Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Arbeit macht (gerade) Spaß!

In the Winter in the afternoon the sun comes in low through the windows in the machine room.

Work has been interesting and engaging since I returned from the holidays at home. One of our clients, Herr Besser (literally, Mr. Better) has a condominium in a high rise overlooking the Batic Sea. We made the hour drive up their three times to install the extensive bedroom cabinets we built for him. From his ninth floor unit the view was beautiful, with water out one side of the apartment and the tips of tall trees at eye level out the other. Going out on a build/installation (Montage) is always exciting for the change of scenery, new places in Hamburg and elsewhere, as well as snooping through other people's homes. Mr. Better--who is recently retired--and his wife have rather quaint, kitschy, and cheap taste in furniture for their weekend second home, so the view was in fact the most exciting thing there. He has nothing to do during the golf off-season, and thus spent the entire three days hovering over our shoulders, asking questions and wanting to help. Aside from this breathing-down-our-necks serving as a good source of humor, due to his easy-going character and utilitarian sensibility, this also proved to be helpful when a couple of small problems in our process surfaced.

On a recent weekend Katja and I made it to an indoor Flea market and antique convention here in the city... if you like garage sales in the US, image how interesting it is to rummage through people old junk (and some nice antiques) from a different country. This yellow leotard-ed fellow reminds me of a different item I did not muster the courage to photograph with the owners in front of it. It was the book, "Zehn Kleine Negerlein" (yes, "Neger" means what you think it does, and "lein" is the diminutive ending). As I found out online, this relic of a more racist (recent) German past, which was a counting rhyme book for kids, was the German version of the American rhyme Ten Little Indians. The book was published as late as the late 1950s.

Another "Montage" I was involved with for work took us to Kiel, another Baltic Sea coastal city, this one on bay that cuts in from the ocean. The work itself was a laundry list of rather small items to improve previous work we'd done for them before and take some measurements. Like Mr. Better, these clients had a nice view too, as well as an untreated wooden floor of Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry), and sweet cat on top of it.

This week I'm at the handworker's guild doing the first in a series of workshops required during my apprenticeship -- this one is on basic, hand-crafted joinery. We've thus far practiced several kinds of mortise & tenon joints (for frames, and for table legs), and spent the day today working on dovetails, which are tedious but rewarding to make.


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