Better is….

Got together yesterday with a few friends to catch up and talk about life.

Lots of coffee….lots of laughs…

Wife made a no-bake, blueberry cream cheese pie.

Wish you were here.  🙂


Here are a couple of things that I shared…

A week ago, I stumbled across some  words written by an old fool at the end of his life:

“Better is a handful with quietness than two fists full and trouble with it.”

I’ve said something similar myself, probably started saying it about the time we started having children. 🙂

I would say:  “Peace and quiet is entirely under-rated.” 

Second quote (by the same guy) I have been chewing on:

Remember: The duller the ax the harder the work…”

We heated with wood growing up. On those rare times when I picked up an ax instead of a chainsaw, I quickly realized a dull ax was worthless….

I was watching a class online  recently on how to build a timber-framed structure.  The first  thing  covered  was tool care, and keeping your chisel sharp, both literally and  figuratively.

Wow.  That was deep.  I’ve been thinking about what that means ever since.

(ie. how to keep my life “sharp”.)

I am a carpenter and nobody has ever taught me how to sharpen a chisel.   Ever.

In all fairness to me,  with the kind of work I do, (framing, siding, roofing, concrete)  I don’t use chisels all that often, but on those rare occasions when I need one, i usually end up buying a new one.

So I’ve  been on a mission the past week to learn how to sharpen my chisels.


A friend of ours  recently updated us about  her son. Son  lives on the east coast.   Both he and his wife have great paying stress filled jobs.  Just had a new baby, (that makes 3)  Son recently decided to go back to school to finish his degree, (while still working full-time.)   Made me stressed just hearing about their lives..  I know her son just a little.  Good guy.  I like him.


Dad is 86.  Didn’t stop farming until just 2 years ago.  Worked full-time as a general contractor into his late 70’s. One of his few regrets was working too much while the kids (myself included) were growing up.  We never saw him except on weekends. Then my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer in her mid 40’s.  I had moved out of the house and gotten married by this time. There was definitely a shift in  dad’s priorities after that.  He started taking each of us kids out on our birthday’s for breakfast.


It’s all about balance.  Finding the balance between work, money, bills, wants, desires, relationships, life…

In my late 20’s as I was chasing my own mechanical rabbits around the track, I came across two quotes that stopped me dead in my tracks…“If you make it to the top of the company ladder, but loose your family in the process, you are a fool.”  and , “If you are a hero to others, yet strangers to your own children, you are a fool.” 

I’ve written about that season elsewhere on the blog so I won‘t repeat it right now.


The fifteen or so of you that regularly interact with me here are in a very real sense my on-line family.  I appreciate each and every one of you!  If you’re a somewhat regular reader that has never made a peep, I would love to hear from you..even if you just say, “I’m here.” 🙂

Anyway, this is what has been on my mind the past week.

How about you?

Take care. DM

33 thoughts on “Better is….

  1. So agree with you about balance. Lovely to have all mod cons, be the first with the latest gadgets, and the family want for nothing…………. except maybe your time and presence more than at the dinner table. Happened to someone I know, and he lost his family. Has since remarried to not a nice person with two brats spoilt rotten. What she says goes. He sold the house he loved because she wanted to move to be closer to her grandchildren. He doesn’t keep in touch with old friends now because she won’t let him.
    As for sharpening chisels, speak to Hubby! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Doug.
    There is nothing worse than a cut from a blunt knife, axe, or chisel.
    As for working wood?
    It was my dad who taught me how to sharpen all them.
    Chainsaw blades.and saws was down to me and possibly the most boring of jobs.
    But nowadays it’s simple economics.
    All the above can cost lots to replace, if you like good tools, while a flat whetstone and fine toothed file very little.
    That and it’s VERY therapeutic and relaxing in an ‘old world’ sort of way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t wait to get started. My grandpa sharpened chainsaws and saw blades until he was well into his 80’s…I never had the interest nor curiosity to learn (until now). you’ve probably mentioned this before..but what was your dad’s background work wise? Did you get your aptitude for electricity/ and fixing things from him?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chuckle, hardly.
        His life was spent in uniform from boy to old man. BUT he was fond of the old ways and once a civilian his workshop was my envy. Very few power tools.

        As for technical or mechanical?
        Na. He had me to do that.
        Yet he would be there sharpening whatever, in his man cave, and making beautiful things out of wood, and loving wildlife.

        As for me, I learn by osmosis. Those I work with get sucked dry of their skill set.
        That and a mindset of “I can do that”.

        He also never gave up, that I did learn from him.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My mind in general wanders between the immediate necessities intermixed with thoughts on long-term needs. Seems lately it’s been more toward the longer term stuff. I’m a planner Doug, and I suppose that I’m feeling the need to have a nice tidy plan for my coming years. I also suppose that concept needs some rethinking given the decisions and changes I have come to in this past year. I agree with your take on balance. I don’t want to sit in a corner and twiddle my thumbs, but at the same time I’m tired-mostly physically with this arthritis, but sometimes just mentally tired as well. I’m puzzling through how that balance will look with all the changes that I’ve created.
    And that pie you mention…sounds yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have had huge changes in your life the past year or so….I give you lots and lots of kudos. That tired feeling comes with the territory of our respective age me thinketh. Where has that darn arthritis been bothering you don’t mind me asking? (Was it in your hands?) You would love the pie. It is so light and fluffy, I think I had 3 pieces before it was gone. Not good 😦


      • 3 pieces!! Better slow down a bit on those sweets 😉
        Arthritis…hate it! It seems, as the years have passed that it is settling in most joints. Neck, hand/wrists are the worst mostly, but the knees and ankles complain a lot and I usually wake up with one or both hips aching in the mornings cause I don’t move a lot when I sleep and they get stiff.


        • Dang. Are there options to get relief? Guessing just drugs with nasty side effects? 😦 Regarding that last piece of pie….I knew even when I pulled it out of the frig, I was being stupid…at least now there is none around to tempt me…

          Liked by 2 people

          • I do Advil if things get really bad, and have had prescription anti-inflammatory meds that do nothing. Mostly I just try to remind myself to stay clear of doing anything that really sets off the pain, but I don’t always like how that puts limits on activity 😉


            • I used to have terrible achy joints that would “announce” themselves going up and down stairs (knees) or throb at night (elbows).
              I cut out all grains (inflammatory) and within 5 days the pain was gone. It’s never come back. If you’re in that kind of pain you might consider giving it a go — 🙂 MJ

              Liked by 1 person

              • Thanks so much! I have actually done quite a bit of exploration with foods, eliminating and testing then adding small amounts back in and found dairy to be more inflammatory than grains. At this point, after 15-20 years of gradually worsening joint issues connected with my previous career, and my own inability to stop overdoing activities that don’t exactly help my joints, I have found somewhat of a balance. Some days are just worse than others 🙂


  4. I’ve always said (and it’s not my quote) ‘nobody ever lay on their death bed and said ‘I wish I would have worked more’’. This always sticks in the forefront of my mind….both my mom and my dad were still working when I lost them (both past retirement age). Always with the idea that ‘one day’ they would relax, have time to do other things they’d always left on the back burner. I’m working towards a better balance…..I imagine we all are.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And, also, even though some of the things you (and I) do may be “work” in some peoples lives, if I love what I’m doing.. ie. tending bees, gardening, etc. then I don’t put it in the “work” category. For me it’s a form of mental health therapy. I’m still tending about 80 apple trees and I love doing doesn’t “feel” like work. Occasionally when I’m under the gun and need to pick 20 trees of a certain variety, it can start to get a little tedious, but that’s not the same for me as slaving behind some soul killing bagging machine, for $14 an hour. I was just telling my wife today @ lunch about your heating and cooking with wood…right? I know you heat with wood..but that’s also how you cook? I don’t have a clue when it comes to that life skill.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 😊 yes we cook with wood as well…..have a rather large Amish type cookstove that also heats the house until about 30C below – at which time we light the wood heater and let the cook stove go out. We cook on top of the wood heater when that happens….nothing fancy but works well enough for us.
        Good point about not considering things we enjoy doing ‘work’. I hadn’t given that much thought, but yes – tending bees, putting up a years worth of food from the farm…..I think the sense of accomplishment negates the occasional exhaustion when things get hectic.


    • Funny you mentioned a honing guide 🙂 I debated…after hearing that a honing guide is helpful, especially, with smaller width chisels, I did invest in one..Can’t remember the brand, but it had good reviews, I don’t think it is as nice as the one you mentioned however. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Jon. DM

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was stressed reading about the young couple w/s stressful jobs, new baby and going back to school! No thanks

    Definitely have looked back and wished for more time at home with our boys when they were little instead of rushing off to work, their sports, Church etc. They don’t seem to have complaints but I do — some of those moments, when I look back at photos from Christmases past, I’d love to do over again. I’ve learned that lesson and now I drink in moments with the grand kids ~ magic!

    I regularly try to sharpen my saw but also strive to set it down, too.



  6. Great thoughts DM. IIn my coaching work, and in life, I encounter so many people who spend too much time and energy chasing things – material things, keeping up appearances, money, trying live up to impossible standards….and are utterly miserable.

    Time is so valuable to me. And I might live a simple life, but it is full of joy and contentment. Not the joy of exotic vacations, but the joy of being present for the small, everyday miracles all around us (if we are mindful enough to notice.) I wish more people could give themselves permission to live a simple, joyful life. In my mind, contentment is highly underrated in our present culture.

    Warm wishes to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I always look forward to read a new post of yours. I enjoy your honesty and whatever you write always makes me think. I’m lucky enough to be able to have just gone down to 2 days per week work after many years of a high pressure job. The “deathbed regret” comment is so true. I’m enjoying making all sorts of new memories and having more time for family and friends.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good morning Carolyn, Thank you for your words of affirmation. Glad you have been able to step back from a lot of the pressure of your work. That sort of stuff can suck the life right out of a person. DM


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