A book & more carpentry

A Place All Our Own, by Mary Irish

Earlier this fall, a new garden memoir landed on my desk for review. The title, A Place All Our Own: Lives Entwined in a Desert Garden, intrigued me. My project-queue was so long right then that I set the book aside until I could find time to give it attention. When I finally dipped in and read the words below from the Introduction, I thought to myself, I want to live in that garden!

A truly comfortable garden is one where all the lives with whom we share it become intertwined, a place where most lives are tolerated, indeed welcome, and where a moderate live-and-let-live approach is enough to settle our differences.

A place where most lives are “tolerated, indeed welcome,” sounds like my kind of community, whether it be garden, town or nation. (Of course, we should tolerate all lives, but let’s face it: we’re human, and some lives behave in ways that are simply not tolerable or healthy.)

Mary Irish’s story of the yard she and her husband Gary tended for two decades in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is a tale of adapting to the harsh world that taught them tolerance–and love for the place and its tough inhabitants. A Place All Our Own is a bountiful story of plants and plant obsession, weather and insects, bird song and flower displays, and garden-grown wisdom about life.

(Read the full review at Story Circle Book Reviews.)


The big, and fabulous, table saw I am loving learning to use.

In last week’s post about falling under the spell of learning to use what author and all-around Queen of Projects, Susan Tomlinson calls “empowerment tools,” I mentioned that I have come to love Richard’s “huge table saw.” In case you thought that adjective was a bit of hyperbole, let me reassure you. That machine is huge, so much so that even Tool Guys covet it.

For those who worry about my safety, note that next to the blade-guard in the photo and the length of 1X6 I have just ripped into two pieces of trim are my safety glasses, sitting on top of the push-stick I use to keep my hands away from the lethal blade. There’s also an angled “feather” stick to keep the board I’m pushing through the saw pressed against the rip fence so it won’t bind. (I know this stuff thanks to my friends Maggie and Tony, to whom I am indebted in the best way for their patient tutelage.)

Fastening the end to the cabinet box with the trim nailer that is small enough that it fits my hand.

Today I finished the ends of the cabinet featured in last week’s post, which meant not only more practice with the table saw, but also getting to use that “cute” trim nailer again. And I ripped some pieces of trim so I can play with designs.

I’m starting with the kitchen window trim, because with an entire house full of trim carpentry projects it seems awfully rewarding to finish two projects in the very same room.

The cabinet now looks good from two sides, and again, I’m ridiculously pleased with myself. Learning carpentry at age 56 in a life radically changed in the past year and some, the tools I’m using are empowering.

That kitchen “peninsula” with ash plywood covering the end and a bluish strip of raw steel angle iron covering the edge where plywood and corrugated roofing meet.

By the way, if you look closely at the angle iron trim covering the closest corner of the cabinet, you’ll see that the screws are opposite each other on the two side of that steel trim. I had the holes pre-drilled at the metal shop at my local lumberyard, and only later realized I should have had them staggered. Why? So the screws angling inward from the two sides wouldn’t hit each other. I’m learning….

And now I’m curled up on the couch with a fire in the woodstove. The temperature outside is 10 degrees (yes, that’s F) and plummeting. An inch of feathery snow whitens the ground from the same storm that dumped 15 inches on the high peaks, a huge boost to our previously nonexistent snow pack.

Blessings to you all!

The view from my soon-to-be-trimmed kitchen window at dusk.