frenchtown fiber

Chris Mundy and Kate House try to make art while navigating the crap life throws at them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

After All This Time, a Studio of My Own

I went on vacation to Vermont this summer. We visited a friend who was putting a huge addition onto her house to make an art studio. She already had a room in her house as a studio, I thought it was fine, but she declared it was awful and she needed something better. She is 73. I started thinking after that, "I'll never get a studio if I don't make it happen myself."

I decided that I was going to buy one of those free-standing sheds for myself, and it was all I could think about for the rest of the trip. My husband had been making a studio for me in the attic for 3 years, and I was thinking that, after all that, when it was eventually finished, it would probably be a sucky space, anyway.

The first thing that had to be done was to move the garden shed that was in the space I wanted to use for the new studio. The guy I bought the shed from said he could move it for me. The machine he used to move it was so heavy, along with the shed, that it all began to sink into the yard! He had to drop the shed and just leave it where it was, all cock-eyed in the yard. I was not at home when this was done, and when I saw it I was kinda freaked out, thinking, "What have I done?" Joe said not to worry about it, he had a plan.

So, he put lengths of greased  PVC pipe under this shed and moved it around with a pry-bar until it was in position. I was SO relieved. We had the contents of the garden shed everywhere. I have a pretty good tolerance for chaos, but it was getting really bad. I was so happy just to put everything back where it belonged.

Now the site is ready, and I am being told that the shed is set for delivery on Thursday. I can't sleep at night because I am constantly trying to work out how I will se the thing up. It is 10'x14'. I guess that's pretty big, but I'm afraid I am remembering it larger than it really is. I can't believe i am finally getting out of the awful damp cellar. Of course, there is work that needs to be done on the shed after it arrives, insulation, walls, lighting, furnishings, storage ORGANIZATION.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Can Crochet

After watching video tutorials on line over and over, I am now reasonably competent at crocheting granny squares. I have 9 squares finished. I'd post a picture, but I can't find the computer connection wire for my new camera. I lost the bitch almost as soon as I bought it. Such a pain. But really, it's nothing to get excited about, you've seen granny squares before.I was thinking of making a nice multi-colored granny square sweater vest for someone I love. Remember those? Yikes! My ultimate goal is to be able to crochet a uterus, complete with fallopian tubes. Some crafty activists are crocheting and knitting these things and sending them to our lawmakers in washington. The idea is that if they have their own uterus, maybe they will leave ours alone. See the link:

I wonder how many granny squares i will need to churn out and sew together to wrap a reasonable-sized tree trunk? Way more than I think, no doubt.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm a Freak (Plus a link to check out)

I wish I could have that stamped on my brain. Thanks to those who commented recently. I'm thinking the funk has got to be contagious, but I guess I can blame menopause, too. Plus, I am a freak. My husband says I am to blame for many of my problems. Isn't there a book out there called "Women who do too much?" Dude, seriously, I can't stop doing stuff. I just finished up my latest college class, just in time so I could get involved with my town's council. I helped get our new mayor elected (by working on his campaign with many other fine local folks) And he says he would love to have me more involved and thinks I could do a good job for the town. I have been invited to join one of the committees forming. I held off until my class was finished, but I am attending my second boro council meeting tonight and I suppose I will be making a commitment.

Like I don't already have enough to do?

Plus, someone in town was posting pictures of yarn bombing on Facebook.
Everyone got so jazzed up about this that it was decided to have a yarn bombing day in Frenchtown. There was a "learn to crochet" party at a local residence, so naturally I want to do it.  Unfortunately, I'm not picking up crocheting naturally. I've been trying to do it in my spare time (not much this week) and I believe that I have become competent at the basic chain stitch. I was cursing myself last night and my husband remarked that I did not need to do this. But I can not imagine this happening in my town and me not being involved! Yarn bombing day is June 8 after dark. The idea is to have the town wake up to everything yarn-bombed. Well, Joe and I are leaving early am on the 9th to travel to West Virginia so I can watch him scream his motorcycle around a race track at 150 miles per hour. So, I guess I can provide the effort with some half-assed granny squares. I don't have to do everything, but I need to do that because he will be very hurt if I don't. I think it has something to do with him agreeing to stop at every cemetery we have ever come across while driving on vacation so I can take pictures of it.I think it is called payback.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I've been in a major funk for months.  I almost shut down this blog the other day, but instead, at the last minute, second, I just uploaded pictures of what I had been working on.

I just typed out this big song and dance number about what has been going on the past 5 months and eventually I got disgusted just looking at it. I can't communicate anymore without whining. I'll just up load pictures of work and shut the hell up.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Project Number 2

So I figured that I would get that mantle stripped on Saturday and have Sunday and possibly Monday to work on the Garage. Why did God make me so delusional? I have not stripped a piece of furniture in maybe 28 years. I am kind of remembering now that I vowed never to do it again. Yes, that memory is coming back to me,
My first mistake was painting the entire mantle with stripper. Like as if it would be done in one day. My second mistake was buying this wimpy little package of steel wool. I will need a bale of the stuff before I am through. Kate helped me a little. We were in the backyard with the mantle laying horizontal on four 5-gallon paint buckets. First I was using an old paring knife to pick out the paint between the little tiny crevices in the carved designs, then I switched over to a straight pin. I worked like that... I don't even know how long, but it became too dark to see. My reward is the revelation of the most exquisite design. Little flowers and ivy leaves and roses, and the circle in the design has an oriental design to it and finally, a stylized shell at the bottom. There are acanthus leaves running down the sides, and some more little flower clusters on the front. I will finish this, and it will be gorgeous, but what a job! I'll post pictures today.

I've got to run over to Home Depot this morning. A 24 mile round trip. Our local hardware store is closed for the holiday weeked. Imagine the nerve? (joke. of course the devils at home depot never close)
Right now Joe is taking apart our coffee maker. I consulted the Consumer Reports website when we were buying a new coffee maker to make sure I got a good one. Now, about six months later the bitch won't work. It keeps saying, "pour water" when there is water in there. I am this close to buying a perculator like my mom and dad used to have. That stuff is so annoying!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Finished Brick Walkway

Finished walk!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Remember the Hurricane?

I suppose you can tell that the hurricane was no big deal for me, since I almost forgot to mention it. It rained like hell on Saturday, and the power went out around 3am. I always forget that losing power is a big deal. You can hardly do anything! We have an electric range, so we could not even make coffee. Our grill is gas, but the side burner is shit. You should have seen us driving around Sunday morning looking for coffee. First we had to find a town with power. Every road was blocked, wires and trees down, one road was blocked by a mudslide. You don't see that too often. Finally we ended up out on the highway at a truck stop.

The other thing about no electricity is that our sump pump won't work. Our house is OLD, and the foundation is made of stones. Water just comes right in. This is the case all over town. Since we live just under 2 blocks from the river, water in the basement is a fact of life.We all have french drains and pumps, but no one has a rec room in the basement. We ended up with 3 inches of water down there. Just enough to make the place smell bad. Once the electricity came back on, the pump worked and the water was gone. Now the floor is even dry.

Here is the picture of the Delaware River from the Frenchtown Bridge. The water had not crested yet, it did get higher. Still, not enough to cause major flooding in our town. We enjoyed watching entire trees float down the river toward Trenton. We fantasize about getting a canoe and riding it all the way to the Delaware Bay. I wonder if you could really do it?


Joe and I have been trying all summer to get someone to lay a brick walk in our back yard. It is to replace the old cement path that leads from our deck to our garage. We always have a hard time getting contractors to do work, because we are a pain in the ass. We want them to do it the way we want them to do it. We are picky about the brick we want to use, and most contractors want to use their own material. We already have our brick. Long story short, we finally found someone to do it. Joe also bargained to tear up the old walk himself, saving a couple of hundred bucks. The day the guy agreed to do it, Joe came home from work and went nuts tearing up that cement. I could not believe it. I wanted to take a before picture, but I never got to it, because it was half gone by the time I got home. He put up with lights outside, so he could keep working. Oh, if he could put his mind to my attic studio that way! (This labor day weekend marks year 2 since it was started and no where near finished.) I believe the walk will be done when I get home today. I did manage to get a picture with the old walk torn out, before the new one was in.

In other news, our garage needs painting. You can see the garage in the picture. I bought scrapers and five gallons of outdoor primer. I will begin sometime this weekend.

   When I was buying the primer, I saw a bottle of that citrus stripper stuff. It reminded me that I want to strip this mantle piece we have. The mantle is not attached to a wall, there is no fireplace involved. It is just decorative. It is painted white now, the paint job is kinda shabby, which I know is chic, but I'm just not into it. I had a piece of tape stuck to it at one point, and the tape took the paint right off. I've been going at it with my fingernail, and in the space 2 days I have taken most of the paint off. A lot of it came off in big sheets.There are decorative parts of this mantle, and the paint is not coming off that so easy, so I will still use the stripper.

So, I have plenty to keep me busy this weekend! What are you doing?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Small Measure of Freedom

I just submitted my final essay for my history class, so that makes me free as a bird who is not taking any courses next semester. Now I can just sit around and wait for hurricane Irene to hit. We have done virtually nothing to prepare. I expect we will get a lot of rain and wind. It is pretty common to get tropical storms around here this time of year. By common, I mean, I guess, every couple of years. Or house was flooded by a storm named Doria in 1971. The next real big one that flooded my parent's house was Floyd in 1999. There have been others, but I don't remember them. I am really really glad that my parents sold that house.

It's raining now, but there is not even any wind yet.
Hey, want to see my essay? It isn't too long, and you will most likely learn stuff about the 14th amendment. I would say it is the most important amendment. Many Supreme Court decisions are based on it. I really was not too familiar with it until now. Here, check it out:

The 14th Amendment Then and Now
As a result of the Civil War the slaves were set free, but blacks in the South still did not have any civil rights. Southern states had no intention of giving them the same rights as whites, but Northern states considered it essential, as so many had fought and died for it. At the time the North had total control of congress since the defeated states had no representatives yet. (Des Chenes, 2009)
The 14th Amendment was passed by Congress June 13, 1866. It was ratified July 9, 1868.
The 14th amendment brought about a huge change in the government of the US. Some scholars call it the “second constitution.” It has come to ensure that all Americans have equal protection under state and local laws and guarantees civil rights for everyone. (Des Chenes, 2009)
Section 1 states that everyone who is born or naturalized in the United States, except members of Indian Tribes and children of foreign diplomats, is a citizen of both the US and the state they live in. (The exception for Indians was overridden in 1924.) No State can make or enforce any law that deprives any person, not just citizens, of life, liberty, or property. Furthermore, every person within a state, not just citizens, must be treated equally by law without arbitrary discrimination.
Section 2 says that a state that denies the right to vote to any male citizen over the age of 21 will have their representation in the government reduced. This provision was intended to penalize Southern states if they did not allow blacks to vote. (The 26th amendment changed the voting age to 18.)
Section 3 states that no person who has previously pledged allegiance to the US government as a federal or state official is eligible to hold such an office again if they have participated in an insurrection against the US government.  This section was intended to prevent officials in Southern states who fought against the Union from holding office or military command in the future unless they were individually permitted to do so by congress.
Section 4 states that  the US must pay all of its debts, including benefits owed to members of the Union army or civilians who performed services. However, the US government is specifically forbidden to pay for any debt incurred by the Confederacy and will not compensate slaveholders for slaves lost because of emancipation.
Section 5 states that the Congress has the power to pass laws to enforce the provisions.
Today we think of equal rights as minority rights, but in many parts of the South after the Civil War blacks were in the majority. This was one of the reasons Southern states resisted giving blacks the right to vote. The whites would likely be voted out of office and blacks could hardly be expected to pass laws favorable to their former masters. Laws known as Black Codes were passed to restrict the rights of black citizens. (Des Chenes, 2009)
Congress needed to amend the constitution in order to have the power to regulate what the states did in that regard.
The main author of the 14th amendment, John Bingham, had a vision of an ideal republic in which everyone would be Equal. He said, “The equality of all to the right to live,  the right to know, to argue and to utter, according to conscience, to work and enjoy the product of their toil, is the rock on which the constitution rests, it’s sure foundation and defense." (Des Chenes, 2009)

Some people who argued against the bill were able to see a time when having this amendment in the constitution would lead to more rights for black men than anyone could imagine at the time. The Supreme Court has been arguing ever since about what the amendment implies.
In 1886 the Supreme Court case Yick Wo v. Hopkins, ruled that equal protection applied to everyone, including Chinese immigrants. This was the first time the law was acknowledged to apply to anyone besides black people. (Des Chenes, 2009)
The extent of the rights protected and the categories of people protected have continued to broaden gradually over the years. In 1896   in Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decided that it was ok to provide separate accommodations to blacks and whites, as long as they were equal. In the 1954 decision  Brown v. Board of Education, it was struck down, In this decision, the court ruled that in the modern era, the mere fact of segregation had a detrimental effect on the education of black children. (Des Chenes, 2009)

In his book Marriage, Loving, and the Law, Kermit Roosevelt writes that the equal protection law does not ban all discrimination, only discrimination that is intended to oppress a particular group or brand its members as inferior. If there is a rational justification for discrimination, it is not unconstitutional. There was a time when most people believed there was a rational justification for banning interracial marriage. Social attitudes change, as we can see now in respect to homosexuality. At some point in the future, attitudes may change enough that if the Supreme Court validates same sex marriage, we will say, "what took so long?" just the same way as we say that now about the decision in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down state laws against interracial marriage. (Des Chenes, 2009)
Currently, a number of states have enacted laws requiring voters to show an unexpired government photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot. Some are saying that the push for photo identification cards carries echoes of the Jim Crow laws — with their poll taxes and literacy tests — that inhibited black voters in the South from Reconstruction through the 1960s. Election experts say minorities, poor people, students and older voters are among those least likely to have valid driver’s licenses, the most common form of identification. While defending its photo ID law before the Supreme Court, Indiana was unable to cite a single instance of actual voter impersonation at any point in its history. (Alvarez, 2011)
Also, conservative legislators from five states have opened a national campaign to end the automatic granting of American citizenship to children born in the United States of illegal immigrants. (Preston, 2010)
Recently, the White House ruled out the possibility that President Obama would cite the 14th Amendment to disregard the debt-limit law during the recent battle in congress as to whether to raise the debt limit. (Calmes, & Steinhhaer, 2011)
It looks as though the 14th amendment will be revisited again and again as the US Supreme Court continues to interpret situations based on it.

Des Chenes, E. (2009). Amendment xiv: Equal Protection. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

Preston, J. (2010, August 11). Births to illegal immigrants are studied. The New York Times, Retrieved from

Alvarez, L. (2011, May 28). Republican legislators push to tighten voting rules. The New York Times, Retrieved from
Calmes, J., & Steinhhaer, J. (2011, July 29). Rejecting the 14th amendment, again. The New York Times, Retrieved from