A Little History

Howard Chapelle melonseed skiff melon seed plans smithsonian
Chapelle Plans from the Smithsonian

Funny how things circle back.

It was the mid-1930’s, at the business end of the last Great Depression, that a young, not quite gainfully employed naval architect named Howard Chapelle signed up for a job with the WPA. Everyone needed work, and the government was creating jobs and funding them as fast as anybody could think of them. Someone in FDR’s administration came up with an idea to put the nations destitute naval architects to work. It was to be called the “Historic American Merchant Marine Survey/” Along with a lot of other projects that came out of the WPA, it would turn out to be an incredibly valuable storehouse of historic documents; though, with humble beginnings and a short life, it’s eventual cultural value would not be evident for quite some time. Of the two largest work programs created by FDR – the CCC and the WPA – it was this one, the WPA, that received harsh criticism as wasteful and unnecessary, particularly from the conservative opposition.

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Embarking

8th Lake Adirondacks

8th Lake, Adirondacks

The word has some appropriate origins:

 

|emˈbärk| begin (a course of action, esp. one that is important or demanding)
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from French embarquer, from em- ‘in’ + barque ‘bark, ship.’

 

I’ve been planning this project for quite some time. Years, in fact. Life intervenes between many a fine notion and it’s fruition. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Big projects begin innocently enough, with an idea or impulse, and before you know it it’s taken root. If you don’t pull some weeds up quickly they drop seed and it’s all over but the mowing, or in this case, rowing.

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New Boat Project

Carl and his Melonseed, St. Michaels

 

Started a new boat building project, finally. This time a pair of Melonseeds. They should take a year or more to complete, and there will be a lot of posts detailing the process, so to keep all the entries together I created a separate blog category devoted just to that project.

The link appears in the navigation menu at the top. At some point later, all the related photos will be gathered together in a single gallery, but for now they’ll appear in posts as they’re taken.

Little Gifts

North of Monticello

I have a handful of friends and family who I hear from around this time every year. It usually begins with emails, arriving in mid-October, with subject lines like “Has it started yet?” and “Almost Time!” They’re people who, for one reason or another, now live in places where they have no autumn to speak of, no explosion of fall color like we have in Virginia.

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Dream Dogs

 

 

Last Fall I began playing with Final Cut Pro. I started out with a bunch of rough footage shot with a cell phone on a trip to NYC, along with some snaps from the same trip.

While playing around with the program, I was listening to some new music from Vector Trio, an improv piece from their Basement Tapes called Dream Dogs. The piece seemed to fit the footage, so I kept replaying it. Before long, I was subconsciously making edits and cuts to fit the music.

Eventually, the two just sort of merged into one thing.

 

Dream Dogs video

 

 

Dreams 99¢

New York Dog Cart

 

Added a piece written on the road while traveling recently, in the Mostly True section.

I’ve had a lot of nice comments on it, and it’s one I particularly like:

 

Dreams 99¢

 

Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival 2007

Skipjack, St. Michaels Maryland

 

Last weekend was the annual festival in St. Michaels, Md., held by the Maritime Museum. I’ve been once before – drove up and back for the day – but this time took gear to camp on the museum grounds for a few days, which is the best way to do it by far. This was the 25th Anniversary of the event, and close to 200 people showed up to celebrate with their handmade boats of virtually every size and  shape. A number of folks drove two days or more each way for three days of serious wooden boat porn.

Rules are scarce and cheating is encouraged.

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