That Calvinist Work Ethic

A reminder that you still have a chance to enter to win one of two copies of the Gizmo Garage pattern from ChrisW Designs. We'll be drawing winners on Tuesday, November 21. 


I am a hard-core morning person. I am usually wide awake and out of bed sometime between 5:00 and 5:30 every morning. (Even weekends. Especially weekends, because I have a lot to cram into my two days off.) Occasionally, I'll even get up at 4:00 or 4:30. I like to attack my day before it has a chance to attack me. 

Yesterday morning, I opened my eyes and looked at the window and noticed light coming in behind the shade. Horrified, I rolled over and looked at the clock—it said 7:39!!!! I couldn't believe I had slept that late. I had been up later than usual on Thursday and Friday nights and had hospital list on Friday, which always makes for a long day. Apparently, my body decided I needed the extra sleep. It hadn't checked with my brain, though, and I hastily had to reconfigure my plans for the day, grumbling the whole time about half the day being gone already. 

The husband—who is not a morning person and who sleeps until 9:00 a.m. on the weekends with no guilt whatsoever—just laughed at me and said I was a slave to my Calvinist work ethic. 

I ended up having to run to town to do some errands. I try not to go to town on the weekends, but sometimes it can't be helped. I needed some more quilt batts, so I stopped at Hobby Lobby to use my 40% off coupon. While I was there, I noticed that they had sewing machine belts in their Sewology notions. I don't remember seeing them there before. 

Sewing machine belts are a point of contention (one of many) among vintage sewing machine enthusiasts. These belts come in three flavors: black V-belts (like the fan belt on a car, but on a smaller scale); orange lug belts; and round rubber stretch belts. Purists eschew the round rubber stretch belts in favor of the V-belts or lug belts, claiming that the stretch belts put too much stress on the motor. The problem with the V-belts and lug belts is that getting the correct length belt can be tricky. The motor position on most machines is adjustable; the motor can be moved back and forth and up and down within half an inch or so, but you still have to be in the ballpark with the length of the belt to get it to work. Also, they aren't generally available locally and have to be ordered online. If you order the wrong-sized belt, you're out of luck. At one point, I had actually ordered orange lug belts in every size available from one supplier. I kept them in a zip-lock bag and when I had to replace a belt, I went through my collection to find one that fit. That's not my idea of efficiency.

Also, they are orange. Why orange?

The moderator of the Necchi Facebook list is an advocate of using the stretch belts, and I have become a convert. I don't think they put any more stress on the motor than the other kinds of belts unless you have them so tight that the motor is screaming for mercy. They are cheap and the Singer brand is commonly available at Jo-Anns. While I was at Hobby Lobby, though, I noticed that they had Sewology brand round rubber belts. (That's Hobby Lobby's house brand.) I hadn't remembered seeing them before. I bought one and brought it home to compare to the Singer belts:

They are the same thickness. The Hobby Lobby belt, however, is a little bit bigger: 

I have an orange lug belt on Vittorio, my Necchi BF, and I have been meaning to swap it out for a rubber belt for a while now. I am going to put the Hobby Lobby belt on Vittorio this afternoon and give it a test run. Vittorio is busy sewing quilt blocks at the moment in an attempt to get some Christmas presents made. 

I finished sewing down the binding on the tied comforter this week. It will get delivered back to Elaine at church this morning. It's very pretty:

Part of the reason I was up so late Friday night was because I was working on the binding and also because the husband found this YouTube channel called The Essential Craftsman. It's a guy who does these absolutely fascinating videos on woodworking, blacksmithing, general construction (he does a fair number of videos on concrete), etc. We watched a video on blacksmithing and now I want to buy an anvil. (Where is that 2 x 4?) 


The other thing I did yesterday afternoon was to take a trip down memory lane. Back in 1999 or so, the husband and his then-business partner landed a contract to build a huge complex of house, barn, cabins, and guest houses at a place up the road from us. The owner was a retired tech executive and his much-younger wife. They came up here from LA, bought a 30-acre piece of land, and started building. Over the course of the next two years, the husband built the guest house, the barn, two cabins, the caretakers house, and poured the foundation for the main house, which was ultimately built by another contractor. The main house is 15,000 square feet, just to give you an idea of how big this place is. It was a real showpiece. 

A few years after everything was completed, this couple got divorced. There is a lot of backstory that would take too long to tell, but the wife ended up with the property in the divorce settlement. She tried to sell it, then turned it into a vacation resort for wealthy Europeans who would pay big bucks to come spend a couple of weeks in the wilderness of Montana (without giving up any of their creature comforts, naturally). When that didn't pan out, she rented the place out for a reality TV show called Santas in the Barn (I watched a few episodes). I have to give her credit—she really did try to make an effort to make this property profitable. For the past few years, however, it has sat empty and is starting to fall into disarray. In addition, the whole place has been stripped. All of the interior furnishings were sold at auction back in August of this year—the baby grand piano sold for $2500—and all of the fixtures have been removed. What remains are just the shells of the buildings. It has reverted back to the bank and is back on the market for a bargain 1.8 million dollars. (It started out at $26 million at the beginning and came down from there.) 

My friend Cathy drove by it when she came out to look at cows at our friend John's place a few weeks ago. She asked me what I knew about the place and said that she wanted to take a look at it. I volunteered the husband to come along since he built almost all of it and has all the instutional memory. Cathy and her husband and I met the real estate agent there yesterday afternoon. The husband wasn't able to join us because he ended up having to work, but the four of us walked around and I tried to provide as much history as I could. The upshot is that it's a fabulous piece of property and would make a great farm or a special event facility, but the buyer would have to sink another couple million dollars into the place to make the houses livable/rentable. Cathy is going to pass. 

I hadn't been in some of those buildings for 18 years, and it was interesting to get to go through them again. 

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Reader Comments (4)

Gosh, if I'd know you would someday be in the market for an anvil, I would have saved mine for you and not sold it at the auction.
p.s. ask my son what kind of work ethic he thinks he has. Wikipedia has an answer which might horrify him: The Protestant work ethic, the Calvinist work ethic or the Puritan work ethic is a concept in theology, sociology, economics and history which emphasizes that hard work, discipline and frugality are a result of a person's subscription to the values espoused by the Protestant faith, particularly Calvinism.

November 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHusband's mom


I did suggest to your son that the pot making fun of the kettle was probably not a good strategy. His work ethic isn't much different than mine; it just runs on a different time schedule.

November 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Szabo

Other than a traditional color (not orange!), lower cost and a smaller inventory investment, what are the advantages of the black, stretchy belt?

Pretty quilt!

John Thomas in NC

November 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Thomas

Well, the biggest advantage is the slop factor; you can be a lot less precise with the size of the belt as it will stretch to fit, within reason. Obviously, a too-small stretch belt is going to put a lot of stress on the motor pulley and that is why the purists will tell you they are a lousy choice. I put the Hobby Lobby belt on Vittorio and sewed for most of the weekend with him. The belt has some slack when I press on it with my finger, but still has plenty of grip on the motor pulley. I prefer it to the orange lug belt (it's a bit quieter, too). I'll stock up next time Hobby Lobby has their Sewology notions for 50% off, which they do every couple of weeks.

November 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Szabo

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