Monthly Archives: January 2009

Goodbye to 2008

            Goodbye to 2008. It is gone and may it be quickly forgotten. I would feel a lot better if 2009 had not started out just as badly. My 2008 included some of the same bad things you experienced. Business is slow. My IRA was cut in half by the stock market crash. 

            Regionally, this has been a horrible winter. It stops snowing only long enough to spend a day digging out. Then, it snows again. In December we had an ice storm that left the region without power. We were only out for two days. We spent them huddled around the fireplace and slept on the living room floor.

 

            Some 2008 problems are unique to my life. In September we began to build a handicap addition for our friend Jim. We have lived with tradesmen ever since.  They are always banging and sawing.  Their trucks clog our driveway.  We have no peace, no privacy. I want them all to go away. The addition is beautiful, but I want them all to go away.

 

            In October it seemed our white boxer Angus had hurt his left rear leg.  Anyone who has taken a class here in the past couple of years knows Angus.  He is a very friendly and personable dog. He is fun loving and full of joy.  The vet determined Angus had torn his ACL. Angus is high energy and plays hard.  So, such an injury was not surprising.  We had his ACL fixed. Those of you who took classes after October saw Angus’ shaved leg and the long incision on his knee. You watched him limp around the shop.

 

            The leg did not get better.  In fact, it got worse.  We took Angus to a canine physical therapist. She had him walk on a treadmill in a water tank. Angus still did not get better. The vet was puzzled, as was the physical therapist. Finally, the therapist told us she feared an infection. After all, Angus’ knee did seem swollen.

 

            We thought she may be right.  The dog was experiencing pain. He would suddenly stand and run round the room trying to lap his sore leg.  I could only calm him by massaging him. We thought he was having muscle or tendon spasms.

 

            Just after Christmas we took him back to the vet. The vet tried to examine the leg and Angus shrieked in pain. He couldn’t stand to have the leg touched.  It was gut wrenching to see a dog suffer like that.

 

            The vet scheduled the dog for an X-ray the next day. We took Angus home. He had a terrible night.  He could not lie down because of the pain.  He paced around the room whimpering.  About 9:00 we packed him into the car and brought him to the Emergency Clinic for some pain relievers.

 

            The next day Angus had his X-ray. A large lump showed up on a leg muscle.  The vet took a biopsy. Why does no one ever do tests early in the week?  Whenever you are waiting for a lab report, you always have to wait over a weekend. 

            The report came back. Cancer. The next trip was to a veterinary oncologist. Poor Angus had more tests to determine if the cancer had spread. We waited another weekend for the results, keeping the poor dog drugged, but out of pain.

 

            Finally, we got the answer we had been praying for.  No evidence the cancer was anywhere but in the leg muscle. We got another break.  The surgeon had two white boxers she adored.  She fell in love with Angus and just for him; she came in on a Sunday to amputate his leg.

 

            Twelve hours later we went to visit Angus.  He bounced out of the kennel on three legs. I took him for a walk and he began to run down the sidewalk pulling me behind. I got in trouble with the surgeon for being irresponsible.  She would not accept my excuse that the dog was pulling me.

 

            Angus has continued to strengthen. After two weeks, the surgery has healed and he has had the stitches removed. The site looks horrible, but that doesn’t seem to bother him.  The dog is on his way back.

 

            So, we now have a ¾ dog. This is more common than I had known.  In fact, there are websites for amputee dogs.  They are called TriPawds. It seems most dogs do just fine with three legs. Amputations bother us far more than they bother the dog. Angus is affirming that wisdom.

 

            We feel better that our dog is getting better.  Still, 2008 and the beginning of 2009 have been awful. We spent most of our days sitting in clinics or nursing a sick dog.  I apologize to all of you who have emailed and waited days for a response.  I have to admit I have not been to work a lot. I hope that will now change. I also hope 2009 will change and become a better year.

 

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            The Portsmouth Woodcraft Supply has moved (1/2 mile up the road) to bigger digs. To make the event special they had an invitation-only evening for their 300 best customers. Don, Fred, and I set up and did a little chairmaking to entertain the guests.  We had a good night and met lots of nice folks, who also happen to live in our neighborhood.

 

* * * *

            When we still published the paper version of the Windsor Chronicles we regularly announced when a chairmaker had obtained the CHRMKR plate in a particular state. At one point, more than half the states had issued the plate. When an owner moved or gave up the plate, it was quickly snapped up by someone else. 

 

            I lost track of plate owners when we stopped publishing the paper version. I was very pleased when Sir Dan Santos sent me a picture of the Massachusetts CHRMKR plate on his pick up.

 

            The take over of the country by chairmakers was a trend worth following.  Those who still have your state plate, drop me an email. If you want to show everyone that you are a proud Windsor chairmaker, check to see if your state is still available.

 

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            We had another feature in the old Windsor Chronicles that I want to revive.  It was called Ask the Chairman. People would write me their questions about Windsors and I would publish the answer.

 

            The idea of reviving the feature came to when Sir Ken Hall emailed me the question below.  I get questions every day.  I answer them and delete the email. My brainstorm is that these answers have a broader interest. So, from now on, I will be posting the more interesting ones here in this space. If you email me a question, assume it may show up here.  That way, I don’t have to seek approval from everyone who writes.

My Liege, One of the rear legs on my Boston Fan back has come loose in the chair seat. I don’t know why – possibly faulty assembly on my part. At any rate, should I just try to work more glue around the taper, split again and wedge?  Will this work or do you have an idea? Sir Ken.

Hot Stuff is a wonderful solution for a loose joint. I would run a bead around the joint on the bottom of the seat. Capillary action will draw the glue into the joint and it will set up quickly.  Do this with the chair upside down. Any Hot Stuff that leaks through should drip onto your bench top.  So, put down some newspaper. If any glue does get on the seat, it cleans up with acetone. Mike.

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One-on-One

How many times have you said “I’d love to take a chair class, but that date just doesn’t work for me?” Then, this one’s for you. I’m adding something to our annual schedule of  Windsor chairmaking classes that will accommodate you. Now, you can take a  one-on-one class with me  at your convenience.  

            One-on-one has some attractive advantages. With only one person, we can usually make a chair in less time. You can also divide the class into segments. You can make as much of a chair as you have time for. When you can again spare the time you can return and pick right up where you left off.

            In the past, everyone had to take sack back as the first class.  That is because during this class we teach chairmaking.  One-on-one I can teach you the fundamentals while making any chair you choose. In fact, you don’t have to make a chair.  You can choose the subject – for example, finishing with milk paint, sharpening, you name it. We just need to work out the details in advance.

            The fee for one-on-one classes is $500 a day. You can choose to bring someone else.  In that case, the fee is $750.  Bringing someone else is your option. Otherwise, it will be just you and me. I will not have anyone else during your time.