Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Birdhouse London

Board and Batten Barn

It comes with its own cow!

The barn board I purchase in Fenelon Falls always makes me think of barns - for some reason - so I sketched a wee one recently, a duplex, and finished it off yesterday. All it needs is a wee picket fence in front of the main unit.


   a cow water dish or seed bin

   an authentic tin water sprinkler

   driftwood from PEI

   well-used metal hardware

   cedar shake roof (don't shake it!)

   board and batten finish

   a free birdhouse on a stump

   two metal roofs

   working chimneys (they work for me : )

   unique perches

   rare metal spike as wall ornament (whodda thunk it?)

I'd like to say "and so much more" but I don't think there's much more once the picket fence is attached.

Link to Birdhouse London

Photos GH

The Workshop

Four Swap Boxes

One 'little library' just left the building. So, I need to now finish off four swaps... in a hurry, because the to-do list ain't gettin' shorter!

Note to self - dust off the bicycle, pick up four packs of hinges at Copps.

Link to The Workshop

Photo GH

It Strikes Me Funny

The Old Dusty Hat Came Back

My wife has said more than once I should get a new hat for the workshop. When I couldn't find it the other day I thought she had taken matters into her own hands and I said as much. She denied any crime against me and my hat. (I later found it under a well-worn dusty flannel shirt beside the back door).

Admittedly, the old hat looks like it has seen better days. And so it has. However, a new one would soon get just as grimy and dusty, so why spend money when I can keep a bit of sun and dust off what's left of my hair with a model that feels like home?

It also feels right for me. Past some kind of due date.

What do you hang onto that's seen better days?

Link to It Strikes Me Funny

Photo GH

Bird Watching

Not My Best Side

I hoped the jay would turn around but it focussed on a squirrel running atop a nearby fence.

"Psst. Psst. Turn around," I said.

Nothing but tail feathers!

Link to more Bird Watching

Photos GH

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Workshop

Little Library


Today I arrange pick up/delivery for a very solid wee library, tidy up the work bench, and then move on to another colourful project.

I'm enjoying dusty times in the shop.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Gord's Journal

A Good Time

re August 24: A jolly good time was had by all at Jazz Fest in Wortley Village. A rocking trio could be found in the housewares department at Home Hardware and Soul Sausage played to a rapt audience outside the local garage.

More groups of musicians dotted the happy landscape. It was definitely a toe-tappin' day.

Link to Gord's Journal

Photos GH

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Workshop

Progress Continues at Good Pace

The hardware is on the door (which now opens and closes smoothly on brass hinges), marine varnish has been applied to the roof and rare western cedar boards have been prepared for 'the 'full-on trim package'.

["I like using 'old reliable' door closers"]

["Only the best. Western cedar trim, most is centuries old"]

["Roof is trimmed out, ready for second coat of varnish"]

Jazz Festival in Wortley Village this PM may slow me down for two hours but I'll soon be back at it.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Zoom w a View

Hopped Up Lager Day

["My neighbour and enjoy the look of hop vines on fences"]

One thing I know about hops is this: They are very fragrant (and therefore very useful) when fresh. Okay, that's two things.  

["Non-descript lager + ale + more hops = smashing"]

Two things (plus appropriate glassware) are enough to bring two neighbours together post haste in the workshop! (Work slowed for 45 minutes but no one complained).

Link to Zoom w a View

Photos GH

Birdhouse London

The $15 Birdhouse

 ["$15 birdhouses are popular for some reason. They keep me busy"]

I added trim to four more small birdhouses yesterday and then lined them up for a photo shoot. Thirty seconds later I packed them into a banana box for easy transport to storage. 

Speaking of 30 seconds:

["w 'backer board' attached, this one can be on a fence post in no time flat"]

["Put one screw into the backer board and tree trunk... 30 seconds"]

Please link to more Birdhouse London

Photos GH

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gord's Journal

One for You, One for Me

["I sketched a bird feeder in my journal, lickety-split"]

I didn't mind when someone recently asked me to build a large bird feeder, one almost twice as large as I've built in the past. I mean, I've got the lumber - the best in the world - on hand. Or, for those who demand complete honesty, under a tarp in my backyard.

As well, thanks to my new high-tech organizational system, I can look at how many projects I have on my plate 'at-a-quick-glance', which helps me muster up the confidence to say something like, "Hmmm. looks like August is completely booked solid. I can get to it mid-September  - if that's okay." (And it usually is).

["This is a pretty high-tech format, eh. Monthly
calendar and a pen in a manly leather wallet"]

["Why, I think brass bits will make a great shadow box!"]

I'm getting pretty good at organizing my workshop time now and I've found a bit of time to proceed on some personal projects, like a shadow box or two. 

Ha! Maybe six. 'Cause once you get started the ideas start to flow.

Link to Gord's Journal

Photos GH

Gord's Journal

Treetop Airport

Because I am almost finished my most recent 'specialty house' (a three-section barn-style birdhouse with its very own ceramic cow) I started to sketch my next one. The 'treetop airport' is inspired by a lovely wooden Tonka bi-plane that will (hopefully) enjoy a second life now that grandson Ollie has lost interest in it.

I'm thinking that as soon as the project is finished Ollie will ask for his airplane back. What are the odds!?

Link to Gord's Journal

Photos GH

The Workshop

Progress Continues

Four $15 birdhouses are almost done after yesterday's efforts. They should be finished by 1 P.M. today. Brilliant photo to follow : )

That being said, my main task at the moment is to finish a 'little free library' by next Tuesday or Wednesday and ship it to Aylmer, Ontario.

 ["The door sits square. Time for plexiglass and a few nails"]

 ["Three-inch screws are hidden and the door fits like a charm"]

["Hinges and latch can be done by 2 P.M. today Brilliant."]

Hmmm. I already have the 'full-on western cedar trim package' and marine varnish (to seal roof top seams) all ready to go. Maybe a Monday completion date is a possibility. We'll see.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Birdhouse London

The $15 Birdhouse

["Sturdy, and from new and rescued cedar."]

I was asked recently to estimate how many birdhouses I've made since retiring from my full-time job.

Really, I had no clue. I kept track of last year's production, however, and I constructed 260 according to my records. So I said, "Over 1,000 I bet." 

["Once home, it can be on a tree trunk in under 60 seconds"]

["'Good wood' should be in front of 'good price'.
Good grief, can't even get my motto right."]

The number is not important in my opinion. What is important is that folks can get a decent, solid birdhouse for a reasonable price from my workshop.  Why, 'good price', that's a part of my motto.

Link to more Birdhouse London

Photos GH

Friday, August 22, 2014

Halifax and Another Hard Promise

Heart of the Matter

["Dad's impulse to volunteer led to adventure"]

Part 7 - In Conclusion 

- August 2014

My father's impulse to volunteer for new duties when he was in his early twenties led to unforgettable adventures.

In his navy memoirs he writes about his entry into a little known division of the armed forces called Combined Operations. The year was 1941. He was in Halifax, already involved in training with the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve:

   One day we heard a mess deck buzz or rumour that
   the navy was looking for volunteers for special duties
   overseas, with nine days leave thrown in. Many from
   the Effingham Division, including myself, once again
   volunteered. (Will I ever quit volunteering?) 

He was soon on a ship bound for Scotland, then onto a train to southern England (e.g., Southampton), then at the helm of a barge during D-Day North Africa (November 1942), with the 80th Flotilla of ships and barges during D-Day Sicily (July 1943), off to Malta for rest and repair one month later, then on to D-Day Italy (September 1943). And finally he was shipped to a Combined Ops training centre in Comox, British Columbia (January 1944) where he was involved in all manner of duties and adventures. On the last page of his memoirs he says 'it would cost a small fortune today to retrace the places I had been to and seen under the White Ensign' and I surely agree.

[Photo June 2010: "Just home from Halifax. Am thinking about my next trip"]

My impulse to make promises has led to unforgettable adventures of my own. I have travelled to the east and west coast of Canada to learn more about Dad's Navy days in Combined Operations and trips to Scotland, southern England, Sicily, Malta and Italy are definitely on my mind. I am currently saving up my own 'small fortune' to make the next adventure possible.

When will I stop making promises that involve my father and his adventures? I think I'll know when the time is right, as did my father about his desire to volunteer.

In his memoirs (i.e. the hand-written notes) he writes the following about his last days on Vancouver Island:

["Canadian Navy baseball team, Comox, B.C.,
1945 - 45; Doug Harrison, back row, centre"]

   Then one day, the day we had been waiting for came - V.E. day -
   and what a celebration. They poured beer in my hair, there was
   no routine, everything went mad and uncontrolled, but nothing
   untoward happened. The fellows were just so glad, that it gave
   us time to think back and count our blessings... it had a sobering
   effect on most of us who had been in Combined Operations under
   the White Ensign. Soon we went to H.M.C.S. Naden (Esquimalt,
   B.C.) with none of us volunteering for the Japanese theatre of
   war, though we were all asked by a recruiting officer.

I think he and his closest buddies felt they were ready to call it quits and get back to their homes, families and jobs. Though war would only be waged in the Pacific for a few more months they felt they had done their fair share. And so they had. They were discharged on the same day, September 5, 1945 and my father was soon back to work at the Norwich Co-op.

['Discharged on the same day':
Back L - R. Don Westbrook, Chuck Rose, Joe Spencer
Front L - R. Joe Watson, Doug Harrison, A. Warrick

I am my father's son. I'll know when to call it quits.

Until then, however, I'll keep savin' up for Scotland because I feel in the mood for a good long walk about. And when I go, you'll be the first to know.

Link to Halifax and Another Hard Promise

Photos GH

The Workshop

In Progress

I continue work today on five good-sized birdhouses made from good lumber, i.e., a mixture of old and new western cedar. I'll only add a bit of paint here and there before simple perches and trim are added.

 ["Spacious interior for 2 - 3 dozen books"]

["Roof has a four degree slope to shed rain easily"]

I will also work on the face, door, trim and signage for this solid 'little free library' that should be ready for final touches by next Wednesday, maybe sooner if I stay off my motorcycle. Library's destination - Aylmer, Ontario.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Halifax and Another Hard Promise

Heart of the Matter

Part 6 - Another Hard Promise

- June 2014

I made it out of the woods in June 2010 and shortly thereafter found a great spot to sit, think and toss a solid boat as far as I could into the Atlantic Ocean. In June 2014 I found the same location - much faster and easier than the first time - and did much the same thing, minus the boat tossing event.

While listening to the waves and enjoying the breeze I read a piece of prose written a few day earlier and in so doing made another hard promise to my father.

Prose for Pennant Point

For the second time I return
to this rock at Pennant Point

I want to be near you
and remember you well

The first time I came in order to
toss your ashes onto the waves
of the Atlantic because you wanted
this important thing - to be buried at sea

You told me so, passionately,
and I won't forget the day

But on that day when you looked for
agreement, at least some understanding,
you received conflict, enough to
chew on until mother's death

After that, you chose to be buried with her at 
Quaker Street Cemetery, hometown Norwich
and so you were, my man, but only in part

Another part found the sea in a cedar boat
humbly made - the S.S. Silver Walnut -
by my own hand, in June 2010

And today here I am again, Dad

I found the spot where you received
your wish, a spot lovely and hard
lively and like home where waves
make noises like family voices

Here you are with all of us, your wife
and kids laughing lapping lingering

And here I stand with another hard promise.
Once I said, you will be buried at sea after all.
Today I say, I'll return with more of
your grateful and understanding kin. 

One day in the future, while sitting at my favourite spot along the Atlantic Coast, I will know it's time to stop making promises to my father. But I feel that day may be a long way off.

Link to Halifax and Another Hard Promise. 

Photos GH

Family Time

Paddle Boat Trio

My two boys - with Grandson Ollie in charge of steering - head north toward downtown Fenelon Falls, one kilometre away.

Ollie had his Dad Paul (left) and Uncle Dave paddling this way and that, all in a good day's fun.

Link to Family Time

Photos GH

It Strikes Me Funny

Quite the Look

["Lots of lumber equals lots of dust"]

The dust is flying in the workshop these days, as well as outside the shop when it is not raining (!), and I am getting better at slipping on a pretty reliable mask when using the table saw. 

Yesterday my grandson Ollie asked me what the black parts are.

["I'm sure I look pretty odd in my old dust mask"]

The black parts are filters. But my mask is so old I have a hard time finding manufactured filters that fit so I make my own out of old T-shirts. Three layers of cotton work for me.

Ollie says I look like a bug. 

Link to It Strikes Me Funny

Photos GH