Tag Archives: carpenter

If You Build It, They Will Come

Have you ever paid attention to architecture during your travels whether rolling through the latest subdivision or a historic part of town? Do any aspects of the buildings reach out and grab you?

With me, I have to say yes. I began my working career in the building business. My father was a carpenter, my grandfather a carpenter and my uncle a carpenter. I guess it was natural for me to follow suit.

I helped my uncle side a house when I was fourteen years old. I worked after school and on weekends. Graduating from high school a year early, I immediately commenced to driving nails at the ripe old age of seventeen in my quest to learn house construction.

After building everything from ranchers to 3,000 square foot mansions, including working on historic houses, I ventured into commercial work. I was already proficient trimming houses but found a whole new animal when it came to intricate trim work in places such as churches, funeral homes, and high-end office buildings.

My next step was totally different when I began building supermarkets and commercial buildings. I continued this type of work until becoming a superintendent in my twenties, now in charge of instructing people to do what I had done while climbing the ladder in my chosen career.

Then one day I was offered a position at a pharmaceutical company in their display department. It was here I worked for sixteen years until my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

With new physical challenges I needed to find something that could adapt to the changes in my life. With much thought, soul searching and a healthy push from my son I entered the world of writing.

I have not experienced a single moment of regret, and don’t believe I could find another vocation that would give me as much satisfaction while extending the amount of fun I experience each day. And I mustn’t forget the one that made all of this possible, my Lord Jesus!

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Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief, Even Might Find a Little Time to be a Thief . . . Probably Not

Several years ago I began writing a humorous piece on a couple remodeling their home. They were not performing the work themselves, but moreover acting as the general contractor.  

This is something that has become the norm, especially since all of the D.I.Y. programs have appeared across the stupid screen. Please don’t take this as an insult, for the one penning this blog absorbs entirely too much of the screen of stupidity himself.

However, I can say that I have one up on the weekend home-improvement guy. My father was a carpenter. My grandfather was a carpenter and my uncle was a carpenter. So guess what I decided to be when I grew up . . . you got it . . .  a carpenter, and graduated from high school a year early to participate in this noble profession.

I cut my teeth after school and on weekends, when I was fourteen learning how to remodel homes and then moved into new home construction, From foundations to roofing. I built everything from the simplest rancher to four thousand square foot homes, in the ritziest of neighborhoods.

I then moved on to commercial work,  finding it offered so much more. By the age of twenty three I began my first superintendent’s job, albeit small, to me I was raising the Empire State building.

Years passed and jobs in size grew, until I abandoned it all in my early thirties for a position in a trade show fabrication shop for a pharmaceutical company.

Here I learned how to build cabinets and some of the wildest displays you could imagine, not to mention traveling the length and breadth of the United States.

Due to health reasons I left this line of work after sixteen years and of all things, chose writing as my next attempt at a career.

So far things  are going well, at least they look good on paper, (no pun intended) but not as good as I would like as far as lining the wallet goes. I’ve published four novels, with a fifth on the way.

What I have learned from this lifelong experience is, never give up!

As far as being an author, I don’t believe I could have chosen a more enjoyable vocation, but if you don’t get your books in front of eyeballs that will read them, you may as well scribble on paper with a crayon. If you want to be a successful writer, then remember these three words…Marketing! Marketing! Marketing!

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Ya Gotta Believe Me! I’ve Been Framed.

Claude Monet

Claude Monet (Photo credit: Martin Beek)

Take a look around your home. You’ll find that almost every wall or shelf contains a picture of some kind. Whether it be family, friends, little league sports pictures or any of a million other items, you can rest assured they have invaded your abode.

We tend to look at the picture or artwork contained within a frame, but how often do we pay attention to the frame itself? A photograph of our parents fifty years ago may induce thoughts of that special bond and melancholy. But what about the fine mahogany frame, hand-rubbed with tongue oil and finished with a metal edge?

There’s also your child’s first-grade picture. You remember the first time you held him. The day you put him on the bus and the sadness you felt as he left the protection of your arms… then the frame decorated with the letters of the alphabet catches your attention. This isn’t just any frame, but one you painstakingly put together yourself. It also conjures fond memories of your first gift of time to a loved one.

Perhaps, you’re a collector of fine art. The canvas may contain the priceless brush strokes of Monet or Reiner, masterpieces no doubt, but any more so than the frame that surrounds them? If we break the process down, we find the artist first choosing a subject; then painstakingly selecting, mixing, and matching colors before the first drop of paint touches canvas; then and only then, can the hand of the master begin his work.

Also an artisan in his own right, the frame maker carefully selects the wood to be used. It must be made from the correct species of tree, paying close attention to moisture content, color and grain. Once the chosen pieces have been cut to the proper width, he carefully shaves the rabbit into the back of each to accept the canvas. Then he begins the meticulous relief carvings on the front of the frame. Once this is complete, the corners will be fitted with compound miters. The frame can be stained, clear finished, or decorated with gold leaf.

I’ll have to admit, I’m a little biased when it comes to this procedure. Even though I’m an author now, in a past life I was a carpenter and cabinet-maker.

The majority of woodworkers today will admit they would rather have a root-canal rather than build a picture frame. I share this sentiment; however, when you think about it, without the frame, the picture would have nowhere to be. Can you imagine walking into a house and seeing pictures taped to walls, propped up on bookshelves, or leaning against random items to keep them from falling over?

The picture frame shares a bit of the same life as a good plot in a novel. Just as the ornate frame surrounding the Mona Lisa re-enforces her delicate media, a strong plot throughout your novel will keep the reader interested just as if they were gazing at Leonardo Da Vinci’s greatest creation.

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