Saturday Tweets: Wood Chips, Embroidery and Tempura

Figs Happen


You can stand around complaining that the squirrels got every single peach, that the rats got every grape, that there’s not enough time to weed, that the garden looks like crap. Then bam, figs happen. Lots of figs. So many figs that you start having to think about fig jams, fig compotes and figs with cheese and honey. But you’re also lazy so most of the figs get eaten somewhere between the tree and the front door. You promise figs to friends and neighbors but somehow that never happens.

If you’re the score keeping type let it be known that we’re talking about a Mission fig tree we planted around 2009 in our front yard.

How’s your garden doing this summer? Where do you live and what are you growing?


A Rolling Miter Saw Stand


I’m spending the summer ticking off a long list of “things I should have done twenty years ago.” At the top of my list (but probably not Kelly’s) was building a rolling miter saw stand with collapsible wings to hold long pieces of wood. For years I balanced lumber off the too-short metal ends of the saw. The result? Inaccurate cuts and the risk of a trip to Kaiser’s excellent Sunset Boulevard adjacent emergency room.

There’s a plethora of great designs for miter saw stands on the interwebs. I settled on one by Jim Straud in Popular Woodworking Magazine as it made use of a rolling cabinet, a plus when your shop is tiny. Our garage consists of two Model-T sized spaces encased in a concrete bunker at the bottom of the hill on which sits our house. When I’m working on a large project I roll the tools into the empty space where I park our car.

Straud’s plan has you make a cabinet. I skipped that step and reused a cabinet I picked up at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Note to LA and Oaklanites: the Reuse People of America shop also has as many cabinets as there are cars on the 405 at rush hour. There’s no need to make more! I had to buy a few pieces of wood to complete the project, but was able to make use of a large scrap of 3/4-inch melamine I had stacked in the corner of the garage. I added some wheels to make the cabinet mobile.

I painted the cabinet with homemade chalkboard paint so that I’ll know, at a glance, what’s in the drawers. The next step will be to add the adjustable stop. Perhaps I’ll also motorize the wings so that my miter saw stand can soar over the Los Angeles landscape like the Dude in The Big Lebowski dream sequence. Or maybe I’ll just fix the piece of wood I mounted backwards and only noticed when I took the photo for this blog post (extra points if you can find it). Then there’s the “improve my terrible handwriting” project. As Chaucer put it, “The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne.


Saturday Tweets: Peach Chutney, Pagers and Floating Homes

The Return of the Portière?

We live in a house with a glass front door that looks straight into the bathroom. Add to this problem two cats who love to bang open the bathroom door and you’ve got a recipe for an embarrassing encounter with the UPS man. Could a portière be in our future?

A portière is a curtain that hangs in a doorway. It has a dual function: privacy and heat conservation. It stands in where a door would be clunky and inconvenient. Unfortunately, other than the beaded curtain fad of the 1960s, the portière seems to have disappeared. Was it because those beaded curtains messed up your big hair?

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 8.48.22 AM

Though, it should be noted, the beaded curtain predates Ann-Margaret:


But I digress.

Image: Amagase.

Image: Amagase.

The Japanese have a version of the the portière called Noren (暖簾) that can be found both inside and outside homes and businesses. According to Wikipedia,

Exterior noren are traditionally used by shops and restaurants as a means of protection from sun, wind, and dust, and for displaying a shop’s name or logo. Names are often Japanese characters, especially kanji, but may be mon emblems, Japanese rebus monograms, or abstract designs. Noren designs are generally traditional to complement their association with traditional establishments, but modern designs also exist. Interior noren are often used to separate dining areas from kitchens or other preparation areas, which also prevents smoke or smells from escaping.

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 8.40.47 AMThe August 1903 issue of Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman has a few pages devoted to portières. At over $200 each in today’s dollars, these were luxury items. [1]

IMG_3126The very same portal that allows our UPS driver a full view of our bathroom has the telltale evidence of a past portière. In the doorway you can see the holder for a curtain rod that once held a portière.

In the name of modesty, I’ve added the portière to my long house restoration bucket list.