Of Pallets and DIY Projects

Wooden Pallets.

I have of late become interested in using discarded packing pallets – those ubiquitous wooden piles you see behind most every store – to build things.

I’ve seen a fair share of ideas online and have pallets for the taking – as we all do.

Two projects have wandered in for now.

The first will be to turn a very clean, nice pallet that I found on the farm into a coffee table of sorts for our back patio.

Our future table for the back patio.
Our future table for the back patio.

The second stack of pallets is set aside to become the future home of a small rabbit, a pet for the kids.  I had a rabbit when I was young and now they want one too.

I think I have enough wood in the three pallets to build a good sized hutch for the four footed future family pet.

We’ve done some research, looked at what others have built online and have a fairly good idea of what we want to build.

Malachi insists on a living roof so I think we will grow alfalfa up on top, an easy snack for a hungry hare.

I’ll post more pictures as the projects come together.  Right now we are deconstructing the pallets, probably the most difficult job, but not nearly as difficult as some would make out.

All in all it has been a fun project to work on with my son.  And that makes it worth it no matter what the end result looks like.

Next up, a home office.   image credit

Things I Love

I was going back through some old writing from my first year in Turkey and came across this.  Enjoy.

Reflecting last evening in the full moon brightness of our small balcony, I began to recount in my mind the things that I love. Not like ice cream or apple pie, but the moments in this journey called life that bring fully laden joy to the everyday, those things that make you shudder with delight, make you catch your breath, make you wish like crazy that someone would invent a camera that would capture the emotion along with the action. I thought of a few and perhaps will add more later.


I was putting the kids to bed last night, a raucous event on our house because we have no set routine or schedule other than brushing teeth and putting on pajamas. It sometimes goes quickly, sometimes drags on for over an hour, but is nothing like our baby wise friends whose kids kiss them goodnight and lay quietly in the stillness until sleep overtakes them. No. We get water, we get toys, we read books, we play bank, turn off the light and slow down and try something new. Last night Malachi was the sleepy one and quickly faded into his deep, undisturbable slumber. Sonora, her usual self was a bundle of energy and like most nights, I tried a lot of different approaches before giving up in frustration and pulling in beside her on her twin bed. As she continued her endless babble with her dolls I lay there in the dark pleading with God to make her fall asleep.

God replied, “Don’t you like the daughter I gave you?”

“Well, yes, of course I do. It’s just. . . Well, I have a lot to do.”

God replied, “More important than being with your daughter?”

“Well . . . , no. Not really, but she needs the sleep and, um, um,”

I gave up. I watched her play. I listened to the ways she talked differently to each of her dolls as she practiced mothering them, the way she covered them up and gave them bottles.Then suddenly she was done. She put her dolls down. She picked up her blanky and crawled down to the end of the bed where my head was, plopped her blanky on my shoulder, her head on her blanky and threw her arm across my chest. She snuggled in, drew closer, gave a deep sigh and fell asleep. Just like that. I listened to her breathing for some time, felt her, even in sleep drawing close to me. I sighed, wrapped my arms around her and whispered into the dark of the night, “Thank You.”


Malachi learned to pray from a worm. Its name is Hermie and he is the creation of Max Luccado, but Malachi learned to pray from him. They are frank prayers; clear, direct, open-eyed and said to a God who might be sitting on the edge of the bed next to him listening intently. I hope he always prays like this, especially in church in front of people because it will make everyone uncomfortable. Last fall, we were returning to the farm on a cold star filled November night. Malachi was in his car seat looking out the window. I am not sure what was going on in his head, but he had then recently been asking a lot of questions about God and where he was and such. Anyway, the car was quiet except for the sound of the tires on frozen pavement when Malachi’s voice broke into the silence. He sounded urgent and a little frustrated.

“Hey God. Could you come down a little closer so I can hear you. I can’t hear you way up there.”

That was it. His prayer to God to come near. Now we are in Turkey and Malachi still prays in his frank, Hermie way. Last week his gold fish ‘Fishy’ was sick and had not been doing much besides floating in his coffee cup fish house. I was pretty sure the fish was a goner. Malachi was distraught. So we suggested he pray for the fish. Malachi stepped up to the table and looked into the tank.

“God. Fishy is sick. Can you heal him so he won’t die. Thanks.”

The next morning, Fishy was swimming around his tank looking much healthier than the day before.


Soccer is big here. It is big everywhere in the world outside of the U.S. of course, but last month I came to a new understanding, appreciation and love for the game and what I am learning it represents. Euro Cup 2008 was in June. Turkey competed and put on a strong showing. Fielding a team depleted by injuries, they lost in the semi finals to Germany. We watched every game even though they started at 9:45 pm. It was a great run and amazingly fun to see a nation come alive to cheer for their team. It is a phenomenon we can’t understand in the states. It highlights the collective consciousness that seems to mark this culture in stark contrast to the individualistic culture of the states. During the Euro Cup, 70 million Turks sat together in front of the television, a monolithic mass of frenzied fans all pulling in the same direction on the cosmic gods of soccer. The first goal we scored brought the neighborhood to its feet in shrill delight and loud screaming that carried out their open windows, mixed with their neighbors cheers out in the streets and came in through our open windows. It was loud and startled us and sent us giddily running for the camera, rushing out on our balcony, hoping to video a bit of what no one back home would believe. Every goal for two weeks was like this and sometimes if the goal was near the end of the game and if the victory was imminent, fireworks would burst into the night sky as well. We cheered our team on together. This open windowed sharing of mirth and enthusiasm for the team is reflective of the corporate nature of the culture. I had read about this idea, corporate versus individual, but had never quite grasped its depth. Not that I grasp it now, but I am beginning to understand. When our man Nihat scored in the last-minute to cap a three goal rally in the final fifteen minutes of our game against Czechoslovakia, I jumped to my feet with 70 million Turks, ran to our open window and leaning out, hollered my ecstasy into the streets of our great, corporate, victorious night.


I am in general a pretty laid back guy.  I don’t get too uptight about things and don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the future or analyzing past choices.  I like to just live.

But sometimes, life catches up to you.

Sometimes you have to prepare for an international move.  You have to sell everything you own and pack what’s left into exactly six, fifty pound bags.

You have to sell your car – at the right time of course because there will be a lot of necessary running around in those final days, shutting off utilities, collecting deposits, closing bank accounts.  It’d be nice to have the car for this.  And the kids don’t necessarily want to ride a hot, crowded bus for their last week of school.

You have to live in the transition too.  Saying goodbye.  Looking ahead.  Living in between.

And the name of this blog is also reflects a major source of stress.  I am working to cobble together an income for our return, to get my online ventures off and running so that we don’t have to move into a van down by the river.  I have massive vision and am running on the wake of hundreds of encouraging words about what I am doing to help folks learn languages, but it doesn’t yet pay the bills.

It will one day, I have no doubt of that, but not yet.

And so stress has been creeping into my life.  I don’t always recognize it until it shows up physically – recurring upset stomach, sore back, inability to fall asleep.

But in one way, I enjoy the stress – well, not actually enjoy it, but appreciate it.  It forces me to stop, to slow down and identify what is most important and let the rest go.  The world won’t skid to a halt if everything on my plate doesn’t get accomplished.

But as a dad, I am the only dad my kids have.  My wife only has one husband.  The stress, while not easy, forces me to focus and to live more intentionally and to take more time to spend with them, to live well with them.

Stress offers the gift of perspective, drawing me back to all that is really important, forcing me to step away from my independence and whisper help to the only one who can.

For this I am thankful.