Back in the middle of February we and some of our immediate family converged on the small island of Isla Mujeres off the coast of the Yucutan for a short winter break, primarily for a nostalgic visit to the Naval Hospital where our daughter N. was born in 1980. Things didn't go quite as planned (although we did visit the hospital) - J.'s mum died on day three of the trip, and J. immediately flew back to Victoria. I came back a week later, and woodworking activity is only now starting to resume a reasonable routine in the small world of the workshop.
There have been other changes too: J. retired from her job with the local School District (also in February), so the old morning pattern of hasty breakfasts, and increasingly reluctant and hurried departures for Ganges and the High School, is broken. Our mornings are now more leisurely: I head down to the workshop at around eight, light the fire, and come back up to the house for breakfast with J. (This is changing as the weather warms (finally), and the fire no longer needs to be lit.) Coffee breaks and lunches are shared, and oddly, it's often pleasantly easy to work late in the afternoon and early evening, knowing that the house is warm, the lamps lit, and, very possibly, dinner cooking....

(Is this how things will be for a while? "Retirement" is not something that I've ever really thought about, and certainly didn't plan for. Besides, being older is not the same as being old. "Old" is something that happens to other people, a state easily avoided by drinking a lot of black tea and regularly walking to the mailbox.)

Which said, it's been a sporadically busyish time in the workshop since coming back from Mexico. Before we left  I'd completed most of a an oak standard-lamp designed around a rather pretty antique copper and glass shade. Completing this was really a prelude to a much larger project: a massive bed in teak,  simple in design, but still needing careful thought before ordering quite a lot of very expensive 3" teak planks. (Of this, more later in some detail.) An order arrived for a beech finishing press, which was fun to make; meanwhile repairs kept trickling in, and I spent a week or so on a set of English Arts & Crafty dining chairs which arrived from the UK badly in need of re-gluing and cleaning. While finishing other smaller bits and pieces, I managed to avoid starting on the bed until last week, at which time I re-organized the shop to create enough free floor area to assemble a bed, collected a truck-load of teak from West Wind, sharpened the tools, tuned the jointer, and set to work.

Of course, starting on a large job like the bed means that everything else is put on hold until it's done. Currently the "on hold" list looks something like this:

(1) S. & H. (Whose* bed this is, or will be): A second standard lamp, for another old shade. The design is not yet settled. I came up with a "half egg" curved support, but which didn't work, whichever way up we tried it.

(2) Linda A.: Linda would like a small dining table, very simple, nothing decorative, just a plain rectangular thin top and a slender leg at each corner, no underframing or skirt. The wood to be decorative. She sent a photo from (perhaps) an architectural magazine of a plain white table that fits the description. Unfortunately it isn't made of wood, so structural design is an issue.... Drawings have been made, a wood chosen, and further consultations will happen soon.

(3) Bill L.: Major additions to an inlaid cherry side board I made about 20 or more years ago. Somehow to be added are extra shelves and cupboard space for wine glasses. Too much to even think about until the current piece is done. Measurement and photos have been taken.

(4) A cross for the porch of St.Mary's Anglican Church in Fulford. I owe them a drawing and an estimate. The cross is to be carved with a design incorporating easter lilies, for which the church is locally famous:


St. Mary's Churchyard, Easter lilies
St. Mary's Churchyard in Fulford Harbour, with the Coronation Oak

(5) Heather B.: A decorative box for small keepsakes. Design on hold until H. decides what exactly is going to be put in the box.

(6) For nobody: a piece of furniture for a Salt Spring Arts Council show in July, made from local woods.
So far only speculation. Bonheur du Jour?

(7) A standing press. Various helpful readers of this site have written with information about the "percussive" mechanism of the French model. Whether this can be translated into wood, or whether this will be a much bigger endeavour involving patterns and casting of brass, I don't know. Probably the latter.

(8) Illtyd P.: Boat repairs - a chainplate leak has created a patch of rot in a bulkhead. Since the chainplate is bolted to the affected bulkhead, repairs are urgent, essential & more than cosmetic.....

(9) Illtyd P.: A wooden orrery. Not soon.

There is probably more, but I lack the will to contemplate it at the moment. Breakfast is much more important.


*I think this is correct, grammatically. I tried "who's", but that is surely wrong – never trust apostrophes - although since S. & H. are two, then "whos' " would be more correctly incorrect, I suppose. Then I looked it up in an old copy of Fowler's "Modern English Usage" (OUP 1934); he has no less than ten columns on the correct usage of "who" as well as "whose". In those days (no longer modern) "correct" usage forbade the use of "whose" as a "relative pronoun of the inanimate, & the like", preferring "of which". Fowler, tartly refreshing as usual, concludes:

"Let us, in the name of common sense, prohibit the prohibition of whose inanimate; good writing is surely difficult enough without the forbidding of things that have ....intelligibility & obvious convenience on their side, & lack only–– starch."

Amen. And I'm still not sure about "whose".

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Teak planks, waiting.