Monday, June 28, 2010

Shop Girl: The series


I know I haven't been posting a lot lately, but what can I say? The garden is burning up in this heat and so am I. I have been busy, though, mostly doing mundane chores around the house, such as scraping old paint on the exterior trim of the house in preparation for re-painting. Not exactly the most exciting thing to report. About on par with, well, watching paint dry.

However, thanks to a comment from Lindy on my most recent post and a conversation over lunch on Friday with my good friend Cheryl, I now have an idea for a short summer series. Although I've already done a general, non-specific tour of the wood shop, I haven't spent a whole lot of time explaining my set-up or the tools I have. Part of the reason I've never done so has to do with wanting to encourage more people to embrace the "can-do" life, and worrying that they might feel like they can't do so unless they have this particular whoozit, or that specific whatsit. But lookit, every journey begins with a single tool, and yada, yada, and so on. It has taken me nearly twenty years to get my shop the way I want it, so don't go getting all intimidated by any of this and think the job is so overwhelming that there is no point in starting.

That said, I've learned a lot during those twenty years, about what I like, what I don't like, and what's necessary and what's not. I've built much of it myself, sometimes to get something exactly the way I wanted it, and other times simply because it was fun to do so. The shop has been through several different iterations to arrive where it is at present, which is pretty close to a perfect work flow, given that it is a relatively tiny environment. Like a sailboat, there is very limited elbow room, so everything in the shop has to pull its own weight for the space it displaces.

I'll talk about all of this over the next few weeks, aiming for about a once a week post on the subject. In between I'll try to throw in some posts with the usual summer cycling and garden project mix, since I can't imagine that all of you are going to be fascinated by the wood shop.

First up on the agenda, to be posted in a couple of days, will be an overall look at the "envelope" (structure, lighting, insulation, ventilation), followed by weekly posts on the workbench, tool cabinet, work flow, big tools, hand tools, windows and doors I've built, the shaving horse, wood storage, dust collection, and thorny, persistent problems that keep it from being perfect. If, as we take this tour, you spot something you'd like me to elaborate on, just give me a nudge and I'll put it on the list.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

OK, perhaps I've let things go a bit...

You can't swing a dead cat in Maine without hitting either a woodworking shop, boat builder, or tool maker, so I came back from my trip inspired to do some paddle-making. When I walked into my shop, however, this is what I found:

Vines cleaned off the screens, benchtop cleared and dusted, and the windows thrown open to catch the dry summer air. Short work to get it ship-shape:

Now that things are the way I like them, I've picked up a project I started a while back. I'll do some posts on it in the upcoming week and fill you in.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Maine Schedule


Rise at 6 and work for an hour or so. 
Try to ignore the view from the window at my writing desk.

Gather in the kitchen for breakfast with the others and spend a couple of hours planning the next NEW-CUE conference, "American Women Writing Nature, Continuing the work of Rachel Carson." "Women's Work, Writing in the Spirit of Rachel Carson" (new title, as of this morning's meeting).

Break for a walk with the dog.


See some wildflowers.


And cows.


Maybe go down to the lake and stare at the reflections in water.

Work some more until mid-afternoon.

Break for some sightseeing in town.

And used-book shopping.


Check out the famous, locally-grown, free-range, organic woodworking tools, made just up the road.


Shop for supper fixins at Beth's, or go to Moody's Diner or Billy's Tavern for fish-related victuals.

Break out the wine and fall asleep while watching a DVD.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Beth's Farm Market, Warren, Maine

So this is one of the places we are getting our food for supper every night, just up the road from the cottage:

Fresh vegetables, in an alarmingly attractive architectural arrangement (if they look this good all piled up, I might just have to eat them):


Sunday, June 6, 2010

On Walden Pond, etc.

All this week I'll be in Maine, working on a book proposal and hobnobbing with some fellow writers, among other things. In order to get here, I flew into Boston and had a pleasant layover with some old friends, Megan and Dan. My first night in Beantown Megan took me to see a beautiful green spaces in the heart of the city. Here's the first, Post Office Square, in the pouring rain (hence the view from inside the shelter of a coffee shop):

And then a spectacular greenway:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Here and There, This and That


Well, I've been traveling a bit and will be traveling some more in the toute suite future, so posting may be sporadic for awhile. Tomorrow I leave for a ten-day writers workshop in Maine, where I hope that among other things, I'll be able to cobble together a book proposal. Several of you have been nagging me about a book, so there ya go. Hope you're happy now.