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Poem, Uncategorized

The sound of crackling logs. The smell of chill, crisp, pine scented breezes waft through the air. The dull hoot of an owl languidly hangs above us. Scurrying and creeping critters behind us keeps our senses sharp. My body wants to drift off but I cannot pull away from the rich oil deep blackness of the night sky. Specks of cream roil and churn above our heads as the milky way lays itself out before our prostrate bodies. Warm hands intertwined, coats drawn up and snug socks keep out the chill. We are perfect here. This is perfect here. Time has gone and never ends. The moon is our clock and the sun our timer. Borrowing from the forest to eat and play, but always giving back when the time has come. Our journey is long but it always ends.

Retiring to the trees, we take our sleep. The gentle lull of timbers and the slow deep creak. We hang from the canopy on fabric made taught, to glide through the air, on our magical cot. As the forest turns around us, we find our delight. As trees sway and camber, all through the night. Our heads will be warm by hats that we wear. For when we wake from slumber, our hearts will be bare. For the trees they do calm us, on these nights of chill air. As our homes they will keep us, safe from the bears. My wife does sleep close, so that we may not part. And apart we won’t drift, intertwined as a pair. As dawn light breaks on our sleeping brows, we rise from our cribs as young baby sows. The heat it alights our bodies a glow, to bring new to the world, our love shall it grow. The day is a joyous triumph to be seen, a treasure to keep close an eye to be keen. And as the time passes and the trees they do sway. A tale will unfold, of our love each day. Our souls are renewed on this grassy glade, each year we give thanks and return just the same. We shall forever praise the glory of this hallowed place, always giving more than we must take. The wood for our heat, the meat for our bellies, the trees for our home, this place is aplenty. Our children will come and take from the glade. We will show them the bounty and to never be afraid. They will grow and love here and forever give back. For that is the cycle of our unspoken pact.

WHAT IS TRUE STRENGTH? On being a maker with muscular dystrophy.

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People who known me know that I am a maker. It sort of defines my entire life and how I live. My basic values, my mantras, my need to upcycle and reclaim. What not everyone knows is that I also am defined by something else. Something that is invisible on the surface, yet constantly reminds me it is there every minute of my life, and that is muscular dystrophy. My whole life, up until my diagnosis at age 12, I knew something was not quite right. Be it lagging behind in track or weird muscle cramps after gymnastics. Something felt off. After my diagnosis, it had a name, McArdle’s Syndrome. I found out I was part of a small community of people throughout the world, nearly 1 in every 100,000 who suffer from this disease. It changed my life. No longer was I able to wrestle, run, or do competitive sports like my peers. I would immediately cramp up and then live in a hospital bed for weeks at a time recovering. Suffice it to say, I had to find other passions to sustain me.

I took up guitar, shrugging off the constantly cramped fingers and hands that would turn into claws from twinged muscles. I took up swimming and bike riding, everything had to be low impact and low strain. Since I had always been crafty and into making things, I found this a good activity to keep me active and my brain engaged.

I built everything as a kid. Potato canons, slingshots, rockets, robots, rope swings, tree houses, skate ramps, motorized scooters, you name it! As  young teen, I even enrolled in a local junior college to learn electronics. I was hooked on a trade that would be low impact with high yield. Making was my outlet. Yet I had to be careful to not overdo myself as building supplies can be heavy and sometimes require a lot of effort. Over the past few years, I have definitely found myself in the hospital multiple times after a bad fall or accident or pulling a muscle. Thankfully nothing life crippling has happened and I continue to make every day.

While this disease affects me every second, I do not let it dictate my life. I still get into the shop to carve, sculpt, weld, grind, cut, and sand. I may go slower than other makers and my projects might take me longer to produce because I need more breaks, but when you have a passion and a drive, why let anything stop you? So when you see me rubbing my cramped and clawed hands after cutting dovetails, or sitting down because my back has seized up after grinding for a thirty minutes, know that I am happy as hell doing what I love for as long as I can do it.

For me, true strength does not come from brute strength, it never has. True strength to a maker with muscular dystrophy, comes from perseverance, hard-work, and being maker-enough to go slow and take my time.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. As always, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon page to show your support so that I can continue to make more content like this!

Thanks for reading.

Urban Picking- Lite Edition- Community Forklift and Architectural Salvage Shops

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Following up on one of my latest blog posts, The Secrets of an Urban Picker, I have been getting a lot of questions regarding the difficulty of finding quality things to turn into projects, so I thought I’d address this with another post.

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One of the greatest things about living in a big cramped city is the availability of tons and tons of quality curb-crap. Piles of discarded loot fill the alleys and dumpsters to the brim every week, only to be flushed away and filled back up again the following week. If you’ve read my article, The Secrets of an Urban Picker, you will understand a little bit about this problem. I will continue to write about this topic and flush out some interesting ideas in the coming posts.

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This post deals with an issue that many people have and that is they cannot find anything worth picking in the city. First, this seems impossible to me, but looking harder at the issue, not everyone can look at a pile of muddy steel and see a 1940’s typewriter table. Some people just see muddy steel. But alas, you are not alone! Sometimes you are looking on the wrong day or in the wrong locations or after a Good Will truck has recently descended upon the carnal scene.

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It is this very reason that places like Community Forklift exist. According to their website, Community Forklift is a secondhand shop selling a variety of building materials & furniture including cabinets & tables. Basically, they are an architectural salvage shop located near enough to Washington DC to be accessible to most everyone. What they excel in is bringing the hard-to-find loot to one central location and charging you for it.

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It was at this very shop that I began my journey of furniture restoration many years ago. Back then, the store was just getting started and was selling amazing antiques and salvage for super cheap prices. Since then, and with the explosion of the DIY scene and YouTube, they have seen a steady rise in customers, which in turn drives up the prices and lowers my expectations.

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To say it plainly, I love architectural salvage shops. They provide you with a great selection without having to actually dive in dumpsters looking for rusty gold. On the other hand, by scouring the city to sell their much love needed items back to me at a 100% markup makes me want to stay grimy in the alleys and dumpsters. Don’t get me wrong, I whole heartedly support enterprises like this, and I might even like to own an architectural salvage shop in the future. My one beef is that the prices have gone up to a point that making a living selling upcycled furniture has gotten harder over the past few years. So while I am happy to see such a rise in the DIY community, it also makes it harder to find the good stuff for cheap cheap and make some dinero.

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So every time that someone asks me for more advice because they don’t have the creativity or time to pick alleys and dumpsters, I tell them about places like Community Forklift, Habitat for Humanity ReStores and other local architectural salvage shops, or “picking lite” as I call it. Hopefully by diving into a world of manicured isles and presorted picker gold, they too will get “the sickness” as Jimmy Diresta calls it and will become an urban picker, foregoing the florescent lighting and squeaky second hand walmart carts for the sounds of squealing rats, of stubbed toes on nailed boards, and for the thrill of unearthing a truly godly piece of american historical tradition from a pile of road junk.

The sickness is real.

I hope you enjoyed the read through and learned a little bit about the process. As always, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon page to show your support so that I can continue to make awesome content like this.

Thanks for reading!

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How to Stay Motivated When You Are Feeling Lethargic

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The past few months have been quite difficult for me to stay motivated. At work and home, I find myself becoming more and more depressed due to many factors, professionally and personally. I think it all started during my time in the Peace Corps last year. I was having depression and anxiety issues around the work culture and issues at my site. This led to my wife and I eventually leaving Peace Corps and coming home earlier than expected.

After much therapy and healing time, I thought I was over it. I felt better, I was getting back on my feet and the heavy, foggy, weighed down feeling of depression was lifting. And then I started work in the federal government and those crushing feelings came back. The feeling of sloth, of weight on my shoulders, of anxiety nearly paralyzing me. I was trying to deal and cope until I found myself crying one afternoon in my cube and knew it had gone on long enough.

I’ve never been one to have depression issues or need medication to stay level. Heck, I come from the disaster management field where high stress is the norm. However, over the last year, I find stress to be really stressful. It is something that I am dealing with differently now and I am learning how to cope with a whole new set of problems. For instance, finding motivation to go to the shop after work has been hard the past 2 months. I used to go all the time, but I have trailed off lately. Sometimes I feel so tired and down after work, I need to come home and lay on the couch and not move for an hour. My brain needs more time to recover and that in turn manifests physically and affects my muscle disease making me more tired and lethargic.

All this to say that my coping mechanisms have changed. I can no longer just assume that I will be going in to the shop, I need to force myself. I have put off projects due to the fear and anxiety of not making them great, but when I have just forced myself into the shop to start the project, the fears recede and the fun and joy return. I just finished up the restoration on a 1960’s typewriter table. I have been sitting on this project for 3 months. Forcing myself to put the materials in the car and promising myself that I will take them into the shop after work was a very scary thing. Once I got my hands into it though and started grooving, I felt like myself again and the project came out great.

Stress, anxiety, fear, these are all things we deal with differently. Forcing myself to just start a project until I get into a grove has worked so far for me but won’t always work for everyone. I’d love to hear what works for you so that we can help each other to stay proactive and motivated despite our lethargic feelings and various issues.

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I hope you enjoyed the read through and learned a little bit about the process. As always, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon page to show your support so that I can continue to make awesome content like this.

Thanks for reading!