Enjoy the Process!

We have a lot of wood that needs to be processed. Processing wood (my definition) means taking it from a rough-sawn piece of lumber to a finished piece that can be used as art.

Hey! That sounds like work!
Hey! That sounds like work!

Yes, it is a lot of work, dear Thomas. But it won’t cut into your nap time, never fear!

The beginning of the process was to plane the wood, as we saw in a previous episode.

After planing, we had a lovely pile of planks, all with slightly different widths and lengths. So we measured them and sorted them into piles.
Assorted widths!
Assorted widths!
Piles of planks.
Piles of planks.
After long deliberation, a decision had to be made. It wouldn’t have been as hard a decision if I hadn’t gotten all sentimental about losing width. The Cherry wood is so very beautiful, each piece with its own intricate and mystical design, that to modify it by sawing off an inch of it seemed a crime. Almost like cropping a painting!
What is it? Cropped!
What is it? Cropped!
Cropped it must be. The pieces couldn’t be different widths.
But wait! We can cut a straight edge without…a straight edge! So we had to use the jointer. The jointer is like the planer- it has rotating blades that makes a smooth edge. One side had to be very smooth so that it would glide against the fence on the saw and create a straight edge on the cut side.
The red warning label says: "Caution! Rotating knives"
The red warning label says: “Caution! Rotating knives”
It wouldn’t be a work-in-progress picture without the white orbs of dust! The camera (as you must have guessed by now) turns the millions of dust particles in the air into little white orbs of unfocussed annoyance.
White orbs of wonder!
White orbs of wonder!
Each time we planed or jointed, we made lots of sawdust. Since it’s March in the Thumb of Michigan, it’s still quite cold and snowy out. So we decided that sawdust would provide good traction on the ice!
Well, it seemed efficient at the time…
Well, it seemed efficient at the time…
Since I possess powers of looking into the future, I can tell you that we’re going to end up with sawdust “art” all over the front yard. But that won’t happen till the end of March!
Hey, how did she know?
Hey, how did she know?
I guess I was so busy looking into the future that I forgot to take pictures of sawing the wood to width. However my excuse is that when using the table saw, both people have to be on full alert. There really was no opportunity to take pictures and retain all our digits.
Hijinks under the Table Saw!
Hijinks under the Table Saw!
I did get some shots of the next step; cutting the bevels. We’d had protracted discussion about beveling the edges of the wood. In my minds eye, I thought it might look a little dated. In the artist’s eye (Michael), it would look great. Plus, it had the advantage of being the only practical way to ensure that the edges of the wood would line up and hide any imperfections. So the edges were all beveled. It was the right thing to do!
Beloved bevels!
Beloved bevels!
Perhaps you can see the level of alertness both participants needed for this kind of work!
Those are bevel remnants. Thin long triangles of wood. Fun!
Those are bevel remnants. Thin long triangles of wood. Fun!
That's a bevel!
That’s a bevel!
Next, we had to sand. And sand and sand. Again, as with the planing, ear protection is key to surviving the process without annoying “Wha?” syndrome.
Orange cuties!
Orange cuties!
Sanding is not a very photogenic process. Nor is it terribly exciting, but it did give me a sense of accomplishment, and I enjoyed it.
So I set up my sanders!
Three sanders…
Three sanders…
…three different grits.
…three different grits.
Oh yes, I had a little workshop set up for myself. My table top was an old door, and I had outlets and a light and everything! I masked up, squeezed in the Orange Cuties, and went to work!
Sanding
Sanding
I love you, Walnut plank.
I love you, Walnut plank.
I must say, I had more fun sanding these pieces than pretty much anything else I can think of. Mike says it’s because I like fiddly work. Perhaps, but I have officially begun a love affair with wood that I think anyone who works with it must fall into.
In between these activities, we just had to sneak peak at the soon to be Altarpiece. ( I looked it up- the name seems to fit what we are doing according to ancient church terms.)
Altarpiece- all in Cherry wood!
Altarpiece- all in Cherry wood!
Word to your mother: it doesn’t end up being all Cherry…
So: Here’s the results of weeks of work:
Walnut
Walnut
Cherry
Cherry
As hard as we worked, the maple was left undone. Mike the hero had to drive to Grindstone in the middle of the work week to take care of mailing back the water pump that arrived broken.
Broken bits!
Broken bits!
Meanwhile he sanded the Maple. No pix. Just an exhausting drive and more work.
So until next time, keep on keeping on…
He measures up!
He measures up!
– The White Church Gallery

It’s Friday, we must be…

Heading North!
Heading North!

Yes, the weekend ritual, with small variations, is to get through the work week, discuss plans, throw a bunch of stuff in the truck, toss the dog in and point the Chevy toward the N. Pole.

We stop at the end of M-53, where this long road meets the Lake. Sometimes it feels like the N. Pole.

I must point out that every weekend, without fail, I toss my knitting bag into the vehicle we’re driving. And every weekend, without fail, it makes the trip back untouched, unloved and undone.
But I have eternal optimism that the green yarn you see there will be made into the blanket/hat/whatevah. Ha!
Not when there is a metric ton of wood to be processed!
For most of February and now into March, we’ve been processing wood. Pine, Maple, Cherry and Walnut. It sounds good enough to eat!

Lots of Fiber!
Lots of Fiber!

We had rough sawn wood.

That means pretty much right from the tree.
That means pretty much right from the tree.
I tried the best I could to capture the gorgeous natural beauty of the wood, but I failed. The wood is more awesome than my camera shows. But it all had to be processed; the wild ends where living pulp meets bark had to go.
The first step is to plane the wood. That means to shave off layers of the rough sawn jaggedness and leave a smooth, hopefully straight edge. The wood basically came from the tree!
The planer is a device that is:
1. Really loud
2. Really cool
3. Really slow
When we first started planing, we stuck the whole plank through. That was hard. And kinda dumb. We learned… better to cut it to length first, then push it through.
What were you thinking, humans?
What were you thinking, humans?
You KNOW there’s going to be gratuitous puppy shots now, right? Thomas has integrated deeply into our lives. I’m not sure how he’ll do once we open the gallery- Mini Dachsunds are traditionally shy with strangers. But we’ll see…
Gratuitous wood shots!
Gratuitous wood shots!
Meanwhile, there’s the wood.
Mike was at the feeding end of the planer, but I was at the fed-out end. I’m sure there’s a better name for it, but I’ll just call it the magical end. Because it was truly magic. Every time a plank went through the planer, more breathtaking views came out.

I don’t have many pictures of this process because I was busy holding wood! It takes focus!
Here’s one…

Pushin' it through!
Pushin’ it through!
And this doesn’t do it justice, but you can kind of see that bits are being revealed! (I might have gotten yelled at for taking pictures rather than focussing!)
Unveiling!
Unveiling!
And more…
In process…
In process…
I also have pictures of the process of figuring out how to do this in the first place:
Ciphering dimensions.
Ciphering dimensions.
And pictures of using the jointer. Jointing is when you make the edges of the boards flat. But it also can plane the wide face of the board. It’s fun!
Wee, this is fun!
Wee, this is fun!
You will notice the ear protection. I’m teaching about sound waves in Physics during my week-day job, and I’m blathering on to my students about how delicate the ear mechanisms are. And then I prove how old I am by giving them a frequency test. I only make it to 14 Kilohertz. The under-21’s hear into the much higher frequencies. I remind them that they, too, will get old one day and that perhaps they shouldn’t turn their ear pods up to full blast. They, of course, ignore my advice as only a 17 year old can!
Can you see the orange foam ear plugs?
Can you see the orange foam ear plugs?
I took breaks to do some testing. Hey, I’m a scientist! How will the wood look with different stains. I needed to know. So I set up a lab and testing began!
Testing, testing!
Testing, testing!
Turns out, we decided to go with clear coat. With this fine grained, dense, rich wood grain, clear seemed to be the way to let the beauty though.
Clear coats for you, me hearties!
Clear coats for you, me hearties!
More next time!
– The White Church Gallery

Burgundy?

In our endless deliberation about how to do the arch, Mike decided that we should paint behind the wood that would go up, and that meant putting up some plywood and painting it.
First step: plywood!

So that's what the nailers were for!
So that’s what the nailers were for!

Higher and Higher, baby!

Not too high!
Not too high!

And finally,

Next: burgundy paint!
Next: burgundy paint!

It looked VERY pink coming out of the can…

Wow it's bright!
Wow it’s bright!
Crazy color!
Crazy color!

But it did settle down once it dried, as paint always does.

Whew! Calm down and carry on!
Whew! Calm down and carry on!

– The White Church Gallery

 

Ode to an Arch

We’re working on the Arch.
It has served as a backdrop since we bought the church. This is how it first appeared:

Where's the Arch? December 2011
Where’s the Arch? December 2011

Removal of the dropped ceiling revealed:

Oh there is is!   February 2012
Oh there is is! February 2012

Yikes.

We tried to pretty it up!
Quaint it up with a rocker!  April 2012
Quaint it up with a rocker! April 2012
Yeah, I guess. It was temporary.
And as long as we’re in memory lane, when Mom turned 70, we dressed up the chaos and had a birthday party. Again, the Arch was the backdrop.
Good times,  July 2012!
Good times, July 2012!
I remember mopping that nasty floor with rainwater to try to get the worst of the ancient filth off. It sort of worked!
Pre Party Arch July, 2012
Pre Party Arch July, 2012
By December of 2012, It looked like this:
December, 2012 Chaos
December, 2012 Chaos
Then the fancy table was replaced with  picnic table. In case we wanted to have a picnic.
Uh, aren't picnics held outside? April, 2013
Uh, aren’t picnics held outside? April, 2013
Yes, so I we exchanged the picnic table for a bed! A futon, in case we got tired and had to nap, apparently.
Perfect place to take a nap! Ha! July, 2013
Perfect place to take a nap! Ha! July, 2013
Yeah, and as you can tell, we have a continual storage problem. We fixed the storage of the futon problem by finally getting rid of it. After three decades, it’s time to ditch the College Futon. Sniff.
Next came the Big Demolition, and we had a bare bones situation.
Uncovering the Arch! August, 2013
Uncovering the Arch! August, 2013
Later that same day – actually about 15 minutes later, we had this:
Hey now!
Hey now!
Closer inspection:
Naked Arch, August, 2013
Naked Arch, August, 2013
Behind those enormous planks is nature. Cool, raw nature.  These are truly the bones of the church. Which is fine for August, but by Fall.
The Church's long underwear! October, 2013
The Church’s long underwear! October, 2013
We needed some protection from the elements. Yes, it was a happy day!
Warmth!
Warmth!
Insulation by spray foaming. Next comes the drywall. And not soon after!
Later that same month, 2013
Later that same month, 2013
Drywall! Then Mike and Dad put up nailers on the arch in several death defying maneuvers.
Here’s Mike finishing up.
December 2013
December 2013
And then… a whole year went by… what happened to 2014? Well, there were ceilings to paint, floors to sand, trim to put up, caulk to stuff, windows to fix…
March 2014, Edge on Arch
March 2014, Edge on Arch
Sanding,  April 2014
Sanding, April 2014
The Arch also became a bit of an Art supporter.
September 2014
September 2014
And so it has been till this month, February of 2015. We keep rearranging and cleaning, trying to keep the Church work-wise. But we’re not done with the Gallery, so the art must go!
P1010085
And so, it’s February of the self-same year the White Church Gallery is set to open. 2015.YIKES!!!!

We need to pedal a little faster!

So now we have begun an art/science project.
I’m a scientist by nature, and Mike’s an artist. But he’s also an engineer, so that’s like a scientist. And I have a musical nature, so that’s artistic, right? Hence the art/science project that we are in the midst of. What to do with the arch!

Cherry and Pine. What say you?
Cherry and Pine. What say you?
This is only the beginning. As I type this, my soul mate is over yonder drawing up the arch on his CAD program and figuring out dimensions, beveling, and molding ideas. He’s trying to figure out how to make this arch a piece of art. There will be more to this story. Stay tuned.
– The White Church Gallery

Wood, Lovely Wood

We’ve started working on the front piece. Grindstone Mike has taken to calling it a riser. Mainly because it rises up in the front.

Yeah, but I thought choirs stood on risers!
Yeah, but I thought choirs stood on risers!

Maybe someday a choir will stand here, but for now, it needs a facelift.
We have acquired lots of wood from our Amish friends, and it has been drying for some time.

Playing with wood.
Playing with wood.

This piece is going to be art, so much contemplation and experimentation must preface the construction.

Cherry, Maple, or Pine?
Cherry, Maple, or Pine?
Woof! (that means yes!)
Woof! (that means yes!)

– The White Church Gallery

 

Punch list

I became familiar with the term “punch list” when I worked for Spirit of Ford back in 1999. Spirit of Ford was… well, you can read about ithere. It was fun while it lasted. I was hired as Theater Operations Manager before they even opened. That meant that I had to become familiar with the various theaters, how they worked, and mainly who to call when something went wrong. The theaters included pretty high tech equipment, and the weeks before we went public were pretty busy. The punch list included all the problems, big and small, that had to be addressed before opening day.

Spirit of Ford Theater
Spirit of Ford Theater

So the time has finally come to make a punch list for the Church. Opening day has been defined. It’s a wedding day! Our good friends would like to celebrate their daughter’s marriage in the Church, and we plan on opening shortly thereafter. With a goal like that, we cannot fail!

 

– The White Church Gallery

 

Water Hole

One of last big changes for the Church is to have running water inside. Yes. This beautiful old church has never had indoor plumbing, in all the 135 years of services, weddings,  Christmases, funerals, and even during the recent Reign of Raccoons.

We need a potty!
We need a potty!

So in December of 2014, we started excavating the stage in the front of the church. We needed room for a water tank, and that was a logical place to put it. Of course, we didn’t realize that there was a floor under the stage, so taking out the floor was a two step process!

Two levels of stage. Who knew?
Two levels of stage. Who knew?

We have to get down to the bottom of this! The tank is here!

300 gallons of agua, coming soon!
300 gallons of agua, coming soon!

It’s going to lay flat in the space cut out of the stage.
Cutting out the flooring out was a messy job, as usual.

Is it snowing in here?
Is it snowing in here?

No, it’s just the usual airborne dust. It was definitely time for masks. While Mike worked on the stage, I fiddled with another project: the doors.

We found these old wooden doors in the antique shop in Bay City, Michigan where our set of display cases is currently being housed. They are gorgeous, no? That is if you can see under the paint and the fact that they will have to be totally resized to fit the Church.

Imagine it the size of the blue tape. With no paint!
Imagine it the size of the blue tape. With no paint!

Mike sanded the flat side and the paint came off well.

Belt sanders are powerful.
Belt sanders are powerful.

Sometimes a little too powerful, as we found out.

Divots happen…
Divots happen…

The other side had the interesting bits. The fiddly bits. That’s the side that I attended to.

It's in rough shape.
It’s in rough shape.

The paint was actually pretty thin- just a layer of primer and the black, making us wonder if they had been redone before.

Comes right off.
Comes right off.

Progress:

More elbow grease, please?
More elbow grease, please?

The fiddly bits had to be done by hand.

Better, but not best.
Better, but not best.

It turns out that there is a tool that is made for this kind of work. Fiddly work. It’s a sander that looks like an iron! It’s the Ryobi Corner Cat!

I assume "ponceuse" means sander!
I assume “ponceuse” means sander!

It’s very green.

It's very interesting…sniff sniff…
It’s very interesting…sniff sniff…

And, most importantly, it’s awesome for the job.

Works like a charm.
Works like a charm.

It came as a surprise from Mike, and it is now my favorite piece of equipment, after the Robosaw, of course.

Robosaw has been repositioned for maximum convenience.
Robosaw has been repositioned for maximum convenience.

More on the amazing Robosaw in the next issue! For now, we’ll let the dust settle.

But it's almost February!!
But it’s almost February!!

Stay tuned for wood, amazing wood!

 

– The White Church Gallery

 

2014! and Love News

This is a bit of a love letter to 2014. It was a busy year! But a lovely one. And only good things to come in 2015.

Love is Patient, Love is Kind...
Love is Patient, Love is Kind…
Love is a doggie named Thomas!
Love is a doggie named Thomas!

The Church will be open by June. How do we know?
How could we possibly be open in 5! Five! 5! months?
With a punch list a country mile long?
Because we have a wedding to get ready for!
Coming in June: a June Wedding. The daughter of a close friend wants to be wed in the old country Church, and it will be our excitement and pleasure to prepare the aisles.
Hey everyone, grab a tool and let’s get bizzy!

This'll do!
This’ll do!

With the exception of the water tanks going in the floor, most of the very large objectives have been met.

Let’s review: 2014 started out with good cheer and lots of ambition.

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!

It was also one of the most brutal winters I can ever remember.

Frosted window panes.
Frosted window panes.

Sub zero temps, snow snow snow. Six snow days from school, three of them at the end of Christmas break. We hunkered down.

Some members of the household are permanently hunkered down!
Some members of the household are permanently hunkered down!

Luckily the geothermal heating system made the Church snug for comfortable working.
So we did trim work. That meant caulk, and lots of it.

Caulk Love!
Caulk Love!
"I'm in a tight spot"
“I’m in a tight spot”

There was lots for everyone to do.
P1010039
We hit it hard almost every weekend.

Painting the ceiling…
Painting the ceiling…
Sanding the floors…
Sanding the floors…

This one about did us in. We didn’t plan it this way, but after the big sanding effort, we took a bit of hiatus. We still worked, but the giant exhausting efforts were put on hold for the rest of the summer…

We'll have her in ship shape, no worries, mateys! (Ignore the mess!) (arrr…)
We’ll have her in ship shape, no worries, mateys! (Ignore the mess!) (arrr…)

We did have visitors and fun. Speaking of the upcoming nuptials, here are the parents of the bride checking out the status of the church.

We also worked on other projects back in our home and our cottage. Projects to make the rest of our life away from the Church a little nicer.
When we bought our house in Royal Oak, the entire place was paneled and featured dropped ceilings. We gutted, drywalled and painted the entire place with one exception: there was one room that didn’t get the treatment. That was 12 years ago.
We kind of dug the panelling, at least enough to keep it for 12 years. Plus it was a spare room, and we used it as a walk in closet.

Groovy, yah?
Groovy, yah?

Not really, so … grab the primer and paint, time to get busy!

Lavendar Love!
Lavendar Love!

“Little” projects like this don’t seem to phase us much after working on the Church. We are a pretty well oiled machine.

Meanwhile, back in Grindstone City, new road was being laid down. What a difference it makes.

Asphalt Love!
Asphalt Love!

Trees were planted as well. Some day they will be mighty. Right now they are mini!

Maple Love
Maple Love

Meanwhile, on the human front, there were patent awards given out.

Number 4  and counting…
Number 4 and counting…

Graduations accomplished.

My cousin, the Vet!
My cousin, the Vet!

And weddings held.

Sweetest couple ever: Uncle Joe and Lori
Sweetest couple ever: Uncle Joe and Lori

Whew! What a year.

Of course there was more, but I’m behind in my posts, so onward, 2015! And we’ll see more such celebrations and renovations, to be sure.

White Church Gallery Love!
White Church Gallery Love!
– The White Church Gallery

More Summer Hijinks…

Work on the church took on a different pace as summer wound down. My father’s 70th Birthday celebrations moved from Royal Oak north to the Cottage for more food and family fun. And work!

Feasting!
Feasting!
Birthday Boy!
Birthday Boy!

Thus fortified, we put the clan to work. Remember Stosh and Edju, our two baby Maples? They are getting brothers and sisters!

Tree hole
Tree hole
he "soil" was very hard clay. Very hard. In between rocks.
he “soil” was very hard clay. Very hard. In between rocks.

Six more trees were planted. And named.

P1010100

Since the trees were so young, we protected them from the ubiquitous deer population the best we could.

Corrugated Man!
Corrugated Man!

We used corrugated tubes to protect the tender bark.

Live long and prosper, wee tree!
Live long and prosper, wee tree!
Meet: Claude, Carolyn, Chris, Carrie, Mike and Joe.
Meet: Claude, Carolyn, Chris, Carrie, Mike and Joe.

Is it weird to name trees after your family? So be it. I think they deserve to be recognized for all their hard work! Thanks, Fam!
We did have down time as well. Here is my beloved family doing what they love!

Dad's lifelong love of Cheerios!
Dad’s lifelong love of Cheerios!
Mom's lifelong love of coffee!
Mom’s lifelong love of coffee!
Mike's lifelong love of music and art
Mike’s lifelong love of music and art

I didn’t get a shot of the postprandial card game, but that would’ve been the one for my brother. He’s sharp as a tack, and full of strategy. It was good to see him again. It was a super long trip for them to make, but it was a lovely visit, and I’m so grateful to God for my wonderful family.

The family that plants together, stays together!
The family that plants together, stays together!

P. S. This is the Meyers family circa 1978-ish:

Claude, Carolyn, Chris and Carrie
Claude, Carolyn, Chris and Carrie

 

– The White Church Gallery

 

“I Look Pretty Young…

but I’m just backdated…yeah!” – Substitute, the Who.

This post is backdated because I have been on a blogging hiatus. Unintentional, of course. If it had been intentional I’d call it a vacation. But no one vacated.

Don't be fooled, I'm working out the mass of the Higgs Particle..
Don’t be fooled, I’m working out the mass of the Higgs Particle..

It’s almost as if we hit a wall around August, and all of our get up and go…well, got up and went, to quote another vintage rock and roll song. We took a physical and emotional break from two and half solid years of renovating a 150 year old church. But it wasn’t a real break, because we still worked on the church. And church- related items, plus some unrelated items that just needed attention. Here are some of the things we’ve been doing. You’ll notice a definite theme of old and new.

Mike’s vintage 1968 Chevy needed some love.

The idea was to have a vehicle handy at the church so that we could drive up together in one car on a Friday after work, and we’d have two vehicles to use for the weekend when we got to Port Austin.

This truck is as old as I am! And it needs love!
This truck is as old as I am! And it needs love!

But the truck wasn’t running well, the brake lines had disintegrated, there was no gas pedal, and the heat was stuck on.
So we took it to a local shop and the nice man there put some time and effort into making her roadworthy.

We also spend time and energy on our Voting Booth. Yes, it was an actual voting booth at one time, but it has been our trusty shed for the past 14 years. And it needed love. So I cracked open another can of Sikkens and got busy on her.

Scrape and Paint- it's like a miniature Church!
Scrape and Paint- it’s like a miniature Church!
Actually it was nothing like the Church. Way easier!
Actually it was nothing like the Church. Way easier!

And then, well, we had a new arrival. Warning: adorable puppy photos to follow!

Yes, we'll take this one!
Yes, we’ll take this one!
I promise to be a Good Dog!
I promise to be a Good Dog!

So far, so good…at least he’s trying!

He’s a Miniature Dachshund named Thomas Magnum. Mike and I had been watching Magnum PI reruns on Netflix, and the breeder had already given him Thomas as a temp name, so we went with it. Plus the Magnum part is pretty amusing, since he’ll tip the scales at no more than 12 pounds soaking wet.

We also had other babies to take care of. Baby Maples!

Meet Edju
Meet Edju
And Stosh. Our Polish Trees!
And Stosh. Our Polish Trees!
We liked these babies so much, we went back for more. Home Depot had a sale on shade trees, and we have a whole Churchyard that could use some shade. More on that later.

Concurrently, my Dad turned 70. Celebrations included a visit from Mom, Dad, and brother Chris, all currently residing in New York. (Yes, that means they are Yankees Fans.)

Luckily, the Detroit Tigers were playing the Yankees the afternoon I scheduled a ball game for us!

From the left, Claude, Carolyn, Carrie and Chris. Yup!
From the left, Claude, Carolyn, Carrie and Chris. Yup!
And the unflattering but all inclusive selfie.
And the unflattering but all inclusive selfie.

The Tigers won, but no one seemed too upset. It seemed logical.

Later on, Dad opened his vintage 1930’s radio and we enjoyed each other’s company. My brother hadn’t been back to Michigan since he graduated from Hope College in 1985! It was good to see him.

What could it be?
What could it be?
"This thing is older than I am!"
“This thing is older than I am!”
Tubes!
Tubes!

I think they are both in great shape!

I also think that someone’s in love!

Smells like puppy love!
Smells like puppy love!

Next up: More Summer Hijinks.

– The White Church Gallery