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  • Good-bye to a one-of-a-kind guy

    Posted July 28th, 2013 by
    Categories: Uncategorized

    IMGP3677_677_324 For those of you following this blog, I know I have been remiss in keeping it up with timely installments.  My dear husband, Ken, died late last year and that took my full attention, as did the myriad of details that come with the loss of a loved one.  I considered posting his obituary on here, but opted not to for security reasons.  There’s enough information on the web, it really wouldn’t matter.  Those intent on discovering more can do so.  I’ll focus on the stuff I’d rather have you consider.

    Ken lived an incredible life.  He lived with integrity, openness, honesty and, above all, an exceptional sense of humor.  He loved life, and all the odd twists and turns that make it exciting.  Even viewing hardships, he was always able to spin them toward the positive, realizing that without troubling times, the shine of the good times would dim.  He was vibrant.  He was brave.  He was kind.  He was openly affectionate.  You always knew where you stood with Ken.  He was clear. Read the rest of this post »

    What happens in Missouri should stay in Missouri

    Posted April 24th, 2012 by
    Categories: Animal drama, Uncategorized


    Big rooster portrait 021912I tried to keep things simple. That is why I suggested to my husband Ken that he just saddle him up and ride him on over to Nana’s. Privately, I believe Ken feared he could not stay on for the required eight seconds. Or perhaps he feared the aftermath of falling off would be difficult to explain. Regardless, moving the giant rooster was becoming an ordeal.

    It all started when Mom brought over a fistful of baby chicks, which I agreed to tend in my dining room. This brings to light the glorious joy of having achieved adulthood where I can keep all sorts of things in my house delighting friends and family when my own mother would never have permitted such nonsense. Yes, the dust levels are higher than usual, but if you mow the weeds quarterly, it reduces the need to vacuum. A side benefit is that all my friends are healthy. Those with allergies quit visiting years ago.

    Ken insisted on feeding the entire flock egg laying mash completely ignoring my suggestions to feed the rooster more “manly” chow, like chicken fried steak. I warned it could have negative implications similar to giving steroids to athletes, but Ken would hear none of it. Consequently, the rooster continued to grow beyond the size of any normal chicken. Truly, I am not exaggerating, but this rooster approached the size of a turkey and was well on his way to rivaling a Shetland pony. Read the rest of this post »

    Canned food storage rack made easy

    Posted March 4th, 2012 by
    Categories: Uncategorized

    Food Rack 014

    At the urging of several friends, I have completed plans for a homemade food storage rack like the one I built several years ago.  They are available at the bottom of this post.

    A few years ago, I did a vague post with a couple of photos of the rack that I drew inspiration from, but to my knowledge, the builder did not use plans, and I adjusted my rack from his, so new plans would make construction a LOT easier with a lot less guess work.

    At the risk of sounding like an info-mercial, I can say, with certainty, that this rack has paid for itself countless times over.  I initially built it because I was impressed with the convenience of knowing, at a glance, which foods I was running low on, and I also liked the fact that I was always using foods that had been stored the longest, so I rarely have to throw away a can that has been inadvertently shuffled to the back of the pantry.  Then, I found that buying canned foods on sale allowed me to save money.  When green beans came on sale, I could buy a case of them knowing I had ample space.

    While the economy continues to struggle, I realize that an economic collapse is not necessary to appreciate this sort of storage rack.  For us, my husband Ken’s diagnosis of brain cancer caused a sensation in our community.  Good hearted people broke into tears when they saw me at the store, and frankly, the experience was just too difficult to endure on top of our own fragile emotional states.  I quickly realized it did not take an economic collapse to appreciate this addition.  I ended up relying on this can rack for almost an entire month while we dropped grocery store runs to an absolute minimum.

    And then, there is the college kid effect, which I completely underestimated.  College kids living on their own are always in need of food items.  When I see that some of my canned goods are running close to expiration, I can share them with others, including our college kid, and keep the supplies fresh that way.  This was impossible with our pantry, as the newest cans were always grabbed first, leaving me with expired goods.

    So, for those of you who are clever with a hammer, I have drawn up plans for my food storage rack.  They are available for only $6 through the “Buy Now” link below.  Happy construction!



    Slipforming, part 18 – The Bogart Home

    Posted November 21st, 2011 by
    Categories: Slip Form House posts, Uncategorized


    This post follows Slipforming, part 17 – Turret’s Syndrome. To see a complete index of slipforming posts, click here. For an index of comical posts, click here.

    #9insidewallfacesaugust30th2007(2)Ken Bogart, who lives in New York, was inspired to build a slip-formed stone home and has graciously agreed to be guest interviewed for this blog. Following is an informal interview with Mr. Bogart. He promises he will start his own web page for those who want to explore more possibilities with rock homes. Thank you, Ken, for sharing your story here. When his website becomes active, I will happily provide a link to it.

    Dani: How did you decide to build a slip-formed home?

    Ken: I saw your house on Tom’s (Elpel) web page. My wife thought the idea was crazy until I showed her your story, and your home, and then she was all for it. She even bought me the cement mixer for Christmas and said “Go for it.”

    Dani: Wow! Only a fellow stone home builder can appreciate a gift like that! So, what size is your home and how long did it take you?

    Ken: It took me two summers to complete my 32′ x 48′ house. I worked my full time job during the week, and built mainly on weekends. Usually the weeknights were spent gathering stones.

    Dani: That is fast! Especially since you were working full time, too.

    Ken: It seemed to have taken forever! How long did it take you to build your house? Your house is so much bigger than mine, it should have taken longer to build. I love the looks of your house. Those turrets are beautiful, and it really sets it apart from anything out there. You went up one-and-a-half stories with stone. What were you thinking! When I got up to the first story I had gone up far enough for stonework.

    Dani: (Laughing) My dad told a friend that I would get smart after laying a couple feet of rock. He suspected I would realize rocks are heavy and quit. After we were setting rocks 14 feet above the ground, dad maintained I never did get smart. That said, I was not holding a full-time job at the time, as you were. My rock work was done in two seasons, but I did run the “seasons” long—from April to November.

    Ken: Mine was two summers of laying stones. The first summer didn’t go very well and I got frustrated with the process. The stones weren’t right, the concrete oozed out, it was kind of disheartening. After thinking about it over the winter and reading and researching and thinking of different ways to make it better the second summer went great. I very much enjoyed it, and would do it again, and I may someday on a smaller scale.

    Dani: Did you have any help on this project? Read the rest of this post »

    Elmo cures cancer

    Posted November 14th, 2011 by
    Categories: Uncategorized


    This post follows Some girls ruin all the fun.  To see a complete index of slipforming posts, click here. For an index of comical posts, click here.

    Elmo 2 003*This article won First Place in the Humorous Column category of the Colorado Press Association Class 2 Weekly Newspaper competition for 2011.

    My husband was diagnosed with brain cancer this summer.  July 7, 2011 to be exact. It’s tough to be funny when one gets news like this. In the interest of keeping this blog column upbeat, I want to offer some insight into one of the highlights of this discovery.

    Ken’s work colleagues sent a care package. They are a bunch of computer geeks, and Ken was supposed to travel to California to work with them this month, so they bought a Tickle-Me Elmo doll and photographed Elmo in a variety of poses representing Ken at work. Suspiciously, most of the photos involved Elmo and snacks, Elmo goofing off in the file cabinets, or Elmo playing videogames.  Hmmm.  Anyway, they also sent the Elmo doll—a sort of challenge, I guess, to see if we could return pictures of Elmo, duplicating Ken at home in his new life.

    We decided to put Elmo through cancer treatment along with Ken. Elmo got to sit in the ambulance, ride in a wheelchair, sit in a waiting room, look at an MRI, hug a model brain, and have his blood pressure taken. We will stop short of radiating Elmo…some jokes always get taken too far.

    Interestingly, of all the gifts of food and flowers, it was the Elmo doll that proved the most distracting. Son Ben plotted for each new photo, which was a welcome diversion from being an 18-year-old hanging out in the cancer ward. Read the rest of this post »