Early Morning on Ashland

Early Morning on Ashland

For the past several months, I have enjoyed sleeping in on Saturday mornings like I did back when I was a kid. Today, I woke up with a start thinking about the undeniable truth that my certification exam for project management is one week away and I am NOT prepared.  Of course, instead of diving into the study materials like I should, I have managed to find myself in front of the computer feeling the unrelenting pull of  this blog. The Blog (weird to think of it in these terms  — remember,  The Blob, and how it consumed everything in its path?) and I are companions now after over a year of time spent pondering the world, my path in it and my memories.  The simple routine associated with The Blog is comforting.  I must have a tall, cool glass of water and a companion hot drink — today it is java but sometimes its hot, green tea or a frothy chai. I click on the keyboard in the home office, stacked with all of RM’s trappings and treasures — he favors mechanical devices, scales, and vintage office supplies — and of course the obligatory stacks of engineering, design and woodworking magazines.   I  look out the expansive, front window and see the sycamore branches creating a comforting canopy over our little home and peer onto a new freshly poured street, sidewalk and driveway.  Our side of the block is nearly complete as the crew slowly works their way around to each front yard building the forms, leveling the dirt and finally oozing in the concrete at a pace reminiscent of Aesop’s steady, tortoise-like cadence.  Forcing us more speedy hare-like personalities to want to shout  “How do you expect to win this race when you are walking along at your slow, slow pace?”

By now, the hot brew has cooled and I contemplate how I will end this morning ritual so I can move on to the task at hand.  My mind wanders as I think of all kinds of distractions pushing back the inevitable for just a few more moments.  “That refrigerator needs cleaning out..maybe I should switch the rugs from the dining room to the living area?… I wonder if the three Cs posted anything new on FB?… I really need to pay some bills…I better go clip my nails and, oh, stop this silliness as we all have a lot better ways to spend our early morning…signing off from dear old Ashland until the next time The Blob, I mean Blog calls my name.

super Dad, super Dave

super Dad, super Dave




What makes a great dad? Each man brings his own personality, skill set, and stance to the job. Yes, being a dad is hard work, if he does it well. RM is a super dad in my book and here is why.

  • He can fix anything that is broken and put it back better than before – see him above trying to figure out how to fix that hot mess of pipes?
  • He cooks when I don’t feel like it and makes an amazing, creative pizza for a hungry mob
  • He smells good most of the time
  • He is in charge of the laundry and the grocery shopping…our pantry is always bulging with staples.  Sometimes 5-6 bottles of same item.
  • He loves a party and wants the kids at our house
  • He knows a lot of important stuff like saving money, taxes, and investments.
  • The man knows how to make a buck but often times he refuses to charge for his services — he will say “pay it forward”.
  • He has lots of friends and he always steps up to the call of duty when asked.  How many bounce houses can one man put up in a lifetime?  Tons.
  • He gets emotional about lots of stuff and wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to the people he loves…his girls.
  • He takes fatherhood seriously.  He changes diapers, bathes kids, dresses them and feeds them too.
  • He is always busy being productive and always making something out of wood.
  • It doesn’t take much to make him happy.
  • He drove a min-van when he really wants to drive a Maserati.
  • He is proud of his family and tells us so.
  • He is tall and big to protect us from evil doers.

Happy Father’s Day to one of the great ones!  We don’t tell you often enough.

Finding Family

Finding Family

C1 and I have been doodling with ancestry.com for a couple of years now. The Hauck Family Tree has full branches but The Marshall Tree is missing major limbs so we need to get on that soon. Whenever we find a new leaf waiting with a clue, we get excited. This week was a bonanza for us. We had a message waiting for us full of historical information from one of my relatives who will reach 90 years young in just a few weeks. Her name is Ginger Cable and she lives just outside of San Diego. How did she find us? Because we posted a picture of C1 and I in front of her father’s grave in Madison, Kansas on our family tree and she saw it. Ginger wanted to know who those strange people were at her dad’s gravesite and we wanted to know her secret to keeping up with technology and social media at her age. Ginger’s dad — Harry Horn– is my great-grandfather’s, Charles Horn, younger brother. Several months ago on a return trip from Kansas, we took a side journey out into Flint Hills to find Harry’s grave. I had a picture of what the plot was suppose to look like well adorned with an impressive spiral monument. I couldn’t figure out how a man of little means, who died at only 32 years of age, leaving behind a wife and three young children, would have such an impressive grave marker. I knew the family was poor as were most farmers and small town folk in those years. Think Great Depression, think dust bowl, think middle America. I knew Harry had died in Texas working and had been buried back in Madison, his hometown. From research, I found cause of death was TB after serving his country during WW I and starting his family.

The detour last summer took us about 60 miles out of our way, added two hours to our trip time and I wondered if it was worth it at the time. What we found out in the middle of nowhere, at a very pretty and well maintained country cemetery, was that the marker on Harry’s grave was modest as expected and the monument we pictured was situated on a grave of someone not related to my clan. It was a disappointment at the time but C1 and I learned that primary and secondary sources are always best in genealogy research. We have often discovered that the data on ancestry.com is inaccurate and down right wrong so you have to proceed with caution and use multiple data points along the way or you can quickly go astray.

But then the sweet, informative note from Ginger arrived and we are adding information to the tree about what happened to her Mom, her sisters, and now her four sons. The tree just grew some new, strong branches to explore. I found a first cousin, twice-removed, living a wonderful, full life in sunny California who wants to know about her dad’s crazy family that she left behind many years ago. I hope to meet her one day and swap stories and share memories.

Sometimes when you think you have wasted time, you find that it pays big dividends later. So take time to explore when you have the chance. Her 90th birthday bash is in July. Should I go?

Persuasive Writing

Persuasive Writing

This week at work was messy with unexpectant leadership changes, news about the district challenges making the local  headlines and blogs, and in general, a lot of restless folks milling about.  There is nothing I can do about their personal feelings about the situation at hand but to simply… carry on.  So what did I do?  My way of carrying on is to write a persuasive proposal for a grant opportunity and it helped me get through the week and probably next and the next and the next.  When the world around seems to be out of control, it is always wise to  focus on what we can control.  I can control  my attitude and use my skills.  There is nothing more therapeutic for me than to lose myself in all of the necessary details of first-class persuasive writing.  This type of writing required for grants, that many may find mystifying and off-putting at best, comes down to describing  a big problem with sufficient detail, evidence and planning that the reader/funder believes that:

1.  the problem could be fixed based on the solution you describe

2. the person or organization is able to fix it based on quality of the individuals you describe and bring together

3.  if these same people and organizations only had a wee bit of money, time and resources, it would be fixed because you told them a damn compelling reason and evidence it could and would

4.  it also helps if you need it more than others

In persuasive or argumentative writing, we try to convince others to agree with our facts, share our values, accept our argument and conclusions, and adopt our way of thinking.

Elements toward building a good persuasive essay include

  • establishing facts
    to support an argument
  • clarifying relevant values
    for your audience (perspective)
  • prioritizing, editing, and/or sequencing
    the facts and values in importance to build the argument
  • forming and stating conclusions
  • “persuading” your audience that your conclusions
    are based upon the agreed-upon facts and shared values
  • having the confidence
    to communicate your “persuasion” in writing




The first of June and a long, hot summer ahead but today, I am grateful for the signs and sounds of our pre-summer solstice. The back door is open and a baby bird is peeping for her breakfast of juicy worm porridge. Where are her delinquent mother and father? Our cat is slinking around as the sounds of the birds always pick up her pace. A momma bluejay is onto her plans and swoops down to flatten the attacker’s ears as the villain quickly seeks shelter under our dusty trailer. I opt for iced coffee this morning and the glass sweats in the morning air. Now it is cool but I predict by lunch the a/c will kick on if not before. The back of my aging legs are stiff from the prior day of weeding and thinning of a backyard oasis of herbs, perennials and ground cover. The yellow cannas are sprouting up everywhere along with purple salvia and the pea gravel walkway is littered with weeds. But after an hour’s worth of weeding, it is passable again. I have been thinking of replacing the pebbles with a tiled walkway to keep the weeds at bay. Maybe I should tile the whole backyard as sore as my lower back feels this morning. But then I would miss discovering the roly polys and the baby lizards hiding in the undisturbed garden beds all around the backyard. The Japanese maple is bright red, almost pink, in the sunshine and has grown taller than the roofline of the workshop out back. We nurse it through the arid summer with both water from the rain barrel and city supplies. It is our indulgence as every other planting must make it through with far less care. We lost two red tip photinias last year to the drought and passing of old Father Time. They served us well for nearly twenty years only to be replaced with hardier and less thirsty varieties this time around. My tummy is rumbling for breakfast and a hot shower is calling my name to start the day. My to-do list this day is all mine so I plan to seize it. My morning love note to life was first on the list. Check.