Monday, March 31, 2014

My Morning Walk: Carfrae Park East

I didn't discover it and I'm not the first this spring to explore it.

Carfrae Park East, situated at Richmond and Carfrae, may be the smallest green space in London but - I bet my bottom dollar - it will undoubtedly offer unique views of the once mighty Thames River.

And I'll be an early visitor to those unique views once the pathway is easier to access. Right now, the path is Mud City.

More Morning Walk

Photos GH

Gord's Journal: The Ten Year Plan

Link to Gord's Journal

Photo by GH

Favourite Photos: you had to be there

My fav photo today is one I didn't get.

I have three of this young couple. But none of the two times the male popped sunflower seeds into the mouth of the female. Young love! Gotta love it!

Favourite Photos

Photo GH

It Strikes Me Funny: "four distinct signs of spring"

Robins are checking out places to nest.

Birdhouses are lining up on the shop floor.

Squirrels are laxin' in the sun.

Bigfoot tracks in the sawdust outside the workshop door.

It Strikes Me Funny

Photos GH

The Workshop: "wanted - more shelf space"

Nails were a-flying for two days, Bob Dylan and Neil Young were a-singing in the background. Paint cans popped.

I didn't want for time or good tunes, just places to put them all.

Note to self - tell Janice BHs w 1 and 3/8th inch holes are linin' up, two days away.

More from The Workshop

Photos GH

Birdhouse London: "tall boy and long line"

One 'tall boy' duplex sits atop the bird seed bin and a half dozen 'rustics' stand in line upon the workshop floor.

["Two coats of red paint. Check. Trim on Monday PM"]

["No coats on western cedar. Trim needed, is all"]

Slowly but surely this tall boy and line of BHs will find their way to awaiting owners. Before that, however - a trim day.

screech owl house 2

Photos by GH

Zoom w a View: "critters like my yard"

What's not to like? Bird seed litters the ground, trees and fence rails provide protected perches and when the sun is out, my yard has a spa-like atmosphere.

["I like the spot under Gord's feeder"]

["I can see the whole neighbourhood from here"]

["And I like it all. So just leave me alone"]

I may not like battling squirrels around my feeder but I have to admit, a lot of interesting critters like my yard.

More Zoom w a View

Photos GH

Sunday, March 30, 2014

WW2: Ten Poignant Stories (10a)

An Army At Dawn (The War in North Africa, 1942 - 1943), the first volume of The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson, was a book of firsts.

It was the first book in which I purposefully tried to trace my father's footsteps when he was a man of the barges during WW2. (The invasion of North Africa in November, 1942 was his first D-Day of three).

It was the first book in which I wrote 'prose' or 'prose of war' as a marginal note. I envisioned Mr. Atkinson being forcefully caught up in the words, phrases and sentences , and the events - seventy years old in 2012 -  drew breath and lived again.

I have since read others in which some paragraphs go beyond being the repository of mere facts and details, and illuminate the reader in a unique, poignant manner, but An Army At Dawn led the way. Excerpts follow.

The TORCH Plan, on Paper

   Three hundred warships
   and nearly four hundred transports
   and cargo vessels would land
   more than 100,000 troops - 
   three-quarters of them American,
   the rest British - in North Africa.

Task Force 34 would sail
for Morocco on Saturday morning.
The other armada would leave Britain
shortly thereafter for Algeria.
With luck, the Vichy French
controlling North Africa would
not oppose the landings.

   Regardless, the Allies were to
   pivot east for a dash into Tunisia
   before the enemy arrived.

pages 30 - 31

[Map of North Africa: link to map and related text]

The Ships are Loaded

In Britain:

All the confusion
that characterized the cargo loading
now attended the convergence of
34,000 soldiers on Hampton Roads.
Troop trains with blinds drawn rolled
through Norfolk and Portsmouth,
sometimes finding the proper pier
and sometimes not.

   Sober and otherwise,
   the troops found their way to 
   the twenty-eight transport ships.
   All public telephones
   at the wharves were disconnected,
   and port engineers erected a high fence
   around each dock area...

Thousands struggled
up the ramps with heavy barracks bags
and wandered the companionways for hours
in search of their comrades.
A distant clatter of winches signaled
the lifting of the last cargo slings.

   And a new sound
   joined the racket:
   the harsh grind of
   a thousand whetstones
   as soldiers put an edge
   on their bayonets
   and trench knives.

In America:

Dawn on October 24
revealed a forest of masts and
fighting tops across Hampton Roads,
where the greatest war fleet ever to sail
from American waters made ready.

   The dawn
   was bright and blowing.
   Angels perched unseen on
   the shrouds and crosstrees.

Young men,
fated to survive and become old men
dying abed half a century hence,
would forever remember this hour,
when an army at dawn
made for the open sea in a cause
none could yet comprehend.

   as the great fleet glided past,
   dreams of them stepped, like men alive,
   into the rooms where their
   loved ones lay sleeping.

pages 38 - 41

About those same days in 1942 my father wrote, very matter-of-factLy, the following (in part):

We left Greenock in October, 1942 with our LCMs aboard a ship called Derwentdale, sister ship to Ennerdale. The 80th and 81st flotillas, as we are now called, were split between the Derwentdale and Ennerdale in convoy, and little did we know we were bound for North Africa.

I became an A/B Seaman (Able-bodied) on this trip and passed my exams classed very good. We had American soldiers aboard and an Italian in our mess who had been a cook before the war.

In the convoy close to us was a converted merchant ship which was now an air craft carrier. They had a relatively short deck for taking off, and one day when they were practicing taking off and landing a Swordfish aircraft failed to get up enough speed and rolled off the stern and, along with the pilot, disappeared immediately. No effort was made to search, we just kept on.

One November morning the huge convoy, perhaps 500 ships, entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar. It was a nice sun-shiny day... what a sight to behold. (pages 23 - 25, "DAD, WELL DONE")

More to follow.

Photos by GH

The Workshop: "Duck! Nails are flyin"

I took a mug of coffee to the shop yesterday PM and slapped on a Dylan CD. Soon the nails were just a-flyin'.

["MODERN TIMES in The Workshop. Shake it."]

["Red cedar houses, coming up!"]

["Tables, shelves, old chests... all covered w BHs"]

["Slats for roofs are lined up, and getting painted"]

By the end of the afternoon there wasn't a spare bit of space on tables and shelves, and a can of paint had been popped.

Duck! Gord's in the groove.

Link to birdhouses by the dozen

Photos by GH

Birdhouse London: "screech owl house" 2

The screech owl house is finished. Smells delicious.

["All trimmed up. Interior = 18"Hx8.5"Wx9"Deep"]

["Linseed oil contains a titch of maple stain"]

Roof is darker now because I applied one coat of linseed oil to it, to help shed rain water. And crows will now slip right off!

Next up. Delivery to the screech owl.

Link to screech owl house

Photos GH

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Birdhouse London: "screech owl house"

In my opinion, the old western cedar boards I had stashed away in The Annex were perfect for John Luke's screech owl house.

["The face is 18" tall. Floor is 9 by 8.5 in."]

["Slope of roof is 22.5 degrees. Air vents under roof edge"]

Only a few finishing touches are needed before I can say, 'Voila!'

PS I think I'll make two more and always try to have one on hand.

Birdhouse London

Photos GH

Friday, March 28, 2014

Birdhouse London: "Heykel's barn board duplex"

Heykel was clear. He wanted a duplex, one made from gray barn board. I said, AOK.

Fortunately, I had one piece of 'gray on both sides' barn board from Handley Mill, Fenelon Falls. (More will not be available until three feet of snow is removed from Handley's lumber piles, sometime in April, maybe).

["I call it a 'tall boy' w side feeder"]

["The roof will be painted red next week"]

I made two more from western cedar and will assemble and paint them asap.

Building Birdhouses in a Small Shop

Photos GH

The Workshop: "birdhouses by the dozen"

Yesterday afternoon, once the temperature inside the shop was comfortable, I got to work at the drill press.

["1 and 3/8th inch holes for the first dozen"]

["Next - 1 and 1/4 inch holes for the second dozen"]

Today I will drill smaller holes in the faces of smaller birdhouses and assemble a few models.

Busy and dusty days ahead.

More from The Workshop

Photos GH

Bird Watching: "peek-a-boo!"

I could tell a female cardinal was at the feeder while I assembled Heykel's duplex yesterday. Her chirping was incessant.

["I'm really excited and happy!" she chirped.]

Fresh seed will do that to a bird.

More Bird Watching

Photo GH

"new heater recommended"

The new heater for my workshop, including tax, cost $204. But it will pay for itself two ways.

["Infra-red. Metal shell stays cool. Hands warm"]

1. It draws less power than two old heaters. (I know this because I can now run the sander and heater off the same circuit without blowing a fuse).

2. The shop is warmer, my fingers have thawed out, so I can now get back to work.

["Paint and trim... coming up next"]

Heykel's duplex, almost done, hands still warm!

Link to Zoom w a View

Photos GH

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bird Watching: "early riser, like me"

This jay is an early riser, like me.

He comes for the seeds. I get up for the coffee.

More Bird Watching

Photo GH

The Workshop: "I have a hammer"

Thirty birdhouses are now sanded and ready for assembly. I have a hammer handy and just have to warm up the shop this afternoon and turn on the air compressor.

First up: Heykel's duplex. Second up: John Luke's screech owl house.

And about that owl house. It's my first and made from the best of outdoor lumbers, i.e., western cedar.

["Plans from"]

["I modified the roof, now angled at 22.5 degrees"]

["Sides have ship lap joint, reinforced on inside."]

I like it! And I'm confident I'll be making a few of these every year for quite some time.

Photos of finished product soon to follow.

More from The Workshop

Photos GH

Zoom w a View: "spring-like soon"

The local weather will indeed be spring-like soon. No more wee blizzards or wet walkways during my 20-minute walk home from The Club.

I have my T-shirts and shorts ready!

Zoom w a View

Photos GH

My Morning Walk: "trees with long seed pods"

My walk to The Club takes 20 minutes and along the way I mull over deep questions or mysteries. E.g., why are there suds in the Thames? When will I be able to walk in a spring coat? What's the name of that tree with long seed pods on Ridout St.?

Answers: I don't know. Maybe soon. Northern Catalpa (according to Google).

One last question: I started small, like the sign says. But will my walks and workouts make me taller?

Link to My Morning Walk

Photos GH

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Family Photos: "rare moment"

On rare occasions could family members get my father's and my attention - or get us to stop talking - long enough to snap our picture together.

Date: mid-1980s?
Setting: ?

Are there others from the same date?

 What? I wasn't listening.

Family Photos

Collection of GH

Bird Watching: "jays on ice"

It doesn't happen often.

Mr. Jay peeks at me from behind icicles.

More Bird Watching

Photos GH

The Workshop: "the other dozen"

Last week I planned to 'cut another dozen' birdhouses (on Thursday) and then set up the sander. Those plans went out the window. I added a screech owl house to the mix, then got back to houses for smaller birds.

["I found screech owl house plans on the interweb"]

["I modified them a bit, e.g., to get a fancier roof line"]

["The best old western cedar will to the trick!"]

["Six small BHs using lath (top right) from an old house"]

I'll likely get around to sanding 30 birdhouses later today, but not outside in the sun.

(The 'sunny groove' is on hold).

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH