Sunday, June 25th, 2006
Today I was working in the shop again and knocked off a one-day project -- this morning Ellen mentioned it would be great if Sylvia had a little portable desk that she could use to write on when she's in bed. Ellen was away all afternoon so I was hanging around the house with Sylvia, and we decided to try our hands at making a desk.
I had a broad board of maple (nearly 12" across) that's been in my wood pile for a long time, that looked like just about exactly the right size. I cut a 16" length for the desk top, and two trapezoidal pieces 8 1/2" long in front and 10 1/2" long in the rear, for the sides. The remainder was about 16" long, and I cut a 2" wide brace off it and a 1/2" wide piece for the front of the desktop.
I shaped the sides as follows: cut them out to look like legs and a rail. Then round over the sides of the legs and bevel the bottom of the "rail". (Sylvia's first time using a spoke shave.) Sand smooth where needed. The desktop should also be beveled on the back and sides.
Now the desk is ready to assemble. I was initially planning to nail it together; but the shortcomings of that plan were quickly revealed when I split one of the side pieces in half driving a nail through it. (Sylvia: "Do we need to start all over again from the beginning?" -- no, just glue it back together and keep going.) We used dowels for the joinery and finished with shellac. Total time from thinking of the design to a usable writing desk was 3 hours, including an extra half hour for letting the repair to the broken piece dry.
Saturday, June 24th, 2006
I have done some woodworking on and off for about 6 years. Spent a lot of time on (now-defunct) Badger Pond and on WoodCentral's Hand Tool forum. But I am coming gradually to recognize that what I really enjoy is carpentry -- the finesse required for furniture joinery is just frustrating for me, and the finished product never comes out like I want it to.
Today I finished my latest carpentry project, which was a big (approx 2' X 4' X 1 1/2') box for the patio, to keep barbecue supplies in. It is replacing a lidded plastic bin, which worked ok except the top was concave so it collected water every time there was rain and formed a breeding ground for mosquitos. This box has a sloping roof with shingles on it, and should shed water quite well. (It's raining now, so we'll see how it does.)
This is sort of a practice run for a garden shed I want to build later this summer, which will be on essentially the same plan except with a doorway let into the side and of course, without hinges on the roof.
Wednesday, June 14th, 2006
When I went out last night to turn over the compost pile, I discovered that a couple of old potatoes I threw on it last week have sprouted into vigorous young plants. Cool! Sylvia and I transplanted them to the side of the yard where they will get a little more sun, and put some compost on top of them. This morning they appear to be happily ensconced. I wonder if they will produce any potatoes -- I have never grown them before.
Tuesday, June 13th, 2006
I was reading a very good poem in this week's New Yorker (thanks for pointing it out to me, El!), called ‚??A Partial History of My Stupidity‚?Ě, by Edward Hirsch. I like the title -- a web search reveals to me that it was taken from this poem by Czeslaw Milosz -- a poet I have never read. Should look into correcting that. Here are some of his short poems.
Sunday, June 4th, 2006
We put up a bird feeder today and boy is it getting a lot of custom! Mainly sparrows, a few robins, a small cardinal, and an unidentified bird are what we have seen today. I hung it on the maple tree right outside our kitchen window and it is giving us a lot of entertainment. Also when we took a walk this afternoon, we saw a rabbit.
Friday, May 26th, 2006
Felt is playing tonight at the Gaslight on South Orange Avenue -- hopefully I will make it over there with my violin and hopefully they will ask me to sit in on a couple of tunes.
Update: A great show. I did not get to sit in because they were having trouble with the PA. However Tarquin said they would like to get me in a rehearsal before the next gig and work out some parts for me.
I am reading Dickens' Bleak House now -- it is a book that has been on my shelf for many years, one that was spoken of very highly on the Pynchon-l and that I've always been resolved to read sometime. It's proving easier going than I expected, with plenty of laughs and a plot that is only occasionally obscure. But there are so many characters! It's a little hard to keep track of who, say, Mr. Guppy is, who has not been mentioned in the past 50 pages or so, when he pops up.
So the Unofficial Moomin Characters Guide has given me an idea -- a general purpose, web-based database utility for keeping track of characters in a book or series of books. I don't think this would be very difficult to do and it seems like it would come in handy.
I'm very happy to see that Drawn and Quarterly will be bringing out five volumes of Tove Jansson's Moomin comic strips. First one is due in September!
Saturday, May 20th, 2006
Hey Ana, here's the video I was telling you about. (The site is in Dutch but you don't need to read it, just click on the box that says "Klik om te starten".)
Friday, May 19th, 2006
Ok, this anecdote probably belongs in an Unfogged thread but I'm not sure how to work it in. Last night some friends took me out for my birthday dinner and drinks. (W00t! Happy birthday Jer! Everybody now...) The lawyer among them was telling me about a current client of his, scion of a Manhattan newspaper-insert printing business, who is trying to open a sado-masochism-themed bed & breakfast. Awesome. But apparently this is not a brand-new idea; my friend said there are currently 14 such businesses within a 1-mile radius of Gramercy Park. Who knew?
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Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.