Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ladder-style Bookshelves.

Fred wanted different bookshelves for this new house. Ever up to a challenge, I chose ladder shelves. I'd concluded the plans I found online were more equipment-intensive than I could muster. I have a circular saw, a jigsaw, a power drill, a router and hand sanders, files, saw-horses and a variety of clamps. Unafraid of imperfection, I figured I could design and build something that would stand up.

So I drew my plans then went to the local specialty-lumber yard where I bought many board-feet of red oak, different sizes. Came home and marked, measured, cut, drilled etc.

Tapered the 1 x 4's for the back legs, so the 1 x 2 front legs could be continuous to the top.
Lowest shelf 1 x 12, then 1 x 10, 1 x 9, 1 x 8, 1 x 7, 1 x 6, 1 x 4.

Broke several drill bits on the (hard) oak - I've mostly worked in knotty pine before.
Got heavier screws for the second shelf - much better.

I finished the wood with tung oil before assembly - used that on the headboard unit I built two dozen years ago, and the finish still looks good with zero maintenance (my kind of finish!).

Not going to win any prizes, but these shelves look interesting and they hold a lot.
Two down, two to go with my current supply of wood. At this point my biggest challenge is working in the cold - the last few days have been pleasant but we have snow & sub-zero weather coming - in an unheated garage that's a show-stopper.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

City Park Christmas - a photo-essay

Denver Skyline

Long's Peak


Oh look!

And did I mention, there are geese...

Well, a few...

Grazing away.

What's that yammering? Here they come --

Cloud of the day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Street Art, Denver Style

Recently a series of images appeared
on posts at intersections, above the
Walk button.

Someone has a sense of humor...

Yes, if everyone is doing it, you should too!

It's fun, it's a creative moment on East Colfax, not Denver's most beautiful street.

The drunks of Larimer Street (back in the day when Neal Cassidy and his father subsisted there) have been displaced by gentrification - but East Colfax has no gentry, so anyone can hang out.

And, in good populist fashion, low-rent artists find canvases for their creative notions.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cloud watching...

Front-range Colorado has the best clouds I've ever seen - not only the big dramatic thunderheads in summer, but piles of heavy dense snow-clouds against the peaks when it's snowing up there, and the long-distance spectacle of fast-moving storms. Last month I watched a snowstorm sweep down from the foothills across Denver - driving north up Broadway I could see miles to the tall buildings of downtown, in the yellowish light of intervening sun and cloud and a whirl of flakes vanishing on contact.

But my favorites are the lenticular (lens-shaped) formations, which look like UFO's - some are small, others (like today's) span the sky, with clean sharp edges and sculpted sides, like great wings or water-carved rocks.

In a place with such sights on display, it's a loss not to look up - what's in the sky today?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One of the standout moments in life is reaching an educational milestone.
It doesn't even have to be your own -

Today Ernesto completed his undergrad college work, and in February will receive the piece of paper (as long as he doesn't have any library fines!). As a parent, I look forward to the ceremony as I didn't when it was my own diploma being awarded. Back then, having to buy a one-use gown then sit in the swelter, without ever having my name actually called, wasn't very enticing - I think I went hiking that day.

However, when my sons are being honored, you better believe I'm attending! Temple University's mid-year commencement exercises are much smaller than their May event, so his name might be announced. Even if it's not, Fred and I will be there, proud and happy.

We don't know where his Anthropology degree will take him, but the process of earning it has already carried him far: to Philadelphia, where he's figured out the housing and work challenges many students face; to Rome for a semester; to rural western India for a month.

The world awaits -- Bon Voyage, Ernesto!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Furniture Serendipity

Now that we have acquired a house, Fred and I face the prospect of unpacking all those boxes we've paid to store. Since we got rid of most of our furniture when we moved, the search is on: time to shop.

I find new-furniture stores mostly depressing - shoddy stuff sure to fall apart in a short time, in styles that are minor variations on a dull theme. Want a couch that doesn't fill your whole room, but is still long enough to sleep on? Forget it. How about one that a mid-sized person can sit on without having feet dangle above the floor while your back rests against the cushions? Nope.

There seem to be two schools of furniture design these days: oversized squishy pieces that dwarf fat people, and therapeutic units without a handsome line in them anywhere. A back-saver couch we saw was nothing but three back-saver chairs mounted side by side - not a piece you'd want to nap on! Suitable for a chiropractor's office, but in our living room? Please!

So we ordered Amish furniture. Not cheap, but well-made in this country (imagine!). In February we'll have our dining room table and chairs, and the sofa and armchair we finally bought after rejecting hundreds across the city as ugly or uncomfortable or both.

Building bookshelves is one thing, but I'm not trained or equipped for cabinetry. Fortunately, there's Craigslist. Some pieces are pretty sad - the hutch with the bullet-hole decals, the chipped pressed-sawdust entertainment center - and some are funny - the Grateful Dead bear end table (really!), Bean Bag that turns into a Bed! and Little Tykes Race Car Bed. Then there are spelling attempts - an Automan, an Armiour and an Armwar. I found oxymorons: Danish Modern Vintage Furniture, Lifetime Plastic Table, modern contemporary art deco chair; and redundancies: one-of-a-kind unique wing-back chair, awesome vintage tall retro blue lamps...
Some things are mysteries: Large Wood Slabs (which is just what they are). Rustic Vintage 7 foot Door is considerably the worse for wear - for the $35 this seller is asking, you could buy an oak credenza or "three almost new chairs" or a handmade Kiva Ladder.

Sellers enthuse about their things: beautiful, gorgeous, very nice, very fine, wow, cool, excellent, beatifull, and Guaranteed Bed Bug Free!
Some people think their stuff is really valuable, and others just want it gone.

I could've bought a huge buffet/hutch for $100 - it would cost more than that to transport it to my house, but no amount of money would remove the soaked-in cigarette stench of decades. Had to pass. And the buffet/hutch in OK shape I could've fit in my car? No drawers. Another pass.

This is what makes the corner china cabinet I bought tonight so special: it was hand-made by the seller's father - beautiful solid oak piece with glass-fronted top half, in excellent condition, with adjustable shelves and locking doors. At any furniture store you would pay 3 or 4 times what this couple was asking, but you wouldn't get a piece as well made. I've never been happier to part with $125.