Country Life Update: New Co-Op Gallery, The Pledge Kept, Learning to Ride, Shipping, & Fishing

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 05-03-2009 01:39 AM 7465 reads 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is really just a Misc. Hodgepodge of Stuff Today, Nothing but a Country Life Update.

New Co-op Gallery:
It’s been a busy couple of weeks here for me. I helped open a new Co-Op Gallery called the Prairie Past Times Antiques and Crafts Shop in Cottonwood Falls. I joined up, as it’s the hottest thing going right now for art in my little town. I put quite a few things in the store, and learned how to ring up the cash register. The new website for the little gallery is prairiepasttimes

Unfortunately, while thumbing though some turquoise necklaces by another artist, I dropped one on the floor and broke some beads, so that’ll cost me. I left her a note asking if I could pay for the damage. Then, I found something that I thought my wife would actually like for Mother’s Day, and I could keep my “Pledge” at the same time.

Pledging to Buy Handmade:
Remember awhile back that “BuyHandmade.ORG” website we discussed? I decided to put my money where my mouth was, and bought a set of hand embroidered dish towels with pictures of cooking herbs and their names. Really cute, like something your Great Grandmother would have had in her kitchen. Uneven lettering, uneven stitches, hand tied little knots. They are perfect for the Pledge. These towels are not your normal Catalog-Imported-Junk, embroidered by a Soul-Less Computerized Sewing Machine.

These are all hand stitched, and beautiful, and only $3.00 a piece. How could I pass those by?

I bought all that the lady had in the store, 6 total, made by a nice older woman from this area. So, I have Mother’s Day about figured out, and I was able to keep my previous Pledge.

Have you kept your “” pledge?

Finding His Wheels, Finally:
A couple of years ago, I made the mistake of taking the training wheels off my son’s bike before he wanted it done. I kept assuring him that he could ride, and that I never learned with Training Wheels. But, he continued to insist that it was a mistake. But, it was the mistake I made after that which caused the real problem…..I let go while running along side holding him up when he was peddling.

He did great, rode about 100 feet all by himself, and then all of a sudden he noticed that he was on his own, and turned in terror to see where I was (clapping and jumping up and down behind him), and he panicked and went down in a big crash in the gravel driveway.

Well, two years has gone by, and he really hasn’t wanted to do the bike riding thing again, nor has he trusted me like he did before.

We’ve been working on that “trust” thing together, and we’ve made some progress. But, he’s continued to ride his big-wheeled tricycle, which has been a little crazy for a 7.5 year old.

But, a couple of weeks ago, he came into the shop after school and said, “Dad, I want my Big Bike out of the shed, and I want those little wheels back on it.”

So, I did as told, and put the training wheels back on. He didn’t want my help with riding, so I retreated into the shop and watched and listened out the window.

He started talking to the Red Bike, “Come on ol’ Boy, you can do this, gentle, easy Boy, don’t throw me off this time….that’s it…..easy…..”

He started making his way down the drive way bouncing back and forth between the two training wheels. After 15 minutes he came back to the shop, and said, “Dad, I want those baby wheels off my bike.”

Ok, and I did as I was told.

I asked, “Do you want me to hold you up while you ride?” He put his head down and replied, “No sir, I can do it.” He had that look on his face like I had beaten him up with his own bike, which his mother agreed with also.

He took off easy, and fell over slowly a couple of times, turning back to see if I was watching.

I had slipped back into the shop and watched out the window. So, he just started talking to the Red Bike like it was Pony again, and got up and kept trying.

Then, he came back and said, “Dad I want those small wheels on it again.”

Ok, I did as I was told.

He bounced back and forth between the training wheels for a few more times, but they really made it hard to ride.

He came back into the shop again saying, “Dad, I want those baby wheels off my bike again.”

Ok, I did as I was told.

This go around, he actually got the bike down the driveway, and turned into the grass before bailing off, jumping up and down and screaming, “I can do this, I can do this.”

It was a great moment.

So, this past Wednesday evening I dusted off Mom’s bike and aired up the tires (it has a softer seat than mine) and together we rode down to the Big Bridge and back. It was a great moment, riding side by side, him yelling, “Better keep up dad, I’m flying….”

What a great moment.

Busy Shipment Week:
I shipped my work out to California, Florida, Iowa, Virginia, and Germany this week. The internet buying coming in from lumberjocks postings is really taking over my business life.

The DeCou Studio Etsy Shop has been working well, and I’m happy I took that plunge. Have you opened your Etsy Shop yet, and cross linked your Lumberjocks Postings?

I still haven’t figured out the trick for Google finding the Etsy postings, but the lumberjock postings are driving some viewers to the Etsy Shop, and folks wanting to buy the things posted on Lumberjocks are going on to Etsy to make the purchase. This has eliminated a lot of the emails I was getting about prices for things people have seen on Lumberjocks. Several emailed this past week asking if I had any rounding jacks available to buy, and I could quickly send back an email with a short note and Link to the Etsy offerings. Saves me quite a bit of typing.

Earlier this week I typed “rounding jack” into google to see what would come up. Out of the top 10 first page items, 9 of them were my Lumberjocks postings, BUT one of them was the Etsy Posting with one of my rounding jacks for sale. I felt that was a big victory, and I hope soon other key words will find the Etsy Postings just as quickly. One thing I’ve learned about Google, one day you are number One, the next day you’re 4th page. I haven’t figured out why yet, but I’m working on it.

Moving On:
The Preaching Pastor of my little country church decided that he is now called to a bigger church up North of here, so I was up late with the other Board members last night trying to come up with a new game plan for the next phase of our little “Non-Denominational Country Community Church”. Again.

Taking a Day off for the Kids:
After getting home at 1:45 am after the Church Board meeting, I slept in this morning. It is Saturday, and I never take off Saturdays. I haven’t for many, many, years. I can’t afford to. I do take off bits of a day once in while, like with something going with the kids at school, or at the church, or a friend, or tourist dropping by for a visit.

But this Saturday, the Wife was headed to a Women’s Day at a local church, and so she woke me up to inform me that the kids were going to be staying all day in the Nursery at the chuch since I wouldn’t get out of bed. She overused her phraseology on the word “Nursey”, and I knew that was supposed to be a bad thing. And, she continued on turning on lights, opening and closing drawers. When I was a teen and wanted to sleep in on Saturdays, my Mom used to vacuum the carpets, like there wasn’t any connection. I guess that’s just the way women are, it’s been my experience anyway.

Well, the kids were really pretty excited about going to the Nursery, as they were getting a chance to play with the little kids and hold babies, which they love to do. Rachel came in and jumped up on the bed to say good morning. I pulled the pillow off my head and said, “If you stay home with me today, we’ll go fishing.”

“What? You really mean it?” she said.

I nodded and so down the hall she ran looking for her brother to give him the good news.

I was sort of shocked I said it also.

Ok, so the sleep time was officially over, and I crawled around, took a shower, and fretted some over the work I was leaving undone today. We’ve had a lot of rain this week, and the entire 6 acres needs to be mowed, I haven’t weed-eated since last Summer, the gutters are full of leaves, the oil needs changing in the Old Truck, and I’m about year behind on commissioned orders. I’ve worried at times about not having work, but now I worry about having work, all of those nice people wondering why their box hasn’t arrived yet.

Still, today was the day for fishing.

We dug out the fishing poles, and untangled them, and I spent some time teaching the kids to throw a cast line. The first, and last time, we went fishing it was three years ago. So, it was time to teach them this. I tied a rubber bouncer on their poles and sent them out to practice. Neither kid will listen to more than 15 seconds of instructions about anything, sorta reminds me of me. I had just one “toss” to show them how to do it, so I put their thumb on top of my thumb, and had their hands on top of my hands on the handle of the pole, and did the casting one time. They could see when to let go of the thumb, because their thumb was on mine. That’s all they would let me show them, one cast.

The one cast was enough, and they quickly got the hang of it, and I headed back into the shop to continue untangling my old fishing pole lines.

I then called over to the neighbor to make sure he would allow us to fish in his pond today, the one right behind our house. That pond used to belong to our little Dairy Farm, but when the property was up for sale, all I had cash for was the House and Outbuildings, so the neighbor owns the pasture now.

Eight years ago they told me that we could have access to any of their property, several thousand acres, but I felt it was better to give them a call. Five years ago on a nature walk with the kids, we stumbled right into the middle of a turkey decoy arrangement which seemed sort of strange at first, but not nearly as strange as when another neighbor looked when he popped up out of a blind all dressed in camo walking toward us.

Uh, oh. He was rightly fully angry, I was trespassing, and he was hunting.

He started to chew me out, and Riley who was only around 3 years old at that time, looked up at him and said, “I’m Riley, what’s your name…” with the cutest expression and inflection. The neighbor melted, and calmed down, but continued to express his frustration at my trespassing. He was right, and that misadventure caused me to give him a custom hunting knife as an apology-peace gift, but I learned my lesson, and so since then I’ve always called first before I trespass.

This neighbor today graciously agreed to the fishing invasion, and all that was left was some Digging for worms, and loading up the kid’s wagon to pull with all of our supplies.

It takes a lot of stuff to go fishing. Bottled water, poles, hats, jackets, tackle boxes, camera, Barbie Doll, empty bucket, sunscreen….....What we should have brought was a couple extra pairs of socks, but that’s another story. Kids and water, you know.

Spading For Worms:
Digging worms was a little hard at first, since Rachel had found some after a rain storm earlier this week, just crawling on the ground like worms do after a rain. She made up a little house for them, and blessed the 2nd Graders yesterday with a Show-And-Tell-Day Worm House Display.

She came home after school Friday evening with the new “pets” and wanted to keep them in her bedroom, but Momma said, “no!” Some Mommas are like that, and I can’t blame her since the worms stink so bad. So, the worms are in the Wood Shop, where Stink doesn’t matter to anyone.

But, going out Digging for worms today with plans to sacrifice them to the fish, was a little hard for Rachel. I had hoped we could use her “pets” to save some digging, but she wouldn’t stand for it.

So, we dug around in some tree shade north of the house, with an old shovel… until the handle broke off. So, I gathered my Grandfather’s old Potato Spade out of the shed and we Spaded for worms then.

My Grandfather used that same Spade when I was my kid’s age, looking for worms with me to go fishing with. It’s a good Spade for that. It’s such a good Spade actually, that I normally can’t bring myself to use it for anything, worrying that I might break out it’s old, weathered wood handle. He was a great Grandfather.

We found plenty of worms, and three Cicadas that hadn’t come out of the ground yet, so we took them all, and couple of grubs.

Finally to the Pond:
Later, out at the Pond, it was a cloudy day, with abnormally low wind, and I really hoped we didn’t catch anything.

I don’t much like eating fish, or cleaning them, so I honestly hoped for little success today, other than an experience in taking some time off to do something the kids have wanted to do for a long time.

I come from a family that has a long history of working 6-Days a week, and we don’t take much time to go play, like on a fishing trip. Never could afford to much really I guess. Working is just who we are. I worked hard at coming up with a business plan that would allow me to stay home to work, instead of always kissing and patting kids on the head as I drove away to a job. So, I’m home now, but I still kiss and pat the kids on the head as I walk to the shop, calling over my should, “Sorry, I don’t have time, gotta work today…..”

Back at the Pond, it was clear right off the bat, that my son had no concept of letting a Bobber sit still, or to stop throwing sticks and rocks in the water. So, I sent him and his fish scaring shenanigans around to the side of the Pond so he would move the fish toward Rachel.

He enjoyed doing a sort of “fly-fishing” constantly-casting method. Since he sometimes turns the reel the wrong way for awhile, and then corrects and goes the other way, i was kept fairly busy untangling his reel. But he was having fun.

Rachel kept moving her pole, which pulls the bobber around, and so I kept telling her to lay down her pole, and step away. During one of my lectures, Riley looked up at me and said, “Yea, and how many times do I have to ‘peat myself?” Sounded just like me and I cracked up laughing, and then we all laughed. It’s good to laugh at myself.

I believed at best, we would catch Bull Head catfish, if we caught any. That’s normally the Farm Pond fish of choice in Kansas, unless it’s been stocked for fishing. This is a Cattle Watering Pond, not a Fishing Pond, but I felt it was perfect for the day.

Here’s Riley Demonstrating his “Constantly-Casting Method”

Rachel was the first to catch one, and then another, and another two or three. All of them were really healthy looking Channel Catfish, which was quite a surprise.

I wasn’t fishing, just sacrificing the worms and rebaiting her hooks. She forgot about how sad it was to kill the worm, once she realized how fun it was to catch a fish.

The fish kept coming in faster than I could keep worms on the hooks, in between untangling Riley’s fishing gear several times.

Rachel was having a blast.

Here’s Rachel Demonstrating the Time-Tested Kansas Method of “Waiting” for Catfish

Riley’s constantly-casting method wasn’t working so well, and he was getting very tired of his sister putting it in his face that she was catching all of the fish.

He would get some bites a few times, and then would jerk the hook toward shore and recast. Not how you catch Kansas Pond Catfish.

Finally, he had something on the line, and I couldn’t hardly believe it.

He pulled in a very nice Channel Catfish, about 11”-12” long. As he pulled it to shore I said to myself, “that must be the first Channel Cat caught on a fly rod, I just can’t believe it.”

When we pulled the fish to the Pond bank, I noticed that the Cat was actually snagged on the right side fin with the clean hook. Riley had kept the tension tight enough that he got the Cat to dry land.

We all cheered and cheered him on, and finally…. he just had a blast.

While he and I were admiring his fish, Rachel caught one on her pole, and so I got the photo of them both.

Another great memory, and a great day. I hope they remember it like I will.

Oh yea, we did all “catch and release” today.

thanks for reading, who do you need to spend a day with?

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

13 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35276 posts in 5561 days

#1 posted 05-03-2009 01:50 AM

Great Mark. Glad to see the kids nice and happy.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 4874 days

#2 posted 05-03-2009 02:12 AM

I don’t know a better way to bond with kids than by taking them fishing…of course you don’t usually get to do any fishing but its worth it and a great way to teach some of those ‘life lessons’ that must be taught/learned.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4983 days

#3 posted 05-03-2009 03:00 AM

Mark, that looks like a wonderful way to spend the day. As RTB said you can forget about fishing when you take the kids but spending time with them is far more important than wetting a line.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View a1Jim's profile


118163 posts in 4738 days

#4 posted 05-03-2009 03:07 AM

Way to go Mark there’s nothing more important to do than spend time with the kids it’s something you’ll both look back on fondly in years to come.


View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4935 days

#5 posted 05-03-2009 04:09 AM

Hi Mark

Hope your new business venture works out for you. Sounds like a liitle different concept that might bring in some more business. Good for you Dad! that you took time off from work to do something with your kids. They grow up fast and are gone before you know it. When my daughter was growing up I worked all the time. Fourty hours a week for prison industries and that many hours or more in my cabinet business for 9 years. It cost me a 22 year marriage and time with my daugther I can never get back. Thank God we are closer now that she has a family of her own. Don’t do what I did buddy. You keep doing things with your family! Thank you for sharing times you had with your family.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View mmh's profile


3689 posts in 4883 days

#6 posted 05-03-2009 05:27 AM

How wonderful! I’m glad to hear things are going well for you. Thank you for sharing your family and community events.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Handymom's profile


36 posts in 4479 days

#7 posted 05-03-2009 06:15 AM

Sounds like a wonderful day! It’s important to take that time to make memories. They’ll remember those times and share those stories with their kids! They grow up so fast. And my son refused to ride his bike even when his friends were riding. He used his roller blades or walk/run along side them. I worried he’d never learn then at 10 he just took off like a speed demon!

-- Karen W., KS.

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4603 days

#8 posted 05-03-2009 01:05 PM

sweet post.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

514 posts in 5230 days

#9 posted 05-03-2009 03:11 PM

Nice story Mark.They will cherish the memories I’m sure.Glad to hear your busy too.

-- Scott NM,

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5475 days

#10 posted 05-03-2009 05:45 PM

Great story. I missed it yesterday because i took the day off. What a concept!

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5407 days

#11 posted 05-04-2009 01:20 AM

Nice story Mark, been there, done that, feels good. GB, m

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5321 days

#12 posted 05-26-2009 11:20 PM

and now, do you have a handmade flyrod built? :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4464 days

#13 posted 08-05-2009 06:45 AM

well both of my boys are gone and grown…and i never had me a sweet girl…so if i lived close i would see if i could intrude and go fishing with you guys…...i could put the worms on…and make the pbj sandwiches…and brownies…...i sure miss fishing…..i loved the story mark…..i wish i could have my boys back and fish and camp like we did…dont pass up those days…..they are young only once…....

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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