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!
["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.
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.
["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.
[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.
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.
["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!
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.
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?
This red cedar birdhouse is 18 inches wide and 13 inches tall (attached to a 20" x 9.75" gray barnboard base) and with 1 3/8th" entry holes will make a lovely home for various small songbirds. I will build a support platform w pole for one of the six triplexes so folks can see at least one suitable way to put the sturdy beauties to work and on display. Stay tuned.
I have been involved in something like The Big Tidy in years gone by but have never reached the fourth week. Really, I think I'm twice as good as I used to be... about giving things the toss at any rate.
[Authentic caption: "American troops manning their landing craft assault from a doorway in the side of the liner REINA DEL PACIFICO. Two of the landing craft are numbered LCA 428 and LCA 447. Operation 'Torch', the Allied landings in North Africa, November 1942"]
I knew I had purchased a rare treasure (B. Lavery's book, Assault Landing Craft) after spotting a couple photos within that were taken during the Allied invasion of North Africa in 1942. Yesterday I located the photographer's name (Royal Navy Lt. F. A. Hudson) and this morning I found a series of ten shots taken during the same week or so. One was of American troops climbing into assault landing crafts manned by Canadian members of RCNVR and Combined Operations (above).
Another was of American troops climbing ashore from a landing craft (428) at Arzeu and walking past my father, a member of RCNVR and Combined Ops, and dressed in his Navy blues. Pretty amazing, I say.
[Authentic caption: "Troops and ammunition for light guns being brought ashore from a landing craft assault (ramped) (LCA 428) on Arzeau beach, Algeria, North Africa, whilst another LCA (LCA 287) approaches the beach... during Operation 'Torch', November 1942.]
Q: Does my father appear in the first photo as well?
A: Very likely. I see one fellow who closely resembles him in build but again his head is turned, so I am only 95% certain.
After a 92-hour shift (moving men and supplies from ship to shore) my father was allowed to return to Reina Del Pacifico for much needed R&R. In his Navy memoirs he writes the following:
After the 92 hours my officer said, “Well done. An excellent job, Harrison. Go to Reina Del Pacifico and rest.” But first the Americans brought in a half track (they found out snipers were in a train station) and shelled the building to the ground level. No more snipers.
I then had to climb hand over hand up a large hawser (braided rope) to reach the hand rail of Reina Del Pacifico and here my weakness showed itself. I got to the hand rail completely exhausted and couldn’t let one hand go to grab the rail or I would have fallen forty feet into an LCM bobbing below. I managed to nod my head at a cook in a Petty Officer’s uniform and he hauled me in. My throat was so dry I only managed to say, “Thanks, you saved my life.”
The Reina was a ship purposely for fellows like me who were tired out, and I was fed everything good, given a big tot of rum and placed in a hammock. I slept the clock around twice - 24 hours - then went back to work.
In seven days I went back aboard the Reina Del and headed for Gibraltar to regroup for the trip back to England. During the trip I noticed the ship carried an unexploded three inch shell in her side all the way back to England.
As one might expect, I am delighted - for various reasons - to have found a few photos concerning the invasion of North Africa that closely relate to stories from my father's Navy memoirs. First, when I rewrite his memoirs in the future I will be able to add authentic materials to the package. Second, I feel I must now visit North Africa one day to walk along a beach near Arzeu and look for faint footsteps in the sand. There are other reasons as well.