Yesterday, things got a bit out of hand in the land of Stream of Consciousness. It left Beverly- well, practically speechless. The good news is it all started when I met a new friend for coffee. We were going to meet around the corner at TeaGschwendner where they have over 300 varieties of tea and no coffee but they weren’t open yet so we settled on Starbucks. My tolerance for substances that alter my brain chemistry is practically zip, so sadly or not, I’m never been able to be a hard rockin’ space cadet or a hyped-up over achieving Type A. Tea, mostly lower caffeine varietals, a nice cocktail or glass of wine- that’s my Midwestern limit.
So! I met this lovely woman, an architectural photographer and mother of two, to talk about joining her book group. And, although I felt all anxious and ‘what to wear’, it was a delightful hour of conversation. She has two children, much younger but with the same distant spacing as mine. Her friends sound like the sort of women I would like to get to know- a landscape architect, a woman who works professionally on arts councils for Chicago, a teacher, a brave 50 year old who has adopted a baby. They have had a long standing book group and she invited me to the next meeting. It’s on the 51st floor of someone’s high-rise; very different from the water level meetings convened at Wit’s End but I am pushing myself forward here, to the best of my ability. Oh, how I miss BCMA.
They are reading The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy and I have a sneaky feeling that’s not out on video, so, darn, I guess I have to read it. It’s entirely possible I owned this book but it didn’t make the moving cut and now I have to go to Borders and that means relinquishing my parking spot. That’s a fate worse than the dentist, believe me. Michelle may have been trying to be helpful when she sent me a link for a guy selling 3,000 individual books on ebay but I’m just left stunned thinking about someone who has time to type out this listing.This is someone whose life I don’t envy- a guy surrounded by 3000 too many books and access to ebay.
Life is definitely perking up over here. After I got all jacked up on coffee the window covering people came to deliver the new shades for kitchen and bedroom. In my past life I used neither keys nor window coverings- the place was safe and I was surrounded by nothing but garden and trees. The first day here I shrieked, "Yakkkk!" and tore down the medieval brocade drapes in the bedroom and tossed them in the alley. At 3 am the next morning I looked like one of those stunned cartoon characters with eyeballs hanging out on springs because the neighbor’s security light-WHICH NEVER GOES OFF- was blinding me. The next afternoon I had the shade guy come and measure and then, because Rich was already out of town on business and I was cranky and didn’t care how much they charged his card, I went ahead and ordered the silk dupioni roman shades with room darkening liner.
When Rich got home last night he said, "Wow! Those are the best ever! They’re beautiful! You are just making this place feel so good!" Wait ’til he sees his bank statement.
Yesterday I met a friend, joined a book group, got new shades, and then I went to open knitting night at the Knitting Workshop around the corner. All the women there were fun and informative and mostly better knitters. I’m frustrated with following these lace patterns so I’m going to temporarily retreat to an easier project.
Then I went out to a late dinner with my sweet husband and slept like a baby. When I woke up, he was gone off on business again- this time for a full week- and I’m sitting here thinking there must be something around here that needs improving or replacing.
acer macrophyllum! Bonnie and Michele hit the nail on the head: Big Leaf Maple, also known as Pacific Maple. This Maple is less hard than it’s eastern growing cousin (cleverly named the Eastern Hard Maple). The thing about acer macrophyllum is, because it is slightly less dense, the fibers and spaces between the fibers can be more easily "pushed around" by natural forces as the tree grows, resulting in an uneven grain. Depending on the growing conditions, about one out of four trees show significant patterning in the grain of the wood when cut. The patterning can range from "bird’s eye" to "flaming" to "quilting." Quilted Maple is usually considered to be the most figural or decorative. Most figured woods are used as veneers- thin sheets of wood adhered to the underlying wood- in furniture. These highly decorative maple woods are also used in the construction of string instruments.
I wish I knew more about how, precisely, the fibers get compressed in such a way that these patterns are formed. I would also like to know whether they run all the way through the trunk of the tree. I’ve read some discussion about the best way to mill these boards to maximize the grain and there’s debate about whether it’s best quarter sawn or straight planed. Maybe Hoss, son of a lumberjack, might know more or someone like FC, Wayne or Pablo.
Anyway, I showed you my mantle here at the Escher house. It’s a stunning piece of acer macrophyllum. It’s a curved arch, about 8 inches thick and 6 feet long. It’s solid, no veneers. And that makes me wonder what that mantle looked like back when it was a living breathing tree. Some tree.
It’s Ark Day but the cats are laying low as it’s cool and overcast and Sophie spent the night rummaging through Rich’s suitcase so she’s tuckered out. More good news is that birds have found the feeders and now my courtyard is full of happy sparrows. In the relative scheme of feeding that’s a big step down from goldfinches and downy woodpeckers and hummers but at least they’re not pigeons. Yet. (Remember that Tom Lehrer song, "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"?) But it’s early, so maybe some other species will find their way over my brick wall.
So, Bonnie. What was the Ark made out of? Gopher wood? What is that?