Archive for the ‘Living Life’ Category

From The Shop: Building A Wedding   2 comments

Little Girl was marrying E, and I asked if they wanted me to build anything for their wedding.

The answer was yes, and I got a to do list that was 3 items long:

  • A board for guests to sign. A keepsake.
  • Sets of candle holders to decorate the reception.
  • A heptagonal arch for the wedding ceremony.

I decided to make all 3 items out of white oak. I start with lumber.

No, this was not all of the lumber. I ended up getting a whole lot more lumber before it was all built.

The sign-in board was a simple 24″ circle, cut on the CNC. I then went to my buddy the flag maker, who used his laser engraver to cut words out of 1/8″ ply. Those were spray painted burnt umber with an acrylic spray, and then mounted on the piece. The whole assembly got a top coat of rattle can lacquer.

The time consuming project was making candle holders. I made 12 sets of 3 … so 36x pieces with 4 sides, 1 shelf and 16 accent pieces. Each. That’s a lot of pieces. The lumber had to be planed down to 1/2″ thick, so I generated a lot of sawdust on this project.

A lot of sawdust.

These candle holders are one of my favorite projects, actually; I first made them about 10 years ago for Christmas presents.

I have learned a bit and upgraded the garage shop since then, thankfully, so the lumber went from track saw to table saw to planer to table saw to CNC to router table to assembly.

A unique part of this project is how you assemble the sides that have chamfered edges to fit perfectly into a square without showing the wooden edges. No nails are used, just glue. And how do you join slippery sides of a square together without nails?

You rubber band them together until the glue dries.

Then you do the same process for the Walnut accent pieces, rubber banding them into place until that glue dries. The raw wood was then finished, again, with rattle can lacquer.

The biggest project in many ways was making the 7-sided arch, AKA a heptagon or a septagon. Internal height had to be big enough for E to be nicely framed … so 78″ it was.

Luckily, there are some handy polygon calculators on the interweb thingy that told me what I needed. Each side was 3′ – 7″, and every angle had to be 128-5/7 degrees. Simple, right? Of course, the miter gauge only has degrees, not sevenths of a degree. Time for some fancy footwork. Apparently.

The sides of the arch were configured with 3 lengths of lumber connecting to 2 lengths of lumber using finger joints and bolts to hold it together. I nailed pieces in place to reinforce each joint so that the angles would not vary one-seventh of a degree from the design. The joinery was important, as the arch had to come apart for transport.

And the heptagon would be assembled and installed by the venue’s staff, as I was to be elsewhere. I was told that I would be elsewhere a few times, so I knew it was true. And since I was to be elsewhere, I labeled each joint with a letter so if they put joint “A” together with the other part of joint “A,” all would be well.

The base was the final piece I made, and required a lot of head time to visualize what was needed. Because 7 is an odd number – stay with me here – the finger joints had to be 3 fingers on one side and 2 fingers on the other in order to mate up with the other 6 pieces of the heptagon. After a lot of staring at the wall time, I finally got simple and made the bottom with 5 pieces of lumber all the same size – but sticking out 3 fingers on one side and 2 fingers on the other. It was simple, but it was not simple to me on July 20. And the wedding was August 5.

The base was destined to be buried in the sand, but it had to have the structural integrity to both support the heptagon sticking 7′ into the air … and not blow over if an ocean breeze decided to attend the wedding. So, as I am sure you can see, I felt no pressure as I made up this plan staring at the wall.

Finish was brush on urethane, suitable for outdoor applications. The heptagon is destined to take up residence in the back yard of the Kenderas when they build out that landscaping … but first, the heptagonal arch had an important date with a beach.

Baxter Black’s “The Flag”   1 comment


US Flag: Common Display Mistakes

US Flag Code

US Flag: The First

US Flag: The Second

US Flag: The Third

US Flag: The Snake Flags

Robin Williams As The American Flag


Posted July 4, 2017 by henrymowry in Living Life

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It’s My Day.   Leave a comment

It’s been 5 years since we’ve done good pictures. This blog post is fair warning that a new photo call is in the offing.


My Father And My Grandfathers

My Mother And My Grandmothers

Posted June 18, 2017 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Invective   Leave a comment

Bruce Springsteen receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November, 2016.

Bruce Springsteen receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November, 2016.

Words are important.

And I don’t care what side of the political aisle you’re on … words are important.

Point 1

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Bruce Springsteen tweeted:

“Some people seemed upset that I called @realDonaldTrump a moron, so I wanted to clarify my remarks: He’s also an asshole.”

Springsteen is one of my generation’s most noted entertainers. Now that he’s a senior citizen, it doesn’t seem that age has improved his eloquence. He’s got a bully pulpit, and he chooses to use it not to elevate our discourse, but to descend to rhetoric that’s both profane and immature.

Does anyone really think it helps to call our President a moron, or an idiot, or the Cheeto-in-Chief? How does this help anyone come to a political solution to any of our problems?

And when a cultural opinion leader debases their legacy to play in the mud, it especially does not help us. Opinion leaders should uplift, not just play to the lowest common denominator for a cheap yuk.

Point 2

Bridge Ratings has done research on attitudes of users towards Facebook, and has found that dissatisfaction is growing among users. Dissatisfaction is growing, they find, in part due to the caustic comments of Facebook users.

People just don’t want to hear snarky political commentary … as this study shows. This study talks about the fatigue it found among Facebook users, and finds one cause to be:

Words like “vitriol” and “hate” were used frequently to describe an increasing number of posts on Facebook newsfeeds.

Read about this interesting study, here.

Point 3

Please, this is not a political post. It’s a post about language.

Words Can Hurt

Here are some quotes I pulled from Facebook over the last few months … I’m sure you’ve seen some that are similar:

“You don’t want to be associated with a sociopath, do you?”

“What planet do you reside. Certainly not one that is respectful of woman. Embarrassed for you!”

Please don’t tell me that you are a real woman. You have no idea how to be one.

“He’s unfit not only to be POTUS, but, as Amy (ed note: Amy Schumer) said, to be a human being as well.”

So, words are important … but they can also hurt. When you use flamboyant, guttural language, are you helping or hurting your cause?


Observer: An Apology From Bruce Springsteen… (is this style, or is it fake news?)

Posted April 11, 2017 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Too Snarky   3 comments

It happened again.

One of my Facebook friends made a snarky comment about a political process, and their friends piled on with even more snarky comments. Aggressive, spiteful words were used, like “hate,” “cruel” and “horrid.” What prompted the ire? A misstatement of what happened in DC today (they took facts and skewed them due to their personal beliefs). They took that misstatement and used it to justify an outpouring of snark.

So, I removed the friend from my Facebook feed. I’m doing my best to be on a snark-free diet.

What caused this tirade? It doesn’t matter. In this bifurcated political system, both sides think they can say ANYTHING about the other side, because the other side is (insert hurtful words here). Many people think that they MUST say hurtful things about the other side, because to do otherwise would be accepting the other position.

They are wrong.

I don’t care what side you’re on; we’re all in this together. Calling the other side (insert hurtful words here) will not help anyone, nor will it help the country find common ground on the very important issues we are confronted with today.

What would you rather do … build bridges, or burn it all down?


The Use And Abuse Of Facebook

I’m Exhausted

Posted March 31, 2017 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Squashplosion!   Leave a comment

More How To Cook Spaghetti Squash How To Cook Spaghetti Squash 19 Super Spaghetti Squash Recipes

Posted March 16, 2017 by henrymowry in Living Life

2016: It’s A Wonderful Year   2 comments

The year began with an intense need: the dust had to go. As production had ramped up in the garage woodshop, the sawdust was now a real problem. In the air. On me. Importantly, in the house. We either had to embrace a more, uh, rustic lifestyle, or we needed to fix it.

So we did.

The biggest tool upgrade I’ve ever done was the result. We installed a new dust collection system to help corral the by-product of all of the cutting boards that I was creating. That story became the most read blog post of the year … and was, more importantly, a very real upgrade in our living conditions. I was no longer breathing as much dust, and Velda was no longer having to remove as much dust from our home every single day. Thankfully, I had help from the Building Inspector & the Engineer. See the pictures and read the story, here and here.

30-mbosWith the equipment in place, I got busy in the shop. I began to make Magic Bottle Openers in earnest, and they proved to be the runaway best-selling product for me in 2016: I sold over 200 of them! It seems that many people know a beer drinker that needs a little magic in their life.

Booth 4 - SoapsWhile I was making magic in the shop, the Lady was busy with her own new idea. This was the year of soap.

Making soap is science. Caustic chemicals are involved, and exothermic reactions result. Velda became obsessed with soap early this year, and started stockpiling. That’s good, as when she makes her cold process soap, it has to sit on the shelf for 4 – 6 weeks to cure before it can be sold. That necessitated a soap drying rack in addition to the 6 molds (and counting) that I have made her.

The results speak for themselves!

All of our machinations in the Mrs M world were just a side show for this year’s main event: the arrival of Camdyn Grace on April 1. Payton got her little sister!

Christopher Mowry Family

Alley holding Camdyn, Christopher & Payton

Velda got to spend some quality time as Grandmother with both granddaughters before returning to our out-of-control hobby, AKA Mrs M’s Handmade. Mrs M # 2 got a pass for this year, as she needed to attend to Camdyn. Velda & I hit the spring events with gusto, using her new purpose-built display to incorporate the introduction of soap. The business bought a trailer to haul the goods, and we ended up doing 10 events in the second quarter. Results far exceeded our expectations. And, as much as we enjoy doing Mrs M’s, it was great to relax a bit through the summer.

And by relaxing, I mean we made more product.

Mowry, Payton, Jul 2016, rocking chairWe finally got to keep an important appointment in July, and got photographs made of Payton sitting in our family’s little rocking chair – a chair first purchased by Payton’s Great Great Great Grandmother Boring as a Christmas present 121 years ago today. That story was told here, A Family Heirloom.

There were no big work changes in the family this year. Christopher continues helping to manage Castaic Lake & Pyramid Lake for the LA County Parks & Rec department. He supervises cashiers, boat inspectors, and a vast recreation area. Following Camdyn’s birth, Alley returned to her job with the city of Palmdale processing building permits & such.

Brianna is in her 3rd year of teaching at Sierra Vista Junior High. She now has 2 choir classes (!) as well as English classes. She eagerly anticipates completing her Masters in Education in 2017, and being done with life as a student … at least for a while! Michael continues with Crane Aerospace & Electronics and continues to marvel at how truly large bureaucracies function.

Lauren is now the assistant manager at Sunshine Daycare, and continues to work closely with the kindergartners there. She loves the kids … here’s a story she shared just a few days ago:

Today I was asked if Santa was real by a first grade boy. In response, I asked him if he believed. He said yes, but that another boy doesn’t. I told him that some people believe and some people don’t and just because some people don’t, that doesn’t mean Santa isn’t real. If he believes, that’s all that matters. Then, I asked the boy who I was told doesn’t believe why he doesn’t believe. He looked at me stumped and explained that he just has no idea how Santa could possibly get to all the kids in one night. Before I could even speak, another boy butted in with “THATS WHAT CHRISTMAS MAGIC IS, ITS REAL!!”

I love working with kids.


Eric continues to manage the family business and decorate his house with Lauren’s help. Their latest addition is a new kitten, named Pivo – which means beer in Slovak – that they brought home just yesterday.

Velda has now been with Kaiser for 15 years, but has transitioned away from her nursing home responsibilities into more of a community-based primary care role. She runs clinics at several area assisted living facilities, and has more than 150 patients that she provides care for in their homes. Is she busy? You bet. She often explains to Mrs. M’s customers the reason she makes soap and lotions: “I have yet to give someone lotion and make them cry!” Not so in her “real job,” where many need to be led through their aging or end of life crisis, and tears are common.

I continue with Smarts Broadcast Systems as Director of Marketing; I’ve now been there 5 years. One of my favorite things to do with them is interview broadcasters; those interviews publish in the Small Market Radio Newsletter as well as on our website. You can read those interviews, here.

Today, we are blessed to be with all of our kids at Christopher & Alley’s house. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. May the holiday spirit stay with you throughout a wonderful 2017!


2015: It’s A Wonderful Year

2014: It’s A Wonderful Year

2013: It’s A Wonderful Year

2012: It’s A Wonderful Year

Posted December 25, 2016 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Do All Lives Matter?   5 comments

Here I am, 7 months old. 1957. Deal with it.

Here I am, 7 months old. 1957. Deal with it.

Here’s the thing. I don’t really want to write a political blog, but today, I have to. If you want to tune out, then, please, go. No problem. Come back tomorrow and there will be pretty pictures of sunsets. Or animals. Or something.

Today, though, is my birthday. It’s my day. All day. And since this is my blog, every day, today I’m going to write about what I must. Please don’t mistake my typically light-hearted approach for a lack of caring about this serious and potentially explosive issue.

Today, I’m writing about things I’m not supposed to have an opinion on.

Today, I’m writing about Black Lives vs. Blue Lives vs. All Lives.

You see, I’m not black, so according to many I’m not supposed to have an opinion on black issues. It’s like the woman thing: I’m not one, so many believe that I should have no opinion on things that I can’t experience, such as pregnancy, or child-birth, or hormones.

Those perspectives have some validity. Some. Further, I’ve never experienced “driving while black,” so how can I know what it’s like to be truly afraid when being pulled over by a cop? Media reports would have me believe that too many cops just want to kill people of color.

If you believe the media, that is.

And, if you believe the media, Black Lives Matter has an important message that needs to get out. At this point, though, it’s very much at issue whether that message is helping us, or hurting us, as a society.

Here’s one thing that’s wrong with Black Lives Matter. The Movement, if I can call it that, feels that they have the right to say what they want whenever they want. They want to be rude and condescending if it suits their personal goals. They’ve interrupted public gatherings. They’ve blocked traffic on freeways. They’ve done all manner of things simply because they want to get attention for their cause. The Movement feels that they deserve more attention, because they aren’t getting enough consideration.

They want me to believe that Black Lives Matter … and I do. I did. My beliefs had nothing to do with a demonstration on I-70.

And I don’t know about you … but I’m certain that I learned that being rude is NEVER a way to get people to help you. At this point, it’s hard to care what BLM is concerned with when all I hear from them is racist screaming.

There’s another problem: the Movement has now been usurped by evil doers, like the sniper in Dallas. He used a BLM protest to target and kill policemen … and far too many people in the Movement act as if they are happy with that. OK with that. Not responsible for that.

They act like they’re getting attention now, so that’s a good thing. No matter what caused that attention to happen, and no matter what pain has resulted.

That, simply, shows a callous disregard for human suffering. That is unacceptable.

It’s not OK for black lives to be treated as having less than full value … but it’s also not OK for that tragedy to be used to justify the suffering of others. Yes, we have social issues that continue to need to be addressed. Political issues that need to be addressed. But harming more humans, other humans is not the answer. More deaths will not help any of us.

I don’t see the world in black & white. The world is much more nuanced than that … as Trevor Noah recently explained on The Daily Show (full video link is below):

Daily Show - Lives Matter

I am pro-human. I am pro-American.

I am anti-hate. Anti-discrimination. Anti-rudeness.

Those that seek to divide us are wrong.

We are human, and we all fall short of the glory of God. We humans make mistakes, every day. We must endeavor to end them, however, and strive to be fair to all of our fellow humans. OF COURSE our police should be fair to all. OF COURSE our citizens should be treated fairly and given every opportunity our freedom allows.

The Black Live Matters movement is a problem. They seem to believe that if they scream at people who are not their enemy, then they will achieve their goal. They seem to believe that everyone must embrace everything they say, yet they need not be responsible for how they are communicating their message of separateness and hate.

While BLM protestors were marching in Minnesota – just hours after the shooting in Dallas – they were chanting “Pigs in a blanket, fry’em like bacon.” That incredibly insensitive, ill-timed message of hate has no place in our society.

Police should protect and serve all of us. However, it’s foolish to think that they do not need to be concerned with their safety while dealing with the great unwashed public of all colors … which includes evil doers. And unthinking drunks. And emotionally unstable criminals. And hallucinating drug users. And rude people who don’t think they need to obey instructions from anyone, including legitimate authority figures such as our police.

My nephew is a police officer, and he had an occasion for some community policing this week with a young black man who wants to be a police officer someday:

Paul Anderson, being a good cop on July 13, had these words, "I made a new friend today! He said he wants me to be a police officer when he grows up, so of course he got an Honorary Police Badge! He was so happy! "We may not mean something to everyone in the whole world, but some days we can mean the whole world to one person."

Paul Anderson, having an opportunity to do some great community outreach on July 13, had this comment: “I made a new friend today! He said he wants to be a police officer when he grows up, so of course he got an Honorary Police Badge! He was so happy!
We may not mean something to everyone in the whole world, but some days we can mean the whole world to one person.”

I trust Paul is a more accurate representative of our society than those hateful protestors in Minnesota. I believe he best represents us – Black. Blue. All of us.

End of political statements. You’re entitled to your opinion, too, so please feel free to send me your thoughts.

On your birthday.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the links below that offer a full spectrum of opinion on this issue.


3 Boys 1 Blog & Me: When Suddenly No Lives Matter

Victor Davis Hanson’s Private Papers: Fundamentally Transformed The Next Time Someone Says “All Lives Matter” Show Them These 5 Paragraphs

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

How Do You Feel?   Leave a comment

Looking up:

Looking back:


Soap: At Long Last   3 comments

Mrs M's Handmade LogoVelda is obsessed.

I’ve thought that for some time now … oh wait, I meant possessed.

But in this case, she is definitely obsessed with the making of soap. She’s mastered the lotions, balms & scrubs that Mrs M has now been selling for a couple of years (!), and soap is the latest challenge accepted.

She’s spent months researching ingredients. Trolling user forums. Buying protective equipment. And, she’s actually been making soap – which truly looks like a science experiment, complete with goggles, rubber gloves & caustic chemical reactions.

And she’s doing it all in the name of cleanliness.

She’s discovered a lot: believe me, I know. I’ve been hearing about it over breakfast & dinner for months now. No complaints – the more she talks about soap, the less she talks about the body fluids & such that she encounters in her real “job.”

So I’m a fan of soap discussions.

As she learned & improved, she’s upped her game considerably. She’s grown from making soap in a small silicon mold to ordering 3x custom, large molds and a 500 bar Soap Drying Rack from me. I’ve convinced demanded that she buy quality software and a custom soap slicer (a 12″ mandolin that cuts 1″ bars 12 at a time – and beautifully) so that her soaps will be as good as they can be.

She went one step further and bought a shaver & a steamer so she can manicure each bar. I drew the line there, but once she’s possessed obsessed, there’s little to do but get out of her way.

So sayeth the wisdom earned over the 38 years of our marriage. I’ve endured loved every minute.

(ed note: I love Friday the 13th, and today is “our day.” Happy Anniversary, Velda!)

There. Taken care of for another year.

The webmaster (me) has finally gotten some screen time, so the soaps are now up and for sale on Mrs M’s website. Please visit

Finally, a part of this product introduction has been my researching what it will take for us to up our game with product photography – I just haven’t been happy with the inconsistency of my shots of the boards you’ve been seeing lately. We bought a photo array just for product shots (amazingly inexpensive, by the way!), and here are the soap shots from our first session:




Posted May 13, 2016 by henrymowry in Living Life

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