Morning Light, Mourning Doves and two thoughts about Profit


Sunrise this past Saturday.




Waiting for new tenants

morning light

Sunrise on the plains

Spring is stirring again here (finally).

Waking up to the sound of just birds chattering satisfies something deep in my soul.

This morning I could hear two  mourning doves  calling to each other in that minor key mourning doves  make .

There was something special about these two. They were on different pitches. Same song,  half a note apart.

Never heard such a thing before.

pregarden 2014

40 by 40  no till garden area.

On a completely different note, the harvest table and artisan home furniture business I am doing on the side continues to gain traction.  I am getting  3 and 4 inquires a week on possible projects.  Here are a few of my latest creations:

TV Stand out of reclaimed lumber

TV stand modeled after something a  couple saw on line.

primitive nesting box

Primitive nesting box-   $175 and it’s yours. ;-)

cook book stand

Cook book stand out of reclaimed lumber $25

rolling pin stand

Rolling pin  holder $35

kitchen pot hanger

Kitchen shelf  – one of a kind…not for sale (yet)

harvest table out of reclaimed wood

Harvest table and bench out of reclaimed lumber

Harvest table and bench out of reclaimed lumber.  Message me if you want one like it and we can firm up the details.

I have met several wonderful people lately who have stopped by either to buy something I’ve listed on Craigslist or discuss wood working projects.  I told a young couple this weekend who were out on a date away from their kids,  I love what I do,  and I know how much time it takes for me to build something.

My time is my life, so how much is my life worth?

I have very little tolerance with someone who wants to beat me up on prices.   I’ve already calculated how much time and $ I have invested in a board foot of reclaimed lumber, so now when someone asks me how much I would charge to build such and such, it is pretty straightforward.

It used to be hard for me to charge enough for my labor.   But as my 81 year old semi retired dad who is a builder puts it, “If you get every project you are bidding on, then your prices are too low.”


“Profit is not a dirty word.”

Posted in country living, enjoying life, faith, gardening, Iowa, life in the country, personal, self sufficient, spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

50 Fun Facts About My Dad

Last night I came across  the following “50 fun facts about my dad”, my son made for me on my 50th birthday.  It’s like a giant “me-me”, except I didn’t write it, so it’s not quite as self promoting as if I had written it myself.  I will never make the cut as an Amish man. (They don’t like to have their pictures taken for reasons of vanity).  ;-)


Doug is a …

1. Son

2. Brother

Brothers (2)


3. Friend

4. Father:IMG_9268

The Children

5. Uncle

6. Grandpa:

cropped grandkids and me

Hanging with grand kids in the orchard

7. Carpenter:IMG_9327

Setting roof vent

8. Teacher:view of the classroom

Shop class room Doug  taught in 2009-10

9. Business owner

10. Boss:

framing crew 2012

Crew from 2013

11. Mentor

12. Author

13 Historian /Sleuth

14. Jazz, Marching, Concert Band trumpet player



Part of  bumper crop from 2013

16. Tae Kwon do Student



Oma's bread recipe - Copy

Copy of  grandma’s bread recipe

19. Cajun Dancer

20.Sharp shooter/ small fire arms. (ask me about this sometime DM)

21.Wood worker:

harvest table

One of the harvest tables

22.  Host for music festivals:


crowd from one of the  concerts

23. Bed and Breakfast co-owner

24. Part time pastor/ License to marry, license to bury.

(I had the privilege to marry my eldest daughter.  Walked her down the aisle, then turned around and officiated. That was cool. DM)

25. Community college part-time instructor

26. Small group leader



29.  (personal)

30. Cross- Stitcher:

Doug's Sampler

Sampler  made in 2007

31. Biker Dude

32. Painter

33. Song writer

34. Singer

35. Gardener:

climbing the corn

(I am a big fan of Ruth Stout and her heavy mulch approach to gardening…no weeding, no tilling and the richest soil you can imagine.  Here I was experimenting with a 3 sisters plot (corn, beans and pumpkins. DM) This is a close up of the bean climbing the corn-stalk.

36. Land lord

37. Amputee/ lost part of  ring finger in a run in with a skill saw.

38.Farm hand

39. Rooster wrestler:

Copy of doug and dad with roosters

(Dad and I with 3 of his roosters. DM)

40. Blogger

41. Journalist (Keeps an annual Journal)

42. Book Worm

43. Guitar Hero (rock star)

44. e-bay auctioneer.

45. Picture Framer

46. Piano player

47. Artist:

barn quilt

Barn quilt

48. Photographer

misty march morning(One of my favorite pictures.  Check out my Zazzle store. for other pictures I took, that are available in note card form. DM)

49. Lover of Coffee.

50. MY DAD!

John and Doug at work fall 2007


poster  She was some pig.









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People Pleasing, One Step at a Time

I have to let you in on a little secret. ;-)

Over the years I have struggled with being a people pleaser.    Not a hard-core door mat, but a people pleaser none the less.

(Hold that thought.)

I saw a quote by Anne Lamott  yesterday that caught my eye:tell your story Anne Lamotte quote

The reason I bring this up is because I have experienced personal growth in  the people pleasing department of my life this past year, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.

I’ll never be an Alpha male, but I can stand my ground when I need to.

So on Friday…

I had to stop @ an antique store and pick up two noodle boards I had consigned.  (Let’s call him dealer #2.)   I had built two noodle boards for another dealer (dealer #1)  at his request, but while I had the gig set up, I built some additional ones.   Dealer #1 was not happy when he found out I had shared the extra ones  with dealer #2. (His direct competition.)

I get that. (Now)   I’d not done it on purpose, it was that whole learning curve thing…

I promised dealer #1 I would get the noodle boards back. Dealer # 2 was “not exactly thrilled” when I showed up and said the noodle boards could not stay.  He had already told me,  he had a customer interested in one.   In the past that whole thing would have drained me.  Before I left the house that morning I’d read the following:

25% of people you meet won’t like you and never will.

25% of people won’t like but can be persuaded to like you.

25% of people will like you, but can be persuaded to dislike you.

25% of people will like you and will stick with you all your life.

 Don’t waste time and energy trying to get people to like and accept you.

It is a waste of time.

So I left the Antique store with noodle boards in hand, then stopped @ a local plumbing contractor’s shop.  I’d given him a blue print to  bid on a month ago.  Haven’t heard a thing.  Nothing.  Night before I text-ed him, said I would be stopping in the morning to pick up the print, bid or no bid.   In the past that would have been a very hard stop for me to make.

I know for some of you, it wouldn’t have been.   When I got to his shop,  he was talking with a salesman so I just said “hi,” stuck my head in the door to his office,  told the secretary  who I was, why I was there,  then out the door I went, blueprint in hand, song on my heart. :-)

I was thinking, I wonder if they would be some of the 25% who would never liked me, or 25% of those who used to  like me but now they don’t.

I then stopped at another plumbing and heating shop and had the same conversation. I was there to pick up a print I’d dropped off five weeks ago, that was also dead in the water. I wasn’t nasty about it, I just needed the print back so I could share it with someone who was interested in giving me a bid.

Wow, three interactions in less than an hour, all of which in the past could have left me emotionally exhausted.

When I am in the people pleaser mode, I end up stuffing a lot of anger.

I’ve read suppressed anger morphs  into things like  depression, headaches, ulcers, bowel and stomach cancer.  Not things I really want to entertain.

The challenge for me is understanding how my faith plays out  in my  the day-to-day dealings with others when we don’t see eye to eye.  Is my default response always to be “turn the other cheek?”

Or, “If someone asks for your shirt, giving him your coat as well.”

I don’t think so.

Sometime the healthiest, most emotionally mature, most loving response is to say “No.

I changed my mind.

It’s not going to happen on my watch.”

Baby steps.

Ever see the movie What About Bob?:


I  need to write a sequel to this post and tell you  stories about some of my people pleasing  behavior…you’ll shake your head.  If this  has been a  pattern in your life, I am here to tell you, you can change!

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my stuff! DM

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Eye Spy

This post is for you  Georgette ….

shaving horse2014

Shaving horse I built this weekend out of reclaimed lumber to enable me to make some primitive items with a draw knife.

If you were to have grown up in our home you would have on occasion heard the term “eye spy.”   An eye spy was simply an incident (big  or small) where we spied the hand of God in a situation that was so out of the ordinary, that it made you stop and take notice.

I had two of them this weekend.

Both of them had to do with finances  and sticking with our plan to make responsible decisions.  If you’ve been reading along since January, you know, things were stressful. I got to the place where I said  “I  don’t know how to manage money.  I feel like I’m trying to fly a 747 , we’re 10 off the water,  and I need help!”

Remember that post?  OK, since then, work has continued to be slow, but after digesting and starting to apply Mary Hunts book on finances, I have hope.

That is the back ground for what I wanted to tell you.

I stopped into an antique store Friday to pick up a bottle of Kramer’s Best Antique Improver.  There in the window, an antique wooden pitch fork caught my eye.

You know that feeling?    You are really drawn to some, one of a kind, old piece of this or that.  It stirs something deep inside.   Yep- that feeling! I looked @ the price tag, just $75! :-)

Well, I knew there was no way that would fit into our new financial  situation.  We are in the purging mode,  not buying mode.

When I got to the counter, I  jokingly told  Dawn, the store owner I really really loved the wooden pitch fork, but alas,  it would have to wait.

“Well,  Jackie has one in her display for less if you are interested.”

I walked past Jackie’s display on the way out, and sure enough, another cool primitive wooden, antique pitch fork hung on the wall for under $50.  Hummm..nope. Can’t do it.

I got home, checked my e-mail, and there was a note from Michael,  a fellow blogger with a link to something he thought I might enjoy:

An article on how to make wooden pitch forks myself – Eye spy!

So that’s what I hope to do, build one myself.

A small but powerful reminder that God knows the secret desires of my heart and will on occasion  grant them.


Friday night when we got home, there was a package  in the garage from Linda.  Inside were three  books  by Eric Sloan on wood working, and early America.

In addition, there was another small box and a note:

” Doug, now you can drink coffee, eat cookies and read.  Hope you like the books.” Love, Linda and Phil

She had  included a bag of my favorite coffee., Starbucks French Roast and some cookies with the books.

Eye spy!

Starbucks  is not currently on the grocery shopping list because it costs double a can of Folgers, and to be perfectly honest, we have had to slash our grocery budget so much right now, I’m probably going to have to give up coffee all together and  use up  the  Red Rose tea we have laying around.  If you are a coffee lover, then you know what I’m talking about.

God knows all of that, which makes Linda’s gift that much sweeter.

In one of Eric Sloan’s books is a section on antique tools.  One of the tools I will need if I do want to make a wooden pitch fork according to the link in Michael’s e-mail is a a “shaving horse.”  Here is an illustration from Sloan’s book:

shaving horse illustration

 Space doesn’t permit me to go into  as much detail on some of the the other “eye spies” we’ve had other than to list a few of the larger ones:

How I found my soul mate.

Five different times when we needed a place to live, how our housing came together.

The time my 1997 Toyota Tacoma was acting up, stumped two local mechanics, took it to the Toyota dealership, only to find out, it was on a recall list.  Toyota would not fix the truck, but paid me 3 times what it was worth, which enabled me to upgrade to a Toyota Tundra, with 50,000 fewer miles, and $1900 cash in my pocket.


“A man with an experience is never at the mercy of an argument.”


 Thoughts, comments, questions?  Would love to hear any “eye spy” stories from your life, no matter what your spiritual persuasion. DM

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Conversations With a Junker

Placed a call to Leroy tonight.  Sounds like he is coming in the morning.

Leroy is my “go to” guy when I have scrap metal to get rid of. Doesn’t matter what it is, he’ll take it.  The last time he stopped, we talked for 45 minutes. We talked about  his cancer, getting pulled over by the deputy on his way home from Jerry’s. ( He and Jerry got into the home-made wine) and the price of scrap metal.

Leroy told me about the time he and his younger brother went to  at a dance in  Cedar Rapids.  The dance hall was on the second floor in some rough part of  town. It turned into a two Iowa farm boys vs. several locals brawl.   (I think it had something to do with girls.) Even to this day, Leroy towers over me, so I’m feeling sorry for the locals as the story unfolds.

“No, Leroy tells me, he was afraid he and his brother were going to get a “whoop’n.  We probably would have gotten our #@’s kicked, if some guy they didn’t know, fresh out of the marines  hadn’t stepped in and taken our side.  His name was Johnny Moe.”

50 years later, he can still remembers his name.

Leroy was telling me another story about the time he was in  basic training. “We would fight with those long poles  and the padded ends….you know what I’m talking about?  The little guys would always want to fight me,” he said.  “I guess because I was so big….We’d circle around, me and some little runt, then I’d wind up and….boom, out of the ring he would go.  Few minutes later, someone else would call my name  and I had to do it again. “


Leroy is pushing 70. His knuckles are gnarled with arthritis, I think he is still battling cancer. His body is slowly breaking down. Beneath his rough and tumble exterior, I can still see a strapping young man of 20.

Some of you may remember me mentioning Lester, a retired farmer I used to work with on my dad’s crew back when I was 16. Lester was probably 65 at the time.  We were setting up scaffolding to shingle my grandpa’s roof one morning. Lester pauses,  debating whether to tell me something or not.

“Doug, I may be 65 but inside there is still a little boy.”

Wow-  now that was some deep stuff.

Nobody had ever said something like that  to me before. It was like  I was getting in on some top secret information I wasn’t supposed to hear about for another 5 years.

That conversation  is a reference points in life.  I will often refer to it when  I’m meeting someone who is trying to come across as a big shot…

We’re all just a bunch of kids on the playground of life.

As  I write this, the calendar says I am 56.   There are days I feel 14, but most of the time I feel 28.  I like love being 56.  I have  a perspective on life that only comes from experience.

Just between you and me, how old do you feel on the inside? ;-)


work crew 1977

Vintage crew photo-  Lester is in the middle. 

(We’re all drinking Dr Pepper) ;-)



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The piece of paper…

A piece of paper dropped out of a book Jenny had loaned my wife this week with several notes on it.  It wasn’t long but what was written was very personal in nature..

It looked like some concerns  Jenny had for her daughter,  practical steps to help her get her life back on track.   It was as if she had pulled the curtain back on the  life of this very gifted young woman and given us a peek into her inner world.  The girl was struggling with substance abuse, not taking her medicine to help with panic attacks, a gambling problem, etc.

Wife read the list to me, and it gave me pause. Pause because the daughter had passed away 5 years ago.

It also made me realize (again) that people are much more complicated than what we see on the surface.

In case you not noticed, I am a somewhat transparent person. ;-)  That transparency has allowed me to get to know dozens of people  on very personal levels.  Without exception, everyone I’ve known on that level, has talked about brokenness and struggle.
Without exception.

Externally, you would have thought (in many cases) they didn’t have a care in the world, or in spite of  the hard things, they seemed to to live above it, when in realty, they just knew how to keep up a good poker face.

Knowing that helps me.

Helps me not be so hard on myself when I sputter.

I am not sputtering right now.

Actually feel  like I’m on top of my game.

I would much rather be here, than in the middle of some crisis.


Back when our kids were in their late teens and early twenties, when all sorts of craziness  was sucking the life out of me, I remember talking with Jerry.  He too was a parent of an out of control twenty something….

One of my daughters was dating some looser of a guy who was being emotionally abusive with my daughter.   She was head over heels in love, and the walls would go up the moment I tried to talk about it.

I as a good Christian husband and father,  wanted to take the guy out and rearrange his head with a baseball bat. (Lovingly mind you).   I talked about it with my wife, and agreed that was probably not the best way to respond to the situation…so I was trying to figure out what to do with my anger.

In talking with my friend Jerry, we both agreed there had to be a way to continue to live and not let the heartache suck us dry.

Came up with something that worked for the two of us.

“I care, but I don’t.”

It sounded disloyal to say it out loud. (but it got easier)

You try it… it’s a great mantra and works in all kinds of situations.

not my circus

I loved my kids and wanted the best for them, but at some point, as they reached adulthood, I as a parent really needed to step back and let them make their own life choices, as painful as that process was.

Worrying seemed  like the loving thing to do, but it’s it wasn’t.

Worrying was like having a short or low voltage drain on my car battery.

I remember saying to Kristi, our marriage and family counselor, “There is a reason some animals eat their young.”

She laughed and said, “Only you could say something like that and get away with it.”

Question-Tell me about a person in your life you know who has been through a lot and is still standing.

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One of the many barn gates I currently have listed on Craigslist..want to buy it? ;-)  (Just $25.00)


I have 16 active listings on Craigslist this morning.  A 32 foot wooden extension ladder,  150 gallon fuel barrel, multiple small wooden gates, a 100 year old spinning wheel, 130 year old wood flooring, a Bell telephone shovel with an 8 foot handle,  free entertainment center, on and on, and on….Stuff.

Last weekend,  I found a home for 6 bundle of new laminate shingles, multiple boxes of random drywall screws, an extra Hitachi skill saw…. stuff. (thank you Ryan and Nicole)!

Earlier in the week a picker stopped, bought the John Deere #52) 2 bottom plow,  the John Deere oats drop seeder, 2) 6 pane window frames, 2 steel wheels, a rocking chair, an  old clock we’d inherited from an great aunt that didn’t work, a handsaw with a picture painted on it…bla bla bla…

When I started purging four weeks ago, I discovered  3….THREE push mowers that didn’t work!  They were  tucked in various buildings on the property.  One of them had a Honda motor, so I listed all 3 for $20, had a buyer come from 2 hours away  to pick them up.

The corn crib where I park my truck has 7 different rooms, each needing to be purged.   Plastic garbage bags of beer cans, not mine/ not that it makes any difference), 8 construction signs for my business , a wooden file cabinet, 4 broken shovels,   a large entertainment center made out of particle board  daughter #3  left behind when she moved out last time, large card board box the torpedo heater came in, busted Styrofoam packing and cardboard I’d drug home with the intention of using for packing if I ever sold a harvest table that needed shipping,  (2) 20 foot long vinyl”super”  siding corners that have been hanging on the wall since we sided our house in the late 1990′s, several random pieces of wood trim.

The red building  we use for baby chicks  has also become a holding  area for stuff. 3 pieces of lattice, 3 small animal cages, empty feed sacks, a large chicken feeder I never use, scrap lumber, straw chaff, apple crates, bla bla bla…

The grey barn, well, I’m not done, but it is 70% better than a month ago.   Our garage, used to be a house. It has 2 rooms upstairs, and 3 down full of goodies.

More stuff.

Too good to throw away, but year after year, season after season,  just sitting around collecting dust.

I am on a roll.  I’ve already converted over $1000 worth of stuff into cash.

There is something in the human heart that is drawn to stuff.

I hate clutter, but you’d never know it if you stuck your head in my office (or storage room).

Once in a while I meet a person who doesn’t seem to battle this impulse to acquire, but they are a rare bird.  And most of us, if truth be told, have at least one room ( closet, cupboard, vehicle, purse or basement) that you would be embarrassed to let others see, unless you had time to straighten it up.

Don’t look at me like that ;-)

It’s part of the human condition, so relax.

I have only  one life to live.

My time is my life.

When I buy some random bobble, bring home some free chunk of this or that, then have to move it, organize it, take pictures of it,  list it on Craigslist, or eventually pitch it, what I’m really doing is trading my life to shuffle stuff.

I’ve noticed a lightness in my heart as I continue to downsize, clean and organize the clutter out in our buildings.  It is palatable, and it dawned on my the other day as I was whittling down the pile of cardboard, chicken feathers, dust, beer cans and  things that defied simple categories,   I have to be the one to deal with this stuff.

We can’t de-clutter other people’s messes.  The pattern of saving and acquiring stuff is a heart issue. (Separate from but interrelated to the issue of poor organization)

I wouldn’t describe me as a hoarder.

My issue is more of being too much in a hurry, not having a realistic amount of time it takes to do certain things.

To use a word that has fallen out of modern usage,  I am doing the work of repentance again today in the area of stuff.

To repent:  a change of  heart/ a change of direction.


Tell me about some thing you love to collect.  Maybe it’s not antiques,  salt shakers, or baskets,  but book…Whatever that something is, what is the draw for you?

I’ll start.

I am currently drawn to antique farm related items.  I have two  grain cleaners I do not want to part with.  They combine my love of history, wood, and farming.:

clipper grain cleaner

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