A while back I posted on the passing of Pehr Bolling, a Swedish immigrant and local resident who (among many remarkable things) after retiring built a functional replica of a viking ship. The obit is unfortunately deep in the Trib archives now, but the family was kind enough to send me a video of the ship’s launch. It’s particularly moving to me since my own grandfather has been building and restoring boats as a serious hobby/part-time job for most of his adult life*, mostly gorgeous mid-century power boats but also James River bateau, an old, distinctively Virginia shallow-water boat that was used for shipping on the James River.

*Couldn’t find any boat pictures (they look like this), but here’s some furniture made by either him or his father (scroll down to where it says Moser; not to be confused with Thos. Moser furniture). It was weird growing up in a totally standard middle class house with normal middle class furniture mixed in with incredibly beautiful handcrafted Southern furniture. This is why I’m amazed by craftsmen like Bolling, although I didn’t inherit any craft skills of my own, which are in abundance on both sides of my family (my other grandfather was a diesel mechanic and newspaper press operator/mechanic/jack-of-all-trades), or at least I was dissuaded by family-dinner stories of epic power tool injuries. So I learned Photoshop and Quark, which are way less engaging but won’t take off any fingers.

PS: The Craftsman, a new book by Richard Sennett, looks awfully interesting. Haven’t read it yet but it’s on my list. Here’s a good rundown, and a review. Sennett, FYI, is a Chicago native and U. of C. grad.