Archive for December, 2011

Happy holidays

Posted in Cats at 16:21

"I would like a bird for Christmas."

After watching me eat stuffed quail, Kanoko hinted that he too would like a bird for Christmas. Then Susu joined him. She turned 4 months old on Christmas day, and has been growing visibly.

Birdwatching kitties

May your holidays be filled with warmth and cuddles!


Solstice street find

Posted in Crafts, La France at 21:12


Here’s something I never dreamt I’d find in the trash one day: a vintage sewing machine. But find it I did, this morning, just before the truck came! It reminds me of my mother’s Bernina 830 I grew up using, although this machine is simpler and heavier-duty. Made by New York Sewing Machine Co. (not to be confused with New York Sewing Machines Inc. who replied to my query to say they never made this machine), its model number is 408, and that’s about all I know. It has an external motor built by French company Luxor, but I doubt it’s a retrofit since the motor is anchored by screws:


It is missing the foot pedal to control the motor, but that’s not a problem with this sort of machine. The large stitching wheel still moves smoothly by hand. The previous owner took very good care of this machine; nothing is rusted, everything internal is oiled and impeccably clean, the machine still works! But it had indeed been abandoned: as well as being in the designated trash pickup area, it was very dirty on its surfaces. But as you can see, it came threaded.

Why would someone throw away a working sewing machine? Unfortunately it’s probably easily explained: it’s a simple machine, with just straight and zigzag stitches, nothing more. Modern-day sewing machine manufacturers tend to tout fancy embroidery machines with any number of stitches, but all you really need are the two basic stitches and a way to control their length, width, and tension. This machine is built like a tank, entirely made of steel, apart from the heavy-duty plastic base (which hinges away to access the bobbin mechanism). That also probably worked against it for whoever decided to toss the machine: it’s big, not exactly the latest fashion, and weighs a ton. But it will probably outlast the home sewer’s Pfaff hobby 1030 that I have. I’m looking forward to trying it out seriously this weekend. I love its simple design lines.


Sunny autumn

Posted in Cats, Cycling at 20:21

2004 GT i-drive XC 2.0

We’re having gorgeous weather here in southeastern France this autumn, with noon temperatures so balmy that I need neither a coat nor a long-sleeved top! It’s been beautiful for mountain biking. I still have the GT I bought almost 6 years ago. Here you see it in my entry, set against the bedroom door, also showing off those floors I worked so hard to restore! Recently I bought new shoes, a pair of Mavic ‘Chasm’, which were recommended by the same shop where I found my bike. The two guys there have always been great. They don’t know I have a website, so this plug for their shop is entirely my own decision: drop by Vélo Concept if you’re ever in Nice and need anything road- or mountain-bike-related, even if it’s “just” for a city bike (they carry those too!). They’ve always listened to me, their recommendations have always been reliable, and they have great senses of humor, to boot.

I love my new shoes. It’s like having a new bike. The difference with my previous mid-range lace-up shoes truly surprised me. When I stand on my (clipless) pedals, it feels like I’m standing on solid ground. I already loved climbs before; now they’re even better, because there’s no loss of muscle power in any corrections due to unstable shoes – my feet stay where I put them, moving the pedals.

In other news, I haven’t updated recently because I started a new project at work a few weeks ago. It’s enjoyable as well – all in all, life is good. Kanoko and Susu are still like two peas in a pod (very bouncy peas in a constantly-moving pod), and Susu is as much of a sweetheart as Kanoko, so I’ve been feeling very spoiled by two adorable, well-behaved cats who gleefully share their time together and with me.

Susu, 3 months old