Friday, May 27, 2016

Motorcycle Miles: Port Bruce is Nice and Easy

Four Things I Really Like

"Branches, logs, and debris from old docks"

My motorcycle knows the way to Port Bruce by heart. Such a nice and easy drive and destination.

First, the beach is a mess of wood, like my workshop. Branches, logs, and debris from old docks as far away as Buffalo.

Second, Port Bruce is the birdhouse capital of south-western Ontario, and some of them look just like mine.

"Take a hike"

As well, I can park my bike and walk away - ten strides and I'm sitting with coffee, notebook open.

And finally, one can say "take a long walk off a short pier," and watch the fun.

Please link to Motorcycle Miles: Port Bruce, May 12, 2016

Friday, May 13, 2016

Motorcycle Miles: Port Bruce, May 12, 2016

And Why Not?

"The medium-sized cement pier, Port Bruce"

It seems, by looking at my photo files, I visit Port Bruce - on Lake Erie's north shore, 60 km. from my driveway - many times each year. My motorcycle, a very clever 1994 1100cc Yamaha Virago, knows the way by itself.

I have visited Port Bruce since I was about 16 years old. It was once home to The King's Cupboard, The Mecca, The Beach Hut, a lift on steel rails that climbed a cliff to hill-top cottages, and a family I had a connection with via my part-time job at a Red and White Grocery store in Norwich, my hometown.

"My motorcycle.... knows the way by itself." (Across from Corner View Cafe)

Nothing remains of those connections today. The diners are gone or completely revamped (one is a cottage) and any reminders of the lift and steel rails are overgrown by brush and trees.

But certain things remain unchanged. The gravel beach, the medium-sized cement pier, the views south toward Cleveland, the oval roadway around a pavilion and small children's park. And the views. Did I mention the views?

Please link to Gord's Last Ride, 2015 - 3

Photos GH

Presentation: Dad's Navy Days Part 4 (2)

Please visit '1000 Men, 1000 Stories', a website dedicated to Canadians who served in Combined Operations during WW2.

A recent post follows (about an upcoming presentation I will make at a local library):

Dad's Navy Days, 1941 - 1945

By G. A. Harrison

Unidentified Canadian infantrymen taking part in a Combined Operations training
exercise, Inveraray, Scotland, 27 August 1943. Photo credit - Sgt. George A. Game,
DND/Library and Archives Canada / PA-132778 (Found at The Memory Project)

Introduction: The following post will be part of a Nov. 2016 presentation regarding my father's WW2 service with the RCNVR and Combined Operations organization.


Part 4 - Combined Operations Training in the UK

Combined Ops Training in England and Scotland

How long the new Canadian recruits stayed at HMCS Niobe on the Clyde River is not known at this time but it sounds like for only a few days. Then they were sent packing to various Combined Ops training camps on Hayling Island on the southern coast of England.

My father Doug Harrison writes:

We spent little time at Niobe but entrained for Havant (editor - adjacent to Hayling Island) in southern England, to H.M.S. Northney 1, a barracks (formerly a summer resort) with a large building for eating and then cabins with four bedrooms. This was December, 1941 or January, 1942 and there was no heat at all in the brick cabins. The toilets all froze and split. But we made out. Our eating quarters were heated. ("DAD, WELL DONE", page 11)
Lloyd Evans writes:

After a few days at the Greenock base we were posted to HMS Northney III on Hayling Island near Portsmouth on the south coast of England. The purpose was training and it was there that we discovered we had 'volunteered' to operate Landing Craft for future raids and landings under the auspices of Combined Ops (Operations). (My Naval Chronicle, page 9)

The young sailors would soon learn that they would spend a good deal of time over the next two years travelling (often by train) to a cluster of Combined Operations establishments spread along the coastlines of SE England and NW Scotland. They would spend a few weeks or months here, another few weeks or months there, and in between training sessions they would participate in raids, e.g., Dieppe, and invasions, e.g., North Africa, Sicily, Italy.

45 locations are listed, 4 or 5 very familiar to Canadians in Comb. Ops

No. 29 - HMS Northney I, II, III, IV. Repair based Combined Ops
Pilotage Parties (C.O.P.P.) Depot. Combined Operations, page 7

Harrison and Evans briefly refer to duties performed while at their first camp. Unfortunately, no mention is made of landing craft exercises. But both do recall lonely nights on sentry duties.

Evans writes:

Some nights I stood guard duty at the end of a long pier as lookout for German raiding parties. In the lonely darkness of the night this inexperienced 18 year old discovered the power of the imagination! It seemed that the end of the watch would never come; I was gaining a sense of the terrible nature of modern warfare as I realized in my imaginings how easily they could be turned into brutal and bloody reality. (Ibid)

Harrison says:

I had the misfortune to break the toe next to my big toe on my left foot. I went to sick bay and someone applied mercurochrome, told me to carry out my usual duties and sent me away. Running, guard duty, anything, I toughed it out.... We were issued brooms for guard duty in some cases at Northney, sometimes a rifle with no ammunition, and they were expecting a German invasion. Rounds were made every night outside by officers to see if we were alert and we would holler like Hell, “Who goes there? Advance and be recognized.” When you hollered loud enough you woke everyone in camp, so sentry duty was not so lonesome for a few minutes. (Ibid)

I knew my father long enough to know he was trying out a bit of a joke on the last line. My family calls it 'Harrison humour' and it takes many listeners a while to get the hang of it. Good luck.

Though my father goes on to say "there was no training here (at Hayling Island)", I have found a few lines elsewhere that suggest otherwise, from a young Canadian officer, Kendall 'Happy' Kidder. His story - Small Landing Craft Training - is available online thanks to work done by Geoff Slee, creator of 'Combined Operations Command' (website, Scotland), and various contributors, including the officer's wife, Jill Kidder.

I read:

Training bases for 'small' landing craft were set up at Hayling Island on the south coast of England and at Inveraray in Scotland. The first Canadian flotillas joined the RN in January of 1942. Kendall was posted to HMCS Niobe in Scotland on March 1, 1942. It was the main manning and pay depot for the Canadian Navy in the UK.... a gloomy brick building which had been a mental hospital and was locally known as the 'loony bin.'

As well I read:

The initial drafts from Canada arrived in Scotland and soon were shipped to Hayling Island east of Portsmouth for initial training in the smaller 'landing craft assault', LCA's, for about three weeks. Hayling Island had somewhat the same shape as Portsmouth so on occasions lights in the fields were dimly lit to appear much like Portsmouth to the German bomber pilots. This ruse gave Portsmouth some relief from the daily bombing the civilians suffered. Didn't please the farmers of Hayling Island much to become the target. [contributor Bob Crothers, RCNVR, Combined Ops].

Whether the Canadians participated in duties ("running, guard duty, anything," said my father) or small landing craft training, most agree that after a few weeks they heard an "all aboard" and north to Scotland they did go.

My father writes:

This was to be one of the more memorable camps, with our first actual work and introduction to landing barges.

More to follow.

More information about early training at Hayling Island can be found at an earlier post on this website - Training re Combined Operations, "Havant and Hayling Island"

As well, please link to Presentation: Dad's Navy Days Part 4 (1)

Basic Cedar and Barnboard (3)

Visit 'The Workshop' (by G. Harrison) to see what I regularly build from new and/or rescued lumber. Oh yeh, lots of birdhouses.

A recent post follows:

The Group of Seven - Voila! Fini! 

"All set for a late May birdhouse sale"

I am travelling to the West Coast of Canada in a few days so I put this group of seven cedar birdhouses at the top of my to-do list for a few days.

On Monday I started to add trim, i.e., roof edge trim to each box, and prepped the perches.

And yesterday I finished them all off with solid perches, chimneys and hydro poles.

When I return from Vancouver Island I won't have to rush around to prepare for an upcoming sale, two days after I land back home.

"Voila, in black and white"

Please link to Basic Cedar and Barnboard 2

Photos GH

Steady as She Goes (2)

Visit 'The GREAT Canadian Comeback', a place where I record my walking, shuffling, jogging and running progress.

Yesterday's post follows:

Steady Eddie is Making Progress

"I'm on track for another 25 - 35 mile week, walking and shuffling"

No doubt about it. I'm feeling it as I reach the halfway point of 90 brisk walks that include some shuffling off to Buffalo.

I don't mean I'm feeling the burn, feeling exhausted or even close to being discouraged. I'm staying within my limits as far as walking and shuffling are concerned (5 - 7 days per week), and some great gains are being made.... ever so gradually, but perceptibly in my opinion!

For example, after shuffling for 60 - 120 seconds, my breathing, heart rate and tired muscles seem to recover quickly. And within 60 - 120 seconds I again feel the urge to get back to shuffling. Good sign, I think. I feel no urge to push my progress faster than it is already happening - and by staying within my limits.... my limits are growing!

I occasionally see cyclists and runners pass by with weighted packs on their backs, hoping to intensify their workouts and make faster progress toward their goals. I am going to skip that idea. I have the time to make gradual, enjoyable progress so I am taking it.

"Some week days I have the path almost to myself"

While walking and shuffling today I realized, scientifically speaking, there are 13 stages of progress that I'll (hopefully) experience as I go from my starting to eventual end point. The stages are as follows:

1. Slowest
2. Slower
3. Slow
4. Slow - Medium minus 2
5. Medium minus 2
6. Medium minus 1
7. Medium
8. Medium - Fast minus 2
9. Fast minus 2
10. Fast minus 1
11. Fast
12. Faster
13. Fastest

How's that for science? It's indisputable! : )

I don't know what category I am in at the moment, maybe number 3 or 4, but I am pretty sure I have improved my speed not only after walking for six months steady but after adding a bit of shuffling. I do know I will be able to pass through several future stages by staying within my limits 5 - 7 days per week and adding a bit of a challenge (e.g., shuffle/jog a little longer, a little faster on hillier terrain) on a gradual basis.

All is well.

Photos from along the way:

"The bridge is my turn-around-point for a six-miler"

Please link to Steady as She Goes 1

Monday, May 9, 2016

Steady as She Goes 1

Visit my new blog and watch me make The GREAT Canadian Comeback.

Easy Does It in May

"Almost at the halfway point of this first shuffling series"

The days in May have been a bit cool and breezy, making my walks and shuffling nice and easy. On Sunday, May 1, I shuffled along for 6 miles, feeling no pressure to go faster even though the engine was running smoothly. During the week that followed I added an extra mile over the minimum (min. = 4 miles) only on two occasions (two 5-milers) and balanced things off with an easy 2-miler on Saturday.

I will bear in mind in May the words 'easy does it' when I head out the door. The shuffling is progressing well, i.e., I feel stronger, smoother, and more efficient. My speed and stamina will develop as I go steadily along my way. I say, "What more can an old geezer ask for?"

"From May 1 - 7th I walked and shuffled 30 miles. That's plenty"

Special note:

New shoes were costly but I bet I'll cover 600 miles in them. Plus, they match my walking outfit! Colour co-ordination is all the rage, you know.

Photos from along the way:

 "I literally zipped past the 3-mile bridge yesterday : ) "

"Not hot enough for ice cream on the weekend"

Please link to Lessons Learned 4 

Photos GH

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Basic Cedar and Barnboard 2

G. Harrison is busy as a bee. Please visit 'The Workshop' (blog) when time allows. The most recent post follows:

Assembly Line on the Go

"Red cedar faces and barnboard slats (for sides and roofs)"

Today was a very good day to stand outside and sand lumber. The breeze surely carried the dust all the way to Labatts Park!

Once I had the nail gun loaded, assembly time went by in a flash. Painting.... not as quick. I'm slow with a brush. And careful.

 "Barnboard sides and roofs look good whether painted or not"

"Coming up - a full-on trim day"

More to follow involving second coats and trim.

Please link to Basic Cedar and Barnboard 1  at 'The Workshop by G. Harrison'

Photos GH

Friday, April 29, 2016

Duplexes: Add More Trim

When time allows, drop by The Workshop by G. Harrison.

The Paint is Dry

I put a lot of trim on a lot of birdhouses. My gravestone will either read "I Told You I Was Sick" or "Gord Never Trimmed a Sail But Every Birdhouse Has a Perch".

Today's to-do list: Fence, cat, hydro pole, wee birdhouse, perch.

"Roof edging, roof ridge, windows, chimney - check"

More to follow.

Please link to Duplexes: "Contrasting Lumbers" - Maybe Some Paint?

Fussy Pot of Russian Earl Grey

As I Grow Older

I'm not alone, I'm sure.

As I grow older I notice one or two changes in my personal landscape, sometimes under the heading of 'Likes and Dislikes'.

I would say my landscape is broadening. Others would say I'm just getting fussy, crispy or difficult to please.

I'm done with ordinary, common, garden-variety tea bags. Blah blah blah. The people from tea-producing nations have been laughing at my choices for years.

"Gord drinks tea dust, the stuff we sweep off the floors," I can hear them say. "It tastes more of bag than tea."

Not anymore. Now I drink tea that is filled with chunks of dried plant matter, petals of blue and yellow wild flowers picked by skilled men and women from high and steep mountain-sides, and flavour - FLAVOUR - rich, aroma-filled flavour that knocks my socks off. Like this Russian Earl Grey.

"I can live with fussy"

Please link to Supper of Champions - Sauce n Gravy Highly Rated

Photos by GH

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The GREAT Canadian Comeback "Lessons Learned"

Gord H. is documenting his GREAT Comeback at a new blog site. Walkn to more 'fun and fitness'.

Break Through to the Other Side

"I finished 5.5 miles, with shuffling, in the time it takes to walk 4 miles"

Yesterday's brisk walk included a fair amount of shuffling (i.e, about 100m of shufflin' every quarter mile) and I was surprised when I returned home. A walk of 5.5 miles would generally take about 110 minutes (about 20 min. per mile) but I was home in 90 minutes. Shufflin' adds a bit of speed!

I was surprised as well by the distance I shuffled on a number of occasions. My mind wandered off a few times - Downey woodpeckers were busy at work in several trees along my route - and when it returned I realized I'd shuffled 200m or more without complaint. Why, soon I'll be running a marathon, I said to myself. (Yes, it was a joke).

Making a little break through here and there doesn't really surprise me. I've run long distances in the past and know - with progressive training (i.e., building up mileage gradually over months of regular running) - a person used to 5- and 10-kilometre distances can one day run a marathon. I'm at the stage in my walking and shuffling where I will notice some improvements in my speed, smooth stride, strength and stamina on occasion.

Yesterday, during one of those mini-break-through moments, I recalled the day I ran my first, solo, long-distance event, quite unexpectedly at that. 

After getting used to jogging one, then two, then three miles at a time on a regular basis in the mid-1970s, I left my house on Victoria Street, London and ran toward the University of Western Ontario, about one mile away. My intention was likely to complete a two- or three-mile easy loop, return home and jot down my mileage (2 mi., 2.5 mi., 3 mi., etc.) in my ever-present record book. But as I past J.W. Little Stadium I wondered if I could sneak onto the track (that surrounded the football field) and measure my speed for a quarter-mile. 

I found a gate open, entered the stadium, checked my watch and started my first lap. One lap soon led to another because it felt good to have the place to myself and I wasn't feeling tired at that point. More laps followed and I started to count the miles. One mile to the stadium and eight laps equals three miles, I said to myself. But I didn't feel like quitting. I felt good. I kept going. 

Four more laps. Four miles. Great. Four more laps. Five miles. Unknown territory. No problem. I kept going. And I kept going some more. 

Nine miles approached, and I reminded myself I still had to get myself home. And ten miles as a total sounded pretty awesome. So, after 32 laps I heartily slapped myself on the back and headed home. I wish I had my old record book. That ten-miler would jump out at me. I likely circled it in red!

I learned a valuable lesson that night as I circled the old UWO track (now gone, along with the well-remembered outdoor hockey rink). A pile of two- and three-milers can prepare a person for a ten-miler when conditions are right. And if I keep shuffling along - 100 to 200 metres at a time - during a couple of walks per week, one day in the future I'll shuffle a quarter mile, then half, and so on.

I've got the walking habit and a six-month-long solid base (and more*). I've got the energy to shuffle on occasion. A ten-miler is obviously a long way off (not even on the horizon) but more mini-break-throughs will surely occur in the future.

"The shuffling routine is coming along nicely"

*After dropping out of marathoning in 2006, I continued a fun and fitness routine for about 8 - 10 years that included cycling, hockey, some running and walking. That being said, couch-potato-like attitudes began to form. Something had to (has to) be done!

Photos GH

Monday, April 25, 2016

Avocado 36 "Not Just Your Average House Plant"

Tall, Stately, Guacamole

 "Senora Avocado feels at home in her new pot"

I have so much to look forward to in the coming years. The plant, currently stalling out at 26 inches in height, will surely grow taller, if not broader. I will keep my eyes open for fresh growth, whether it be a new leaf, breadth in leaf size, or the next quarter inch in height.

"I keep watch and add water regularly"

And then, there's always the guacamole!

Please link to Avocado 35 "Still a Bit Droopy" 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The GREAT Canadian Comeback

Visit Gord's new blog re the GREAT comeback:

Hardy Canadians Build Good Foundations

"I have no problem with the rain"

I built a solid base or foundation for what is to follow (Who knows? A 5K roadrace, a marathon, a walk across Spain?) by walking an average of 116 miles per month for the last six months. I think the walking I do now, including a bit of 'shufflin' off to Buffalo', is pretty easy because of my GOTD score from October to end of March. That is, I 'Got Out The Door' on 93 per cent of the 180 days in those months.

See, Canadians are generally a hardy folk, not stymied by winter weather. I covered 121 miles in December, 140 in January and 114 in February. Not bad, not bad at all. And yesterday, I walked in the rain. I had Greenway Park to myself!

Why, when I went to university as a kid, me and my roomies survived on dog kibble for months at a time. We even sang a song about it every Friday before supper. (I don't have it written down in my UWO notebooks but I think it was just called 'Kibbles and Beer').

Here's what I can recall - about 50 years later:

(In unison, loudly) Verse one!

Kibbles and beer, kibbles and beer,
Open the Molsons* and we'll give a cheer.
We'll only eat kibble for one more year,
Unless we all flunk outta Psychology!! (followed by uproarious laughter)

(Together) Verse two!

Kibbles and beer, kibbles and beer,
Open the Carlings* and we'll give a cheer.
We don't have money for pork chops or steer,
Unless we all become Dennis!! (i.e., Dentists, and followed by uproarious laughter)

Verse three!

Kibbles and beer, kibbles and beer,
Open some Fifties and we'll give a cheer.
If it's not in a stubby get the heck outta here,
Unless you're giving it away!! (fall down on the floor with laughter)

(Last line, loudest of all) There is no verse four! (followed by the loudest cheer)

"You don't need a UWO degree to know why the toad crossed the road"

*As I recall, Molsons Golden, Carling Red Cap

Please link to GREAT Comeback - Starts with a Base 3

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The GREAT Canadian Comeback

I've Got the Time, So....

"Roller-bladers approach with arms swinging to and fro"

I enjoyed a very pleasant 5-mile walk yesterday on the Terry Fox Pathway. It generally follows the Thames River toward Springbank Park and I often see a few 'regulars', including walkers, roller-bladers, cyclists and troops of Canadian geese.

A couple of times I was tempted to break into a shuffle, which I did with success (for a short distance, e.g., 50 to 100 metres, every quarter mile on Sunday and Monday. But I resisted the temptation. I have the time to slowly and gradually build my base or foundation for longer-distance walking (aka hiking a longer way than I do now) or short- to long-distance running. So, I'm taking my time.

"After a walk-a-shuffle I add an S to my records, as above.
Oh yeah, I like keeping track of the details"

"I have the time, so take it," I say to myself regularly now. Why hurry back into better all-around fitness when I'm already enjoying and benefitting from each walk that I take? I know I'm already making a comeback, and from experience, I know that Rome wasn't built in a day.

Benefits associated with walking on a regular basis:

Photo credit - Your Body on Walking

Note what the poster above says about longevity: "75 minutes a week of brisk walking can add almost 2 years to your life."

I'm thinking, I'm already walking 75 minutes per day. Therefore, perhaps I can add 7 x 2 = 14 years to my life. Something more to think about while out on the Terry Fox Pathway : )

By the Numbers:

Yesterday I completed number 23 in a set of 90 walks that 'may' include a bit of shuffling.

I've averaged over 30 miles per week for the last 2 months.

I feel there is no need to increase my weekly average while increasing the amount of shuffling.

Time to save up $150 for new running shoes.

 Photos from along the way:

Hairy woodpecker gives me the once-over, one block from home"

Please link to GREAT Comeback - Starts with a Base 1