CRAFT

What am I working on?

Photo Credit: Ric Leczel. 1906 Stanley #6 Block Plane. Owned by Leonard Hubert Smith II, my Great-Grandfather. Purchased new around 1906, it cost about $2.10 brand new. My first restoration project.

As part of the growth of my Substack Platform, and as a natural human experience of evolution, I am making changes, updates, alterations, and upgrades. I announced the creation of my Substack on 12/30/2020. You can read it here

This project started with a belief of mine, expressed as a formula,

Life / Food + Music + Art + Craft + History = Culture (L/5e=C)

I believe that each person lives a truth that is unique but also universally shared. Tensions arise when one values their own truth more than that of their neighbor.

My second post declared to the reader my mission for this platform. Here is what I wrote there

This is not a cook book

but you will find some recipes in here

This is not a song book

but you will find some tunes in here

This is not a picture book

but you will find some artistry in here

This is not a poetry book

but you will find some poems in here

This is not a DIY book

but you will find some craftiness within you

This is not an autobiographical book

but you will find some memories in here worth sharing

In short, the book you are holding is more

Like a travelogue

Let’s ride the roads of my mind and soul

And see if we can share some beautiful

Moments together

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What’s Going On? 

For the past nine months, since I published my first post on 12/31/2020, I have managed to post about once a week, usually on Fridays. Posts average about 2000 words each, with a couple exceeding 3000 (thanks for hanging in there on those!) 

As I look back and take stock, and re-read some of those posts, I have mixed emotions. Some are outstanding, and a few are angry. Some are very uplifting, and a few others are pretty dismal. 

But, as I read words written in the past, and available online in perpetuity, I am proud of all of them. I felt them, I wrote them, and I stood by them. Let the chips fall where they may. 

But again, I am realist enough to realize realizations as I realize them. Much like White Goodman in Dodgeball man-splaining his business philosophy, one must grapple the horns of a bull when necessary. 

When contemplating this project, and all of the little decisions that went into it, the guiding principle was a stated intention to exclude politics from this platform. In the sense of personal political beliefs, as in using this as a soapbox to proselytize. I won’t do that. My readers are too important to me. 

Please disagree and tell me where I crossed the line. 

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But I do discuss politics as they relate to culture, and the cumulative effect of all of the individual and personal choices we make in that realm. I’m most interested in the consequences of those choices, which are almost always unintended and often inescapable.

The other major decision was the title of my platform. As many of you know, the genesis of my writing, and this outgrowth, was actually started while I was serving time in prison. 

I went down for eight months, ending up in Folsom State Prison. I read the Bible eight times, read over 80 books, did 1000 pushups a day, and wrote over 150,000 words. In pencil or pen. 

Oh yeah, I made $0.32 per hour working prison jobs. I am not proud of the fact I went to prison. I am proud of the fact that I made it out alive and never went back. 

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It Is What It Is

The shame and embarrassment I felt going to prison are only mitigated by the lessons I learned there. And by some of the people I met inside and their stories. 

During the pandemic lockdown period, I was moved to make good on the promise I made to pay forward the blessings and support I received while I was locked up. A worthy charity to consider supporting is Crossroads Prison Ministry.

After becoming a mentor, and after attending a Zoom Meeting with other mentors and CPM leadership, my story became known. It was written about and featured on their blog. You can check it out here

The pandemic stopped my world long enough that I re-discovered the material I wrote across those 247 days. My intentions crystalized. I wanted to write about those feelings, those stories, and those memories. 

What became clear after I read my earlier posts was my point of view. And I certainly have one! And I appreciate my readers' diligence in reading all of my words. 

Yup, it’s the title. And maybe the logo. The Wife is certainly of that opinion. So Substack has an answer for that. They created Sections to allow readers to customize their preferences. I am still working through the details, but it’s straight-forward.

Writers choose what and where to post. Readers choose what and where they read those posts. The best thing about Substack is that they value independence. For writers and readers. 

The new section I created on my platform is called Compass Star WordSmith. My goal here is to attract readers without controversy. As it is. Still in the conceptual phase, the initial goal is to make this more of an interactive experience. 

I have aspirations that I can attract other writers to guest post here, without the distraction of a title based on tribal associations. I get it. 

I also hope readers can post a comment now and again, without fear of online mob retribution. A boy can hope, right?

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WOODCRAFT VS. WORDCRAFT

When I look at the confluence between my two hobbies tuned hustles, I am struck by the similarities of their natures. 

I love when one little letter can make all the difference in the world. But, really, how different are the two things? 

Much like human beings, surface differences are not character differences. With wood, I am shaping the grains to create luster and distinction. Design leads to utility, function to beauty. I make a piece and let it go. It lives its own life after that. 

A piece of Woodcraft holds a special place for people. The fluid nature of woodgrain allows the beholder to incorporate into the art, to interpret it as it is for them. Not how it was to me. That is the beauty of art. 

Words too, are fluid. And they too live on forever, and are subjected to re-interpretation and re-invention as time passes. Ownership passes from the writer to the reader, from the woodsmith to the patron, to provide enjoyment on the terms of the end user, not the creator. 

Please enjoy some of my Woodcraft. If you are local to SoCal, and are interested in commissioning a piece of work, please contact me. As always, please consider financially supporting my Wordcraft.

Ric