Sunday, February 19, 2006

Snow, No Snow

Last weekend the Eastern seaboard got blasted with snow. We didn't get as much as NYC and New Jersey, but we did get a respectable 18 inches. Unfortunately, I picked up a nasty cold (congestion, low grade fever, no energy) the week before. Consequently I spent last weekend swigging water, filling tissues, and sleeping. What I did not do was get out into the snow to play. I did do a little shoveling, which pretty much wiped me out despite the fact that this was light fluffy snow. I finally broke down on Monday and went to the doctor. The doctor told me I had a cold and that it could be as much as another week before I got better. Not really what I wanted to hear.

The only good thing about being sick was that I had an excuse for spending hours glued to the Olympic coverage on the tv. Favorite events - women's hockey, snowboard cross (Amy looked at me like I'd lost my mind when I suggested that they should add snowboard cross relays.), alpine skiing, speed skating (both kinds) and curling. I watch the figure skating but it's really not my thing. I was very disappointed when the American women lost on Friday, but it was a great game and the Swedish goaltender was outstanding.

I was finally feeling more like myself by Friday, but by then the snow was all gone. I'm hoping that the cold which blew in yesterday will give the Weston Ski track an opportunity to make snow. And if the cold hangs around I might manage to get out onto it in the not to distant future.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Where's the Snowshoeing??

We haven't made it out into the snow this year. Why? you may ask. Or perhaps you're just assuming that the lack of snow cover in the Boston area is at fault.

Well, part of the reason is the lack of snow cover nearby. It would be a lot easier to get out if it didn't require several hours of driving!

We've also been spending most recent weekends (not last weekend which was our anniversary) on "spring cleaning". Yes, I know it's not spring but our weather doesn't know that. No pile, closet, or desk is safe. The list doesn't seem to be getting shorter, but it will eventually. And when it does we will be much closer to being able to get the renovations started.

I can hear you all now - renovations? oh that. Do you really think they're actually going to do those renovations?

In answer to your doubts I refer you to the post titled "Terri's Desk" in my archives. It took much longer than it should have but it did get done and so will the renovations. But first I need to call the carpenter to see what's holding up the fascia repair (we lost a section to a wind storm). Stay tuned....

North Bennet Street School

In the shadow of Old North Church in the North End of Boston sits the North Bennet Street School. NBSS is the place to learn trade skills in New England. They offer programs in Jewelry, Locksmithing, Piano Tuning, Violin Making, Construction, Preservation Carpentry and Woodworking. I've know about NBSS for years. Several of the woodworking classes I've taken have been taught by NBSS grads, and it's been written about in woodworking magazines.

This winter I decided to take the plunge and enroll in one of the workshop classes offered by the school. After much deliberation I signed up for the Fundamentals of Fine Woodworking workshop. The workshop meets two nights a week. So far we've sharpened tools - chisels, plane irons, marking gauges; flattened a board; worked on a "practice block" and begun work on a sharpening stone box.

The chisel sharpening has been the most difficult part of the class for me. To start with the 1 inch chisel I started working with had bad steel and wouldn't hold an edge. After working on it for 3 classes the problem was diagnosed and the chisel replaced. That put me behind and I'm still working on catching up. The other part of sharpening I'm having difficulty mastering is using the grinder to set the angle on the chisel. I'm still stuggling a little with this.

Once the plane iron was sharp we learned how to create a board with flat parallel faces, and edges which were square to the faces and ends.

On the practice block we used the 1 inch chisel (now that it was sharp) to create 45 degree chamfers on the end and part way up each side with one ending in a sharp shoulder and the other curving up to the edge, the other end and sides were rounded over, with one edge ending in a sharp shoulder and the other curved out. When I finish it I'll post a picture.

The sharpening stone box is being created out of a single piece of wood. We started by marking two sides and one end with the newly sharpened marking gauge. Then using the stone marked the other two edges with a utility knife. Once the edges were marked we began clearing out the bulk of the interior with a chisel. Once that's done the center will be cleaned out with a router plane, and the edges cleaned up with chisels.

So far the class has been great - except for the frustration in getting the chisel sharpened. The instructor, Judith Hanson, and assistant, Jamie, are knowledgeable, encouraging, and friendly. I'm definitely gaining skills I didn't have before.

Picture Book Art

On Sunday we ventured to Amherst to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. This picture is from a post card I bought - it's titled Eric Carle and his catepillar. The museum is absolutely fabulous! The exhibits were one comparing Eric Carle's picture book art with that of Leo Lionni, one on Alice and Martin Provenson, and a smaller exhibit on Jerry Pinkney.

The exhibits easily held our attention - who knew that the art of Eric Carle and Leo Lionni was so similar. There are gallery activities for children - clipboards with a list of things to find in the pictures, and each room includes a bench with box of books related to the exhibit. Each of the exhibits shows not only the art but also explains the process the artist uses to create the pictures.

The Jerry Pinkney exhibit was complete with a warning sign that the subject matter was inappropriate for children under 8. The book featured, The Old African, is about the enslavement of Africans, and the related horrors.

The museum also features a small library - hours of picture books to read; a cafe, an auditorium and an activity room. The activity room is available for everyone, adult and children, and features materials to try some of the processes used by the featured artists.

The museum shop is another treasure trove of picture books - I could have spent hours there and lots and lots of money!

Even the bathrooms impressed me. They feature tiles of Eric Carle's characters and child sized fixtures in addition to the adult sized fixtures.

The museum is definitely worth a visit - I know I'll go back - can't wait till Nick is old enough to survive the road trip to Amherst!

For info on the museum check out

Weekend in Springfield

We spent last weekend in Springfield, exploring, and relaxing. Saturday morning we walked from our hotel to the Quadrangle , site of the Dr. Suess National Memorial. The memorial consists of a number of statues of Suess characters, and Dr. Suess himself in the Quadrangle. Horton from Horton, Thing One, Thing Two, the narrator, Sally and the Cat, Yertle the Turtle and friends, the Grinch and Max, and a couple which I am sorry to say I didn't recognize - guess I'm going to have to brush up on my Dr. Suess!

Around the edges of the Quadrangle are several museums (Science, Art, and Connecticut Valley History), and the Springfield Public Libary. We didn't venture into any of the Musueums but did enjoy checking out the architectural details of each of the buildings.