Sunday, June 30, 2013

the handy Hibachi - thumbs up!

["a small barbecue can come in handy"]

I was too lazy to phone. Plus, I would have killed myself during the bike ride.

Please allow me to back up. Last evening, supper was ready for the barbecue, I found the propane tank empty, I grew frustrated (I'd only used the propane tank twice since purchase on Mother's Day), my face was fixed for BBQ, Home Hardware and another propane tank were minutes away by bicycle, the time was 6:05 p.m. and I said "Stink!!" loud enough for many neighbours to hear. I quickly decided not to call the hardware store to see if it was still open. (I'm that lazy at times).

But I wasn't a man without options. I knew I had a very old and dusty barbecue under a workbench in the basement, i.e., a 30-year-old, never-been-used double Hibachi with a $2 price tag on one handle from the time I tried to unload it at a yard sale. I say, good thing people turned up their noses or didn't recognize what the heck it was. It turned out to be a life saver, or meal saver at the very least.

["For youngsters: Hibachi = famous name in small barbecues"]

Fortunately, atop the Hibachi I also found 30-year-old charcoal briquets and a package of fire starter sticks. (I knew the stuff was all together. I have this habit of hanging onto things things way past 'too long'). But would they take a match?

["worth way more now than two bucks"]

["under NON-TOXIC we can add GOOD FOR 30 YEARS"]

["fuel sticks and briquets took a match: supper ETA 60 min."]

They did. And while waiting for lift off I recalled many happy times at the beach with my long gone single Hibachi. Thumbs up if somebody out there is still using it. They do come in handy.

PS Where did I find the crossword references? At the top of my pile of clipped-out crosswords I keep in the TV room. I solved it this morning over coffee. Coincidence.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read don't throw that out!

Zoom w a View: "art on the street"

Here in the land of the maple leaf we celebrate Canada Day once per year (i.e., July 1st). But in my mind, every day is Canada Day.

["found during my morning walk"]

Enjoy the holiday.

Photo by GH


Please click here for "Upon a wind"

art in the street 4

If you start at the corner of Wortley Rd. and Stanley St. and start walking south toward The Village you  might soon spot - if it is parked outside - a 1929 roadster that sports a few glaring defects. It has no motor. An old tarp covers the upholstery.

["artsy fartsy signal light"]

["artsy fartsy headlamp"]

However, it has several shiny bits.

Photos by GH


Please click here to view art in the street 3

Friday, June 28, 2013

The hits keep on comin'

Since last week I've been watching the news about the floods in Alberta, and Calgary particularly. A June 22 headline 'Wild Wet Disaster' (London Free Press) makes just a start at describing the impact such floods have on a town, city, province or - at a level most of us can better understand - an individual family's life and livelihood. It will be several years before some families and towns get back to a normal life, and that's only with a great deal of support from government and humanitarian resources. And some never will.

[Calgary's mayor says "the fallout now will
be worse than after the 2005 floods"]

As news outlets are programmed to do, it wasn't long after the floods began that articles appeared - like the one in our local paper - entitled 'Insurance hit ripples nation-wide.' Damages will be examined in detail and costs - some, not all; chiefly financial ones - will be tallied. "It will be a significant hit," says Steve Kee, a spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada. (June 22, London Free Press)

["All Canadians will share the pain of Alberta flooding"]

Though Alberta's damages will bring about a significant hit to policy holders across Canada, the hits keep on comin'. Spokesperson Kee reminds us that the bulk of damage "caused by overland flooding or overflowing rivers, isn't covered by insurance." The provincial government, federal government and individuals will bear part or much of the cost, and unfortunately that process doesn't always help everyone get back to their normal life or livelihood.

What is also unfortunate is that costly disasters and stunning financial fallouts appear to be increasing. The list supplied by the local paper, documenting some of the costs from past disasters (e.g., $5.4 billion cost associated with an ice storm in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick in 1998) is likely a very small part of a very long and extremely costly list. That being said, Calgarians should take note that of the 'costliest natural disasters in Canadian history', they appear five of nine times. ("Move East, young man. Move East!" might soon be heard across the land).

The financial fallout of flood, ice and hail storms hasn't buried us yet, but I wonder if we shouldn't become more aware of the causes and effects of extreme weather events and whether we'll be able to afford increased damages and costs in the future.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read more about $$$ costs going North

art in the workshop 6

straight lines are everywhere in the workshop. saws work that way most of the time.

["Butch McLarty threw me a curve, a bagful"]

sometimes the right birdhouse perch is a rounded cupboard door pull, and I've got a bagful, thanks to an observant friend.

photo by gah


Please click here to view art in the workshop 5

art in the street 3

Yesterday while riding home to Wortley Village after a trip to Labatts Park (where bird watching can be a very absorbing, reflective activity) I spotted a 1920s roadster loaded with colour and style. The seats were covered with an old tarp and the motor was missing. But it still qualified, in my opinion, as art in the street.

Know where it's parked (besides "between Labatts Park and Gord's house")? 

Photos by GH


Please click here to view art in the street 2

"don't throw that out!"

["More lumber, Gordie? I'll help you unload the car"]

One day I'll turn 93 and after a second helping of double-chocolate cake loaded with cherry pie fill my two 70-something sons will ask me when I'm going to get around to cleaning out the basement, workshop and The Annex (storage shed).

"In a while," I'll say. (Meaning - sometime, maybe soon, maybe never, maybe you'll be doing it.)

I have a hard time throwing stuff out because I see meaning or value in many items deemed worthless by others. I know, deep deep down, I'm not alone. In fact, I've got millions and millions of other people - in Canada alone - for company.

Recently I drove to a lumber store to pick up a few pieces of barn board for bat houses. (Robin would be so pleased). I parked in front of a cull pile and made a detour before entering the store. I soon had made two purchases, i.e., barn board and a $10 pack of bits of this and that, mostly cedar identical to wood I've used in the past for certain types of birdhouses (so I knew the $10 pack was worth more than 10 times that to me).

["The paint comes off the red cedar easily w sanding"]

My behaviour is governed in part by my genetic makeup. I'm part Catton (my ancestors commonly made something out of nothing most days of their lives) and part Harrison (a family known to collect items of low value in search of reward; they later invented hoarding behind the barn). As well, having completed over 1,000 projects in my shop over the last 10 years (mostly birdhouses), my experience tells me that there's gold in them thar hills, and cull piles.

["The red cedar makes a solid log cabin"]

["Sturdy homes sometimes start out in the cull pile.
And look at that beautiful cedar roof!"]

If you happen to hear a short guy say, "Don't throw that out," at one of your local lumber stores, be sure to toss a 'thumbs up' my way. : )

Photos by GH


Please click here to read keeping the shop alive 1

keeping the shop alive 3

The things I sometimes have to do to keep the shop door open. Yesterday, before cutting and stacking a pile of old cedar fence boards I had to scrape greasy mushrooms off the underside. Will my efforts pay off? We'll see.

["It didn't take long to sand the stock for 8 birdhouses"]

I have often been asked how long it takes to make a birdhouse and not once have I ever timed myself in order to find out. Most of the time I make 6 or 8 at once and the work is spread over 2 - 3 days with other projects on the go at the same time. Then there are frequent interruptions to my shop schedule, i.e., the grass doesn't cut itself when the thought that 'it's ready again' springs to mind. But off hand, I'd say it takes a couple of hours per house when all the steps are considered (from "scrape off mushrooms" to "add full-on trim package" to "Voila!").

["It wasn't long before boxes filled an old bookcase"]

Some boxes, like the rustics that line my shelves today, are quick and easy because the wood is dry, nails find their mark 'first time every time', and the final step - the rustic trim package - is not too fussy. And because the wood was rescued and only cost a few hours of my time, I'd say I now have a great collection of 'Saturday Specials'.

["Voila! No paint is needed. The old stain looks fine"]

In a week or so there will be nothing left of the old fence but a handful of ash and rusty nails in the bottom of my fire pot. Not a bad way to keep the shop alive.

["The last step..."]

["... died down about 9:45 last night"]

Photos by GH


Please click here to view keeping the shop alive 2

Thursday, June 27, 2013

keeping the workshop alive 2

Last week two friends dropped by with a truck load of old lumber and asked if I wanted it. Three things affected my decision.

It was free. It was a mess of old cedar fence boards and posts. They would help unload.

["I whittled down the haphazard stack of old material"]

The load was soon sitting in a rough pile outside my backyard shop and two days ago I did a pile of work to turn rescued lumber into something useful. Birdhouses and shadow boxes came to mind as I cut off rotted bits and removed bent nails.

["The scrap box was soon full"]

["At sunset I felt satisfied; good wood was neatly stacked"]

Within a few hours I had a goodly number of useful slats standing inside my shop and one particular project in mind, i.e., a batch of rustic houses for rustic birds. And before the sun went down eight houses were ready for sanding.

Sanding, assembling, adding a modest trim package. Easy kap-easy. But that's for tomorrow.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read keeping the workshop alive 1

a longer life, because of the view

I used to feel I'd like to reach 87 years of age, the average age of my mother Edith and her mother Ida Catton. Recently, I changed my mind after discovering I resemble Ida's mother, Lydia Jane Gordon, who lived to be 105 or 106 years of age. The average age of the three women is 93 years, and that number is my new goal.

Ninety-three. It's a tough number to reach but I'm motivated. I've got the best view in town.

When I look out from the workshop I see the lovely boughs of a stately blue spruce my wife and I planted shortly after moving into our house on Cathcart Street, Old South, in the mid-1980s. I used to see more boughs but I trimmed a few this year in order to expand my workspace outside. I've been told the tree will now grow much faster and I catch myself looking outside regularly to see if I can spot any change.

So far, not much. But I'm a patient man.

By the time I become a septuagenarian the tree will likely be 50 feet in height or more. When I become an octogenarian the tree will be nearing 70 feet in height. And when I stand beneath its boughs as a ninety-genarian, or whatever I'll be called (just don't call me late for supper), I'll be hoping the tree will reach 90 as well.

Until then, I'll keep my eye on it from my familiar vantage points... the shop doorway and window.

Photo by GH


Please click hear to read keeping the workshop alive

art in the street 2

The tables and chairs parked outside The Black Walnut cafe (in Wortley Village) were sitting out in the open on a hot, bright day last week, and Don Kelly and I ordered mugs of coffee.

What a combination. Heat plus coffee equals more heat.

Though I was soon itching to get back onto my bike in order to catch a breeze, I noticed that the tiled table tops looked pretty cool.

Photos by GH


Do you see art in the street? Where?

Please click here to view art in the street 1

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

keeping the workshop alive

["small backyard workshop"]

I want to keep my workshop door open for another 25 years because I like working in my own backyard. I like participating in a creative process, doing odd, easy jobs related to woodworking almost every day, feeling productive, keeping the blood flowing, going from A to Z with a project and at the end saying "Voila!"

The following process seems to be working very well for me:

I buy and rescue decent lumber

["red cedar from a '$10 cull pile' at Home Depot"]

I cut it according to homemade plans and drawings

["one birdhouse ready for sanding"]

I sell a few items from my home and at local shops

["ready for the 'full-on' trim package, then "Voila!"]

A few sales per year keep the shop alive, the blood flowing and I'm learning that reasonable expectations lead to satisfying results and experiences. And piles of dust.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read the workshop 2

art in the street 1

after a bicycle ride: while Don bought coffee I snapped art in the street.

"one chair then another"

"a missing tile"

photos by gah


Please direct me to more art - in your opinion - in the street.

Please click here to view art in the workshop 5

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

art in the workshop 5

shadows moved atop my paint pot

photos by gah


Please click here to view 'art in the workshop 4'

if I was a bluebird

if I was a bluebird
I'd live in the shade,
above thick knots of ferns
that keep cats at bay.

["give me the shade"]

other birds can live
in the sun all they want. 
just give me the shade, 
and a wide porch to haunt.

photo by gah


Please click here to peek at a lovely triplex for birds.

Photo Poser 24: "How far do apples travel to our plates?"

"What is this?" I asked myself. I thought my apple had a worm.

["It only a wiggled a bit because I did"]

However, upon closer inspection, I discovered the seeds inside my apple core were sprouting and had roots 1 - 2 inches long. A few questions crossed my mind.

["I don't recall seeing this in the past"]

Where did this apple get picked and packed?

How far did the apple travel to my plate?

What should I know about the apples in London's grocery stores?

Should I plant the seeds?

Any answers?

Photos by GH


Please click here to view Photo Poser 23

home sweat home

It was nice to go away last weekend. It is nice to be back home and into my usual exciting routine.

["unpack. sort out the dirty laundry.
wash and dry. easy kap-easy"]

E.g., laundry day. I don't mind the small bit of puttering around w dirty laundry 'cause in the end I love my two clotheslines that stretch across my back deck and under a gazebo. They help me reduce my use of hydro (I use enough in my workshop), and I get to do my morning stretching exercises.

["if you come visit, beware the soggy shirts"]

I like to entertain guests while my shirts dry.

"My, you're looking well... I think. You at least sound well," I say.

Photos by GH


Please click here to read about an upcoming adventure.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

stay-cation vs road trip 2

I've done some more thinking about taking a few days off. If I can rent my favourite cabin for 3 - 4 weekdays then I'll soon pack my bags (and bike trailer) for the 70 km. jaunt to Port Franks. And if the sun is shining and the wind is at my back I'll be smiling all the way.

["Last year's ride to Port Bruce was a treat"]

["My favourite cabin w birdhouse on front wall"]

I don't mind pedalling 70 kilometers or the small, rustic accommodations at the end of a sandy path. All I need to haul is a few canned goods, a good book or two, a spare t-shirt, towel and swim trunks. I don't even need to write up a list. I've done this before and I bet I can predict what my days will be like.

["The beach is easy to find"]

["All the chairs are perfectly comfortable"]

Day 1 - ride 70 kms. west. rest up at the beach before supper. watch sunset. snap 100 photos. sleep.

Day 2 - sleep in. repeat Day 1 agenda (minus the cycling) w cold beer from fridge and good book.

Day 3 - repeat Day 2 agenda.

Day 4 - ride 70 kms. east. repeat Day 1 agenda minus 90 of the photos.

My thinking is almost done.

["From the beach in Port Bruce, Aug. 24, 2012"]

Photos by GH


Please click here to read 'stay-cation vs road trip 1"