Incarceration Day


JJ finally remembered that a) he is a cat and b) cats can jump. My ersatz gate is no longer working…nor would, I fear, any gate of a bearable size.

So now he’s in the doghousecrate.

Tomorrow, he’s off for a visit to and a few days’ stay at the vet. Maybe in the meantime Viola will remember what it means to be in charge. She does, after all, have as large a working set as the two boys; she used to know it.

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Creature Discomforts


I can’t believe I’ve not yet tripped over my cat contraption and broken my neck. Or at least dropped and broken my iPad (again). I should have built a proper gate – something with hinges that allows for easy one-handed operation – to keep my cats separated. But I didn’t think the feline war would continue for more than a couple days. I was wrong. Two months later, and…


JJ and Viola in 2010 – best friends…and JJ makes a decent pillow.

My little tortie, Viola, was at death’s threshold just before my trip to Lie-Nielsen in mid-July. I took her to the hospital, then to her regular vet where she spent a few days getting fluids and recovering while I was traveling. But Viola was ready to come home before I was, so my neighbor kindly retrieved her, and at my direction set her free in the house. The house where she’s lived in harmony with JJ since February 2009, after I brought her in off the street during a particularly rough snowstorm. Despite her small size (6 pounds), she quickly became the dominant kitty.

No more. JJ is now the guy in charge; he has Viola scared…and peeing in inappropriate places in her panic to escape the 17-pounds of feline fury he’s unleashed. (Possum is just bewildered by the both of them, and basically ignoring things.)

All I can figure is that she smelled funny when she got home, and JJ pounced. By the time I got back four days later, the damage was done.

So I set up a feeding station and  litter box on the second floor, and cobbled together  a gate of sorts with duct tape, pet screening, a piece of 1×4, a dowel rod, staples and a bungie cord. (I’d be happy to share the SketchUp drawing….) I should have built a proper gate.

The duct tape doesn’t stick well to the wall (so I have to replace it often), it is leaving a lot of residue and it has pulled the paint off the wall in places. I should have attached the 1×4 to the wall with hinges; repairing the plaster (assuming the cat differences get settled) would have been far easier than the damage caused by the (fairly ineffective) tape. And the bungie cord lost its protective hook tip and marred the finish on my bannister. I should have built a proper gate.

I thought the screen would allow them to get reacquainted, but no. It does, however, exhibit a nice trampoline effect when JJ leaps into it trying to get at Viola on the other side. That’s funny, but I’m done laughing.

JJ is about to get a few days’ vacation at the vet, while I get a few days’ vacation from tripping over that damn screen. Then he’ll come home smelling funny. I sincerely hope Viola runs right over and wallops him upside the head. Then, things will be back to normal.

And if that doesn’t work, well, I guess I’ll build a proper gate.

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Help Me Out, Hook Me Up

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Sorry for the salacious title – it’s the name of a Paul Thorn song I quite like…which is now stuck in my head (could be worse; could be “Tom’s Diner”).

I’m looking for a few pictures of Fred West that you wouldn’t mind my using in a talk at Woodworking in America next weekend. If you have any, please send ‘em my way (to The one above is the only one I have :-(



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You Just Don’t Know Me Anymore


I got off a plane recently and my ride didn’t recognize me (though we’ve met a great number of times over the last decade). The sandwich shop in my neighborhood used to start writing down my standing order when I walked in the door; now the servers act as if we’ve never met. At the local bar, I get the same summer drink every time; the bartender used to reach for the bottle when she saw me. Now she says, “What can I get for you?” And more than one person has done a double take.

I have, you see, given in to my 40s; I’ve stopped dyeing my hair (which I’ve been doing since it first started turning from strawberry to grey a decade ago). It simply took too much time every five to six weeks; I hate sitting still. Plus, it cost a lot of money; I’d rather spend that on handplanes and walnut.

But it seems my hair was the only recognizable thing about me. Now, you’ll just have to find me by the faint whiff of sawdust. And old-lady smell (read: cats).


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‘Once More into the Beech’

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Four years ago, we received at PopWood a couple review copies of “500 Cabinets” (Lark) in which were pictured…500 cabinets. The book was (and still is, one presumes) chock-full of interesting and creative casework, much of it modern. And for some reason, a lot of modern furniture gets what I think are amusing and confusing (and often-times pretentious) names. Christopher Schwarz wrote a much funnier post about it than can I – so click here to read it; I’ll wait.

For the next issue of the magazine, I’ve attempted a nod toward modernity (though the Shaker influence is clear) – a hanging cabinet with contrasting woods (walnut and spalted beech, from a beech buy that’s shown up in several other PW articles in the last decade) and a live-edge top that has a void at one end.

This thing needs a pretentious name. My suggestion is the headline above – though I also like “Travaille Épuisant en Noyer.”

I’m showing it to you here in black and white with a fuzz filter…because that seems more pretentious. And also because I don’t want to give it all away on our first date; you’ll have to pay $5.99 first.

Please offer your suggestions below. (Chris likes “Follies of Pumping Equipment No. 12.) The winner (as determined by me) gets a box of Gitanes, a black turtleneck and the right to don a supercilious sneer. (Not really. I’m not giving up my black turtleneck sweater or my sneer. But I’ll send you a box of Gitanes if you like.)

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Not Dead Yet


The picture above pretty much says it all (and it also says, correctly, that I am a slob). My next woodworking project may well be a trundle bed that fits under my desk (of course, I’ll have to move the boxes and other crap currently underneath to make room).

My fervent hope is that after Woodworking in America, I’ll have a spare hour or so to go shopping for the mattress.


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Welcome-mat Voodoo

It once had a lovely motif of birds, branches and blooms. Really it did.

It once had a lovely motif of birds, branches and blooms. Really it did.

Curb appeal: That’s what my mother thinks caused my house to not sell last year. Well, not curb appeal, but the lack thereof. It all boiled down, she said, to the un-welcoming welcome mat. Never mind that the house has been recently painted and the garden actually has in it living and flowering plants.

I think that’s ridiculous. A 24″ x 36″ bit of coir simply can’t mean the difference between “I MUST buy this house!” and “RUN AWAY!” Can it?

But yeah, the mat was a bit ratty.

So, now that a) my house is off the market, b) I found a mat I like on sale and c) my mom can’t prove herself right,  I bought a new door mat.

Basically, it’s a $20 cat-scratching pad. But colorful! Not (yet) shredded! And welcoming! (The pineapple is, after all, the symbol for hospitality.)

And if someone comes knocking at my door with an offer, well, mom beats St. Joseph, and I will eat crow.


And oh dear. In looking at the above photo, I’m pretty sure her next directive will be to paint the black planters.

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