Sippican Cottage

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Many Thanks

I’m grateful for a lot of things.

There is no way for me to tell who does it, but people do use the Amazon search box you’ll find in the right sidebar, and also the various Amazon links I append to entries about this and that. I get a little commission and a stream of income from it, and it doesn’t add anything to the price of things purchased.

Of course, I sell the furniture I make over there in the sidebar too, and many of my readers are my best customers. I still make all of it myself, out of raw materials and elbow grease, and am gratified each and every time I sell something. It’s especially nice to get emails from hither and yon with some feedback.

  • The new tables are so incredibly beautiful that my whole house now looks tacky. There should be warnings on your website that these consequences might occur! (Diane)
  • Many thanks for a beautiful table!  We will continue to watch your site! (Barry and JJ)
  • The tables you made for us are terrific and work perfectly in our
    bedroom, we love them!  Thanks so much for making them for us and
    shipping them to the Vineyard. Beautiful! We love the tiger maple tops
    with the off white legs. (Judy)
  • I was totally delighted with
    my purchase from Sippican Cottage Furniture. The proprietor corresponded
    with me personally to let me know when my item shipped. The item was
    packaged tightly and securely and arrived in time for the event for
    which it was purchased, and the product was even more beautiful than
    pictured on the web site. Definitely a positive experience! (Phoebe)

Lots of people compliment me on the packaging. I think they’re used to having things delivered broken. It’s more expensive to ship a fully assembled table than flat-pack stuff, of course, but isn’t your time worth something? Most people are too busy to put together their own furniture, and nothing put together with a little wrench is likely to last very long. Packaging for mass-produced goods gets whittled down to its barest essence, and often doesn’t last the trip. The disappointment of a busted anything coming out of a shipping box exceeds just the money involved. We avoid it like the plague by packaging smart and sturdy. My wife and I do it together. It’s as close to a date as we get these days, I guess. 

I especially like it when people send me pictures of the stuff in use, and most especially love the pictures of the youngins using their furniture. Look at Andy’s beautiful children, using their Super Ten Finger Stepper to hang their Halloween decorations.

Andy wrote to me along with the picture, prompted by my waxing poetic about getting a muffin and a cup of coffee like I was sitting in the electric chair and the governor called:

What we give to others is precious, indeed. In pursuit of that
sentiment, I thought I would update you on the development of your
stepper under the care of my children.  It is coming along swimmingly,
and shows much promise toward a long existence of cheerful utility.  The
darn thing can’t help itself from wanting to help everyone else. 

It’s the children that remind you what you’re trying to do. “It is a meager thing, but mine own.”

So thanks, everybody, for reading and commenting and buying my book
,and purchasing my furniture and pressing on my links and being my Interfriends.

Simple Pleasures

The secret to life is to do the same thing over and over again, as long as the thing you’re doing is pleasant in the first place.

Every Al Green song sounds more or less the same. That doesn’t matter because the first one was so fine. It leaves you wanting more of the same.

“More of the same” is what most people get for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The problem is that you don’t really like what you’re doing, or seeing, or getting, or listening to in the first place. You feel compelled to do it for myriad reasons, and you hang in there for as long as you can, because you don’t want to feel strange or left out or old-fashioned or something. Then you take a handful of pills for breakfast to get through the day. Something’s busted.

I get up first in the morning, usually just before the sunrise. I do not have an alarm clock. To sleep until you’re done sleeping is a great gift. People assume that since I rise so early that I must have some sort of military regimen. Not so.  The alarm clock is a dread lord and I have beaten it.

I dress in the dark and cold these days. I must make the heat if we are to have any. You might think this an imposition. You could think of it that way. There is an oil tank in our basement. It is a totem of a lost heat civilization that once worshiped in our basement. It holds 275 gallons of fuel oil. That would cost maybe $900 to fill, if you still had at least a puddle left in it. Even if the elderly furnace that was the oil tank’s partner in crime still worked, there is no way I’d put that many quarters into the game. So making the heat might be considered an imposition; but the oil tank  is an obscenity.

You appreciate things more if you know the true value of them. What is lost, what is gained. We cannot do everything ourselves, of course. But what we give to others is precious to us, and so we tend to have an appreciation for what we get in return, more than if we were swimming in money, instead of the last decade’s septic tank.

My wife rises a little later than I do, and I know she’s awake because the ancient water meter under my floor goes tick tick tick. She comes five minutes later with two cups of coffee for us to share in my snug little office, and we wait for the sound of the little one’s feet hitting the floor above us.

Today she was late, and came with pumpkin muffins, too, warm from the oven. I could do this every day forever and ever.

Muzak For The Elevator To The Nice Part Of Hell

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. –Mark Twain

Hell is a half-filled auditorium. –Robert Frost

An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.
–Victor Hugo

Every man is his own hell.
–H.L. Mencken

Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.
–Aldous Huxley

Hell is full of musical amateurs. –George Bernard Shaw

Hell is empty and all the devils are here. –Bill Shakespeare

It Is Not That It’s Done Well. It’s Amazing Enough It Was Even Attempted



Old Skool, yo.

Of course, it helps he chose my favorite song to record. If he’d chosen something annoying, like Die Meistersinger,  it would have gotten tedious right quick. But it illustrates a rule of thumb I like to employ: Compared to what?

It’s a bad recording, it’s true. But look what an inquisitive person can accomplish with next to nothing. It is the only yardstick I will allow anyone to use on me: Compared to what? What have you accomplished on your own? What can you do with meager supplies and not much help? What are you daring enough to attempt? Are you successful? Compared to what?

There are children gone a little long in the tooth already demanding that everything be made easy and presented to them as a gift while they loudly sit on a tuffet and search for peas with their gluteals. They seem immensely old to me. Like the elderly in a rest home demanding double rations of prune juice. Laissez Faire are dirty words to them. “To let to do” is the literal translation, I believe. No one seems to want to be let to do much of anything. It was the only thing I’ve ever wanted in my life, to be allowed to try, so I am of little use to the Doc Martens and iPhones in a Patagonia tent contingent. They wish to be paid to be constrained from doing anything. It’s good work when you can get it, kids, but there are only so many State Senator jobs to go around.

Let’s play “compared to what” with them: you’ve been given every advantage and you’re useless ciphers, incapable of any useful activity except complaining that you’d like to change the dictionary definition of useful activity. The dictionary will likely be immune to your depredations, as dictionaries are not allowed into the schools you attended for twenty-odd years. Even if they did debase the dictionary further on your behalf, other forms of reality are waiting in the dark with a cosh to knock some sense into you the hard way. Luckily for all of us, you’re just a very loud minority. Most people get on with their lives, and help others get on with theirs, too. The squares out in the sticks might seem like Morlocks to the beautiful people, but at least Morlocks can mine a bit. What can you do? No fair trying to call yourself a Morlock when the dinner bell is rung. You’re a Morlock? Compared to what?

Your college bookstore was full of clothes, the library was for sleeping it off and surfing porn and stealing MP3s, and all the money’s gone and you’ve been Blutarskyed out of the ivy nest with nothing but a sneaking suspicion that fifty large is a big nut to pay for four-plus years of Keystone and cable. I think of what I could accomplish, right now, with fifty grand, four years, and a library card. Hell, I’ll take two out of three of those things and build a very small empire with them. You got an education? Compared to what?

You’re right to be angry. You were robbed. Unfortunately, you worship the robbers. Saint Jobs of Cupertino comes to mind. There is no caramel-colored interactive button to press repeatedly to get your kibble; and no matter what Sesame Street told you, the alphabet does not get up and dance to keep you amused. You are not an audience anymore. You’re supposed to make the alphabet dance now, and it keeps tripping on all the apostrophes you scatter around willy-nilly. You’re mad at the audience for leaving while you’re still sorting out who will paint the scenery on the stage instead of performing. Someone must know how to open the paint cans. It’s a plebeian job, not worth your while, but important in a way you barely understand. You’re useful? Compared to what? You think if you agitate hard enough you’ll be in charge of the mess that follows opening the paint cans with an ax and a shotgun. I have my doubts. The company store has very high prices, a lot of customers, but precious few clerks.

You should try making something with what’s at hand instead of demanding that things be made for you. The results might be a meager thing, but it will be thine own. And then you can say, “Meager? Compared to what?”

Boston Museum

The wands from the buses grind and spark on the electric nets like a welder gone mad running down the street. There’s a screech as the wheels attempt to negotiate the turn. It is the shriek of a negotiator losing an argument.

I can smell only metal in the air. I don’t know if it’s possible; it just is, like praying to Jesus. The faint tang of electricity, of power, of life and death on the wind. One man’s trolley is another man’s electric chair.

The city is an idea held together with dirt. Leaves of newspaper crabwalk across the cobbles and spidered asphalt, looking for rest, like the people in the ink on their pages. Neither seems to find a place to stick and so wander endlessly and fitfully up and down the streets. There is no rest in a city; only the grave.

The stalls were full of flowers ready for last rites, and consumptive vegetables. The cold kept the heaps from warning the unwary with a whiff of truth in the nose. What good is a nose in the winter in the city anyway?

We stood on the platform and the wrong trains rushed by and everyone has the expression of a dog hard by a stain on a carpet. We rocked with the wind of the cars going by, while you decided whether you were inhaling or exhaling just then, because neither suits just now. Your lungs start up again like a tug on a rope to pull a flywheel.

The city has a kind of cold I don’t know how to describe. It is a robber. It takes the warmth out of your pocket when you’re not paying attention. It’s gone and you pat yourself looking for it on your person somewhere. Like a fool. My father’s hand was cold, but warmer than mine. He’s warm enough for us both.

Give The Real World A Pass



I ain’t ashamed. A fella’s gotta make up his mind what he’s tryin’ to do, and do it. Save the hangdog expression for confession and the judge. I put mine on like an off-the rack suit that one time. The weepy frown kept ridin’ up in the back, and I put it back in the closet forever. Man’s gotta order his affairs better’n that.

Who do you gotta kill to get a drink in this bucket of blood, anyway? Bad enough you hafta park your own car. The hatcheck girl looked like she should be ringin’ a bell in a tower. You can always tell when the owner of one of these joints is a schlub. You can’t give them your money.

We’re supposed to have made this deal already. I know the amateurs think a loud place is how it’s done, but this is ridiculous. They never learn that if the cops are even interested in listening, you’re already doing it wrong. Man should be able to stand up in a dump like this here and grab the mike from the greasy emcee and tell everyone in the joint what you’re doing, so what. Half are pisspant civilians and the other half are in on it somehow in any place you oughta show your face. Smart man gives the real world a pass.

Up For Anything

There are certain musicians you encounter over the years that are “up for anything.” If you couched the offer in the correct terms, you could get them to try drug abuse, orgiastic exhibitionism, competitive eating, garroting, transfixion, cannibalism, voting Republican — pretty much the compass of human depravity. They’d never show up for rehearsal, often pawned their instruments to get tequila money, and lived in a hallway, but infuriatingly always seemed to be able to play and sing better than the kids who practiced. And they always knew what to do when the audience showed up. Exhibit A: Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.

 

Bestest guitar solo ever.

Back When Driving And Drinking Was An Activity

The Flying Burrito Brothers. I could write all sorts of tidbits from Wikipedia and my foggy memory about them, but all you really need to know is that there’s a chain of Mexican restaurants in New Zealand named after them. Do you have a chain of Mexican restaurants in New Zealand named after you?

I didn’t think so.

Six Days On The Road

Well, I pulled out of Pittsburgh,
Rollin’ down the Eastern Seaboard.
I’ve got my diesel wound up,
And she’s running like never before.
There’s a speed zone ahead, all right,
I don’t see a cop in sight.
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

I got ten forward gears,
And a Georgia overdrive.
I’m taking little white pills,
And my eyes are open wide.
I just passed a ‘Jimmy’ and a ‘White’:
I’ve been passin’ everything in sight.
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

Well, it seems like a month,
Since I kissed my baby good-bye.
I could have a lot of women,
But I’m not like some other guys.
I could find one to hold me tight,
But I could never believe that it’s right.
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

I.C.C. is checking on down the line.
I’m a little overweight and my log’s three days behind.
But nothing bothers me tonight.
I can dodge all the scales all right,
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

Well my rig’s a little old,
But that don’t mean she’s slow.
There’s a flame from her stack,
And the smoke’s rolling black as coal.
My hometown’s coming in sight,
If you think I’m happy your right.
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.

(Dave Dudley)

The Spot On The Calendar When A Nation Of Can-Do Morphed In A Nation Of Co-Pay

Off our rockers, actin’ crazy
With the right medication we won’t be lazy
Doin’ the old folks boogie
Down on the farm
Wheelchairs, they was locked arm in arm
Paired off pacemakers with matchin’ alarms
Gives us jus’ one more chance
To spin one more yarn
And you know that you’re over the hill
When your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill
Doin’ the old folks boogie
And boogie we will
‘Cause to us the thought’s as good as a thrill
Back at the home,
No time is your own,
Facillities there, they’re all out on loan
The bank foreclose, and your bankruptcy shows
And your credit creeps to an all-time low
So you know, that you’re over the hill
When your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill
Try and get a rise from an atrophied muscle,
And the nerves in your thigh just quivers and fizzles
So you know, that you’re over the hill
When your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill

Month: October 2011

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