Giesy’s Crossing

I grew up along the Willapa River in Western Washington, where I was born 100 years after the Utopian religious group of Bethel, Missouri began to plan their migration along the Oregon Trail to the Pacific Northwest. In 1853 Wilhelm Keil sent a scouting party led by Christian Giesy to the Oregon Territory. Giesy and his party selected a site to settle which was five miles upstream from my own eventual home along the Willapa. Prior to last week, my essential knowledge of this historical migration and settlement could be summarized by the highway marker at Giesy’s Crossing:

The highway marker at Giesy’s Crossing

The basic story line of the legend as told by Mrs. Wild, my fourth grade teacher, was this: A group of faith-filled pioneers migrated out west. They arrived upriver on the Willapa, but didn’t stay because the place was too rough. Tragically just before the journey began, Willie Keil, the teenage son of their leader died. Because Willie yearned to join the journey, a special lead-lined casket was built for Willie so his body could go West with his family. Along their journey, the group was protected from Indian attacks because the Indians respected that they were carrying with them the body of young Willie, preserved in that lead-lined casket filled with whiskey.

That’s what I “knew” until my sister Carol recommended that I read A Clearing in the Wild, by Jane Kirkpatrick.

It was a marvelous read for me. The imagery of the setting and the stories were bright and clear for me, because I’ve walked the land. I’ve bicycled the land. I’ve lived with the people of the land. It was an engaging read of a pioneer migration and a patriarchal Utopian religious community. I was just a few pages into the book when I realized how woefully uninformed I was of the migration and settlement. The nugget of the legend, that the community found the Willapa site to be too rugged, proved true. The majority of the settlers moved south and established Aurora, Oregon with their leader, Wilhelm Keil.

But as I began to read, I realized that I recognized the name Giesy, the other family name of the story. Indeed, I knew it from a place name of my youth: Giesy’s Crossing, by Willie Keil’s grave. The book reveals that the Giesy family chose to remain along the Willapa, and their heritage is foundational to the people of the Willapa Valley.

For the past 30 years, I’ve lived in Mormon Country. I know the Mormon story nearly as well as I know my own German, Anglo pioneer heritage. In reading this story, I marveled at the parallels of one Utopian, patriarchal migrating society and another less successful group of which I really should have been more knowledgeable!

A good read. I recommend it, especially if you are of Willapa Country.

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Progress on the MH&D Railroad

It looks like we’ll be laying track on the McGuire-Henkel-and-Dunbar railroad next spring. For a railroad staffed by a sort-of retired guy, I think it is on schedule. Shown here is the current progress. The landscape blocks shown form the embankment for an elevated fill. With the elevation, we can work on the construction of miniature gardening features from a comfortable height, and protect it all from other activities in the yard.

At this point, I have placed 162 retaining wall blocks. At 61 pounds each, I’ve handled 9,900 pounds of blocks. That’s just a brag, but I’m enjoying the work. It’s nice to be able. In the excavation above you can see the beginning of a curve to close in the area. It will remain open until the majority of the fill is done. Wheelbarrowing the 20-plus cubic yards of fill does not appeal to me, so I anticipate renting a skid steer loader for a day. I think I have a source for free fill. The fill currently in the west end is from a “small” excavation at our neighbors place, where they created a level area for an above-ground pool. They delivered it to the backyard one wheelbarrow at a time, and I appreciate it!

The conduit shown above is pre-planning for low voltage electrical and water supplies. Most of that riser will be covered with fill dirt.

For the east end of the area, we are planning for a bridge to complete the basic oval. The bridge will span about 4 feet. That’s 90 scale feet for the G-scale layout. At the bridge I anticipate a waterfall, creek, and pond. The picture here shows something similar – without the waterfall!

That’s a bit more ambitious, than our layout area, but the bridge does inspire.

To be continued…

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A Singer Sewing Machine is not a piano

Updated 9/18/20

A singer sewing machine is not a piano. But I accepted the challenge of restoring a sewing machine cabinet that had been badly water damaged. Water and veneered pieces do not go well together. That’s especially true for old veneered panels that were glued with hot hide glue, which is still completely soluble in water decades after it has set.

Normally, folks wouldn’t come to me with a sewing machine restoration project, but friends being friends, it can happen. And who am I to say that I’m not the right guy to restore the family heirloom for a friend? So I said what I say, “Sure. I can fix that.” But I knew that it was quite a project.

The sad little cabinet that arrived in my shop.
The delaminated veneer and panels simply could not be salvaged.

Fortunately the cabinet below the top panels was largely undamaged, so on the bright side, my task was limited to recreating the top panels. Some clever work went into the creation of this hideaway machine, and it would take some clever work to recreate it.

My first order of business was to create two oak veneered panels. While the original was a hardwood panel veneered with oak, I chose to use modern materials for the panel core, while trimming it in solid oak. Unfortunately, I could not duplicate the thickness of original panels with medium density fiberboard (MDF) of standard thickness. That’s where another friend came in handy! My friend Justin volunteered to grind some MDF down to my specification of 0.585 inches using an industrial thickness sander at his workplace. It’s nice to have friends! My favorite veneer supplier sent me some very nice oak veneer.

Gluing the veneer in my vacuum press set up.
With two stock router bits and a bit of hand shaping, I came very close to the original edge profile.
The original edge profile

From this point, a number of careful steps were needed to shape parts for the hide-away.

I’m getting close! Projects like this are amazing to execute, because the risk cost of a mistake multiply as each step is completed. I’m getting close, though!

The old is new again:

Just like Grandma would remember.
What was, and what is.

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Shop Dog

Bebop has been with us for more than 6 months, now. Are we bonded? Oh yeah! She is constantly with one of us. When we are in the same room, it’s an easy choice of where to be. Otherwise, she has preferences:

  1. Kitchen: Well I guess that’s obvious. It’s where the food is.
  2. Outside: That’s where we play. That’s the fun place. Unless it’s too hot or too cold or too wet or the person there is not into fun!
  3. Upstairs office: She has a nice bed there, and the people are friendly.
  4. The shop: She has a nice bed there, too. When Duane is tuning, voicing, or playing a piano, it’s a nice place to be.

While Terri was working outside today, it was too hot and Terri wasn’t enough fun. So Bebop chose option four: shop dog.

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Recently added from Facebook

I’m on a mission to capture worthy content that I’ve posted on Facebook over the years and to publish it here. I want to maintain my ownership and preserve the content outside of the corporate frame.

When placing the content here, I’ve post-dated it, so it is not popping up at the top. Here is an index of the content retrieved in the past week:

05/18/2017Cousins Meet in Loretto Tennessee
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Xfinity Connectivity

This is not satire. One could only hope that some competition for broadband existed at this zipcode! (We had good service from Vivint for 6 years, before they left the neighborhood in May)

Xfinity Assistant


Live AgentEnd Agent Chat

Welcome back, Duane.

I hope you’re staying safe and healthy. We’re committed to keeping you connected during this time.

What can I help you with today? You can say things like “my Internet is slow” or “how much is my bill?”
Our response to COVID-19

call me

I can help with most issues, but I’ll put you in touch with an agent if you need more assistance. What do you need help with today?

Billing questions

Trouble signing inInternet

connection issues

TV issues

Xfinity Voice issues

Xfinity Home questions

call me

No problem. I’ll put you in touch with a live agent now.

Thank you for contacting us. Please reach out with any additional questions you may have.

Unfortunately we encountered some issues and cannot continue your chat with the agent. Please feel free to ask me any other questions here.

you want to start over?

I need a little more info. You can try asking a short question like “When is my bill due?” or selecting one of the options below.TroubleshootingWiFi passwordAccount issuesBillingAppointmentsTroubleshooting

What are you having issues with?OutagesInternetMobileSelf InstallInternet

How can I help you with your Internet service?ConnectionWiFi SettingsxFi Network ControlComcast EmailInternet DevicesInternet SecurityParental ControlsConnection

Which of these best describes your Internet issue?Connection LossSlow Speeds

Connection Loss

Let’s try troubleshooting your internet connection. We can also check for outages in your area.Troubleshoot connectionCheck for outagesWiFi coverage tips

Go for it, but after dozens of calls, and 5 technicians, I would think Xfinity would want to solve the problem.

OK, I can put you in touch with an agent.Chat with an agent

Chat with an agent

Got it. I’ll put you in touch with a live agent now.

Connected with Amy

Current place in line: 0Cancel Agent chatYou are now chatting with Amy, a Xfinity Live Agent

Hello, thank you for contacting Xfinity Support. My name is Amy. Who do I have the pleasure of assisting today?

Duane McGuire, upset customer. 1077 N 1285 W, Clinton, UTAH

We have had unreliable service for the entire duration of our account.

Downtime today has been 1 hour and 10 minutes. Ridiculous!

Good evening.

5 technicians have been out. Still isn’t fixed. WHAT NEXT?

I am so sorry that you are experiencing internet issues with your internet connection. This is definitely not the experience we want for you. Let us go ahead and work further to resolve this

Thank you so much for the details


BTW, it is up now, and you won’t find a problem with the connection.

Thank you for the info

Please give me 2-3 minutes to run check on your account and device.

Also the notes in the account about the issue

That was done a few minutes ago, until the agent went away.

I see. I will check it for me to verify the status and also check the notes

Please give me 2-3 minutes


Thank you

While waiting, I wanted to share this since it is part of your XFINITY internet package. You can also connect to XFINITY WIFI public hotspot on the go for FREE. Just use your wifi capable devices and once you see XFINITYWIFI name connect to it using your XFINITY user name and password online. You can download the Xfinity app to check for hotspot location

Thank you so much for waiting


I thoroughly checked everything in the account and there is no issues detected. There is also no reported internet outage in the area. When the internet goes out, does the modem light went off as well?

Not always, no. But if the modem is restarted it will be out once restarted.

When you mentioned restarted, did you physically unplug and plug in the power cord or did it restart itself?

unplug replug

I see. How are you connected to the internet? Is it thru wifi or hardwired connection using ethernet cord? We wanted to isolate the issue and determine what really causes this.

O, My Goodness. From a server in texas I ping this modem every minute. 70 pings have failed today. While the pings are failing, NO device on the network has internet access. Surely you people keep notes. We have been through this SO MANY TIMES!

I am so sorry that you have to go through all these things. Here is what we can do:


Since you are experiencing issue for several times and also have several technicians came out, I will submit report about this so our higher team will know and further investigate on the issue for complete resolution. Also, if it is fine with you, I can send another technician and this time, I will request for a supervisor tech. Will that be fine?

That might help.


Please give me 2-3 minutes to complete the report and then will wait for the soonest available technician


Also, we will process credit adjustments for the service interruptions


You are welcome. I know where you are coming from. It is really essential to have stable and working internet nowadays specially working at home

I am still working on the account. Please bear with me

OK The account does have some history!

Yes. I was able to check the account notesI’m here again.

I’m back, on my phone hotspot. Connection failed for a bit.

Thank you so much for waiting

Oh! I am so sorry about that. I was able to get available technician

We available technician on 09/02/2020, 09:00 AM-11:00 AM MDT

Will this work for you or what is your preferred time?

I’ll be here. Thanks.


Is this your best call back number (801) 896-xxxx?

Since techs have questioned the modem, It might be worthwhile for the tech to bring an Xfinity modem. If no other solution appears.

Yes 801-896-xxxx

Sure. I will definitely put that in the notes as well for the dispatched team reference and making sure they will review more/further investigate your issue prior to the visit


You are welcome.

The appointment was successfully set up and I already include requesting for supervisor technician. Here is your reference number CR923400286


Also, I have submitted a report about your complaint and I am sure our higher team will further investigate prior to the appointment time and date.

I am now working on the credit adjustments

Thank you for waiting

A total of $20 credit adjustments was processed in the account

This will reflect on your next billing statement


Anytime 🙂 I know that the credit will not excuse the issue that you experienced, however I hope that it will serve as an assurance that you are a valued customer and that we are committed to improving your experience with Comcast.

It has been my pleasure to assist you and thank you for sharing me your valued time.

I’m here hoping for success.

I completely understand. I already put all the needed info and for the report as well. I am sure this will be fully resolve this time

I want to make sure that we cover everything before we end this chat. Is there any other Xfinity concerns and issues that I might help you today?

Thanks for your attention and for scheduling enhanced service.

I think we are done until Wednesday. Thanks for your attention and for scheduling enhanced service.

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Rikon 10-325 Bandsaw tune up

I’ve always “liked” my Rikon bandsaw. Now, I just might learn to love it. The saw, like any bandsaw, needs to be well maintained and adjusted to perform well. The most annoying issue of bandsaws is their tendency to drift, if not set up with real care. I’ve worked at tuning up this saw in the past, but today I achieved results never before attained.

My adventure started with a newsletter from Fine Woodworking in my inbox. I resisted trashing it, and listened well to the video included. The approach to curing drift made sense, and I wanted to pursue it.

Before beginning the project, though, I realized that I’d procrastinated a tune-up of the saw for so long because I really despise the supplied blade guides. They are fussy and difficult to work with. So I went searching for replacement guides, and was pleasantly surprised to see that Rikon is offering a blade guide upgrade for the saw. My Rikon 10-325 is now at least 10 years old, and the new “tool-less” blade guides offered for retrofit are the same guides that Rikon is putting on it’s latest version of the saw. After seeing the offering at Highland Woodworking, it took just a few seconds to place an order. They looked really good!
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the original upper blade guide and the new blade guides installed. Adjustment of the new guides is super simple. I admire the engineering that went into them.
The ultimate test of bandsaw drift: Accurate resawing with zero drift, effortless control, and zero cussing.

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McGuire-Henkel-Dunbar Railroad

Under Construction!

I’ve got skin in the game now!

Good work starts with a good foundation. So here we go.

Last year I decided it was time, if ever, for me to start building a garden railroad in the backyard. With “retirement”, my love of railroads, and Terri’s love of gardening and crafts, it seemed like the thing to do.

The commitment actually started last year when I bought a G-scale locomotive on eBay — no track, but I got the locomotive — which has just been a reminder of the commitment in our living room.

Cleverly photographed against a natural background, this looks like the real thing. It is G-scale (1:22.5).

I became doubly committed this week when I went to Lowes and got the first pallet load of concrete retaining wall blocks. For this building project our initial layout will be in the backyard in a raised area approximately 12 feet by 24 feet. For me, it just needs to be a raised area, because my knees are 68 years old already, and I expect to continue with building and maintaining for years to come.

I didn’t calculate the weight of a pallet load of 6 X 16 retaining wall blocks before going to Lowes. At 3200 pounds, I have to admit it overloaded the Dodge Ram, but for a careful 1 mile transport it seemed OK. After moving the 3200 pounds to the backyard, it still seemed OK. I described the operation as “surprisingly pleasureful.” Once again, I’m practicing the skills and work of my youth, and I’m pleased that I can do it.

In our travels, we’ve seen some impressive garden railroads in public gardens. The most impressive resides in Lauritzen Gardens at Omaha, Nebraska. Here’s a view of that railroad:

Toot! Toot! Stay tuned.

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Building Kayaks

I’ve never built a kayak! This is the story of Roy Rudd. When I read his story, I felt as though I’d been there. Worked the wood, floated the river.

Republished by permission — Duane.

By Roy Rudd

It was a warm summer day and my brother Bob and I were trying to convince our parents that we needed to cool off. My uncle Mart had an old row boat. We hoped we could make a float trip down the Tippecanoe River. After a few hours of bugging Dad and Mom, they succumbed to our pestering. We decided to put the boat in at the Talma boat launch, and float down to Island Park on US 31 North of Rochester. Our Uncle was reluctant because the boat had a small leak. We were successful in convincing him as well. We agreed to take a coffee can to dip the water out at regular intervals.

It was early morning and the time came to put in at the Talma Public Access Launch. My brother Bob, our cousin Jerry, and me were ready to start an adventure down the Tippecanoe River. Bob was armed with the only oar we had, Jerry with a push pole, and me with a makeshift bilge pump (an empty Folgers can). We agreed to call home when we reached Island Park. We said our goodbyes, and we were off. As we made it out of site of the bridge at Talma we were in uncharted waters. At least to us. Around every bend in the river lay different scenery. Well that’s what my brother told me. I didn’t have much time to look around, because the water was coming in about as fast as I could dip it out. The trip proceeded without having to call the Coast Guard to rescue us. As I recall the trip only took about 3 hrs. We called home and Dad came to pick us up.

It became clear we were born to be river explorers. We wasted no time planning another trip. Our plans hit a brick wall when we ask to float from Island Park to Winamac. Dad and Uncle Mart condemned our mighty vessel. There was no way they were going to let us ten and eleven year old kids make a float trip overnight down the Tippy. After a lot of looking for plans we came across a book published by Popular Mechanic Magazine “The Boy Mechanic”. On page 96 and 97 we found plans to build our own boats. We finally got up enough nerve to ask if we could make the trip if we built our own boat. After a few days It was agreed but only if they determined the boat was safe.

The plans would have to be modified if we were going to build them in our workshop basement. The only way to get the boats out of the basement would be thru a hopper window which only measured 27 inches wide and the boat plans called for it to be 28 1/2 inches wide. My Uncle Mart worked at Chris-Craft boat factory, and regularly brought home scraps of marine plywood and Mahogany lumber. I remember sorting thru piles of plywood till we found enough to start building. I was talking with my brother a couple days ago and he reminded of the thousand plus screws we had to drive in by hand. He also mentioned the blisters on the palm of our hands. We never told Dad about the narrow hopper window. As the build progressed, dad would check on us. On one such inspection, Dad looked at the plans, walked over to the window, and measured it. Dad said ” Hold up there boys, it’s not going to fit out the window”. Bob told dad that we had changed the width of the Kayak to fit thru the window. Dad then measured the boat, turned and made his way back up the stairs. I believe that was the last time he checked on us.

My Kayak was the first one we built. We built it as close as we could to the plan. Bob’s was built a little longer and narrower. Jerry’s was used as a mold to make a fiberglass boat that Uncle Mart helped with. The summer was getting short. We made a final push to get the boats in the water to check for leaks. Dad agreed that the boats were seaworthy. The next adventure was a go.

Launch day finally came. My kayak was the only one with the waterproof compartment. it was determined that I would carry anything we didn’t want wet. This made my boat heavier than the other two. I sometimes struggled to keep up with Bob and Jerry. This adventure went pretty much like the first accept I didn’t have to dip water to stay afloat. As we rounded each bend in the Mighty Tippy, a new adventure seemed to start. On one such bend we came across three girls playing on their pier that was jetting out into the river. As I recall Bob and Jerry was ready to stop for the night. Their plan was thwarted by a somewhat concerned adult. Their father felt it was necessary to get us down the river. He warned us about an old gristmill dam that was still creating a small waterfall. He thought we better get past the dam before dark. We decided his warnings were more of a concern for his daughters than for us. It was time to move on. When we rounded a bend in the river about two miles from the girls, we decided we were right. We could hardly tell there was ever a dam there.

We continued down the river till near dark. We found a nice place to camp, and pulled our kayaks upon the sandy bank. We gathered a few sticks and started a fire. It was a little chilly, so we placed our sleeping bags as close to the fire as we could. There was a flash of lighting, a boom of thunder, and the rain started. The wind was no help either. We hadn’t planned on the rain, so we never packed a tent or even a tarp. Bad planning! We took turns finding something to burn to keep warm. I recall finding some wood that someone had split and stacked, but no sign of a house. If this was going to stop us from freezing to death, then it seemed like fair game. We somehow survived the night. As we were packing up and getting ready to continue down the river, someone was hollering at us. The old man was apparently a caretaker at this place. He informed us that we were on a government facility and we better get off before we got in any more trouble. We had landed our boats on land owned by Culver Military Academy. We wasted no time launching our vessels, and paddling our way downstream.

We continued down the river till we reached Winamac State Park. As we passed an older gentleman setting on a park bench, trying to catch fish, he gave us a wave and we waved back. After paddling for about twenty minutes, we rounded another bend, and to our surprise we could see that same old man with his back to us. Yep! That was the same guy. This part the river made a big loop and came back to within about fifty yards of itself. After we passed thru Winamac we decided to call home at the next bridge. I believe it was on State Road 35. Dad came with the pickup truck, we loaded the Kayaks into the back, climbed in the cab and headed for home.We all decided we would do it again someday, But more important projects loomed in our near future. Dad traded the Kayaks for a fiberglass boat with a 25 hp. Johnson outboard. That was the last time we laid eyes on our sturdy vessels.

I was scanning the Web a few day back and was reading a thread about a guy that was looking for a book called “The Boy Mechanic”. He said he had built a kayak from the plans in the book, and was trying to find the book again. Someone suggested he search for the book on Amazon. I thought why not. After about a week I had the book in my hand. I hurriedly scanned over the index, and there it was “A Sturdy Plywood Kayak”.

Over the years, I thought it would be nice to build the same boats and go down the Tippecanoe with my boys. The time passed, and I thought maybe I’ll make them with my Grandkids. That didn’t happen either. Now that I have the book, and seventy year old knees, I’ll place the book where my Great Grandson will see it. I’ll put a copy of this story between page 96 and 97. Maybe he will be inspired like we were when we were kids.

— Roy Rudd – July 10, 2020

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Bebop considers getting a job

Yesterday I did tell her, “Bebop, I think you’re going to have to get a job!”

I was sitting at my desk, either working or wasting time (who knows). In the background I could hear Bebop’s satisfied chewing on a chew toy. But given time, the parenting skill of “eyes in the back of the head” came into play. I realized that satisfying chew didn’t really sound like any one of her dozens of “chew toys”.

No indeed. It was my best pair of progressive bifocals that she had cleverly plucked from the edge of my desk.

Not a chew toy!

A few seconds of evaluation showed me that in addition to distorting and re-decorating the frames, my sweet dog had also chewed into the lens coatings. I know that I paid about $500 for those glasses in 2018, so Bebop heard some things she hasn’t heard before. I went so far as to say:

“Bad Dog!”


“Bebop, I think you’re going to have to get a job.”

You see she was still working off the $15.99 from her allowance for the corded headset of my phone.

Bebop bought these from her future allowance on June 2.

I went downstairs to tell Terri, Bebop’s Mom and reliable advocate, the entire story. As I described the event, focusing on “bad dog” and “get a job”, Bebop looked from one of us to the other, with tail between her legs. Yes, she knew she was in serious trouble. We had more discussions about “this is yours, but THIS is mine.”

Later in the day, in discussion with the optical department of Utah Eye Centers, I found to everyone’s relief that the insurance/warranty that I had purchased with the glasses would cover 100% of replacement. Even for puppy destruction. Whew. That was a huge relief for Bebop.

Today, she has had a very relaxing day, knowing that she would not need to join the workforce. Indeed she will maintain her status here of favored one. Much loved and pampered. The education of Bebop continues.

Bebop relaxes, confident of her honored status.
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Occasional observations of Duane McGuire