Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Movie review of I Could Never be Your Woman

Saw I Could Never Be Your Woman on DVD.  According to Wikipedia, it was released straight to DVD in the U.S.:  huh; it's as good (or better) than some clunkers I've seen in the theatres...

It stars Michelle Pfieffer and Paul Rudd.  She's middle-aged woman who writes for and produces a t.v. show:  she falls for a much younger man who she's cast on her show.

Conflict of interest aside (i.e. dating someone you're supervising at work), I found this show charming and a little cheesy. For me, the ultimate indicator is whether I stayed up late to finish watching it:  yes, I did.

I'm writing this nearly a full year later (3/15/19), based on scribbled notes, so I don't remember about the sex, cussing, and etc. 

But, yeah:  I liked it.  If your tastes are like mine, you'll enjoy it as well.  Not in my top 20 ever -- but perfectly serviceable as a rom-com.



Monday, March 12, 2018

My first stool

This weekend I finally completed a project that I've been working on (in bits and pieces) since about Christmas -- and has actually been several years in the making.

It's a stool -- or, alternatively, a endtable or bedside table -- made out of a wooden slab and four thick branches as legs.

A wife of a co-worker gave me the wooden slab about a year and a half ago (November 2016), when they downsized from their house into an intentionally small two bedroom apartment.  Previously it had been used as a "bridge" between two kitchen counters, and at another house it had been some sort of shelf in the garage (my co-worker thinks that the black marks might be motor oil stains).

I intention-ally did not sand back the surface, because:  (1) I like the darker, more "aged" patina; (2) I think the black marks make it look more interesting; and (3) I also wanted to retain the blue (teal?) paint splatter on one corner.

However, I did choose to sand across the tops of the round mortices, where the legs and the wedges come through the slab -- just to smooth everything (the stubs of the leg tenons protruded above the surface of the seat).  So I lost a little patina around there.  But that just means that you can see what the wood would have looked like -- had I sanded the whole thing.

Likewise, I intentionally made wooden wedges out of a darker wood, because I wanted the wedges to be obvious (an accent!  a "design feature"!) and contrast with the color of the legs.  I cut the wedges to four degrees -- because that's the angle that Chris Schwarz mentioned that he uses for his wedged chair legs.  Shore.

Note that the wedging forces are against the ends of the long grain -- because I didn't want to risk splitting the seat.  

The legs are lagistromia (crepe myrtle):  very slow growing, and can be pruned to be more "bush-like" or "tree-like", depending.  These are leftovers from prunings from about ten years ago, and I knew that they would someday become stool, chair, or table legs:  I was just waiting for the right project.

I intentionally left the bark on the branches, and kept them intentionally "rustic":  it looks more interesting. I also intentionally left the legs a little long:  I chose two long branches from my stockpile that suited my intended diameter, and cut them more-or-less in half, to maximize the leg length.  An alternative would have been to cut one of the branches in thirds, then cut a fourth leg to a matching length from the remaining branch:  this would have been fine, as the resulting stool would've been about knee height (sufficiently ergonomic) -- but I preferred have something that was ambiguously stool/table height.

I also made an engineering decision to splay the legs -- very slightly! -- rather than to make them perpendicular to the surface.  My rationale was that the torque would be minor, but the slight splay would provide a wider foundation, and thus increase the stool/table's stability.

Oddly, I didn't mark the source of the wood like I usually do.  As you can tell, I keep track of the source of the wood for my projects -- and usually I like all the components to be from the same source (or at least, identifiable sources) -- e.g. "from the construction dumpster from my kids' old school".  But it was either from the tree in the front yard in the house we lived in before this one (which was my wife's late grandmother's house:  we lived in it for a few years after the grandmother died), or else from the tree in our front yard (which was transplanted with a backhoe from the grandmother's back yard, place in our front yard, and then I pruned the excess branches so that the reduced root ball would not have to support an excess amount of branches).  But my best guess is that it's from the grandmother's front yard.

This stool marks a few firsts:  it's the first substantial project where I used my woodturning lathe (it's way easier to drill holes, then lathe the end of the legs, than it is to mortice a square or rectangular hole!).  It's the first chair/stool/table that I've made.  And actually, it's my first piece of furniture (I've made a few simple shelves - but I don't count those).

As is my practice, I documented the heck out of it, in permanent marker on the underside of the seat:  the completion date; the sources of the wood; instructions for adding additional coats of finishing oil (if desired); and my initials.  

I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but my feet are about two inches off the ground.  I could shorten the stool legs a bit -- but at the moment it can be used equally well as a stool and as an endtable:  if I trim down the legs, then it won't be quite the right height near a bed.

As you can probably tell, one of the things that I like about woodworking -- and songwriting and recording music, for that matter -- is the intersection of logical/engineering problem-solving, and creative/aesthetic decision-making.  In woodworking:  Will the thing that I'm making serve its intended purpose, and hold up under the anticipated loads?  But also:  do I like the design; do I like the way it looks?  In songwriting and recording:  what mood do I want to convey?  What sounds do I want to create?  And then:  how do I achieve those moods and sounds?

Anyhow, with this stool/table project:  I am pleased.  :)


P.S.  All photos are by my son B2, Tech Boy

P.P.S.  In the final photo, I'm on the phone with my sister.  :)  

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