The Casual Blog

Tag: Blair Sutton

Tire service, and new interior design

Tire care and repair is something I don’t usually think about very much. But there are times when it comes to the forefront of vital issues, and last week was such a time.

Some weeks back, my left front Michelin Pilot Super Sport (a primo tire) developed a slow leak, and was nearly flat by the time I first noticed it. I began stopping at the quickie mart every few days for air. On the latest fill stop, I apparently broke the valve stem on the left back Sport, which began hissing. Replacing the cap stopped the noise, but I wasn’t confident that it stopped the leak. I had visions of flat tires, waiting for a AAA tow truck, and the slightly condescending sympathy that car rescue guys can’t help feeling for those that need rescue.

In the end, I kept enough air to drive to the repair shop. I did a bit of Google searching on Raleigh tire shops, and settled on Murray’s New and Used Tires. The web site emphasized that it was a family business and an ethic of service to the customer, and had several positive costomer reviews.

When I got to Murray’s, even before I was completely out of the car, a young man was asking how they could help me. He went to get some pliers and made an adjustment to the back valve stem that fixed it immmediately. Hurray! He then offered to check the front tire, which he had off in a matter of seconds, and he located the hole a few seconds later. He said they’d fix it for $28 and guarantee the patch for the life of the tire. Not bad! I waited in their main office, where they offered me a coffee in a friendly way. Ten minutes later I leaving fully repaired and only $28 to the negative.

It is really cheering to discover a great service provider — one that can not only perform the service competently, but does it with pride and a certain style, and seems to enjoy displaying their expertise. The team at Murray’s had that air of competence and also of getting a kick out of life. I thought I might enjoy such work, though perhaps not for very long. In any case, I was really grateful that they could do it.

One downside: in a moment of weakness I agreed to give them my email address, and shortly after rhey began sending spammy ads to my email and phone. I guess they need more business. Please go over there if you have a tire problem and tell them it was not because of the spam, which they should stop.

Service, or helping othere, is a beautiful thhg. As social animals, we are always seeking ways to connect, and the services we give are primary connections. When we serve others and receive services, we build relationships and communities. With this in mind, I look differently at the person who is helping me buy groceries or clothes, or repair tires. The exchange is not just about money, but also about being humans together.

This has been one of the satisfying things about upgrading our apartment decor. Working with Blair Sutton has reminded me that there are types of skill and talent that are both enormous and sometimes barely noticeable. Blair makes good design look really easy, and fun. I know it’s not that easy, but it seems an authentic expression of who she is. In this sense and others, she is a true artist.

Our most recent project, the guest bedroom, was in full flight this week. The reason — once we got the other room looking good, the guest bedroom looked dowdy — the slippery slope when you start improving things. Blair consulted with us on functions we needed, like a desk for me and more storage for us both, and came up with a design that seemed like it had been somehow buried in our subconscious.

Blair hooked us up with some excellent painters, who covered over the cherry walls, which just never worked, with a cool gray. The painters seemed to like to paint, and were really good at it. The new furniture arrived, including a cute and functional desk that reminds me of Shaker furniture. We got sconces, and got electricians to put in the sconces, as well as to reroute the cable hookup to the other side of the room. The electricians also put spot lights on our new paintings, which makes them pop. They also gave good service.

We’re still waiting for the new headboard and a couple of other items, after which I’ll post some photos.

Art, technology, and our bedroom v. 2.0

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I saw a story this week about the predictions of various tech company execs as to developments in 2013. The most interesting one to me was that 2013 would be the year of art. The prediction was that the coming year should bring a shift in which technology begins to enable a new creativity.

It struck me as unlikely that we’d see such a major cultural shift this year, but I liked the idea of focusing on how technology might advance creativity. Clearly, it sometimes does the opposite. Television, for example, has on balance surely made us duller, and I worry that Facebook may be no better. But the internet opens a vast number of possibilities, and the tools and portals keep improving.

A case in point: one of my 2012 projects was to learn to draw on my iPad. I found the tools I tried awkward and glitchy. The line would be flowing fine and then for no apparent reason stop working, and need to be reset. Frustrating. I put that endeavor aside for the time being. But the prospect of an amazingly convenient and flexible drawing tool with all the convenience of a tablet is close, if it’s not here already.

As regular readers have heard, I’ve been experimenting with digital photography in recent months. My hope was that with my entry-level DSLR (a Nikon D3200), I might find expressive possibilities that exceeded those of my trusty-but-inflexible Canon point-and-shoot. In any event, getting new equipment tends to inspire new efforts. This is, of course, a slippery slope — it’s possible to shovel a lot of money out the door on fantastic lenses and other equipment without realizing much of an artistic ROI — but so far I’ve kept equipment urges under control, and I’ve made some images I liked.

Lately I’ve been focusing more on what to do with those images Again, technology is expanding the possibilities. I’ve been experimenting with Photoshop Elements to tweak them, and with Flickr and Dropbox for storing and sharing them. Some I’ve shared in this blog. Sally gave me my first digital photo display frame for Christmas, and I set it up with a slide show of my images from our Christmas diving trip to the Turks and Caicos. I’ve been turning it on when I sit down for breakfast, and getting a quick taste of the remarkable beauty of the reefs.

Rita Tiller in bedroom v. 2.0

Rita Tiller in bedroom v. 2.0

Last week I took on a bit of a retro project. In the fall, we engaged Blair Sutton, an interior designer, to help us re-do our bedroom, which had a traditional look that didn’t work with the rest of the space. Blair somehow took our vague concepts and came up with a design that was contemporary but also relaxed and calming. She is truly an artist. One of her ideas concerned the space on the wall over the bed.

She proposed three frames from Pottery Barn hung side by side to be filled with small images of our creation. I’d been thinking for a while about getting some of my own images on our walls, but it never got high enough in the priority queue until Blair’s directive. I took the triptych as a challenge, and though it took a while, it finally got me focussed.

Eventually I picked three images from the Turks and Caicos set (two of which I previously published here) and took them to Rite Aid drugstore to print. (There turned out to be a small learning curve on this. I actually had to take them in twice, because I didn’t get them in an acceptable format the first time.) Anyhow, the prints turned out fine, and Sally volunteered to do the framing. We were both happy with the results, and enjoyed the collaborative process.
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