Ice Crystals

It’s been a very cold February in Denver. Our first February here, and they say one of the coldest in a long time. I’m glad for the implication that it’s not always this cold. Today I’ve watched, not snow, but ice crystals fly around outside. It’s been quite beautiful. Warmer days will come. Today I’ll enjoy the ice flakes in the sunlight.

Dear i5 …

Dear iPhone5,

You were so small when I first met you. And even though my flip phone (Flippy) was even smaller, I thought, “how can I ever replace Flippy, with this tiny little i5.” I didn’t need all that fancy internet stuff. And Flippy did texting just fine. But, time moves on and, I’m a little embarrassed, but the teasing from my friends (huh?) and family won over. And so Flippy took it’s place in a little baggy with the cord and a label that said, “Jessica’s, then mom’s, then dads – Still works well.”  I still miss Flippy.

I guess over time I got use to i5  (such a cold name). But, the new freedom of Pintrest, and maps, and note taking, and OMG messaging everyone at once – wow – won me over.  So i5 became my new companion.  We were getting along so well and your small size was, well, just right after all. And I even spent money on a new cover for you. I never even did that for Flippy.  But our time was so short lived. We’ve hardily gotten to know each other and along comes the newer, fancier big brother i6-S+.  It was such a generous gift, Daniel, but I just didn’t think my heart could ever move on. First Flippy, now i5. How could I dump another phone…. for what? Something better? How shallow and self-centered of me.

So here I am now, i6-s+ is all activated – with it’s larger screen and sooooo much more memory, better camera, and faster processor. I’m sure it’ll take a while before I’m able to accept my new phone friend. Maybe, when my feelings settle I’ll be able to go get a new cover for this one too……..  Probably by tomorrow (everything is closed tonight).

Eulogy to a friend.



Cutting Straight…


You learn quickly that when cutting something freehand, (without using a guide on the saw), it’s very difficult to stay on the line. As you wander off the line the blade that is still in the wood you’ve already cut will hold the blade in the direction you’ve drifted off. If you try to get back on the line you will only be able to change the direction of the cut by a very small amount. And it takes quite some distance before you get back to the line.  Then the tendency is to over-correct and you go off the line in the other direction, so your intended straight line cut weaves back and forth somewhere near the line on both sides, but not on the line.

One solution is that when making a free-hand cut, cut so there is extra, and then do a finish cut on a table saw with a guide.

Another solution is to lift the blade out of the cut and drop it back in, on the line. And go from there.

There’s a better solution: Stay focused and correct quickly. The problem occurs because you’re too far off the line before you correct the direction of your cut. If you’re paying close attention, you can make tiny adjustments the instant you see the blade drifting. On the cut that I did in the picture I was able to see a change in direction before the blade had moved even a 1/64th inch off the line. Then with an equally tiny 1/64th inch correction I stayed on the line. When I finished it was a nearly perfectly straight cut.

I notice the same thing in my life. Stay focused and make small corrections quickly, before they cause bigger problems that are long and hard to correct. It makes life a little bit smoother.

What about the Lawn…


We have this ritual at our house.  I mow the lawn and my wife comes out and says those words I’ve worked 90 minutes to hear, “The lawn looks nice.”  It happens like magic. And if she happens to forget to say something I gently remind her with, “How’s the lawn look?”  Then she says, “It looks nice.”  During the spring, when we get lots of rain it might be twice a week that I get to hear those words.  It’s almost like I mow the lawn just so I can get the compliment.

But, I think the neighbors enjoy it too when I mow the lawn because of the entertainment it brings them.  I’m sure they think I’m out of my mind, which may be true. It takes about 90 minutes to mow. And I mow it with a push mower. I think I’m the only person in the county with a yard the size of mine that doesn’t use a riding mower. I might be imagining that I think the neighbors think I’m crazy for using a push mower, but it’s just the feeling that I get when I see them call their children out to the front porch and they all sit, and stare, and point fingers, and laugh in my direction while I mow.  As the weather turns warmer they just stay in their air conditioned house and gather around their front window with the curtains open. It never bothers me that they are having a cool glass of lemonade while I sweat buckets of water.  I’m just happy to bring joy into any life that accepts it.

But the truth is I really do enjoy mowing the lawn. It gives me exercise, I get to be out in the sunshine, and I really just love the feeling I get from doing something that I can stand back and enjoy how nice it looks when it’s all done.  Once or twice a week I get to take something that’s messy and turn it into something that’s neat and clean. I like that feeling.  For me, cleaning is meditation. And neatness, cleanliness, and organization around me reflects what I’m trying to be inside. There’s a peaceful strength that comes in creating that kind of environment.



Recycle it …

Place for everythingRecycling was somewhat of a fad. I’m not sure if it’s dying down some now, or if the message has gotten into our sub-conscientiousness, and our habits, so that we don’t notice as much. But, it still humors me when I think of the big deal that was once made of recycling, as if it were a new idea.  My parents and grandparents had a saying for recycling. I’ve heard many versions but here’s the one I like best,  “Wear it out, fix it up, make it do, or do without.”  What I learned from that generation didn’t have anything to do with saving the planet, it was just common sense to not be wasteful… with anything.  As I was growing up, our version of saving the planet was every week when the milk man came (yes, came) to deliver the milk he took the old milk bottles, made of glass, so they could be washed, sterilized, and reused.  There were no disposable diapers. They were absorbent cotton, and they were washed. One set of diapers would last through several babies. There was no disposable…. anything. Grocery bags were made of paper, and got used until they were unusable. My grandparents bought flour in 25 pound bags made of cloth. The bags came with pretty designs on the fabric and the material would often get made into play clothing for the kids. Or, if you were poor, clothing for school.  Growing up we didn’t throw four items in the wash-machine and run it. The laundry was once a week when a couple of full loads could be run. And the dryer was not electric or gas, it was solar powered….. on a clothes line. A trip to the store didn’t happen every time you open the fridge and something was empty. You waited until the weekly grocery shopping trip.  Maybe it’s just the nostalgia of remembering being young, but life felt simpler then.

I’m not suggesting we need to go back to where we were. The progress we’ve made, due to capitalism, and our drive to improve, is unparalleled to any time in history. But, I am suggesting that maybe there’s something we can learn from earlier generations about being conscientious, taking personal responsible, and wisely using resources.

The picture above is from my dad’s garage when I was recently going through things since he passed away. Dad saved everything, and everything seemed to have a place which I’m certain that only he knew. If there was a left over piece or wire, or used car part, he would just find a nail and make a special place for it. I had a good laugh when I really noticed all the stuff he had stuffed, and hung everywhere. I found a box of used spark plugs that was probably every spark plug he replaced over the last 10 years. I can’t image what he saved them for, but in his mind, “there might be a use for them someday.”  Or maybe, like in the picture, a use for an old ball bearing, or a spring.  So many fond memories, but more important, so many valuable lessons of not being wasteful.

Do you have a story about learning these values?  I’d love to hear it.     – Dennis


Products page ….

Today I’m finishing up the Products page of the site. Doing this site and pulling together the things I’ve done over the years has been amazing.  It’s just a lot of fun to realize how many things you can do to make your home and living space more inviting and comfortable. And this whole idea of sharing my personal journey is new and different, but none-the-less rewarding.

I’d love to know about a journey that you’ve been on that lead to self-improvement either of yourself, or your environment?

Still Under Construction

However you’ve found my site…. welcome.  Look around and even send me a message from the contact page, but come back again. Right now the site is “Under Construction” for another week or so.  When I’m done we’ll be talking about things related to creating a home you love living in. Click the link to follow my blog, or to receive email updates.

Thanks for visiting,