Wednesday, February 27, 2019

"Look out Sox. Here she comes!"

 For many years we had an outdoor cat named Sox.  She would often paw at the backdoor wanting food, or in, or both.  But, she was an outdoor cat and our backyard was her domain.  Until . . .

Over seventeen and a half years ago the girls got a puppy.  In fact, they helped bring her into the world. Suzanne even had to swing the runt of the litter around to get her to breathe.  Suzanne held her for Uli as she took her first breath.  Our older daughter named her Uli: "All-Powerful" in German -- or something like that.  At the time, I believed that it was an oxymoron for this tiny little fluffball; however, it turned out to be prolific.

So, for years, we'd warned Sox by yelling, "Look out Sox.  Here she comes!"  Then open the door.  Uli would leap out and off the deck and bark incessantly at Sox -- who, at this time, had climbed to higher ground.  After barking herself out, Uli would wander her domain until it was time to settle under a tree and meditate like a Buddhist Monk.

When Sox died several years ago at the age of nineteen, we buried her in the backyard.  For weeks, poor Uli seemed lost.  Eventually, I guess, she came to the realization that Sox was gone.

Uli is an Ocherese. According to one website:  Circa 1970, Janet Dilger, a Pekingese breeder located in Southern Indiana, had become increasingly concerned by birth defects she was discovering in her newborn puppies and decided to take action. Her goal was to produce a small, calm, healthy animal, with long hair that did not shed. To achieve this end she crossed her show Pekingese with a small Toy Poodle, then the resulting female Pekapoos with a male Maltese. The puppies from this mating were described by Dilger as ‘nothing short of marvelous, so she decided to continue with these as the foundation stock of a new breed, which she christened the Ocherese.   It's common for Ocherese to see their 11th, 12th, and even 13th birthdays.

Uli blew past those years ago.

Sadly . . .

It became painfully apparent over the past several hours that Uli the All-Powerful was finally succumbing to time. As I looked into her eyes, I believed that she was wanting to stay with us, but she realized that it was ready to leave us. Her tiny body was giving out and we all knew that the humane thing to do was put Uli to sleep. 

Highland Veterinary -- we've been going there for 35 years starting with our first cat right after Suzanne and I were married -- were wonderful.  Within minutes our poor girl was asleep, then passed peacefully. Suzanne held Uli as she took her last breath.

We took Uli home to the backyard to be buried.

For the last time, I opened the backdoor and yelled, "Look out Sox. Here Uli comes!"

Uli's last "Photo With Santa" Photo

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, February 25, 2019

Scroll Saws and Art

Scroll Saw:  A tool used to cut out intricate designs in, among other things, wood.
Art:  "Art is what it is to be Human." -- Seth Godin

Combine the two and you have:
The other night a co-worker and friend surprised me with this Jethro Tull / Ian Anderson logo cut out of wood (the photograph doesn't do it justice).  The darker areas are actually cut out of the lighter wood (the darker being a stained back piece).  The closer you look at it, the more you realize the finest details.  The flute, little finger, hair, letters, etc. 

Scroll saw work requires vision, design, attention to detail, patience, and so much more.  Believe me, I know.  I've successfully learned that I don't always have enough of the positive attributes to enjoy it.  Thankfully, Dave T. does  He's created a beautiful collection of pieces since he started his hobby. 

But art isn't just a result; it's a journey.  The challenge is to find a journey worthy of our hearts and souls.  Dave is proof that the world is full of ordinary people doing extraordinary art.  Making them extraordinary in my book.

Thanks again, Dave.  I'll cherish it always.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Earliest Memory

 I started an interesting book at 4:30 a.m. this morning -- actually, an interesting journey --  titled Writing from Within, by Bernard Selling.  It's a personal approach to writing that helps find your authentic writing voice, deal with your inner "critic," and recall childhood events and other important life experiences.

Phase One, in which Doris gets her oats! (Oops, different book.)

Actually, Exercise One is:  Finding Your Earliest Memories.

The first of three writing phases is Composing.  Start writing.  Don't critique.  Just plunge on.  Don't stop.  Here is my first draft:

"Shhhh!  Grandpa is sleeping!"

At just a little over 2 and a half years old, I was too young to know the difference between sleeping and dying.

I remember wanting to run around the bed and wake Grandpa Kuhn up.  Granny Kuhn, my Mom, and my Dad (I don't remember other adults in the shotgun house, but it's likely that there would have been adults coming and going) kept telling me to be please be quiet.

My next memory is being in a very strange room with odd lighting and overpowering floral smell.  I remember my Dad seemed different.  Sad.  He wanted me to sit still; I wanted to jump from the black block tiles to the white block tiles on the floor in front of where Grandpa was now sleeping.

I was too young to know the difference between sleeping and death.

- - -
My Grandpa Kuhn died on March 9th, 1963.  I turned three in late April.
Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Iridium Flares

 Over the years I've gone out in search of man-made shooting stars.  Thanks to the internet, it's possible to procure a chart that actually shows exactly when and where these are going to happen.  How is that possible?  Because many of those man-made shooting stars are actually flares from communications satellites put into orbit by the Iridium SSC company. Beginning in 1997, the company launched into orbit around Earth some 66 telecommunications satellites, which were known to flare briefly in the night sky as their solar panels caught the sun’s rays.
Sad news for amateur astronomers:  Although there are still a few of the original 66 satellites up there – Iridium flares are destined to become a thing of the past. The original 66 satellites have been phased out, and the second generation of satellites – called Iridium NEXT which doesn't produce the flares – is nearly entirely in place.

So, that got me thinking about our "flash of time" here on earth.  Came up with this poem (or perhaps a song one day thanks to my friend Curt who has worked his brilliance on creating some chords for it). 

Go outside and observe the sky
Count the stars flowing by
Then focus on the one that’s true
The star inside of you

Looking outward is a dream
Riding on a moonbeam
Look inward to the signs
Then let your gifts shine

'Cause our dreams can soar so far
Like a man-made shooting star
Our time here is so rare
Flashes of brilliance like Iridium Flares
Flashes of brilliance like Iridium Flares

Take all the love that is in your heart
Light your world like a shooting star
So, live your life, if you dare
With flashes of brilliance like Iridium Flares
Flashes of brilliance like Iridium Flares

It's a work in progress.  But, to paraphrase John Prine (see yesterday's blog):  Dare to have a lot of crazy ideas.  One of them is sure to be a flash of brilliance, like an Iridium Flare.

Have a great week.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, February 18, 2019

Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down... and won.

This past weekend, I stumbled on a John Prine Interview (I guess you'd have to classify his as "country folk" artist).  

In 1971 Prine's self-titled debut album was released.  I'd forgotten how great this album is.  He and friend Steve Goodman had each been active in the Chicago folk scene before being "discovered" by Kris Kristofferson (Kristofferson remarked that Prine wrote songs so good that "we'll have to break his thumbs").  The album included his signature songs "Illegal Smile," "Sam Stone," "Angel from Montgomery," "Paradise (where is mother was from)," "Hello In There," and "Far From Me", about lost love for a waitress that Prine later said was his favorite of all his songs. 

Here are a few gems I mined from the interview (and from a few other sources and lyrics):

I guess if you keep making the same mistake long enough, it becomes your style.

Bewildered, bewildered, you have no complaint. You are what you are, and you ain't what you ain't.

The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go out and do the best you can.

Writing is about a blank piece of paper and leaving out what’s not supposed to be there.

If heartaches was commercials, we'd all be on TV.

Now Jesus, he don't like killing, no matter what the reason is for, and your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore.

I just tried to come up with some honest songs. What I was writing about was real plain stuff that I wasn't sure was going to be interesting to other people. But I guess it was...I've never had any discipline whatsoever. I just wait on a song like I was waiting for lightning to strike. And eventually-usually sometime around 3 in the morning-I'll have a good idea. By the time the sun comes up, hopefully, I'll have a decent song.

I guess what I always found funny was the human condition. There is a certain comedy and pathos to trouble and accidents. Like, when a driver has parked his car crookedly and then wonders why he has the bad luck of being hit.

I'm fascinated by's so odd.

I edit as I go. Especially when I go to commit it to paper. I prefer a typewriter even to a computer. I don't like it. There's no noise on the computer. I like a typewriter because I am such a slow typist. I edit as I am committing it to paper. I like to see the words before me and I go, "Yeah, that's it." They appear before me and they fit. I don't usually take large parts out. If I get stuck early in a song, I take it as a sign that I might be writing the chorus and don't know it. Sometimes, you gotta step back a little bit and take a look at what you're doing.

The best way to write a song is to think of something else and then the song kind of creeps in. The beginning makes no sense whatsoever. It just, like, rhymes. And then all of a sudden I'll go into, I am an old woman named after my mother.

Write what YOU like. That way, you'll still enjoy playing it 50 years later. 

Have plenty of crazy ideas.  There's bound to be one or two gems in there.

- - -
Have plenty of crazy ideas this week.  Amen!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Friday, February 15, 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

One Step Further . . .

Or, Coming Full Circle.

Over the past couple of days, I've written about hiking, steps, and wood carving.   Yesterday, I decided to take it a step further and combine the three.

                                                         Wood Spirit guarding
                                                  Protecting Wilderness Lake
                                         Steps come full circle

As you can see by the panoramic photo, one of my little Wood Spirits is now overlooking the lake and the steep 71 steps.  It's free for anyone who discovers it and wants it.

I also took the time to carve another one while sitting on a bench.  That one will be gifted somewhere at a later date to guard over those woods.

According to

The legend of the wood spirit dates back to the 15th century in the Black Forest of Germany. People believed the forests and trees were inhabited by mystical spirits, thought to protect the forest and animals from those with evil intent. This was evidenced by the sounds of moaning and sighing among the trees on days when storms were brewing, and the peace and tranquility in the forest on calm days. It was believed that everything majestic and vibrant about a healthy forest was the work of the wood spirit. They were the guardians and protectors of all forest life

Again, my little guy is certainly not fine art, but . . .


Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, February 11, 2019

Steps Continued . . .

The other day I wrote about steps.  71 steep ones, to be exact.

Yesterday, we were blessed with a nice little ice storm (weather channels now call these "events" -- even naming them).   I figured that this "event" would be the perfect time to stay indoors and take some steps.

I've been wanting to try my hand at woodcarving, but have, more times than not, been paralyzed with uncertainty.  Yesterday, I remembered to take the steps.

Choose my goal = In this case, a Spirit Face or Wizard-looking little guy.
Action Plan = Study the steps necessary to go from a block of wood to the finished piece.
Resources = Block of wood, carving knife, and YouTube is always a big help.
Persistence / Perseverance = Take the first cut, then the next, then . . .
Evaluate My Progress = As I whittle along.

Direction = Whittle a little more here, a little deeper there . . .
Improvement = Take notes on how to do it better next time.
Enjoy = Put on some favorite music while I work.
My Responsibility = The Wood Spirit was not going to carve itself!

So, I nursed my plans through one cut/step at a time and came up with this.
Not too bad for a first draft.  It's nothing that I'd share with anyone (damn, I just did), but it's a building block that buoys my faith for next time.

Here's a design using a chip carving technique.  In this case, a series of just two cuts.  Certainly not fine art, but . . .


Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Thursday, February 7, 2019


I took the opportunity the other day -- during a window of no rain -- to slog my way through the Back Country Tail at Audubon Park.

The way I went goes for a couple of miles up and down the trail until you reach Wilderness Lake.  Then . . .

71 steep steps to climb!

The vision must be followed by the venture.
It is not enough to stare up the steps -
we must step up the stairs.
- Vance Havner

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Notes from State of the Union

  • Congratulating Congress on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs. 
  • The people of the United States should stand behind government and enjoy the concord, peace, and plenty of the nation’s good fortune.
  • Argued in favor of securing the common defense; preparedness for war to be one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
  • The president charged Congress with creating a competent fund designated for defraying the expenses incident to the conduct, among other things, our foreign affairs and uniform rules of naturalization.
  • He desired money for and some measure of control over Agriculture, Commerce, and Manufactures as well as Science, Literature, Public Education, which is justified as a means to secure the Constitution.  Also, educating future public servants in the republican principles of representative government.
To summarize:
Good fortune
Securing our common defense.
Foreign affairs.
Rules of naturalization
Public education.
Educating future public servants in the republican (small "r") principles of representative government.

State of the Union
Delivered January 8, 1790, by President George Washington to the assembled Congress in New York City.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A tasty blog to start your day . . .

This year's Super Bowl and its halftime "extravaganza" has been described in a lot of ways.  My favorite from one review:  "Empty.  Boring.  Basic. Sleepy. Skippable.  Unfulfilling.  Unnecessary."

Chew on that!

Or, chew on this.  My Super Bowl breakfast this morning:  Hearty.  Zestful. Healthy. Quick. Tasty. Fulfilling.  Sure, unnecessary.  But, more satisfying than a Maroon 5 mind-numbing show.

I present my Cheesy Avocado Baked Egg (475 degrees for 20 minutes).

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn 

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Road Less Traveled

10 degrees is cold enough stay indoors and not get out to take any roads -- much less the roads less traveled.

Great advice that I didn't take.

Yesterday, my favorite home-made "twisty" walking staff and I headed out to a road less traveled; to "open myself up to the scripture of the landscape"  (see yesterday's post).

It was the perfect day to be fearless -- though sufficiently bundled.

"Have the courage to take risks. Go where there are no guarantees. Get out of your comfort zone even if it means being uncomfortable (i.e. cold hands). The road less traveled is sometimes fraught with barricades bumps and uncharted terrain. But it is on that road where your character is truly tested And have the courage to accept that you’re not perfect nothing is and no one is — and that’s OK.”  -- Katie Couric

Have a great weekend.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn