super virile wheel koan get its 15 clicks

birdloft's virile wheel koan

birdloft’s virile wheel koan

A collection of man-related juiciness created by a tastemaker in Singapore put birdloft’s wheel koan on the front page of etsy on Tuesday, pushing page views into the stratosphere – up from a daily usual of about seven views to 478. Amazing. No sales. But still, amazing, good exposure.

The collection: man at large, by Gavin. For the record, his treasuries are consistently beauties. View here at man at large

This was the second time, as far as I know, that birdloft furniture has made it to the front, or FP, as etsy people call it.

It’s also true that just about anything can make the front page of etsy. Maybe the views are less, if the product is less awesome, but the filter definitely seems to sometimes be off. Regretsy

Regardless, the wheel koan takes the much sought-after etsy FP button. Appropriate responses “Yay!” “Woo-hoo!”


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new year wreath

wreath of shavings

new year’s wreath of shavings

even when this old wood makes way for a drill bit it’s beautiful. from a book case coming together. the wreath-like composition existed for maybe a minute, before being wiped away to drill the next hole, just below. You can see the center point, marked lightly in pencil. Hole is 29/64s of an inch diameter. Wood is old growth douglas fir, about 1.75 inches thick.

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Winter workshop Remedy No. 834: Two hours in the afternoon sun

The Delta jointer sunning outside the birdloft workshops on Friday

The Delta jointer sunning outside the birdloft workshops on Friday

Suddenly it was dark in the workshop. But it was so sunny on Friday I didn’t even notice. I’d just flicked on the jointer, wanting to shave up a block, and the belt-driven motor groaned, burped, emitted a single grey ellipsis of electrical smoke stench and then quit. Didn’t know I shorted out the workshop and part of the house until my wife shouted from the top of the back stair, “The power’s out!”

Well, I panicked that I’d cooked my faithful old machine. I also was already unfaithfully wondering – only briefly – how much I might get in scrap for the heavy old bastard. Chastened though, mostly at the thought of a highly invasive repair, which would mean leaning heavily on the esoteric resuscitatory knowledge of  my friend old George, and therefore would mean several hours of listening to his beautiful, but highly extensive stories while eating frozen apples from his trees, I went into expediency mode. I used my brain to remember deeply, hitting upon another similarly unpleasant smell memory – the time I nearly cooked my screw gun will drilling massive holes for a stair balcony in San Francisco. Same impossibly thin ellipsis, same electrical stench. I had thought my drill was a goner then, but it wasn’t, and is still going. Maybe there was hope for the jointer.

So I walked the old machine from the back of the workshop out into the sun – by spinning it from foot to foot like stevedores used to roll barrels of herring across, the thing is too heavy to lift. It was near 55 degrees. Roofs were steaming. An old sodden cedar beam I had picked up from a dairy barn the other day was also steaming. The sky was blue. Chickadees were hitting the seed, the wren the suet. It’s been chilly the last few days, creeping below freezing, but the sun was out and it was time to heal and to eat, to breathe deep. For the jointer, it was time for a sunbath.

And sure enough, a couple hours later, the jointer fired right up. The job – a few bites of a stick of cedar, to get it just right to prop another block, so birdloft’s tireless, sole proprietor wouldn’t have to lean over quite so far – was over in less than a minute.

Nut of story: even if you can stand the cold in the workshop, some of your machinery might like a little warmth.

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implacable, delicious, beyond prediction


Oh dear, Another Year

Scene: January 9th in the afternoon, Seattle, train crossing in the industrial district.
How all good things begin – with a lurch, a slightly jarring disruption of flow, noticed or unnoticed.

This morning – just about 12 months later (yes, this is one more summation in the coming deluge of perennial summations), I eclipsed 900 miles of running for the year, third best annual total since a personal record-keeping obsession began eight years ago. Maybe less of a lurch and more stubborn shamble.

Related personal facts of January 9th, each contributing to the idea of how sea changes (like the subtler, unnoticed train crossings) realign our lives each year:
1. A and I still lived on East Helen Street Seattle on January 9th (we were out hunting lampshades that day).
2. Yellow Truck was sidelined and I was truckless, as I would be for three more months, the parts for the engine rebuild on their way from Australia.
3. I had logged 14 miles of running for the year so far, and the plan was to comb Seattle street by street on my runs of 2012, like usual but more deliberately. By May, as it turned out, I was running in another country, the city of destiny – gritty, dogged old T-Town!

Hooray 2012, another good one – implacable, delicious, beyond prediction.

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exhaust above a side street, white into night sky
up from the high tide line, from one-story, sprawling waterfront,
unseen, unheard, from up here among houses
down there machinery going on unstopping into Saturday night
escaped steam unrolling, dwarfing houses and firs unstirred by the wind,
the cold and tide shaping it, it lit from below by a thousand unseen sodium vapor lights
coniferous, tangible as a Van Gogh starry night

we do things once (any more), and rarely rest
we prefer to design something digitally, from an office chair
have something read about in a magazine for lunch, and move on

the work of hands is puny, almost humorless, unless it is medicine, done by microscope.
doctors doing surgery listening to oldies radio. architects watching Glee as they model in 3d.
nothing so pedestrian as repetition, as craft. stitches but not braces. rigor and status,
comfortable wages, but nothing crass as a stain, a smudge, a worn cuff or glove

the San Francisco offices of Pinterest are a few doors down from the solar array of an REI
which is not far at all from a Trader Joes and a Peet’s Coffee & Tea. no-one I know
goes around the corner to the Fort Help Methadone center. but not far from there, just .7 miles north on Seventh,
you come to Morphosis’ Federal Building, super green, super industrial looking, all metal veil
and panels that act as thermal sinks in the afternoons, creating air flow without coal

I don’t know. I just feel like we are pretty sophisticated. as a culture. that we’ll – his voice trailing off.
that we’ll figure it out? laughing, her eyes on her phone, checking messages.
him – I wish I didn’t have to work tomorrow.
her – you’re going in? on a Sunday again?
them – drinking coffee, scarves and his hat in a pile.
framed by a chain store window of balanced neutrals, sharply dressed, smooth skin.
pushing off in another minute.

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summer, earlier this week

summer, earlier this week
a lament

after work, flying to a town nearby
down a back road racing end of day

it was just Monday, hurtling through golden burned-out, logged-out fields
headed to a bar in a town we’d never seen

our bodies in the truck warped and wrapped against the hill beside us
chance positionings, as three dimensional as shadow and memory of shadow can be

before work, on the empty lake, the mergansers were loud as power boats
plowing black water into fountains over their backs, eighty of them or more

they must have been flying ahead of the rain
they must have known better their coordinates

the rains came. yesterday. back again after eighty-odd days of heat and sun
like Johnny Cochran, the wet veil of fog over evergreens fit


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Pack My Bags in medias res

the birdloft offices, with a chickadee at the feeder. Photo credit: Adrienne Wicks

PACK MY BAGS in medias res

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 – Tacoma, Wash. – Just when birdloft was getting comfortable in the new shop – surprised in the drowzy afternoons, catching myself moving easily across the floor from material to tool – it’s time to shift gears temporarily, head for a few weeks to a lakeside jobsite.

My wife and I, the four arms of insitu design|build, are beginning the framing of a garage-loft we designed a couple of years ago now. (Anything worth doing takes a little time.) It is going to be wicked exciting of course. We will be testing ourselves – and the clients no doubt. This thing we designed on laptops is finally going to emerge from the digital, from the ground, take shape among Douglas firs and cedars.

So the workshop will be quiet.

The chickadees, who demand seed as soon as I swing open the door, will have to tend to other humans and other feeders.
The neighbor across the alley, who works nights, who has been sleeping in the basement during the hotter weather, will be undisturbed by my midmorning whining planer, the dry, loud grind of the belt sander. He’ll be able to sleep through lunch.
And the cats, who have patrolled the back yard longer than any of us, will have it again to themselves, to yowl in, and fight over – the Oreo and Stubtail daily pre-dawn rematch.

But the jointer will stay. The planer. The bar clamps, the router. Not every tool will leave the shop. And I’ll be back soon enough. I’ll sneak back on breaks. I’m in the middle of making a bookcase. Have a killer diagram from the client – all wood slab in the horizontal, all steel rod for the verticals. Is going to be a beauty. I haven’t seen it anywhere else. New form yet again from salvaged, repurposed material. Super light.

Yes, pack the tool bags, pack the truck. Right when I was getting into the middle of things (in medias res). But the shop will wait. The air there will keep. Like an inland sea will tend to itself in the interim.

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