So, I am a little tweaked… I got a small bonus at work and sent a little money to my mom and daughter, got something for my wife, paid to have a tree taken out, sent Heifer and MSF some funds, paid off my last student loan (FREEDOM!!), put a little money back for a rainy day, and with the last bit decided to do a little something small just for me: I bought a few beech molding planes and 3 mortise chisels from a guy with a web store in the Scotland. I will call him UK Tool Guy. I have bought twice from him before and it all went really smooth and my purchases were exactly as expected. I bought a toothing plane from him at a good price that was in perfect working order and arrived exactly as pictured on his site.
My experience this time around was different. The order part was normal, but when I received my stuff it was all kinds of wrong. Painted parts, broken pieces, condition received was NOT as advertised, etc… I spent 4 hours cleaning and fixing and will have to spend another 4-5 repairing 2 chisels and 2 of the planes. 8-9 hours is a lot of time to unexpectedly fix stuff that I just bought. I am not super-important in the grand scheme of things, but my time is worth something to me.
Anyway, I took a few pictures and wrote the guy to let him know about the issues, asking about the possibility of some remuneration. He sends me back a mail offering me a little credit instead of a refund. I take him up on it, not knowing what the shipping will be I choose a couple of items from his web store that equals to less than £50 (~$78) that he offered up. I think my time and frustration was worth more, but I didn’t press the point.
He sent me a response that informed me that I had gone over budget and that he would “…let me off for now…” Seriously‽‽ Was this guy born with an extra set of balls? This is the third time I have done business with him. I check his site regularly for stuff I am looking for – I am even on his MF mailing list. The bottom line is that I got an unexpected crappy deal, I was gracious and completely undemanding and he will “…let me off for now…”. It took over three weeks for him to send the stuff two new items out. So much for the “Shortly” time frame he referenced in his last mail. I believe that this is the last time I will be doing business with the UK Tool Guy
For the sake of Transparency, I have included the whole chain I sent below – only deleting names and contact info.
Thanks for your response.
Those two items actually come to £63.50 with postage which is a bit over
£50 but I’ll let you off for now, we can maybe adjust slightly with any
future order. I will get these off to you shortly.
> On 17 March 2015 at 11:20, drivenoutside wrote:
Sorry, I didn’t mean to come off as someone that can’t be pleased. It is
not that at all and my two previous purchases were really spot on.
Thank you for your immediate response and offer for credit. I would love
to have the boxwood rule and the upholstery hammer if you are OK with that.
Thank you and regards,
> On March 16, 2015 at 4:18 AM UK Tool Guy wrote:
Thanks for your e-mail and I am sorry you had so much to complain about.
Not that it is an excuse on my part but I have a funny feeling I didn’t
pack your order up as otherwise I would have picked up on some if not all
of these points as I check everything properly when I am packing it. I
understand your frustrations when you get something that is not quite what
you were expecting and once again I am sorry for this. Rather than
refunding you some monies why don’t you instead have a look at the site and
see if there is something there around the £50 mark including postage that
you might like FREE. If there is just drop me an e-mail with the product
number so I can remove it off the site and send it over to you.
> On 15 March 2015 at 20:36, drivenoutside wrote:
I received the molding planes and chisels a couple of weeks ago, but as I
travel a good bit for work, I just this weekend had the time to open the
packaging up and take a look. What I found was a little surprising as I
have ordered a couple of planes from you before and condition was spot on
as advertised. I did not expect like-new condition as some of this
material is over 200 years old, but some of it was not as stated.
Two of the collars on the sash chisels are cracked, one completely. I am
going to have to tear them apart and replace the collars. I guess I will
either see if I can source from Marples or turn down some brass stock on
I spent most of yesterday flattening, polishing, sharpening, and oiling
the plane blades. There is a good deal of pitting on some of them and I
will need to replace two. Most of the plane bodies were fine, but the #12
was painted red and the #16 had a screw holding a crack in the body
together. I drilled it, filled with hide glue and inserted a beech dowel.
The #1 round’s wedge is cracked in half and has been glued back together
by a previous owner. I am going to have to make a copy of it and replace.
When I unwrapped the #9 there was wood worm in the packaging. Not just old
holes, but a live worm in the plastic. There was damage to the plane and
the wedge. I took the whole lot to our local vet and had her x-ray the box
4 times. It is a Luthier’s trick and it kills any worm/moth larva.
Take a look at the attached pictures and let me know what you think and if
you think it is fair to refund me a little of the purchase price and
On 23 February 2015 at 15:51, drivenoutside wrote:
The ship to address is: __________
My phone number is: ___________
Please send me the tracking number so that if there is a problem with the
shipper or customs, I can call right away
Thank you again,
——– Original message ——–
From: UK Tool Guy
Date:02/22/2015 2:30 PM (GMT+02:00)
To: Driven Outside
Subject: Re: Tool Order
Just written out your invoice for the tools ordered. The grand total
including postage comes to £metric shit-ton. An invoice / receipt will be included with the tools. I’m in the shop today until 4:30pm if you want to ring with card details for payment.
I was in Bristol, England for my J-O-B last month and I wanted to get out into the countryside after working 12+ hours and flying the day before. My meeting that day went really well and ended at 2:00, so I hopped in the rental car and headed across the “border” into Wales. There is a little village in the River Cothi valley called Talyllychau in Welsh or TALLEY in English. It is purportedly the origin of my surname. Talley is in Carmarthenshire, Wales which is six miles north of the small town of Llandeilo and an hour north west from Cardiff.
The day was beautiful with warm sunshine, blue skies, and fresh green spring grass growing in the valley. Thick woods cover the steep hills on each side of the valley and there are twin lakes at the bottom that had geese and swans paddling about. The setting was idyllic and surpassed any hope that I had in my brain about the beauty of the place before visiting. I walked the former naive and walls of the ruined Talley Abby (founded in 1185 and destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII), explored the grounds of St. Michael’s Church (built from the Abby stone) and the surrounding cemetery. It was a very pleasant afternoon and I spent the time in quiet thought about those who have come before me and those that will live after.
I would like to tell you about the amazing pint of stout and piping hot beef stew that I had in the local public house after my exploration, since that was my plan, but sadly the pub in the small village closed last year so it was not to be. I ended up eating that evening in Llandeilo in a nice little pub, listening to an elderly couple speak welsh to one-another and English to the barman.
In a different life, I could see buying a small home in the village and re-opening the pub. Living the rest of my days in that little valley, walking the hills, woods, and fields in tweed and Wellies, flat cap slightly askew. Evenings spent pulling pints, making furniture, loving my wife and family. In the end, being placed in the pretty graveyard beside the white church walls, under an ancient oak, or down my the lake shore. The thought/day dream is somehow comforting.
I have gotten a few comments and questions about our puppies, so here is the lowdown:
Brodie is our 8 year old male that is 1/2 French Bulldog and 1/2 Boston Terrier. He is a rescue that was once deemed by a shelter as “unadoptable.” NW Bulldog Haven stepped in and made sure that he got medical help for an eye issue and he found his forever home with us 6.5 years ago. When we fist adopted Brodie, he had leash aggression issues and DID NOT play well with others. There were beat downs, bloody lips, flying fur, and all out brawls with much larger dogs. We have spent years socializing him so that he could have puppy-friends or siblings and he is so much better than he was when he first came home. He is an awesome dog. He is smart and obedient and loves Stamps-With-Foot like the Pope love Jesus. He likes me fine and we are super-buddies when my wife is out of town for a day or two, but prefers her company and ignores me the very second her car pulls up. I am sure that he now views me as his combination butler/chauffeur. We brought him to France with us and he loves it here – I think it is the duck breast, nibbles of cheese, and foie gras that he gets under the table.
After all the work socializing Brodie we decided that he was finally ready for a full time buddy. Right at exactly that same moment we found Truffle.
Truffle is a full-blooded and pedigreed French Bulldog with a brindle coat and a cute under-bite. While surfing the local chat group for a specific piece of furniture, I saw an add posted in French about a female French bulldog puppy that was being re-homed due to an allergy in her family (we decided later that was crap and someone got a “fashionable” dog and had no idea how to train or care for a Frenchie…). She and Brodie immediately got along, though she is a bit of the annoying little sister. She was a year old in July and is still very much a puppy. There have been a few issues: potty training, diet, her delicate digestive system, some minor health issues, etc…, but we have 99% of it worked out. We did, however, make the decision to take her out of the gene-pool and we had her spayed. Frenchies as a breed have a LOT of issues and if we breed her, then we would be perpetuating the problems.
She is SO sweet and lovable, but she is not a puppy-rocket scientist. She was gifted with beauty and personality instead. Truffle wants nothing in this world but to sit beside one of us all day or it is even better if she can touch both of us at the same time: Her self-assigned spot in the bed is between the two of us at shoulder level. She “helps” my wife put on makeup, is there to “assist” in making the bed or folding cloths. She NEEDS to come into the shop with me, but isn’t allowed because she eats wood shavings. Truffle looks so sad standing at the door looking at me in the shop and the second my head is turned, will sneak in.
Below is a photo dump of both puppies just being themselves.
Some stuff on my current want-list:
To stop traveling SO MUCH!
For real spring to arrive in Toulouse
To stop eating so many carbs and so much sugar
For my wife to feel all better
A couple of lathe tools.
A three day walk in the mountains
About 15 big, not cheap, hard cover books
A Moore & Giles Portfolio
For my new garage in Seattle to be done & dusted.
For my wife to finish some alterations and repairs for me
Porsche Design TecFlex Fountain Pen (F or EF Nib)
For my workbench to be 100% done
A slender dark grey Yorkshire cap
A sweet tweed vest
A few pairs of two-tone wing-tip Made-In-England Doc’s: White and Tan
A set of 10 cedar shoe-trees
Tickets for my son’s trip to France to be CHEAP.
For my Al’s Attire brogue boots not to squish my toes
Brooks Brothers grey or subtle pattern sport coat – slim cut.
A Filson Medium Travel bag.
One medium-small Rimowa Carry-on
To start working out again in earnest and stick to it
A fine set of Cuff-links
For my business plan to be finished
Tiffany blue silk tie and a matching pocket square.
Son of a… My site got hacked. I thought that I was safe: A host provider I trust, back-doors closed, a random generated password, all the stuff you are supposed to do. I was talking on the phone last night and I noticed a “payday Loan” link just under my site name on my home page. Son of a…
This is a BIG deal. Aside from some ass-hat having a BS ad on my site, it meant that my corner of the web was compromised and the second that Google gets a whiff of it, your site is no longer searchable and you get put into website purgatory. It happened to me in 2005 and it took me YEARS to get it all fixed and to be back in Google’s and all the web filters good standing
I immediately put my site to sleep, scoured my site code for the offending link, and then searched the inter-web forums. It looks like the link was added via a .php server backdoor and was somehow attached directly to my WordPress Theme, so I deleted the existing theme and rebuilt the my main page and widgets. That seems to have done it for now, but I contacted my Web Host to see what they were doing about any possible breach and got the “We are experiencing a large call volume… longer than usual wait times…” message. No luck with live chat or e-mail either. Super pissed. I have been with them since 2002 and have never had a server-based security breach.
The Musee Carnavalet (The History of Paris Museum) is a hidden gem! It is off the normal well-beaten tourist path and within walking distance from St. Eustace Church and the Picasso Museam. It is full of treasures including an entire Alfonse Mucha designed jewelry store – see pictures below. It made me feel all funny inside when my wife drug me there. She tried to get me to go with her this summer , but I wanted to do something else that now escaes me. I should have listened to her. There are 100+ rooms of paintings and sculpture, models, furniture, and good stuff to gawk at.
Set in a series of old Parisian town homes and Orangeries that are all put together with walkways and joined gardens. One of the cooler aspects is that you wander through re-creations of rooms from the French Revolution to the Paris Commune, and enter into the private spaces of famous Parisians like Marcel Proust’s bedroom with his brass bed and his little table covered in pens, ink, and notebooks. As I said, I was drug here the first time, but it is on my list to visit now even if I am in the city alone for a few hours. It was not too crowded at all and the gardens are a really nice place to sit in and catch up on your travel journal entries. Did I mention that the admission is free?!
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is purportedly the largest tourist attraction in all the world. Maybe. We were there in the winter – snow on the ground – and it was still packed. After an accidental trip to the Egyptian Bazaar (cabby issues are the bane of every traveler’s visit to the city), we decided on the full Grand Bazaar experience: walking all the lanes, seeing the sites, listening to all the languages and the sellers hawking their wares. My wife, who is an expert haggler, attempted to buy all the scarves in Turkey. We bought a few little souvenirs for people we love (my mother’s and my father-in-law’s birthdays were coming up). I ate a significant amount of pistachio Baklava and honeycomb. We also had lunch and coffee at a kebab place hidden in the bowels of the market that was serving the market sellers when we arrived – a sure sign of authentic yumminess.
Stamps-With-Foot had a “No Pestering” policy and when one of the sellers started harassing her to buy or to come in his shop, she would move on. It seemed to work and she was left alone to browse and shop and got a couple of bargains. I was the designated pack mule and carried all the bags. I also assisted in the negotiations for some of the goods – playing the tired husband who’s wife is on a spending spree – they had no idea that the bags were filled with $1-10 dollar items. It worked great and she got a gift for her dad at 1/3 the original asking price as well as a couple silk scarves for a ridiculously low price. The scarf seller looked at me with knowing eyes and brought me apple tea while she tore through his stacks looking for “the right one… or five…”
Words fail me in describing all that we saw and did, but the images below should give you an idea.
The Turkish know how to present a breakfast spread! My hotels on two recent trips to both Ankara and in Istanbul had a fresh honeycomb (Petek Balout in Turkish) for breakfast every morning. Slabs of raw, dripping, delicious goodness. Honeycomb was also available in the street markets and in a couple of places where I had dinner. I got to enjoy some pistachio baklava and honeycomb with my morning meal AND while walking down the street. Awesome!
I get asked all the time (friends, colleagues, family, friends of friends, some girl on the interwebs who read a post on this site, Instagram, or Tumblr…) about a visit to Paris. Logistics: where to stay, what should they do or see in 3-5 days, what should they avoid… I have written 8 e-mails about the subject in the last 6 months alone. I have been to Paris maybe 30 times in the last 15 years, no joke, and have been to all of the sites that you can think of. I am not an expert, but I do have some experience to share that might be helpful. I decided to collect all my “wisdom” and opinions in one document and just put it out there. So, here is Matt Talley’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Paris.
I was never a huge Picasso fan. I love a couple of his pieces – mostly his stuff from Paris in the 1904 era and some additional pieces from the Early 1920’s. We have a print of Blue Nude hanging over our bed and I have a small print of El hombre da la Mancha in the upstairs bathroom, but I don’t really enjoy his sculpture of cubist paintings. Who am I though? My opinion about Picasso’s work matters very little to anyone but me.
All that said, the Picasso Museum in Paris is a must see for modern art fans. It is a couple of hours well spent with a few nice sidewalk cafes nearby. It has just reopened after a multi-year re-build (millions over budget) and it was on our planned tour of Paris this time around. After standing a a very long line, Stamps-With-Foot and I walked the galleries and I saw a couple of pieces that I had never seen before that I really enjoyed and I liked the new building itself almost as much as the art. Take a lesson from us: buy your tickets in advance though and the best way to do this is on the museum website. I will say this again: buy.your.tickets.in.advance. If you fail to heed my advice you will stand in line for 1.5-3 hours.
We were recently in Paris and we had 4 hours to kill before our train left for Toulouse. We decided on a visit to the Musse de Orsay. Excuse me while I mount my soapbox: If you go to one museum in Paris, let it be this one. Go early, get the audio tour and plan on a half day. It is full of impressionists: Monet, Manet, Corbiers, Toulouse Letrec, Van Gogh, etc… the sculptures are breathtaking – on pare or better than those found in Florence or in the Vatican. Dismount soapbox.
We concentrated this visit on a couple of painting rooms and the Art Nouveau furnishings collections. I have a serious weakness for fine furniture. It is genetic – both side of the family. I have been to the exhibit before, but I wanted some quality time with it and my wife happily agreed. The downside to any visit is that whenever we go and Stamps-With-Foot sees anything remotely Art Nouveau related, she is almost unbearable for an entire day: “PLEASE build me a bed like that!?” “Can we PLEASE have a door just like that…?” The collection is on the second floor on the left, directly opposite of the Seurat gallery – an artist near to my brother-in-law’s heart.
From the photos below, I WISH I had the time and skill to do the little chest with the linen-fold drawer fronts and the carved mice pulls.
Carpet Sellers: I have purchased rugs and carpets from multi-generational vendors from Istanbul to Marrakesh, Casablanca to Chendu, Ankara to Toulouse. These men, always men, have spoken every conceivable language – especially the numbers – and have seen every bargaining trick known to man.
My wife is an expert haggler and has no qualms about walking away from a market seller and going to the next stall in full view of the first seller. She was in Marrakesh when I bought my first Moroccan Hanbel, but she didn’t do the actual bargaining – she drank the sweet mint tea and watched. It think this left a hole in the part of her soul that needs to haggle (the Burton side of her genetic pool) and she has been twitching to buy a carpet ever sense. I think that she wanted to bargain with the best of the best – to test her mettle and skill. Our recent trip to Istanbul provided her with that opportunity.
Our first carpet stop was at a 5-story establishment late one evening just before dinner near the Blue Mosque. We were handed off to a tall, greasy, smooth-talking seller that had spent lots of time in the US and was the picture of shady used car salesman. Seriously. We let him talk and lie and talk and lie. After about 2 hours and in the middle of what was probably his dinner time, we started negotiating prices. I really wanted a unique 5X7 kilim and Laurel was eye-balling a wool runner. The seller wanted BMW prices for the equivalent a small Honda with a tiny engine. Laurel gave him a final price for both and he unceremoniously ushered us out of the door. I really liked that Kilim and it became another “One that got away.” A shame that it did not go home with us… It will forever be like the hanbel (kilim is the Turkish word) in Essaouira, Morocco that I left folded on the floor there that still calls to me. Every so often my wife will say, “Remember that rug…” and we both get a little sad.
Our second stop was the next night and due to my schedule, we showed up 15 minutes before their scheduled closing time. No worries, three people stayed and tea and carpets and rugs appeared from all corners of the shop. My sweet wife busied herself inspecting a $3000 silk carpet that stayed in the store where it found her. Our seller was another guy that had spent some serious time in the US and although would also have been at home at any New Jersey used car lot, was more polished and a touch more upfront than our dealer the night before.
Laurel went to work on him. We were good-cop bad-cop right away. I was the bored, broke husband upset at my wife’s spending habits and she was the doe-eyed, sweet little girl who couldn’t make up her mind. She is awesome at that. We work the shit out of it and she was so good that she completely had me convinced that she wanted an entirely different rug – crafty that one is.
In the end she got an amazing small wool rug with insane knotting and detail for our bedroom and I got a small wool on wool rug for the living room. Now, we did not get the deal of the century, but we didn’t have to sell blood to finance our taxi ride back to the hotel either. We got a decent price, but make no mistake – the seller made good money.
My hope was that this one experience might satisfy her need to buy Turkish/Persian/Moroccan carpets… Nope. She talked about “the next one” on the taxi ride home. I have helped created a monster.
I spend 1/3 to 1/2 of my work life on the road and away from my wife and hearth: Crappy food, shitty airports, empty hotel rooms, taxis, trains, assigned to the middle seat in the plane, another awful airport, missed connections, terrible coffee, jet-lag, missing luggage, etc, etc, etc… It was all very exciting when I started this 15 or so years ago, but it has gotten very, very old. Most of the time when I travel I get to see the inside of meeting rooms, lounges, and hotels, but every so often I get out to see some local attraction and one of my first reactions is ‘I wish Stamps-With-Foot was here to see this…’ Traveling alone when you love your wife sucks. There is a bright spot every so often though – when my schedule and our finances work out so Stamps-With-Foot can come along.
A couple of weeks ago the stars aligned and we bought a super cheap (somewhat uncomfy) flight to Istanbul for her to spend a couple of days there while I was working. It was fantastic. We got to tour some sites together after work, do a little shopping, make some memories, and neither of us was all by ourselves waiting on the other.
Istanbul was on both of our bucket-lists and we only had a few hours each day to cram stuff in and although it was cold the whole time and pouring rain one day, we made it all work out:
A tour of the Blue Masque
Raw honeycomb every morning with breakfast
Tour of the Hagia Sophia
Late night Carpet shopping
Criss-crossing the Bosphorus – back and forth between Europe and Asia
An accidental trip to the Egyptian Bazaar
The full Grand Bazaar experience – sites, sounds, and lots of haggling
My wife attempted to buy all the scarves in Turkey
Little souvenirs bought for people we love
I ate a TON of pistachio Baklava
Great food was eaten
Serious snuggling in a king-sized bed sans puppies
I have spent 5 years hating my neighbor’s tree – 5 years, but that time is at an end. My 50′ foot nemesis is dead. Its corpse has been rendered, chipped up, and the big bits have been given to another neighbor to chop up and burn at their leasure. It took a huge chunk of my yearly bonus check, but is worth every penny of it. THIS is a fine day!
No more moss on my roof, no more easy roof access for the squirrels and rats, no more pine needles & cones littering my yard and tracked into the house. My flower beds and grass will grow. My tiny sliver view of Mt. Rainier is visible. I now get to clean my gutters ONCE a year instead of 5-6 times We can use the fireplace without fear of burning the house down. No more worries about wind storms and branches/the whole tree falling through the roof. The breakfast area and kitchen are filled with sun in the mornings, birds are singing, and I am all giddy inside.
My neighbor was sad to see the tree go, he actually was. I will spend a little money and send him something nice and also send him a ‘thank you’ note. This also means that I am in his debt and I will probably have to do all sorts of stuff for him in the foreseeable future and ignore all sorts of annoyances. Fine. Worth it!
This weekend I finished up a “little” lathe project I started in early February – I made a couple of stools out of a hunk of oak tree that was cut after a storm in our village. They are about 15.5″ (39cm) tall and 10″ (26cm) around and getting it that way pushed my Chinese lathe to its absolute max. It walked all over the floor when I first started it up – hence the kettle bells thrown on the middle shelf to add mass. It super did not like the out of balance logs. It would have been fine at a slower speed, but the slowest my lathe goes is 400 RPM and that is too fast for this size project. I managed, but there was lots of starting and stopping.
I really like both how the turned out and how comfy they are to sit on – just the right height for a quick stop-and-rest. I will add bow-tie joint if needed as they dry out and split, maybe out of some walnut that I have. They will make a nice addition to my home office.
Today was the official first use of my workbench. I used it as a work table to lay out the shape of the leg vise, I cut the dados for the tail vise, cleaned them with a chisel, and after spreading plastic used the bench top as a glue-up table for the vice pieces. I had enough room at the other end of the bench to put together a French-cleat mounted battery drill organizer that I cut the parts out for yesterday afternoon. I have trouble staying with one project and do 3-5 at a time. It makes my wife crazy.
The bench top height is perfect and I am super stoked to have a real workbench here in France. I can finally get down to serious business and make some moldings and a small linen-fold panel chest.
We had to go to Paris the week of Valentine’s Day for the final meeting to renew my French Work Visa. It was a bit of a Keystone Cops affair, but in the end we are all good and get to live and work (just me for that one. Stamps-With-Foot no get to worky…) in France for another year. Since we we in the city of Love & Light, we stayed over an extra night to celebrate the occasion like champs. We made a last minute reservation for dinner, tried to see a show at the The Folies Bergère (nope), and spent the day storming to and from museums around the city: The Rodin, The newly re-opend Picasso, The Orsay and the amazing History of Paris Museum, which we showed up to 20 minutes before they closed and made a mad dash for the Mucha designed Jewelry store exibit.
It was fantastic. We got to tour some beautiful sites together, view amazing art and furniture, buy some postcards, do a little shopping, make some memories, and hold hands while walking across the Seine at night with Notra Dame lit behind us. Very Romantic. Not many people can say that they ‘Spent Valentine’s day in Paris…’ We both feel really blessed!
A few pictures from the trip:
When we left Seattle for Southern France, I sold my truck and it felt like I lost a hand. I toyed with the idea of bringing mine over, but it would have been impossible to park and the money that I would have had to spend for gas would have been astronomical. My very first vehicle was a truck and I have never not had a truck to drive. There have been other vehicles, but I have always had a pick-up.
I didn’t really plan to do much heavy hauling during our time in Toulouse, so we got a 5-door diesel Suzuki Swift and I added a roof rack – just in case I needed to road trip with a bike or grab the odd 2X4 at the lumber yard… Reality is often brighter and more interesting than the initial plan. We have abused our little Suzuki. I have treated it like a farm hauler and overloaded it again and again. The rack has a 100 pound weight limit, yeah about that… In my own experience, 250 pounds has ridden just fine. I still miss my truck, but we are making due.
All the things I have hauled in or on the car that have been questionable:
400 pound wood lathe
The cut rounds from 4 trees (to date)
A 200 pound 7′ X 6′ x 2′ Wardrobe
3 large work benches
~1500 books in boxes
10+ sheets of plywood
Enough lumber to build a garden shed
9 rolled carpets
A buffet hutch
A garden table, 2 side tables, 8 chairs, and a umbrella
250 pounds of gravel for lathe ballast
A huge antique armoire
300 pounds of wet lumber
A Canoe that was wider than the roof
5 people and all their crap
I was home in Seattle taking care of a couple of things and my mom mentioned skratching noises on the roof… hmmm… DAMMIT! WE HAVE SQUIRRELS IN THE ATTIC!! They chewed between the gutter and the shingles and have been living the easy life all fall and winter in my attic. I called a contractor to fix the initial damage and the secondary water damage on the soffet.
In addition to the squirrels, I also have the urban wildlife equivalent of a kibbutz in the attic: Rats and bees have also decided to move in. There was a swarm on the eve of the front porch this summer, but my mother said that they sort of went away. What that actually meant is that I have a small colony that has settled in the eyebrow eve above the front door.
Then there are the other furry residents…
While going over yard design plans with my gardening contractor, I noticed that we were being observed from above by two beadly little eyes. I tagged a medium brown rat (8″ body) with my son’s pellet rifle as it was making a run at the hole in the soffet – Headshot. It makes my heart happy that I could send him off to his eternal reward.
I almost welcome the bees, but rats and squirrels… I bet they had dinner parties, board game nights, and cross species orgies to cement the truce and draw up the boundaries of their respective territory in MY attic.
I swear by the GOT god’s, old and new, and by the hairy feet of Bilbo Baggins, that if I build another house it will be concrete and steel. I found myself cruising for property again this morning and there is an old titan missile silo for sale near Yakima that is speaking to me.
Every time I come back to the US for work or vacation, I go back to France with maxed-out checked luggage. Not smuggling contraband or anything, just comfort food, hand tools, and stuff we cant get there. I have only been stopped at customs once and it was an hour long “what is this” game. All sorts of fun explaining what an 8TPI lathe chuck was….
If customs decides to stop me this time they will find the following in my 2 huge duffle bags:
1 thermarest mattress pad
4 bags of Vashon Roasters Coffee
2 Starbucks mugs from home
1 giant 5/8″ bowl gouge (lathe chisel)
3 sets of Queen sheets
1 end grain lathe chisel tool
New snowboard boots.
Found pocket knife
2 jars of Coconut oil
1 ziplock bag full of shelled pecans from my aunt.
Bottle of Tums
Christmas presents from my mom for my wife
A new hat (Heisenburg-ish and green)
17mm combo wrench and 17mm socket
2 sets of workshop/garage plans
Specialty hardware from Woodcraft
A second notebook computer
4 months worth of mail
End grain specific lathe chisel
75mm bowl jaws (for previously mentioned lathe chuck)
Holy sh1t, my neighbor has finally agreed to let me cut a pine tree out of his yard that has been the bane of my existence in Seattle for 5 years! It has been my 50′ foot nemesis.
It hangs over my roof – branches like spiky swords of Damocles, waiting to fall into my living room. Pine needles and cones litter my yard and get tracked into the house. My view of Mt. Rainier is obscured. It has grown a fine crop of moss on my roof, a secondary crop in my front yard, and fills my gutters to the point that they have to be cleaned 6 times a year.
The thing has now grown over my fireplace and it is a fire hazard for our house and his. That is what won him finally over to the Dark Side – the possibility that his house could burn.
Now, I have to pay for 100% of it, but it is a check that I will gladly write. And if nothing else, this revelation has made my trip home 100% worth it.
You truly have no idea how happy I am about this! I wish my wife were here – This make me so giddy, that I want to conceive a child to commemorate this victory!
I am in Seattle working this week and have taken a couple of days off to take care of some stuff with the house. We are trying to decide whither we need to invest and build an addition or to sell and look for something already done and dusted.
I have met with our estate agent, a builder, a draftsman, an architect, a landscape company, and a second builder in our quest to make a decision. At this point, if we want to to buy something else and stay in our neighborhood, then we are looking at $650k to $750k and would still have to build a $40K garage/shop. If we stay put, then we need about $250k to build a garage, update systems, finish the attic, and move an interior wall.
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. The weight of love we feel for our house and the blood I have spilled so for in the kitchen and basement adds a little weight to the decision as well.
I hate being a grown up…
I love wearing overalls , a leather apron, and work boots in the wood-shop. During the summer, I spend my time at home in flip-flips and t-shirts, but I do clean up fairly well. My J-O-B requires me to spend a good deal of time in front of customers and I have to look good: be well dressed, properly groomed, and present appropriately. Along those lines, there are a couple of things that I would like to add to my work-related accouterments:
A Moore & Giles Portfolio
Porsche Design TecFlex Fountain Pen (F or EF Nib)
A few pairs of two-tone wing-tip oxfords: brown and tan, tan and green, brown and black, etc…
Brooks Brothers grey or subtle pattern sport coat – slim cut.
Filson Medium Travel bag.
A fine set of Cuff-links
Cobalt blue, Tiffany blue, purple, orange solid and patterned silk ties.
So, I have this buddy who is by nature and temperament a hard-man. Sweetest guy in the world, super humble, would give you his last dollar in the pocket of the shirt off his back, salt of the earth sort of a guy. Seriously. This same friend is also physically and mentally toughest person I have ever personally met. I have only seen him mad twice and thankfully neither time was at me. I was very happy about that. Flood is one of those Old Testament, walked forty years in the desert and killed and army with a mule jaw bone sort of guy. Really, really.
All my climbing buddies and I TRY to get together once a year and spend a week in the mountains. One year (maybe 2009), Mark couldn’t come and it was the most relaxed trip ever – soft beds, video games and *GASP* a rest day! We all talked about how Flood would have hated the wasted time when he could have been wedged into some shitty, moss filled crevice, 40 feet above a manky piece of protection, giggling with glee. At the time, “Chuck Norris” jokes were just getting popular and while sitting at a bar one evening we started telling Mark Flood true-isms. At one point these two girls who had over heard us, came over and asked with willful intent if Mark was at the bar or in town. Dr. G looks them up and down and slyly says, “Nah baby, your would KNOW if he were here…” They got all giddy. True story.
Anyway, the list below is some of what came out of that evening and 10 or so follow-up e-mails after the trip.
Mark Flood uses Tabasco Sauce for eye drops.
As a child Mark Flood ate transformer toys in vehicle mode and shat them out transformed into a robot.
Mark Flood’s penis is so big that it has a penis of its own and it is still bigger than yours.
… doesn’t open no can of whoopass. He makes his own with farm-fresh eggs and dehydrated onions.
… can get Blackjack with just one card.
… once screwed up his knee, purely for the sake of winning the Special Olympics.
… can sneeze with his eyes open
… once fucked a sheep ‘till it was a sweater
… once took a lead-fall so big that his clothes burned off on re-entry
… uses a rattlesnake as a condom
Mark Flood’s penis is so TALL it has never been mounted without the use of oxygen.
… eats live Billy-goats as a light mountain snack.
… started a pirate mutiny in the south china sea.
… is hung like a woolly mammoth.
… keeps live cobras in his sock drawer.
… once snorted cocaine off Jenna bush’s titties in the oval office and made W watch.
… has a +92 Ape index.
… secretes Serin gas from his rectum.
…once used a spork as an ice axe and tire chains as crampons.
… whittled his own skis.
… can write in beautiful Victorian script cursive ambidextrously with his feet.
… once killed and gutted a grizzly bear with toenail clippers to have a warm place to sleep
… carries a pack so heavy he can rightfully call Atlas himself a pussy.
… always has sex on the first date. Always.
… is capable of lactation.
… once took a bubble bath with Rosie O’Donnell and made her straight.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse actually live in Mark Flood’s nutsack
Mark Flood makes his women wear gaiters and crampons to bed.
… can eat a hammer and poop nails.
Mark flood can climb any 14er using only echo location
Mark flood can play “the devil went down to Georgia” better than Charlie Daniels AND the Devil using a violins
strung with his pubic hair.
Mark flood pulled so hard on Castle Rock in Eldorado Canyon that the climb is now 12.3 feet shorter.
… makes MacGyver look like Steve Erkel.
… does not procreate – he breeds…
… raped Blackbeard for using Argh! in an incorrect grammatical supposition.
… once climbed to heaven and he did it all in one linked pitch.
Mark Flood once stated “The double rope system is for newbie’s. I only climb using a sextuple rope system!”
… can piss directly into gale force winds and not get a drop on himself.
Mark Flood has to live in the Midwest because his gravitational field screws up the tides.
… felt that the ‘Jolly Mark” was egotistical, so he let some fruity guy named Roger take the credit.
… is no longer allowed to climb at Indian Creek because his hand jams have widened all the cracks.
… simply decided to start producing spider silk from his anus so he no longer had to use ropes.
… only dates climbers because only they have the necessary grip strength to give him a hand-job.
… is not afraid to climb any route but all climbing routes are afraid that Mark will climb them.
… once gave a new meaning to peak enchainment when he added Mt Elbrus, Long’s and Pikes to his key chain.
… feet are sooo big he doesn’t need snowshoes.
Mark Floods’ dick is so big that the AAC listed an all female ascent the latest American Alpine Journal
… can literally talk to snakes
… is so energetic that routes get tired of HIM.
… climbed every peak west of the Mississippi in two days with only a Mars Bar, the September 1980 issue of
Playboy, an ice axe, 1 box of Pop-Tarts, and a can of tuna.
… masturbates to pictures of used climbing gear and Alpenglow.
Progress on the Cornebarrieu Bench is coming along. It has been slow going – I have been swamped with work, travel, lack of allowance (I spent it on Christmas and a classic fiddle/violin…), more work, etc…
Stamps-With-Foot gave me a gift card for our local Home Center/hardware big-box as a Christmas present that took care of the price for the last section of the top. I got a lot accomplished this last two weeks:
- The final sections of the top were glued up just before New Years eve- using every single clamp I brought to France and more than a little ingenuity.
- Installed (2 hours of cutting, drilling and chiseling) a pricey German-made cast iron end vice that I got on 65% sale – was missing two small metric bolts and the wood handle.
- Made final leg cuts: the tenons that go inside the bench top.
- Put 5/16 oak dowels in to the pieces that have cracked, even a little, to make sure that the cracks do not spread.
- Gave all the base parts an 80 grit sanding.
- Really like the sawmill marks on some of the pieces. Am going to put clear poly on the base instead of milk paint to preserve the marks.
- The legs and stretchers shrunk and warped just a touch in the six months since I cut them even though I had it all clamped together. It will be fine and could have been worse.
- Made the first dry-fit of the base to the top: Everything lined up , fit perfectly, and is as square as I could ask for.
- Drilled holes for connector bolts and lag screws.
- Installed base shelf cleats
- Cut the 12 sections of 5/8″ tongue & groove pine that will be the base shelf
Before I head to the US in a couple of weeks, I hope to have installed the end-vise block, given the base a 120 grit sanding, polyurethane the base &shelf, cut the hole for the leg vise screw and the rectangle cut for the vices’ parallel guide. I also want to install the leg vise nut in a pocket behind the leg while the bench is upside down.
We spent Christmas at a friends’ parent’s house near Pau (pronounced “Po”), France. It is in the middle of the Jurançon wine region and near one of the historical centers for mountain pasture fed sheep and goat cheese. Our hosts were incredible and the amount of food we consumed was staggering! Below is a semi complete list of the things that we enjoyed:
Aged local Brebis (sheep) cheese
Steak grilled in the home’s fireplace
Croissant with honey
3 types of Jurançon wine
Aged Pyrenees goat cheese
Swiss and German chocolate
Bottle after bottle of amazing 2008 and 2006 Bordeaux wine
Just after New Years 2015, two friends and I drove south from Toulouse to the Principality of Andorra to spend three days skiing and boarding in the mountain passes there. It is like the whole country turns into a Ski basecamp for the winter – there were lifts everywhere, the back-country is patrolled, the apres-piste activities available swing from shopping for Lux goods, to a tame evening in front of a fire, to hedonism at the Irish corner in Pas de la Casa. The groomed slopes were really well maintained and the lifts were great.
I took it easy on the first day, being a grandpa and all, but I got some really good riding in: a few small jumps, a couple of really fast descents, and one aerial 360 just to prove I still could. After the 1st day of riding, I noticed that my boot soles were de-laminating, but figured they would be good for the rest of the weekend… Nope. They came apart as I was walking to the 1st lift the next day. Dammit. I had to go and rent boots for the rest of the trip. The only ones available were either 1 size too small or 3 sizes too big. I crammed my toes in the little ones and didn’t lace them too tight. All was good until about an hour later when I busted the toe-strap on my left binding – DAMMIT!! I made a MacGyver worthy repair that lasted the rest of the weekend, but I will need to get a new strap before I ride again in February.
The second day it was on and I hopped on a few technical routes, popped over jumps and bumps, bombed down hills, and threw snow with my board edges like a champ. We had an amazing dinner at a local place that was a converted mountain house/barn where they cooked all our food over hot wood coals: a perfect end to a day of fine boarding!
All told, I ended the trip with broken boots, a wonky binding, and a big smile! I was so glad to be on my board again and if I may say so myself, not too shabby for an old-guy! We ended the trip with no serious injuries and I only had a single bruise – on my butt. A kid went down hard directly in front of me at the foot of a lift – I had to either bail ass first or hit him and I chose the former.
Stamps-With-Foot stayed home and snuggled the puppies as sitting on a cold ski-lift is her own personal version of Hell, but she said the pictures of us were pretty. I am grateful to have a wife that doesn’t fuss when I go outside and play.