Thursday, May 30, 2013

it strikes me funny: at a snail's pace 2

I had choices to make. I made one. I'm not saying it was the right one, but the results were interesting. Instead of tossing a snail, parked on a deck outside my shop, into the bushes I put a few drops of beer into the wet patch surrounding it... and watched and wondered. Would the sugar boost help it move on its own, with something resembling vigour?

[The Snailman: "This water has a bite to it. Citra hops?"]

["I'd like to stick around for more but Harrison has big feet"]

In my opinion (and I'm no scientist or expert on all things snail related), but I think The Snailman exhibited a good deal of energy over the next 60 minutes. And I've got the close-ups to prove it.

Sure, some will say, "Harrison should put his camera away, get up off his workshop floor and get a life." But I say, snails are colourful and cool.

["North is good. But which way is north?"] 

More to follow... slowly.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'at a snail's pace 1'

And please click labels below for more adventures.

avian antics 3

Yesterday, early afternoon, Mrs. Duck tried to gather her brood (of about a dozen wee ducklings) and encourage them to follow her south, hopefully toward secure lodgings.

["Hang onto the safety rope. Don't dawdle back there"]

 I don't think all turned out well. Two ducklings ran north in the direction of a church parking lot. Then west toward a large unfenced yard.

["Westward ho, too quick to catch"]

Three more scooted away from the troop and through a gap between fence slats into a nearby yard. What became of them, I do not know. By the time Mrs. Duck found relative safety under a nearby van, her brood had shrunk to seven (I think).

My wife found zero evidence of the family after a quick walk down the lane two minutes later. I heard no cheeping for the rest of the day but will scout around shortly... knowing nature (and cats, dogs, skunks, raccoons and larger birds) can be very cruel.

Questions comes to mind re these avian antics: E.g., Is it becoming more common for ducks to breed and raise families in residential (e.g., Old South) neighbourhoods?

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'avian antics 2'

And please click labels below for more adventures.

it strikes me funny: at a snail's pace 1

A world famous event occurs this weekend in Old South London. It's called 'The Gathering on the Green' or just 'The Gathering', and people come from miles around to sample local music, great tasting hot dogs and delicious tea, and view various local vendors' wares, e.g., carvings, art work, jams, jellies, jewelry and - best of all : ) - my brilliant birdhouses. But this post and those to follow (closely related) are not about The Gathering but about something I noticed Tuesday afternoon - a rainy day, indeed - as I entered my backyard shop to work on last minute birdhouse details.

["The Snailman survived a near-miss"]

I noticed I'd almost stepped on a large, colourful snail parked inches from the shop doorway. All clammed up he was, likely because of my plodding about. It stayed that way for several minutes - in a wet patch upon my small work deck - while I painted and assembled this and that a few feet away. I thought, I'll be making a lot of trips indoors. I'll step on him if I'm not careful. Maybe I should toss him into the bushes.

Then I had another thought. I won't throw him away. I'll add a bit of water to last night's beer glass (perched on a shelf; dried residue from Elysian strong ale at the bottom), give him a taste, and see if he'll wake up and get moving on his own.

My idea turned out to be substantially better than 'very good'. It was in fact brilliant.

["This story may take a while"]

Fast enough for you? Stay tuned.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'it strikes me funny: old money bags'

And please click any of the labels below for related matters, adventures, more photos.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

avian antics 2

Yesterday was a busy day in the workshop, with several birdhouses on their final leg, and 'avian-antics-wise' too. The sound of nervous cheeping lured me toward a shared fence in my backyard. I thought, chickens? Who's keeping chickens?

["I've never seen this before in Old South," I say]

I soon noticed several ducklings on the loose in my neighbour's yard. They looked like they were planning a break-out as they scurried through the grass toward the back fence. After they disappeared behind a few bushes I walked out the gate of my own backyard and looked down the lane. Mrs. Duck greeted me with a very worried look.

"I hear them, but where the h-e-double-hockey-sticks are they?" she seemed to say.

Within a few seconds, however, her brood formed a line behind her, and together again (for the most part) they headed south, leaving me with more questions than answers.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'avian antics 1'

And please click on the labels below for more adventures.

avian antics

Something caught the corner of my eye yesterday - I turned my head; birds were afoot - and I quietly returned my hammer to the work bench. I reached for the camera in my back pocket. (The following shots were taken through my workshop window.

["I see you, Mrs. Cardinal, and I think you see me"]

["She rejoined her partner nearby"]

The female cardinal hopped behind a small bench and her mate came out of its shadows. They began talking about the different seeds they'd found upon the ground, and perhaps about me. I froze, and was soon a witness to behaviour and antics I'd not seen before.

[Male bird: "I've got a special morsel for you, Honey"]

Several times I saw the male offer a seed or two and feed the female. He would hop over to her, they would both turn their heads toward one another - as if to kiss - and he'd say, "Pop goes the weasel." (Or something to that affect.) Very interesting, in my opinion.

Better yet, on two occasions I saw the male dance in the air after the feeding ritual as if to say, "She likes me! She really likes me!"


Have you noticed this avian antic, or others?

Photos by GH


Please click here to view 'the curious Mrs. C.'

Please click on labels below for more re birds and birdhouses.

Pat's favourite photo of the week

I may have posted this shot earlier, but this morning I found it on my desktop again. My wife put it there, I'm sure, as she prepared to send off a few of my photos for printing.

["I'll move in after the guy with the camera backs off!"]

What is the chickadee really thinking?

Photo by GH


Please click here to see 'favourite photo, favourite hammer' 

Please click on labels below to view 100s of other exciting entries!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

favourite photo, favourite hammer

This hammer would last the lifetime of many a working man, even outlive most.

I bought if for five smackers (love at first sight) from an old fellow who sells tools - some from my hometown of Norwich - at Western Fair Market. It's a beaut, don't you think?

Photo by GH


Please click here to read "Old money bags"

Please click labels below for more connections to 'who knows what'

Hammers 2 "out of the bag"

["Hammer 2 has a life and story of its own"]

A week or two ago, the first used hammer I purchased from a vendor told me quite a story when I rolled it in my hands and examined it closely inside my workshop. Something about "hard work doesn't hurt you, Gordie boy. It builds muscle, improves your appearance and, while you're busy on one project, it fosters creativity and leads you to a second, and more." The words inspired three projects, i.e., one shadow box for each hammer I purchased or have as extras in my shop. After Hammer 1 was resting securely inside a suitable shadowbox I started looking closely at Hammer 2.

["What a beauty," I thought]

What a big, heavy, well-worn, well-travelled beauty it is. After a few swings I knew that any workman who used it for even a few minutes would soon wear sweat upon his brow. The things it can build or repair are countless, but only with a worker behind it and the right hands upon it. Without human muscle, strength and energy multitudes of hammers will only sit idle upon work benches and gather dust.

["your strength and creativity enlivens a
simple hammer with power and production"]

I know, I'm busy building boxes for hammers, in which they will sit idle as 'retired hammers'. However, I think their future lives as story tellers will be as valuable a vocation as their past work.

What say you?

Photos by GAH


Please click here to read 'Hammers 1 out of the bag'

I'm hopin' 2

I'm hopin' a local bird is a fan of the Montreal Canadiens.

Or at least into hockey.

Photo by GH


Please click here to view 'I'm hopin' 1

Click labels below for more about Gord's birdhouses and hockey career.

Monday, May 27, 2013

small addition

["For trim, all it needed was a wee birdhouse on a pole"]

after adding the 'full-on trim package' to a barn board two-hole birdhouse I wondered if it should now be called a duplex or triplex. Hmmm.

I say duplex because additions suitable for mosquitoes don't count.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'wanted: full-on trim package'

I'm hopin'

I'm hopin' local birds like ice cream colours.

And quirky angles.

Photo by GH


Please click here to read 'what's next?'

it strikes me funny: old money bags

it happened this way and it made my day.

["I have something for you"]

I walked into a local coffee shop Saturday afternoon. two girls behind the counter looked at me funny. (no probs. I get that a lot). I looked down to see if my shirt was tucked in properly. it was. life is good, I thought. little did I know.

"here," said one, reaching toward the till. "I have something for you, Gord." she handed me a wrinkled paper bag.

["What did I do to deserve this?"]

I looked at the bag. I looked at the side counter. a big birdhouse was missing. sale!

only a few things in life make me feel better than turning rescued lumber into a birdhouse or getting handed a bag of money on a Saturday afternoon.

yup. I gotta get a life.

photos by gah


Please click here to read and view 'View of space'

wanted: full-on trim package

In the workshop I feel a lot like old Mother Hubbard.

Nothing for the dog but birdhouses waiting for trim.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'toss me a spoon'

View of space

Gord took photos from outer space? It's almost inconceivable!

["Tornado season over South Africa?"]

["Rainy season over the Nile River basin?"]

Back up a minute.

["My paint pail just needs one more stir"]

Smell the pretty fumes?

Photos by GH


Please click here to view 'short end of the stick'

Friday, May 24, 2013

the deal. the delivery. the dilemma.

the deal. 

Last Saturday, as I was riding home on my 1951 CCM bicycle and grinning like a little kid (it's a smooth ride), I spotted a yard sale and turned into the driveway. An old, empty, dusty bookcase stood alone near the front steps to the house. I placed my hand on the top shelf and looked for its owner. A very young girl - all smiles - said, "$15."

I smiled back. "Do I have to deal with you?" I asked in mock surprise. She nodded.

["The bookcase now stands inside my shop,
behind my other bike"]

"Five dollars," said her father with a look and gesture that indicated he'd be very happy if I took it off his hands.

Sold for five.

the delivery.

The bookcase weighed a ton due to back boards made from thick shite, i.e., chip board or pressed lumber. No way could I carry it, but an idea quickly sprang to mind.

I lifted it with a grunt and balanced it upon the bike pedal on the side opposite to where I stood. I walked it and the bike home, feeling smug. I knew I could do it and I did.

Great balancing act, Einstein, I said to myself once home.

the dilemma.

I like having a bookcase inside my shop. It serves as perfect storage for birdhouses awaiting the 'full-on trim package'.

However, it is made of seven lovely pieces - lovely colouring, lovely age, lovely low number of nails - of pine or fir from which I could make 7 - 14 sturdy birdhouses.

["This pair is made from gate slats, and I don't miss the gate"]

Storage? Birdhouses? Storage? Birdhouses?

What's a fella to do?

Photos by GH  


Please click here to read "toss me a spoon"

Hammers 1 "out of the bag"

I'm going through a few changes of life at the same time. I'm getting older - one day at a time, sure, but with increasing awareness - and wake up with a few more aches after my weekly hockey game than when I was kid. I'm getting fussier. I'm trimming back my social calendar, among other things. And my workshop is slowly becoming more than 'Birdhouse Central'.

I still predominantly work on birdhouse projects (at present the shelves in the shop are full) but another line of combined work and pleasure is slowly developing. I'm at the first stage of what, in my opinion, is going to be a long, experimental, productive haul, and I already have a name for the journey. History in a box.

Like others, I find about my house many items - hard to let go of at times - I describe as part of my personal history. Photos, old letters, paintings, colourful (and wide!) polyester ties and various objects of deep, abiding and interesting interest. With the experience gained from making hundreds of birdhouses in the last decade, I'm starting to make solid shadow boxes into which I drop some of the aforementioned and meaningful bits of history, with a few words attached.

Certain objects tell their story through patina, wear marks, mars or damage, layers of dust. Observers are often left to guess, as well. For example, I would guess that Hammer 1 (in my collection) threw its weight around on many occasions in a shop or on a work bench older than I am. It likely hit many a nail right on the head or flattened dents in sheet metal. Its fine, clean, smooth handle and light weight was also likely instrumental in helping someone develop a bit of muscle and finish many important tasks for low pay. That being said, a workman, somewhere, likely felt he/she was worthy of the wage received. And so they were, I imagine, as most workmen are today.

["hard work builds muscle, improves your
appearance and fosters creativity"] 

More historic hammers to follow.

Photos by GH

Please click here to read 'a bag of hammers 2'

Thursday, May 23, 2013

the curious Mrs. C

A pair of chickadees, perhaps two pairs, are checking out houses with very agreeable - in my opinion - lend-lease agreements in my backyard. I say the rent is cheap for what they'll get. Still, one bird in particular, looked everything over more than once before settling onto a nearby spruce tree bough to mull things over.

I call her Mrs. C.

["I like the blue roof, though it's dusty"]

["I like window shopping at The Annex (Gord's extra shed)"]

["This triplex is very spacious. Comes w a/c even"]

Will she stay? Please return for more details.

Photos by GH


Please click here to view Mrs. C and "Made in the shade"

from the workshop: "toss me a spoon"

["Just waiting for the full-on trim package"]

A few weeks ago a fellow said I could help myself to his leftovers. He pointed toward two gates  leaning against his house, not attached to a fence, that were - in his mind - expendable. They weren't expendable to me. Useful more like.

What to do with 3/4 inch thick white cedar fence slats with cedar 2 by 4 frames? Make birdhouses, of course. Just add a wooden spoon and stir.

["Whoo, whoo tossed me the spoon?"]

Photos by GH


Please click here for more from the workshop.

zoom w a view, dusty birdhouse

I spotted a pile of dust on the blue roof.

So, it's time to make a beehouse.

photo by gah


Please click here to view 'favourite photo of the week'

the dust pile is a giveaway

On the wall of a storage shed near my workshop sits a birdhouse with a blue roof. Chickadees gave it a quick 'look see' yesterday and likely didn't stay long because of a dust pile on the rooftop. Have you ever seen such a thing?

["Fresh dust pile means a wanderer has returned"]

Years ago such dust piles were a mystery to me when I saw one on my back deck, under new board cladding on my house. Not anymore. Now I know they are made by driller or carpenter bees - the size of bumblebees, sometimes larger than. I occasionally spot one roaming from place to place in my backyard, sniffing out a suitable spot to drill a hole, and then to drill out a long tunnel-like home, e.g., inside a slat of softwood, like the eave of my shed, starting just above the dust pile on the birdhouse roof.

["The beehouse can hang upon a tree trunk,
fence post or shed wall"]

I'm only doing one thing to combat the troops. I'm now building beehouses filled with perfectly round holes, just like the bees make. Hopefully they'll find a hole that fits them just right and stay away from my shed. What do you think about this idea?

Photos by GH


Please click here to see Mrs. C. 'made in the shade'

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

what next?

take a stack of painted lumber and ask, what next?

I say, carefully put the pieces together.

then add a wee house on a stick.

then call A.V. IAN Realty to list it.

Photos by GH


Please click here to view 'the short end of the stick'