Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Trumpening, followed by The Sulkening

So Donald Trump is going to be the Republican Party nominee, if there are no dirty tricks with the rules at the convention in June (and I'll believe that once I see it).

Trump's triumph in Indiana on Tuesday has been followed by a tidal wave of bitter reproaches from #neverTrump fanatics.  Now, it's only been 2 days, so I wouldn't write them all off just yet.  I've been through bitter spells in politics where I've vowed never to vote again, and it usually tapers off with time.  Many people who now declare that they'd rather vote Hillary than Trump may find themselves changing once their traditional enemies, the Democrats, start getting sustained applause from the media for their anti-Republican attacks.  It's one thing to want to see an enemy punished, but it's not so satisfying if it comes at the expense of victory for *another* enemy, and that the one you've spent a lifetime wanting to defeat.  And then there were the comments, both there and a PJMedia:

But so far, the tone has been one of sulky pettishness.  Ace had it on full display on Tuesday night, from his opening post: To his comments in the thread

Well, a lot of the party has chosen a go it alone, we don't need you anyway strategy.
Good luck!

To his comments in the thread, and into the next day:

this could be sour grapes, and maybe I'll change my mind, but right now:  Those of you who swear you can win the election without people like me -- are invited to do so.  I'm done, I'm out.  Go with God and good luck. 

We told you he was unnacceptable -- stupid, paranoid, crazy, and narcisstic in the extreme. He's scary.  You think he's just jake. Fine. But he's YOUR BOY. This shit no longer has anything to do with the rest of us. 
i can't surrender as I'm a non-combatant in this war.  this is YOUR BOY. You help your boy cross that finish line, Son! 

And then there were the comments, both there and at PJMedia:

"I hope you keep telling yourself that. It will make it even funnier watching your meltdown in November after your orange messiah gets crushed in a 40-state landslide."
"The Trumpkins can reap what they sowed. "
"Trump groupies: yay our guy won and now everyone is going to rally behind him and his authoritarian greatness. Otherwise you are electing Hillary and ruining the Supreme Court........ Eff you all and enjoy your humiliation."

"Trumpsters, keep pushing our buttons, keep laughing and you'll soon see that many Republicans and conservatives will NOT vote for Dear Leader. November is coming and you are the only fools to blame for the impending defeat."
"Let's talk in october, when Mr. Cheetoface is down 35 points and you beg conservatives like us to support Trump. Let's see your reaction then. BTW, I'm not stabbing  your candidate in the back, I'm stabbing him in the face. You own him, you live with him."

"Oh my God, he's... he's... *down 35 points!*"
"Tell us, Ralphie, was it something WE did?"
"It was... TRUMP POISONING!"
"Ohhhhhhhhhh!!!!" (Wails of sorrow and regret) "How could we do it? I'll never forgive myself!"
"Well, I'll manage to get along... somehow."

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A cartoonist with a good ear


Monday, April 25, 2016

SCTV and Shakespeare

In honour of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Another waif adopted

Well, it happened again. Another hapless sewing machine managed to wangle its way into the house. I didn't mean this to happen, really, but it did.


I went to an auction near Carleton Place on Wednesday, because I saw by the pictures that there were 2 old treadle machines there. I mentioned in my post about the parlour cabinet that it was missing the spring to work the lift mechanism. I've been checking eBay, but the shipping cost of getting that part would almost amount to what I paid for the whole machine, cabinet and all! So my idea has been to keep my eyes open for a broken down old cabinet with a working spring, buy it for a song and then take the part I need and discard the rest. I figured I could get one of these machines, and that would do the trick.

One machine was very old, but with the traditional oak desk with elaborate open-work iron treadles. Those are often converted into tables, so I figured it would be the popular one. The other one was obviously newer: the treadle was also out in the open, but the iron legs were quite plain and straight, not very pretty at all. The machine was in better condition, but with very modest decals. I thought I'd probably end up having to settle for that one. It didn't bother me so much, because I wasn't intending to keep the machine (another model 15) anyway.

Well, to my surprise, the older machine came up first, and only one lady bid against me, and I ended up getting it! The price was $32.50 Cdn, just over $25 US. The other one got more interest, and went for $50 Cdn! (It was the same lady who got it.)

I talked to her afterwards: she has 8 sewing machines, including 3 treadles! I showed her how to unscrew the tabs that hold the machine in the case, and carry it off on its own. It's better, if you're moving machines, to take them out of the cabinet, because they're not properly supported when you lay the case down, and they can end up flopping around and getting damaged. I noticed her machine was much lighter than mine; must be constructed of aluminum, while mine is steel. It also had a sort of rough texture, rather than the usual smooth black surface; later I discovered that this is called the "Godzilla" finish. The serial number began with "JA", which meant it was built in St. John's, Nfld. I was guessing it might have been built during or just after the war, because of its odd finish. I was surprised that such a newer machine would get more interest, but it was in good condition and probably wouldn't need any work beyond fixing up the wooden cabinet. (It also had a box of attachments with it, but I already have those.)

Mine, on the other hand, was made in 1904. Don't be fooled by the first picture; I rubbed a little sewing machine oil on it along the top of one side to see if the decals would clean up, so it looks a little shiny. THIS is what the rest of it looks like:

Yes, it is rusty. But it still moves. The balance wheel, despite its appearance, turns well. There is some stiffness up around the needle bar, or it might be down in the shuttle area. I can't get the back shuttle plate off, so the problem might be there. I'm going to try to clean it up and see if I can get it looking nice again. There are many tutorials on YouTube, but I found a very useful guide at The Quilting Board, a forum for quilters and sewing machine enthusiasts. I've bought some PB Blaster, which I found at Canadian Tire, and now I've got to get some Evapo-Rust, which they carry at Lee Valley Tools.


The cabinet also needs to be refinished, and I'll use rust converter on the treadle stand once I've cleaned off all the loose grime and rust. This YouTube video gives a good tutorial on how to do it.

So now you see the problem. I can't just take the spring out of this cabinet, because now I want to keep this sewing machine too, and IT will also need the lift mechanism in its cabinet. I guess I'll have to keep searching. But I really must stop buying machines, unless I want to start reselling them.

UPDATE: Well, I did a little searching, and it looks like the Godzilla or "crinkle" finish the other machine had made it rather rare! The spindly decals were typical of that style. Perhaps that's why more people were bidding on it, though I don't think the lady who bought it knew that. The JA serial number dates it from 1924-1936, a bit older than I thought. Just as well it went to someone else, because I didn't care for it, rare or not, and only would have wanted the cabinet part.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Doesn't rise to the lev... zzzzzzz"

From Navy Times:
Russian pilots rattled nerves aboard the destroyer Donald Cook, buzzing within yards of the ship in the Baltic Sea. Provocative, sure. But they weren't a credible threat.

So concludes a retired Navy commanding officer, who reviewed photos and videos from the run-ins on Monday and Tuesday, when unarmed Sukhoi Su-24 fighters flew within 1,000 feet of the ship — once coming as close as 30 feet in what U.S. officials called "simulated attacks." On Monday, a low-flying Russian Ka-27 Helix helicopter also appeared to take photos of the ship.

This was definitely provocative, but it doesn't amount to a threat, said the retired frigate and cruiser CO.

"Well, we’re not at war with Russia," Capt. Rick Hoffman said. "It would be one thing to be operating and have a threatening attack profile from someone who might not recognize me — that’s not the case here."




(Hat tip: Belmont Club)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I've been linked!

To the wonderful new blog, Hot Gas, which is also now on my blogroll. If you go there and check, you'll see I'm on *their* blogroll, right near the top! So now I have to pick up the pace of blogging, so as not to waste my new high-profile status.

Hot Gas started when Hot Air instituted wide-sweeping changes, which result in a mass exodus of a large percentage of their most fervent posters. Constantine (love the name, and I hope he starts posting about Byzantine history, because that will be the way to get Dean interested) started up Hot Gas as a place for the orphaned posters to reform.

I never went to Hot Air in the past; the first I heard of this new site was when subotaibahadur of Belmont Club posted there, and his posting showed up on my Disqus feed. I figured if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me, so I went over there and have been there ever since. This coincided with Ace of Spades turning ferociously anti-Trump, so the removal of his bookmark from this little page coincided with the arrival of the other.

HG is very pro-Trump. Although I'm Canadian, and have no vote to bestow, I find myself most at home among the Trump supporters, and found the relentless mocking and denigration of them elsewhere to be very off-putting. I don't post that much myself regarding Trump, because I'll always be an outsider when it comes to American politics. But the trends in the U.S. are appearing everywhere, and the bigger issue, of who is to rule and what does it mean to be a citizen, are of interest to everyone, even us up here in the Great White North.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Adventures in translation

I've started translating and making English subtitles for a new project: the 1973 French TV adaptation of Flaubert's "Education Sentimentale".

This is the only clip of it I've found so far on YouTube. I was interested in it because it has a Georges Delerue score. I actually like this novel better than "Madame Bovary". I like the contrast between the inadequate characters and the historical backdrop against which they're ineffectually moving. This period of French and European history, the revolution(s) of 1848, is not one that I know much about. We always suppose that in a revolution, EVERYONE is fully involved with the great issues, but in this novel the main characters sort of get momentarily involved, then just drift off to some personal matter, only to brush up against the big historical events a little later. It's almost funny the way their rather shallow lives can go on uninterrupted in large part.

I expect Flaubert must have known from personal experience how big events can sort of jog along with commonplace things like eating, buying clothes, going to the theater, etc. I read an English translation of the novel before starting the subtitles. I have to say, the TV series actually brings out the humor in the novel quite well. There's a part in Frederick's short, dumb political career where he goes to address one of the radical clubs in Paris. The whole scene dissolves into a ludicrous parade of nuts yelling about religion, Marxism, art, money and finishing up with a long address in Portuguese that nobody can understand.

Anyway, just by chance Dean drew my attention to a particularly bad example of Google translate.

Justin Trudeau made his grand entrance on the international stage last week when he visited the White House. As usual, he had to give part of his address in French. For some reason, ABC News wasn't prepared for this, and they resorted to some awful robo-translator to subtitle his speech.

Buzzfeed dissected the speech, and the translation, in hilarious detail:



"President Obama I’d love the log trucks”

Please give them to him, Obama.


I'm not surprised Obama's turning grey in this picture.

Big national broadcaster like ABC: hire a translator. He won't cost much, and he'll do a professional job.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

A work of art

I found this sewing machine at a thrift shop last year, and bought it just because it's so beautiful. The light comes on when it's plugged in, and it seems quite functional, but I haven't tried sewing on it - I just like to look at it.



The name on it is Arrow, model 620. As far as I've been able to discover, this is a post-war Japanese knockoff of a Singer machine. (Although the serial number on mine has a letter K before it, not J as was usual for Japanese-built machines, so I could be wrong about where it was built.) After the war, the Americans helped the Japanese switch over to peacetime manufacturing, and one of the things they started making was sewing machines.

These aren't really collectable as far as I know, but they have a good reputation. They're said to be solidly built workhorses, and when they were made they made a dent in Singer's market because they were a lot cheaper than the original Singers.

The names they went under vary. I've seen a picture of an identical machine (in PINK!) sold under the name Bel-Air. I think Arrow was the name used in Canada, Bel-Air was the USA, and there were probably others. I really like the looks of them - they were making them in cheerful colours, and they remind me of 1950s cars. I once saw a stunning royal blue one that I'm still kicking myself for not buying. (Though honestly, how many sewing machines should a person have?)

This one was $45 I think, with the cabinet, although that's pretty worn and needs to be stripped and refinished.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2016

My favourite sewing machine

I've just realized that I acquired this machine almost 2 years ago, not just last year as I'd thought.

Anyway, I put a post on Facebook about it at the time, but now I figure I might as well include it here, since I've already put up some stuff on the treadle machine.

This is my favourite, bestest machine, partly because it's so good, and partly because of how I got it. I went to an auction out in Osnabruck Center in June 2014. It wasn't an auction held at a farm, which is what I enjoy most, but it was at an auction hall. I went there because there was a nice Victorian rocking chair that looked very similar to one we'd had in my mother's house. I got the chair, but I stayed to the end of the auction just for the fun of it.

By the end of a country auction, usually the best stuff has already sold, and much of the crowd has left, but you do find odds and ends that can be useful. This little sewing machine cabinet came up, and nobody wanted to bid on it. I'd just peeked under the lid to see there was a Singer machine there, but nothing more. As it was clear that no one wanted this machine, I felt pity for it, knowing that it would probably end up thrown into a mass lot of junk at the end and would probably end up going to the scrap metal dealers, so I bid $1.00 and got it on the spot.

I stuffed it into the van with the rocking chair and a few other things I'd picked up and headed home. The next day I pulled it out and took a closer look at it. Althought the cabinet was scratched on top and the wood had been sunned, it was in pretty good shape. The machine, too, looked nice, with no broken or missing parts. It had a serial number and model number: 201K.
When I went online to see what I could find out about it, I was stunned to read that the 201 was Singer's absolutely top-of-the-line home sewing machine from the time it was introduced, in 1928, until it was discontinued in 1963. (The "K" in the model number means that it was built in Kilbowie, Scotland.) This machine came close to industrial quality, and when it first came out it cost the equivalent of a car today! Singer pioneered the monthly payment system for this machine, so people could buy it and earn money doing home tailoring while paying it off.

My machine is a later model, from about 1956, I think. They'd modernized the design somewhat in the late 1950s, and introduced the beige colour, in addition to the original black. Also, it was no longer made entirely of iron, it had some aluminum in it, but it's still very heavy.

It was in great shape, I plugged it in and the motor just roared. Since I'd gotten it for so little, I decided to take it to the Sewing Machine Hospital to get it professionally cleaned and tuned up. So now it runs like a champion, and I've sewn a good number of garments on it already. It only does straight stitch, and I have another machine to do zigzag if I need it, but honestly, I just prefer using this one for everything, it's so enjoyable to operate.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Sewing machine project

I'm still gloating over my great treadle sewing machine, but yesterday I started to realize just how very DIRTY it actually is. I took the faceplate off the front, and ewwww... Brownish-black, greasy, and FURRY with dust and lint! It was kept oiled, but I don't think it was cleaned very often, if ever.


I got out my can of Nev-R-Dull metal cleaner: it's not a cream, it's a thick roll of chemical-soaked cotton. You pull off bits of it to clean the grime off metal. Canadian Tire has it in the automotive section. Through a lot of rubbing, I managed to get a lot off the discoloration off the plate. It's now nice and shiny. But there's still the interior of the machine to deal with.

I've ordered a book from Amazon.ca on cleaning and fixing old sewing machines. We're still about 2 months away from being able to do anything in the garden, so this will keep me busy for the interval.

I did find one thing was damaged - not with the sewing machine, but with the cabinet. I couldn't figure out why the little side plate next to the machine wouldn't stay up when the machine was lifted up out of the case. I finally saw that there was a strong spring right at the back that didn't appear to be connected to anything. The end of that spring has broken off; it's supposed to stretch out like a finger underneath the side plate. When the machine is lowered down into the case, the weight of the machine holds it down. When the machine is lifted up, the spring holds the plate up in position. All I have to do is replace the spring.

I've looked on eBay, but so far all I see are spring/plate units for sale which, with the shipping, would cost almost as much as the whole cabinet and machine cost me at the auction! No way am I going to pay that much for a spring. If necessary, I'll just leave the plate hanging down into the cabinet; it's not essential for the operation of the machine, it just serves as a sort of dust protector and (I think) keeps the leather belt from slipping off the machine and falling down into the case when the machine is lowered. Putting the belt back on is not much trouble.

What I think I'll do, though, is keep prowling through thrift shops and this summer go to more auctions, and see if I can find a cast-off cabinet with that spring mechanism intact. I could probably buy one for $10 or less, take the spring and throw the rest of it away. It's by far the most economical plan.

Meanwhile, I don't have a very good picture of the cleaned-up front plate, because it reflected the flash, but here's what it looks like after a simple attempt to take off the surface grime. Once I get my book, I'll go at it more seriously.

Oh, and one nice thing I discovered: all the attachments that came with my 201K sewing machine (the one I got for ONE DOLLAR CANADIAN) at an auction last year!) also fit the older model 15! So now I have additional feet, besides the one original one it came with.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Interesting prediction of Trump victory

I thought this was interesting when I read it, and I just want to post it here so I can find it later on in the election cycle.

Professor Helmut Norpoth, at Stony Brook University, claims to have developed a statistical model for correctly forecasting American presidential elections. His method apparently correctly forecast the elections from 1996 onward, and when data for past elections was plugged into it, it "chose" the actual winner of every election since 1912, with the exception of 1960. (Interesting exception!)

Norpoth began the presentation with an introduction of the potential matchups in the general election, including a hypothetical Sanders vs. Trump general election.

“When I started out with this kind of display a few months ago, I thought it was sort of a joke.” Norpoth said referring to Trump and Sanders, as many alumni in the audience laughed. “Well, I’ll tell you right now, it ain’t a joke anymore.”

As the presentation continued, laughter turned to silence as Norpoth forecasted a 61 percent chance of a Republican win in the general election....

Norpoth then added data from the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries to narrow down the forecast to specific candidates. As he brought up the first slide with matchup results, the silence was broken by muttering from the audience.

“Trump beats Hillary 54.7 percent to 45.3 percent [of the popular vote]. This is almost too much to believe.” Norpoth said, with a few members of the audience laughing nervously. “The probability of that [outcome] is almost complete certainty, 97 percent. It’s almost ‘Take it to the bank.’ ”

The primary model predicts a Trump victory with such certainty due to Trump’s relatively high success in the Republican primaries, Norpoth said. Clinton, in comparison, is in an essential tie with Sanders in the Democratic primaries. As a result, Sanders would also lose to Trump in a similar landslide if Sanders were to be the Democratic nominee, Norpoth said.
It'll be interesting to see if his model holds up as the election approaches. It seems to me very risky to be coming out with a prediction like this so early, which leads me to think that he must be looking at the likelihood of a blowout for Trump. Just as ridings can be "called" for a candidate with only 5% of returns counted if the margin of victory is big enough, his model must be showing such overwhelming results, he isn't even bothering to wait for Super Tuesday. It could be a gimmick, of course, just to get attention. But if I had a record of near 100% accuracy, I'd think twice before throwing it away just to gain some short term notoriety.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Stop the revolution, I want to get off!

Ace at Ace of Spades HQ has just announced that his little fling with revolution is over.

Trump is just too beastly for a respectable Republican to associate with.
Why I am I banging on about Trump's lack of knowledge and thinking on these thoughts?

Because, unlike many, I don't consider thinking and knowledge to be enemies of conservatism and principle. Rather, I consider them to be essential to it.

If you're going to be a conservative -- if you're going to fight the very powerful cultural forces that surround us and push liberalism on us as the easy path you won't get beat up for -- you'd better have some damn good reasons for doing so, or you'll come apart like a cheap suit.
The catalyst seems to have been the debate last night. Ace seems to have been transfixed by Trump's performance; he can't stop talking about how he got his ass kicked, that Rubio and Cruz exposed him, that "last night We Saw a Golden God Bleed Thin Red Blood", and that this leaves his supposed "invincibility and inevitability" in tatters. He actually went so far as to claim this this debate was "a gamechanger", and that "The whole race is now reset," though he was persuaded to dial the hyperbole back a bit. Why a hardly-watched debate would have this effect, when actually losing the Iowa caucus didn't is not explained. I'd have thought losing the first contest would have been the moment when the illusion of invincibility would crumble, but Trump has only grown stronger since then.

But debate performance seems now to be the standard by which a presidential candidate stands or falls. This is Ace's teaching moment:
Let me remind everyone what knowledge, deep thinking over years of consideration, and conviction can get you.

Let me remind everyone of Ronald Reagan's and Robert F. Kennedy's "Great debate" in 1967. A major issue was Vietnam (though Reagan did also take the time to call for the Berlin Wall "to disappear.")

Robert F. Kennedy, the great hope of liberals and intellectuals and liberals who wrongly believe themselves to be intellectuals, got completely obliterated, despite being on the more popular side of the Vietnam War debate.

Why? Because Reagan knew every damn thing that was required to have an opinion, and to defend an opinion, on Vietnam.
So we're supposed to be awestruck at the power of Ronald Reagan to... win a debate? That's a great skill to have, but I just don't feel it's the most important aspect of being President.

The timing of this screed is pretty surprising. Exactly one month ago, January 25, Ace wrote this:
The Establishment has a gameplan. The gameplan is to manage their voters and leave them with little choice but to accept the agenda they've set for us.

Here is what they are hoping: "Sure, the base will squawk and make big noises and rant on the internet, and sure, Rush Limbaugh will hit us, but if we just remain absolutely implacable, unwilling to budge an inch, eventually they will get over their temper tantrum and accept that We Always Win So There's No Use Resisting."

Now, obviously, amnesty is a major part of the Establishment's platform. In their 2012 post-mortem, the consultants, who are super-smart and know everything, made amnesty a central plank to winning in 2016.

The same as they'd previously thought it was the key to winning in 2006, 2008, 2010, etc...

Now, if we all squawk, and make noise, and have our tantrum, but then, in the end, dutifully support an Amensty Super-Hawk like Marco Rubio, precisely as the Establishment always planned for us to do, do you think they'll take that as a repudiation, and a sign that they must reform?

Or do you think, rather, they'll take that as a sign that they calculated the political math perfectly, and they knew our numbers to three decimal places, and they did everything right, and have successfully Managed their stupid, three-toothed inbred voters yet again?

Of course it's the latter.

They could not possibly take the nomination of Marco Rubio any other way. They would take it as total and complete vindication -- and they'd be right to do so, because it would in fact be total and complete vindication.

That's why, for me, Rubio cannot be permitted to win. For me -- you don't have to agree; we're all different, and we all have different priorities -- the Establishment cannot be permitted to walk out of this with a big W.

Even if I lose the election, an even worse outcome would be if I lose, and they win.
Today he writes this:
>>> So are we still burning it down or what?

i'm not in favor of that any more. A while back I wondered "Would it be enough to just scare the shit out of them?" At that time I thought, "No, it's not enough; they'll recover from having the shit scared out of them and go back to business as usual in a week."

But this guy is convincing me he's such a complete disaster now I think I have to settle for just scaring them.

Choose Cruz.
It's as if Martin Luther decided that all those nails were really damaging the woodwork on the Wittenberg church door, and the Pope would probably learn his lesson if he sent him a dirty limerick instead.

At the moment it's "Choose Cruz", but Cruz may not survive Super Tuesday. What then? I see only 2 choices: support Rubio, a complete 180° turn from this position of only a month ago, or hope for a brokered convention in June. And thus would vanish Ace's last pretense of opposing the GOP establishment, which has given us Failure Theater and donor-driven campaigns for amnesty and H-1B visas.

Ace still TALKS about wanting Trumpism Without Trump, yet with no idea of how it can be gotten. And he sneers at Donald Trump for talking wildly and without carefully researching his positions! I can't imagine how he thinks this will not damage his reputation, or his traffic, but I think that already a large number of Trump supporters have departed. The loudest Trump-bashers have had the run of the place for at least a week now, and I've noticed that there are few who bother to engage them in arguments anymore. I think they've just slipped away to more comfortable climes, like HotGas.net, where most of the refugees from HotAir.com regrouped.

In the end, it just comes down to timidity. Men without chests think they want change and revolution, but when it involves discomfort they retreat back to safety.
If this is all just squawking and we all just want to be Managed by the Ruling Class into doing what they've decided is Best for us -- then by all means, vote for Marco Rubio.

Just let them know that at the end of the day, all you want to do is bark a little. Then, having barked your little stupid puppy heart out, you'll roll over and show them your belly, yet again.
Or as Hilaire Belloc wrote,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse,
For fear of finding something worse.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A new addition to my collection

Country auctions are usually a summertime thing for me. Half the fun is driving out into the countryside on a sunny day, with the car windows open, and just enjoying passing by the little villages and farms on the way. Someone writing about Jane Austen once said that her novels still appeal to us today because deep down, in our true selves, we all live in the country.

But a few auctions still go on in the winter, and I check the listings on The Auction Fever just to see what's going on.

Last week an auction came up in Lanark, about an hour out of town, and in the listing they mentioned a Singer sewing machine. There was a picture of some jumbled furniture, and sure enough, an old sewing machine sitting among it all. But looking closely at the sewing machine, I thought I could see something coming down from the balance wheel at the end. It looked like ribbon. Could it be that this was... a treadle machine? It was sitting on a wooden desk, and I saw one small door open at the bottom. I started searching pictures of Singer sewing machine cabinets, and then I hit the jackpot. What I was looking at was this:

A Singer parlour cabinet. Unlike the usual stand with the metal foot pedal and side gears open to view, this closes up and becomes a piece of living room furniture. (Looks a bit like a wine cabinet.) It was impossible to tell from the picture what sort of condition it was in, but I felt it was worth a trip out to Lanark just to check it out.

When I saw it, it was all folded up, with a saddle sitting on top of it. I uncovered it then started opening the doors and pulling up the machine. This was not the super-deluxe model of the cabinet, with a button that you'd press that would activate a spring and cause the sewing machine to rise up out of the depths. The machine folded down into the cabinet like all the later cabinets. It looked very old, and the leather belt was detached and wrapped around the balance wheel. But when I pressed the treadle with my hand it moved easily, and the wheel at the side of the cabinet revolved as well. The machine itself had a nice smooth action, almost soft as the wheel went round and the needle went up and down. The cabinet was in pretty good shape, though very dusty. Some of the veneer had flaked off, but the doors all opened and closed easily, so it wasn't warped or broken.

Long story short, I bought it for $55. I started at $25, but one other person bid it up to $35, and then mine was the last bid. It was darn heavy, but I managed to haul it out to the car on a dolly, then a man helped me lift it into the trunk. It's always so nice going out into the country; there are ALWAYS men who'll help a lady wrangle a piece of furniture into the car! I never count on that sort of thing here in town.

Dean helped me get it into the house the next day, and then I went online to find out what I could. The machine had a serial number, and by going to the Singer serial number database I discovered that it was a model 15, built in 1909! Here are some pictures of the case and the machine:

The cabinet has a mahogany veneer; you can see a bit coming off the bottom of the door at the lower left. I don't know what the actual wood underneath is - probably pine. I'm going to get it professionally restored, and I may be able to get a key that fits the left-hand door on eBay.

I think the decals on the machine are called "Tiffany" or "Gingerbread". The colours make it look rather like a Tiffany window.

I saw pictures of other machines with these decals, and figured that mine had been a simplified version, without any center design. Then I looked closely and realized that the design on the center and lower left area had completely worn off! That's how much this machine had been used! Some say that results in a very well broken-in, smooth functioning machine, and it's certainly the case with this one. It must have been well maintained right up until the time it was put into storage.

When I pulled back the throat plate, I was disappointed to find that the bobbin case was not in the machine. I figured I'd have to go online and buy a replacement, but then I recalled that I'd seen a few bobbins in one of the drawers. There, right at the back, was a bobbin and the bobbin case! A little rusty inside, but I cleaned it with some metal cleaner, and it was perfectly good. There was no manual, but I found one online and threaded the machine, needle and all. Turning the balance wheel with my hand, I was able to sew a line of stitches!


Now I've ordered a new leather band for the treadle, and I'll be able to sew with it! I'm going to try to clean and polish up the machine, as well as give it a good oiling. Now I'm the ultimate prepper; when the grid goes down, I'll be able to keep us alive by sewing! And I even have a brass iron from India that you fill with hot coals, so I can sew AND iron!

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Odd dream

I had one of those dreams the other night, where you tell yourself, "This must mean something."

I was in a church, and there was a little box for collecting money for the poor. I put in a coin, and suddenly it started disgorging coins from the bottom, like a slot machine! Lots and lots of coins, of different countries, plus holy medals and a lot of junk too, like old erasers and dice and you name it. Finally it produced a big garland of artificial flowers! I thought of "The Jewels of the Madonna", an opera by Wolf-Ferrari, and put them around the neck of a sleeping monk, thinking how pleased he'd be when he woke up. Obviously, a LOT more came out of the box than it could have possibly contained.

Well, when I saw all the money, my first impulse was to keep it, but then I thought better of it and resolved to put it back in the box. "I'll just keep the holy medals," I thought. My attention kept being distracted and every time I went back to the horde of loot, I found it was smaller and smaller. Finally, everything had disappeared: the coins, the holy medals, bits of jewellery, everything. All that was left was 2 rosaries, which I took with me.

Maybe it's my subconscious view of the church today: all its treasures are vanishing, and soon there will be only a tiny support left.

Or maybe it's MY experience in the Church: being dazzled by all the spiritual wealth and security I thought was there, only to see it slipping away and leaving me (nearly) empty-handed.

Whatever it is, I've started saying the rosary during odd times of the day. It can't hurt, after all.