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Working Man

June 24, 2010

* It’s still the week of the Daddy here at 6512 feet, because themes are helpful when you’re racing against the clock of bolting cilantro forests and administering lessons to little people on discerning when the pea pods are ripe.

Can *you* find the ripe peas? Should I axe the lessons and just let the kids grub whatever they can reach?


You can read why I’m thankful for Dan here.

And see lots of photos of Dan in action here.

Dan actually said yesterday, “how’re you going to keep saying nice things about me all week?” This was after he instructed me to show his whole face in the picture of Col sleeping in his arms. (Perhaps he doesn’t understand artsy photos).

So for a new twist, here’s what bugs me about Dan:

1) Leaves kitchen cabinet doors open.

2) Doesn’t understand artsy photos.

Okay, for reals, as Rose has taken to saying. As in, “Coley, ducky needs to go to the hospital because she gets surgery. For reals.”


Dan is one of those people who rise early and cheerfully, his mind brimming with positive thoughts.

“I’ve got a great place to take you guys.” He says over Sunday breakfast. I’m still making out with my coffee, the kids are building indoor fort XVIXII, and surely it’s a crime to be discussing anything requiring packing the steamer trunk of snacks and kids’ sundries so early on a Sunday morning.

But Dan’s been known to say, after being home with the kids for two hours, “I’ve been home all day, I’m ready to get out and do something!” And I know how he feels, because two hours at home can pass in this surreal, art film-ish way, where I feel like I’m reading a script while falling asleep underwater: “we only draw on paper,” I parse with absolutely no feeling, while kids Matisse the table with ink.

Thanks to Daddy-gumption, an hour later, snacks are packed, kids are perched in backpacks, and Dan’s pointing up at pumpkin-hued cliffs. “Up there! You guys are going to love it. Just a few quick switchbacks.”

Left to my own devices, I’d haul the kids to a park, sounding the alarm to the Mama-child tribes to meet us there so the kids can air it out with their kind while the Mamas gather under the shade of a cottonwood, keeping an eye out for falling bodies.

(I actually remember coaching Dan on taking Col to the park when he was a toddler. “See, Col runs and climbs and slides and we just hang out. You don’t really have to do anything).

Dan is a do-er, an artist, a craftsman. He has the sort of patience and detailed-orientedness that is needed to turn out painstakingly beautiful work. Whereas I am cutter-of-corners. My friend Melanie recently coached me on sewing some prayer flags we painted at a baby shower. The prayer flags were all rumpled from sitting in a bag for months and Melanie noted they needed ironing before being sewed up. Not owning an iron, I asked if I could just flatten them out under the weight of my very large dictionary. Melanie gave me the kind, pitying look you would extend to a 3-legged dog trying to catch a frisbee.

I am proud of Dan’s crafty work and would love to share some photos with you. (however, by now I’m sure Dan would have appreciated a week of conjugal relations rather than all these damn words. Next year, honey).

Our new gate, to deter chicken-eating dogs. The sticks are willow gathered on the Animas River, peeled by Col. Child labor rules!

Raven. Carved from cottonwood.

Mountain lion, placed in the niche in our sunroom that captures the light on winter solstice.

Greenhouse post and beam. Ponderosa pine logged by handsaw. No nails in the 400 sf frame.

Col's desk, put together with scrap lumber one morning. Today Col told me "I like to clean my desk everyday," which is a complete un-truth.

Elk hide jacket, tanned and sewed by Dan. (beadwork by friend)

Front side. He sews; for reals.

Bow-making is tops these days. Too complicated to explain, let's just say extremely "detail oriented." Handmade, from cutting down the tree to applying sinew or snakeskin to the back of the bow with hide-glue. Hide glue is, uh, scraps of rawhide boiled up into a foul-smelling glue. See, complicated. I told Dan the bow pictures might be hard for people to appreciate, but Dan said I should include a bow picture because "every guy has a bow in them." But my dad may be the only guy who reads this blog (and he has a Dan-made bow!). What do you think? Does your guy have a bow in him?

Okay. I’m finally done. Thank you for squinting at my pictures and for indulging me once again. For reals.



29 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2010 9:10 am

    A-mazing! You did well. And I am madly in love with your stucco and bare pine beams…I would totally love freak out my Maine neigbors and have an adobe and straw bale house if my own hubby wasn’t such a dang wood guy, being born and bred in New England and all. And my boys definitely have bows in them…the oldest was just the other day trying to fashion a weapon from a stick and a film canister (the instructions, in The Boy Camper, indicated you should fill your cylinder with bird shot, but he used rocks instead), but his stick was not whippy enough and the canister not long enough. I’m sure he’d be in 7th heaven to have a dad who had interest, skills and patience to build projectiles from scratch.

  2. Ellen permalink
    June 24, 2010 9:49 am

    The gate is new and very beautiful!Its so good to have one person be detail-oriented. When nobody is, things have a tendency to fall through the cracks.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 24, 2010 2:58 pm

      If it weren’t for Dan, we would all have been swallowed up by the cracks by now!

  3. June 24, 2010 10:31 am

    kahve tamper, ıslak mendil makinası, tamper, makina, teksan, teksan makina,, özel tasarım makina, özel makina, bot şişirme pompası, pnömatik ayna, pnömatik

    thans for great sharing

  4. Ami permalink
    June 24, 2010 10:34 am

    Lovely Rachel! I can’t believe your list of “don’t likes” is SO short! Awesome! :) At any rate – there ARE bows in the boys around here… Definitely not handmade and of such quality. Cole has a lovely pvc pipe bow which I would post a picture of, but I don’t think I can post pics here…. and Stone used a bow to hunt for food years and years and years ago. Cole was just discovering it last night, as it lives deep in the recesses of the storage area above our loft…. he climbed in and sorted through the practice arrows, and the “sharp” ones – for reals! By the way – isn’t tanning hides JUST as complicated!?

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 24, 2010 3:01 pm

      Yes, tanning hides is just as complicated and nit-picky, especially when you’re using primitive materials like deer brains and liver. (Oh the smell of animal skin soaked in brains and deer liver…) So cool that Cole has a bow!

  5. kelsey permalink
    June 24, 2010 10:41 am

    Your home is beautiful. It is nice to see another home where the outdoors are lived in, inside and out!

  6. June 24, 2010 11:18 am

    That gate is amazing…all of Dan’s work is amazing. But the gate reminds me of a torii in Japan. I love the weaving of the willow. The bow is amazing too…it is wonderful to be able to immerse yourself in creating and doing it from beginning to end by procuring and fabricating all the materials. It is a form of guy meditation I guess. My husband has that same kind of creative meditative process going on too. He doesn’t necessarily understand why I practice qigong but really he is doing the same thing just in a more active and physical way.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 24, 2010 3:06 pm

      Elizabeth, it is a total guy meditation. Before kids, I went on a 3-night, winter meditation retreat and Dan did his own retreat while I was gone, going to the woods super early, making a fire and pounding deer sinew into long, dry fibers (for hours) to apply to his bow. He loves going to his cave (our sunroom) at night to pound sinew and listen to basketball on the radio.

  7. jamie permalink
    June 24, 2010 1:17 pm

    I’m impressed! The work that goes into the hide and then making it into something useful… the hand made bow… but, I have to say, the raven is my favorite! Amazing that it is carved from wood! I could have sworn those were real feathers! I seriously want one – for reals!

  8. June 24, 2010 1:26 pm

    I love that bird. (I love birds in general, but that one is still awesome.)

  9. June 24, 2010 3:05 pm

    Post after post, I’m just overcome by the words: this lady can write. For reals.

  10. June 24, 2010 3:51 pm

    Wow – I’m totally impressed. I absolutely love the gate (and the other stuff too, for that matter).
    Love the theme.

  11. abozza permalink
    June 24, 2010 3:58 pm

    Love it all! I think that guy might just be a keeper! :)

  12. June 24, 2010 10:04 pm

    WOW….Dan is quite talented! Love the gate…the bow is beautiful….and your greenhouse built without nails…furniture….tanning hides and sewing them into clothing….just amazing.

    And as amazing as all that is….I love how you write about it. :)

  13. June 24, 2010 11:12 pm

    If I weren’t laughing so hard at “we only draw on paper” and the bit about the park, I may have been able to really appreciate that amazing raven, mountain lion, and bow, as well as all of the other major structural niftery your wild archetype of a husband is capable of. But no, I have water to clean up on my desk, don’t I?

    LORD I love your stories, woman. Thank you.

  14. June 25, 2010 9:07 am

    What a guy~For reals! I’m swooning over the pine beams. Gorgeous!

  15. June 25, 2010 6:05 pm


    Received your comment on my blog so decided to check you out. Love your photos and your writing. Wished you lived down the street so that we could hang out under a cottonwood at the park. Will check in frequently.


  16. Emily permalink
    June 25, 2010 6:17 pm

    That’s a fantastic gate For Reals Rache!
    Love the simplicity, like walking into a temple, (hey cool! someone else saw the Japanesey-ness)
    Jojo’s due for another bow here soon ^^
    Hug the kiddies! Will see you tomorrow!!!

  17. June 25, 2010 6:22 pm

    Just read your comment on my heart surgery post, and remembered visiting this blog once awhile back. Read today’s post and really enjoyed your writing style…I hear myself muttering “hands are for holding, not for hitting” while I “make out’ with my coffee…and various other mama codes for STOP THAT THIS INSTANT!! Heehee! My husband would go crazy for all the woodwork and leatherwork and especially the bow. Talented man you have there! (my hubby doesn’t get artsy photos either)…

  18. June 25, 2010 10:35 pm

    First off, is that a deer antler plant trellis? Awesome. Man, I love seeing how you use those!
    And as for his handiwork…oh my gosh he is so talented. Dan, you had me at sewing…

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      June 28, 2010 2:38 pm

      Yup. Elk antler trellis, because antlers can be used for just about anything, apparently.

  19. June 26, 2010 8:18 am

    I don’t know if I could get past his leaving the cabinets open.

    In all seriousness, just WOW, you are blessed.

  20. June 29, 2010 9:43 pm

    I love that he likes to pound hides and listen to basketball. That’s a complicated, complex keeper of a man, right there.

    Also, I own an iron, but it’s strictly for appearance’s sake. For reals. =>

  21. September 30, 2010 4:37 pm

    So, do you like, hire him out? ‘Cuz I’d like me a “hope chest” and some other finery!


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