December Adjustments

Referencing back to ‘October Organizations‘, specifically the piles of wood on the right, there are positive functional adjustments.

This may look devil-may-care, but far from it really. Pieces requiring proper stacking are stacked (ok, that was hasty), the pile itself can be circumnavigated, and the long table top aspect is at the right height to double as a temporary workbench.

Here it is layered in protective scrap 2 x 8’s. It served nicely to harvest boards from the wiggly cherry standing in the background.

Primitive Joys

A few years ago the floor in the pantry of my 200+ year old house fell in. The old paint had strong sense of having served admirably, and the wood was surprisingly viable. Couldn’t toss it.

Cleaning the barn this past month I decided to do something with the old boards I’d saved. How much utility will be garnered, that’s quite unclear. The process however, and the naive delight of just making something(s), those make it all worth it.

October Organizations

Began with clean up of the barn. A great pile of wood, long at the center of the barn, was sorted. Cinder blocks were allocated, 2 x 8’s were cut. A place in the basement was made and they were set atop the 2 x 8’s that in turn were set atop the cinder blocks, all in reverse order of course. This activity, un-pictured, caused the usual reaction by the local wooden Buddha community.

and how could it not be so, will such a magnitude of space liberated in which to exercise freedom?

Now what to do with such freedom? Heavens, there really are no limits except time and strength and blood and vision, boundless really. I guess then to reach heavenward, at least colloquially, a good first step.

There was a ten foot long wooden pallet that had arrived earlier in the summer. It spoke of not being garbage, of wanting to be involved in a higher enterprise. So be it, my ready answer, a trellis thou shalt become –

Probably sixteen more slats before fit for deployment. There is a small plateau on the southwest side of the yard, the grapevine plateau, all of 18′ x 10′ that seethes with grapevines, also bittersweet, Boston ivy, woody nightshade, a great richness of vines. The trellis will be set there to host a great dance of coexistence.

Stay tuned.

Orb Support

To be happy as a delicate glass bubble you must earnestly hope that the world around you offers proper support.

You may recall a few years ago the construction of a (naive) orb support from an old hand-hewn beam. A proud thing but not deep on design to resist the rage and power of rot. Rot gripped viciously from below, the scraps shown here –

Orb support, some might say that this is what folks do, protect their delicate orbs so carefully, indeed, I felt compelled as well. I had some pressure treated wood lying about. After chopping off the rotted base I affixed it.

The prospect of a better world can be enticing, of course. Rather than a cross a windmill, not for any symbolic reason, simply to avoid any further hacking into the central column.

By this endeavor an interval has been purchased. Absent some graver and more particular calamity the support should last for, hmm, my bet is a decade, I could lose that bet. We never really know the weather.

Tamme-Lauri lives!

And what is this? I was visiting my child in Estonia this past April. They had to work on several of the days and so I scanned about for seeds, shells, rocks, the usual things I gather. I noticed that there was an ancient (not rock-time scale) tree, the Tamme-Lauri oak, some 800 years old, about 2 hours inland from where I was staying in Parnu. To it I drove, very relaxed countryside, and when I arrived there was no one the there, just a field and what you might call an Ent.

Those are storks on the lesser posts.

Very wondrous. How could one not want to gather acorns? I walked around the tree in a reverent and studious manner, searching the ground for same. Nada. April is not the best month to gather acorns. Daunted I was not, however. I queried my inner Druid as to how to proceed. “Eat one of the fallen leaves” came back. Of course. Crisp and crunchy it was. Again I walked around it, more reverently and studiously. A dozen unbroken and unblemished!

As I exited this vision trance a stray man had arrived to behold the tree. His examination was most cursory, he came up, looked at it thoughtfully for a minute or two, and set himself to walk off. Being unable to speak Estonian at all I raised my hand and signaled to him. It seemed such a correct human interaction to wordlessly give him one acorn.

It’s relatively flat country out there, not much rock, some glacial granite. I used a fallen branch of the tree to dig out a small watermelon sized piece of red granite. Also, amazingly, looking around at the few other rocks in the field I found an area where there were empty snail shells. The trifecta of rock, shell, seed.

Back in America I have an indoor garden where I nurture plants that have caught my interest. Acorns planted and –

utterly joyful. Actually there are two that sprouted. Mid-coast Maine is not so climatically different than Estonia but getting an 800 year lease, I have no idea how to do that. All in all this was a signature positive experience. I have trepidation about getting it outside and protecting it for the rest of my lifetime. Such is the nature of caring and trying I guess.

Not lilac

Sumac has a bit of a curly/twisty growth habit, as does lilac. They’re quite different woods, the former soft and brown green, the latter hard and white purple. Old dead things though, I was clearing old brush and thought I had a great old lilac and that the wood had discolored with age. Not so. It took surprisingly long to clear the misapprehension.

I did make a knife/stirrer out of a piece.

It was the working characteristics, and the absence of the very distinctive smell of lilac wood, that finally hipped me to the present reality. It’s funny how strongly a (potentially false) first impression shapes belief.

It’s staghorn sumac. Not really the right kind of wood for a kitchen implement, but then again I only made it thinking it was lilac. This is one way a nonesuch can be born.

Peace, Love, Joy, and


You may recall the temporary ‘rescue‘ of a butter knife blade from the dustbin of history. That went well for a year or two but the wood selected for the handle was a trifle punky, the whole solution did not well resist the delicately tenacious influence of frequent washing. We don’t surrender here, though. Such indignities will not be suffered whilst there is power yet within us. No, we will fix the tools, we will raise the banner, we will march forward, and not only that, but with peace, love, joy, and humor.

The wood here is some non-endangered tropical hardwood, an ipe or ipe cousin perhaps. I had a nice scrap of it lying around. The blades are again Meriden cutlery.

My father’s father was a type-setter for the New York Daily News. He died when I was but a year old. I was told that in his role he was the final editor. Could you imagine, having to set blocks to stamp ink on paper? Manually adjusting micro-spacing? As I used these old letter punches I began to imagine.

The three knives pictured all had the same (short round) tang. Cutting the narrow handle blocks and centering the place for said tang took a little more precision than I usually deliver. A few tries, a old Chinese drill press, got it done with approximate correctness.

The last one, which was the one that had formerly been rescued, had a short flat tang. I tried a sawdust/glue mixture to fill the gaps, that worked fine for adhesion, but not so gracefully for the stamping.

You can see the cracks introduced, yet maybe this was a graceful turn, a suggestion from the universe (if one like to talk that way). I ran with it on the other side.

Surely you can follow.

Zebrawood Napkin Holder

Not too many of these. I was almost willing to bet that a search for “Zebrawood Napkin Holder” would whiff Google, but nay, one result.

There it is in the making. Quarter inch black walnut dowels will go down and across.


Deployed. Nothing learned here but at least avoided were the many common and hideous representations of mediocrity that often fill the function.