5 Lessons I Learned With a New Hobby


My son, Isaac, told me I would really enjoy turning wood on a lathe. I told him no; I didn’t need another hobby. It turns out he knows his ol’ Pap better than his Pap knows himself.

After several months of turning him down, he arrived one day with a lathe and a set of tools.

“Let me teach you how to turn a pen,” he said. “You’ll really enjoy it.”

He set the lathe up, taught me to turn a pen and now I’m hooked. I have done woodworking for nearly forty years and can honestly say I don’t enjoy any aspect of it as much as turning wood on a lathe.

Here are five lessons I’ve learned with my new hobby:

  1. I see things differently.   Recently, I cut down a honey-locust tree because of storm damage and rot. Normally, I would have cut it up into firewood. This time, though, I cut it up into various sections to turn on my lathe.
  2. Learning new skills stimulates my intellect. I learn more by reading a book than taking a class. I read copious amounts about technique, history, wood types and artisans who create fantastic beauty from wood. Reading is always a good thing.
  3. My creativity spills into other spheres of my life. I believe everyone is a creative person even if they deny it. Creativity is essential to finding fulfillment in life. The moment we stop creating is the moment we stop living.
  4. I’ve made new friends. I joined the South Kansas Woodturners Club and am making new friends. Sharing a common interest is a great way to make friends.
  5. I’ve found a new way to bring happiness to others. A hand-made gift is one of the best ways to make another person happy.

Just to give you a sense of what I’m talking about, here’s a short photo-journey to turning a damaged tree into objects of beauty.


Honey locust tree damaged in a storm




The dark spot is rotting wood which, in the past, I would have seen as a bad thing. However, that’s called “spalting” to a woodturner, and is actually a sought-after feature.



Although the wood in this photograph is purple heart and not honey locust, I cut the wood down into this shape so I can turn the pen blanks.



This is the finished product. The dark part is the spalted wood, the red part is the true color of the wood. One of my favorite pens.

I’ve made a few pens out of this tree and, over the course of time, I’ll make bowls and a variety of other pieces of happiness.

I’m glad my son talked me into a new realm of discovery.

You just never know what you might enjoy unless you try it!

Needed: Early Reviewers for “The Cows of Hobson’s Pond” book!


I need people willing to review (and post honest comments online at Amazon) for my new book, The Cows of Hobson’s Pond: Mostly True Stories of Growing Up Kansas. If you are interested, I will send a FREE digital copy; I just need your email address.

Email me: rick.mcnary@gmail.com

Here’s the blurb on the cover the publisher wrote:

Somewhere, some cow’s therapist knows everything there is to know about Rick McNary.

For a bored child living in rural Kansas in the sixties, frolicking in Hobson’s Pond was as adventurous as being Jacques Cousteau on the Atlantic Ocean. In a country kid’s imagination, the pond teemed with exotic marine life, pirates and sunken treasure.

In reality, the pond was a muddy hole filled with finger-length catfish and grumpy old bullfrogs. In addition, The Cows of Hobson’s Pond believed they had the inalienable right to soak their udders in the water like it was a spa. Whenever Rick and his buddies went swimming, they had to run the cows out first. This frequently backfired and, instead, the cows chased them.

Rick pokes fun at himself, his family, the cows and life in rural Kansas. There are stories about how the cows were responsible for starting the streaking fad, the reason little boys should never practice medicine, why his brothers called him the Elmer Fudd of hunters and the day his Mom washed his mouth out with soap.

Laugh along with Rick who claims the stories are mostly true but, to avoid being sued, he changed a few names and made up the parts about the cows.



Why Your Story Matters to the World

creativity is Intelligence having fun

You’ve been knocked down a time or two in life, haven’t you? What made you get back up? What is the most crushing blow you’ve ever received? Bad news about your health? Someone walk out on you? Your best friend betray you? A trusted employee take all your money?

How did you stand back up after you were blind-sided? Was it your faith? The love of someone close? Grit?

You’ve gone through a rough time and came out the other side stronger and better and we want to know how you did it. We all have those rough times in our lives and, as we struggle through them, we want to know how people like you handled your own crisis.

We’re not nosy; we’re looking for guidance. Life is a contest and we are designed to win.

Your story matters to the world because you are a winner and we want to know how you did it

We love stories of people who win. In a few months, all eyes will be focused on the Olympics for one reason; we want to see who wins.

If you walk through the inspirational section of your local book store, you will see row after row of biographies and autobiographies of people who have won. I read them, not looking for another hero, but for the lessons they learned that made them win.

Spend a couple of minutes right now doing this exercise:

  1. Write down your most difficult time in your life.
  2. Jot down three things that helped you through it.
  3. Jot down one way you become better because of that.

Now you have a simple outline of a story the world wants to hear.

We’re listening.

Farmers: People who Make America Great


America was founded by farmers and I vote we turn it back over to them as soon as possible. I’d be happy to vote for a guy or gal in Levi’s and a Stetson or bib overalls compared to a greasy politician.

The vast majority of the new arrivals to early America were farmers who brought with them agriculture practices from the various countries of their origins. America became great because of those farmer’s ability to go from subsistence farming – growing enough for one’s own family – to growing enough to export it to other countries.

Although I grew up in the country surrounded by farmers and working on farms, I was never a farmer. I honestly don’t think I have the courage to be a farmer. I know of no other business that requires such great business risks, such hard work, such a massive attack on an industry from misinformed city-slickers, or such dependency on forces beyond their control (Mother Nature) as that of a farmer.

Today, I toast the American Farmer and celebrate them for making America great. Here are just a few reasons why:

Read more »