Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Updates

I have been awfully busy the last couple of months, hence no posts.
I cut down a good sized fir tree and made the structural components for my deck. It turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated. It was right at the upper limit of what I can do physically by myself.
I pulled a muscle in my back humping one of the beams out of the woods, so I have been limited a little in what I can do. But the bottom line is that the structural components are all done and under the eaves of the garage aging so they will be ready next summer when I go to build the deck. I have an adze on order to finish up the beams and work out any imperfections.
Besides the Alaska Mill work, I have been doing some woodworking. I just turned out an incredible live edge burlwood maple side table. I also have a really neat piece of skelotonized driftwood I and finishing. Don't know exactly hoe to describe it, but it has lots of interesting shapes and lines. I will probably post a picture of it when I decide it is done. That's part of the problem. When is something like that done. I guess it's done when I say it's done. I have thought it was done a couple of times, but found myself piking it up and doing "just a little more".
There is an area just to the East of the house that was overgrown with nettles and brush. I have been avoiding doing anything about it ever since we moved in here, but decided it was time to attacck the area before it got completely out of hand.
Fortunately I have a DR walk behind brush-cutter trimmer mower. Unfortunately it had not been started in several years, so I dug it out of the equipment shed and it took all morning to tear it down, clean it up and get it started. It ran pretty ragged until the second tank of gas. Unfortunately the drive belt was old and brittle. It didn't break, but pieces of it started unraveling, so I had to get a new belt.
I also ran out og cutting string. The best stuff I could find, was just not up to the task. I have ordered some of the right stuff from DR, but it won't be here for a couple of weeks. The stuff I found locally flys apart when it meets heavy resisstance, so I spend more time installing new string than working. At least it came in a 150 foot reel so I have plenty to work with.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Live Edge Free Form Burl Bowl

I made this live edge free form Maple burl bowl some time ago. I really like the way it came out, but had no good way to display it. I mean it just looked incomplete without a complimentary stand.
When I was working in the yard, I was removing an old diseased rhododendron and looked at the base where I had cut it down, and it just looked like what I was looking for to display the bowl.
A couple of hours of trimming and debarking and here it the result.
Sort of an entish star ship enterprise looking fluid look to it.
I love it when disparate elements come together to make a whole different thing.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Fencing

Last year we planted three cherry trees and two five-in-one apple trees.
In other words, deer feed.
We got one cherry and no apples. I think that the deer left the one cherry just to mock me. My deer repellent of choice is my Airsoft reproduction 1925 Thompson sub machine gun. It shoots 6mm plastic pellets, so it stings but doesn't penetrate the hide. Only two problems with that pan. First of all I have to be there, and also the gun has to be charges (it is electric).
So this year I stepped up my game. I purchased a battery powered solar charged electric fence.
Take that Bambi!
I haven''t quite worked up the nerve to try it out on myself. I have been bit by an electric fence plenty of times, and while not really harmful it is less that pleasant.
I remember the time when we were having a going away party for my and J.B out at Art's little place out by the airport. There must have been forty people there in a tiny little house with only one bathroom.
The guys resorted to going outside.
We heard this hellacious bellow outside and looked out the window to see all six foot seven of Dave clutching his private parts and jumping up and down while bellowing at the top of his lings. Ranks as one of the funniest things I have ever seen. The people next door had horses and ran an electric fence around their property. Dave had stepped behind a tree and pissed on the electric fence.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sidinng

After we completed cutting up the two cedars for decking, there were a bunch of slabs of cedar left over. The way you get started making decking is to carefully level and nail some boards to the log to use as a guide for your mill.. After you have made your first cut, you discard the guide bards and first cut.
A couple of the leftovers were fairly thick, so I decided to make them into benches, which requires you to strip the bark off of them. I set aside two hunks for benches, which left me with a bunch of scrap. Some of it I cut up inn to small pieces to use as spacers to put in between the boards as they dry.
That still left several boards flat on one side, round on the other, and very pretty. I couldn't decide what to do with them.
Then I thought about the wood shed.
The wood shed is nothing fancy. Some 4 X 4 structure, a sound roof, and a few boards. Not very attractive, but passable and functional. But what if I took the left over boards and stripped off the bark and nailed them to the outside of the shed? It would lend the wood shed the appearance of a log building!
So I went and ordered a draw knife to strip the bark off of the boards, and started nailing them to the front of the shed. As I got into it, I did not like the way the shed was put together, so I tore a bunch of it apart, went to town and got some 4 X 4s and beefed up the structure.
It's looking pretty good so far. I'm just afraid I will run out of material to cover the front.
Gotta do some measuring and figuring.
Who knows, I might have to cut down another tree.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Decking

There is a small deck attached to the front of the house. It is about six by 12 feet, made from Trex, which is recycled plastic. I hate it
There is not one single thing about it that is attractive. No handrails, no fancy wood, no furniture.
I had decided to replace it.
Since I have three and a half acres of trees, I thought it would be a nice touch to make it out of lumber cut from trees on the property.
We have a lot of Cedar, which is a very attractive wood, So I bought an Alaska Mill so I could make my own decking.
I decided I wanted the new deck to be 16 feet wide, so Kieth and I cut down a couple of nice medium sized cedars. The Alaska Mill Will accept a tree up to 19" so that was my criteria for choosing trees.
The deck is going to be gorgeous. The boards are 12 to 19 inches by two inches by sixteen feet long.
We have cut all the boards now. Some mighty fine looking boards they are. too.
Next we have to drag them out of the woods and stack them under cover to dry.
Where can you get cedar boards 19 inches wide by two inches thick by 16 feet long? Pretty much no where but at my place. It will make an incredible deck when it is done.
I still have to work out the details for the deck, but the lumber needs too dry for a year, so I'll have plenty of time to figure it out.
All the waste from the project will be turned into kindling.
Nothing wasted.
There are several 10 inch diameter fir trees that would make excellent structural supports

Monday, March 06, 2017

Lemonade

The old saying goes "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade".
Good advice, even when they are not your lemons.
Lisa and Kieth recently departed on an adventure. They moved from here to Hawaii. Keith has some property there, a brother living there, and had a job lined up remodeling some property and starting up a B & B. Sounds idyllic neh?
Except it wasn't. The job didn't work out the way it was supposed to, and they ended up stuck in Hawaii with no money and no place to live.
Not my lemons.
Except that they called here to ask for a loan. I am not inclined to loan people money, especially family. I have seen too many times it has come back to bite people in the ass. Carol was disinclined to loan them the money, and I don't blame her. No many things can go wrong.
So I came up with a win/win scenario.
Our rook appears to be the original roof that was on the house when new. It's looking pretty raggedy, and has a bunch of moss on it. The eves are dripping. We have been talking about putting a new roof on. Kieth is a contractor, and roofing is well within his skill set.
I payed for them the plane tickets home, I buy the materials, and Kieth installs my new roof in exchange for the tickets.
Everybody wins.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

A Little Too Much Excitement

The weather forecast was for rain, which was fine with me. I am a Northwest Native. I have webbed feet and moss on my North side.
But the weather forecast was rain, and I by God was ready for rain. So it snowed.
I had a doctors appointment this morning at the Pain Clinic, mainly to refill my prescription for Percocet, and to check on me status. If it wasn't already made, I probably would have stayed in.
But because of the snow, Mrs A decided to skip her swim session at the Y and I got to take the good car. The HHR is front wheel drive and does great in the snow, so I was relieved. The nice thing about front wheel drive is that the drive of the wheels is always in the direction you want to go. So if you are not stupid, you cn generally get where you want to go.
The road weren't great, but they weren't bad. The one shade corner where Happy Valley Road turns to the North is always shady, and it was a little slippery, but not bad.
I went to the doctor's and was headed to Walgreen's when a guy o a motorcycle two cars if front of me abruptly pulled over to the side of the road, got off his bike and fell flat on his face.
The car in front of me and I pulled over and we got out to make sure the guy was OK. So did a car heading in the other direction on 5th. A call was made to 911
The guy was having a seizure. Looked like a grand mal to me, but that something for the doctors to figure out..
So we turned him on his back, and held him down from thrashing around so he didn't hurt himself. I made sure his airway was clear. We talked to him and reassured him that everything was going to be OK, that we had called for help.
A nice lady in the car behind me volunteered a blanket. Lady, whoever you are, thanks.
I hung around until the ambulance showed up, and got back in my asr.
Mrs a had suggested that I get her ice cream since she was stuck at home, so I stopped at QFC to pick her up Halo Oatmeal cookie ice cream.
When I went to get the money out of my wallet, my hands were shaking noticeably. I explained why I was so shaky, and left to go home
The roads weren't so great coming home, and I spun a little a couple of times.
I got home safe and sound, but shaky.
After I told Mrs A about my trip, I realized that I had never stopped at Walgreen's to fill my prescription. Mrs A suggested a shot of fine Irish Whiskey was the prescription she suggested, and  good swig of Tullamore Dew was the recommended dose.
Worked quite well.
But I don't think I will be going back out today.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Entertainment

We live in a most beautiful area here in Sequim. Olympic Mountains, Straights of Juan de Fuca, Paciific  Ocean, rain forests.
But when it comes to Entertainment, the selection is a little sparse. There is one cinema with five  screens. A few casinos that fearture third string entertainers. Some tmes some B listers.
But what it does is expose you to some excellent performers that aren't well known outside their special niche.
I am pretty open minded when it comes to music. I like just about all gernres of music. Opera doesn't float my boat, and C & W isn't my favorite, but can be OK.
We will go to any venue and watch most any show, because that's all there is.
The one fact that has impressed me over and over is how many truly tallented musicians that there are out there that are good enough to be on a bigger stage performing for a bigger audience.
SO we dtove into Port Angeles the other night for a show. Mouths of Babes was performing at Studio Bob. Studio Bob is a part time art studio part time performance space. The decor is midcentury yard sale meets gymnasium. Very eclectic and informal.
Mouths of Babes is a female duo who are fantastic musicians and singers. Their music is about as eclectic as it gets. They re alternately funny touching serious and lighthearted. They managed to bring me to tears and belly laughs. Their songwriting is fantastic. "Brighter in the Dark" is a light in the face of the dark world.
They probably won't rise to the hights their tallents should take them to because they are a couple, and that will most likely limit their audience. Doesn't bother me at all. I am all for anything that brings more love into the world, and against anything which promotes prejudice and separation.
I really wish Ingrid and Ty all the best in their careers and hope thay come back here in the Blue Hole.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Blue Hole

The area where I live is known as The Blue Hole. This is because it is in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State.
Because of the prevailing wind patterns, we get little rain here. The average is 16 inches a year. The weather pattern comes in from the southwest bringing a lot of moist tropical weather with it. The clouds run into the Olympic Mountains which cause them to pile up against them and the squeeze the clouds, causing them to dump their moisture. You can travel 100 miles from here, and land in Forks, Washington where the average is 100 inches a year..
If you rravel just a short distance,to say Port Angeles. a distance of 15 miles the annual precipitation goes up to 20 inches., similar if you reavel east to Port Townsend.
This is one of the primary reasons we chose to move here when we retired. The same mild climate as Seattle, but without all the rain.
As with all plans, there were a couple of things I did not take into account.
Mainly the temperature. For some reason it did not occur to me that blue skies in winter equates to cold. The cloud cover keeps it warn, the clouds a blanket to keep us warm.
So the difference isn't enough to make for a completely different environment, but the winter temperatures average  couple of degrees cooler.
It doesn't particularly bother me, as I have lots of hobbies to keep me busy. Nothing like sitting down with a good book in the living room with a toasty fire in the wood stove.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Out of the Hole

Back in the middle of November I fell in a hole.
Nor a physical hole.
A mental and emotional hole.
A hole so dark and so deep that no light penetrated it. No escape was possible.
Looking back on it, I can see no rational reason for it. I am prone to getting depressed in the winter anyway, but usually a little St. John's Wort gets me through it.
Some how this was different. More profound, and much deeper.
Oh there are lots of reasons. I am diabetic, have bad kidneys, am in constant pain arthritis. At the time my left shoulder was undergoing a bout of bad arthritis, limiting the use of my left arm, and that in combination with the arthritis in my neck keeps me from getting a decent nights sleep. Maybe it was a combination of all those things.
I am a creative person and suddenly the creative juices dries up.Although I had a number of projects that I had been interested in, suddenly they were sack cloth and ashes.
I have a beautiful 1977 Datsun 280Z with a color changing paint job that goes from purple to blue to green depending on the lighting and direction you are looking at it from.
It has a 160 mile an hour speedometer. I had it up over 120 miles an hour out on the track, and it was solid at that speed. I have always wondered what the top speed actually is. I figure it is around 140.
I began to  wonder if I could top 140. And what it would be like to take out a bridge stanchion at that speed.
The thought began to insinuate itself into my consciousness ore and more frequently. To the point where, when I was out driving, I would eye the approach to various overpasses to calculate whether they had the right amount of straightaway to get up to full speed.
The problem is that when you are that deep in the hole, t is very difficult to see any path out of the pit. One of the most difficult things I have ever done was make an appointment with my doctor to tell him I need help.
I have always been there for everyone else. Admitting that I needed help was a blow to what little pride I had left.
But I managed to drag myself up by the bootstraps and made it in to the doctor's. He assessed the situation and was close to having me hospitalized, but I talked him out of it, saying that I was self-aware enough to know when to ask for help, so the likelihood of me taking myself out right after that was extremely small.
He did refer me to the Whack Shack for further checkout. The Crisis Center was very understanding and professional, although they did insist I divest myself of my knives. I was carrying three. They were somewhat concerned about why I needed three knives, but I told them I was doing some wood working, and each on was for a different task. I'm nit sure they believed me, but at any rate they let me leave.
Since then it has been a long slow process to dig myself out of the hole.
I am back in the daylight, now.
Just today, I was struck by and idea for a project that has brought back the enthusiasm.
I was watching an episode of American Pickers last night, and they featured a chair with an elaborate back with a carving, that they called the "Green Man". Basically a human face with hair and mustache of leaves and branches.
When I was cutting wood last fall, I came across a section of a maple that was twisted ans scarred. About four feet long. I have been figuring I would use it as a test piece for using my Alaska Mill. slabbing it out. Now I have a plan of what I want to do with it when I cut it.
Today I made a preliminary sketch.
But I am not quite to the point where I want to take the "Z" out for a drive.