Archive: » 2021 » February


Early in our marriage Mrs. Barn and I took a trip to Asheville NC for a craft fair and tour of the Biltmore Estate, the largest private home ever built in the USA.  Biltmore was mind blowing, and five years later I would decline an offer to become the museum’s Chief Conservator.  The trip, tour, and fair were extravagant expenses for us as we were both college students, she as a Graduate Fellow (read: $tipend) in Plant Pathology, me working at Winterthur Museum’s Metals Conservation Laboratory.  I recall three purchases we made a that craft show, two of which were the pottery tureen and soup bowls that we still use, and a hand-colored pressed engraving of a country house in a snowstorm, still hanging on the dining room wall as I look outside watching the snow falling.

The third purchase, an ultra fashionable winter hat made from a fleece, had retreated from my memory until last summer when I re-discovered it among a box of stuff in my old basement workshop.  I immediately brought it to the mountains and put it back into circulation, waiting only for the weather to get cold enough so that my head would not cook (it is *really* warm in addition to being oh so stylish).  These days I find it to be the last thing I reach for before departing the cabin for the walk up the hill to the barn.  Up there I keep it on until the heat builds up from the wood/coal stove as my work day begins.  There it hangs by the door, ready to be put back on if I need to go outside the heated envelope of my shop.

Back in Shangri-La

After almost a month of absence for family concerns I am back at our little holler here in the mountains.  First it was my mom’s Memorial in Florida followed immediately by Mrs. Barn’s father’s passing and funeral in SoCal, then the first two weeks of cleaning out the house.  Her dad was a mechanical savant and child of The Dust Bowl and never threw anything away if it had some conceivable use in an imaginable circumstance by a theoretical person.  It strengthened my own resolve to continue dispensing of anything that is not really necessary in the shop or on the bookshelf.  I’m thinking that any book or tool left untouched after X amount of time needs to find a new home.

I expect to resume a full slate of projects tomorrow, depending on jet lag, which is way worse in my 66th year than in my 36th year.  I know one of the first things is to get caught up on my polissoir orders, and to make a new batch of Mel’s Wax.  After selling only a dozen orders through 2020 I suddenly have several more and no inventory to ship.

Then back to door-making, book writing, tree harvesting, tool making, metal casting, video editing…

But for tonight it’s Pale Rider while I get settled in.  I was originally thinking of Idiocracy but I am not in the mood for a documentary.