The Story of the Game Table: A Gift to My Son and Daughter-In-Law Upon the Occasion of Their Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

[…presently continuing from last week]

We have continued on and Phil bein’ an amazin’ wood carver, has developed a real good method of staining wood without the harsh appearance of chemical products from the store.  It’s also good in the clutch when you have no available funds for such items as wood stain.  He makes a solution from hardwood ashes and water.  It’s as simple as that.  Your stepdad learned how to do this from Phil so he dug into our trusty woodstove, Two Sticks, (so named due to his ability to warm the entire house at 20 below with 2 good size chunks of wood) and placed the ashes in a bucket, then he covered them with about 3 inches of water.  This was all stirred up and left to set overnight.

Next morning we got out 2 sponges.  Your stepdad had taken one of our handiest tools, the turkey baster (we understand that our lesbian friends these items for artificial insemination, how much more versatile can a kitchen tool be!) and decanted the water precipitant from atop the settled ashes and squirted our ready solution into a large bowl.  I finally made a contribution (besides putting up with Robin’s tales of woe on the phone about how misunderstood she was in Akiak) as we dabbed and wiped on 6 coats of wood ash.  After that we had to take the table downstairs to the utility room in the company of the furnace, hot water heater and the well pump, where she was turned over carefully and set down on a large clean piece of cardboard.  Your stepdad, Phil and I then signed our 3 names with a wood burning tool.

We then went to town on applying 5 hefty coats of polyurethane to the entire table, including shelf and legs.  After that, your stepdad brought her upstairs but not without a fair amount of grunting as he was being headstrong that day and didn’t ask for any help.  I heard him and came running from the study where I was slavin’ before the computer as usual.  We then took her out to the front porch where she had the final 2 coats put on her with a spray application of polyurethane.

The final task was to have Phil come up to our house and drill the holes for the screws to attach the shelf to the table leg cross bars.  This involved getting out the portable drill and carefully placing the 2 shelf boards on the bars in the correct configuration.  They were cut and made to accommodate any possible future swelling so they could not just turn her over and screw away.

Your stepdad and Phil turned the table on her side after they had secured the shelf placement with two cardboard shims and then they drilled 5 pilot holes for each end of the shelf, 3 on the wider board and 2 on the narrower board.  After that they drilled the actual holes with a different drill bit and then put the screws in.  The date of completion for her is March 28, 2003.  The deck of cards was purchased on March 24, 2003 at the Brooks Drug Store in Montpelier when I had to go get a couple of prescriptions refilled and your stepdad, ever the wanderer, scouted the store for a pack of cards with large numbers, most likely in anticipation of the day when we will all play cribbage together and we will be able to see the numbers OK.

Today, March 29, 2003 we are packing her up and taking her to the Mailboxes, Etc. store where a guy named Art will be called to come and crate her up for delivery to you via Emery Air Freight to Maryland.  Of course a debate has begun regarding whether or not you will be able to fit her in the backseat of your Honda or on the roof or what.  Your stepdad favors that you won;t be able to get it home with the Honda side, but I know you really really well and I favor that you’ll get it home with the Honda or else side.

Well as all things go here in the North Country, we still have the table in our possession and it is now March 31, 2003.  Last Saturday we set out to town, the usual 16 mile trip, and when we arrived there we had 3 tasks to complete.  Since we are effectively between sources of income at present, we have been taking any little jobs that our basket business provides.  We were to meet a man from Burlington who had me fix the cover of a large round basket from Africa.  We were also to meet a UVM student from Burlington who wanted to purchase 20 pounds of moose meat from us.  And finally get the table, who was standing up proud in the back of the SUV (you try drivin’ up our driveway in the middle of winter with your little front wheel drive Volkswagon!) and looking fine.

It just so happens that Saturday was the most popular day of the Green Mountain Film Festival in Montpelier.  The guy with the basket cover said he’d meet meat 3:45 and the student said she’d meet me at 3:30.  No one had arrived by 3:55.  By the way I stood in the wind and driving rain waiting for these folks for a good 45 minutes.  I finally spotted the basket cover guy going into the city hall across the street instead of meeting me in front of the theater as promised.  So I ran around the corner to where the car was parked, got the cover, ran across the road, up the many sets of stairs to the city hall theater and was promptly turned away by a stern woman who said the movie had started.  Rats!

I trudged down the stairs and when  hit the street a strange looking hippie guy approached me and asked if I was there to sell moose meat.  Visions of the big bust on the farm entered my mind but I shook them off and proceeded to take the guy and the woman he was with back across the street to the car and the moose meat.  When I asked the student if she had her money she looked at me sheepishly, blinked the rain drops out of her eyes and said, “gee no it’s back at the car”.  I told her through clenched teeth, just go to your car and I’ll meet you there.  After I jumped in our car I told your stepdad what had just transpired and his only comment was, “Is everybody stoned today?”

We went over to her car and she finally wrote me a smeared check in the rain.  Your stepdad and I decided to wait for the basket cover guy who was still watching a sad, lesbian movie that only lasted an hour.  So we went an ate Nacho’s at Julio’s, the worst Mexican restaurant on the planet.  After that we went back to the city hall theater and met the guy coming down the stairs and processed back out tot he sidewalk only to transact more business with another soggy check.  we figured we would go straight to the bank machine and we deposited our take, $80, a great amount for a wet day’s work in Montpelier.

Our final task loomed ahead, take the table to Mailboxes, Etc.  We had even called ahead to ask that we be allowed to come through the back door.  We pulled into the parking lot normally reserved for people on Jury Duty for the court across the street, but this Saturday, we got to pull in an block the dumpster.  Your stepdad popped out of the car and said to the two women standing on the stairs smoking if this was the correct back door for Mailboxes, upon which one replied it is but we’re closed.  I begged her and beseeched her, don’t say that!  What a sadist, she just smiled and said again, we’re cloooossseddd.  Okee dokee then, we took the beautiful table home in the SUV and noted that all the while we had driven around there was not a peep from her.  Your stepdad ever the witty one, explained that she hadn’t even barked because we took it all off of her.  Sigh.

When we got back home it was still raining and blowing to beat the band and we brought her back into the house.  Since we are pretty good at making lemonade from lemons, your stepdad decided to do some touch up on her and applied two more coats of polyurethane.  Now she shines good to blind you and we hope you will be able to see the game boards for her brilliance.

Last night it snowed about 8 inches and this morning its back to winter.  As I have sat typing the sequel to your table saga, the sun has returned and we are readying ourselves for another trip to town and another shot at shipping her off to you.  If this is where the journey part ends you will know that we were successful.

The Oral tradition We Expect You to Remember!

Now you may be wondering why a game table for a Wedding present?  So here is the sentiment behind it.  When your stepdad and I first got together we started playing cribbage, mostly because I did not know how to play Chess.  I still don’t know how and have no desire to learn.  Anyway, we played Cribbage together for 2 solid years before I could beat him.  I lost every game as faithfully as the sun comes up in the morning.

I had to deal with all those losses as best as I could and I only threw the cribbage board once.  Your stepdad will of course tell you that he was a graceful loser, but he really was pretty peeved with your stepdad for handing him a pretty quick defeat.  I saw it all and I remember it clearly because I knew that you were figuring on polishing the game off rapidly.  You will deny this, and that’s OK we understand completely.

Upon the event of your stepdad meeting your Grandmother Bertha, we played cribbage with her and your Grandfather.  I was as usual too slow for your Grandmother and she kept on grabbing my pegs and counting for me.  When I would reprimand her she would always stick her tongue out at me.  As a result I could only dub her style of play as “Cutthroat Cribbage”.  She became known as the Queen of intolerant cribbage players but she always made us laugh to the point of tears and occasional incontinence.

We invite you to actively use your table as a way to keep your family together.  We need all the social glue we can get and so your table is our Titebond, keeping us all connected no matter how far we all are from each other.  When we return from our tour of duty in Nome, Alaska or even when we may come to visit before we finish our work there, we must all play cribbage and Chess and Checkers and Backgammon and keep our senses of humor well exercised and show our love for one another while someone counts for someone wand we sip iced tea or coffee and feel totally grateful for our table experiences and each other.  We will tell tales of those who have gone on to the spirit world in our family and we will plan for the coming of brand new little ones who will learn about the journeys of ancestors from places like Ireland and Italy and France and those who have lived in North America for thousands of generations.

We have a multicultural United Nations of a family and we will keep all our ancestors happy as we play our multicultural games on a the table from a beautiful valley in north central Vermont where our legacy will live on in a log house, many many trees and the acres of land we preserve for futures of children.  May you always remember your roots and have a helluva good time beatin’ each other at the game table.

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