Friday, April 29, 2016

Duplexes: Add More Trim

When time allows, drop by The Workshop by G. Harrison.

The Paint is Dry

I put a lot of trim on a lot of birdhouses. My gravestone will either read "I Told You I Was Sick" or "Gord Never Trimmed a Sail But Every Birdhouse Has a Perch".

Today's to-do list: Fence, cat, hydro pole, wee birdhouse, perch.

"Roof edging, roof ridge, windows, chimney - check"

More to follow.

Please link to Duplexes: "Contrasting Lumbers" - Maybe Some Paint?

Fussy Pot of Russian Earl Grey

As I Grow Older

I'm not alone, I'm sure.

As I grow older I notice one or two changes in my personal landscape, sometimes under the heading of 'Likes and Dislikes'.

I would say my landscape is broadening. Others would say I'm just getting fussy, crispy or difficult to please.

I'm done with ordinary, common, garden-variety tea bags. Blah blah blah. The people from tea-producing nations have been laughing at my choices for years.

"Gord drinks tea dust, the stuff we sweep off the floors," I can hear them say. "It tastes more of bag than tea."

Not anymore. Now I drink tea that is filled with chunks of dried plant matter, petals of blue and yellow wild flowers picked by skilled men and women from high and steep mountain-sides, and flavour - FLAVOUR - rich, aroma-filled flavour that knocks my socks off. Like this Russian Earl Grey.

"I can live with fussy"

Please link to Supper of Champions - Sauce n Gravy Highly Rated

Photos by GH

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The GREAT Canadian Comeback "Lessons Learned"

Gord H. is documenting his GREAT Comeback at a new blog site. Walkn to more 'fun and fitness'.

Break Through to the Other Side

"I finished 5.5 miles, with shuffling, in the time it takes to walk 4 miles"

Yesterday's brisk walk included a fair amount of shuffling (i.e, about 100m of shufflin' every quarter mile) and I was surprised when I returned home. A walk of 5.5 miles would generally take about 110 minutes (about 20 min. per mile) but I was home in 90 minutes. Shufflin' adds a bit of speed!

I was surprised as well by the distance I shuffled on a number of occasions. My mind wandered off a few times - Downey woodpeckers were busy at work in several trees along my route - and when it returned I realized I'd shuffled 200m or more without complaint. Why, soon I'll be running a marathon, I said to myself. (Yes, it was a joke).

Making a little break through here and there doesn't really surprise me. I've run long distances in the past and know - with progressive training (i.e., building up mileage gradually over months of regular running) - a person used to 5- and 10-kilometre distances can one day run a marathon. I'm at the stage in my walking and shuffling where I will notice some improvements in my speed, smooth stride, strength and stamina on occasion.

Yesterday, during one of those mini-break-through moments, I recalled the day I ran my first, solo, long-distance event, quite unexpectedly at that. 

After getting used to jogging one, then two, then three miles at a time on a regular basis in the mid-1970s, I left my house on Victoria Street, London and ran toward the University of Western Ontario, about one mile away. My intention was likely to complete a two- or three-mile easy loop, return home and jot down my mileage (2 mi., 2.5 mi., 3 mi., etc.) in my ever-present record book. But as I past J.W. Little Stadium I wondered if I could sneak onto the track (that surrounded the football field) and measure my speed for a quarter-mile. 

I found a gate open, entered the stadium, checked my watch and started my first lap. One lap soon led to another because it felt good to have the place to myself and I wasn't feeling tired at that point. More laps followed and I started to count the miles. One mile to the stadium and eight laps equals three miles, I said to myself. But I didn't feel like quitting. I felt good. I kept going. 

Four more laps. Four miles. Great. Four more laps. Five miles. Unknown territory. No problem. I kept going. And I kept going some more. 

Nine miles approached, and I reminded myself I still had to get myself home. And ten miles as a total sounded pretty awesome. So, after 32 laps I heartily slapped myself on the back and headed home. I wish I had my old record book. That ten-miler would jump out at me. I likely circled it in red!

I learned a valuable lesson that night as I circled the old UWO track (now gone, along with the well-remembered outdoor hockey rink). A pile of two- and three-milers can prepare a person for a ten-miler when conditions are right. And if I keep shuffling along - 100 to 200 metres at a time - during a couple of walks per week, one day in the future I'll shuffle a quarter mile, then half, and so on.

I've got the walking habit and a six-month-long solid base (and more*). I've got the energy to shuffle on occasion. A ten-miler is obviously a long way off (not even on the horizon) but more mini-break-throughs will surely occur in the future.

"The shuffling routine is coming along nicely"

*After dropping out of marathoning in 2006, I continued a fun and fitness routine for about 8 - 10 years that included cycling, hockey, some running and walking. That being said, couch-potato-like attitudes began to form. Something had to (has to) be done!

Photos GH

Monday, April 25, 2016

Avocado 36 "Not Just Your Average House Plant"

Tall, Stately, Guacamole

 "Senora Avocado feels at home in her new pot"

I have so much to look forward to in the coming years. The plant, currently stalling out at 26 inches in height, will surely grow taller, if not broader. I will keep my eyes open for fresh growth, whether it be a new leaf, breadth in leaf size, or the next quarter inch in height.

"I keep watch and add water regularly"

And then, there's always the guacamole!

Please link to Avocado 35 "Still a Bit Droopy" 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The GREAT Canadian Comeback

Visit Gord's new blog re the GREAT comeback:

Hardy Canadians Build Good Foundations

"I have no problem with the rain"

I built a solid base or foundation for what is to follow (Who knows? A 5K roadrace, a marathon, a walk across Spain?) by walking an average of 116 miles per month for the last six months. I think the walking I do now, including a bit of 'shufflin' off to Buffalo', is pretty easy because of my GOTD score from October to end of March. That is, I 'Got Out The Door' on 93 per cent of the 180 days in those months.

See, Canadians are generally a hardy folk, not stymied by winter weather. I covered 121 miles in December, 140 in January and 114 in February. Not bad, not bad at all. And yesterday, I walked in the rain. I had Greenway Park to myself!

Why, when I went to university as a kid, me and my roomies survived on dog kibble for months at a time. We even sang a song about it every Friday before supper. (I don't have it written down in my UWO notebooks but I think it was just called 'Kibbles and Beer').

Here's what I can recall - about 50 years later:

(In unison, loudly) Verse one!

Kibbles and beer, kibbles and beer,
Open the Molsons* and we'll give a cheer.
We'll only eat kibble for one more year,
Unless we all flunk outta Psychology!! (followed by uproarious laughter)

(Together) Verse two!

Kibbles and beer, kibbles and beer,
Open the Carlings* and we'll give a cheer.
We don't have money for pork chops or steer,
Unless we all become Dennis!! (i.e., Dentists, and followed by uproarious laughter)

Verse three!

Kibbles and beer, kibbles and beer,
Open some Fifties and we'll give a cheer.
If it's not in a stubby get the heck outta here,
Unless you're giving it away!! (fall down on the floor with laughter)

(Last line, loudest of all) There is no verse four! (followed by the loudest cheer)

"You don't need a UWO degree to know why the toad crossed the road"

*As I recall, Molsons Golden, Carling Red Cap

Please link to GREAT Comeback - Starts with a Base 3

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The GREAT Canadian Comeback

I've Got the Time, So....

"Roller-bladers approach with arms swinging to and fro"

I enjoyed a very pleasant 5-mile walk yesterday on the Terry Fox Pathway. It generally follows the Thames River toward Springbank Park and I often see a few 'regulars', including walkers, roller-bladers, cyclists and troops of Canadian geese.

A couple of times I was tempted to break into a shuffle, which I did with success (for a short distance, e.g., 50 to 100 metres, every quarter mile on Sunday and Monday. But I resisted the temptation. I have the time to slowly and gradually build my base or foundation for longer-distance walking (aka hiking a longer way than I do now) or short- to long-distance running. So, I'm taking my time.

"After a walk-a-shuffle I add an S to my records, as above.
Oh yeah, I like keeping track of the details"

"I have the time, so take it," I say to myself regularly now. Why hurry back into better all-around fitness when I'm already enjoying and benefitting from each walk that I take? I know I'm already making a comeback, and from experience, I know that Rome wasn't built in a day.

Benefits associated with walking on a regular basis:

Photo credit - Your Body on Walking

Note what the poster above says about longevity: "75 minutes a week of brisk walking can add almost 2 years to your life."

I'm thinking, I'm already walking 75 minutes per day. Therefore, perhaps I can add 7 x 2 = 14 years to my life. Something more to think about while out on the Terry Fox Pathway : )

By the Numbers:

Yesterday I completed number 23 in a set of 90 walks that 'may' include a bit of shuffling.

I've averaged over 30 miles per week for the last 2 months.

I feel there is no need to increase my weekly average while increasing the amount of shuffling.

Time to save up $150 for new running shoes.

 Photos from along the way:

Hairy woodpecker gives me the once-over, one block from home"

Please link to GREAT Comeback - Starts with a Base 1

Busybee in the Workshop

Almost a Perfect Match

"Three or four more days of work before I can put my feet up!"

The walnut chair will look AOK once fully painted. The maple stool (though about an inch too tall at the moment), in a similar colour scheme, should fit right in. For the complete picture, imagine me sitting, with my feet up, outside the workshop at the end of a long and dusty workday.

Yeh, that will be me.

Please link to Upcoming Project "Workshop Stool"

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Overlord - Operation Neptune, D-Day, Parts 1 - 6

The following story was recently presented on my other world-renowned blog, '1000 Men, 1000 Stories', home to stories, videos, audio files, and photographs that relate to Canadian men who served in RCNVR and Combined Operations during WW2. Eye witness accounts are a standard feature of the website.



By Clayton Marks, RCNVR and Combined Operations

Historical photographs show the true scale of the D-Day landings, during which
some 156,000 Allied troops landed on five beaches along the Normandy coast.
Photo Credit - Imperial War Museum

Introduction - The following story (presented here in six parts) can be found in Combined Operations by Clayton Marks of London, Ontario. The book was printed in 1993 (approx.), is extremely difficult to find, but is nonetheless a pivotal book in explaining the role of the hundreds of Canadians who volunteered for hazardous duties overseas in the Combined Operations organization.

Shortly after Combined Operations was printed and distributed, e.g., at Navy or Combined Operations' reunions, two other related texts were inspired, full of stories written by Canadian volunteers and veterans of the Combined Ops organization. Two volumes of stories are entitled St. Nazaire to Singapore: The Canadian Amphibious War 1941 - 1945, are extremely difficult to find, but can be borrowed from or viewed at some libraries and museums (e.g., Toronto Public Library, Ottawa War Museum) , and can be viewed online, story by story, at St. Nazaire to Singapore.


NEPTUNE Part 1 - Assembly of Fighting Vessels

NEPTUNE Part 2 - Mighty Resources

NEPTUNE Part 3 - Canadian Ships Take Their Stations

NEPTUNE Part 4 - Canadian Landing Craft Hit the Beaches

NEPTUNE Part 5 - Canadians Wait for More Work

NEPTUNE Part 6 - The Hardest Worked Craft

Photo credit - From The Canadians at War, 1939/45

Please link to Story: Canada's Early Days in Combined Ops

Avocado 35 "Still a Bit Droopy"

"Droopy or Just Heavy?"

I transferred the avocado plant from one pot to another last week and shortly thereafter the leaves began to droop. I thought, give it a few days. All will be well.

Today I feel the leaves have perked up a bit - so, they're getting water - but may still be a bit droopy. At the same time, the plant does sport fairly large leaves, in my opinion, so the droop may not change much. You bet... I'll watch it closely over the next month or so. And during that time I may figure out if the edges of the leaves - wavy like - are affected by the venetian window blind.

Before I did the transplant I remarked on the steady and quick - almost before my eyes - growth of the stem. It now stands at 25.5 inches tall, from the top edge of the new pot, and I will check its height on occasion to see if the rapid growth continues.

Yes, I'm retired! Thanks for noticing. (And the avocado plant is but one of my many amusements).

: )

Please link to Avocado 34 "Standing Tall"

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

More Photos From Along the Way

Tunnel Vision

Walkn = fun + fitness + fresh air + fotos (just fer starters) 

Please link to More Photos From Along the Way 

Photos GH

Speed Up, Man 15 "A T-shirt Day"

Will I Wear Shorts Today?

If today's temperature is similar to yesterday's - the walkn shorts are coming out.

Nice walk on April 10 with Don, but he may have twisted his knee at some point. On the 11th he said, "Go solo."

He even penned a wee poem to mark his predicament:

Odd Guy

There was an odd guy, his name was Don,
He had a buddy who kept repeatin', "Come on."

Don frowned and humpfed, he looked about,
He panicked and sweated with a look of doubt.

What'll I do? I cannot go.
My knee is too sore, I'm far too slow.

With wisdom and grace his friend quietly said,
"Take your time ... rest, better than bein' half dead."

"I'll call you up on the party line, to check tomorrow
To see if you're fine. Good-bye for now ... I'm out the door."

"So long!!"

Photos from along the way:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

In Passing: Betty Francis Wilhelmine (Nuttal) Tamblyn

Betty Tamblyn, Jan. 13, 1921 - April 8, 2016

Betty with her children, David (front), Danny (back), Pat
Photo, Kingston cottage, beside the St. Lawrence, 1952

I met Betty Tamblyn a few days after meeting her daughter Pat (my wife) at London Teacher's College in 1970. I instantly liked her red hair and welcoming nature. Over the years I learned she was the constant anchor in the Tamblyn household, the glue that held things together. In the 46 years she was my mother-in-law and grand-mother to my sons, I heard only kind, supportive and encouraging words from her lips.

Betty Francis Wilhelmine (Nuttal) Tamblyn, wife of Robert James Tamblyn, quietly passed away in her sleep at 5AM, on Friday, April 8, 2016 with her 'Daughter On Duty'.

Betty will surely be in my family's collective memory always.


Bird Watching: Hairy Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwings

Solo Woodpecker, Waxwings by the Bushel

Hairy is back. Is it pecking at a birdhouse, like last year?
No, it's a step-ladder that he is after!

Lately I have been spotting more hawks and falcons in Old South that in years past. Why, last year a brown-tailed hawk briefly lit atop my neighbour's birdhouse, 50 feet away from where I sat. Wow, I've got to get a better camera!

And a few days ago, after a final sweep of the workshop, I spotted a flock of pale-breasted birds, with a crest, huddled in my same neighbour's maple tree. I placed more seed in the feeder but they didn't budge. By size and shape, my first thought was, they're grosbeaks.

But for the last two days, as the same group huddled in my apricot and Eastern white pine (front yard trees), I've had a chance to snap a few shots, and they are definitely Cedar Waxwings.

"I need a better camera and the apricot tree needs a trim. Branches everywhere!"

Last Photo, from All About Birds (link below):

Cedar Waxwing, Adult, Black mask and chin, Brown head and chest
Yellow wash across belly, White undertail, Yellow tail tip

Keys to identification (At Cornell lab of Ornithology, All About Birds)

Size & Shape

The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized, sleek bird with a large head, short neck, and short, wide bill. Waxwings have a crest that often lies flat and droops over the back of the head. The wings are broad and pointed, like a starling’s. The tail is fairly short and square-tipped.

Color Pattern

Cedar Waxwings are pale brown on the head and chest fading to soft gray on the wings. The belly is pale yellow, and the tail is gray with a bright yellow tip. The face has a narrow black mask neatly outlined in white. The red waxy tips to the wing feathers are not always easy to see.


Cedar Waxwings are social birds that you’re likely to see in flocks year-round. They sit in fruiting trees swallowing berries whole, or pluck them in mid-air with a brief fluttering hover. They also course over water for insects, flying like tubby, slightly clumsy swallows.


Look for Cedar Waxwings in woodlands of all kinds, and at farms, orchards, and suburban gardens where there are fruiting trees or shrubs.

Please link to Hairy Woodpecker - He's Baaack

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Speed Up, Man 13 "More Shufflin'"

I Think it's the Red Spandex

Somethin's happenin' here. I'm ready and willing and able to shuffle off to Buffalo when conditions are right. I just got home from a 5-miler and the brisk walk - again - included some serious shufflin', some of it right past strangers who seemed to cast looks of admiration toward my shiny red spandex sportswear.

Oh yeah, I believe we have a winner. Red over robin-egg blue.

That being said, it's still early days in my 90-walk set (13/90; I still have a long way to go).

Photos from along the way:

 "I am so ready for warmer weather, except for the shoes"

 "Paths and bridges near UWO are becoming my favourites"

"No, that's not me on the left. Close.... if it was 1966"

Notes to self:

1. Invest in a new pair of sturdy New Balance running shoes. Good shufflin' weather is just around the corner.

2. Slow and steady wins the race, along w red spandex.

3. Use the word 'expandex' in a sentence in the coming week, because I'm bigger around the waist than when I was a long-distance runner of local fame. (I beat a local woman once, last name Swift, in a 10 km road race.)

Please link to Speed Up, Man 11 "Shufflin' Along"

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Avocado 34 "Standing Tall"

Not the Last Pot

"Support stick needed paint. Colour co-ordination is verrry important!"

April 7: Yesterday I carefully moved this healthy avocado plant into a larger pot. I record the date here because, while carefully adjusting the sturdy pit and significant root system in fresh potting soil, I thought, this plant is doing so well. I bet I will be repeating the process within the year.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see. But if it continues to grow as quickly as it has over the last two months, I will be searching the house for a new pot by August!

: )

Note: The leaves have wavy edges. Is that because it sits in front of Venetian blinds?

Please link to Avocado 33 "Time for a New Pot"

Photos GH

Speed Up, Man 11 "Shufflin' Along"

Speeding Up in Fine Form

"Sometimes I do a bit extra"

Two things I want to mention right off:

1. I collected enough extra miles in the last two days to qualify for a bonus. So an 'extra' walk is listed on April 6.

2. I walked solo yesterday and after a one mile warm up I started to - insert laugh track here - shuffle off to Buffalo.

I would like to say that I was a shufflin' phenom. At every quart mile marker I picked up the pace enough to actually look like I was doing more than walking faster. Oh yeah, I showed off some smooth moves. Why, if I repeat that procedure enough times over the next 79 walks, I'll really feel like I'm getting somewhere - faster than usual.

"Feeling good in red spandex and sturdy footwear" : ) 

Though I'm not going to push myself too hard, I feel I've built up a significant base over the last six months of brisk walking, i.e., 25 - 30 miles per week average distance.

Go slow and enjoy the view, I say.

"There are many unusual views in old Londontown"

The view is out there.

Photos by GH