With a headline like the above, you may wonder where this writing is going to take me. Truthfully, I’m wondering, too. This is mainly because I’m sure the person I refer to has never thought of himself as a Renaissance Man. I also tread carefully here because he is a family member and has three brothers that also fall into this category. They are my four sons and I am zeroing in on one of them because of a recent family event.
Let’s digress a bit and describe briefly what a Renaissance Man is. He is one that is always learning and thinking outside the box. Leonardo da Vinci was one of these and was renowned in many diverse fields. It’s a man who excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields and develops one’s own unique talents and abilities to the fullest without a need to be an expert in all areas. A Greek word, polymath may describe him because he excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields.
He works at home in his small shop and develops mostly small, inexpensive items that fits his budget and most other people’s. Although, he has designed larger items like radio controlled airplanes with wing spans ranging from two to six feet, not stopping at building the planes but also building the motors. Beautiful, handmade kites was another project and numerous games, that require brain storming to play. Recent projects included carving figures that tumble. Lately many of his projects are developed with his grandchildren in mind and always the desire to share his ideas with others. He is also a computer programmer, has a master’s degree in Computer Science, (also a degree in theology) which makes me wonder if he would prefer being called a geek.
So much more should be said about his abilities. But this seems like the ideal time to tell you about Sunday afternoon’s recent event. Merwin, with the help of his son, Matt, constructed 17 marshmallow air guns. Yes, the ammo for these guns is miniature marshmallows. They are constructed of PVC pipe and the distance the marshmallows travel is surprising and depends on how hard the gun is blown. Each gun came with a small, ziploc bag of ammo. In between shots, one or two might not find their way into the gun but be consumed as a sweet treat. And when a bag became empty, the youngest family members recycled the ones laying on the ground, not to eat but to shoot. All the grandchildren were present and they loved them. Ages ranged from two years to eighty, and everyone had fun with them. By the way, the guns pulled apart so that partially eaten marshmallows could be removed.
It was in his small, garage shop that the seventeen marshmallow guns were constructed. But that wasn’t all. After researching other people’s ideas, he developed an air rifle that shoots foam bullets. Air for the rifle, up to 80 P.S.I., is
supplied with a bicycle pump. The ammo for this gun he constructed also. Development on it continues, as Merwin wonders if eventually it can be used to discourage predators. As targets were set up, the accuracy of the gun was surprising. The ammo didn’t hurt anyone, but could be felt somewhat greater than a marshmallow. A marshmallow in the face didn’t hurt at all. There’s more, included among his projects for the day was a water rocket. One that worked very well. Water and air pumps are necessary, but again, these were built at low cost. There is much more to tell about the construction of these items. That’s why you must go to Merwin’s site at mupdyke.com where he shares information on all of Sunday’s projects and many more.
As we left the park where our family had gathered, scattered on the ground was a smattering of tiny white objects. It wasn’t manna and yet, they are definitely biodegradable. I’m sure either the birds and the raccoons, maybe even the bears, will wonder what happened here this Sunday afternoon. They can’t begin to imagine but will find the remains quite appetizing. You may do more than imagine, someone truly interested can learn the secrets of what made this day one of family fun. Go to mupdyke.com. (photos by Truly Lived Photography)