Back in Seattle! Let the projects begin!!

After two days of flying with a couple of heavily sedated French Bulldogs, we made it back to Seattle just in time for a home cooked Thanksgiving dinner. We are so glad to be back in our little house! The now sober puppies have staked their claim in our yard, we went to a few of our favorite neighborhood shops and *gasp* went shopping at Target on a SUNDAY *second gasp*!! In France, shopping on Sunday is a mythical creature that is spoken of in whispers. We miss Toulouse and our friends there already, but it is nice that things are sooo easy here.

The cold, rain, and ice was here to greet us, so in the interest of keeping Stamps-With-Foot happy, my first duty was to spend about 6 hours raising our hot tub from its long 2-year sleep. I cleaned it out, rinsed it twice, scrubbed it, filled it half way and ran the pumps, drained it, scrummed it all down again and then filled it to the top. They pump and heater fired right up and so far they are no leaks, but I will kaap a watch out for a while yet. It took about 4 hours for the water to go from 47 to 104 degrees and the temp has held steady.

We use BaquaSpa instead of Chlorine, so I loaded the tub up with a shock treatment after the it had come up to temp and had been circulating for 24 hours. I waited a few hours before taking a water sample into the local spa shop for testing. All good: just needed a little Oxidizer and to increase in the calcium. Wife happy – she sat in the tub yesterday for about an hour like a proper Japanese snow monkey.

I also just “happened” to stop in at Second Use and picked up a couple of painted fir corner cabinets that I have been eye-balling from afar. They will go in our living-room and replace the originals that were pulled out years ago by an unthinking previous owner – I can’t not work on the house. My Father-in-law, the Chatty Buddha, was here for Thanksgiving and I roped him into helping me wedge them into my tiny and very full shop. They will sit there until spring. Also thinking about re-installing an ironing board cabinet in the basement and a phone cubby in the upstairs hall. I have a problem…

Farewell to France Tour – 2015

We had grand expectations of weekend and holiday travel when we moved to France two years ago and while we have done a good bit, there were some places that we still wanted to visit before we return to Seattle. Stamps-With-Foot went into over drive researching, planning, calculating the budget and logistics to fit as many of our wants into one trip as possible. The below are posts from her web journal as we made our way, day to day and from place to place. I have included pictures from both our phones as well as some additional commentary.


On the road – Farewell to France tour
Matt and I will be leaving France at the end of November, so we had to plan a great trip to say Farewell to this beautiful country. We’ve got 12 days off sans puppies and a whole country to explore. Obviously we can’t go everywhere, but we planned a nice loop. We each had a place we wanted to go (for me it was the Dordogne to see castles, for Matt it was the Loire to see castles) and we both wanted to go to Paris again although we have both been there before, It’s Paris. So the trip goes as follows – one day and night in Rocamadour, one day and night in the Dordogne, two nights one day in Versailles, four nights and four days in Paris, two days one night in the Loire, a night and a day in Saint Emilion for our ninth wedding anniversary, and a night and a day in Bordeaux visiting our neighbor and friend Nico who has just moved there. And then home!

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Farewell to France tour – day one
We got on the road later than expected and had to forgo one of our stops (the caves of Peche Merle) but our stop in the beautiful picturesque village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie more than made up for it. It was so cute, we would totally live there!!! Next stop was Rocamadour. We arrived just after sunset when the lights were already shining on the ramparts of the castle. Beautiful. And our little hotel was right next to the castle! We had a fairly disappointing dinner at a tourist trap (mt: hundred+ of flies in the dining room and bloody-rare beef), went home to the hotel, planned the next stage of the journey and turned in early. I was so tired – it was the first day of “fall back” in Europe and it was past my bedtime.

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mt: I would live Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: Open a little wood shop near the church and have a 5 or so bee hives in the fields above the village. The village is known for its view and boxwood craftsman. Tiny shop in town with a turner that still uses an overhead shaft and leather belts for his lathe, drill press, band and tiny/scary table saw. No pictures allowed, so this is all I could snap.

Farewell to France tour: day two
Woke up in Rocamadour. We had no idea the fall in France would be so lovely. The autumn leaves are stunning! We had breakfast at our hotel, with views of beautiful trees in golden hues. Then we went to the Main Street of L’Hopitalet and saw a few ruins while waiting for our tour at the Grotte des Mervilles to start. It’s an underground cave discovered in 1920 which has gorgeous stalactite and stalagmite growth, unground ponds and cave art. There are other more famous grottoes and caves in the region, but we are on a whirlwind tour and can’t do everything. This was right there and easy to do and we are so glad we did. It was truly amazing. Afterward we checked out the Maison des Abeilles which Matt really liked as he is super into bees and beekeeping. Then we got on the road and drove to La-Roque-Gageac on the Dordogne river to take a boat tour. We saw five castles from the water and learned about the history of the region and the river. Next we went to the Château de Castelnaud where Matt was like a grinning nine year old. They have a huge collection of swords, armor and artillery including several huge trebuchets. We also saw a metalsmith demonstration and I almost took a dare to use the ancient garderobe but the door didn’t close. All in all it was a very busy and wonderful day!

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Mt: While at Castelnaud, France and there was a guy doing a lathe demo/sale in front of his little shop. Wooden lathe bed the hardware from a 1920s US made saw. His grandfather made it. Look at the wooden pulleys and detail on the machine. Was really happy to share his tools, method, and story.

Farewell to France tour – day three
Lots of driving today. We traveled from a tiny village on the Dordogne (Vezac) all the way to Versailles today. We went for awhile through gorgeous French countryside until I got carsick from all the windy roads and we switched to the freeway. We stopped for lunch in Limoges where I have been wanting to go and buy all new dishes for a few years now. I didn’t break the bank and go all out, but I did buy a beautiful porcelain gravy boat with gold detailing that makes me feel all swoony inside. Remember the pilot of the TV show Friends where Rachel is talking about breaking up with her fiancée? She says “I was looking at this gorgeous Limoges gravy boat and I realized I was more turned on by it than I was by Barry.” I’ve always remembered the line. I love to quote TV shows. I guess I needed a Limoges gravy boat of my own.

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Mt: Lesson Learned: When your wife wants to “pop into” the Royal Limoges factory store (oldest in region -1796 – and super bougie), keep driving or fake a seizure or heart attack. Really, really. If you let her through the door you will be doomed to own plates that will only be used if the president or royalty comes to your house for dinner. No one else, including you, will be allowed to even breathe on them.
There will be indecision about the gravy boat and one of the sweet old ladies in the shop will help her find the one that was fired with unicorn horn and has adamantium detail work written in ancient Atlantean. Fucking “helpful” old ladies…

Farewell to France tour – day four
Slept in. So nice. Lots of driving yesterday. Leisurely morning, then hit Versailles. Our Airbnb is just fifteen minutes walking distance. We did the low key way – started at the far end of the park and made our way backward, going to the palace last. There was no line. One person ahead of us. But I am getting ahead of myself. We took the “Petit train” to the Petit Trianon and walked hand in hand to Marie Antoinette’s little hamlet. I loved it before I ever saw it, and loved it even more when I visited last summer. It was wonderful getting to show Matt a place I love so much, and knew he would love in equal measure. The fall colors were stunning. It looked like rain but the sky never opened up and soon the sun broke through. We saw lots of animals at the little farm, and made our way back toward the palace. (Pictures to follow at some point.) A new exhibit had opened the day before called Le Roi est mort (the king is dead) all about royal funeral practices. After that we went to the royal apartments and walked the hall of mirrors as the sun was going down. The lights were spectacular. Laurel has always wanted a chandelier. Now she wants more of them.

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mt: I would give up a finger and one testicle if I could live in and use that mill! I would have an overhead line shaft running a huge lathe and a 14kw generator head hooked directly to the waterwheel shaft that would power the house and the rest of my shop. There would be bees and chickens in the garden. I may have put too much time into lusting after this daydream…

Farewell to France tour – days 5 to 7

Oh, Paris. Je t’adore. No matter how many times I visit, I am happy I did. I love Paris. I didn’t do that much in the way of sightseeing, as I was there to visit a friend and attend a convention, but I did have a wonderful time.

Day five: drove from Versailles. Checked in to the hotel in Montparnasse. Rested a bit. Went to Notre Dame for vespers (first time inside the church!) and heard beautiful singing. Walked around hand in hand with my sweetie, who also loves Paris. Saw other churches. Paris at night is especially wonderful. Ate Thai food for dinner (it was ok) in a lovely little restaurant with a good vibe, music that made me happy and a gorgeous chandelier in the entrance. Also did a little shopping. Got a new winter coat and a pretty black wool cape for half off!

Day six: got up early with Matt to help him get out the door for work. Also, our check engine light came on – Roxanne (our 2013 Suzuki Swift Diesel) needed her 30,000 km checkup and Matt took her in for servicing. I so appreciate him! I spent the morning in the bath, had lunch by myself, and went lingerie shopping. So much fun! I had help from a very chic French woman who must have brought me 50 things to try on. Afterward I was so tired I needed a coffee. Met my lovely friend Nina at the History of Paris museum, and afterward had mint tea and falafel plates in the Marais neighborhood. Attended he start of the conference, then home to Matt and a glass of red wine at the hotel.

Day seven: all day conference- It was fantastic. Afterward I met Matt at our favorite bookstore in Paris – Shakespeare & Company – where I bought my dad something special for Christmas and also got myself a book on Parisian street fashion. Wandered the streets again hand in hand with Matt. It was Halloween on Saturday night in Paris and there were lots of people out and about in costume. Had dinner together and shared a bottle of red wine (Côte du Rhone, one of our favorites). I ordered a rump steak and fries. Matt ordered a Caesar salad. My jaw dropped. My husband is trying to eat more healthfully and I’m super proud of him. I’m also marveling over the fact that we as people can change over time and together. Matt and I will celebrate 9 years of marriage next week. When we met I didn’t eat steak (or drink wine, or coffee!) and he sure didn’t order salad. Fell asleep reading my book on Parisian street fashion. A very long and wonderful day.






Mt: I spent the day working in Paris and lugged around a bag full of crap from appointment to appointment all day. I dumped it out when I got back to the hotel and decided I have what professional organizers term professionally as “A lot of shit.”

iPhone, cord and euro-plug, city/metro map, funny book to read while on the metro, sunglasses, regular glasses, glass cloth and case, REWE fountain pen (green ink), Lamy fountain pen (brown ink), Sennhiezer headphones and pouch, Faber ‘Perfect Pencil’, passport with 55€ stuck inside, gumX2, pocket knife, pipe, tobacco pouch, matches, two tins of tobacco (actually picked up for a buddy) Rhodia notebook, accordion receipt organizer (it was a work trip and I have to turn in an expense report), used Metro tickets, and a tote bag I got with my Monocle Magazine subscription to put it all in. None of this counts my keys, work computer, wedding ring, wrist immobilizer (broken wrist 3+ weeks ago), watch, hat, and coat….






Jesus, it is like I carry fucking hipster Bug Out Bag everywhere I go!!!

Farewell to France tour – day nine
Woke up in the footprint of the Château de Chambord (which we could see from our hotel room yesterday by opening the window and hanging out of it.) This morning the fog had rolled in and the castle was shrouded in mist. Pretty cool! It’s still surrounded by wild lands (and acts as the largest game sanctuary in Europe) and it’s easy to imagine what it was like when Francis I used it as a hunting lodge. After breakfast we drove an hour down the Loire to Amboise and toured two châteaux. First stop was the Château d’Amboise where Francis I was born, and Leonardo da Vinci is buried in a sweet little Chapel. We also went to the smaller Château de Clos Lucé where da Vinci lived and spent the last years of his life. Lots of cool things were seen – pictures to follow. And perhaps even cooler – our Airbnb down the street from both châteaux happens to be in a troglodyte cave in the side of the hill that the Château d’Amboise is built upon. It’s a stunning little studio apartment. Photos to follow as well!

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Farewell to France tour – day ten
Woke up, all snuggled up in our troglodyte cave, and didn’t wanna get up! But it was our anniversary, and we had a full day planned. First we went to a lovely little breakfast at the patisserie/chocolatier recommended by our Airbnb owner. I had an “omelette natur” and the best coffee I have perhaps ever had in France. As I travel I have taken to drinking it black with a lump of sugar, since I am lactose- intolerant and it’s inconvenient to carry my own milk for 12 days. (Okay so I did for the first few but then I threw it out.) I also avoid gluten and have carried my own bread. Matt ate a croissant that he said was to die for. It was really tempting! But I enjoyed my omelet and coffee, and bought a chocolate bar on the way out. The shop has been open over 100 years and was started by the owner’s grandfather.

Next stop was the gorgeous Château du Chenoncheau. It deserves a post all of its own, so I will save that for another day. But I’ll just say, for all the castles we have seen over the past week, it was by far our favorite. Guess we saved best for last! We had a beautiful anniversary lunch in the former orangerie on the property, complete with local wine of course. Then we got on the road to complete the final long haul of our trip, since we had a reservation at a hotel in St Emilion that night.
After checking in, we walked across the street and had a fabulous meal at a little resto called L’Alcove, which I had bookmarked on yelp as a possibility for dinner having no idea it was across the street. The local red wine was of course fantastic – we ordered a Demi bottle of 2005 St Emilion. Our steak was melt in your mouth. Pictures of course. Soon.

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Mt: The next couple of days were spent wine touring and shipping. In addition to shopping for us, we also picked up some wine for some family and friends back in the US. Notice how low the car is riding in the picture below? It was due to the 8+ cases of wine stacked to the roof. We overloaded the rating on the suspension by 15kilos or 33ish pounds according to our car’s info book. Also notice how happy my wife is in the front seat. It really was a fine couple of days and I cannot imagine the village of St. Emilion and the surrounding vineyards and prettier than when we were there: the leave of the vines were all turning orange and fire-red, there was a complete lack or tourists overrunning everything. The temperature and sunshine were as perfect as one couple ever hope for. Really a magical trip.

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Wood Lathe for sale in Cornebarrieu – SOLD

The move is ON!  we have two weeks until the packers and movers get here and Stamps-With-Foot and I spent the morning and part of the afternoon going through stuff and listing stuff for sale  the largest of which is my lathe.  It hurts me a little to see it go, but I know that a huge old gap-bed lathe waits patiently for me in Seattle.

Below is the add that my wife is posting on the local English-speaking forums here in the Toulouse area:

FAR TOOL TBF 1000 Wood Lathe for sale in Cornebarrieu: 

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I bought this lathe brand new from a local shop 18 months ago.   Since it came unassembled, I reinforced the standard steel base with additional shelving, cross-braces to remove any possible flex.  I then sheathed three sides for extra rigidity and added a strong bottom platform for ballast.  I have turned everything from honey dippers, to bowls (large, small, & huge), stools from tree trunks, stair balusters, platters, furniture feet, tiny wooden and acrylic ornaments, lids, etc.  It has been a great lathe and has NO PROBLEMS or “small issues.”  The bearing are true and tight and there is ZERO rust on the ways/bed.  This lathe is in perfect shape and the only reason I am parting with it is because we are moving back to the US and the power there will not work with the lathe’s 240/50Hz motor. 

 Here are the details and specs as well as a couple of links to shops that sell it:

  • Cast iron variable speed lathe features a 360 degree swivel headstock.
  • Solid cast iron headstock and lathe bed construction.
  • Extra bed extension for outboard turning.
  • Speed is fully variable between 450 – 2100 rpm.
  • Weighs ~120 kilos
  • 300mm width capacity over bed and 900mm between centers.
  • Have turned 600mm platters with headstock swiveled 90 degrees
  • 550W enclosed fan-cooled motor
  • hollow self-ejecting tailstock with #2MT
  • Cast iron offset tool rest and extension arm
  • Head Stock has MT2 Taper and 25.4mm (1:8TPI threading – industry standard for lathes this size – easy to find chucks and accessories
  • Includes reinforced/enclosed steel base, added powerstrip for lights and hand sanders, a 4-prong drive centre, bowl/platter faceplate, live tail center, 4 wrenches, knockout-bar, shop-made stead rest.

It will be perfect for your garage or shop or for your partner’s Christmas present since it is ready to work and you just have to plug it is.  I paid 520 Euros for this lathe 18 months ago and it currently lists for 550 – 745 Euro depending on the shop. I am asking 375 Euro.  Please give me a call if you have any questions and the lathe is available for demo if you would like.

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I sold the lathe to a nice English gent, who got a smoking deal. I helped him take it all apart and put it in his car. The rear springs were seriously loaded, but he looked happy as he pulled out of our drive.

So behind in updates and new posts…

I am super behind in updating my site.  Work, travel, breaking my wrist, more work, etc…  are all the excuses I am going to use.  I will work this weekend to get the write-ups done for:

  1. The Ruminator’s Summer visit
  2. Rome for my Birthday
  3. A write up about French Window craftsmanship
  4. A summer Wedding
  5. Barcelona
  6. London
  7. A Linen-fold Panel essay
  8. Our Farewell trip Through France
  9. A Travel Recommendation for Seeing the Loire
  10. Move preparation back to the US
  11. and a few other little posts



My Village is getting a make over.

One of the issues we have had during our time in France is that our village has huge potential, but all the little shops and cafes dried up and left.  we have to get in the car and drive one or two villages over or into Toulouse to get  almost anything.  I have stood on my soapbox and bitched about it more than once.  Karma, it seems, has a sense of humor…

Just as we leave, a huge new shopping facility is being completed near the main Village traffic circle.  Every-time we drive by, there is something new and awesome going in and I start cussing.  Here is a short list of the shops that are opening JUST as we leave France:

  1. Picard: It is like a whole store worth of stuff from the Trader Joe’s frozen food section.
  2. Cheese shop that promises artisanal cow, sheep and goat goodness.
  3. A wine shop that is the French version of BevMo with a climate controlled cave in the store where they sell “The Good Stuff”
  4. An organic grocery store
  5. A bakery that has been woo-ed from another village that happens to be a national medal winning pâtisserie and boulangerie.  Dammit!!
  6. A real sushi restaurant that will serve both sashimi and maki.
  7.  A real gym, with squat towers, benches, weights, machines, etc…

I swear to the GoT gods, old and new, that if I drive by and there is a tool shop with chisels and planes in the window I loose my mind!  I am really glad all this is opening, but why now?1  Why did it all have to wait till we were leaving?  to make us have second thoughts about moving home to Seattle?

Things I currently HATE:

  1. PayPay: Customer Service wasteland.  Just.Take.My.Money!
  2. Easy Jet’s baggage policy
  3. Running out of Milk for my coffee on Sunday when all the stores are closed in France
  4. SFR:  my French cell company – sometime I have data, sometimes I don’t…
  5. Still hate Facebook.  WAY too much Data mining!

A Modern Wedding Arch Build

My Brother-in-law and his then fiancé decided early this year that they would visit us in France and while here have a little wedding… Stamps-With-Foot freaked out and turned on the ‘Big-Sister Action Mode’ setting on her internal processor. She quickly organized the shipping logistics, helped with transportation, found lodging for all, located a restaurant for the reception, sourced champagne and wine, etc… I had two jobs. 1. Make sure the yard was a perfect/green as possible. 2. The wedding arch. It was implied that fvcking up either would have dire consequences.

I sketched a bunch of ideas up in my notebook and talked to the bride a little about her ideas and wants over Skype and e-mail. I had planned on doing a big natural arch with the pruned limbs of 70-100 apple and plum trees, but my source burned the branches before I could get to them. I went with Plan B and drew up a modern interpretation of a classic white wedding arch. The bride said ‘go’ and it was on.

The arch is made from 4 meter (13.14’) X 1.25”X1.25” pine sticks that I sourced at the local lumber yard. They are sold for fencing trim and to cut foundation stakes from. I painted each with two coats of white paint and the bottom is held together with 10mm all-thread. The top is screwed one stick to another – everything is pre-drilled.

All was finished one day before the ceremony with the bride’s brother, cousin and sister helped out with the final painting (taking turns with the one roller) and installation. I really couldn’t finished in time without their help and support.

The bride and groom seemed very happy with the work and allowed me to even officiate their wedding. Honored does not even begin to describe my feelings about being included in this way. It was my first time getting to use my Ordained Minister credentials and I am SO adding wedding officiate to my resume! I will add some pictures and wedding details later – after the bride has had a chance to flood her social media accounts with pictures to her little heart’s content. Out-doing of being faster than the bride to share “her day” with the world would be bad juju…

As you can see from the pictures – I succeeded in Job 1 as well: Greenest yard in Toulouse:-)








Wedding Arch September 2015

I NEED a Lister Diesel Engine

I have a big ol’ crush in Lister single-cylinder diesel engines.  These stationary work horses were made from 1926 to about 1985 and were used for pumping water, power generation, inboard flat-water boat engines, and all manner of other uses.  They came in 1.5-12 horsepower and would/will burn Diesel, paraffin, kerosene (as a mix), waste motor oil (WMO) fresh or waste veggie oil (WVO), bio Diesel, etc…  They were and are so reliable that many of the originals are still running today after 90+ years of just regular maintenance.

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After the parent company stopped making them, Indian firms started making clones for Asian and Southeast Asian use due to their inherent long life, simplicity, and ease of maintenance.  These are called Listeriods, and they are fairly plentiful, but the quality swings widely.

Why do I want or need a Lister?  Reasons.  Why did I need a Millennium Falcon in the second grade?  Why did I need all those Legos?  I just did.  Just like I just need a small Lister (or two) in my garage to tinker with and run various other machines that I just need as well.

I have been thwarted in my attempt while living in the US due to EPA regulations making importation verboten.  There are some, both original and clones, around, but they command top dollar as they are VERY popular with the off-grid/prepper folks.  I like “The Grid” just fine.  I am not building a bunker, planning for any sort of societal collapse or EMP weapon defense, I just need a Lister.

I have found a couple here in France, but either the owner has been unwilling to sell or the logistics in getting it have proved difficult – hauling it 30 vertical feet up and 2km down a mountain path sort of daunting.  I still haven’t given up.  We know a British couple that have been here long term and the husband is a classic car/truck guy – he has a 1962 Unimog fire truck as a daily driver…  I spoke to him this weekend about my need and he might know a guy who knows a guy sort of thing.  I have my fingers crossed.

Enjoy a few videos of Listers in action below:

10/7/2015 Update

So, I found an engine here in France that was the right size and type, with an outstanding price tag – basically free.  But, there is NO way I can bring it back to the US with me.  We are bringing home Wine and other stuff that are customs red flags and they are going to go through our shipment container with a microscope.  I think I might have a way to get an Indian import once we are back in Seattle, so I will deal with it there.


30KM ride on a Single-Speed

I have neglected my bike since we have lived in France.  I thought I would ride every day, but it has been more like once a week or once every two weeks with sputters and spurts of activity.  The only bright spot is really that I have been riding 30-50km once a month or so with a neighbor.  He is 20 and like 6’2″ and lanky – built like a proper cyclist.  The first time he showed up at our garden gate to ride he had a full local team kit (matching jersey, socks, shorts) on and was astride a very clean, full carbon bike.  My first reaction was ‘Shit…  This kid is going to KILL me …’

Turns out that even in my current chubby condition and at my advanced age, I still have a little something when riding and I had no problem staying with him on the flats and can take him in the hills.

We have been riding off and on for about 18 months and recently I had a friend from Germany in town that I used to ride with there.  A mini-tour of the local country side from atop a two wheeled stead was in order, but he didn’t bring a bike.  No Worries, I loaned him my road bike and I took one for the team and rode my single speed.  I just knew that they were going to kill me, but I needed the workout.

I am happy to report, that I stayed with theme both of them for the whole ride, and blasted by both up a moderate hill.  I was super proud of my self after – I am not saying I didn’t hurt or didn’t want to puke, but I was still proud of the showing I managed.  Not too shabby for a chubby bearded grandfather.

Leaving France

We have an official date for our move from France and back to Seattle.  It is on paper and everything.  Stamps-With-Foot and I will be in back in the Emerald City just in time to celebrate Christmas.

Life in France has been amazing:

The weather
The amazing food
Our friends here
Our house in the country
The big yard
Our Diesel-fueled car
Cheese, glorious cheese
Cheap internet
Free world-wide long distance
Crazy cheap prescription meds
The used furniture shops
Walks in the farm fields with the puppies
The different kinds of honey
Always a sign pointing to the next village or spots of interest
Our neighbors

Stuff We will not miss:

The Strikes
The August Shutdown
Early shop hours
The entire city/country closed on Sundays
The other neighbors and their dogs

Puttering around in the shop

I had a super shitty trip home from Morocco and was stressed out & pissed off when I got up Saturday morning.

First Coffee.

I then decided that and working on some current projects, a couple of little things on the lathe, and making lots of sawdust and wood shavings would make it all better.

I am in the process of building an old-school 6-board chest (now 8-board as I added a skirt to front and rear…)  and had some white pine scrap sections left from the two sides and the bottom.  I glued them up before I left for Casablanca and when I got home I decided to turn a quick fruit dish for the kitchen/my wife.  It took all of about 20 minutes and is 10.5″ in diameter and 2″ tall.  I am pretty happy with the results.

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Scrap Bowl Aug 2015 (6)

Obsessing Over a Possible House Remodel & Letting My OCD Shine Bright

We are currently going through a make/buy decision concerning our house in Seattle.  Meaning, do we spend $200-$250K plus, months of time, and lots of sweat equity on updating our house, adding a garage/shop and dining room, and refitting the basement into an apartment for my mom.  Or, do we spend $5K getting the house ready to sell and find another house that has what  we want already done and complete.  Do we keep the house as a rental and build an entirely new one…?  We have met with our estate agent, a builder, a draftsman, an architect, a landscape company, a second builder, and now a third builder in our quest, but really are not any closer to making a decision.  As said before, Stamps-With-Foot and I are going over it all and trying to decide what is best for our finances, future possible family expansion, and quality of life.

I drew our lot and house just after we moved in and have spent more than a few hours modeling all our crap – to scale – and seeing how it would all fit in the possible expansion of our existing house with the new garage build.  Part of this on-going decision process is looking at all the possibilities and modifying the existing drawings into a “someday-maybe state”.  I have a touch of OCD…  If I am working on something or especially in the planning stages, I will drill WAY DOWN into the project.  Evidenced by the below images and the included timeline.

I have modeled sewing machines, yard tools, bikes, my 1986 Jeep, my wife’s Subaru WRX, hand tools, bikes, , machine tools, trees, bushes, furniture, lathes, saws, wiring diagrams, rugs, even our puppies… all to scale…  I may have a problem.

Overview copy

House elev copy

Main Floor copy

Basement ADU copy

Attic Master Suite copy

Garage Over View copy

Garage Interior Detail copy

Shop Interior copy

Attic Interior copy

Garage Garden Shed copy

Wiring detail copy

Time Line copy

Tooling Detail copy

Brodie Detail copy

Sand Box copy

The Bees in Our Back Garden – 2015

The lavender is in full bloom in our backyard.  Last year I counted five different types of bees that visited it during the late summer.  So far, I have counted seven different types, but I think one might be a type of yellow jacket.  I looked online, but it is inconclusive.  I went full-nerd and ordered a couple of books: Bees of the World by Mitchner and Bees of N. America (Princeton Guide).  I will take some more pictures and see how many types I can find every couple of weeks.  As a side note:  I often wonder given my nerdiness how I have both managed to procreate with the female of our species and how I have a wife that is so damn adorable…

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Blanket Chest Rebuild

Early last year, Stamps-With-Foot and I bought a few pieces of furniture from an English couple moving out of France.  One of the pieces was a pine drawer-front blanket chest that someone in the UK had built in their garage out of decking material.  It was constructed with dovetails, screws, and lots of glue, so it was a stout little piece and for $50, I couldn’t pass it up.  The finish was originally 1980’s fabulous stain and it was semi-sloppily finished with a brushed on polyurethane topcoat, but all and all not so bad as to ruin the chest.  Just right for a little refinishing.

It sat in the house for a year or so, covered with a runner, before I dragged it into the GROP and tore into it.  I cut the funky curved feature off the base, added some corner reinforcement, re-worked the drawer slides, removed the fat awkward drawer knobs, turned and added bun feet to the front, and installed square feet on the rear (going for the 17th century Furniture of Necessity look).  I sanded the whole thing down to remove some of the gloppy poly and painted it with an undercoat of red and an overcoat of flat black – also period appropriate.  When the top coat gets a ding, the red shows through.  I have a number of chairs and other chests done in the same manner.  I added brushed antiqued solid brass handles and called it done.

The chest now sits behind the couch, near the door for the back garden and holds a couple blankets for TV watching comfort and two cotton hammocks for lounging the yard.

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What I want Thursday – Birthday Addition 2015

In about 4 weeks I will celebrate the 13th anniversary of my 29th birthday and the current plan is to spend the weekend in Rome and Venice or Florence.  While there, I want cake (moist yellow cake with chocolate butter-cream frosting), snuggling, a nice glass or 6 of fine wine and lots of tiny cups of Coffee, laughter, and a few well thought out gifts. I will NOT work that day – just not going to happen – and I plan to pamper myself with a haircut and a strait-razor shave if it can be found.

Below is my birthday wish list – mostly for my wife, family and children, but feel free to peruse and suggest.

I already have a bunch of crap, so my first request is that people give to a worthy cause.

  1. Heifer International:
  2. Doctors Without Borders/MSF
  3. Diabetes Research

If you DO happen to maybe want to get me a little tangible token of your love and appreciation:

Updated after the occasion with strike-throughs for the stuff I got :-) 

A signed hardbound copy of Campaign Furniture 
Theodore Roosevelt: a Strenous Life
I would like a signed copy of Chris Schwartz’s The Anarchist’s Tool Chest
Founding Foodies
Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America by Jennifer L. Anderson
Benjamin Franklin by Edmund S. Morgan
A volume on handplanes or a tome on traditional woodworking
Twilight at Monticello
Bees of the World by Mitchner
Bees of N. America Santa got this book and two others for me early
A Lost Art Press volume of The Essential Woodworker
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
James Krenov’s Cabinet Maker’s Notebook
Two Classic books on Shaker Furniture: here and here.

A yearly subscription to Monocle Magazine My wife is Awesome!!  I have wanted this for YEARS!
Permission to buy a sweet fountain pen
Amber 2ga. Plugs
2ga. Dark Jade plugs
A handsome tweed vest
a large Isle of Lewis Chess Set I got this set after-the-fact and my wife is now playing chess with me weekly! Win-Win
Brown Redwing Engineer’s boots
A banjo mute Found for cheap in a local Toulouse shop
These new bad-ass cufflinks or these My wife had these made for me with a sweet message on the reverse.  Love her.
New House Shoes  My mom is cooler the yours!  She sent me these house-shoes and I have worn them almost every day since!
A Global Chef’s knifebread knife, and ceramic sharpener Another score from Mom.
Classic Cartoon DVDs (Bugs, Tom&Jerry, Loony Toons, Road Runner, etc…)

A pair of 1/2 round molding planes
A Pair of Snipe Bill molding planes
A Grizzly G0602 Benchtop Lathe


Sorry for Being MIA…

I have been swamped for the last month and have not been posting. We have had friends and Family in, there have been trips for work and vacation, my J-O-B has me running in 6 directions – you name it. I will get my poop in group and post pictures from:

  1. A couple climbing trips
  2. My Son’s summer visit
  3. London
  4. Bespoke Shoe travails
  5. Hiking in France and Spain
  6. Barcelona
  7. Recent projects
  8. Stuff I am building
  9. Etc…



Musée du bois et de la Marqueterie in Revel, France

Last summer My Father-in-law, my son, and I made a road trip to the Musée du bois et de la Marqueterie (Museum of Wood and Marquetry) in Revel, France (about an hour from our house if you don’t get lost or almost run out of gas…).  The town is one of the noted centers of high quality furniture production and has historically specialized in wood marquetry.  It goes back to 1888, when Alexandre Monoury – a master cabinetmaker – left the workshops of Versailles and settled in Revel.  Under his influence, several workshops were set up there and many of those origional shops are still going strong today.  

The museum highlights the work of the area, new and old, and we spent a couple of hours marveling at the tools, example pieces and shear artistry of furniture, sculptures and marquetry examples on the second floor of the facility.  

As a note – this part of France is stunning with sunflower and wheat fields(the Tour du France rides through or by every year) and the town has an stunning 13th century market square and a beautiful central market hall with a quadrangle of historic buildings around it that are home to restaurants, a fabulous bakery/pastry shop and antique shops.

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Road Trip through Provence – June 2015

Our time in France is not forever and we are more than halfway through our stay here and have begun the logistics discussion for our return to the US: What goes and what stays, where we will live, timing, etc…

Since we are on the downhill slope, my wife and I have decided to get busy seeing the parts of France that we have put off visiting thus far. So, this past weekend we went on a “must see” tour of Provence: Arles, Avignon, wineries, food, ruins, castles, sights, sounds, sunshine, oh my…

Below is a short list of accomplishments and pictures from the weekend:

Toured the coliseum in Arles (20th largest in all of the Roman Empire)
Visit to the Arles amphitheater
Walked in the footsteps of Van Gogh
5 museums
4 churches
A fantastic Air B&B in Avignon
Tour of the Pope’s Palace in Avignon
Pictures galore
Drive to the wine region and village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Winery tours
Wine consumed and purchased
I may have taken some rocks from the fields…
Visit to the Point du Gard (tallest aqueduct in the Roman world)
4-hour mad dash home and restful sleep.

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Film Friday – Shoe Repair Shops: Part 1

I am a sucker for a fine pair of shoes or boots. I love to go into a shoe shop to watch the cobblers work and smell the leather & dye. I have a pair of Justin Roppers ™ that have been with me since I was 17. I have had them half soled more than 5 times and full soled twice. I have had cuts stiched up and new heels nailed on. They fit my feet like a pair of bespoke calf-skin gloves. I wish all my shoes fit and felt like they do. I have Al’s Attire in San Francisco building my dress shoes and boots now and I hope to have that sort of relationship with their products as well someday.

First Rate Shoe and boot repair in the Great State of Texas:

Austin Shoe Hospital:Craftsmanship from Mosaic Media Films on Vimeo.

A part-time cobbler making shoes in his garage:

The Shoemaker from Pete Stone on Vimeo.

Western boot builder:

Lisa Sorrell from Tiana Jade on Vimeo.

What I want Thursday

Current ‘shit that I want/need list':

For my mom to feel 100% better
To stop traveling SO MUCH for work
To stop eating so many carbs and so much sugar
For my wife to feel all better
A three day walk in the mountains
6 Days in Rome without my cell phone
To rock climb with my friends in the French countryside
About 15 hard cover books about beekeeping and cabinet making
Some serious cash to give to Heifer and MSF
To be 100% certain of what can and should be done with our house in Seattle: rebuild or sell
For my wife to finish some alterations and repairs for me
A slender dark grey Yorkshire cap
To stop worrying about our house in Seattle
A sweet tweed vest
A few pair of cordovan and black monk-strap wing-tips from Al’s Attire
A Filson medium travel bag.
A couple of belts
To start working out again in earnest and stick to it

Apartment Therapy didn’t want what we got…

We sort of have a Wood-Craft/Bohemian/Bookworm thing going for our living room, den, and dining room decor at our place in France.  Stamps-With-Foot just sort of let me go and only said no to the anvil for a sofa table idea.  She hasn’t just sat on the chaise lounge and popping bon-bons in her mouth – all the curtains in the whole house are here doing and the flowers that seem to be magically refreshed every few days is all her as well. Everyone that we have had over loves it and one guest said: “It is so lovely that your company provides you with a professionally decorated home…”  I was a little taken aback; embarrassed and proud at the same time.

The wooden extension ladder bookshelf was my first project after we moved here and I have sort of built around that, adding a few pieces: a workbench turned into a buffet/TV table, the lathe book shelf, an assortment of Moroccan and Turkish rugs, an antique or two, a few unique bits & bobbles, some paintings, a chest or two, a small bench, etc…

The rest of the place isn’t too shabby either with a dedicated sewing room for my wife, a 1000+ lending library that we house and run, a great shop space, my office that is plywood-modern, a guest room out of the 1930’s with all sorts of girly pretty things (also my wife’s touch). Our bedroom is all dark wood, yellow curtains with sage green accents, and my son’s room/other guest room is bright and happy. The quiet and secluded backyard has an outdoor dining area and grill, fluffy green grass, lots of flowers, and a shady spot for my hammock – the puppies are in heaven out there!

My ego got the best of me and I snapped off a couple of shots and sent them into Apartment Therapy, knowing that the site admin would go nuts for our place…  nope, no response.  Fine, I get it.  I don’t NEED their validation, but I wouldn’t have kicked it out of bed either…  Instead, I will post my non-professional, non-posed (except the one of us and the puppies), snapshots of our house near Toulouse here as a tincture for my ego.   In the end, my wife loves it, which matters the most and one needs a happy wife if one wants a happy life.

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Historic Furnishings from the Bavarian National Museum in Munich

Stamps-With-Foot and I had a long weekend in Munich last month and we spent the better part of a day in the Bavarian National Museum (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum) looking at cool old stuff. Their furnishings collection is impressive, with rebuilds of entire rooms from castles, hunting lodges and ale houses from 1400-1800. My wife gave me free reign to snap pictures to my little heart’s content so what follows is a collection of chests, cabinets, beds, and other furniture from their collection. I also love wood carvings and bronze, so expect a sampling of those as well. There were a lot of images to load and I put up smallish images for the sake of speed, so if you see one that you REALLY like and want more detail, let me know and I will send you a full sized image and all of the notes that were attached to the piece.

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SUPER DEAL on the interwebs!

in December of 2013 Stamps-With-Foot and I were in San Francisco and visited an awesome shop called Windtip, which is in the shadow of the Trans-America Building.   They are in a former Art Nouveau bank building (Originally the Bank of Italy) that the store has preserved – including the vault.  As you might imagine, they have lots of fancy men’s shoes that made me tingle, But are more than a shoe store: “… a “one-stop shop” for the modern gentleman…  the store features a custom clothing department, professional & casual clothing, cufflinks, pens, leather goods, barware, cigar accessories, a barbershop, and shoe shine stand. And that’s just the store. A private club for our best customers houses a bar & lounge, private parlor rooms, a boardroom, golf simulator, and a wine cave.”  In short, a VERY cool place that any gent or his loving wife SHOULD check out if in the city.

Anyway,  while there I fell for a black leather Moore & Giles document portfolio that I considered, if only for a flash of an instant, plopping down some hard earned cash for.  Although perfect for my work life as a European-dwelling engi-nerd that prefers to more fast and light through airports, I came to my senses and walked away.  I have longed for it ever since and have asked for one as a gift for every anniversary, Christmas, birthday, and a few random Tuesdays and Thursdays since that first meeting.

I checked the other day on it, more to torture myself than anything else, and the manufacturer has discontinued the product.  Wingtip had bumped the price up and had it marked at $450!  Crap…  I started sketching it up so that I could get my cobbler (that sounds SO much more pretentious than it is…) to see about making it.  I needed a detail and did a image web search this afternoon 15 minutes before I had a super important call for my J-O-B and BAM!  There it was at Sierra Trading Post for CRAZY CHEAP!  I have bought hiking clothes from them for years at deep discounts, but had no idea that they would have something like this.  I double checked the item, looked if they had the black one in-stock, and called their customer service right then.

Yes they have it in black, yes they accepted my 4 year old 30% off coupon and just like that I got a $450 portfolio for $110.40 delivered free to my house in Seattle.  Done and done.  I was so excited that it made the work call after a pleasure and I have been dreading it for two days.


Matt Talley _ Mand G_ SCORE 2015

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Lectern rebuild and re-thinking the plan

Early last year, I picked up an antique copyist’s lectern (the top part only) that originated in a French Abby.  The lectern was riddled with worm holes, a couple pieces were missing, and there was some damage to repair, but the first thing was to make it bug free so not to infect all our other furniture with wood worm.  The thing spent a couple of months in a plastic bag full of insecticide and chemicals that makes for square babies. According to the interwebs two months bathing in said concoction would make the piece safe to bring out see the light of day again, so after fumigation, it sat in our living-room as decoration for 12 months before I started the rebuild in earnest.

Initially, I sketched up a few column profiles in my ubiquitous little black notebook and settled on a somewhat simple design that matched the overall style and period of the piece.  Next, I spent a little time one Sunday turning a new pedestal out of beech scraps from my workbench build. I glued them all up into a single 5″ X 5″ x 32″ hunk of wood. I then measured and turned matching intermediate supports from a scrap oak rolling pin with curves to match the column.   A couple of weeks later, I used the last of the beech scrap and turned the pedestal base, which ended up 16″ in diameter and 3″ tall.

After gluing it all together, applying matching stain, and putting 4 coats of polyurethane on the base, it was time to start on the lectern top.  All was going to plan right up to the moment that I removed a damaged shelf and saw what looked to be fresh wood damage… In one of the joints there was a small white bug larvae…  Son of a bitch…  I immediately put plastic on my bench top and took apart another joint.  I found more LIVING wood worm. I started picking at the capped holes here and there and more worm…  Shit!!!  I wrapped it up in a trash bag and out to the street it went.  It would seem that my lethal chemical treatment wasn’t that lethal.  Just REALLY, REALLY happy that the hatch hadn’t started and that my house was no full of bugs that would lay word worm eggs all over our other furniture. I took pictures and measurements and I am now planning on building a copy of the top over the next month or so and I will post the finished product here when I am done and it is installed in the living room.

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