Sloop of War

Small vessels of the Napoleonic War era below the rate of the frigate were frequently termed Sloops of War. It didn’t matter if the ship was rigged as a sloop, a brig, snow, or an actual ship rig. A frigate was generally ship rigged ( square-rigged on all three masts) and had at least 28 guns on a single flush deck. 

So the handy little flush deck Sloop of War I’ve carved here is almost a pocket frigate. With twelve guns, she will not stand against a larger ship, say a Frigate, but is armed well enough to do some severe damage as a Privateer, dispatch, or reconnaissance ship. Fast and able ships like this served the British, American, and French navies throughout the era.

About the carving:

This was lots of fun to carve. I modeled the Sloop of War on several illustrations but modified things until I had the sail plan and view I wanted. The carving was executed in eastern white pine. After most of the carving was complete, I decided on a mixture of painted color and bare wood for the sort of contrasts I wanted. The sea combines crushed stone, blue ink, and acrylic paints. The quote is a favorite Horatio Nelson quote that is both era-appropriate and matches the scene.

Sailing before the wind is a challenging position to carve. It needs a bit of hollowing in the sails for drama, but it can be tricky to express. Remember you are trying to get this sense of depth and movement in 1/8 of an inch or less of carved depth.

I’ve been developing this carving style as an homage to nineteenth-century sailors’ dioramas and ships’ portraits. It’s not modeling, nor is it flat portraiture. It’s a sort of hybrid.

Paper and Scissors

I found the wood sitting in the shorts at my favorite hardwood dealer. It was very dark, heavy, and dense. It was mahogany but so dark and heavy that I felt it was a wayward piece of Dominican, not Honduran. It was just what I wanted.
I wanted to create a banner with a distinctive font, Barnhard Modern. I also wanted to give the banner a center and ends that undulate. The result was pleasing. At shows, people run their hands over the banner as a sensual experience, precisely what I wanted.

How do you do this? You must carve banner ends to appear delicate when viewed from a distance. But up close, there needs to be enough heft that they’ll stand up to the abuse they’ll get on a boat’s transom. For a show display, you have to compromise. People are way closer to the carving than they would be in another boat.

Many banners have curvature, but in most, the area which is lettered is flat. On MANDALAY, the field of the lettering undulates. So, the lettering does not stay in the same plane while laying it out or carving it. To experiment with this, I advise using wood no less than 8/4 in thickness. Any less will be too thin for the effect to work.

First, I carved the banner with all its curves and undulations. It’s essential to control your pleasure in removing wood. Easy. Remember that the effect comes from the smoothness of the curves and contours. Abrupt changes will ruin the look. Periodically take a break to place it in natural light. Turn it upside down and see if the movement of the wood flows.
For lettering, you have several options: Old School layout by hand; or New School computer layout in vinyl or paper. I chose a compromise between hand layout and computer layout on paper. The key to the paper template here is that the paper is flat, and the surface is not – hence the title: Paper & Scissors because cutting the paper will allow you to follow the undulating surface.
To follow the undulations, you slice the areas between the letters to get them to lay in the correct planes. As you layout, you also need to adjust the kerning ( distance between the letters). When completed, take the design into natural light, turn it upside down, and check to see if it still looks proportionate and balanced. I left this for a day and returned to it fresh the next morning; rested eyes see mistakes. I also find that taking photos on my phone reveals things my eyes sometimes miss.

After the layout was complete, the letter carving was like any other letter carving project. The finish is about eleven coats of Captain’s Z-Spar rubbed out after the first three priming coats and each succeeding one. The lettering I painted with One-Shot yellow sign paint. Two thin coats are better than a single thick covering.

Although gold leafing is an entirely separate topic, I advise that you do yourself an enormous favor and allow the varnish to cure before gold leafing. Remember that’s cure, not dry. Varnish manufacturers will tell you that varnish dries in twenty-four hours. But that is not the same as curing.

Gold leaf has a nasty tendency to stick to anything. But especially uncured varnish. I frequently allow a week or more for the varnish to cure; move on to another project, and come back later to apply gold leaf.

Acorns to Oaks*

We all want to be instant experts. One of my sensei describes this in terms of the training montages that are standard fare in martial arts movies; the neophyte progresses from clumsy beginner to skilled pro in thirty seconds of cinematic snapshots. The rest of us suffer from dissatisfaction and disappointment from being less than optimal for much longer.
Not every time, but more frequently than I’d like, I get confronted with the unique. And, all of a sudden I am a neophyte once more. Incorporating new materials, using new types of paints, complex constructions, and most especially very small parts that need fabrication all create confrontations with the problematic.

When I was doing banners, quarter boards, transoms, and the odd eagle, the problems were mostly mechanical – design layout, curvature to fit, and calculating shadows in carved lettering.

Boat and ship portraits offer many more issues. I am presenting a practice piece of the very first boat portrait I ever did. Remember, practice pieces are exactly like the rough sketches you do of a subject before you paint – the practice is to work out the approach, shapes, and rendering before you start the actual work. Being that carving is subtractive, this saves you from ruining expensive wood and wasting time.

Over the years, I’ve done many portraits. I’ve borrowed techniques from model makers, painters, and illustrators. I’ve also had to develop some tricks of my own. The single most important thing will seem trite: challenge is what differentiates those who are growing from those who are standing still intellectually and as artists.

Principal carving is complete, finishing the coaming and adding some details are all that's left before fitting into the hoop
Principal carving is complete, finishing the coaming and adding some details are all that’s left before fitting into the hoop.

There are about two years between my first practice piece and my rendering of a cat boat for a mast hoop portrait. Principal carving is complete, finishing the coaming and adding some details are all that’s left before fitting into the hoop.

Easy Pieces

I admit that the sort of non complex carving that happens when I carve a small bowl is pretty alluring. No antsy detail. No pattern that needs to be followed. Just follow the will of the wood.

today I put up a new page on the site for hand carved bowls, but thought that I’d spend a bit of time taking about my favorites . I am kind of hoping that these do not sell at next weeks show. I’ve made the mistake of getting attached to them.

Only a few inches around, the banding on the sides and interior, and the rough lip make this one a favorite just to hold and look at. Made from a piece of cherry firewood.

This second one was also from firewood. I love the subtle grain pattern and the rough lip.

This third bowl was from a slightly larger piece of cherry firewood. I had enough wood to form a bit of a handle. I went experimental and charred the interior with a torch. Before finishing you scrape off most to the char, leaving just blackened wood. There are slight defects in the wood that in my mind make the piece even more interesting.

I’ve done a number of others, and like them, but these are my favorites.

New and Old

We can easily get lost in the weeds talking about tradition in crafts. It’s just hard to avoid observing that technology casts long shadows when you make something and call it traditional. The majority of shops that work with wood use bandsaws, table saws, and jointers. These tools have been around long enough not to ignite a vendetta among purists looking for “traditionally crafted goods.” But the technological landscape is always changing for the craftsperson.
Recently I have been nosing about on the borders. A few years ago, a series of eye surgeries compromised my ability to do certain types of woodcarving, mostly lettering. After surgery, I began to explore what I could and couldn’t conveniently do. The vision changes prompted the carving shop’s move from the old basement workshop into the greenhouse – I needed lots of light. Last year I also began to play around incorporating laser engraving and cutting as an adjunct to my carving.
Some things worked well, and others fell flat. Frankly, it’s all a work in progress. The small sign shown above is one of the projects that worked. Some of the others wound up feeding the woodstove.
Is it traditional? Well, was it traditional when craftspeople and artists began using acrylic paints or using computers to assist them in design?

Years ago, when I worked as an anthropologist, I knew a woman who crafted the most incredible Ukrainian Easter eggs. One afternoon over coffee Elizabeth introduced me to the history of technological innovation in the world of decorated Easter eggs. Over the centuries, dies and methods of preparation changed. But the community accepted the eggs because of the continuity of design and meaning in the community.
Back in the ’80’s colleagues were musing about Cambodian kite makers shifting from traditional fabrics used in Cambodia to the ripstop nylon available to them here in the United States. The maker of traditional Cambodian dance costumes received mention also. One of them had adopted the hot glue gun and factory-made jewelry findings to construct elaborate headdresses and other costume bits. They looked like the old style, but the components and techniques had evolved.

On one project I worked on years ago with boatbuilders, I asked builders what they thought was the central concept that defined the traditional boat. I had expected them to talk about materials, construction techniques, and design. I wasn’t disappointed because they all mentioned those things to one degree or another, but as a group, they said the value placed on the boat by the community that used them was central. One well-known figure I interviewed ( Lance Lee) suggested the term “cherish” as the central concept – the boats were cherished and valued by the community. It was the community of users that made something traditional.

The laser engraver that sits in the basement, and my visual handicap, got me thinking about these things. The concept of craft, especially when labeled traditional, has some minefields laid in it for the artisan. Look beyond technology to intent, the community’s acceptance of the product, and the continuation of design tradition. Sometimes we might be daunted by what we see, but the first carver who moved from a stone or bone tipped tool to one of metal started us on the moving process of technology in arts and craft.

New York Pilot Boat 5

This chest was not in stock long enough for me to do a proper set of photos. It sold at it’s first appearance at the Maine Boatbuilder’s Show to a pair of Boston Harbor pilots who were going to give it as a retirement gift to a colleague. The chest itself was of fairly common pine with teak keys for strength and decorative effect.
The top though, that’s some pine of a different pedigree. The pine tree was felled by the great hurricane of 1938. At the time it came down, it had been the tallest tree in the town of Shirley, Massachusetts. Very probably old growth, the entire top was just a segment of the plank I purchased from the retired dairy farmer, who, in true Yankee fashion, refused to let such a good tree go to waste and made it into planks.


The pilot boat itself was pilot number 5 from New York Harbor. Pilot boats had to be extremely fast and able, and this design shows a flexible sail plan and sweet lines. Somewhere I have a slew of pilot boat designs but have not had an opportunity to carve another. Beautiful boats like this are hard to resist.

for a more recent look into New York Harbor pilotage take a look at Tugsters post of a pilot boat mothership: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72558/posts/2868136611

Wood

Wood occupies a central part of our lives. We love our cherry spoons, Mahogany cabinets, and teak deck chairs. As consumers, there is much that you don’t know about your favorite woods.

Smell:

Ash has a sweetish odor, that is uniquely distinctive when you saw it or burn it. Fresh red birch has a scent that takes you back to the best root beers you’ve ever had. Cherry bark smells like tasty cough syrup. And oak has an earthy odor to it. If you work with fresh-cut timber, these are some of the sensations that the tree shares with you, and which the uninitiated remain unaware.

Color:

Love the look of mahogany, the beautiful color of cherry, or walnut? The tree didn’t add them for you. Trees live in a highly competitive environment where organisms are always attacking the tree, looking for a meal. To deter the attacks, trees deposit chemicals into their wood that inhibit insects, bacteria, and fungi. After we cut the timber, those chemicals give us the coloration and some of the wood’s durability.

Toxicity:

Some woods are toxic to us. A wood called Pink Ivory is lovely to look at but is dangerous because of the chemicals in the wood. In use, it needs sealing before it’s safe for us to use. 

Woodworkers need to be especially aware that the dust caused by sanding some species is irritating. Mahogany and teak fall into that category. Not everyone is sensitive, but wearing protective gear is an excellent way of avoiding dermatitis or respiratory issues.

Food Safety:

Normally most of what I’ve mentioned is not too important to the average consumer. There is one area to aware of, and that is treen. Treen ( derived from the word tree) are objects like spoons, spatulas, bowls, and the like. Being that we handle food with them, the potential toxicity should be considered. In North America, woods normally considered food safe are woods like maple, fruitwoods (cherry, plum, pear, and apple) birch, and poplar. I’ve used ash for cutting boards, but not for spoons because it has alternating summer and winter woods ( ring porosity) and might absorb odors and flavors when immersed. Oak, while not toxic, is ring-porous, and can impart it’s earthy taste to foods, so I do not use it.

You might notice that I have not included walnut on my list. I am rather certain that it is food safe, but I rarely use it because there are a good number of people with walnut allergies.

Spalted wood is wood with the patterns of decay caused by fungus visible on the wood. It’s beautiful to look at, but there is a significant debate as to whether or not it is food safe. I do not work with it, in part, because there is a respiratory risk to the woodworker from the spores of the fungus. Yes, many woodworkers claim that the spores can be killed by microwaving or heating the wood. It’s just not a risk I take.

Exotic woods. I stay away from them. For many, there are question marks regarding their food safety, and being that I used to sell commercially, I had product liability to worry about.

If you have questions about any of this, write me, and I’ll try to formulate an intelligent response.

Favorites

My father’s favorite ship was the S.S. President Tyler. He sailed aboard it whenever possible from his first voyage around 1932 till he came ashore in 1946, the year I was born. Several World and Asian cruises made him a genuine China Sailor.
Sailors, merchant or naval, can have deep relationships with their ships. Call it loyalty, affection, longing, or call it what it really can be – romance. I know, I have an ache for a certain ketch I’ll never see again. Women are known to jealous of ships and boats. My first mother in law was jealous of the Cap’ns Psyche. For the sake of peace, she hid it well. My mother was not so diplomatic about my father’s love of the sea, and “that ship.” She had been a sea widow throughout their marriage and two pregnancies. Like many sea widow’s, there came a time when the husband was expected to “swallow the anchor.” More than a few arguments ended with my father threatening to go to the hiring hall and “look for a ship.”
So growing up, the Tyler was a sensitive issue. We’d regularly drive along the Hudson River to where the reserve fleet was anchored. He was looking for the Tyler. My mother was never on any of these excursions.

I had seen my father’s pictures onboard the Tyler, But I had never seen a photo of the ship itself. My mother was famous for editing her life, so it’s more than likely that she disposed of those photos when she threw out dad’s cruise scrapbooks. For her, those were not good times.

Many years later, I was teaching marine carving at the WoodenBoat School in Maine. Teaching at WoodenBoat is not just an opportunity to learn. It’s an opportunity to grow as a person through the freindhips formed with the individuals you meet there. One year one of my students was a former Master Mariner who worked for the American Bureau of Shipping. We talked about ships one night, and I told him all that I knew of the Tyler and my father’s affection for the ship. I mentioned that I’d love to carve a portrait of the Tyler but could not find enough data to start the project. I thought no more about the conversation, and at the end of the course, said goodbye to my students and returned to Massachusetts.

About three weeks later, a large envelope arrived from the ABS (American Bureau of Shipping). In it was were copies of plans and articles relating to the class of vessel to which the Tyler had belonged; enough to start the portrait. My student had searched the ABS library for the documentation that I needed.

The Tyler was my first large portrait. I can now look at it and see a dozen things that I would and could do differently with twenty years of experience carving portraits. But when you finish a project it’s best to move on, or you’ll never finish.

It sails on my wall with a cherry ocean and sky heading east from Japan or China towards Los Angelos. I think my father is pleased that his ship is restored to an essential place in our lives, through the unexpected kindness of a fellow seaman.

Eagle Eyes

While teaching, I always like to decorate the workshop with carving examples for students to use as a reference. Week-long excursions to teach away from home mean emptying the house of many of my carvings. But samples in three dimensions often are better than pictures or demonstration, and the extra work was worth it.
During one summer course, A student was working on an eagle and suddenly stopped, got up, and went over to an eagle billet head. He picked it up and turned the head away from him. Noticing me watching, he shrugged his shoulders and said: “it was watching me.”
Smiling, I pointed out that he was perfecting the eagle’s body plan and feathers without working on the head, most notably the eye. He asked me why it mattered, and I told him that it was essential to fair the contours of the head and neck into the body, so the eagle looked all of one piece when finished. The head is temporarily attached to the body with a screw while you carve the neck fair to the body.
” But why was it watching me?”
Well, I explained, years ago, while I was first carving eagles, a talented carver from Boothbay Harbor advised me to always start the head before detailing and finish the eye first. There was a practical reason for this. The eye was a delicate piece of work, and if not done right could ruin the whole birdie. He then added that he had been taught to do the eye first so the eagle could oversee the carving’s remainder. ” As I was taught, so am I teaching you.” I then turned the eagle about so it’s beady eyes were on the student. ” Being that you haven’t done the eye first, this birdie’s cousin in watching you.” I can be a first-class pain sometimes.

I carved the eyes on that particular eagle with a “tunnel” eye effect. With that manner of carving, you could get the impression that the eye watches you and moves with you. To someone easily spooked, like my student, it could be an unpleasant sensation.
There are several ways to carve eagle eyes for traditional marine eagles. Please note that if you carve more realistic styles, these will not appeal to you. I’m a nineteenth-century carver stuck in the twenty-first century. Be all modern if you like. Another ships carver reminded me that most people do not get close eough to smell the eagle; all these things in full size are meant to be viewed from a distance. Here are some examples of eyes:

Twentyone

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The problem with imagination is that it’s boundless. On the wall is a poster telling you that you can do it if you can imagine it. Don’t take it too literally.

Aspirations aside, there are some things only possible with loads of tricks, like telling fortunes. My friend Bill had picked up some tricks of the psychic trade from working with a con artist we knew as John. Bill had a natural talent for reading people, and with the card and vocal tricks he had picked up from John, he was soon a favorite among the weekend influx of suburban kids that regularly hit the Folkie Palace. 

From fortune-telling with the kids to doing it at the Harvard Gardens for beer was a natural progression. “Imagine.” he told me- “I’m doing well while doing good.” At first, he restricted himself to doing readings for friends, but as he grew more confident, he branched out. Lovelorn young ladies came to be a specialty. One attractive woman decided that she wanted Bill’s services exclusively. He demurred politely. She grew insistent. He explained that he was married. She slapped him and walked out.

Not too much later in walked police Sargent Cappucci with the young woman behind him. We all stood up to give Bill the needed cover to run out past the men’s room and the back door into the alleyway. Knowing that Bill and I were best friends, I got collared. “Tell your little buddy that I ‘m looking for him. Playing with the affections of my niece is something I won’t tolerate.” He shoved me into the booth, and away they walked. Him fuming her crying softly. “His niece.” Said the Teahead of the August Moon. ” Sweet. Bill can always find some way to get us into trouble.”

For the next couple of weeks, we were not in good favor with the residents of Grove Street. It seemed that the entire street attracted more casual police attention than usual. Squad cars were cruising by. Officers were poking around. It curtailed summer parties and other activities. It became common knowledge that we were the cause of this attention. As a group, and as individuals, we got uninvited from everything happening in the neighborhood. People avoided sitting near us in the Harvard Gardens. 

Bill suffered from none of this. He had departed for Baltimore right after the trouble at the Gardens.

As is often the case, we don’t learn from our mistakes unless we suffer from their consequences. In this incident, only Bill’s friends have. So it came as no surprise that no one at the Folkie Palace was willing to contribute to paying the fine to get Bill out of jail in Baltimore.

He had been cutting into the action of the”legitimate” psychics in Downtown Baltimore, and they had tipped off the police. I hitched down, solicited as many of our friends as possible, and got him out.

He was a repentant, Bill. a Bill who promised never to tell a fortune again. Besides, while in the joint, he’d met this great guy who’d taught him how to count cards in Blackjack.

” Wes, have you ever been to Vegas?”

Chateau Xenia Catnip, 2022

Xenia takes her duties as Catnip Queen of New England seriously. In the photo, she exhibits the poise and dedication all professional nippers should show while testing the new year’s crop. It’s fresh from the greenhouse where the new vintage has been resting and curing after the Harvest.

The next step is to mix with some of the prior years’ vintages to moderate the impact, soften the earth tones, and add fruitier after-effects. Chateau Xenia designer nip is known for being superior to typical commercial nips. It is the quality purveyor of fine nips to many of the finest nip dens in the United States.

Despite flabbergasted humans and dogs, Chateau Xenia is exclusively for cats. Only serious inquiries, Please.

Spinning The Dog

A flashback Friday offering

When my dad died in 1974, my mother was at loose ends. We cleared out a spare room so that she could stay with us. She came with Coco, my father’s dog. Our cat Clancy (The Gray Menace) automatically disliked Coco. Their relationship developed a pattern; Gray Menace unsheathes claws, Coco reflexively yipped and bounced out of reach.
One day I came home early. Letting myself into the apartment, I heard regular yips from my mother’s room. Standing by the door, I watched the cat and dog engaged in an activity that appeared to have been practiced. Coco was spinning in place. Once in a great while, the cat gently reached out to swat the dog on the rump. The dog would yip, and the spinning would increase in speed. Every time Coco slowed down, the cat would reach out and swat the dog’s rump again. The spinning went on until they noticed me. When they did, there was a sort of embarrassed reaction, and they walked away. I felt as though I had invaded their privacy.
Coco was not the smartest poodle in the world. The Gray Menace, on the other hand, took great pride in manipulation. He’d been successfully managing my life since he was a scruffy kitten found on the streets of Ottawa. His mastery of Coco should not have been much of a surprise. But when my mother decided to return to Virginia, I’ll swear that the cat was sad.

Over the years, I thought nothing much of this anecdote except as a family story to tell my kids until a few months ago. I knew that our politicians loved to confuse and confound us. But they also like to spin us. Yes, we’ve always gotten spun. But, now there seems to be a sort of manic nature to the spinning. It’s used to distract us from what to needs to get done; like voting or taking reasoned stands on important issues. It encourages divisive behavior, mistrust, and hate. It’s in the disinformation toolkit along with gaslighting, and rumor-mongering.
The memory of the Gray Menace, reaching out and swatting, the dog yipping and spinning comes to mind. Are you dizzy yet?

Beginnings

Lofty aspirations at sea start with basic jib tending. “Watch that luff.” or  “We’re coming about. Time to shift the jib soon.”“Ready About!”

Plain language as we reach the buoy and are ready to moor the boat, “go forward and dowse that jib.”

Sometimes just a bit of anger when the crew is tardy with the sail on a heaving foredeck.

Soon it’ll be mainsail, halyard, and sheet.

How Things Work Around Here

OK, listen up! To be clear, it’s not convoluted. It’s been known to Carreras cats and dogs back to prehistoric times. Santa Clause delivers toys to humans. His cat Santa Claws distributes to cats, and Santa Paws ( the dog elf), provides for the dogs. I understand that somewhere way back, an expedition to the North Pole was launched to confirm all this. Trust me; I’m a cat, and we know these things.

It’s different for cats and dogs. Cats are supposed to be bratty, indifferent to their humans, and disdainful of the stuff in their food bowls. People expect snotty behavior from us. Dad would take me to the darned vet if I were all sweetness and light. It would be like Santa’s reindeer not eating lichen and demanding celery. Yuck!

Dogs, on the other paw, are expected to obey. Cats are partners with humans. You guys drank the Cool Aid. You behave or get old dried reindeer poop in your stocking. 

In your defense, I know you’re still a pup. You have to learn now. I get first dibs on bows and wrapping paper under the Tree. 

Cats rule, and dogs drool!

Winter’s Slow Progress

Sometime around the middle of December, the activity in the shop will drop off. In contrast to just a few weeks earlier when the shop teemed with work, it now has a sort of calm peace about it.
I’ll go through and do a thorough cleanout to get rid of all the dust, chips, and shavings, but the scent of varnish, tung oil, and wood will remain.

I am too busy until about the sixth of January to think about this lull. But after that, as the winter sinks in and wears on, I crave the relief the shop routine brings. Just to be clear, January and most of February wear on me. I can think of not a single particle of value in those months that comes without hard toil -hard toil with a snow shovel and snow blower at that.

Why mention this now while I am busy? Because if there is to be a single sterling moment during that time, it comes from thinking now of projects that need development during that lull. Now I’m looking at things I see that I’ve never done but would like to try. I now think of portraits I’d love to be challenged by. And now, I am thinking of trying new materials and techniques.

The lights will be on in February late at night as I sit in the shop fiddling with something new. The neighbors might wonder what the hell is going on. I’ll be making slow progress in my craft and keeping the worst of winter at bay.

The Project Box

This time of year sees a flurry of shop activity as I finish the year. I am anxious because I have not seen the bottom of the project box for a month. What’s that, you ask? It’s a large tub full of “possibles”, pieces I want near because I will use them “soon”, and projects waiting for something. What are they waiting for…well sometimes it’s motivation, or they may be waiting for me to solve a problem with them.

Rather than call this my project box, I could call it the dubitable box – because, in some cases, it’s doubtful that I’ll ever finish what’s in it. Some box components waiting for assembly have resided in the bottom of the tub for at least a year. Sometimes I feel guilt for those incomplete works. When guilt creeps in, I avoid looking at the project box.

If the box gives me anxiety, why don’t I spend more time moving unfinished projects to the bench and towards completion?

My alibi is that the bench is covered with projects, and the waiting projects will have to take their turn. There, see? I can be assertive when I need to be.

Stocking Stuffers

These cherry spoons and spatulas are stocking stuffers for my daughter-in-law and her mother. The cherry is our native Massachusetts stock with its distinctive coloration and grain. Making these allowed me to use the laser engraver to personalize the traditionally made treen.
I love combining the traditional with the high-tech. In this case, the combination works well.

A Busy Season

I have a full load on my plate at the moment. The holidays are here, and the slow march toward Christmas has begun. I truly enjoy that. But try to find the darned “early Christmas” box of decorations. The one marked as such was not as advertised.
Then the shop. Yesterday I finished buffing about forty pieces of treen – spoons, spatulas, and forks. Today I have three cutting boards, about ten soft cheese spreaders, and some laser work to complete.

Then there is the portrait of the schooner Ada Bailey lying on the hard somewhere in the shop, demanding that I finish the groundwork so the sails can be carved, and the sails seem filled with wind. A proper carving of a proper schooner, not just a sketch and some half-finished background.

Then in the project box is the thirty-six-inch eagle, its banner, and the uncarved head. It would screech for attention, except I haven’t carved the head yet. I always carve the head, especially the eye, so the birdie can watch what I do to the plumage. But this time of year, there is too much to get out first.

Beneath the eagle, sulking in the project box, are lower-priority items. I do not want to dig down there. It’s too damn embarrassing.

So that’s what I have on my plate. I don’t dare show a photo of what the shop looks like now: sawdust, chips, filter masks, scraps, blanks waiting for the knife and gouge—a mess.

72 words to revenge

My Catalan ancestors pegged it as a dish best eaten cold. But my grandmother’s Hungarian ancestors replied that Hungarians preferred it hot.
My father summed it up, “right away is best. But opportunity, ability, and patience work well.”- a nice mix of Catalan patience and Hungarian eagerness.

But mother, whose ancestry spans three continents and four seas, told me the man who seeks revenge digs two graves.

So many choices and traditions.

Thanks

I worked so hard yesterday. Constantly sampling goodies to make sure they were of first quality. I was checking the whipped cream for the pie topping, the cream for the coffee, and of course, the turkey. So few realize the demands the holidays put on cats. Think of all the lost time in naps, the sacrifices made in all that eating.

Today is a day of rest; I’m thankful! Hmmmmmm…turkey scraps with dinner.

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