Flower of the Day – May 27, 2017 – Bearded Iris


I love to visit Cee’s blog site because she lives back in Oregon, my favorite place on earth. After living there for 10 years I know the growing seasons for every flower species. Right now bearded iris proliferate the stage, growing everywhere in the area.

My backyard in Portland was no exception. Bearded irises lined the streets and homes in the neighborhoods around me. My own backyard had two or three different color variations with a rare Siskiyou iris standing alone in all its glory.

Siskiyou Iris

Siskiyou iris #1

Bearded Iris in Uxbridge, MA

Al's Bearded Iris 01

Bearded Iris from Portland, OR

Bearded Iris #8a

Bearded Iris #2 from Portland, OR

Backyard Yellow Iris #4

I Love The Rain

Have I told you how much I love the rain? I suppose some of my love comes from living in Portland, OR for 10 years. You either learn to love the rain or you move somewhere else. It’s not actually the amount of rain that makes Portland famous but the frequency that they see rain. I can remember stretches of 40+ days of measurable rainfall in a row. It rains in the Winter instead of snowing. There are exceptions to that general rule but I much prefer the warmer Winter temperatures to below freezing precipitation.

Here in New England the residents are happy that we’ve broken out of the drought conditions this area has had during the past few years. It’s a different kind of rain than I remember in the Pacific Northwest. A lot of the storms are overnight with rainfall totals often over 2 inches. The drought is over and the reservoirs and groundwater aquifers are filled. Praise God for that blessing. My little garden got a healthy drink in the last two days of storms. Everything is green and lush this Spring!

I don’t think there’s a more peaceful night to sleep than when it pours down rain all night. If it’s still raining into the morning I like to sit back with my front door wide open and just watch the rain come down.

Before New England and Oregon I lived in South Carolina for 13 years. They get 7 inches of rain more than Portland, OR for their yearly rainfall totals. You might think rain is rain until you’ve experienced a “frog strangler” thunderstorm in South Carolina. It rains so hard you can’t see your hand in front of your face if you’re outside. Rain is different everywhere you live. Thunderstorms are rare in the Pacific Northwest where they are frequent and extremely violent in the South.

So bring on the rain! Give me your best shot Mother Nature! I’m a world traveller who’s seen worse, whether it was in Aiken, South Carolina, Ubon, Thailand or Kunsan, South Korea.

Rainy Day Flowers At CSG 1

Rain Covered Roses 1

Shocking My New Friends

It’s funny the things that happen when you get to know somebody. The most unassuming person you ever meet might just be a wealth of talent, knowledge and skills. I’ve lived in Massachusetts for about 19 months now and a number of people in my circle of acquaintances are getting to know me. They’re shocked to hear that I am an avid gardener, artist, photographer, woodworker, computer guru and electronic troubleshooter for over 45 years. I teach photography, electronics and computers. I’m an expert at Photoshop and have been for better than 20 years. I used to be a world class table tennis champion, once ranked in the top 100 in the world. I even excelled in lapidary, the cutting and grinding of gemstones. I get around!

Now I’m 68 with congestive heart failure, hypertension, type II diabetes, an enlarged prostate, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, gout, terrible eyesight from birth and I have a terminal case of being butt ugly! My primary care physician says we can work on everything but the butt ugly! LOL

The arthritis caused by my gout is making woodworking more difficult all the time. My type II diabetes is taking its toll on my eyesight which hampers my photograph and computer graphics skills. As the old joke goes: “My death has been greatly exaggerated”!

Still, I’d rather teach than sell, give away rather that put a price on my work, past and present. I’m at the point in my life where I’m actively trying to “play it forward” for the next generation. I will build anybody anything they desire but I won’t want a penny in return. If I don’t want to do something no amount of money can tempt me. I’m not about money.

I am about making people happy. I was recently asked if I’d be willing to donate some of my favorite photographs to a charity auction. I said yes but they would have to choose the photographs and I’d gladly sign them. You see, they’re all my favorites, some 5,000 in my collection over the past 45 years.

So, as I get to know people in new England better my circle of friends grows. I take the term friend very seriously. I have 10 of 12 that I consider friend in the whole world. I keep in touch with every one of them. Good friends are precious!

Memories Of Seniors Past

At our Senior Center in Uxbridge yesterday a fond memory of a photo I’d taken last year came to me. You see our event director, Gail, decided to start a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle on a corner table back near the computer area. I simple sign challenge anyone to help complete the puzzle. I used to love working on such puzzles so I spent a few minutes getting one edge of the outside frame completed.

Remembering a scene at the Whitinsville Senior Retirement Home I quickly looked up the picture I’d photographed of a resident in deep concentration completing his own puzzle. He had no idea I was capturing the scene that to me, was perfect. The lighting was perfect and the situation was precious. I will always save and treasure this capture that has so much meaning buried in its composition.

I have no idea the man’s name or if he’s still living at that center. I was with the Serve Team of 2016 that had volunteered to make this property more beautiful for its residents. The teenagers from across our country and Canada donated their time and work to give back to our community. I look forward to their return for this year’s Serve 2017 campaign.

The Puzzle Framed

Making Sawdust

I am a passionate woodworker. I grew up with a father & brother who were in the business of building things. My dad built houses from the ground up, trained in his native Germany until he immigrated to the United States as a teenager. My brother, Ed, grew up as I did helping our father build houses. As an adult he raised a family to his retirement working in construction in one craft or another. His farm house is a testament to his work.

In recent months I’ve returned to my love of working with my hands, to getting dirty. I’ve started my first garden in 12 years since I lived in South Carolina. I’ve begun putting together a pretty substantial set of hand and power tools that allow me a lot of flexibility in my love of woodworking. Most of all I’m having fun!

Not all my projects are successful, especially compared to some of the woodworkers I view on YouTube or PBS. No excuses here, I simply don’t have the space or money to build another shop like the one I once had in my split level home in Ferguson, MO. That basement shop with a drive-in garage had lots of room. I have had some very nice power and hand tools collected over many years, It was more than a hobby and a necessary part of raising my family while customizing my home.

So today, looking back on my 68 years on earth, I have returned to my roots, my love of all things made of wood. I drag out one of my 3 homemade workbenches and make sawdust, lots of sawdust. In some ways I entertain my senior neighbors who shuffle around in their night robes all day low and only get outside to walk their ancient dogs. I’ve still got too much life left in me to become a couch potato and basically just give up. I want to stay active and alive what the rest of my life. God’s in control of all the time I have left.

My life changes constantly so my blog has changed along with it. I’m certainly not apologizing for my new life since relocating to New England I’m just saying I still want to share my life and experiences with those who choose to stay in touch and follow my exploits. For those who choose to check up on me through my blog post I say “Welcome”! For those who wish to move on I certainly understand and wish you well. Change is inevitable. “Resistance, is futile”! πŸ™‚

Share Your World – May 22, 2017

Share Your World – May 22, 2017

What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?Β 

On the top of my bucket list is a cross country train trip. I doubt this will ever happen unless I win the lottery or something. I know Amtrak used to offer a program for such a ride that allows you to get off and reboard within a given time frame. That would allow me to spend a day anywhere and then board the train again to sleep overnight. Again, all that takes money, some I’m sorely lacking in retirement.

How often do you get a haircut?

About once every 6 weeks. I’m due for one now but must wait until the cash is available.

In regards to puzzles what’s your choice: jigsaw, crossword, word search or numeric puzzles?

I’ve always preferred jigsaw puzzles simply because it doesn’t require a lot of calculating or figuring out math problems. Jigsaw puzzle idly while away the hours until it’s done. I used to turn my photographs into puzzles. Walgreens has always been available to do that. About a year ago I had one made of a local scenic spot that won in a calendar contest a few months later. It came in its own tin with the same photo on top. It was well appreciated by its recipient.

A Walk In The Park #4

How many cities have you lived? You can share the number of physical residences and/or the number of cities.

15 —- Belleville, Il – O’Fallon, Il – St. Louis, MO – Ferguson, MO – St. Charles, MO – Montclair, NJ – Stockton, NJ – San Antonio, TX – Biloxi, MS – Goldsboro, NC – Aiken, SC – Graniteville, SC – Langley, SC – Beaverton, OR – Hillsboro, OR – Portland, OR – Uxbridge, MA

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few because I’ve moved so much in my life while crisscrossing the United States several times. I’ve had two 3200 mile moves in my life as well. I also lived in Kunsan,Korea, Ubon, Thailand Β and Misawa, Japan. I get around. πŸ™‚

Al’s Bearded Lilies 2017

Next door to me is Al’s tiny flower garden. This year’s crop includes tulips and bearded lilies so far. I also look forward to the gladiolas later in the Summer. I don’t know how many different colors of lilies he planted this year but these two are brilliant. What a delight to have such beauty right outside my front door! Praise the Lord!

Al's Bearded Lilies 2017

Stepping Out & Professing Your Faith

My favorite YouTube channel is one that looks at a family homesteading their property in Oregon. The channel goes by the name of Wranglerstar and can easily be found on YouTube. Mr. “W” is a practicing Christian who’s not afraid to praise God for his wife and son openly during his posts. He has endured criticism and even death threats for his convictions and stands tall in his faith in God. I commend and support him in everything he does. Below is his latest video post. I heartily recommend you spend a worthwhile 15 minutes to get a taste of what he is about. Thanks!

Breakfast Radishes

My first crop of vegetables to be harvested are breakfast radishes. I pulled 6 of them out of their container once the red tops popped above the soil. I thoroughly washed everyone, cut the thin root and leaves off and washed them again. I salted the little gems and popped the first efforts of my labor in my mouth. They were absolutely delicious!

I have about 10 more of the same maturity left in their container before waiting for the second planting to mature. I planted a third batch in a 10″ pot that are doing very well. There’s a good chance of rain all day Monday so I won’t make a move to pluck more until Tuesday, giving the breakfast radishes a little more time to mature. They sure tasted great to me!

I’ve been told the leaves are edible so I thoroughly washed the largest leaf of the first batch, salted it and popped it in my mouth. It wasn’t bad but I may choose to let them go in favor of lettuce and spinach. These radishes were small, about the size of a baby Tootsie Roll. They were very crunchy, a tad bit sweet and displayed a slight bit of fire with no overpowering afterburn.

First Breakfast Radishes

Arguing My Case On YouTube

Before building my latest workbench I watched literally dozens of workbench build videos from around the world. They ranged from recycled pallet wood benches to heavy timber beams mortised and tenoned together demanding hours of machine or hand tool work.

I sat back and pondered what I had seen. I decided there had to be a better way that required a screwdriver and a hand saw with no need for safety gear, power tools or elaborate jigs.

What I came up with is a brilliant kit sold by Simpson called the Strong Tie workbench kit. It costs just $40 and comes with 8 steel brackets and all the screws to build any size workbench. You just add 2″x4″s that you can cut to length with an old fashioned hand saw and assemble with a simple screwdriver.

I had my lumberyard cut a 4’x4′ sheet of 3/4″ MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) in half giving me my workbench top and bottom shelf. I did purchase a set of nice swivel casters that raise or lower the whole bench with one foot.

So for under $200 and two hours build time I have a sturdy, versatile, moveable workbench with a flat top and bottom shelf that I can move anywhere with one finger and one big toe. No power tools, safety gear, sawdust or noise necessary. I used my Japanese back saw to cut the pieces to length and a screwdriver to put it all together like a jigsaw puzzle. I couldn’t ask for a better bench at any price. I can add drawers, a back with pegboard and/or French cleat storage system and a power strip for my power tools. It’s totally versatile and customizable. It works for me. The more I think about it I should have video recorded the build and put it on YouTube.”The no tools, no fuss workbench in 2 hours”!


I’ve received a number of responses to my bench asking how I clamp anything to it to do work. Although there are dozens of ways to clamp work without huge vises hanging off a workbench, there’s a simple, versatile way to secure your work on a clean workbench such as the one I use. My favorite method utilizes MicroJig’s MatchFit Dovetail clamps.

Matchfit Dovetail Clamps