Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Workshop

Faux Windows for Two Libraries

 ["Six tiles fit nicely inside a small cedar frame"]

I counted about 30 tiles left over from a recent tiling job on a library floor. Idea. Four faux windows, two per 'little free library'. I mean, I have lots of western cedar for stylish ("Yeah, that's it. Stylish.") window frames.

["Tile adhesive can be applied to plywood base quickly"]

["More work yet. Now for a bit of red and yellow paint"]

My jobs are lined up for me today.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Birdhouse London

I Need One Bell

["I need to add a roof, some trim and one bell. That's a problem"]

This second church-style birdhouse went together faster than the first one except for one detail. I don't have a bell for the bell tower.

 I wonder if my wife's Christmas decorations include one wee sleigh bell? I'll go snoop.

Link to Birdhouse London

Photo GH

The Workshop

Mexican-style Tile Floor

 ["Many tiles are inspired by Frida Kahlo."]

A client recently asked me if I could tile the floors of two 'little free libraries' and I nodded. I tiled floors for a contractor a few years ago - until my knees almost popped - so a wee library (w no kneeling) was right up my alley. She then supplied some very unusual tiles.

["Tile floor and western cedar walls go together well. Si?"]

I think the tiles are awesome and hope to order more for myself. In workshop projects their uses would be almost without limit, e.g., in other libraries, chairs, tables, benches, birdhouse walls, etc.

When I learn of my client's supplier I will post details here.

Today I stir up some grout. Need to fond a good sponge.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Bird Watching

Well-fed, Timid Doves

 ["You better hurry. Dusty Guy just locked up his workshop"]

A lovely pair of Mourning Doves visit the feeder regularly and because they are of a healthy size (feathered vacuum cleaners, that's what they are) only one can use the feeder at a time. The other stands guard - in this photo - and keeps an eye on a guy sitting on his back deck with a wee camera.

["He's looking at us. He's looking at us. Better get ready for take-off"]

They never fail to be good entertainment... for a few seconds.

Link to Bird Watching

Photos GH

Zoom w a View

Hoppin' Good

 ["My neighbour's healthy hop vines"]

Hops grow well in Old South because the community is close to the sun. A neighbour two doors down, living just a bit closer to the sun's warm rays, has a particularly lovely batch of hop vines, covered with fresh green cones. Whereas my own vines just recently flowered and won't produce cones - large enough to pick and pop into a cold lager - until next Wednesday.

["Thousands of aromatic cones"]

["In a few years my fences will be covered in green"]

So, guess what I'll be doing Wednesday?

Link to Zoom w a View

Photos GH

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Halifax and Another Hard Promise

Stinking Bag of Spanners Part 2

["Things went south just north of Earltown"]

["I won't forget the day's events... ever. I rode 518 km.
after estimating the ride to be about 450 km."]

At 10:30 in the morning the sky was gray and threatening more rain, the detour I was taking was absolutely treacherous, especially for a motorcyclist, and I felt as nervous - even as frightened - as a caged rabbit in a butcher's shop. One reason was the mud and jagged rock under my bike tires, another was I wasn't a totally fit rider on that day in mid-June.

I had only been on the bike for a handful of spring rides, after an almost three-year-long hiatus from motorcycling, before making the decision to ride to the East Coast of Canada. Call me hasty or fool-hardy. (I would agree to some extent). As well, spring weather had been wet and cool, not the best motorcycling weather for one wanting to bond with his bike and get his legs under him and sharpen up his riding skills.

["Last stop for photos before encountering the detour signs"]

That being said, surely almost anyone in the world heading uphill on grimy roads toward Tatamagouche Mountain would have felt the same as me... rattled, like a nervous Nellie. Somehow I survived the uphill battle without being tossed into a ditch, and the downhill was unbelievably worse. I massaged the brakes, however, kept the speed to a bare minimum, cursed and prayed - often in the same breath - like a sailor on rough seas, and was utterly relieved when I saw one last orange sign that simply read, 'End'. I didn't have the strength to smile or the wit to say, "Almost, but not quite, you Beggar."

In spite of lack of signage directing me back to the main road, Highway 131, I eventually found it. But only after stopping in at two farmhouses to ask for directions (unfortunately, or maybe not, both were empty; one had a fiercesome German Shepherd guarding the lane), and getting thrown off track by a lone, very old road sign that was located at an intersection and positioned at an awkward 45-degree angle.

"Is it telling me to go left or keep straight?" I said. "Left or straight? Left or straight?"

I got off the bike and caught my breath. I decided to go straight because it sounded more positive. I made the right choice. Left would not have been right.

I arrived in Tatamagouche shortly thereafter and stopped to fill up with gas. While jotting down my mileage in a notebook another rider stopped to chat.

"Good ride?" he said.

"Very good so far, except for that stinking detour to the top of Tatamagouche Mountain," I said.

"Oh, you didn't have to take that detour. It's for locals only."

I shook my head, saw red, felt my blood start to boil.

"How was I supposed to know it was just for locals?"

"Did you see the tree-trimming trucks?" he said.

"Yes, back at Earltown," I said.

["Off the bike. Weather starting to cool down. Me too"]

["Tatamagouche is an hour or more behind me, over my shoulder"]

["I was very happy to find a familiar gas station under blue skies"]

["I was happy to see Mr. Turner but he didn't remember me from 2010"]

["All's well that ends well": Photo at 150 King St., Frederiction]

"Well, those guys put out detour signs so the locals don't slow them down. You didn't need to go around them. You could have kept right on going."

After I heard that I felt I wanted - for sure - to find the municipal office and shake things up a bit. Thrown some furniture. Heave some spanners. Big spanners. Pointy spanners. But I didn't have the strength for it.

I simply looked at all the mud on my bike's tires, motor and muffler, threw my leg over the seat and soldiered on down the road to Amherst, then to my day's destination, Fredericton. Time was a-wastin'.

While eating supper in Fredericton I emailed the following message to my family (time stamp, 7:48):

   Long ride today, including stupid stupid detour. Bad signage by Tatamagouche
   road work guys. I was directed off a perfectly good road, killed an hour (I tried
   to knock on doors for an assist but nobody lives in the houses I checked) and almost
   tipped the bike on muddy wet rocky dirty roads atop Tatamagouche Mountain. I
   was told at later gas station the detour was meant for locals only. WTHeck!?! 
   That being said, I know how to make up for lost time, stayed on the main highway,
   Steady Eddie at the throttle, and got to Fredericton before six. Am now in a lovely
   pub w more choices for food and drink than I will be able to handle in a month
   of pub nights. 

Later in the evening I calmed down a bit - after, mentally, running out of spanners - and by bedtime I was right with the world again. Such is life.

Link to Part 1 at Halifax and Another Hard Promise

Photos by GH

Zoom w a View

Mexican Tiles



I am adding Mexican tiles to floors, shelves and faux windows to two 'little free libraries'. I think the tiles are pretty darn cool.

Link to Frida Kahlo

Link to Zoom w a View

Photos GH


The Workshop

Mexican-style Libraries


I have two libraries on the go and they are getting the same treatment. Painted doors, bright signage, heavy on the western cedar, two faux windows and tiled floors.

Tiled floors? Yup, and I think it was a bright idea.

 ["Taller model is very heavy on the best cedar in the world"]

 ["Frida Kahlo is well represented in the tiles"]

["Second shelf gets the full treatment too. Today, the grout goes on"]

Mexican tiles look great, and I have more tiling to do today.

More about Frida Kahlo here.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Bird Watching

The Line Up

["I said, hurry up!"]

For some reason the bird feeder has been crazy busy for the last few days. Sparrows by the gang.

And other birds are lining up wherever they can find a perch.

Must be the sunflower seeds I added to the mix. (I know I go nuts over the salted ones.)

Link to Bird Watching

Photo GH

Birdhouse London

Red Roof. Ring Them Bells


I don't think I've ever seen a church with red shingles. But, on a birdhouse, I think it works.

And my seven-year-old grandson went straight for the bell.

"How does it work?" he said.

"Look around back."

He did, and while he tugged the string he lit up the room with a smile.

I think, with this design, I have a winner.



Link to Birdhouse London

Photos GH

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Halifax and Another Hard Promise

Stinking Bag of Spanners Part 1

 ["North of Truro and Earltown, Nova Scotia, things went south"]

I biked uphill at about 40 kilometers per hour on a relatively bad road (things were about to get a lot worse) and saw a road sign saying 'Tatamagouche Mtn.' My blood boiled.

"Why send us up here?" I said, imaging some municipal official thought it was a good joke to send newcomers on a crappy scenic route as part of a crappier detour. That being said, there was no 'us' heading toward Tatamagouche Mountain at the time. Just me, dead alone.

["'Tatamagouche detour!!' lives in infamy in my travel notes"]

The next detour sign directed me toward the worst road I have ever been on while riding a motorcycle and I include a gravel road near New Sarum that had water gullies so deep my bike almost bucked me off and into a ditch. No, that road was heaven compared to the route to Tatamagouche Stinking Mountain. The route I travelled was narrow, of loose dirt, steep, bordered by rugged, deep ditches, wet, muddy, slippery, slimy, puddling and rocky all at the same time. I cursed more than a half dozen times while struggling bitterly with the steering and when not thinking about imminent death alone in a strange land. Several times I pictured myself throwing furniture through windows of a municipal office and heaving a stinking bag of spanners across a certain Mr. Wiener's desk. And the day (Thursday, June 19; I won't forget it!) had started so bloody well!

["On Highway 131 at 9:56 a.m."]

["The hills are alive with gray clouds at 9:56 a.m."]


I woke up early in Halifax, felt fresh, had the bike loaded and gassed up by about eight a.m. and then comfortably made my way to Truro on the Trans-Canada Highway in good time. While topping the bike up with oil at a service station in Bible Hill (just north of Truro) I felt happy to have 100 kilometres of the day's ride under my belt and two stretches of secondary road ahead, i.e., Highway 131 to Tatamagouche and Number 6 to Amherst (familiar to me), also known as the Sunrise Trail.

I was soon cruising along at 80 - 90 kilometres per hour on 131, a lovely speed on peaceful highways, and whistling Dixie. I stopped once or twice to take photos of pleasant scenes, made a note to take my wife to Earltown (next time we were in that part of the world, to visit two fine looking shops covered with attractive metal signage) before spotting a 'detour ahead' sign and two more directing me to turn left on a hard-packed gravel road.

I thought, I hope this isn't a long one. I'm making good time here.

I didn't know a giant spanner was about to be thrown into the works.

["Things start going downhill on Highway 131 at about 10:15 a.m."]

To be continued.

Link to Halifax and Another Hard Promise

Photos GH

The Workshop

Mexican-style Library


You will never guess what I'm adding to the two 'little free libraries' before they exit the building. So, I'll have to show you.

Tiles all the way from Mexico will be placed inside cedar-framed faux windows, also upon the floors. I think the result will be smashing.


Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Birdhouse London

Church Needs a Roof


The front of the church-style birdhouse is done but for trim. The back section needs a roof.

Look through the back window for a view of my yard. Watch your head... you might get your bell rung.


Link to Birdhouse London

Photos GH

Bird Watching

Pig Out!


The dove - usually a bit of a seed hog - wonders why the feeder is looking a bit bare. I know the answer.

Sparrows by the dozen visit two or three times per day. The dove is learning what 'pig out' really means.

["Gangs of seven or eight sparrows are becoming common"]

Link to Bird Watching

Photos GH

Zoom w a View

The Exit is That Way


Two chairs - dressed to the nines - were shipped out the door yesterday PM.

Slowly but surely, other projects will exit the workshop.

Busy times, and I'm learning to say, "Ready in 4 - 5 weeks."

Link to Zoom w a View

Photo GH

Monday, July 28, 2014

War Anniversaries

Recommended Reading

["This is the year to add to your bookshelf"]

World War 1


2014 is a year of anniversaries related to WW1 and WW2. I recommend students of history visit new and used book stores soon because there are thousands of 'very good reads' out there. If you have time, tune into TVO's excellent series re WW1. Part 3, tonight at 10.

World War 2


Link to And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat

Link to more Recommended Reading

Link to more War Years

Link to WW2 Poignant Stories

The Workshop

Rietveld Chairs are Stacked


Yesterday I told a buyer his chairs would be done by three p.m. They were done by two. I forgot. The last one always goes faster than the first one.

 ["The seat and sides are attached firmly"]

 ["The back, w two small supports (on arm rest), done in a jiff"]

["Two Rietveld chairs are stacked, and ready for pick up"]

I used the extra hour wisely. Mission-style church birdhouses, which have some tricky bits, moved closer to completion.

Materials for chairs: 

red cedar deck boards for legs, side brace and some supports

gray barn board for seats, backs, arm rests and some supports

1 3/4-inch and 3-inch screws

Link to The Workshop

Link to other Rietveld crate chair images

Photos GH

Zoom w a View

S-S-S-S-Signage for a Library

["I just have to finish these eyes"]

Lots s-s-s-still to do on two libraries but the signage has been fun to paint.

Link to Zoom w a View

Photo GH