Summer 2007 DeCou Lumberjock Picnic; and Looking towards a 2008 Big Event

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 08-30-2007 04:05 PM 1515 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Wow, it has been a couple of weeks since the Lumberjocks Picnic at my place on 8-10-2007. I wanted to share some of the photos that I have, and talk some about next year’s event.

Cleaning and Hardwork: Our place has never looked better (everything is relative), as Shelli and I rushed around for three full days cleaning up, mowing, weed-eating, and hauling off trash. This old farm we live on was a real junky place when we bought it 6 summers ago, and so we continue to clean it up, restore the old buildings, and poor some sweat-equity into the place. The Picnic was a good reason to get rid of some more junk that I hadn’t taken time to do before. I didn’t get time to do any cleaning inside the shop, so everyone had to deal with the same mess that I do every day.

It was hot that week, and I was just headed to the shower after cleaning up the yard all morning, when Karson and Joel/Susie drove in. So, they got a rare, and unwanted, peek at what I look like without a shower (that’ll teach them to show up a little early).

After the introductions, everyone headed into the house, where I played the “Look What I Did” HGTV show where “Dusty” was interviewed for the show awhile back, and I headed to the shower.

By the way, Dusty’s interview was great!

Karson and David came from Delaware, Joel & Susie Tille took off from work and came from Northern-Iowa, Kevin Larcom came up from Wichita, and Karson’s brother-in-law from KC came along also, well actually he drove Karson and David in a big black four door pickup that I was envious of.

Karson’s brother-in-law is not a lumberjock yet, but he loves Hotrod Cars, and has a Harley, so we enjoyed hearing some car and motorcycle trip stories. Joel and Susie love muscle cars also, so we had fun hearing their car stories as well. I gave up Corvettes, 4×4 Trucks, golf, bowling, softball, and Harleys to pursue woodworking full time, so the stories brought back some great, and not-so-great, memories for me as well.

For Instance:

Great: restoring two older Harley’s and remembering the fun and things I learned.

Not-So Great: watching those Harleys leave on a trailer after selling them to raise capital and pay off debt.

“Wife”, Shelli cooked up a big meal for everyone, and since we have such a small house, we ate buffet style. Shelli loves to cook, and outside of serving and loving me, she probably likes to cook the best.

Ok, Ok, cooking is probably #1, or at least in the top 3, as then there are the kids, and then…....
(I’m in that list somewhere, I think, ha).

Shelli likes to host folks at our place, which is something we haven’t done as much since the kids were born. In the “BK” old days (BK-before kids), hosting groups was a weekly activity for us, that is when we weren’t out riding our Harleys, or going to church functions. We are so isolated in the country, that when someone comes to see us now, it is a big deal!


The Tille’s son back in Iowa made Rachel and Riley some of his signature Bandsaw Castles, and so here is a photo of Joel showing Rachel how they work. Joel had shown me a website in the past where the local newspaper had written up a story about his son’s work in wood. This was a great gift, and we appreciate that everyone took such interest in our children. They felt really honored and a big part of the picnic.

Bandsaw Castle:

Karson made a surprise presentation ceremony to me, of the biggest bag of M&M’s I have ever seen. This gift was in response to my blog many months ago about the wife’s and my argument over the candies in the bags of Trail Mix that my wife buys. Karson also brought Shelli a bag of Trail Mix, but she would not pose for a photo. She is camera-shy, but I’m not sure why. It had something to do with, “you’ll just paste it all over the internet…...”. And she was right, so we didn’t get the photo of her. The Big Bag of M&M’s is now all gone (I think the kids and wife got into my bag), so we are back to arguing over the trail mix, when I get caught. Thanks to Karson, this was a really fun, and unexpected gift.

M&M’s Photo:

Here is the old blog on the M&M’s that started all of this:
M&M Blog:

Karson also brought gifts for the Kids, a game called Cootie, and left me with some financial help to get a walnut log milled that I was given this summer. Gotta love friends like that! Karson’s son David was a real treat to meet as well. The kids all played together a lot, and our kids have asked several times since, “when is that boy, David, coming back to see us, I miss him.” David is a current lumberjock also.

Joel makes Quilt Hanging Clamps out of Cherry Wood, and so he presented a pair of those to Shelli. They are really neat and well crafted, but I won’t show a photo of them, as I want him to be able to protect his design and product. Thanks Tille’s for coming to the event!

Joel was here before in December 2006, but this time he brought his lovely wife Susie. Susie is very supportive of Joel and his woodworking, and they enjoyed talking about their newly built workshop, and Joel’s need to clean it up (sorry Joel).

Susie wore a cute pink colored Lumberjocks t-shirt, and so I encourage you all not to neglect the pink t-shirts when trying to figure out which shirt to order for yourself, or others. Joel modeled the yellow sleeveless lumberjock shirt as well during the picnic.

I liked Susie’s pink t-shirt so much, that I felt bad that I hadn’t ordered one for Shelli. Let that be a lesson to all of you who have spouses, and signficant others, that don’t have a Lumberjocks shirt yet.

Oh, and just to settle a rumor, I don’t get anything from the shirts that you order from the lumberjocks website. Martin just asked me if he could use my photo on the Merchandise Page. The revenue from the shirts helps offset all of the effort that Martin has spent getting this website going.

Order a shirt, and know that the money goes to a good cause…........Martin and his family.

Kevin stayed for most of the afternoon, but he had to get back to Wichita, so he took off in the late-afternoon. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Kevin, and I was glad he could attend the event and meet the other lumberjocks. Kevin is the early stages of his woodworking business, and showed me his new postcard marketing materials. Kevin and I have gotten together on other days, but this was our first “picnic” together.

Since our picnic, another Kansas woodworker named Kip found lumberjocks on the internet, and came to see me this week. I, of course, recommended that he join up with the community of other lumberjocks. In the future, we’ll invite him as well to any Kansas Lumberjock Events. We missed Joshua Stewart at this year’s event, as his wife had a baby the week of the Picnic, so they were not able to attend. We hope to include them next time, and meet the new baby-jock. Congrats to the Stewart’s.

Karson did a great blog on the event, and took more, and better, photos than I did. I would encourage you to read his summary of the event.
Karson’s Blog on the event:

Karson, David, and Karson’s sister Ruth came back on Sunday to attend church, and witness my daughter Rachel’s baptism. Rachel started talking about wanting to get baptized for a few weeks, and she just wouldn’t give up on the idea. She correctly answered all of my “why?” questions, so on Sunday the 12th, I had the honor of baptizing her in a swimming pool at Morning Star Ranch, a ministry of World Impact, Inc.

The Ranch is about 10 miles south of our house, close to our church in Cedar Point. This is also the Ranch where Shelli and I worked before leaving that ministry and moving to the place we live now. Rachel lived at the Ranch for her 1st six months, so she likes to tell her younger brother that she got to live there, but he didn’t. This is always a quick form of torment, and something we are trying to stop.

I didn’t get any photos on my own of the Baptism since I forgot my camera that morning, so I am most grateful that Karson had his camera.

Karson also was able to meet my dad, the original DeCou-Lumberjock, who came with my mother to the Baptism. Dad doesn’t do computers, but he has looked at lumberjocks before, with someone’s help. I would have loved to have taken folks over to his house to see his life’s work in wood. He is quite amazing, and makes me look pretty un-talented (I’m serious).

The night before the Picnic, the kids helped me make a little sign for the highway, so that the corner to turn at would be more visible. I used colored poster board and plywood. Here is Riley posing for me as we put up the sign up on the highway the morning of the picnic.

Sign Photo:

Riley loves working in the shop, and helping to host customers and people that come to visit. He is learning to shake hands, and to greet people, and introduce himself. He is 5 years old.

This greeting and talking comes with some effort for Riley, as he is naturally shy. Rachel, is just the opposite, and it is hard to get a word in when she is in the room. She loves talking to people, meeting new people, and showing off how much better she is getting around since she was diagnosed with the dermatomyositis in the Spring of this year. She is much better than she was, but she still struggles with some things that other 6 year old girls are able to do. I think the humbling and physical challenges she has been enduring, has given her a different heart for people, especially those that have trouble walking. Anytime we go some place and there is a person with a wheelchair, a crutch, or a cane, Rachel makes a special effort to say hi, and to touch their arms and ask if they are doing ok. A couple of week’s back, she offered to help an elderly man who was using two canes to walk, asking, “can I could help you to your car.” God is using her illness to build her heart for people in a unique and wonderful way. Even in the saddness of the illness, I can see some good coming of it.

Planning For the Future:
There is a Scripture verse in the book of James that I am reminded of each time I try to think about planning some future event:

“Now listen, you who say, ”Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

So, with that said, if the Lord wills it, we are planning for another bigger Picnic event for next summer. I am perfectly comfortable with planning for the future, only with the caveat that if the Lord changes our plans, that it is ok with us.

Karson has some great ideas about moving the location to a bigger venue in Kansas City, and making the event longer to allow some training and entertainment activities. I think with the move to a bigger city, the event will draw a lot more folks. Also, KC is more centrally located in the US. I will miss the thought of hosting folks at our house, which is something we like to do, but I feel the move will be good for the growth of the Lumberjock Movement. Additionally, Kansas City is closer to Canada, so Debbie would have less of a trip.

Side Note: it is actually funny, there was a lot of pre-planning that went into making sure we had a photo of Debbie at our event. Karson told me before he came to Kansas that Douglas Border was going to help us paste Debbie’s picture in the group. Since my border collie Luke, looks a lot like “WayneC’s” lumberjock profile photo, we tried to also get Luke to sit for the photo. Karson got Luke to stay in the photo, whereas, I didn’t capture that moment. It was a lot fun to try and work it all out.

To see the photo with “Debbie & WayneC” included, go to Karson’s blog.

If you are interested in being a part of the Summer 2008 Picnic with us, let Karson, or myself know, so that we can work on scheduling, what you would like to do while here, and what type of things you would like to learn. We are thinking that we would host some woodworking seminars on different skill based lessons, and so we would like to know what it is that you want to learn.

There is great talent in the lumberjock ranks, so if you see something in a person’s work that you would like to learn, let us know so that we can approach them about teaching the rest of us their “secrets”.

Debbie asked me why I put some many different blogs on this event, instead of wrapping them all up together. Well, I guess I was trying to stay ahead of Ethan’s blog count. Ha.

Here are my previous blogs on the Picnic for this summer:

Thanks for reading, and I can’t wait until the next big event,
Mark, for the DeCou’s

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

8 comments so far

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4546 days

#1 posted 08-30-2007 04:20 PM

Looks like a great time of fellowship. Looking forward to more details on the “big one”.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4400 days

#2 posted 08-30-2007 04:58 PM

I just checked the maps. Kansas City is just a 15-hour drive away.. No problem.
oh and a passport.. can’t forget that.

re: blogging—you can make as many blogs as you want!! THe more the merrier. (linking them together in a series just helps some brains to “remember” :) )

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

View Greg Mitchell's profile

Greg Mitchell

1381 posts in 4309 days

#3 posted 08-30-2007 07:26 PM

It sounds and looks like you’ll had a great time Mark. Count me in on the next one!

-- Greg Mitchell--Lowell,

View Karson's profile


35154 posts in 4640 days

#4 posted 08-30-2007 09:25 PM

Mark; great Blog on the events.

Here is what I found out when I talked to a couple of businesses.

Woodcraft: I talked to the assistant manager at Woodcraft in Lenexa KS. They have classes so I figured that they have a place for us to meet. He was wanting to know what we’d do. I told him “No plans have been made”
He asked if we wanted to do a few workshops. The first I thought of that. He said that if the LumberJocks didn’t fill up the class then he’d advertise it to his customers.

Normally these workshops are fee based, and I believe that the instructor gets 1/2 and the store gets 1/2. We didn’t discuss any financial arrangements for the use of his classroom. KC with all of its extra things to do could be a small vacation for some of the families to do and see while the LJ spent his/her time in class, and I’m sure that we could get some eating places that would be happy to feed a bunch of people.

The second place I found was a Rockler licenced store. When i went to them the manager told me that they didn’t have any meeting places, bu that their North Kansas City store had a meeting space that is used by a Lathe turning club that meets there. They have no tools that are able to be used, but they did have space that he suggested that maybe some of the tool MFG’s would be willing to set up some booth space for us to view. My name and e-mail has been provided to the Lathe Turning club to see if they might want to join and participate. They do have a Lathe stored at this place and a video camera and TV to show the attendees what is happening at the lathe. These items are the property of the Lathe Club. This store is a commercial business and they are not open Sat or Sun, but i don’t believe that that would be a deterrent for having a meeting there. He stated that anything that is sold at his store he’d want to go through his cash register. He was referring to someone selling wood at a previous group function. He didn’t have a problem he just wanted a store cut by running it through his stores register. They do have a full line of tools and his store is not currently a Rockler outlet but he figured that it would be by next summer. Again I didn’t talk about financial arrangements for his place of business.

The took me on a tour of his overhaul place. They rebuild machines for customers. They also have a CAD blade sharpening. This machine takes a blade of a pile of blades, it looks at the teeth, figures out the geometry, angles and then cuts (I think he said .04 mm) and then checks that it got it all sharp. They use 1000 grit diamond on the sides and 600 grit on the top. The machine runs unattended all night sharpening blades. They took their old machine and set it up to re size teeth that were chipped or missing and have been replaced before going to the new machine.

I believe that either of these facilities could be usable. Woodcraft has lots of tools in their class room environment so if that was needed they would be the best choice. If we were going to teach some classes ourselves and do it in an instructor environment instead of interactive then the one in North KC would work fine. And having Dewalt or Porter Cable representatives meeting with us would be great.

That is what I found out. It would be best to set up a new blog to discuss possible attendees and activities.

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

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4417 days

#5 posted 08-31-2007 05:25 AM

My wife and I are planning to visit the New England States next northern hemisphere summer. I would love to meet up with some of you in KC if that is what is planned.

It would be helpful if a date was chosen early so I could make the appropriate travel plans.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4219 days

#6 posted 08-31-2007 05:33 AM

Hi Mark;

I have to say, the longer I’m involved with this fine and extrordinary group of people, yourself included, the more impressed I am, especially since you all have welcomed me so graciously.

I’ve never had better “fit” with a group of people before!!!!!

I really appreciate the fact you posted this, as it exposes exactly what type of people are to be found here, and nowhere else.

I’d love to know how Martin pulled this off, so successfully!

Thanks again,


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4554 days

#7 posted 08-31-2007 03:47 PM

Too much fun!

View Martin Sojka's profile

Martin Sojka

1893 posts in 4712 days

#8 posted 08-31-2007 04:48 PM

Lee, the secret lies in M&Ms lol

Seriously I had no idea about the LumberJocks future when I started to work on this site. So far it’s like one wonderful dream… and I hope it will last forever ;)

Thanks Marc and Karson for keeping us all informed about your Picnic!

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