Wednesday, July 20, 2022

milestones ...

time passes ... 
so pay attention folks!  there are markers as time goes by.
 i have been working on 'my old man project' a la john mcphee
and i am seeing the milestones  pile up ... 
in may 1969 i graduated from penn state and hit the road ...
after stops in key largo for the winter of 1969-70, washington d.c. 
for the spring, montauk, the summer of 1970, san francisco/san jose,
 briefly, then to palm springs for the winter of 70-71, new orleans, 
briefly, europe, may, and june, i arrived in vermont on july 6th, 1971,
with $6.00 in my pocket and everything i owned in one hand.
i had come to visit my sister in arlington, who had gotten me a (possible) job 
tending bar at the roundhouse, a live music bar in manchester ... i went the next 
day for my interview, and ace manley, one of the owners, hired me.
i met kit on september 6th that year, quit my traveling, and we married 
in 1973.  you can pick up the story from there in the posts below ...
house building, carpentry, furniture business, two boys, sam in 1982,
 will in 1984, a move to dorset in 1996, and in 2000, a new house and shop.
i have not finished the whole saga yet, but at 75, i am turning
some of my business responsibilities over to our VERY capable 
nephew Kristian Moore, who will be dealing with new and returning 
customers, and taking over some of the posting on this blog ... 
most of our work comes from the internet, and i have not kept up lately.
kristian has been working closely with me now for over 3 years, is 
enthusiastic, and is completely capable of all things furniture making. 
 i am soooo lucky. 
sam and luke are in the metal shop, will and abe are making banjos, 
and kristian and i are making furniture here in 
the 'west dorset industrial park'.

after 42 years i have some (a lot of) clutter at the shop and 
at the house, and it is now time for me to clean that up a bit.
i feel fortunate, after some open heart and hip replacement surgery 
two years ago, to be fit and active, and on the right side of the grass.

enjoy every healthy moment folks ...
'tempus fugit'
for the next installment, click the 'older post' link at the bottom of each post ..

Monday, July 18, 2022

the 'old man project' ... volume 1


well, i have been writing on blogger for 15 years now ...
below is an early post from october 2007. short and sweet!
 after about 900 more posts, and over 2,000,000 page views,
 it is time to go on in a bit more depth about some other stuff in an effort to 
fill out my 'old man project', mostly inspired by a john mcphee 
he has since written two more volumes, all about things
 he didn't write about in his long career ... so here i go now,
writing about some things i didn't write about for the last 15 years ... 
settle in, it will be a bit wordy, but i am having fun reliving this stuff ..
click the photos to enlarge them ... 
on July 6th this year it was 51 years 
since i stepped off the bus in arlington, vermont, to visit my sister.
through a friend of hers, she had gotten me a job at The Roundhouse, a 
local bar that has, after being alfies, and the eagles club, 
reopened again as The Roundhouse!, drinks and live music ...
i met my wife Kit in september of 1971, which ended my previous
 travels around the country, (key largo, washington, d.c., montauk, 
palm springs, europe ... and started the journey that i am still on today.
this journey, along with carpentry and furniture building, involved 
raising two boys, building 3 houses and three workshops,  
all processes similar to building furniture, but definitely different.
after living together for a couple of years, and hanging out with some other 
folks who had also arrived in manchester in 1971, 8 of us, 3 couples
and two singles decided it was time to build ourselves some houses!  
5 of them actually!  what did we know about building houses? 
 not much, or actually anything at all really !!!  
but, optimism in the early 70s back to the land movement knew no bounds, 
and everyone working together on everyone else's houses eventually got us 
to the point where two of us became full time carpenters, and
one of us built up a substantial earth moving and recycling  business ...
it was, as one of our friends noted recently, our personal 'habitat for us'
aka the LIA .. Land Improvement Association ...

first i needed some knowledge ...
i had another book that i think was called maybe 'practical house carpentry' 
 that better explained the basics, but that one is lost somewhere ...
then, of course, we needed some money, and some plans ... 
the bank where we had been banking for two years turned us down
without even looking at my yellow legal pad 'plans'.  
i wish i had the letter from the then bank president who told me, as i recall, 
that "this project was too ambitious for your abilities" adding,
" you know nothing about building things" ..

the younger president of the other bank in town told us
that if we got married, and actually had some real, like, architect drawn 
plans, he might talk to us.  so, november 10, 1973, we got married, 
and got an architect, who was a neighbor 
to draw some 'plans', and, miraculously, that bank gave us $25,000in the spring
 of 1974.  we had a little money saved, (we were both bartenders, and 
bartending was a good gig back then) and borrowed $2000. from my 
father to buy our 2 acre, ($7000.) lot with power and a driveway.
 once we paid that back, and drilled a 600' deep well for $5000., 
we had about $18,000. left to build our house.
it was a bit of a stretch, to say the least, but sometimes miracles happen, and we 
spent our first christmas there in 1974, with the tinfoil on the insulation
still showing around the tree! we later learned the one fact that 
was extremely helpful for our mortgage approval was that the bank 
president's mother was Kit's brother's 5th grade teacher in brattleboro, 
and she had 'vouched' for kit's family as 'reliable' folks.
center hill today ... the orange doors used to be our bedroom window
 that's me, second from the right, sitting in front of what was then our bedroom window.
my future brother in law, peter moore, who is Kristian's father, 
is to my right, and the others are two of the many Walls, david on the left
and beriah on the right.  the building at that time was called
the Wall Family Gallery, where the now famous beriah, had his pot shop
(both kinds), before moving to NYC a few years later.  david introduced me to paddle
tennis and i thank him often in my thoughts for that when i am playing today ....  
so, this is the house that was/is immediately north of the wall family gallery,
the one i sketched on my yellow legal pad, and the one we liked ...
if you click on this one, you'll see the architects window 
that he used to 'draw that house' for us.  the architect had never
seen our lot so we had to redesign of few things on the inside to suit the lay of the land.
we got pretty close on the outside.
originally, in 1974 we built only the 4 window cape part, 
adding the master bedroom addition to the right, in the mid and late 80s.
i was starting to take on 'side projects' to my by then carpentry job
and decided we needed a garage and a small workshop to 
get the sawdust out of the basement. 

post and beam work was becoming popular, and there was
a handy sawmill down the road where i could get
6x6s and other rough lumber at a really reasonable price.
so, off we went on that ...
in the photo above, it is 1976, and i am working as a carpenter for mark breen, in the foreground in  the white t shirt.  the others in that photo, left to right are bill hermann, one of the founders of high tech plumbing, paul roberts, and the late michael morris, one of the original settlers of dogpatch and one of the five mentioned above that we built our houses with.

one of the interesting things about our building lot was that it
was located on an 'esker'.  there were no surface stones and 
according to the well driller, it was 400 vertical feet to the first ledge, hence 400'
of casing, and the pump mounted on 400' of 1" galvanized pipe in 20' sections.
1/2 a gallon a minute was all we got til fracking came along in the late 80s.
there were layers of stratified sand with a layer of the purest whitest sand
several feet thick anywhere from 4 to 6 feet under the surface.
i dug the 4' deep, 9 holes for the sono tubes in one weekend.   
we didn't need a sandbox for the boys, they just dug a big hole in the lawn
 by the driveway and had fun there.

this takes us up to about 1976 on red mountain road.
my full time furniture making started january 1st, 1980.
for more photos of the construction process, land clearing,
first floor house plan, the other garage, tree house, and landscaping, 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

old man project ... volume 2

earlier i posted chapter 1 of my 'old man project', describing my arrival in manchester in 1971 and what happened in the next several years.  in thinking about my follow up post this morning, low and behold i find i already wrote chapter 2 back in november of 2010.  in rereading this post, i have discovered that some of the links still work, and others, like the 'recent shop video' no longer connect.  following the links in the 'anniversary one and two' posts will let you see some of the interesting projects we completed then.  the post below is a pretty good synopsis of how i came to be a full time furniture maker in 1980 ... some of this ground i covered in the post last friday, but i leave it as it stands for now...

stay tuned!  chapter 3 will eventually take us to our move from arlington 
to dorset in 1996 and the construction of our current shop as a 
3 bedroom two bath house...
my blog post from 2010 starts below ... that's me, circa 1972
i bet i still have that leather vest somewhere ...

November 2010 blog post below

I could do another picture of a sunset here and say something about how now I like to write, (like I said on anniversary one and two), but a couple things have come together in the last two months that make me want to go a little deeper ... While we were making the recent shop video, I went through our scrapbooks to get images of our first shop, and, scattered around there, were pictures of some of my early work ... my first table; my first chairs from scratch; my first sideboard (still have it); and, like David Byrne once famously wondered "How did I get here???. Is this my beautiful house??? ". Well, the days have gone by and I have now been making stuff from wood for over half of my 63 year old life. I didn't set out to do this; there was no grand plan, and as Anne Beattie so gracefully points out in the passage below, things happen ... In looking back through the stuff I have written and photographed in the last three years, it's easy to see we can now make a lot of different stuff, but, really, it wasn't always like this ... Like most other folks I know, progress is incremental; we do not know instantly what to do. We work from one recovery to the next. In one of Malcolm Gladwell's latest books, 'Outliers', he notes that interest and coincidence often combine to produce surprising careers. I was interested and was fortunate enough to encounter the coincidences I encountered and rise to the good fortune that arrived at my door. I can't do the whole 38 years in one shot, but I'll briefly touch on the first 10 or so years and hopefully come back to finish up as the spirit moves me ... If you've gotten this far, this will be a long one ... Thanks for sticking with me. Click the photos to enlarge them ... Thank you Ann Beattie for writing this passage and thanks to my friend Tom Peters, who passed it on to me as an important piece of child rearing and general life information. It's been on my various bulletin boards for about 10 years ... See also the related quote at the end of this post from Jim Harrison .... 'ready and attentive' ... be there ... My first (or second?) table, my brother's stereo cabinet, my first chairs from scratch ... Images 1973-81 ... the 'Welsh Cabinet' I built in 1973 using F.E. Hoard and A.W. Marlow's book 'Good Furniture You Can Make Yourself' .. page 150 and 151 ... a corner cupboard lower right from our house ...Some later Windsor chairs and a cabinet for a friend's daughter ... Bottom left is a table I still have in my dining room ... made in early 1981. Before we got to furniture, we first needed a house ... which is part of the story ... In the top photo with the mustache and long hair, I am working on a project in the basement of the apartment I rented when I first came to Vermont. Kit joined me there shortly after I moved in and I later went on to work as a carpenter for my landlord, even though I knew absolutely nothing about carpentry at the time ... It was interesting work though and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to build my own house ... By 1974, the economy was in the tank and my landlord/contractor was now running a logging business, and I was working in the woods, sawing, skidding and Prentice loading. The schedule was, start at 5:30 ... out of the woods at 2:30, back to town by 3:30 ... It was summer and that gave me 5 hours or so of daylight after my real job to work on my house. Home to bed... up and at it again the next day. We moved in in November ... I was young and energetic and in great shape from logging (3 coincidences there)  we were on our way ...

We borrowed and cheated, (a little) to get a piece of land; we somehow got a mortgage, (the bank president's mother was Kit's  brother's fifth grade teacher). We bought books and lumber ... We worked hard. We built a house in our spare time!!!! By that time, it was the gas crisis, my landlord was out of business, I got another job with a real carpenter, Mark Breen, with whom I still do projects,

like right now ...   (2010)

and again right now in 2022

We built a shop/garage in 1976 ... I did a few things on the side until December of 1979, when, after about 40 houses, Mark and I went our own ways ... I was on my own as a furniture maker ... I often say I then attended the "checkbook" school of woodworking ... Checkbook needs money ... go figure it out .... One of Mark's first jobs after I left in 1980 was a house for some people who had come to town from California. Mark hired me to build some French doors ... Well, we're all still friends today. Cook Neilsen, the husband and famous motorcycle guy, and his wife Stepper, went on to become our longtime friends and photographers for the next 20 years. Stepper called me two weeks ago to adjust the latch on one of the 30 year old doors I built below... It just needed a little tuning and lubing .... 'Proper lubrication is, after all, the key to life'. I had a nice visit with their stuff and it all still looks good. A truly nice feeling. One of the 4 french doors in the original project ... The cat shelf, bolted to the fireplace corner... And a pine cabinet from, I think 1982. It's 1983 now and kids (Sam' and Kit are in the lower left corner) happen ... This photo was taken by Cook, Labor Day 1983 ... That's Stepper in the middle without a kid, along with cousins, friends, friends' kids, neighbors ... we're all still here today,

And I thank my wife Kit for her constant and unending support through the last 39 years. As the official 'sees all, knows all', 'arbiter of taste' branch of my work, she is and always will be truly indispensable. Photo above is from the windowsill in our kitchen 1971. And finally, below, we have some wisdom from one of my favorite writers, Jim Harrison. I am now in the 'rowing' mode, approaching life backwards, looking at the past, wondering indeed, 'How Did I Get Here?' More later ... 1982- 1996, when we moved and built our current shop, would be the next logical chunk. Stay tuned ...

current shop, built as a three bedroom, 2 bath house in 1997 ...

Friday, July 15, 2022

volume 2.5 ...

i will be getting to more on the new shop shortly, but in the meantime,
 we made lots of furniture in the 20 plus years we worked in arlington ...
here are some of the images from 1979 to november 2000 ...
all professional looking photos by our long time photographer 
friend cook neilson ... snapshot photos by others ...

 i have lots more images to add ...


Thursday, July 14, 2022

'old man project' ... volume 3

 ok ... it's 1996 ... 
the boys are in middle school, but sam is at long trail school
in dorset, and will is showing serious interest in music ... since we got zero
financial support to send sam to a 'private' school, most of our best friends lived in dorset, and 
dorset treated long trail as a public school and paid most of the tuition there, and though
 we had talked about it before, it seemed like it was time to make the move ...
coincidentally, we had the lucky opportunity to 'house sit' our good friends'
house in dorset while they went sailing for a year. i continued to work at
the shop in arlington, becoming a commuter again for the first time in 16 years.
as the year hurried by, we realized that we wanted to make the move permanent.
 so, the question was 'how to do that'?  fortunately, the folks we were house 
sitting for were part of our 1974 personal "habitat for us" project that 
the earth moving business guy i mentioned there had built a road for 
a client who was planning to sell lots in a development he called, 
(fortunately for a furniture maker), 'goodwood lane'. !!!  
our friend agreed to 'sell' us one of the lots he took in trade and
 let us pay for it when we sold our arlington house sometime 
in the nebulous future.  so, the first part of the 'how to do that' 
question was answered .. we had a place ... 

but now, we needed a plan, and, (as always), some money.  while our house 
was not paid for, the inflation in vermont real estate from 1974 to 1996 provided
us the room to take a home equity loan to build something that we planned 
would be an immediate place to live while our arlington house was on
the market, and that would eventually become the shop ... again, it all seems
a little crazy in retrospect, but .... here we are ... as it ended up, we sold our
original house in 2000, 2 months before the capital gains tax would have 
kicked in on the sale of the arlington house, 
which would have destroyed our equity, and wrecked the whole plan.
 the shop as a 3 bedroom 2 bath house
the shop as a shop .. same place

so, here we go ... we needed a flexible building plan ...
click the pictures to enlarge them ...
my thought at the time, (i turned 50 in 1997), was to make it a nice enough 
house that when i was done working, i could turn it back into a house and the 
rent would help me retire.  little did i know what was coming down the
 pike for me as time went on ...  i'll get to that later .. 
loyal readers will already know about 'the boys' ...
plenty of local barns around for inspiration  ... 
we decided 30 x 40 would be a good size .. this one is longer ..
elevations and sections ... as the building went on,
the plans evolved and improved ...
this was probably late september or early october, and we were moved in by then ..
this was just the first step, and the big one, in 2000 was building a new
house on the other corner of our 10 acres of paradise .
the backyard at the house this morning ... 
more photos of the shop and house construction soon

Friday, July 8, 2022

old man project, volume 4 ... a new house ... 2000 ...

here we go ...  we closed on the sale of the arlington house in april,
and we had exactly 6 months to get out of  the arlington shop where
the new owners graciously allowed us to work til the house was liveable.
fortunately we were able to get the same builder who built the shop,
in 1997, rob goepel,who had worked as my assistant for a couple months 
in the early 80s ... they did a great job on the shop, and let us work along with them
when they were building the house .. back view ...
dan's hand drawn plans ... i have the rest of the elevations
and floor plans in the slide show.
partial front view ..


cornices and cornice returns constructed on the ground before
tipping up the walls ... some skateboarding on the first floor deck ..
about the time of the previous framing photo, we realized 
we were not going to have any money left to have a party when we 
were done, so we had one then to thank everyone involved ...
had some live music and a great potluck.
wish i had better photos of the fun ...

 'came out good' as they say

i hope get some more construction photos together 
for a slideshow before too long

november 1st 2000 ...
rent a uhual, pick up the tools in arlington, move the furniture 
to the lawn in dorset, unload to tools into what used to be the house, 
              load up the furniture and take it to the new house .. piece of cake!        
i am starting to get a a house building slide show together ,,,         

Thursday, July 7, 2022

old man project volume 5

ok!  as i write this, it is april fool's day 2023 !

but as i post it, it is the 23rd of april 2023 ... 

took me a minute to get back to this ...  a little rainy and dreary today,
 but as they say, april showers bring may flowers ... 
here's Bowie checking out some snow drops by the shop on thursday.
you can still see some of the snow left over from the big dump
of about about 20"we got 2 weeks ago ...
it's mostly gone now, and it's raining today, with 
highs predicted in the 50s and 60s for the upcoming 
week ...where was i in my last chapter?
23 years ago ... a lot of furniture out the door since then.
a new shop begged for a tool upgrade: bigger jointer, bigger planer,
bigger bandsaw, and eventually a few years later a wide belt
sander, an upgraded edge sander, and a full size cnc. 
the cnc turned out to be a game changer that allowed 
the 2005, 2nd floor cnc install needs a slide show of it's own,
and i will get to that eventually.

in 2001, a long time employee (12 years) left the shop one day
and was killed in a car accident that evening ... 
tribal knowledge ... lots of it ... gone in a flash!
it was a good time for building in our area, and i was able 
to hire and train 3 new employees in the next two years
the four or five years after 2002 saw several major 
new customers, and many exciting new pieces ... 
here are a few updated spring shots now that the snow is completely gone!
trilliums in the ravine 
the shadbush is blooming by the metal shop
and the golf course is open .. a little windy yesterday,
but beautiful and nice to be out!

many more photos to add soon!