Everyone should have a Mister Johnson in their neighborhood

You know Mister Johnson.

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He’s the “retired” guy who lives down the street with his wife.  He wears navy blue work shirts and pants. That shirt is always tucked in. His hands are working hands, and his hair is whiter than snow. His glasses habitually slide down his nose, and his voice is gravelly with a strong south of Boston cadence which refuses to be homogenized by tv, the internet, and convention.

His children are long-fledged, but his small yellow ranch on a little lot in Manomet is brightly decorated with each holiday–Halloween, Easter, and especially Christmas. People slow down on busy route 3-A to view the angels, the penguins and the candy canes. His yard is more crowded with Christmas elves each year, it seems. Some might say it’s gauche or even an eyesore. But his enthusiasm and his joy are undeniable. To him, such seasonal decor is a gift to others, to the community.

When our boys were little and we’d walk down to the bus stop next to his house, he would often come out and ask the kids about their homework or hockey.  I don’t think we ever learned his first name. To me and mine, he’s always been Mister Johnson.

He tinkers. He’s always doing something. A couple years ago, a younger family member came and spent the weekend helping him fell some oaks and pitch pines in the corner of his property. There he raised a little metal workshop and turned up the soil for some tomatoes and pumpkins. Some nights, as I drive past his house on my way home from work, I hear pounding metal. Other nights, later in the season when work brings us home in the dusk, the workshop is silent but the glow of florescent light spills out of the windows. He made a 4-foot tall lighthouse for his friends–a retired policeman and his wife– across the street. Just a little yard ornament for a fellow retiree.

He drives an old beat up Chevy whose rich exhaust reminds me of the 70’s.  I see him driving everywhere around town. In a world full of sleek GMCs and Toyotas and Dodges, his scratched and well-worn ride stands out a quarter a mile down the road. There goes Mister Johnson, I say to whomever might be in my own truck at the time.  There is almost ALWAYS something in the bed of his truck, unless he’s just returned from a scrap metal delivery.

Mister Johnson is the go-to guy when it comes to scrap metal. He drives 45 minutes to Hanson with a load–and he tells me he’s had as much as a ton of it on his truck.

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Mr Johnson shows us Polaroids of an epic scrap metal pick-up. Note the refrigerator on top of the tool box.


My wife and I had fallen into a full-court cleaning mode. Years of detritus had accumulated in the back of our yard–the old box springs, mattresses, metal gutters–they had all found their way behind and next to a shed. It was an archaeology of sorts, digging through the stacked piles of children’s bikes,  discarded tvs, and garden hoses we once had the noble intention of making into soaker hoses but never got around to. Life.

We hid our stuff–our junk and our memories–in the furthest corner of our own property; forgotten, as life continued around us fast and furious.

But today was different. Perhaps it was because this was the first Sunday after our own eldest son had fledged. Maybe we felt the first tangible stings of an empty nest. For whatever reason, we had time and inclination to address that place where hornets nest, where mice hunker down, and where the grass grows tall. Forgive us, dear south-facing neighbors, for having left you with such an uninspiring view of our discarded Salvation Army upholstered chair lo these several years.

Our digging led to sorting which led to a pile of metal. As we drove  down our little road with a heap of old couches and rolled rugs tied down in the back of our pickup to be delivered unceremoniously unto the difficult to manage waste facility, we happened upon Mister Johnson and his wife pulling into their little ranch. My wife and I thought the same thing: Let’s ask Mister Johnson if he wants the metal for scrap.

“Hi Mister Johnson. Do you still collect metal and would you like some?

“Yes I do”, he said.

“Do you take aluminum too?” I asked, thinking of the pieces of old gutters on the margin of our wood.

“If it’s metal I take it,” he replied.

“He’ll clean you up!” said Mrs. Johnson, cheerfully, from the cab of that Chevy.

He backed into our narrow driveway and across the lawn where our kids used to play wiffle ball and expertly parked between two semi-dwarf apple trees. Our dog, Bogey, gave him the hey, i’m not sure who you are bark. Mister Johnson is the guy who carries dog biscuits in his truck to give to dogs who just aren’t sure why there’s a gentleman noisily throwing scrap metal into the unlined metal bed of his truck. Bogey made a friend today.

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You know Mister Johnson. He’s the guy who takes away your scrap metal and the physical memories you are finally willing to let go of.  He’s the guy who brings you a plastic bag of tomatoes when he comes to pick it all up.

The weeds have got the better of me this year, he told us, speaking about his tomatoes. He said the manure from a local pig farm had too many weeds in it and he won’t use that again.

He’s seemingly happy in retirement, doing all the small things that turn little or no profit but which benefit a neighborhood richly. There’s a timeless sense to it all. In his work clothes and beater truck he reminds me of my own grandfather. Change the color of the photos to sepia or black and white and they could be from the 1960’s or earlier.

There are a lot of Mister Johnsons in the world, humbly picking away at the odds and ends of our lives. They enrich our community, and are part of the ties that bind a neighborhood.

I hope your neighborhood has a Mister Johnson.

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Oh right…Harry. That’s Mister Johnson’s first name. And his wife’s name is Myrt.

Harry and Myrt.

We’ll see you next time, Mister Johnson.

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Area Plugs

How you doing?

It’s late notice but…

You’ve got your tomatoes in; you’ve done your mock fantasy football draft; you’ve pretended the sink wasn’t full of dishes…

What to do?

Well, in less than two hours The Cooking Channel’s, MAN FIRE FOOD will be featuring the fabulous Paula Marcoux and her new book, Cooking With Fire.

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See Paula work cooperatively with fire in a way heretofore unseen since Jimi Hendrix went nuts on his guitar!

See how the cinematography of Savory Pond and Pret and Paula’s backyard plays out on National TV!

Here’s a nice write-up on the show by Storey Publishing: http://blog.storey.com/2014/08/paula-marcoux-cooking-with-fire-on-man.html

That’s tonight, 8pm, EST.

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The episode should be available on the web and re-broadcast sundry times.

We’ll keep you posted.

Speaking of Pret…

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When he’s not cutting a beam’s end square for a restored sash-saw mill–

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–he’s shredding honky-tonk with his banjo and his band, The Dinghy’s.

They’ll be playing at The BBC Cedarville this Friday night, August 22nd.

Tell them you read this on BLUE OAK and they’ll be like, what?

The Dinghys are one of the best bands south of Boston. They’re comprised of a couple of carpenters, two electricians, and a few ex-pilgrims, among other notables. They are most def worth a little trip if you’re in the 508 or 617.

No band has more fun in a live performance.

Hope to see you there.

I’ll tell you all about our new sawmill project…

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Playing marbles

If you give an artist a paintbrush…

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She’ll paint things–

Like pillars made out of pine. She’ll paint them to look like marble.

And if she paints the top-

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She’ll want to paint the bottom.

Before the brushes are cleaned, she may as well paint other things–

Here’s a panel with an Elizabethan-inspired sign of the zodiac.

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I’m a Pisces and I like a short walk to the pub–Pen Austin

And another…

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And more still, until all 12 signs are ready to be put in the heavens above.

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To fix them in the heavens above, they’ll need to fashion a frame for the panels.

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And the panels will need those painted pillars to bear the weight of the heavens.

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If you make the over and above, you’ll need a stage below on which humans may do their business on this mortal coil.

So, with a little help, the New Napkin Stage is raised by the players.

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Their leader will need a proper vantage from which to view the proceedings.

He’ll gain a balcony.

But a balcony wants railings and railings want support.

So they’ll call upon a bearded joiner to turn 45 balusters on a spring pole lathe.

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These are made from green oak, in the style of the sort turned by a German woman for Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

These, in turn, were made in the style of those wrought 400 years past.

She turned 500 or so.

Once the bearded guy takes his foot off the lathe and the balcony is set up, the other bearded guy can take it all in.

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Things began to make sense.

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Once the pillars are painted, the heavens secured, and the stage fashioned, the players and their leader will want to perform plays.

And if they perform, they’ll want people to come see them.

So they’ll plug their play and make room for everyone to come see it in a special place against a river in an old mill town.

On the Piazza

Photo by John Riedell–http://heart-shaped-boy.com/

And some of the people will see the marble pillars and wonder how they were made…

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If you give an artist a paintbrush…

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FINE PRINT

The Worcester Shakesepeare Company’s production of Shakespeare’s, The Merry Wives of Windsor continues Thursdays-Sundays now through August 24th:  www.worcestershakespearecompany.org

Pen Austin is a plasterer/artist from Leicester, UK and Nantucket, MA. Her work is the best. Never challenge her to an arm wrestle, however. 

This year’s work on the stage builds on last year’s– for further info, contact MLB Restorations at 1 508 277-4468

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Hewing in The Yard–a motion picture

It’s 2:23 long. It’s a video of guys chopping with axes.

Maybe you need a new hobby…I don’t know.

But at the end there’s a sweet “football” maneuver by Nigel,  who just may be the greatest  dog in the world.

Plus, there is reggae.

 

On another note…

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…there’s nice write-up about Peter Follansbee and his new work situation by Chris Schwarz of Lost Art Press:

http://blog.lostartpress.com/2014/07/14/peter-follansbee-has-left-the-building/

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hewing post

Hewing.

It’s about relationships-

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Of axe to oak.

Of edge to grain.

Of hands to helve.

Of Advil to every 6 hours…

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Walk the Line

I have a confession to make…

I went to England and had a thing with quercus robur. She was knotty. She had a really big heart and I LIKED it.

Please don’t tell quercus alba or quercus rubra about this.

I love American white and red oak. They are the meat and potatoes of my trade. I am nothing without them.

I went to England on business. But I was caught up in her foreign, insouciant air, and the way her delicate leaves reflected the morning sunlight. She would wave to me from an open field and I stared awestruck at her beauty. Maybe it was the cask beer–but have you seen her fetching knot patterns? I don’t know. It was just a fling of the axe, I swear. It was a tree-tryst.

The bevel made me do it.

Oh American oaks, I’ve come home to you, with open and cramped arms, axing your forgiveness. Please don’t leave me for tomato stakes or pallets.

But English oak, why must you beguile this wayward Yankee so?

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You Hew and Cry

There’s been a whole lot of hewing this year. If I was filling out a job application, I’d have to write “Hewer” in the space provided, if I could get my fingers to hold a pen.

You think about things when you hew so much. You begin to see the process a little more for what it actually is. You begin to speak the language of the ancients when you hew day after day. It’s really a form of time-travel, this hewing business.

But to hew, to really hew, you need to go through fire.

There’s the physical torment-

The knuckle below your middle finger will never become calloused. Get used to the bloodletting. Some mornings, just when you think it’s about healed, you hit that nice square corner you just created. Before the workday starts, you almost want to just get it over with and use a hammer to knock off yesterday’s scab. (There must be so much blood on ancient timbers. Some kid from MIT should figure out how to extract DNA from ancient house timbers, go all Jurassic Park and create a carpenter using a  14th-century genome sequence).

Your arms and back cry mercy and it’s not even first tea yet. You try various positions to find just the right stance. Sometimes you just lie down and stretch. Or walk away in disgust.

And the mental games soon follow-

There are several thousand swings and misses. Is it just me?

Come ON, you tell no one in particular as you miss the line by a quarter inch. No, I don’t have Tourette’s. 

The line seems so impossibly narrow. How on earth can you be expected to hew to that atom’s width of a line?? Oops, missed again.

The grain will change in direct proportion to your budding confidence.

You have Ally McBeal fantasies about embedding a broad axe into your shin while Al Green croons.

Tell me once again how much more there is left to hew?

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1 of 5 pages.

If you want to hew, to really hew, you’ve got to be committed.

Keep your axe sharp, clean the dirt off your bearers, and take a deep breath.

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A musician learns the scales and the changes before soloing. It’s mundane and tedious and oh-so necessary. Your first attempts at hewing will feature stop cuts, undercut faces, and a line which is anything but walked. It will look like a Cub Scout on Twinkies has been let loose with a dull hatchet.

But you watch how others hew, how they change the angle of their axe to the grain. You get a feel for the rhythm and pace of the work. You begin to look differently at the timbers in old houses, both the refined and the utilitarian. What does the final face need to look like? How does my axe affect that? The tribulations of a long-dead carpenter begin to resonate with you.

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Score marks below the plane of the hewn face; circa 1663, Bristol, UK

It’s a constant adaptation of a moving axe to changing grain. But there isn’t much time to think about it when you’re actually doing it. You’ve practiced your scales and chords–now you’re beginning to just play.

In time, your faces are square to each other and in wind along their length. You have begun to see plumb and square even as you build up a muscle memory for the process.

As with any piece of music, there are dynamics throughout the work. Sometimes you stand menacingly over the prone oak. You hold the axe towards the bottom of the handle for greater leverage and you strike down with great violence and send large pieces of sapwood and heart flying. It’s brutish and efficient and teetering on the edge of chaos. At other times, the same axe in the same hands is choked up towards the head and is played with delicate precision. You finish a side by taking off translucent shavings as if planing. The distinctive sound of a sharp edge finishing an oak face is a different part of the arrangement.

The broad axe is a wonderful instrument.

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Chris, Ant, Andy, and Justin scoring and hewing and making crisps.

You cannot stress or overcompensate trying to hit the line. When it’s right, you just do it.

But even seasoned hewers are not always in a zone. You may give several hours of pedestrian hewing and missed lines for an hour of focused, Zen-like prowess.

And when you’re locked in, it’s magic. It’s Bobby Orr going coast to coast to score unassisted. It’s Keith Jarrett becoming one with his piano. You don’t want to stop. You have built up the physical strength to work through gnarly grain. When you’re in that place, you know exactly where the edge of the axe will land. You play the grain while hewing as if reading music or improvising. It’s worth all the misery and tedium because frankly, it’s sublime.

Which came first–the blowout at the bottom of a hewn face or the chamfer?

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In the flora analysis, oaks will be oaks, whether they’re red, white, or blue. Take a splint from the hewing, put it in your mouth and taste the wine. You’ve earned it.

For a direct connection with the material, there’s nothing like hewing. Your relationship with the tree and its grain will lead you to a more elemental place. And that experience will follow you through all other aspects of the work–the planing and sawing, the cutting and assembling of joints.

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I’ve been hewing for a couple of decades and I’m still learning. On this trip, I really began to understand my broad axe. We’ve been friends for years, but in England she was in her element. She taught me things. I was a little slow at first, but she was patient with me as I realized how she was meant to approach the grain. Physically and mentally I was prepared. All I had to do was hold her and let her take me where she would.

I love both English and American oaks. There I’ve said it.

But my true love, I suppose, is my axe.

Hewing-

It’s about relationships.

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Leaving a mark, pt 1

All around us there were marks…

Proprietary marks-

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Marks to aim for-

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Marked anticipation!

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Marks noting the passage of time…

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Marks from time out of mind-

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Marks telling a story-

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And marks which are not easily wiped clean even after many winters-

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Pit-saw marks as rhythmic as a ticking clock-

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Marks under eaves which somehow speak to us even after 700 years-

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Marks of a nation’s pride-

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And marks used to educate-

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Familiar marks left from centuries of common use-

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Familiar marks, but distant from our experience-

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Simple marks speaking of economy and of practical use-

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Marks left by those who had none of the best grain to work with-

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 Marks for layout and for decoration-

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Marks made by the credulous;

or maybe they are marks of proportion-

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 A well-tuned saw’s marks, in contrast to a hastily wrought chamfer-

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 Marks left, perhaps, by a locksmith-

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Noisy marks which still hurt the ears in their clenching…

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 Amateur marks, left by need and function-

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Gaudy marks leaving no room–or time–for sin in their making…

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Unexpectedly clumsy marks-

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 Subtle, quiet marks in the hamstone of an abbey’s walls-

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Marks of intolerance-

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And marks of man’s thirst for the fruits of the earth-

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***Forgive the lack of provenance, dear reader. So many of these shots were taken hastily and without time to properly document. Many of the photos are from Muchelney Abbey in Somerset, built and rebuilt from the 10th century onwards. If you have questions about a specific detail, feel free to ask me–I’ll do my best to track down info.

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break of dawn

 It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe

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If you don’t know by now

 

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It ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe

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That light I never knowed

 

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But goodbye’s too good a word, gal

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So I’ll just say fare thee well

 

When your rooster crows at the break of dawn

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Look out your window and I’ll be gone

 

I give her my heart

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but she wanted my soul

 

But don’t think twice,

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it’s all right

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Wicked Gert Lush

and other picked up pieces from England…

One could live comfortably for years on English pigeons and Special Brew.

There are Jackalopes in England. One of them ran before our van on the way to hewing the other day. The locals call them muntjacs. Details.

On a related note, the very awesome Graham has seen wallabies on two separate occasions prowling the Mapledurham Estate. I, for one, believe a man in a red jump suit:

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Speaking of Graham, he was featured, along with the gang at Miles and Company, in a documentary about the execution of the Earl of Essex and the nuts and bolts of the scaffold’s construction. Apparently, Graham’s cameo at the end of the program showed real star potential: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0dSTtjO2E8

Speaking of executions, the axe featured in the Tower of London exhibit is single-beveled:

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Do you orient the flat of the axe toward the spine or the head?

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My vote is spine, so as your waste is pushed forward and aHEAD by the bevel.

Barrow Hill cider really DOES make your teeth itch. Thanks John and Barry.

Andy informed me that there’s a place in England’s Lake District called, “Hard Knot Pass”. As a hewer of timber, I’d like to visit just to say that I’ve scored a few times there.

If something’s manky, it’s not quite ship-shape.

“Let’s go swing axes, I can’t feel my hands”, said Justin.

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Speaking of nails, Justin and I paid on the nails in Bristol. Francis Eaton, Mayflower’s famed carpenter, was also a Bristol man.

Maybe he once did the same.

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Ant Sawyer of Buckingham hewed admirably alongside us everyday. He’s from near The Chesham Bois. That is also the likely origin of Phineas Pratt, an early Plymouth, MA joiner. Thus, Ant covers all the major woodworking trades: He’s a Sawyer who does carpentry from a known joiner’s birthplace.

A publican runs a pub. If this is their second pub, are they a re–publican? Michael asked. People have been beheaded for less, Mr. Burrey.

In a similar vein, Justin asked: If chips are called crisps over here, are the pieces of wood we’re hewing off of our logs wood crisps? There must be something in the water.

When icons are seen for the first time–how is this even real?

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Stinging nettles, black adders, and instant coffee: The only dangerous things in Britain.

Red kites are common  in the skies above Mapledurham. There once was a time not so long ago that locals would pull their car over to get a rare glimpse of one. They were really working the newly mown field the other day after work.

When you come to our side of the pond, we promise to let you teach us about cricket–

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Apologies to the patient waiter at the Indian Restaurant we ate at last week. When you asked us if we’d like our dishes dry or saucy, our laughter was inevitable. We’re just a bunch of doolally hewers.

I came in this am feeling like batman–left feeling like Robin.  –Chris

Safety first, Nigel. When we open our US pub, we are calling it Nigel’s.

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Carhartts are very gucci in Europe.

Give up your car keys to a friend if you’re:

A. Wankered

B. Gazeboed,

C. Fucked & wankered,

or

D. Rat-faced.

Had a great visit with Nigel Howe, of the Carpenter’s Fellowship. He showed us around his current project in downtown Bristol, the rehab/restoration of  a trio of mid-17th century triple deckers. More on that later.

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Speaking of Bristol, what a city. Gert lush, as they say. Bristol is mother to San Fransisco, Toronto and Seattle.

It’s a city where old and new walk together.

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We watched England’s World Cup match against Italy deep inside a Bristol pub.

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Justin, ever a friend to the underdog, befriended the lone man wearing an Italy Football jersey. Thankfully, there was no trouble. We had to hew the next day.

Before the game, an excellent band covered Mrs. Robinson. When the Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio? verse came up, all of us homesick Americans sang loudly.

Conversations while hewing sometimes involved Coventry and Dresden with a soundtrack of DJ Shadow. Surreal.

On this trip, we’ve met both  a true “Sir” and a Polish Countess. Hewing–what can’t it do?

We stowed away some old friends in our suitcases:

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Crossing a Reading street was very much like being a live action character in the game of Frogger. You 80’s kids know what I’m talking about.

At the risk of generalizing, English folk are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Cheeky, yes. Funny? Eccentric? Hell yeah. But they made us feel at home.

I went to England and all I got was this sunburn–

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Good thing Justin covered himself up in robes at the Muchelney Abbey in Somerset:

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Dan, mind if I make a call on the shop phone?

Yes, just don’t call France.

No, only Shrewsbury.

When the Brits lumped our native Boston accents with New Yorkers the other day, we got all provincial and showed them this video (hide the kids–this is NSFW!!!) to illustrate the difference. This is a decent example of Boston-talk, mostly north shore.

The butcher is shut, no bangers and mash tonight-the butcher is shut-- Words no laboring man wants to hear. Wasn’t that a line from Lord of The Rings?

Sage advice from friends:

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Mister Bean cars…

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are…

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everywhere-

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Met Humphrey, the parrot, at the Packhorse Pub. It was his 12th birthday.

Once upon a time, he’d been lost. A parrot was found, but upon closer examination it proved to be a different parrot. What are the odds? After 37 days, a parrot was seen in a local oak. Humphrey’s owner sang and whistled for 6 hours under that tree until, branch by branch, the bird came down and landed on his shoulder. It was Humphrey. The owner of the Humphrey look-a-like was also found. Happy endings.

Speaking of which, a newspaper clipping of Rupert Murdoch decorated the bottom of his cage the night I met Humphrey.

English pub life.

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Nigel, say hello to Humphrey.

Thank you for everything, England. What a show-

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The chunk chunk of our hewing makes perfect accompaniment to Bob Marley. This prompted several quotes from wise-ass Facebook friends:

           -If you are a big tree, I got a broad ax, sharp and ready to chop you down.

           -Hewing…hewing…hewing in da name of da Lord

          -Chips in my eyes burn, chips in my eyes burn. While I’m waiting, while I waiting for my turn.

          – AX-E-DUS…movement of Ja Broad Ax…

           -I especially like Marley’s “Greatest Hits of 1622″ album.

           -One Log

Gert lush, people.

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Wicked gert lush.

 

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John, the joiner

We follow his cue–when he takes tea, so do we.

When he puts his cup down, we trail him back to work.

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His name is John.

He’s been a joiner at the Miles and Company Yard for 17 years now.

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I caught up with John after a busy weekend in Bristol. The quiet efficiency of his shop was in stark contrast to city street parties and pub football.

But as much as I wanted to chat longer with him, I didn’t want to interrupt his day. He was very cordial while the awestruck American snapped a few photos.

This morning, he was working on a set of library doors for a flat in London. The doors are made of English oak. The grain is perfect all through the stiles, rails and panels.

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Panels feature the characteristic “cat’s paw” so common in English oak. John book-matches the knot patterns to great effect.

We see cat’s paws daily in our hewing as well:

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…and festooning oak trunks on our walk in the wood the other day–

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Steady and sure, his work is of the highest quality.

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Richard putting a light finish on one of John’s doors.

If Central Casting needed a traditional English joiner for one film or another, they would need to follow John around for a few days.

They would have to be prompt about their morning and afternoon teas, however.

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I should be retired now…I’m 69 years. But I DO love my job. 

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The King of Hall Hill Wood

We went to an ancient woodland this evening.

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Driving past Nuney Green, there’s a stretch of forest called Gutteridge Wood.

It feels primeval here.

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Among the straight beeches and fickle holly, there stood oak giants.

And here the old boys stand as they have stood for centuries.

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As we trod the beech litter below, a deer darted through the green ahead of us. It’s an open wood, free of briars, thickets and thorns.

Gnarled crowns above shade much of the forest floor below.

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But deer were not the only creatures living here.

In one place, we heard a sound and looked over to see a tarp neatly set up near a great trunk. Someone had been here. For how long we didn’t know.

As we continued down the muddy path, our guide matter of factly informed us that we were walking past a saw-pit.

A saw-pit.

A long-abandoned pit where Englishmen had once pit-sawn Gutteridge Wood oaks and beeches into boards, planks, and house timbers. Who knows how long since it had last been used.

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The author taking a spin in the pit, holding the bottom of an imaginary saw. To be in an actual saw-pit seemed at once familiar and sacred.

The pit itself was roughly 14′ long and 6′ wide. It showed no signs of timber being used to shore up its sides but seemed to be a simply dug affair with tapered sides. Likely, it was significantly deeper before years of neglect had filled it in. It was close to the path which would facilitate transport of trees to and fro the pit.

Would you like to see the best tree in the wood? our guide asked.

My mind was already blown by the saw-pit.

Why not?

We turned down Deadman’s Lane, past boundary ditches and into Hall Hill Wood. (All the woods here are named).

After a brief walk we passed yet another saw-pit towards the biggest oak of all–

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The King of Hall Hill Wood.

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Quietly majestic, this giant had seen hundreds of winters–as well as sawyers–come and go. And still it stood.

There was at least 45 feet of clear oak until the crown. Likely more. Big enough, certainly, to hew the great spanning beams we had seen recently in The Tower of London–the longest such spans of a single oak in England:

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But this oak is spared the feller’s axe and the tiller’s saw.

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Let it watch our comings and goings for another 400 years at the least.

 

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