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So much to do, so little time

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Harry and Joan Davis of Brandon are filling their retirement days with carving, painting, making stained glass and more. One of Harry's favorite pieces that he has carved is this intricate fireplace mantel.2 / 4
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The only thing Harry and Joan Davis of Brandon have to worry about during retirement is how to find enough time to get everything done.

Their shop is full of projects patiently waiting to be completed. While the projects themselves aren't in any hurry, the Davises are.

"We've got so many things we want to do. There just isn't enough time to get to them all!" Harry said with an eager glance toward his in-progress masterpieces.

The couple moved to the Brandon area from southern Minnesota after Harry retired about three years ago.

After attending a decoy meeting with his brother-in-law, Harry had no doubt what he'd be filling his days - and nights - with from then on. Carving.

"The nice thing about it is that it's not a real expensive hobby to get into," he said. "It's cheaper than a set of golf clubs and you don't have to pay green fees!"

Harry started carving songbirds, but was soon trying his hand at a multitude of different subjects.

It didn't take much convincing to get his wife in on the hobby as well.

"If I get down on one knee, she'll usually do the painting for me," Harry said with a smile aimed toward his wife.

With Joan's artistic tendencies, it probably wouldn't even take that much to convince her to join in.

"I've always enjoyed crafts, and have tried some different things over the years," she said.

She took painting classes while on a trip to Winnipeg, and attended some local Community Education classes on stained glass.

"Our son made us a piece of stained glass, and that is what got us going on that," she said.

While Harry also does some stained glass work, he leaves most of that to his wife while he spends his time carving.

"I've really gotten into it and enjoy it," Joan said. "I like deciding which colors to put together to make a piece. I use quilt patterns to make angels, animals, snowmen and other things."

She's furthered her education by watching online videos on the topic.

"I guess I'm hooked," she said. "It's just a lot of fun."

The rewards of the couple's labors now fill every corner of their home, from songbirds, decoys, bird houses and butterfly houses to animals, canes, crucifixes, jig sticks, educational games, and much more.

While Joan's favorite pieces so far are her stained glass snowmen, Harry's pride and joy are his hand-carved mantels, especially the one hanging in his living room.

"I'm pretty proud of this one," he said, running his hand over the leaves, branches and songbirds intricately carved into the rich wood.

He also said he's fond of doing loons, wildlife, hummingbirds and carousel animals.

"I guess I pretty much like doing it all," he said.

The couple only shows their work at one show a year - the Rudy Zwieg Decoy Show in Alexandria (see side article for more information).

They also have some of their items on display at Grandma Patty's Cafe in Brandon, but mostly just sell their items through word of mouth.

"We really aren't selling to make money," Joan explained. "We basically sell to support our hobby."

The couple estimates that they average about three to four hours a day on their hobbies, but some days may be more.

"It's not like work," Harry explained. "It's just so relaxing. Sometimes I'll be working away and the next thing I know, it's pretty late.

"There are just so many things to do, but so little time!"

Rudy Zwieg Decoy Show is March 16

The ninth annual Rudy Zwieg Decoy Show will be held Saturday, March 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria.

The event, sponsored by the Midstate Chapter of the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association, is free and open to the public.

It will feature carving competitions, silent auctions, vendors, children's face painting, swim testing tanks, prize auctions and raffles, and more. Seminars will be held every half hour, featuring Walleye legend Pete Harsh, among others.

For more information, visit the website or e-mail Paul Lundeen at

Tara Bitzan

Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.

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