Thursday, April 16, 2015

be grounded

which can sometimes mean, lay on the ground, look at the sky.

(when you get up, sometimes there are leaves stuck to your hat)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

trail of the cedars in glacier national park

Maybe 10 years ago my brother & I camped in Glacier National Park.  We did a little back country camping (my first and only experience camping out of a backpack instead of a tent).  We saw a bear.

One of the trails we hiked was so memorable that I am hoping to return to it.  By chance an internet search helps me to find it--Trail of the Cedars.  Not too far from the parking area, we came across these stream-carved channels in the rock.  I'm thrilled to have found a photograph, since I can't seem to locate my own.

It's not the same as the photograph in my mind.  But without the name of the trail, I would have a tough time getting back there.

Are there beautiful places in your mind that you want to return to?

Friday, April 10, 2015

more magic

This house is pictured in Lloyd Kahn's book Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter.  I devoured this book over a year ago so I'm not remembering the details of the story around this house.   The house is in British Columbia and those are whale bones.   

Here is an article from Mother Earth News about Lloyd and the book.  I also enjoy reading his blog.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Nuala O'Faolain's magic cottage

I'm reading "Are You Somebody", a memoir by Nuala O'Faolain.  The writing is rich--it gives you a sense of the texture of an Irish life in the 60's and 70's.

Halfway through the book, I came across a passage that brought me to a stop.  I read it over and over, and bent the page corner, and came back to it again.  Nuala would visit her boyfriend's home on weekends.  After a work week, she'd take the train north out of London, and get off at a quiet platform in a village.  He would step out of the little pub to meet her.

We'd buy our take-away bottles and head off.  We went home by a pathway along the edge of the fields, then by the side of a thick beech wood, and then we ducked into the wood and went across the soft forest floor, parting the boughs until we came out in a clearing in the middle of the wood, and there, in a patch of grass, like a thing of magic, stood the cottage.

Every season was beautiful.  In the spring there was a sea of bluebells under the sharp sweet green of the new beech leaves.  In summer the golden cubes of straw glowed in the stubble fields and the woods were blackish-green.  In autumn, the searchlights of ferris-wheel havesters played and replayed on the blank wall of the trees as they whirled and thumped up and down the big fields, chewing up whole pea plants and spitting the mulch out behind.  Winter was the most wonderful of all.  First there was a season when the leaves fell so thickly in the wood that there was silence.  The mist rolled up from the estuary and the bare twigs of the trees were covered in a cold sweat.  Then it would freeze, and when we came out of the pub and started along the path to home we'd be breaking the skin of ice that had begun to form on the puddles when it got dark.  We'd turn into the skeletal woods.  And there, in its little clearing crisp with frost, would be our cottage, the light glowing from the warm kitchen, the dinner ready in the stove.  We had no bathroom, no television, no telephone.  We had everything.

Nuala shares that although the relationship with this man was at times one of disagreement, that the year that they shared in this cottage was a year "of great happiness".  That rings true to me.  A house like this one sends peace deep into your bones.  It's solidly rooted in a place of beauty, and a profound sense of rest settles over you, grounds you, makes you unshakeable.

This passage paints a clear picture for me.  I don't want to include a photograph to interfere with your mental image.  All I know is I believe the world would be a better place if we humans had safe, warm bungalows to return to at night, with the feeling of security that this can not be taken from me.  Put that cottage deep in a beech forest.  "We had everything."  This is contentment, this is peace.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

grounded and connected

I've uncovered two needs as I've journeyed into this woodworking career.


First, to become grounded in reality.  This means hands on woodworking.  Not dreaming about it, or saving pictures, or wishing to do it.  Just doing it.


At the same time, as I move into the reality of learning skills, making furniture, acquiring tools, attending workshops, meeting timber framers...another need surfaces.  It's the need to stay connected to my original vision.  What was the initial attraction to this journey?  What is the vision?

made a mano

Suddenly my folders of inspiration pictures become a valuable resource.  I can come back to them and see what was my attraction.

made a mano

 Because as I move into the real world, many of my teachers have another vision that drives them.  And I will learn from these people.  But ultimately I will return to my vision and create that which gives me joy.

made a mano

So my pinterest account, my tumblr page, these weren't a complete waste of time.  It is a connection to my dream.


I want to be grounded in my current woodworking practice.  And I want to stay connected to the dream that brought me here in the beginning.

Photo by Brian Ferry

Small cozy hand made homes.  Simple furniture with visible joinery.  Elements of a simple and satisfying life, both for the maker, and the owner.

Klaus Lictenegger

Sunday, March 15, 2015

japanese chisels

I'm researching Japanese tools in preparation for some purchases for my course this fall.  I came across these very high end chisels on

Look at the pattern on these chisels!

Is this even real?  It looks like some kind of silk!

And as the chisel is sharpened, the grain of the metal (I never knew there was such a thing) is revealed.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

toy box bench--done and delivered!

Today I delivered the finished toy bench to the friends who asked me to make it.  It was really exciting to see their reactions to it.

Here are a couple of more pictures:

Special supports hold the lid open if you lift it.  This is a necessity for a child's toy box.  The first hardware I installed was not strong enough to hold up the lid, so I got two stronger ones and they did the job perfectly.

Each board was sanded and its edges rounded with rasp, plane, or sandpaper prior to assembly.  It's important to me that the wood is smooth to the touch.

There were several mistakes along the way that I had to go back and fix, but I carefully fixed each one, taking my time.  It's incredibly satisfying to know that I'm giving them a quality product that will last.  I am hoping that it grows along with its baby owner, meeting different needs during each stage of her life.