Friday, February 27, 2015

Faint Footsteps, WW2 (3)

Bluenose 1, Nelson's Navy, Famous Stoker, Rug Beater

Why, I didn't know the significance of this photo until about four years ago.

Read more at Gord's new blog.

Link to Faint Footsteps, WW2 (3)

The Workshop - Log Cabins (2)

Lots of Sanding

 ["Four log cabins w 5 by 5-inch base"]

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!

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Workshop - New Projects

Deadline - March 27

["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.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Bird Watching - Cold Sparrows

Won't Budge

When I walk past the feeder on the way to my workshop I notice some sparrows, and other birds, are so cold they won't fly off because of my presence.

Maybe this guy is thinking, "If I stay, I'll be first in line when he adds a cup of seed mix."

And maybe he is just too cold to budge.

Maybe I should add a furnace to Canada House.

Link to Bird Watching

Photos GH

The Workshop - Cedar Triplexes 12

The Heat is On

 ["Perches are almost finished"]

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.

: )

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

The Way We Roll 10

Half the Heat Bill

 ["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. 


Photos GH

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Canadians in Combined Operations

Two New Blogs

 [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.

Photos GH

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Morning Smile - Snip, Snip

I Feel Bare!

 ["I feel like an egg... hard boiled"]

["Will I survive the cold?"]

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.

Link to My Morning Smile

Photos GH

Artsy Fartsy 18

Next Workshop Project

 ["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!

Link to Artsy Fartsy 17

Photos GH

Bird Watching - Or Not

Looking the Other Way

My pet rooster looked the other way when a squirrel dropped by to clean up seeds spilled from the bird feeder by messy sparrows.

I can live with that during really cold weather.

Link to Bird Watching

Photos GH

The Workshop - Cedar Triplexes 11

Not Taking Forever

 ["The faint light indicates 'man at work'"]


Eleven posts about cedar birdhouses? I must be the slowest worker this side of Lake Huron.

I'm slow, maybe. Definitely not the slowest. I mean, you've never met my Uncle Louie. He does laundry, like, once a year.

However, in my defence, the temperature only got as high as 5 C inside the shop yesterday, and while wearing mittens I find it hard to attach small bits of trim in rapid-fire fashion.

 ["One of six red cedar triplexes"]

 ["Three birdhouses all ready for line dancing. Add trim here, add trim there"]

["Next I will add perches, then attach fences"]

Speaking of fire. Today I will light a fire outside the shop to warm my hands up when times turn bitter. So, if you smell cedar smoke at 3PM, don't call 911.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Workshop - Cedar Triplexes 10

Slow and Steady

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.

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH

The Way We Roll 9

Cut or Not Cut?

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?

Link to The Way We Roll 8

Photos GH

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Birdhouse London - Cedar Triplex 2

Flying off Shelves

Once all the trim has been added I take birdhouses on a quick trip from the 'finished shelf' in the workshop to the 'waiting 'til spring shelf' in the basement.

Due to very crisp temperatures I run like the wind all the way.

 ["Perches are fussied-up a bit with spare hardware"]

 ["Cat is on the prowl"]

["End units are a very good size for local birds"]

Flying through the snow I do go!

Link to more finished BHs at Birdhouse London

Photos GH

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bird Watching - Mr. C is Bold Today

He is Sitting Pretty

Mr. C usually sits in a tree while Mrs. C. grabs her lunch. And when she vacates the feeder he will swoop in for a meal too, but he prefers to dine alone.

Today he tolerated a hungry sparrow and I figure he did so because of very cold weather and the need for calories to create some heat once the sun goes down.

Link to more Bird Watching

Photos GH

Birdhouse London - Cedar Triplex

Ready to Go

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.

["The cat is on the prowl"]

["One free birdhouse with this model!"]

Link to more Birdhouse London (finished birdhouses ready for a spring sale)

Photos GH

The Big Tidy 4

Twice as Good

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.

Want a 35-year old Lite Brite?

Too late!

Link to The Big Tidy

Photo GH

My Afternoon Walk - Wortley Rd.

Belated Birthday?

Near the end of our walk yesterday I bought Don a cup of coffee for his birthday.

Once seated at Fire Roasted on Wortley Rd. I said, "Here's a card. Sorry I'm late."

"You're early," he said. "I don't turn 65 until next week." (At least that's what I think he said. My hearing hasn't been too good lately, eh).

At least we got home without getting lost.

Link to My Afternoon Walk

Photos GH

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dad's Navy Days - Authentic Photos, North Africa, 1942

Imperial War Museum Photographs

[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.

For now, I guess I'd better start saving up!

: )

Photos from Imperial War Museum

The Workshop - Cedar Triplexes 9

Ready for Roofs, and Q & A

Amid the mess on my basement work table you will find three BHs ready for the next step. So, out they go today to the cold workshop.

I will tack on the roof slats, then start adding trim - and lots of it. All the while I will be wondering how much my hydro bill will be at the end of this cold month.

Q: Is the entry hole on the tall center unit too high from the base, i.e., more than 6 - 7 inches?

A: It appears so from the outside, but inside the tallest unit I included a raised bottom, 6 - 7 inches below the hole.

Q: So, with the false bottom, can the BH be cleaned out by removing the base?

A: No, but one of the roof slats will be screwed into place for easy removal. See side units for an example.

Any other questions? : )

Link to The Workshop

Photos GH