Thursday, April 25, 2013

Zoom w a View: my grain

I love my grains.

Photo by GH


Please click here to view 'golden! gold finch'

I've always loved my grains

I awoke this morning to a light, cool breeze that came sneaking through a bedroom window and fell upon my neck. I immediately thought, it's still oatmeal weather. And shortly thereafter, while adding lovely red strawberries to a heaping bowl another thought crossed my mind, I've always loved my grains.

["Life goes better with grains - and red berries"]

The thought, prompted by a nearby photo of my son and I in Quebec City, is definitely true. Grains - stored in giant bags inside small town Co-ops where my dad worked and in the form of breads and many hearty cereals my mother cooked for me when I was a wee tad - have always been a part of my history. My grains and I surely go back to the pablum placed upon my tongue during the year I was born, 1949. Seven long and healthy decades we go back. And then I thought, there was that altogether lovely experience with a particular grain in the year 2000.

On a restful, sunny afternoon, an hour or two after I'd run a strenuous half-marathon - from Levi to Quebec City, on a fiercely windy day along the south and north banks of the St. Lawrence River -  my loving interest in a special concoction made from barley was sparked by my younger son. After I'd crossed the finish line and changed into dry clothes we retired to a sidewalk cafe inside the Old City, watched a parade of classic cars drive past the cafe's open window and sampled - several times - a unique beer whose name I'd never heard 'til then, i.e., Fin du Monde.

["The background scenes are painted upon stone walls"]

"It's very cloudy," I said while giving my first glass a thorough 'look over'.

"But how does it taste?" Paul said.

"Hmmmmmmmmm. Lovely," I said. "In fact, it's lovely lovely."

Yes, I've always loved my grains, particularly on cool days or after road races.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'oatmeal weather'

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

come to papa (2)

A few days ago, it was a child-size bed on a curb near my house that prompted me to say, "I like free lumber. Stop the car."

I looked it over and quickly returned home for Allen keys, in order to disassemble the bed. Soon the wood was parked in my workshop.

["Parked inside the shop"]

And yesterday I disassembled the bed further and parked it outside the workshop door, right next to the table saw.

It didn't take much effort to turn the honey-stained fir slats into logs for log cabin birdhouses, and slats for roof-tops for those birdhouses.

["Behind the clean fir slats stand 24 honey stained strips for logs"]

I don't think it will be long before I can show you at least three lovely houses freshly made from rescued lumber.

Lumber found at the curb is one reason the shop is such a lively place during the week.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'come to papa' (1)

Monday, April 22, 2013

winter hair is so yesterday

Winter arrived sometime last November and my head got cold. So, I grew my hair out. Then out some more. My bushy winter beard eventually made me look like Yosemite Sam, said some brave family members.

A week's worth of summer-like weather arrived this morning - or so I was told - so, while envisioning myself in snazzy short shorts, I snipped off several month's worth of winter hair.

["Hair fell into the sink, one 'snip snip' at a time"]

["Don't cry for me, Argentina"]

I've heard it said, "Hair today, gone tomorrow." So true.

Photos by GH 


Please click here to read "Ollie, have you tried the pickles?"

Hey, I nailed it!

Thanks to visits from friends and a few other people with deep pockets and an interest in bird and bee houses, I reached my sale's goals during Saturday's birdhouse bonanza.

["Stacked, then packed for the sale"]

I.e., I sold a baker's dozen and earned enough to pay for a new brad nailer.

["The Civic wasn't as crowded on the way home!"]

Now I'll be able to build 'em and stack 'em faster than ever.

Photos by GH 


Please click here to read 'blue on green, egg on toast'

golden! gold finch

While driving or biking along country roads I see them aplenty, but not often do I see gold finches at my bird feeder.

["There's lots. Help yourself"]

["He sat upon the collar of my feeder as well. Come back often"]

Loose seed on a table in my back yard did the trick. (I better write that down).

Photos by GH


Please click here to view 'bird watching bird'

Saturday, April 20, 2013

come to papa

I spotted a small bed frame yesterday a few blocks south of my house. I pulled over, parked the car. I gave the frame a look. I saw I needed Allen keys.

Back home I went, opened the workshop, grabbed my Allen key set.

Rescued lumber is now home with papa.

What will become of it?

Photo by GH 


Please click here for more about rescued lumber

blue on green, egg on toast

ahhh, Saturday morning. first thing, a viewing.

blue roof on green birdhouse

green roof on blue birdhouse

time now for coffee and egg on toast

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'trim it up'

Thursday, April 18, 2013

more from the workshop

After posting a photo of sky-blue birdhouses a reader wondered if birds would have trouble landing.

["The sky-blue perch isn't very prominent"]

I wrote back, "I'd better put a red perch out front! But maybe birds are colour blind and no air disasters will occur."

[A prominent perch and a bit of bling"]

Okay, I didn't go with a red perch, but I think now the birds will not get confused by the sky-blue.

Photo by GH


Please click here to view 'one bat at a time'

the good the bad the ugly

Though Gail Vaz-Oxlade makes a few good points, I am growing tired of articles - e.g., re saving for retirement - that are printed when only half-baked. Growing numbers of recent graduates and middle-aged workers are facing a 'no-jobs today' climate and have burned through savings accounts to stay alive. Governments, businesses and raw news articles aren't helping to change matters.

the good:

"...people are unwilling to stop spending every red cent they make." 

If Gail is addressing just those who have a lot of disposable cash, she makes a good point. If she is also addressing those who barely make enough to cover the rent and meager groceries, then she needs to giver her head a shake. She makes no distinction in the article.

"If you think a manicure is a need, you're delusional."

Good point. There is a lot of confusion amongst die-hard shoppers concerning wants and needs.

"shop only with cash"

I agree that it is one good way to save money because cash is hard to part with once it's in one's wallet (vs use of e.g., credit card)

the bad:

"If you think you don't make enough to save, think again."

Harsh words to the growing ranks of the under- or unemployed, to those living back at home with struggling parents. London will likely hit 10% unemployment in the near future and I'd be very surprised if Gail's article will encourage a spike in the number of new savings accounts.

the ugly:

"without the commitment to having something in the future, the amount of income you earn has very little to do with long-term savings success"

True, we need a commitment to save money when we have some disposable income.

However, not only is disposable income drying up for a lot of people (new grads and seasoned employees), but a few big factors work against a secure future for many.

big factors:

Good, full-time jobs in or close to many urban centres are declining (e.g., in London alone, 5,200 manufacturing jobs were lost in the last year)

[April 6, London Free Press]

PM Harper has postponed retirement benefits for most Canadians, from age 65 to age 67. He likely will  make people work even longer in the future because we're living longer. Too bad for those who can't save any money now.

Apparently, Canadians - especially those affiliated w the ruling class - hate unions, the public sector and taxes of any kind. So positive job benefits (like reasonable pensions), jobs in the public sector and funds to protect the future of many Canadians will dry up over the years.

The rich are getting richer, thanks to low tax rates for corporations and the wealthiest among us, but the benefits associated with that trend (job creation, trickle-down wealth, a stronger economy) have all but disappeared.

We have a government interested in making the wealthy wealthier, but not good at promoting job creation and beneficial tax reform.

If you feel the noose tightening, it's not for good reason, but for bad, ugly ones.

Photos of Free Press (April 7) by GH


Please click here to read 'controversy vs conservation'

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gord's Birdhouse Sale

If you're out and about running errands or buying a new snow shovel this Saturday and feel you'll one day need a birdhouse for your yard or porch, drop by the Spring Bazaar at St. Michael's Parish, 511 Cheapside St., (Saturday, April 20th) from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm.

Gord's birdhouses will be featured in a prominent location, not in a dark corner in the basement as per usual.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Justin Bieber is very Lite News

Next time a reporter shoves a microphone under his nose, Justin should take 'the fifth'.

[Original photo: Getty Images, Metro London, April 16]

Cartoon by GH


Please click here to read 'let's give our head a shake'

news from Gord's attic: Dionne Quints, 1937

I found several old newspapers in my attic and they fall apart in my hands as I turn the pages.

The Dionne quints were in the news in 1937:

And news about shipping was a regular feature.

["I think 'shipping news' should be revived"]

Going to the Soo? I'd love to catch a ride.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read news about 'controversy vs conservation'

good timing from Mexico?

A few days ago my younger son sent me a lovely seaside photo from Mexico, taken while he and a friend were walking to Bobo's for a beer.

["My, isn't that lovely"]

I opened his email after stripping off cold wet clothes, the result of setting up a sump pump in my backyard - during a downfall - in order to drain the swamp.

The colours of my son's photo reminded me of the wet fence edging my back deck, and a birdhouse that was standing in 6 - 8 inches of water in the yard. I dreamed of Bobo's and said, "Thanks a lot, son!"

["Why are my socks leaving a trail?"]

Rubbing it in, eh!

Photos by GH 


Please click here to read 'oatmeal weather'

Monday, April 15, 2013

controversy vs conservation

[Recent London Free Press article]

Electricity rates are going north soon and the increase will raise the level of rhetoric and controversy in parliament halls and around kitchen tables, coffee shops and other places people gather.

"The increase is needed for infrastructure," some will say. "It's an assault on our hearts and wallets," others will say.

I say, lost in the controversy and shouting will be a simple message: Conservation of energy resources will easily save you $3.63 per month. Stop complaining, save your energy.

Whether it's oil or electricity, our energy demands are unsustainable. Our resources are not limitless. 

Photos and cartoon by GH


Please click here to read 'let's give our head a shake'

one bat at a time

Trim is being assembled - for the largest birdhouse I've made this spring - one bat at a time.

["Blank walls need to be filled - baseball motif"]

["I'll tape the handles then try 'em out"]

I make more baseball trim this morning; batting practice this afternoon!

Photo by GH


Please click here to read 'trim it up'

Sunday, April 14, 2013

let's give our head a shake

London has the highest unemployment rate of any big city in Canada and employment policies are not in place to bring the rate down.

["from London Free Press, April 6 2013"]

London is not alone at making an inadequate response to rising unemployment. For decades 5 - 6% unemployment was the norm. The new normal rate is now much higher across the country. And government and big business practices are hopelessly inadequate to meet the problem head on.

["Will 9 - 10% become the new normal?" London Free Press]

Please note the last line in the above photo, i.e., 'Local Jobs Breakdown'. Though it actually acts as a heading of a list of job gains and losses across certain sectors, it made me think about possible reasons for the last decade of job breakdowns in our country:

Corporate taxes have declined in the last decade while jobs losses have mounted. The 'job creators' (and some of the wealthiest among us) are obviously not doing their job. Maybe they are too busy spending what should be considered our economic stimulus money. 

["Most job creators don't know you exist. Now what?" gah]

Government tax revenues have declined, chiefly thanks to tax cuts, and public service cuts have followed. More job losses. More people not spending money. Job creation is lost as well.

Governments hesitate to raise taxes to increase revenues to keep people at work. Governments aim for zero taxes rather than helping people get back to work. Modern priorities are 'fewer workers', not 'more workers.'

In government and business, expensive 'smart' machines are gaining employment faster than new graduates. Smart equipment is replacing middle-aged employees who are now expected to stay in the game until age 67, not 65. 

["Let's give our collective heads a shake" gah]

As well, consumers are in love with cheap goods from China and other countries.

Why is our thinking so 'outta whack?'

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 10% unemployment is coming

trim it up

Blank walls are on my mind.

A lot of trim will be required.

Busy times ahead.

Photos by GH


Please click here to view 'today's lineup'

today's lineup

Making baseball bats from western cedar is a tricky business but that's the job listed on my to-do list for today.

I'm heading out to the shop now to take another crack at it.

Photo by GH


Please click here to read 'birdhouse hits a homerun'

bits of trim, baseball motif

The biggest birdhouse in the shop, at present, is waiting patiently for its 'full on trim job'. But there are a few things I have to do before I can apply the trim:

First, I have to make the trim. That job is going well.

Then I have to apply primer. Coat one is done.

Then I have to furnish bats - I will use western cedar - for the bat rack. I'm taking another swing at that job today.

Quiz 1: Spot the bat made from an old soup spoon.

Quiz 2: Find one of my workshop mottos below.

'Wooden spoons should be tossed into the nearest bin'... or... 'don't throw anything out'.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'birdhouse hits a home run'

favourite cabin

When I one day build my cabin in the woods (or under the blue spruce in my backyard), I'll use western cedar.

["If you see smoke curling from the chimney, pop by"]

The cabin will smell delicious and be slightly bigger than the one above.

Photo by GH


Please click here to view Birdhouses: Favourite Photos

dressed up, someplace to go

Seven birdhouses are going on a trip. Now that they've been all dressed up...

["Two-tiered rooves looks AOK"]

["Three-tiered rooves look AOK"]

["Western cedar cabins smell AOK"]

I'll collect them into my arms - I'm quite the juggler - and carry them to a shelf in the basement.

'Cause I need room in the shop for my next project.

Photos by GH


Please click here to view 'second coat of lime green?'