter) seems to like Casey - her Dad and Cheryl - her grandmother - better!

4. This one sort of relates to the driving theme from Salena ---- I'm often struck that it is pretty amazing that we rely on two things when driving. One - that the other folks on the road will usually follow the rules, like staying on their side of that flimsy little line down the middle of the road at 70 miles an hour! Two, -especially in the dark --- the world does not end just a bit ahead of the reach of our headlights, and that bridge that I drove over last time down this road, will still be there tonight! Though once I learned that a bridge I had driven over a few hours earlier, had since dropped into the river below ---- to this day I "gun" it over the replacement bridge!

5 . My right wrist does not bend very well because I went through it with a radial arm saw about 30 years ago.

6. I own about the 4th or 5th largest collection of spinning tops in the world, and I do a great spinning top show for kids of all ages!

7. I'm allergic to wheat.... I don't swell up or anything like that, but I just feel better if I don't eat it. Thus I relate to Salena's description of eating the cheese n stuff off the slice..... I just don't eat the rest of it later. To substitute, I make a mean oatmeal pizza!

This is sort of fun, but I'll stick to the rules and stop at 7. Check out Salena's Blog...... don't become her friend though, or she may stick you with a project ;-)

Thanks Salena!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wedding Day

Jennifer and Steve got married yesterday! A great day! Dave (my brother and her Dad) would have been very happy! Believe it or not, I left my camera home ---- Ouch! Anne bailed me out ---- Thanks Anne. I love this picture... Jen and Steve in a rare moment alone on a busy day. Moment's later he had her up on his shoulder threatening to throw her in the lake! These two have got a good thing going!