Creativity Close to Home
In the two-and-a-half years since I started this blog, I've written about dozens of creative people, some here in Newaygo County, others as far away as the U.K. But it struck me recently that I've never written about my favorite creative individual, one who's right here at home: my husband, Ray Pokerwinski.
Since Ray has a birthday coming up next week, what better time to celebrate his talents?
One of the first things I appreciated about Ray (after his green eyes and engaging personality) was his imagination and ability to apply it to all sorts of projects. When we first met, twenty-six years ago, he was remodeling a house, transforming a cobbled-together lakeside cottage into a stunning, open-floorplan, contemporary home, complete with boat house and tiered decks. He envisioned the whole thing, then set about gutting the place and putting it back together in an entirely different conformation. (That house, by the way, was the fifth house he had remodeled, all with self-taught skills.)
As time went on, I discovered he was equally adept at re-imagining all sorts of things, including two of my motorcycles. With my input, his skills and artistry, and a little help from a custom painter, Ray turned stock bikes into head-turners.
Now he's turned his attention to a hot rod, the design of which has been incubating in his brain for a few years. Finally he's found time to start chipping away at the project as time permits.
Ray's genius for innovation applies to more than making things; he's a whiz at coming up with out-of-the box solutions to all sorts of problems. I can't tell you how many times I've been stuck, unable to figure out how to deal with a complicated schedule or some other seemingly intractable situation (like keeping squirrels out of the bird feeder). When I outline the problem to Ray, he instantly sees a simple fix that I was too mired in details to discern. (So far, he's winning the squirrel battle.)
So yeah, his ingenuity makes everyday life more efficient, but it also makes life a whole lot more fun. I never know when I might find a funny face on my lunch plate. Or fashioned out of folded laundry.
When we bought an adjacent piece of property with a weathered shed, Ray amused the whole neighborhood by decorating the shed for holidays with mostly Ray-made adornments.
For my birthday a couple of years ago, he gave me a gift card to a local camera store, but instead of just sticking it in a greeting card, he presented it in a camera-shaped, wooden box that he had made.
And one Valentine's Day morning, I stumbled into the kitchen to find a wooden heart Ray had fashioned from a piece of the towering oak we'd had to cut down. That's the heart you see in my HeartWood logo. Another year, I found a bouquet of wooden tulips he had made in his workshop.
It's been a pleasure, too, to collaborate with him on creative projects, like fairy houses for Camp Newaygo's annual Enchanted Forest event. Ray dreams up the creations; I just help with a few finishing touches. And it's Ray who makes up the fairy stories to accompany each house; then we work together on the wording.
Seeing how Ray makes creativity a priority emboldens me to do the same. What's more, he actively encourages and celebrates all my creative undertakings, from my memoir to this blog to photography projects and other artistic dabblings.
It's inspiring, as well, to see that he's still trying new things, with youthful enthusiasm that belies the number of candles on his cake (or pie, as that was his request for the upcoming birthday). His latest venture: hand-turning wooden pens and mechanical pencils for friends, relatives and fundraisers.
I could go on and on singing Ray's praises, but I've gotta go now—I have a pie to make.
9/5/2018 06:24:02 am
I knew Ray was creative, but not like this! How fun! I love that he makes up the fairy stories, and the little handmade surprises. Also, the photo of the squirrel contemplating the bird feeder is priceless. :) What a great solution!! It's the best to have a creative best buddy for life. You two are perfect for each other.
9/5/2018 07:47:32 am
Thanks, Laura. I'm happy that you've found a creative best buddy for life, too!
9/5/2018 07:13:18 am
It's easy to see why you love him. He's a keeper!
9/5/2018 07:48:18 am
I kinda think so!
9/5/2018 07:43:20 am
This is your best posting yet, Nancy! I realize I keep saying that, but it's true. Happy Birthday to your amazing and super-creative husband. I loved the photos!
9/6/2018 02:29:29 pm
Thanks, Sally, and Ray appreciates the birthday wishes!
9/5/2018 09:12:42 am
Wonderful tribute to a wonderful man and neighbor
9/5/2018 09:59:55 am
Heartwarming. Even more so because you and Ray are neighbors and friends. Happy Birthday, Ray. I bet that pie will be a creative yummy too.
9/5/2018 12:32:30 pm
it was fun reading about Ray, he is more talented than we knew.. i will share this with Paul... happy Birthday Ray!
9/5/2018 04:08:13 pm
The single art is in living. (A scandinavian philosopher said it better.)
9/5/2018 07:51:20 pm
Happy birthday to Ray, the guy who's always full of surprises. But the best thing he does is make you happy. ❤️
paul b mecklenborg
9/6/2018 06:58:40 am
Nancy great story if you need more stuff to publish let me know oh by the way tell Ray Happy Birthday
9/6/2018 02:31:37 pm
Thanks, Paul. Ray says, "Remember, I have lots of stories about you, too!"
9/7/2018 06:20:15 pm
I loved reading this more than you know! Absolutely perfect! He reminds me so much of my dad and grandma. I didn’t know that he did so much. We love you Uncle Ray!💗
9/18/2018 05:04:23 pm
Wow, what a talented man! Happy birthday and keep on creating!
9/19/2018 04:08:13 pm
Ray makes a wonderful subject for your blog! I'm lucky to have my own creative Jack, who right now (despite an injured foot and a heat index over 100...) has been stripping cabinet doors for a bathroom remodel. This was a catch-up session for me--I also really enjoyed your post about revising your bucket list. I don't always take time to think about the big picture.
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Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.