Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Socks

I bought these socks the other day and I like them well enough I suppose but look at this, there's a left and a right.  What the hell, when did this happen? Whose idea was this? I didn't get a warning or anything, did you? What's happening?

You remember when your Mom was teaching you how to dress right? And when she did the socks part everything was still pretty cool. All you had to do was pick two that were the same color, or close anyway, and get the curvy heel part down and then pull 'em on and you were good to go. Didn't matter which foot the sock went on. At that point you were thinking, "Allright! This shit is gonna be easy!" Course you didn't say that and then when you got to shoes and left and right and tying laces and all you had a lot of second thoughts. As a matter of fact shoes might be the place when you started having doubts about everything big people had in store for you.

Anyway I'm feeling like I am not OK with this left and right sock thing. So just to show 'em who's boss, just to stick it to da man, just because I'm a bad ass living on the edge kind of guy, I put them on the wrong feet.

And I'll be damned.  Try as I might I could not walk the straight and narrow. Everywhere I went I just kept leaning to the left. Man, life is getting complicated. I don't know what's goin' on anymore.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Martha, a three year old long haired calico, is the newest member of our family. She comes to us from a friend whose father died,  leaving behind his beloved cat. Our friend was carefully seeking a new home for her.

The story goes she showed up as a stray with 5 kittens in tow and was appropriately named Mama Kitty.
But that's not what we wanted to call her, so after much deliberation, Martha it is. A long haired cat would not have been our first choice here in our woods, where briers and seeds abound, but her sweet disposition won us over.

A concern for any new pet in the house was the reception our big tom, Simon, might deliver. But it turns out he's a wuss, the one who hisses and runs for it. Martha has not been aggressive but neither has she been afraid. Not sure they will ever be BFF's but already they are tolerant.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Room With Two Views

October 16th

This Morning
The season has changed. I don't know many people who like winter. It might be just those who enjoy winter sports. For the rest it is something to be grimly endured; the cold, the snow and ice and sleet, the dull gray skies.

I won't say I like those things but I have always felt OK about winter because I love the change of seasons. The yin and yang, the other side of the coin, we're on the other side of the sun. You can't know nice without not-nice. The face stinging cold wind magnifies warm cocoa by the stove. Boots in hard crusty snow gives pleasure to barefoot in new spring grass. I like to be reminded of the ever changing miracle.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Coat Tree

This was fun. How often do you get to make a tree from pieces of wood? Usually wood comes as a tree and you have to make something else. I  wouldn't have thought of this project if son Dylan hadn't suggested it as a possible Christmas gift. We had a coat tree by the front door in the home of my childhood but I don't think of homes using them these days. Instead there is a closet or hooks on the wall or nothing. The latter is what he had in his apartment and coats piled up on the furniture.

When beginning a design I usually take a look at what has been done for possible ideas and to get standard or approximate dimensions. Then the wheels start turning with a flow of ideas and possibilities that seem to float by until I know what I'm going to do. I don't know what triggered incorporating a stone except that I'm generally drawn to work that uses these fundamental materials. And it made good sense to add weight and stability to something that is normally top heavy in use.

Before any other work I went looking for a stone. I left work early and drove out to Nature's Cover, a local landscape materials business. The yard man showed me a couple piles of river rocks and in the cold and growing darkness I searched for the right one. Most were smaller than I had in mind but I picked three I thought might work. "How much?" "Just those three? You can have those and happy holiday to you".

I only started this project a week earlier so Christmas day I wrapped just the stone with a note that said,"I'm making something for you. This is the only part that is finished". A nice curve ball that left him swinging with guesses.

The technical details - I glued up some 6/4 stock to get a 3 x 3 post, then ripped it into a hexagon. Figured out how to get a hexagon from a square using some web origami instructions.

All the curved parts are bent lamination, a technique I prefer over cutting curved parts from wide stock. They are much stronger and thus can be lighter. The legs were made up of 13 strips a little over 1/16th" thick glued together on a form. The branches used the same form but only 9 laminations and then cut into two pieces and shaped.

The only hardware is a 6" steel ring with three arms that I had a local shop fabricate. It is fastened with screws to the legs giving them needed rigidity and supports the stone and its platform.

Shaping was done primarily with an abrasive carbide wheel on an angle grinder followed by an inflatable sanding drum mounted in a drill. Using the drum right up to finish sanding maintained an irregular surface not unlike a debarked tree might have and feels nice to touch.