Monday, March 2, 2015

Follow Me

Introducing Two New Blogs

 ["Combined Operations by Canada's Clayton Marks, London"]

For information, stories, photographs, links to books and websites (etc.) about the little-known Combined Operations organization that played one of the hundreds of key roles for the Allied forces during WW2, please join me at the following site:

Canadians in Combined Operations, WW2 by G. Harrison

["Many Canadians, incl. my father, trained in Halifax before going to Europe"]

And, for more personal information about the recruitment, training and WW2 experiences of my father Doug, a Canadian member of RCNVR and Combined Operations (incl. details re preparing for the Dieppe raid and embarking on invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy), please join me at the following site:

Faint Footsteps, WW2 by G. Harrison

["My father, centre, greets Americans at Arzeu, North Africa, Nov. 1942"]

Questions, comments and submissions are welcome at the two sites.

G. Harrison

Two Photos by GH

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Workshop - Log Cabins (3)

Cold Out, Warm In

 ["Oh, it's cold outside"]

["Inside - New world's record?"]

By some combined fluke of nature and modern technology I saw the temperature rise to almost 14 degrees yesterday in the shop. The sun was shining at the right angle, the heater was set to 'the highest of highs', I'd just had a big cup of coffee and my stomach was a small furnace - all contributing factors I am sure.

And, I was able to move the seven cabins along the trail toward completion.

 ["Three of four small cabins. And the last one is my favourite"]

 ["My fav has old logs made from an old, rescued fence"]

 ["Two of three larger cabins. I will likely paint one of them"]

 ["Old barnboard triangles front and back. Loverly, I say"]

["I may stain this roof, then varnish, to show off the knots and grain"]

Sure, they need a bit of trim. Maybe I'll have a full-on trim day by Tuesday.


: )

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Faint Footsteps, WW2 (4)

I Picked Up the Trail Late but Not Too Late

I was given some real treasures when I was young but only discovered their value in my sixties.

That is probably true for others, I bet.

Link to Faint Footsteps, WW2 (4)

Photos GH

Friday, February 27, 2015

Faint Footsteps, WW2 (3)

Bluenose 1, Nelson's Navy, Famous Stoker, Rug Beater

Why, I didn't know the significance of this photo until about four years ago.

Read more at Gord's new blog.

Link to Faint Footsteps, WW2 (3)

The Workshop - Log Cabins (2)

Lots of Sanding

 ["Four log cabins w 5 by 5-inch base"]

One Log Cabin is made up of many small bits and pieces, e., 14 short logs, 14 long logs, a base, two triangles (one w entry hole), 4 roof slats, one ridge pole, a chimney and assorted pieces of trim. So, the job of measuring, cutting and sanding the pieces for 7 log cabins can easily take a part-timer like me 2 - 3 afternoons, 2 - 3 hours at a time. Not that i begrudge the time. I have the time. But I do begrudge the cold!

["Three larger log cabins with 5 by 6-inch base"]

["I found lovely barnboard for the two triangles on this birdhouse"]

The sanding is complete, so this afternoon I will be able to assemble this lovely batch of pine, barnboard and cedar birdhouses in a jiff, say, 2 - 3 hours at a relaxed, chilly pace.

PS the temperature went as high as 10 degrees Celsius yesterday inside half of the workshop. Downright balmy!

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Workshop - New Projects

Deadline - March 27

["Stock for three log cabins looks kinda shabby at the moment"]

I like starting new batches of birdhouses (checking stock, measuring, cutting and sorting is up my alley), e.g., at the moment, 7 log cabins from rescued cedar and pine, and 5 small red cedar models from leftover new lumber.

("Stock for four more cabins and five basic BHs"]

What at first looks like a pile of rubble will soon be birdhouses fit for kings and queens of the air. If ready by March 27 they will be on a sale table the very next day.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Bird Watching - Cold Sparrows

Won't Budge

When I walk past the feeder on the way to my workshop I notice some sparrows, and other birds, are so cold they won't fly off because of my presence.

Maybe this guy is thinking, "If I stay, I'll be first in line when he adds a cup of seed mix."

And maybe he is just too cold to budge.

Maybe I should add a furnace to Canada House.

Link to Bird Watching

Photos GH

The Workshop - Cedar Triplexes 12

The Heat is On

 ["Perches are almost finished"]

I've discovered how to turn the heat up in the workshop without popping fuses, so I can continue adding trim to three painted triplexes in relative comfort. I will now attach perches, windows, doors, hydro poles, fences, cats, mini-birdhouses, etc., without my hands turning blue.

["Lovely red cedar lasts a long, long time"]

["The fences will not be bare for long"]

Done by Friday. Yay!

And I've already started my next two projects... batches of beauties.

: )

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

The Way We Roll 10

Half the Heat Bill

 ["I'm standing at my work bench behind the blanket. Warm at last!"]

["Why, it's like summer in here now!"]

Last week, I looked at my hands while working in the shop... and they were blue. 

Really, I was so close to locking up the workshop until April. But I had projects to finish. So, I twisted my cap, scrunched up my eyes and gave it a good think. And I ultimately came up with a way to heat the small shop during this recent cold snap without blowing a fuse, or fuses. 

All I needed was an old sheet and a few staples.

Yesterday, with the thermometer reading minus 4 degrees Celsius, I cut the size of my work space in half. And by gosh, the temperature inside the shop soared to a balmy 10 degrees. 


Photos GH

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Canadians in Combined Operations

Two New Blogs

 [Five Canadians in Combined Operations, WW2. How many more?"]

Lately I have been busy developing two blogs that will likely demand some steady attention for the next twenty years or so.

One is called Canadians in Combined Operations, WW2. My hope is the site will become a substantial archive of material related to an organization that almost completely disappeared shortly after the close of the Second World War. With help from others I plan to tell a bit of the story, through true stories from veterans, photographs and other collected materials, of the men who manned the barges during the infamous Dieppe raid and subsequent invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France.

My efforts are not just my own. Long before I grew interested in the topic my father recorded his own memoirs and stories about his time in Combined Ops, WW2. And perhaps unbeknownst to him, some of his mighty efforts are permanently recorded in film at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) and various books on library shelves.

[My father, centre, watches US troops disembark from his ALC, Nov. 1942.
Photo found in Assault Landing Craft by B. Lavery. Credit IWM, UK]

The second blog is called Faint Footsteps, WW2. My hope is to write a coherent story that encompasses, chiefly, my father's adventures as a member of the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) and Combined Operations organization during WW2, and secondly, my own adventures as I follow faint footsteps to libraries, museums, archives, training camps, invasion sites and more that relate to his story. I have his memoirs, newspaper stories, black and white WW2 photos and other resources to guide me, and I've had good luck so far contacting others who knew him or took somewhat the same journey.

["My father began his RCNVR adventure in Hamilton, 1941"]

["After Hamilton he trained with many others at Stadacona in Halifax"]

["Home on leave, perhaps with his sister in Brantford, 1943 or 1944"]

["Combined Ops insignia as seen on shoulder patch"]

So, off I go. There's work to be done. But I will still keep in touch here too.

Photos GH

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Morning Smile - Snip, Snip

I Feel Bare!

 ["I feel like an egg... hard boiled"]

["Will I survive the cold?"]

So, I trimmed the shaggy beard and ended up feeling quite bare, and four pounds lighter. Then I donned a hat and coat, took a wintry walk and realized my almost-bare chin can - in fact! - survive the cold temperatures quite well.

No worries. The beard will grow back and my wife says I look a lot younger. Sorry... a wee bit younger.

Link to My Morning Smile

Photos GH

Artsy Fartsy 18

Next Workshop Project

 ["Measurements and full-on trim ideas are ready to go"]

["How about a painted tree branch in place of a hydro pole?"

I feel I need to build 8 - 10 log cabin birdhouses before March 28 (date of my first local craft sale). I've got a diagram and exact measurements, plenty of  lumber and about five weeks before D - Day, i.e., Done Day.

I just hope it will warm up a bit or else I'll have to buy winter boots for the workshop that are wired for heat. Now there's a million-dollar idea for someone!

Link to Artsy Fartsy 17

Photos GH

Bird Watching - Or Not

Looking the Other Way

My pet rooster looked the other way when a squirrel dropped by to clean up seeds spilled from the bird feeder by messy sparrows.

I can live with that during really cold weather.

Link to Bird Watching

Photos GH

The Workshop - Cedar Triplexes 11

Not Taking Forever

 ["The faint light indicates 'man at work'"]


Eleven posts about cedar birdhouses? I must be the slowest worker this side of Lake Huron.

I'm slow, maybe. Definitely not the slowest. I mean, you've never met my Uncle Louie. He does laundry, like, once a year.

However, in my defence, the temperature only got as high as 5 C inside the shop yesterday, and while wearing mittens I find it hard to attach small bits of trim in rapid-fire fashion.

 ["One of six red cedar triplexes"]

 ["Three birdhouses all ready for line dancing. Add trim here, add trim there"]

["Next I will add perches, then attach fences"]

Speaking of fire. Today I will light a fire outside the shop to warm my hands up when times turn bitter. So, if you smell cedar smoke at 3PM, don't call 911.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Workshop - Cedar Triplexes 10

Slow and Steady

Sometimes, except for when I am rubbing my cold hands directly in front of the heater, working inside the shop is a lot like working outside. Brrrrrr. Baby, it's cold outside... and inside.

["The patient is on its back, ready for a wee bit of trim"]

That being said, I have developed a slow and steady approach to adding the full complement of trim to three painted triplexes. Why, by the middle of next week I will have three more cedar BHs finished and a new batch of log cabins underway.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

The Way We Roll 9

Cut or Not Cut?

My wife likes my hair and beard trimmed almost down to the nubs. I like them long during cold months and short during warm. Short is more manageable and I'm told makes me look younger. Long demands more care but makes me appear more mysterious (e.g., Is Gord laughing or crying, smiling or getting ready to spit?).

Once every couple of months I take out the scissors, then face a dilemma. Put them back away or do a bit of snipping? Cut or not cut?

Link to The Way We Roll 8

Photos GH

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Birdhouse London - Cedar Triplex 2

Flying off Shelves

Once all the trim has been added I take birdhouses on a quick trip from the 'finished shelf' in the workshop to the 'waiting 'til spring shelf' in the basement.

Due to very crisp temperatures I run like the wind all the way.

 ["Perches are fussied-up a bit with spare hardware"]

 ["Cat is on the prowl"]

["End units are a very good size for local birds"]

Flying through the snow I do go!

Link to more finished BHs at Birdhouse London

Photos GH