The Final Blow

With hammer in hand and gripped for the blow. My umpteenth visit to uncle Harold’s abandoned farmstead produced little fruit. Disposal is everlasting. I was uncle Harry’s favorite runner. My sister his favorite dancer, and the favorites list went on.

Mom questioned Harold’s judgment. Firecrackers, slingshots, and coming home after dark my friend, my uncle Harry invented excitement. We installed the Kohler together, he taught me basic plumbing.  This summer is a lesson of endearment.

I don’t want to liquidate. The back shed is not an eyesore. It is a treasure. One day we will walk together. Jesus promised.


Written as part of the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (more details HERE). The idea is to write a short story of 100 words based on the photo prompt (above).

To read stories of 100 words based lon this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

Please Give Blood! A plea by Susan Briscoe

The Death Project

blood drop

Last year I received several blood transfusions and put out a call for friends and family to donate blood, especially as I no longer can. (Also to please sign their organ donor cards! I have a friend waiting for a healthy kidney.) Our blood supply in Quebec is all from unpaid donors, which is impressive considering the many restrictions to keep the supply safe. I am anemic again due to abdominal bleeding from my sarcoma, and have been prescribed two transfusions tomorrow. I feel bad taking from our blood bank without being able to give back. Since I’ve been ill many of you have asked if you can do anything to help. Could I ask a few of you to donate on my behalf? (To be clear, I am not asking for direct donations; yours would go to someone else in need.) This is an easy way to give during…

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Gazebo Build

At the Bohnarosa we believe in freedom.  For example, freedom from bondage is a good thing, but we also have free-range mosquitoes. The little suckers arrive in June and fly free until September.

A short walk from the garage to the bird feeder is an exercise in performing arts.  Slap the neck, slap the forearm, slap the shoulder, slap the forehead, “Wow I could have had a V8.” Setting down the bucket and fussing with the feeder itself means loss of blood if not done quickly. Sitting outside on a summer evening after work enjoying a cold one is signing yourself up for a suicide mission. Yeah you might get some of them, but the little buggers always win.

It takes effort to fog the lawn, and not greatly effective. Chemical agents work well, but they are sticky, and who knows what all is absorbed through the skin.  The best defense is a good offense became my strategy. I decided to build a screened gazebo.

I like the whole DIY approach. As a kid watching MY DAD replace the family cars brake shoes I asked, “How do you know how to do that?” He answered, “If some guy put this together, it should be able to be taken apart, and put back together.  If you have to, you can read a book and learn.”

So I did some reading and research on how to build a gazebo. A book from Menards, and a visit to an  outdoor-furnishing place in Anoka, MN got me started. One paragraph read, “Most gazebo’s can be built in a weekend.” Time management can be tricky. This gazebo took two years.

A cement contractor was hired to do the foundation, as I simultaneously built the gazebo walls and roof in the barn. A great tip from the Start-To-Finish Sheds & Gazebos book was to build the roof at ground level. President Trump would say, “This is gonna be a HUGE time saver!”  The structure having an elongated octagon shape complicated the gazebo design. Two center hubs were required with an extra long center.

Most of the rafter cuts were compound angles.  I used a string and compass to measure the angles. It would have been very difficult attempting all this on a ladder. I suppose a guy could have calculated it on paper, but I’m not into drafting architectural plans.

Green treated lumber was the material of choice with exception of the roof underlayment. I mapped out the walls and roof to exact measurements on the barn floor. The wall sections were built first, and then the roof and cupola. After a wall section was completed it was set off to the side, and another section started. The walls were simple to build. The roof was a bit tougher to design and construct. The entire gazebo is put together with lifetime deck screws. Any component can be taken off and replaced if needed.

The roof required an eye catching element, so asphalt shingles were out. I considered slate, metal tiles, and metal panels. Imagination voted for slate, cost won the vote with metal panels.

Jigs were made for repeating patterns, such as the lower panels and screens. I discovered black metal screen provides the best viewing capability.  Easy peazy.

Materials list:

  • Green treated lumber – various length and size
  • Lifetime deck screws – several buckets full
  • Black metal screening – enough
  • Metal roof panels – enough
  • Time – what ever it takes

Gazebo foundation
Patio forms
Patio and foundation for gazebo. View from house roof.
I bought a nice table saw from Home Depot.  Some assembly required.  I had to remove the saw from the box and transport the parts home in the car trunk.
To get a perfect right angle use the 3-4-5 method.
Gazebo base plate cut to exact size.
String line simulating the rafter center line. To cut compound angles I used a compass to determine the miter angle, and the bevel angle.
Rafter sections.
Green treated wood has a tendency to twist. I used a pipe wrench and notched pedestal to align the rafters.
Gazebo rafters built in the barn. Note buckets simulating walls elevating the eves off the floor.
After removing the cupola I could disassemble the roof sections.
Setting up the pre-built walls.
Drilling anchor bolt holes with dads 1/2 inch drill motor.
I used a straw to blow out drilling dust to insure a clean deep hole.
Steve, Larry, Self, Darrel, and Darrel’s son helped lift the one piece cupola of the roof.
Cupola finished and ready to be set on top of gazebo.
Delivering roof sections to the job site.
Friend Steve helped manually hoist the roof sections into place.
Building out the eves
Break time
Nine decorative base panels.
This is how far I got the first year.
1x6x3/4 pine roofing
Temporary ramp used to raise cupola to gazebo roof.
Deb and I used a block and tackle to roll the cupola up the ramp. Using 4′ lengths of 2” PVC pipe as rollers the cupola rolled right up the ramp.  I’m sure this is how the Egyptians would have done it.
A little more raw muscle power and we’ll get this cupola in place.
Deb said the cupola looked like a coffin.
Window jams for screens.  Mass production.
I love this photo
Collar connects the roof sides together. Note blue tarp, not blue sky.
Tar paper underlayment prior to metal roofing.
I bought a band saw for the sole purpose of cutting the metal roof. Craigslist $100.00
My mother-in-law (Mary Ann) painting screw heads for me.
Manufacturing end caps. Various bends pictured
End caps in place
Nephew Alec digging in the electric line.
Nephew Alec and I fishing wire through conduit.
They actually sell fans for out door use. A fan outside how crazy is that?
On a still summer day, the fan is nice. Beautiful napping conditions.



Warrior Parent

The warmth of a newborn cradled in adult arms. Holding one so tiny transports you to a zone where nightly news and woes don’t belong. The wonderment of creation, the blessing of life, instilling values, schooling, life lessons, and family dynamics, <deep breath> WOW!!

My siblings, peers, workmates, and neighbors have kids; by choice we do not. I do hear of projectile vomiting, messes, parent teacher conferences, crashed cars, running away, and a whole lot more. My insight concerning parenting is limited. I ask, “How can a parent instill virtue in any of that?”

The daughter of my nephew would be called my great-niece, or grandniece. Different words, same meaning. Thanksgiving Day, 2017, ACG was put on my ignorant great-uncle/granduncle heart.

This little blond child will look at you straight on and study you. Like all kids if she feels like it, if she is of the right temperament she will abide to guidance. She runs, plays, screams, and interacts with siblings and cousins. ACG will quietly entertain herself with color crayons and formulate thoughts. One day she will interpret her thoughts and speak out. Through faith I pray to God – in Jesus’ name that ACG will soon share her thoughts, intentions, and what ever else goes on in a child’s mind. So far she has not spoke, not even a “Mommy” or “Daddy.” Speech therapists, and other professionals have met with ACG and cannot determine why her quiet behavior. The warrior parent will fight for their child.

I admire how mom and dad took time to enlighten us. Parents instinctively live in the goodness of God, and they stretch themselves to do the next right thing.


Perseverance NEVER happens right a way. Difficult times, fun times, set backs, giant leaps forward, basically everything we are passing through is a learning opportunity. Life’s difficulties and joy’s are training grounds for what you are. I find myself being humbled, and blessed to be called great-uncle or granduncle. Tomato Tomatoe.


The Weathered Boot

The weathered boot dropped to the ground as it had a thousand times before. The man, a dozen times older than the boot peeled off his sock as if he were ripping skin off a catfish. In the late fifty’s his family had immigrated to Mexico from Portugal. Jamison prefers to be known as a Texan, not American.   He spoke English with a heavy slant towards Spanish, and the word “banditos” stood out.   Hanging in mid air translating itself into “hate”, the word faded into the remaining part of the sentence. Our conversation started with my question, “Would you like prayer?” “Yes, but let me tell you.”

His story begins with banditos cutting off his toes and mailing them to his wife as proof of his being held hostage. On a suburban street in Texas I found myself looking down at an old mans foot. I counted three toes.

He once owned and operated a successful shuttle bus company in Dallas Texas. Jamison was not flamboyant by any means, but fresh clothes and an upright walk tagged the old man as a target for the kidnappers. Where dust blows and settles upon debris, litter, and sleeping dogs, targets clearly stand out. He was one of many.

Manhandled and forced into a vehicle Jamison was taken into the hills of Mexico. His existence now reduced to someone’s payday. Not a very sophisticated bunch. Yet cunning enough to create fear, and urgency for the prisoners and their loved ones back home.   Guns, threats, force, and primitive conditions took the meaning of breath to a whole new level. Body parts were exchanged for money, promises were made and broken. Morally depraved conditions became the norm. On the fifty-second day realization made an appearance. No one had ever been released.

The buses had been sold, the home was sold, the bank accounts depleted. Prompted by a voice Jamison wearing only under ware disappeared into the night. The once proud well-dressed man now stumbling, running, tripping, falling, is prey, a frightened creature of the night.

Lost and finding direction, maintaining speed, and having a fresh purpose to live Jamison prays desperately, and makes a personal promise. “Save my life, help me God, and I will honor you the rest of my life.” An adrenalin-fueled grace granted nearly naked escapee found aid on a backcountry road.

With excitement Jamison invited us to his newly founded church. As the car door closed I looked him in the eyes, and promised I’d bring him home. He laughed. In a half empty strip mall Jamison unlocked the church doors. We toured the facility and met several of his Mexican members. It was great fun having him as our translator, and sharing the message with his congregates. In its basic form the Time To Revive (TTR) message revolves around (5) verses formulating “The Good news.” To meet people of peace and share the good news is why we were in Dallas, TX. Meeting Jamison and hearing his faith story all started with a question, “How can I pray for you?”

Bless the Lord… who satisfies your years with good things   Psalm 103:2, 5

Once you start practicing being grateful and thankful for things, people, and events, you may notice that you start to attract more positive things, people, and events in your life.  Stephanie Conkle, Happy Person. Happy Life 




A while back we purchased a chair to double as a room accent and desk chair. The look was right, but the height was wrong. All I needed was two more inches. I can work with that! I had some left over hickory from a coffee table project. Good deal, that’s almost like free material. The easy part was cutting and gluing the rough stock planks together. Forming the shape was a bit more challenging.   I do not have a lathe, so round was out, and square was in. Cutting tapered legs got a little complex. I had to create a jig to accommodate the table saw. Thank you youtube.

Once the taper was formed all that remained was the sanding, implanting a threaded fitting, staining, and a coat of poly. Easy peazy.






“Caaaareful, caaaaareful, watch what you are doing.” Concentrating on where the spinning blade meets the board, I found myself wondering, “What the??? am I crazy? Can I really become a minimalist? Where will I keep this table saw?“ Worried about cutting my fingers off, I shut down the saw. The notion of selling the Bohnarosa and all its trappings hit me hard as I was working on a project. As the saw powers down I look around. This is my happy place; I like being surrounded by hand tools, power tools, and mechanic tools, large and small. A generous inventory of lumber sits against the far wall. Bins of sorted nuts and bolts, both standard and metric thread waiting for use.  What am I considering? “Sell the Bohnarosa!!!” This is nuts, and I don’t mean metric.

Growing and bailing hay, feeding horses, tractors, farm implements, and fencing. Years of coming and going calling this, “Home.” With the help of friends we planting over a thousand trees the size of pencils, and now an establishing wind break stands. Providing shelter for deer, birds, and other critters. Putting up out buildings, cutting and splitting wood for heat. Thirty-six years in development and now the daunting proposition of putting up a For Sale sign!! Cheeesse, gimme a break.

Within its boundaries the Bohnarosa contains a personal history. Idea’s becoming realities, hardships blooming into beauty, years of a married couple getting better at, “Doing the next right thing.” It’s not just the compost pile that is decaying. My self is melting.  I’m in Stress City.

The Bohnarosa was once a cornfield; now it is a reflection of how I define comfort, safety, and refuge. I walked away from the table saw and unfinished project. The next three days required some thought and Biblical truth.

It’s good to know my days are numbered. Only God knows the number.  I’ve been blessed and had days multiplied by years. I’m grateful for that. So why am I anxious about going on an adventure? I mean really, how many coffee tables can you fit into a travel trailer?  Seriously I stressed over not having materials at the ready.

Planning and creating, tools and equipment; I take pleasure in projects and accomplishments.  They represent a connection to my dad.  Many of the tools were his.  I’m past the table saw melt down, and working towards a very manly garage sale, not to be missed by the DIY types.

My ambition to do, is morphing into, “To go”.  I’m sure there will be plenty of “To do’s” along our journey.  This is still the same book, just a new chapter.



Park Rapids, MN 080417-081217

We vacationed in Park Rapids, MN this past August. For the most part Big Pines Campground is right in the town of Park Rapids, but far enough from major streets allowing only sirens to infiltrate the night. At first I thought we were staying in a Bad Boy town, but the frequency of sirens was a little too much. A combination of ambulance and police work is a better explanation. There are a lot of older retired people in the area. Early one morning an ambulance and several police vehicles were dispatched to Big Pines Campground. They attempted to revive a woman who was simply getting ready for work.  I had never associated vacationing and camping with death.  I never put the two events together, camping is fun right?

We did a lot of flat water kayaking. Wide slow rivers are about as close as we get to fast water. Every day was sunny and bug free.   Big Sand, Little Sand, Blue, Lake Belle Taine, Fish Hook, were some of the lakes we paddled. Big Sand and Blue were our favorites. Their blue green color is what attracted us back for a second paddle. It is odd that one lake can have an eighteen-foot clarity and a connecting lake only be rated at ten feet. Each lake has its own DNA. I tried to winnow out 10 photos’ to exhibit the Park Rapids area lakes but failed. Photo’s below.

The Saturday before we left a car show was in town.  Park Rapids down town is a little odd. Main Street is very wide allowing for two lanes of parallel parking in the center of the street. If you are not ready for it and you enter town from the south, it looks as if cars and trucks are heading right for you. This is a hold over from the late 1800’s when wagon loads of timber were hauled to town, and lots of room was needed for the horses and wagons to back up to a loading dock. Photo’s below.

The population of Dorset, MN is 22.  There are 4 restaurants in town making it the self proclaimed restaurant capital of the world. It so happened we were passing through Dorset during a festival.  Lots of action for a tiny town.

Dorset Parking
Dorset Traffic Control

The The Logging Camp is a popular place to eat. I was lumberjack hungry. Historical memorabilia from old logging day’s was the hook.  Maybe we went at the wrong time, or maybe people simply do not care about memorabilia these day’s.  We did not have difficulty finding a place to sit.

Logging Camp. “Table for two please.”

Weather was good, eating was good, and paddling was fantastic. So many lakes, so little time, and to think Minnesota is one of fifty.  Paddling, peddling, hiking, wandering about and seeing God’s creation and his children is a joy and wonderment. Working is good too. We need purpose. In a year or so our purpose will change, exactly how I don’t know, but we are looking forward to it.



The Inheritance

Two plain wood tables each hosting a computer terminal and chair face one another. Blood had been spilt. Lives had been lost, and widows out number wives. An agreement had been reached after years of direct combat. The adversary’s were tasked to compose why they deserve to rule the kingdom. Game on.

In thirty minutes the best reasoned written hypothesis will be judged, and the winner take all contest for all times will be decided. The red light turns to green and they begin. Large screens above the contestants reveal their work. Line by line, paragraph for paragraph they match each other’s speed and thought. Careful word crafted reasoning streams across the grand overhead display faster then the onlooker’s comprehension. Seconds before the final moment the lights go out, the terminals go black, and the apprehensive audience holds their breath. The power returns and based on the writings a clear winner is evident. Jesus always saves.

Last week we attended a celebration of life gathering.  Cirrhosis of the liver was the cause of death. The deceased man’s two adult sons hosted the remembrance at a Holiday Inn. It was good to view the video loop of our friend. We watched the time line progress from child hood, to young man, husband, and then father. Life as we know it now will someday change for all of us. It will happen. Breath in, breath out, breath in, and then the determining final exhale.

Fifteen years prior I sat in this man’s basement and we talked about the “Party on” life style. Our stories ranged from funny and hilarious, to sad, shame, and regret. The assurance of always being a child of God was also part of the requested visit. The question was asked, “Will God reject me?” “The gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23). How can eternal life be anything else but eternal? It cannot be lost, forfeited, or sinned away, for “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). Eternal life once given is an everlasting gift.

Shame is the thing behind the thing that will hunt and search you out. Shame can keep you from experiencing joy. As children of God we are heirs to the kingdom. My friend received his inheritance.

Got faith?

When Columbus sailed into the unknown with the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria he had the best navigational maps, sextant, compass and the stars to guide him. He was plugged in with high-end equipment. I wonder if one’s and zero’s where available? Zero’s and one’s, how simple is that? Columbus had faith in what he had at the time. How much easier it would have been with GPS!

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen. Hebrews 11:1 The Voice (VOICE)

Does faith find a person, or does a person find faith? <person wakes up> “It’s a beautiful sunny day, everything feels right, I think I’ll go shopping for faith today.” Not very likely. I was seated in an out patient treatment center circled by strangers enduring the evening hours. That’s when a small mustard seed of faith took root.

I was reading a poster hanging on the far end of the room. The third step read, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”. The last portion of the third step made me think. I was puzzled for some time and came to the conclusion my understanding of God was limited to baby Jesus, baby Moses floating down a river in a reed basket, three wise men, and some camels. That’s all I had, but it was enough to start a faith walk.

I didn’t identify it as a faith walk. For me it was recognition that my trial and error lifestyle had major errors. What would happen if I tried this understanding God thing? This led to more reading, and I’m not much of a reader. What a drag!

“Self will run riot.” Thirty some years ago those words meant as much as if it read “Wind boil nail walk.” Cigarette smoke thick as fog, fog so heavy you would not know if the guy across the room had his eyes open or closed.   The 16×16 basement room held ripped couches, (2) lamps with low watt bulbs, a three gallon coffee pot, and a number of drunks. When I asked about “Self will run riot.” The guys said, “Keep coming back.” So I did.