Merry Christmas Everyone!

Only 6 days until Christmas, but for me, it’s only 4!  Friday, December 23rd, is my extended family’s Christmas party.  We expect about 53 at our home this year. 

With that many people, it’s hard to pick the best day for the gathering.  This year, I have one son coming home from college, and another son and family moving back to our hometown from Virginia on the 22nd. So I thought, how about a Holiday Party after Christmas, between Christmas and the New Year? Sounds good!  Except, I soon learned that there were conflicts with other family members.

As everyone has their own family plans on Christmas Eve, my only option was December 23rd.  And that was just two weeks away.   Can I pull this off?  Decorate, shop, finish projects, bake and work, all in two weeks?  Eeek!  When I asked Tim his thoughts, he replied, “Sure you can.  You’ll rise to the occasion.”  While I admit I do work best under pressure, this seemed a daunting task, even for the Queen of late nights and zombie days.

And here I am, Monday, December 19.  And guess what?  I am rising!  Groceries are bought, menu planned.  Most projects completed, some to be finished on the drive to pick up the college son.  The house is decorated, except for the tree, which will get done tonight (now that I found the tree lights!)  The cards have been mailed, baking is scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

And on Friday evening, my family will join us for Christmas.  We’ll eat, share stories and laughter.  Give gifts to the kids. Maybe sing a few songs.  And all too soon, they’ll be gone.  I’ll sit in my chair and reflect, and think Phew!  That was a lot of work!  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.

The Holiday Season isn’t about presents (good thing!  Wait ‘til the boys see what I didn’t get them lol).  It’s about sharing, it’s about love.  

Reach out to a loved one, and do just that.  Love them.

Merry Christmas.  I hope you have peace and love in your heart.  (A good cookie is a bonus :)

Black Friday Shopper-holic Finds Solace.

I admit it, I love a bargain.  My name is Jeannie, and I am a Black Friday shopper.  

Well, I used to be.  It used to be you could really find a bargain, and to be honest, for me, it was more about the energy I felt, the chase and the conquer.   Four young boys at home, and I was up at 5 am, searching for that coveted item.  It was just as much fun passing a Cabbage Patch Doll over heads for someone down the aisle as it was finding Buzz Lightyear.  But the boys grew, and material things meant less and less - to all of us.  Sure, they still wish for things, but why get a new flat screen TV just because it’s on sale when the old box still works?  I guess I’m not a good consumer, not for the sake of consuming, anyway.

We really think about our purchases, we repurpose, we swap back and forth within the extended family.  Just last week we picked up a treadmill from our niece.  She no longer had a need for it; we think we’ll use it.  

So here’s a suggestion.  Nov 25th, the day after Thanksgiving, BLACK FRIDAY, stay home!  Gather everyone together, eat leftovers, get a jump on baking Christmas cookies.  Maybe actually freeze some this year.  Play games - Pitch is a new favorite in our house.  Or bring out the board games - Pictionary, Monopoly.  Oh go ahead, bring out some of those cookies you just baked.  :)

As the years go by, when the family gathers, what will they remember more - the times you got together and played games while eating their favorite cookies, or that green comforter you got on sale?

Skinny 17-year-old boy defends country’s freedom

My Dad was very patriotic. He grew up when Americans still saluted the flag and got emotional during the National Anthem.  He, the second of six boys, was a baby during the depression years.  His family lived frugally.  His father was in the Army during WWI, stationed in France.  My Dad and all five of his brothers followed suit and fought for America.

My Dad, with only two weeks of high school left, walked downtown on Flag Day and enlisted in the US Navy.  His older brother was currently in the Army.  WWII was in full swing, and Dad felt ready to go.  Not quite 18, he needed a parent’s signature and his father was there to give it.

Dad didn’t talk about his experiences in the war, but from a little notebook we found amongst his things we learned that he was on the Liberty Ship, the J. C. Osgood.  The convoy he was in had their position given away to the German subs by a Spanish tanker.  Although they were able to sink one sub and damage another, they lost a ship to mines, and the convoy was broken up.  Dad was a Gunners Mate 2nd Class Petty Officer manning the guns on deck, shooting at German Aircraft.  He was part of the Mediterranean and  Middle East Theatre, traveling through the ports of Said, Egypt; Aden, Yemen; Bombay, India, to name a few.  He passed through the Suez Canal, crossed the equator.  We learned he continued to shoot, even as the young sailor next to him was shot and killed. He was then transferred to the SS American Farmer, part of the U.S. Naval Armed Guard.

Dad’s brothers all joined when they were old enough - Jerome, US Army; Francis, US Coast Guard; John, US Army - all during the Korean War. David started out in the Army, too, as a B29 Rear Gunner in the Korean War, but after he was shot down while over North Korea, and crash landed in South Korea, he decided he’d move to the Navy. David was a Constructionman Master Chief, did two tours in Viet Nam, and was very proud of being a member of the Navy SeaBees.  He retired as a Command Master chief.

My brother followed suit and joined the Navy.  Dad didn’t want him to.  He had been in a war and didn’t want his son in one too.  My brother is a plank owner on CVN 71 Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear Aircraft Carrier, where he was an Avionics Tech 2nd Class Petty Officer.  He was in Desert Storm. I can remember sitting at home, rocking my newborn son, watching war news on TV, hoping I wouldn’t hear about my brother’s ship, hoping he would come home safe, hoping my son would never have to go to war.

America is a different place today.  We question it’s military tactics, it’s principals, it’s ideals.  No matter your beliefs, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, pacifist, draft dodger, whatever, please take the time to thank a veteran. The United States has made mistakes, but that does not negate the appreciation we should show the millions of veterans who, at the call of their country, went forth to do their part.

Dad was just a skinny 17-year-old boy from a small town in upstate New York. He left home to help defend his country’s freedom.  Thank you Dad, thank you veterans everywhere.

US Patent 7,168,666

I spent today making SeaHorses, Talic’s portable aluminum kayak stand.  And that got me to thinking, if you were looking for a portable kayak stand, why wouldn’t you choose the original?  As I applied the Talic label, the one that says Patent 7,168,666, my hands slid smoothly over the anodized aluminum.  So sleek, so clean, so functional.  So perfect.

Talic SeaHorses were dreamed up, designed, and patented by Tim.  They are manufactured completely here in the USA, by us.  We special order our aluminum tubing from South Carolina, have it anodized, and shipped to our shop here in upstate New York

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We spotted these SeaHorses at a tradeshow. 14 years old and still going strong!

We spotted these SeaHorses at a tradeshow. 14 years old and still going strong!The SeaHorse jig (designed and fabricated by Tim) is a multi-processing unit.  It cuts the tubing into precise lengths and drills the rivet holes – all at the same time! Next stop, the sanding jig, where we deburr the ends of each tube.  Once the SeaHorses go to the assembly station, we apply the labels and flare the ends, with yet another custom fabricated jig.

Finally, each tube is fitted with a rubber “hinge” and the legs can be riveted together.  It’s quite a process, with many unseen details, but we take great pride in making each one ourselves.

And so again, I have to wonder, if you can purchase a free standing portable kayak rack that’s made of the best materials available here in the USA, why would you buy a knock-off?

If you are in the area, stop on by.  We’ll give you a tour. 

by Jeannie Tucker

When Stars Line Up.

Sunday was my birthday.  I don’t require much fuss, and as two of my sons are away, one living in Virginia, one in college, I was planning a quiet dinner with my husband and my two sons living in town, and our grandsons.

10 pm Friday night, reading in my chair, and the front door opens.  Really?  Who could it be?  In walks Nick and Jake!  They planned to surprise me a month ago; they were all in on it.   Jake drove home to Upstate New York from Virginia (with sweet baby girl Ava and big dog Moose) and Nick rearranged his work schedule and grabbed a 3 hour ride home from school.  I was so surprised, I couldn’t get my words out straight!  (I am told that this is a common occurrence as you age.)

My quiet Sunday was now filled with the happy voices of my family – all eleven of them.  All my sons together, and their families.  Happy Birthday indeed! 

It’s hard to get every one together; everyone is busy living their own lives.  Work, school, raising a family.  Life is busy.  Schedules rarely coincide.  So when the stars line up, and you get a special gift, that’s when you think to yourself – life is really good.

The Smell of Wood

by Jeannie Tucker

When I first came to work for Talic, I wanted to save every little scrap piece of wood.  I imagined all of these crafty little projects I could make.  Little step stools with the Ash, trivets perhaps, and back yard campfires with the tiny pine pieces.

The Ash is my favorite – generally straight grained with a uniform texture, the wood is typically light in color. But every now and then, you get varied colors running through it, and I love the character it shows.  I have a little scrap piece sitting on my desk.  It reminds me of the Arizona desert.  Another piece looks like the setting sun on the ocean, and yet another resembles the rippled sand floor of the sea. Ok, I have a vivid imagination, a small knot of wood can become many things to my minds eye.

The Ash we use comes from the bottomland sites throughout southern coastal plains.  It is sustainable lumbering.  A hardwood, Ash is extremely tough and strong – it’s what baseball bats are made from – and yet it’s relatively lightweight.  We use Ash for all of our posts and vertical uprights of our free-standing racks.  Look around your home, you have Ash. It is used in furniture, flooring, cabinets, sporting equipment (think bats and in Talic products too  )

We do not treat any of our lumber.  The Ash is beautiful as is.  But if you wish to, you can stain it – Ash accepts color well, and polishes to an elegant sheen.

We also use Southern Yellow Pine.  Yellow Pine, although not technically a “hardwood”, is in fact, a “hard” pine.  It’s been used since, well, since people have built things.  In fact, it’s the preferred wood for most projects, from framing houses to building decks.  We use Yellow Pine for the horizontals of our free standing racks, and for the brackets of our Classic racks.  It’s a great all-purpose wood – it’s abundant (again, only sustainable forests for us), it’s adaptable and easy to use.

My only wish is that I smelled the wood!  When someone enters the shop, the first thing they say is, “Oh!  Smell that wood!”  I’ve become so accustomed to it, I no longer smell it.  I think I need a vacation.  So when I return, I, too, can exclaim,”Oh!  Smell that wood!”  Yup, works for me 

Hiking with Friends.

Tim and I had a great weekend hiking in the Adirondacks with our good friends, Mary and Dan.  I love being in the woods, the leaves at their peak color, the soft, pine covered ground cushioning every step – in between the rocks that is! And I love to challenge myself to make it to the summit.  The view never disappoints and the ceremonial apple is always such a great reward.  Being with friends makes the hike that much better.

We met Mary and Dan square dancing 4 years ago, and one of our first evenings together I was talking about my bucket list.  (Seems I’m always talking about my bucket list  )  I asked Dan what was on his list, and he said simply. “I’d like to climb Snowy Mt.”  I thought, that’s it? That’s doable!  What are you doing next weekend???  So late in October 2012 we found ourselves heading North, the summit of Snowy Mt in our sights.  We left on a perfect fall day, we awoke in the midst of a snow storm.  Undeterred, we set out on our hike. Snowy Mt lived up to it’s name!!  The trail was snow covered, and the summit was blowing like an Alaskan wilderness.  The fire tower was covered in icicles – sideways icicles. We were glad to make it down and find warmth.  And, Mary and Dan still liked us!  And so we find ourselves hiking each October, like this past weekend.

It reminds me of a hike we took with our lumber supplier, Jim.  We purchase the ash we use for all of our Talic products from Rex Lumber, a lumberyard in Connecticut.  It is harvested from sustainable forests throughout the North East, milled to our specifications, and trucked to our shop here in Upstate New York. We have worked with Jim for a number of years, but he was just someone at the other end of a purchase order.

A few years back, one of us mentioned an upcoming trip in an email.  Over time, Jim and I began sharing the stories of our adventures, we both love to travel.  We shared trip ideas, he loaned a travel book of Ireland, I sent coconut cookies via the delivery driver.

One late September day a few years ago, Jim emailed and said he and his wife Becky were going to Vermont for the October holiday weekend.  Joking around, I replied that Tim and I would love to join them – we could sit around and talk – wood?

Before you knew it, we had all decided to hike Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, together.  We reserved a B & B in Stowe, the same place Jim and Becky were staying.  At breakfast, I remember saying to Tim, “Do you think that’s them?  Or maybe that couple over there?”  We had no idea who we were looking for.

After breakfast, the four of us started the day’s hike.  We shared many stories, and yes, we even talked about wood, lol.  I remember Jim saying, “Wow, you guys do pretty well, for being so old.”  Ha!   We went to dinner together, shared more stories and laughs.  We talked about work, we talked about travel, we talked about life.  It was a great time.   No longer just the shop and the lumber supplier, we were friends.

Jim and I still email often – still goad each other with the trips we have planned.  This year he and Becky have been to Iceland, while Tim and I have hiked the National Parks of Utah. He just wrote and invited us on a climb up Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts.  We can’t make this one, but we look forward to meeting again.  Maybe Marcy next summer?

I love hiking, and hiking with friends is even better.

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!

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Here at Talic, we like to think of ourselves as naturalists and conservationists, living close to the earth.  We promote sustainable living, we garden, we compost, we recycle.  We feel most at home in the wide outdoors.  We paddle, we hike, we sleep under the stars.  We have a strong belief in family values, and strive to treat all people as, well, people.  Simple – I’ll be nice to you, you be nice to me.  Big hug, everyone! 

We believe strongly in doing our small bit to right the injustices of history.  And so, we choose to honor the Native Peoples of America by celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day.  Not Columbus Day.

In honor of all of those who lived on this land before us, who were wronged by our European ancestors, we will take a day to honor your history, your ways, to appreciate this great land we live on.

Growing up, I always wanted to be “an Indian.”  I played Indians, and made my younger brother play along with me.  Not Cowboy and Indians, but just “Indians.”    I read books on Native Americans, learned to make beaded necklaces.  My Dad made me an authentic looking Medicine Man headdress, my Mom sewed me skirts with fringe and beads.  I cheered for the Indians in the old Westerns, cried when they were wronged.

In my teen years, I visited my great uncle in Arizona – my first ever flight, and my dream destination.  I was going “Out West!!”  I nearly jumped out of the car when I saw a Native American young man riding bareback on a horse.  I was in heaven!

Many years later, older, and I hope wiser, I still yearn for the west.  I’ve been very fortunate to have visited Arizona often; my son lived there for awhile.  I’ve hiked into the Grand Canyon twice – once as a guest on the Havasupai Reservation.  I’ve walked through Monument Valley, I’ve prayed at the cemetery of those massacred at Wounded Knee.  I’ve climbed into Mesa Grande in Colorado, stared in awe at Montezuma’s Castle in Arizona, feel at home paddling the waters of the Adirondacks.

I have four sons, and I’m a proud witness to the next generation of outdoor lovers,  naturalists in their own right.  Jon, the oldest, busy raising his own two sons, amazes me how with his “MacGyver” bag of tricks, thinks outside the box and solves any issue.  Pete, who works with us here at Talic, traveled to Montana to become certified in Permaculture Design.  He has created our hometown’s first Food Forest, and continues to work with the school children, teaching them sustainability in the gardens, and love of the earth.  Jake, my Arizona son, climbed and hiked regularly while there, and is looking for a mountain to climb in DC, but well, there just aren’t any on the National Mall. He’s already introducing his one year old daughter to the beauty of the National Parks.  Nick, the communicator, travels the world, making lasting friends with indigenous peoples everywhere.  He spent the summer on Easter Island, and declares he could live there indefinitely!

While doing genealogy, imagine my delight when I found that my distant uncle had married a Native woman!  I tried and tried to connect her to my family, to some how make me “Indian”, but it didn’t work.  I am of European descent – Irish, Austrian, French.  My ancestors were immigrants to this country.

I have recently learned, however, that my French ancestors from Quebec were explorers and navigators in the New World, and had close friendships with the Native Peoples.  I have a copy of a book, written in French, about their travels.  I like to think that my ancestors, as visitors in the New World, were welcomed, and respectful of their hosts.

Columbus didn’t discover America, it was never lost. It was here all along, being lovingly cared for by the Native Peoples.  Thank you.  Today, I honor you all.