Homemade dog park chairs are a hit

In my last post I mentioned some little chairs I have been making and donating to on of Columbia’s dog parks. Columbia has two dog parks and Frankie and Alvie like one of them better, but that one doesn’t have a lot of seating. So I decided I could help with that.

Twin Lakes dog park is on the south side and is visited by a lot of young, healthy, able-to-stand-for-an-hour college students. And the park has a lovely hill, which is where I usually sit. Because it’s high I get a good view of most of the dog park. And after a rain it’s usually drier up there. So I set out to design and make some simple chairs to put on the hill. Here’s the result:

Two young women lounge in the chairs I made and gave to one of Columbia's dog parks. They said they headed right to the chairs when they saw them. They are intentionally simple and not real pretty, in hopes that people won't want to leave the park with one tucked under their arm. I have eight out there so fair, the park could easily handle another eight. Or more.

Two young women lounge in the chairs I made and gave to one of Columbia’s dog parks. They said they headed right to the chairs when they saw them. They are intentionally simple and not real pretty, in hopes that people won’t want to leave the park with one tucked under their arm. I have eight out there so far, the park could easily handle another eight. Or more.

I have made 10 chairs, but only eight of them are out there. My first two were rather quickly destroyed, not sure if it was by accident or mischief.

I made those two out of 1×2 furring strips, which I really thought would work and, since I was buying the wood, would be cheap for me. Well, I was wrong.

Fortunately something else has worked out: discarded construction lumber. It’s amazing how much waste there is on a construction site, and they are mostly unwilling to share it with people for second-hand use. I’ve been lucky, though, and have scored a number of good 2x4s. But that’s not the best find.

One day I drove by one of the gazillion construction sites for student housing. (Don’t get me started on that topic.) They had just torn down a long (like 50-75 foot long) privacy fence, made from 6’ x 5” x ¾” boards. Bingo! A stockpile of wood that I could use for the seats and backs of my chairs. You can see these boards in the photo.

Being a good citizen, I actually called and got permission to take the boards: “as many as you’d like” they said. After all, it would lessen the pile, saving them money on disposal. I grabbed about 30 of the boards, each one cut down and making three usable pieces. I’d have taken more, but once I dug into the pile, others did, too.

I want the chairs to last more than one summer so I bought some exterior paint, one of those gallons that’s discounted because the customer didn’t like the color. It’s perfect for my use: if the chairs are too attractive then there might be temptation to steal them. So the first batch is that ugly gray you see in the photo. I’ve run out of that paint and someone donated the brown stain, seen on the two chairs on the right. Then someone else donated some bright orange spray paint, so the chair I put together today has orange supports and brown seat and back. It’s pretty darned ugly.

Building them is fun for me and my ego gets a little stroking whenever I see someone sitting in one. There’s apparently a group of women my age who go to the park in the mornings and are very happy to have some seating. I’m working up to making some nice (good wood, good paint) Adirondack chairs for my friend’s ranch. She wants some so people can sit around her pond and watch the geese.

And here’s another good thing: the wood I can’t build with is used in my fire pit.
I’m a happy camper.

My woodworking is more than just a hobby

This is just some of the wood and lumber I've gathered this year. I'll use it for firewood and to build about a dozen small chairs.

This is just some of the wood and lumber I’ve gathered this year. I’ll use it for firewood and to build about a dozen small chairs.

Woodworking. It’s a big part of who I am. I lost this part of me — well, I put it aside — for more than a dozen years as I bounced from Des Moines to New York to Chicago and now to Columbia. But finally I’m back at it. And now that I am, I’m remembering why it’s so important to me.

LeRoy Mitchell when he was about 30 or 35 years old.

My dad, LeRoy Mitchell when he was about 30 or 35 years old.

My current project is some very simple chairs that I’m donating to one of the city’s two fenced-in dog parks. I’m using discarded lumber from construction sites for the materials. The project combines my interest in woodworking with something I’m genetically disposed to do: scavenging for the materials.

My father, LeRoy Mitchell, was an art teacher and he found second and third purposes for everything from carpet samples to the paper that wrapped x-ray film. (Anyone out there have one of his yellow paper books?) Continue reading

A wonderful day with the Clydesdales at Warm Springs Ranch

This is one of the babies, running on of the Warm Springs pastures with his mom. He's about a month old.

This is one of the babies, running on of the Warm Springs pastures with his mom. He’s about a month old.

One of the things that makes journalism such a wonderful career path is the amazing things we get to experience. Tuesday was one of those special days in my career: I got to spend time at Warm Springs Ranch, one of the homes of the Budweiser Clydesdales. It’s just west of Columbia, in Boonville. Continue reading

Ben Garvin’s advice: Illustrate your tweets

Karen Mitchell:

Good tips. All of our journalism students should pay heed. Sending photos with your tweets is another good way of practicing your photography. Notice that I said photography, not photojournalism. Use the Twitter medium to express yourself in anyway you want. You’ve got the smart phone with you, you have the app. So when you see a moment you like capture it and send it.

Originally posted on The Buttry Diary:

When Jen Westphal shared the email below with me, I quickly asked Jen and Ben Garvin, who wrote the email, if I could use it as a guest post. Ben’s Twitter bio describes him as a “Multimedia producer, photographer, photo editor, blogger at St. Paul Pioneer Press.”

I did a little editing and added some links and embeds to make this part of my #twutorial series. So here’s Ben’s advice on using photos with tweets (with tweets from Ben interspersed between the paragraphs):

In late October Twitter changed the way it shows images within your stream–images now automatically appear if they are tweeted from Twitter itself, not a third-party app. This small change has allowed for images to have much more impact and is something…

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Sharing the joy of photography, five Boy Scouts at a time

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From left: Ben, Brian, Noah, Shawn and Bentley, on the Mizzou campus.

There were more than 900 Boy Scouts on campus Saturday for Merit Badge University. By participating in one or two of the 50 or so different workshops to participate in today, they could earn a merit badge. My workshop, photography, was an all-day course. Even though I just returned this week from Beijing and really could have used my Saturday for sleeping, it felt very good to give back.

These are the boy scouts I worked with today (and the personalities you see in the photo are pretty true to who they were in class.) Having a small group like this was great. They were very smart and wonderfully attentive. They were from around mid-Missouri; the youngest was 12, the oldest 15. Unfortunately none of them are thinking of photography for a career, but most of them are serious hobbyists. Well, as serious as you can be at their age.

Check in your community to see if the Scouts do a similar thing. Do it for the kids, you’ll love working with them. And if they don’t, find another organization to give back to.

One last post from Beijing: Summer Palace

The Chinese eat a lot of corn on the cob. But it doesn't taste the same (or as good) as Midwestern corn.

The Chinese eat a lot of corn on the cob. But it doesn’t taste the same (or as good) as Midwestern corn.

If you read my last post you learned that I took some photos in Beijing just because many of you expect that of me. I might not have taken my camera when I visited the Summer Palace, but many of you have noted that you enjoy “seeing what I see” on my trips. Thanks for the compliments. I try to make photos that will have meaning to you as well as meaning for me. Here’s my last selection of photos from Beijing, most of them shot at Summer Palace, the largest royal park in China, and former royal residence. Now it’s a beautiful tourist trap. I made the mistake of going during National Day holiday week so there was an ungodly lot of people there. The upside of that, though, is that if you like people watching, it was like being at an Asian version of the Iowa State Fair, my favorite place to people watch. If you get a chance to go, give yourself at least three hours there.

One last note: Thank you so much for reading my posts. Your support really has meant a lot. I saw much more of Beijing this year — and shot a lot more photos — in part because I knew you wanted to see them. We were successful again there this year and I had even more fun that I thought I would. Thank you for helping me continue to learn.

-Karen

Some bits and pieces from Beijing, China Open

Missouri School of Journalism students at the net of Diamond Court after the final match of the tournament. We were photo bombed by two volunteers (left, in blue.)

Missouri School of Journalism students at the net of Diamond Court after the final match of the tournament. We were photo bombed by two volunteers (left, in blue.)

It’s so good to be home. It took 24 hours from the time we woke up to the time we got to our own homes in Columbia, but we’re home.

There’s an interesting story behind this picture. Actually, not this exact image, but one just like it that we tried to shoot our first day at the venue. More on that later. Today’s post is about showing you some of the bits and pieces of the trip. It’s not about photography, it’s not about tennis. It’s about being in Beijing.

I generally don’t do “vacation photos” because I take pictures for a living, so on vacation the last thing I want to do is work some more. But when I take a trip like this one, lots of you want to know what it’s like, so I take some pictures to answer questions you might have about a place like Beijing.


So here’s the story behind our group photo:
This was the second time we shot this photo on Diamond Court. The first time was on our first day at the venue. We were touring the place and we walked out onto the court to see it and take our picture there. One of our team members was goofing around, doing their own celebratory act on the court and left a black mark on the court. We were concerned but didn’t think much about it, assuming someone would now have to clean it off, which we felt bad about.

About half an hour later we were called back to Diamond Court. We were met by our boss, who said, “You broke the court!” She was livid and chewed out the student who did it. We just got there and we were already in trouble. She couldn’t understand why we would even have been out on the court. I tried to explain to her that in America, if we have a chance to go somewhere no one else can go, we go there!

“But it’s the court,” she said. “Why did you go out there?”

“Because it’s the court,” I said.

“But it’s the court, it’s special,” she said.

It was clear to me that our different perspectives on this were never going to offer an explanation to her.

Thankfully, we were able to work through and past this little incident, and the 10 days of the tournament went well.

Then, the day before the last day our boss tells me to make sure we stay around after the last match Sunday so that we could have our picture taken on Diamond Court.

WHAT??!?!?

Yes, after all that happened for being on the court before the tournament now didn’t matter. As it turns out, after the tournament, they have a freakin’ party on the court to celebrate the end. Go figure.

I’m just glad it all ended well, and we have a picture of our team on Diamond Court.