Monday, June 23, 2014

What Should I Go See?

     Friends, I am making two journeys to Europe
in the next year. One trip will include Germany,
Holland, Belgium and Denmark. The other trip
will include Italy, Switzerland and France.

     For those of you living in Europe and those 
of you who know Europe like the back of your 
hand,  what are the "must see" places - full 
sized or miniature - that you would recommend 
I go and see?
     The last thing I want to do is to get home and
then discover that I was only X miles away from
some amazing place and didn't even know it
existed! I truly appreciate your input on this!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Why I Have Been Away So Long

   It's been a long time since I last posted to this blog, and for those of you who have followed my blog, I apologize for my disappearance from the blogosphere. About this time last year, my wife of 42 years began to have some serious health problems.
   We discovered far too late that what we thought was congestive heart failure turned out to be multiple myeloma and a relatively rare condition called amyloidosis. She passed away from heart complications caused by the amyloidosis on December 12, 2013.
   Pam was a wonderful person. Extremely well-read. Caring. Dedicated mom and gifted teacher. Our daughters thought of her as a "helicopter mom" - rescuing the girls whenever they needed help. (She commuted to Des Moines for about the first 8 months of our grandson's life, helping to care for him while our daughter worked on getting her master's degree from Iowa State.)
   Her students knew her as "the teacher who always smiled." She was also very bright and knew how to challenge the smartest of her students and how to help those who were struggling. Parents loved her and often requested that she be their child's teacher. She loved almost all of her students and loved giving and receiving hugs from her second graders and former second graders.
   Life for me has not been the same since losing my best friend, my advisor and spiritual guide, and an irrepressible presence in my home and my life. She was the person who got me interested in doing dollhouse miniatures, and was always supportive of my involvement in this pastime.

Planning the Project- It's the Little Details That'll Get Ya!

 You might think that a miniature project is pretty straight-forward. Come up with the idea, visualize what you think it will look like, and then plunge into the work to make it!

  The problem for me is, when I go about a project in that way, it's so easy to put the wallpaper on the walls before I remember, "Oh yeah. I needed to wire that wall for electricity first..." or I installed all of the walls to the dollhouse before I remembered I was going to cut a new doorway to the hall. Oops.
 It's the little details like this that really set a project back. If it's a big enough mistake, it's easy to throw my hands in the air and walk away from the project for days, weeks, or maybe even years.
That's why I try to write up instructions for my project as if I were creating a new kit. It's so easy to get caught up in the moment of creative excitement only to realize that I have just put the proverbial cart before the horse.

   Miniature club members were chuckling at my latest project when they saw I had jotted notes to myself on the frame of the house (an area that will eventually be hidden by the finishing materials. Several times I've looked at the project and thought, I need to finish the other side of the roof! And just as I approach the project, I look down to see four different notes. Then I realize I don't dare finish the roof until I have gotten my club members to this stage with their houses!

  An example of all this is my latest project, which is dry-walling, then wainscoting my son-in-law's new office. (Not in miniature - in real life!) He works from home, and I promised him I'd install wainscoting and cabinets in his office. I got the cabinets all installed only to realize that the floor in his office (a basement room) slopes almost 1 1/2" in the 7' of length of the cabinets. Sadly, I got the cabinets all installed when I realized this problem. Long story short, I had to do some re-engineering and a little demolition work to get the cabinets leveled.

    Prior to that problem (which I had not adequately incorporated into my plans), I had written out detailed, step-by-step instructions so that I wouldn't forget to take care of key details as the work progressed.
    All in all, in spite of my set-back with the construction, the walls and cabinets are turned out pretty well, I think. Don't you?
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