“I’m Speaking” – Voices from my Workshop

ELECTION 2020 SURVIVAL KIT from Rye Bar in San Francisco: Inspiration for Ann’s and my titles for today. Incidentally, both cocktails were fantastic.

Ann’s title for today’s BigLittleMeals was inspired by a cocktail that was in a gift box from Rye Bar of San Francisco given to us by our daughter for the holidays. The cocktail, which was one of two in the box, was labeled Biden Thyme. As soon as Ann saw it she pounced on it as being perfect for a blog and claimed dibs. I was to use the other cocktail name for my corner of the blog. Unhappily, the name of the other cocktail in the box was not based on any kind of pun – and everyone knows how addicted I am to puns! It was simply I’m Speaking. For those who missed the vice presidential debate, this was Kamala Harris’s retort when Mike Pence interrupted her. That’s all cool, but how could I use this title for Andy’s Corner?

I pondered upon this for quite some time and then, during one of my frequent but futile attempts to tidy up my workshop, it hit me like a thunder bolt. I’m Speaking would be the perfect title for a post about what’s on my workshop walls. While I have previously written about how Maxwell’s Demon plays havoc with the assortment of pliers, electric drills, hammers, chisels, screw drivers, and assorted nuts, bolts, and nails in my workshop, I have not had the opportunity to share anything about the less functional memorabilia and artifacts that have found their way to my workshop walls.

A panoramic view of my workshop. Can you hear the walls speaking to you?

So what does I’m speaking have to do with all of this? I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, if these walls could talk, the stories they would tell. Well, these nonfunctional things on the walls do talk and are telling me stories every time I walk in to fetch a tool or look for masking tape or fix the wheelbarrow. Each of them holds some unique personal meaning for me. Outsiders who venture into this space can only guess at the kinds of stories they tell me.

Because by definition most of you reading this post are outsiders to my workshop, I have decided to provide a very brief tour and point out some of the more memorable of the memorabilia on the walls. Each piece on its own could be fodder for an entire Andy’s Corner post, but I will spare you that pain for now and offer just some brief descriptions.


I brought these items back with me from my Army tour in Vietnam 1969-70. The bow and arrows were supposedly made by indigenous Montagnards. The two Vietnamese lacquerware pieces incorporate cracked eggshells, a traditional Vietnamese art form.

Ann and I purchased this wooden block art piece from Creativity Explored in San Francisco. It brings a smile every time I look at it.

Because my father loved fishing so much, many of my childhood memories of my dad are triggered by this display of old fishing lures from his tackle box.

These were crafted by my mother, who loved making crafty things. They were a fixture on my parents’ patio wall for many years. The fish is decorated with pieces of abalone shell that I brought home from my college days scuba diving off the UCSB coast.

I hung this Wibberly print on my LSU office wall when I first got serious about cycling. Now it’s a constant reminder of the countless miles I cycled up and down River Road (which follows the Mississippi River all the way from LSU to New Orleans) while we lived in Baton Rouge.

Big Bear Lake and Boy Scouts were two important sources for stories from my childhood.

I love this magnificent photo of a Colorado mountain lion that was given to us by Ann’s brother and sister-in-law almost 50 years ago.

The license plates tell of the places we have lived and much more. The hubcap is from my father’s beloved 1961 Ford Falcon. And, of course, Chino is my childhood home town.

This ceremonial wooden mask from Mexico is daily reminder of our many wonderful visits to that country. Going back there is a high priority on our post-pandemic travel plans.

This is another acquisition from my deployment to Vietnam. I gave this to Ann’s father and it became a permanent fixture in his Ft. Collins law office.

This is Oakley, star of at least two Andy’s Corner posts. The portrait is a gift from Travis and Hannah and was painted by their friend Kaitlin.

The wood planer on the right in the photo was hand made by my uncle Andrew shortly after he and my father immigrated to this country from Belgium in 1920. The coffee grinder is an heirloom that belonged to Ann’s Swedish grandmother.

This aerial photo is of Ann’s and her brother’s farm in Windsor, Colorado. Since that photo was taken much of the surrounding farmland has been transformed into housing.

Putting this post together got me to thinking about why my workshop means so much to me. On a basic level the space in question meets the general requirements for a legitimate workshop: a room which provides both the area and tools required for the manufacture or repair of manufactured goods.

But it goes beyond that. Clearly my tools and bins of hardware have concrete utilitarian workshop kinds of value for me, but I also have a surprisingly strong emotional attachment to them (I wrote more about my tool fetish here). Plus, as we have seen, my beloved tools and hardware are competing for my allegiance (and affection) with random artifacts and memorabilia which are pretty worthless for fixing or building things but darn good at telling stories. Because both the tools and the artifacts bring me a great deal of pleasure it shouldn’t be difficult to understand why, as I wrote in an earlier blog, my workshop for me is such a “calming retreat from the hassle of everyday life.”

So, if you drop by our place and no one comes to the door, I’m probably hanging out in the workshop. Feel free to walk around behind our house to find me. I’d love to give you an in-person tour of my walls.

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