Saturday, June 25, 2016

Rietveld Chairs, 1937 Design

Progress Made on Four Comfy Chairs


More assembly required. Stay tuned

As I attach arm rests to these Rietveld chairs, I wonder:

Are they wide enough to accommodate a mug of coffee? A sandwich? A cold beer? Tired elbows?

Yes, times four.

Please link to Rietveld Crate Chairs: 1937 Design (6)

Photos GH

Friday, June 24, 2016

My Morning Smile 5

The Hops are Taking Over!!

It's a hoppin' jungle out there!

For the third year in a row, hop vines are growing vigorously - up, over and in between the slats of a shared fence. This year the vines are exploring new turf, i.e., farther west on the fence, farther north into my lawn, and farther east to my back deck railings.

I don't know what kind of hops I am growing - I know they are bitter, very aromatic and tasty - but I think that in 3 - 4 more years they will envelop a good chunk of my yard.


Growin', growin', growin'

And I can live with that!

Please link to My Morning Smile 4

Photos GH

Rietveld Crate Chairs: 1937 Design (6)

Sides and Arm Rests

Sides are constructed from red cedar; arm rests are white pine

The four sets of sides, made from 1-inch thick western red cedar, have been sanded and assembled, and are now ready for the arm rests. Wait. I lied.


On the right track so far

Yesterday, the last thing I did in the shop was mix up a batch of tan-coloured hole filler to cover the heads of the many wood screws. So, a wee bit more sanding is required this PM before I attach arm rests. And, once the rests are in place I can assemble the four chairs.

'Speed' is not my middle name, but I do keep plugging along in a somewhat steady fashion.

More to follow.

Please link to Rietveld Crate Chairs: 1937 Design (5)

Photos GH

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Steady As She Goes 8

The Transition Zone

All is AOK at Greenway

I see many other walkers, joggers, cyclists and so on, as I walk and shuffle and walk and jog along the Terry Fox Pathway in Greenway Park. I don't pass anybody at the speed I travel, but (!), that time isn't far away in dog years.

While I was jogging this morning I passed one quarter-mile marker, then another, before resuming my walk.

"That felt pretty easy," I said. "I must be making grand progress."

My regular shuffling is taking me farther and faster

And I am. The GREAT Canadian Comeback is on the right track. I am jogging more and walking less. I am shaving a few more minutes off my travelling time with each passing week, and - mark my words - within a week or two I will pass somebody who, like me, is slowly but surely making an effort to get or stay fit by walking, shuffling, walking, jogging, etc.

Oh yeah, I'll just fly by.

I guess I'd better make up some kind of quick greeting for when that happens:

- Hi, how are you? I'd say more but I'm actually passing you by. Bye!

- Good work. You're looking good. See ya later.

I'm sure I'll be in a transition zone (from walker to runner) for quite some time, but seeing a bit of progress now and again gives one a lift.

Photos from along the way -



Please link to Steady As She Goes 7

Photos by GH

Rietveld Chairs - 1937 Design

Work in Progress

I's the B'y That Builds De Boat....

....And de back and bum supports, and sturdy sides

Still, I've got a ways to go, but the assembly of four Rietveld chairs is progressing without a hitch.

1. Back and bum supports, all done, tried and true:



2. Sides are lined up and ready for the arm rest:



Final assembly is tricky, and hidden supports need to be attached, but at this point all is swell.

Please link to Rietveld Crate Chairs: 1937 Design (4)

Photos GH

Monday, June 20, 2016

My Morning Smile 4

My Little Wren (?)

Parts of a former chickadee nest litter the perch and porch

I noticed a wee wren (a brown wren, perhaps) in the process of cleaning out a birdhouse on my front porch yesterday morning (above). In the afternoon I heard it singing merrily in a backyard blue spruce and also saw it checking out two or three birdhouses on a rear wall of my house.

Oh, I hope she sets up shop. Wrens are great little singers and nest builders.

I think the middle house is roomier than the top units

She tries to shove a long twig into a small house

Please, please stay and make yourself at home, Dear Jennie.

(I heard her in the backyard when I left for my walk this morning. I have my fingers crossed).

Please link to My Morning Smile 3 

Photos GH

Rietveld Crate Chairs

Let's Do The Math (Just for Fun)


Lots of surfaces require attention

Concerning today's workshop schedule:

88 pieces of lumber x 6 - 8 surfaces each = 528 - 704 surfaces to sand

Outdoor temperature feels like 39 degrees

Breeze rated at 0.0

Therefore, Gord will lose 12 pounds (which is probably not a bad thing!)

Please link to Rietveld Crate Chairs: 1937 Design (2)

Photos GH

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Steady As She Goes 6

Talking to Myself: It's OK


I flew past "The Spit" (WW2 navy base) and walked around it

Hey, Gord. It's OK to skip a Sunday long walk and go for a motorcycle ride. It's summertime and you paid a hefty price for that insurance policy. Go use it.

Hey, Gord. it's OK to focus for 4 - 5 days on other important things you have on your plate right now.

Gord, I bet you've done more walking and shuffling in the last 8 months than in the year before. Remember that when 'the short term' gets busy.

And you're shuffling is almost akin to jogging now. You're going farther than you were last month - at a steady JOGN pace - between walking breaks, you're not complaining of injuries, and you'll soon be back to a less hectic routine.

Smile. It's OK.

* * * * *

I had a rewarding trip to Vancouver Island (related to WW2 research re my 'Dad's Navy Days') in May and came back home to a busy workshop, the lure of the motorcycle and a few other projects that interest me. Soon my schedule will be a little less cramped, and conflicted feelings won't interrupt my day as often.

Meanwhile, I'll walk and shuffle and jog as time allows and enjoy the process of working my way toward a healthy fun and fitness routine - slowly but surely.

Hey, it's noon. Time for a salad and an easy four-miler.


I walked east, over a bridge in Courtenay, to look west

Please link to Steady As She Goes 5

Photos GH

Funky Specialty Project: Wee Birdhouse + Rare Birdcage Stand

Fly Me to The Moon

This birdhouse ensemble is on the move!

Attention yard sale shoppers!

Let's do some math:


Birdcage stand + wren house + Tonka airplane = a unique project

I think I will include this with yard sale items on Saturday morning (8 AM - Noon) at Cathcart Street's Biggest Sale in Old South History (between Elmwood Ave. and Duchess St.).

Come one, come all.

The Tonka airplane needs a pilot. You maybe?

Please link to Upcoming Projects: Barnboard Birdhouses and More

Photos GH

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Log Cabins and More

Log Cabins with Lovely Cedar Roofs


Birdhouses and trim will soon be cleared away

I enjoy busy times in the workshop. Various birdhouses are getting set to go out the front door and another big project is ready to come in the back. By 'various', I mean two log cabins with distinctive western cedar roofs, three wren/chickadee houses and one Hobbit house.

Four white pine houses are ready for paint and assembly but they may just have to wait a couple of weeks because a big project - four Rietveld chairs and matching table - has crossed the starting line.



The Rietveld 'crate chair' design goes back to 1937
Photo Credit - Rietveld chair images

re Rietveld chair: Lots of straight lines, right angles, cutting, sanding, hidden screws and supports are required; the seat and back rest must also be attached at the perfect angle. Seven degrees.

Or is it eight? : )

More to follow.

Please link to Log Cabins from Board and Batten (2)

Photos by GH

Monday, June 13, 2016

Motorcycle Miles: Port Bruce's Lucky Day

Port Stanley Ships Their Sand East

"I know the lake's around here somewhere"

I motorcycled south to Port Stanley yesterday - fighting a side wind - and confess, I enjoyed the French fries and coffee inside Mackies more than the blowing sand in my face.




I parked out of the wind, behind Mackies

That being said, Port Bruce, my usual haunt, will surely welcome the lovely white sand with open arms.

What goes around comes around.

Link to Port Bruce: Birds, Boats, Beaches and Bacon

Photos GH

Sunday, June 12, 2016

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

Dad's Navy Days, 1941 - 1945

By G. A. Harrison

Lord Mountbatten (on right) watching a landing exercise at the Combined
Operations Centre at Dundonald Camp (Army). Dundonald was adjacent to Camp
Auchengate (Navy). South of Irvine. Photo Credit - Histomil Historica

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.

MY DAD'S NAVY DAYS

Part 4 - Combined Operations Training in the UK

II - Initial Combined Ops Training in Scotland

A) Camp Auchengate (Navy), south of Irvine

Before going to the Combined Operations Centre south of Irvine (between Irvine and Troon), some if not all the Canadians spent time at HMS Chamois, south of and near HMS Quebec. In other memoirs I read that some (including my father) spent time at Rosneath. (U.S. troops are associated with Rosneath as well, I have learned). Moving about and facing changed schedules at short notice seems to have be a matter of course. That being said, my father's memories related to Irvine were strong and he returned to visit the area in the 1980s or 1990s.

About his experiences in Irvine he writes (in part):

Soon after (time at HMS Chamois), my group was sent up the Loch to Irvine and I shall always remember that town. We practiced running our ALC up the stern of the Iris and Daffodil, i.e., train ferries in peace time that carried whole trains across the channel between England and France. They were later to be used as ALC transports. Their sterns were nearly completely open, but with waves and a stiff wind blowing it was difficult to hit the opening. We practiced and practiced, and once in, winches were used and helped get barges onto tracks. One day I just could not make it. I had a Seaman named Jake Jacobs and he said, “Let me see her. I’ll put her in there.” He pulled the ALC back, poured the coal to her and crashed right into the stern of the Iris. There was Hell to pay.

Then we had to practice living on short rations, i.e., chocolate, hard tack and compost tea (tea, sugar and milk powder in what looked exactly like a sardine can). We received a small allowance, enough for three or four days, and slept aboard the ALC. It was tough going but we made it. When we went into Irvine the townspeople brought us cookies, tea and coffee. What wonderful people. When we left we took up a collection, a whole hatful, and gave it to the townspeople to do as they chose.

One time, Sub-Lt. Pennyfather rather meekly said to me, “Harrison, you look terribly thin and drawn. Here is ten bob, go get a good meal.” When I said, no sir, he said, “But I insist.” And I had a wonderful meal.


Officers outside their Nissan Hut, HMS Dundonald, Irvine
L-R: David Lewis, J. Boak, Davy Rodgers, Charlie Pennyfather, Jake Koyl
before Schuyts 1 and 2. Photo - St. Nazaire to Singapore, Vol. 1

After one of those long sojourns without much food, no shaving, etc., we came back into Irvine and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I loaded my attache case and started up a street in Irvine and met three girls. Two were sisters, Jean and Francis, and the third one we will call Thelma. I was a terrible sight and needed a bath and shave. I walked up to them boldly and said, “Pardon me girls. Could you tell me where I could get a shave and a bath?” They linked their arms in mine and said, “Sure can, Canada. Come with us.”

They took me to 22 Waterside St. in Irvine and I learned the sisters’ last name was Cricksmere. I bathed and shaved, was fed, and given a bed for many nights after a day of training. I corresponded with them after the war. They were English, living in Scotland, and their mum reminded me of my own mother. I know they fed me their own rations, even eggs.

There was also a son about 40 years old, and he and I used to battle Johnnie Walker every night. After a few we would ride the bus to Dragon (sic: Dreghorn) and get a couple of more because they were open longer. Moonlight Serenade and Sunlight Serenade were big hits at that time.

Main Street, Dreghorn is an easy bus ride from Irvine
Photo credit - Old Irvine on Facebook with Janice Clark

Actually, we were stationed at Auchengate camp outside Irvine at the time in bell tents and all washing facilities were outside. We never went ashore the regular way under inspection of an officer. O/D Art Bradfield, who was confined to barracks, inspected us, lifted the fence and said, “Be back on time you guys.” And we always were.

Bell Tent at Irvine: Don Westbrook, outside. Butler emerging.
Photo credit - St. Nazaire to Singapore, Volume 1, page 44

Jake Jacobs was a lead swinger of the first water and said he would make it back to Canada before any of us, and you know, he did. He wangled it somehow and after Auchengate I never saw him again. And just to digress a bit, O/D Seaman Patty Neville used to pee the bed and wouldn’t sleep on the lower bunk, so O/D Don Linder of Kitchener had to sleep with raincoats over him.

Sometimes at Irvine I acted as seaman along with Gash Bailey under a Coxswain named Owen, who wasn’t very bright. One night we had an exercise landing (Schuyt 1), complete with soldiers against shore defences. Also, we had a stoker, Lank, who was below decks. My, it was rough and cold. The stoker took a pail to vomit in and Gash and I lashed ourselves down on ALC cowling.

We had an officer named Jake Koyl who was later to become our commander after Lieut. McRae was captured at Dieppe. During the exercise the soldiers became sick, oh so terribly sick. And what happens a long, long way from shore? We run aground.

Koyl says, “Okay, over you go Harrison and Bailey, and together we’ll rock her loose.” We were wearing big heavy duffle coats and sea boots but over we went. After we got her loose, however, Owen left us out there and headed for shore. We fought for high ground against the waves and, weighing nearly a ton, we took off our duffle coats, dropped into holes and had a wonderful time until Owen somehow found us toward morning. The good people at the pub near the place our ALCs docked took us in, gave us blankets, porridge, whiskey, and dried our clothes.*

Soon after that we were to get our baptism of fire. Our time of training had come to an end. How would it all show up? (From "DAD, WELL DONE" pages 15 - 17)

Doug Harrison (Norwich) and Al Kirby (Woodstock) in Scotland, 1942 - 43 

* My father writes about being stranded in the water, after rocking the ALC loose, in greater detail in an article in other books that deal with the experiences of Canadians in Combined Operations. In it he mentions the name of the family that helped revive him the morning - with porridge and whiskey - after the good soaking he received on the sandbars between Irvine and Troon. With that detail in hand, I was able to locate the pub near the place his landing craft had docked, likely in mid-spring, 1942.

I have also learned the officer Dad mentions, Jake Koyl, was in a great hurry to get to the eventual site of the significant training exercise known as Schuyt 1. It was held under the watchful eye of important dignitaries, i.e., King George VI, PM Winston Churchill, and C.O. Commander Lord Mountbatten. Koyl did not want to be late.

Officer Koyl recaps the first six months of Combined Operations training, undergone by his Canadian ratings, as follows in Combined Operations by Londoner Clayton Marks:

In January, 1942 in (the Dutch liner) Volendam, fourteen Officers and ninety-six Ratings sailed from Canada for the U.K. knowing nothing of what lay ahead but looking forward to a rather exciting life. On arrival in the U.K. they began a course of training which lasted two months, most of this training being (aboard) LCAs, Landing Craft Assault, and LCMs, Landing Craft Mechanized. By the end of April they were split up into two operational Flotillas.

The first operational call received was in early June when they sailed away from their base to take part in some operation, but this was cancelled and all were ordered to return to base. These periods of suspense were most trying on the morale of all men as during these periods of waiting, sometimes lasting over two months, they were posted to routine camp duties.

The first opportunity for action came with the Dieppe raid. Though, not operating as Canadian units, Officers and men were intermingled with R.N. Flotillas and much valuable experience was gained. (Pages 173 - 174)


Though I find it difficult to attach specific training periods to specific places (even the sailors themselves had much trouble), the Canadians trained aboard various landing crafts in southern England and western Scotland for several months in early 1942 in preparation for their first significant raid.... at Dieppe, France.

"Our time of training had come to an end," said my father. "How would it all show up?"

More to follow.

Please link to Presentation: Dad's Navy Days Part 4 (3)

Unattributed Photos GH

Small Red Cedar Houses 5

I'm in the Red


I keep birdhouses with yellow roofs and perches in stock because they seem very cheerful to me. I don't know what the birds think!

I keep more with red roofs and perches, etc., in stock because they seem to sell faster than all others decked out with paint. So, I go with the flow.



And ginger cats seem to suit my taste!

Please link to Small Red Cedar Houses 4

Photos GH

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Upcoming Projects in The Workshop

Summer Line-up

Four new ones sit beside three that need some attention too

A side shelf inside the workshop is filling up, so I will soon need to turn my attention to "finishing that before I start this".

Four new ones, made from white pine barnboard, need entry holes and a good sanding. But first, I should add cedar roof slats (fresh cut yesterday) to two blue log cabins, and add an eye-catching perch to a yellow "Hobbit-style" model.



Oh yeah, and I need to affix an airplane and red cedar house to a unique metal stand.

As well, lumber for four chairs and a squirrel house demand attention.

It must be summer time!! Busy days ahead in the shop!

Please link to Upcoming Project: Purple Martin House(s)