Five Reasons You Need a Hobby

Hi, my name is Rick and I’m a workaholic.

Since I was in my mid-twenties, I have lived by the Floyd Hammer motto, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I have not punched a clock since I was 24 because I don’t need someone telling me when to start work or when to stop. I don’t wait all week until Friday nor do I dread Monday. I love what I do but I can, at times,  be too consumed with it.

However, I have learned that my work productivity significantly improves if I spend time on my hobbies; woodworking, fly fishing, photography and writing. If you don’t have a hobby, let me suggest a few reason why they’re good for you.

5 Reasons You Need a Hobby

  1. Hobbies tap into your creativity – Whether you admit it or not, you are a creative person; each person is born with a creative streak. I’ve often wondered why there are arts and craft in kindergarten and not in high school. Early childhood development folks understand how important it is to foster creativity.

    Made for me by my grandchildren


  2. Hobbies help your mind find solutions to problems – Sometimes when I am overwhelmed by a challenge, I’ll go to my wood shop or grab my fly rod. I don’t do it to get-away-from-it-all, I do it because I’ve discovered I find a lot of answers while I’m sanding a board or unhooking a fish.

    Breckenridge Rainbow


  3. Hobbies help you to relax – While woodworking and fly fishing help me relax, golfing does not. I don’t keep score with fish, but I do keep score with golf. For some dumb reason only my mind knows, whenever I keep score, I become extremely competitive and that’s not a good thing.

    My Writing Desk


  4. Hobbies are good way to build new relationships – I have met some of the most inspirational, creative and fun people through my hobbies. Whether its the South Kansas Woodturners or legendary fishermen like Jim Brown and Bruce Smith, I meet incredible people.

    Bruce Smith catching bass at Barrett Lake, CA


  5. Hobbies provide ways for me to give delight to others – Everyone loves a handcrafted gift or the ability to learn something new. I enjoy creating wood projects as gifts for people as well as teaching someone new how to fly fish. The opportunity to give delight to others is another one of those natural parts of us that we are designed to do. Just ask a five-year-old.

I’d be curious to know what your hobbies are and why you like them so much.

I’d also be curious to know why you don’t have any hobbies, if that is the case, and how soon you plan on starting. I’d be happy to share what I know with you to help you start! Just let me know…



The Power of a Handcrafted Pen to Feed the Hungry

These handcrafted pens generated 2,080 meals for the hungry. Not bad for dead piece of wood.Pens on stand with case

This story began a bit over a year ago when my son, Isaac, gave me a woodworking lathe. I owned one 30 years ago, but after it flipped a tool through my workshop window, I sold it.

Fast-forward 30 years and Isaac whittling on me for six months to resume turning wood. I politely declined, insisting that I needed one more hobby like I needed a root canal.

He’s as stubborn as I am.

“It’ll be easy, Dad,” he said. “Here, let me show you how to turn a pen.”

It’s a year later and I’ve invested my children’s inheritance on woodturning equipment. I have watched so many instructional Youtube videos that my computer homepage default goes straight to the latest woodturning video.pen

I post my journey in woodturning on social media and one of my Facebook friends offered to give me a fantastic Siberian Elm he had cut down on his farm in Kansas. It was chocked full of burls; wart-like growths on trees that are exquisite for woodturning.

As I peered at the log in my trailer, I remembered that I challenge groups to whom I’m speaking about the topic of hunger with this: “No matter what you do in  your life, whether it is your vocation, avocation or recreation, create ways in which you can help end hunger.”img_6074

So I answered my own challenge with this question: How many people can this Burly Log feed?”

The first set of pens were auctioned off on eBay and ALL of the proceeds went to The Outreach Program to help fund meals for the hungry. The pens sold for $520.00 and, since Outreach meals are only .25 cents each, that pen set funded 2,080 nutritious meals.

How can you use your skills to help feed the hungry? Follow along with me on Facebook to see what The Burly Log will produce next to feed the hungry. If you’re an artisan and would like part of the wood to create something to be auctioned off on eBay will all of the proceeds going to Outreach, let me know; I can make that happen.

Also stay tuned; there’s a children’s book coming out about The Burly Log!




Mixing a Love for Writing With a Passion to Feed the Hungry

I love to write and recently resumed the practice of handwritten letters. My favorite instrument of choice, hands down, is a fountain pen. Using a fountain pen on fine paper requires an entirely different way of writing than which I am accustomed. _DSC2233

I am also a woodworker and was recently given a Siberian Elm with all sorts of burls, a wood turner’s dream. As I was leaning on the rail of my trailer wondering what I would do with the log, I challenged myself with a challenge I often give to others: find creative ways to turn your vocation, avocation and recreation into ways you can feed the hungry.img_6074

So I want to see how many people The Burly Log will feed.

The first items I crafted from this are, naturally, writing instruments. This set of pens is a matching fountain and rollerball set. The box is made from The Burly Log as well.pens on stand


Pens on stand with case
If you want to bid on the pens or just watch out of curiosity, you can go here on Ebay:  Matching Pen Set From The Burly Log,
Also, here’s a 2 minute video of The Burly Log Goes to the Sawmill and me making this set of pens in my woodworking shop.
Please share! The auction lasts for a week and ALL of the proceeds go to The OutreachProgram for meals for the hungry!
Please share this with others!

Why Handwriting Letters Again has Helped me as a Writer

My story of recently taking up the tradition of handwriting letters starts with a chunk of wood and a persistent son.

My son, Isaac, is a fine woodworking craftsman, remodeler and artist. We both share a love of working with wood and he kept encouraging me to take up the art of wood turning on a lathe. I didn’t need another hobby and told him so. The last time I tried my hand with a lathe some 30 years ago, I managed to accidentally chuck a tool through the window of my woodshop. I sold the lathe soon after.

Not to be dissuaded, Isaac brought a lathe and tools to my shop and showed me how to turn pens out of wood. I fell head-over-heels-in-love with woodturning and purchased my own lathe and tools. Over the course of time, I’ve discovered great delight in making a variety of pen styles, bowls, wine stoppers and kindling for firewood. Yes, I’ve had more than a few disasters on the lathe.

While trying out various pen designs, I decided to make a fountain pen. After making my first one, I decided to resume handwriting letters. I have been surprised at how much I enjoy it and how it’s improving my writing.

  1. I slow down – I can type rather fast so I often throw a lot of words on a page first, then go back to edit
  2. I gather my thoughts first – there is no delete, copy or paste button so I want to make sure I know what I want to say before I write it down
  3. Good memories are stirred about the person to whom I’m writing- if it takes me 45 minutes to write a letter, that is 45 minutes I’ve spent reminiscing about a good friend
  4. I know the receiver will cherish it – handwritten letters require more labor than hammering out a quick email and so are more rare. The person who receives the letter intuitively knows that great affection has gone into writing the letter
  5. I have fun choosing to whom I’ll write the next letter- this makes me value the number of friends and  heroes I have

I have my own writing desk in the library, a special pen I use only for handwriting letters and an image above the desk to inspire me. (captured by HR Kuhns, MD – see more of his works at:  _DSC2219

Try handwriting a letter sometime and see if it does for you what it does for me.

On a side note, I’ve been given a fantastic burly log that I am going to create artistic items from in order to feed as many hungry people as possible. Stay tuned for the first set of matching  fountain/roller ball pens from the burly log. They will be offered through The Outreach Program via an online auction (similar to Ebay). Sign up for my blog or follow me on Facebook to stay posted!

For your enjoyment, here are a few pens I’ve made and the wood from w which they’re made. The white one is spalted hackberry – from a piece of firewood I was cutting. Spalting refers to the dark lines which are actually the tree rotting.

Spalted Hackberry Fountain Pen



The Burly Log Pen (Chinese Elm)


A Trip to the Mailbox: A Christmas Story

Harry balanced one hand on the cane while he slipped another log into the fireplace. Usually, he burned spruce or lodgepole pine that grew in abundance in the forest around his cabin, but he kept the Pinon pine for Christmas mornings. No other logs burning on a fire smelled as good as Pinon pine.

Harry sat back down in old wooden rocker and covered his legs with the quilt his mother made for him and Gladys on their honeymoon. That was 70 years ago he carried his bride across the threshold of this same cabin, but it was like yesterday. She had been gone for ten years now.

“Merry Christmas, Gladys,” Harry whispered to the fire.

Harry reached for the coal oil lamp on the table beside his chair and turned the flame up just a bit higher so he could read. On the table were two envelopes with letters from his ten-year-old great-grandson, Ethan. Ethan had visited Harry just a month earlier on Thanksgiving and, after Harry showed him all the letters he had written to Gladys when he was in WWII and how important the trip to the mailbox was for him every day, Ethan had written him not one but two letters. He opened the latest:

“Dear Great Grandpa Harry,

    I really enjoyed visiting you and reading the letters that you wrote while you were in the war. Thank you for showing them to me. I did a report for my class on World War II and showed them the picture I took with my phone of the box of letters that you wrote. I got an A+ on my report and my teacher cried.

  Mom and Dad say we’re coming to see you again on Christmas as long as it doesn’t snow too much since we have to hike up the side of the mountain to get to your cabin.

  I’m glad we moved back to this area. I heard a lot about you from Mom and Dad and Grandpa, but we lived too far away to come and visit you.

  I am a Boy Scout and like to camp and fish, but since we live in a big city, it’s hard to do.

I asked my Mom and Dad if it was okay for me to ask you if I could come and stay with you for a few days. I could help split firewood and haul water. I’d like to know what it’s like to live without electricity and go hiking in the mountains.Plus, I like to listen to your stories.

  I am excited to see you at Christmas. I made a present for you that I’m learning how to do in Scouts. I think you’ll like it.”

    Harry leaned back in his rocker and the loneliness he had denied since Gladys passed swept over him like an avalanche. He wondered what would make a ten-year-old boy that he barely knew want to leave the fancy house in the city and all the electronics to come stay with him in his creaky old cabin. Wouldn’t he be bored? Regardless of the reason, Harry felt more joy than he had in years.

Chauncey, the golden lab at his feet, raised his head and slowly stood up. He heard Ethan and his parents coming up the trail to the cabin. Harry trusted this old dog that warned him of bears, shooed the deer out of his garden and kept him company on these long winter days.

Harry rose from the chair and tapped his cane across the wooden floor to the front door. He was so glad to have company on Christmas.

Ethan bounded up the steps and rushed to hug Harry almost toppling him over. Ethan hurriedly through his backpack on the floor and dug out a present, crudely wrapped as only a ten-year-old can.

“I made this just for you, Great Grandpa,” Ethan almost shouted. “And Dad says if its okay with you I can stay here during Christmas vacation!”

“Well, come on in out of the cold, first,” Harry invited them all in.

“Open, it please,” Ethan said again. “I made it in Scouts.”

Harry folded himself back into the old rocker and sat the present on his lap. Slowly, he undid the twine string and bow that Ethan had tied. Grabbing his brass letter opener, he slipped thru the tape holding the paper.

Ethan’s eyes were wide with excitement as Harry opened the box. Inside was a bird house that looked like a log cabin made of little sticks. There was a sign on one end of the cabin and Harry pushed his readers up on his nose to read it better. In hand-painted letter, the sign read:


      Harry and Gladys Withers

            and Ethan Withers


Harry began to weep. The room was silent except for the sobs of the old man. Slowly, Ethan walked over to the rocker and leaned into Harry. Ethan began to cry, too. Ethan’s Mom motioned to him to come sit back down beside her.

“You’re upsetting Grandpa Harry,” she whispered across the room.

“But I don’t mean to,” Ethan replied. “I just wanted to help him cry.”


(to be continued)