All posts by Duane

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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An old Piano Friend Comes Home

Sometime around 1959, in Raymond Washington, I had my first piano lesson. It was on this piano: Schilling and Sons #93032!

Schilling and Sons Upright Piano made in 1926

My mother acquired the piano sometime in the 1940s. My sister Carol, my sister Nadine,  and I all learned to play on the Schilling and Sons. Then in 1972, Mom thought she should have a smaller piano for her dining room. So she bought a spinet piano, and as part of the purchase, she arranged free delivery of the Schilling and Sons from Raymond to Carol’s new home in Vancouver, Washington.  Carol’s three girls: Angela, Heather, and Tiffany all learned to play on this piano too.

In 2008, at the age of 91, Mom left the Raymond home to live in a senior apartment near Carol’s home in Vancouver. Carol selflessly provided near daily care and support during Mom’s time there. In 2011, with gratitude (and a bit of showmanship), I gave Carol a modern baby grand piano for her birthday. I made the surprise piano delivery, from Utah to Washington, while Carol was on the East Coast for a week. Then I spirited the Schilling and Sons off to Utah to be rebuilt. As it worked out, procrastination and the lack of a plan for that piano meant that it has just been waiting on me these past eight or nine years.

But then, in 2019, the very house we knew as home in Raymond came on the market, and Carol surprised us all by buying it as a family vacation home! It was then obvious what the next stopping point for the Schilling and Sons piano would be! 

COVID is upsetting travel plans for this Summer, but today I was pleased to note the completion of work on this family piano.

Satisfaction Test. Smile, Duane!

Details on the project appear at

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Sand, Gravel, and Cement, Mixed With Experience

For Terri’s birthday, she asked for sand and gravel. Actually, it was sand, gravel, cement, and experienced labor. I accepted the challenge, and now reap the benefits of daily exercise.

In recent years, Terri has been using large concrete paving stones in the garden of this design:

For her current project, a patio for a fire pit, she wanted 60 more, but her local source was gone. Enterprising girl that she is, she acquired three forms for casting the blocks, and then asked her dedicated partner for help.

I’ve got a bit of experience in this area. Old experience. My early career with sand, gravel and cement was with Dennis Company of Raymond, Washington (1968-1972). There, I was privileged to gain lots of life skills. Among many other tasks, as a teen I operated the concrete batch plant, and delivered building materials.

In the storage shed next to the feed store, we would sometimes cast pier blocks in steel forms with the tag ends of premixed concrete left in the trucks. Bruce Dennis hated seeing that concrete go to waste, so when inventory of pier blocks was low, we oiled up some forms and poured some more. That was pretty simple manufacturing.

A concrete pier block similar to what we cast in the 1960s

Though I’ve noticed that the work is harder than it was 50 years ago, it does seem that Terri found someone with applicable experience.

The forms for Terri’s paving stones

The forms shown above are glistening with special form release agent that I brushed on prior to pouring concrete this morning. Somehow I knew the recipe for that release agent. If you need some, it is 50% motor oil and 50% mineral spirits (paint thinner). It works just as well as it did fifty years ago.

I can’t do this work without reflecting on my time as a gopher boy at The Dennis Company. After I got the forms oiled up this morning, it was time for a senior citizen break before mixing the sand, gravel, and cement that I’d placed in the wheel barrow. While I was enjoying a chocolate doughnut (with chocolate frosting and coconut) that Terri had made to help motivate me, I had to remember and relate my experience with doughnuts in The Dennis Company years.

To recount the story with factual accuracy, I must admit that I am a morally compromised person. In addition to the many virtuous and valuable skills I learned at the time, I also gained a basic skill in thievery. Among the many, varied products handled by Dennis Company was bulk flour for the local bakeries which arrived in railcars with animal feed from Fischer Mills in Seattle. When delivering flour in the morning to the South Bend Bakery, if Mr. Noonan, the baker, was still in, he would always offer a free doughnut. There was also a lady working there: Mrs. Noonan, or an employee, I don’t know. But it was bum luck if she was the only one there. No doughnut. With better luck, one day I delivered flour with a veteran Dennis Company employee, Harry Smith. I always loved working with Harry; he taught me a lot. On that particular morning after we’d unloaded the flour, we passed that glorious rack of freshly glazed, warm doughnuts by the back door of the bakery.

Harry said, “Grab one. That old biddy will never offer you one.” What could I say? I was the trainee! I can tell you it was probably the best doughnut I’ve ever eaten, with the possible exception of that double chocolate coconut doughnut Terri made for me this morning.

With my doughnut and my memories giving me strength, I did get back to the task at hand. I mixed up that concrete and poured three more pavers.

In the days since the birthday I’ve generally made three a day. Today’s work brings me to nineteen. I have just forty-one more to go. Happy Birthday, Terri, and thanks for the doughnuts.

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A roof in a day

Our house was built 17 years ago. A look around the neighborhood will tell you that the roofing jobs were not the very best. We found that we were at the point of doing repairs which would probably continue annually. Since we plan to be here for many years, we decided on a new roof.

The McGuire heritage is one of get up and do it yourself. Well, not this job! My climbing days are over, and I was never really attracted to roofing. The roofing company I hired blew away all expectations; I had no idea that a crew could tear off the old and install a new roof in a day. But oh my, this crew can. Seven ninjas on the roof with a short lunch break, and it’s done, just like the company owner told me. They were moving so fast we couldn’t get an accurate count, but I think there were seven. Hats off to CCR roofing. of Clearfield, Utah.

Remarkably, all that energy was contagious. I had a very productive day in the shop. I had plenty of breaks, and took a couple of walks with Bebop to give her a break from the stress. But honestly, I got twice the work done in the shop that I usually do. Good contagion.

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More improvements for Bebop

She’s an expensive dog, and worth it! Now complete is a new walkway to the shop, and concrete steps.

When Bebop arrived in February, we realized we’d want improvements. In the winter time we haven’t been accessing the shop from the deck. Instead we take the safe route from the front door with handrails and well shoveled and salted concrete steps. However, we clearly needed to use the newly fenced backyard for Bebop’s winter potty runs. Once again, the new puppy addition brings improvements for all.

I don’t do concrete well. That was left to the pros. I built the handrail yesterday using redwood for posts and mahogany for railing. Terri finished the job today by staining. Bebop approves.

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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:

05/27/2017Hannibal, Missouri, May 2017
05/28/2017Kraus House, St. Louis - May 2017
05/30/2017The Center of the Universe: Tulsa OK
06/02/2017Palo Duro Canyon
06/03/2017Albuquerque Botanic Garden, June 2017
06/04/2017Utah: We're back after 7 weeks
09/11/2018Joseph Branch Rail Riders
09/14/2018Old Friends, New Times
09/18/2018Lan Su Chinese Garden, Fall 2018
09/22/2018The Art of the Trip
01/22/2019Oceanside 2019
01/23/2019Happily Trapped in a Museum
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Father’s Day 2020: Remembering Harvey McGuire

I’ve spent the day with thoughts of Dad. He shared freely with the people of his life from 1913 to 2001. As I reflect, I regret not writing more about his life. Sometimes, I just don’t know how to write the story. But the vignettes are there, and each of these photos have their story. While thinking about Dad, I looked to see exactly what I had written. It’s a good start.

Here’s what’s currently tucked away in the blog:

  • Just Like Downtown - Dad was someone who was known as a practical man.   He could get things done,…
  • A House - In about 1942, my Dad, Harvey McGuire built a house with Grandpa Henkel. That house…
  • Electrified Thoughts -  I came to know at an early age that linemen were brave,  robust, and knowledgeable…
  • Horseback riding - Harvey McGuire, my dad, didn't say much about how rough life had been for him.…

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Ashokan Farewell Piano Performance

My dive into digital recording and production started in December with a gift of Ableton LIve! from my son, Ryan McGuire. While he was visiting at Christmas we recorded an earlier release of “Ashokan Farewell” based on my recording with a Yamaha CP33 stage piano. That was a good starting point, but didn’t quite satisfy.

The Steinway A3 I’ve been enjoying since 2017

The introduction to digital recording took me down another path in January, as I wanted to record digitally from my Steinway grand. With that I could express my music with the instrument I love to play. Thus I purchased and installed QRS PNOscan system for recording. With this system I recorded the following performance of “Ashokan Farewell”. Ryan rendered it with a PianoTeq 6 Steinway D digital model.

This has been such a satisfying experience! I so appreciate Ryan’s gift of a digital recording system. It has been a joy to collaborate with him. I am also pleased to have preserved this performance. I listen to it today, months after the production, and, with pride, I find it to be remarkable, professional, and refined.

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