Conspicuous Skies


Perseus cluster (image by Ken Crawford, Rancho Del Sol Observatory)

I do my best to court coincidence, but would not consider myself superstitious. Like anyone, I just find it reassuring when cosmic events complement the task at hand and try to pay attention to patterns as they emerge. I did not plan to make the first, ceremonial cuts in my deodar cedar logs during the Perseid meteor showers this week, it just worked out that way.


grain of the freshly cut, deodar cedar

My head was literally in the clouds yesterday as I drove down the coast to Evan Shively’s mill, groggy from a night of star-gazing. I munched early apples from our Gravenstein along the way, and watched the whispy mares tails over Tomales Bay on a crystal clear afternoon, eager to meet my client and inspect the cedar logs. I’ve been commissioned to design the interior of a new guest house in Marin, which will feature the air-dried wood milled from over 7000 board feet of deodar cedar salvaged from the local urban forest.


I thought of Perseus slaying the Medusa as we watched Evan and his crew work in concert to finesse the massive logs onto the bed of the mill to cut the first cant of deodar for the project, the air infused with the wood’s sweet perfume.


detail from Perseus Rescues Andromeda, by Piero di Cosimo (1515)

2 replies on “Conspicuous Skies”

  1. isnt the sweet perfume a little toxic to the lungs as it fills the air? BTW i am about to embark on first wood working project in many years. making painted landscape folding screens. knotty pine from the local lumber yard, and mulberry and cedar from a company I found nearby that reclaims urban trees. I was a little concerned about the cedar. Would love to pick your brain for tips. also btw halibat performs first gig and alex macdonalds annual birthday bash, at least till the cops show!

  2. cool! please send links to alex’s party and send him my best. cedar, like other woods with built-in pest/rot barriers can indeed be more toxic to work with. I just try to keep dust to a minimum, which means making fewer cuts with power saws, etc.. ultimately, unless you have specific allergies, any airborn dust from wood is inherently bad for your lungs, but not as bad as the glues and preservatives in some plywoods.. so, i always try to keep dust to a minimum, wear a good mask, keep the doors open, and have a great vacuum system in my shop. if you lack any of these, nothing is better than good planning- just design such that you make as little dust as possible.. good luck- upload your pics when you’re ready.

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