Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two-Fer Tuesday

Yup.  I'm pretty sure we do have mice.  As winter approaches, the mice migrate into the house looking for a warm, dry place and food to eat.  The first tell-tale indications are the sounds of little paws running along the ceiling in inaccessible spaces between the first and second floor and some attic spaces.  I've posted before about our local vermin - outside we have woodland voles who live outdoors around the foundation of the house and in the garden beds.  Indoors we have woodland jumping mice - your typical bulgy-eyed field mice.  They're cute, but they're destructive - and they don't pay rent.

They tend to congregate downstairs in the basement, which is an un-finished space.  I've had thoughts about putting in partitions and making a rec-room of sorts down there, but I have visions of this:

DW is concerned about the mice as well because we have a set of pantry shelves in the basement where we store groceries and other dry goods that get purchased in bulk or because the price is good.   If anything, the mice get into bags of rice and barley and sometimes will chew on boxes of baking mixes.  Actually, I think she's more concerned about sharing her wine supply which we keep on the pantry shelves as well:

Because DS and DD have gerbils, killing traps are frowned upon in our house.  The mice are pretty close cousins to the gerbils and the kids don't want to see us flattening mice with the old-fashioned traps.  I also find that they don't work that well and I have to finish the mouse off, or discover the the mouse has suffered some long-lasting and horrible fate in the trap.  I've found the Have-a-Heart traps to work pretty well, too.  Witness today's haul or the reason for the post's title:

We've now caught 11 mice in the last two weeks or so.   They get released far down in the woods away from the house to become part of the food chain again.  We've been amazed to watch them climb trees high and fast enough to put a squirrel to shame and run down to the edge of the pond, jump in and swim out to small islands of brush and trees.  DW is still convinced that we're catching the same mice over and over.   Personally, I think the place is just lousy with mice at the moment.  Anyway - I caught three in one night last week, so there are at least three of them!  Perhaps someone is dropping them off like kittens at a dairy farm!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The picture above is from the kitchen at work.  Our office manager is the person who tends to be saddled with changing rolls of paper towels.  She was out of the office for a few days before Thanksgiving and on the day after she left, we arrived at the state that is viewed above.  One last sheet.  I decided to do a little experiment and see what happened - so, I did nothing.  It became like a game, played with chess-like precision and cunning.  I watched as people came into the kitchen with their own paper towels from somewhere else.  I watched people shake their hands and dirty dishes off into the sink when they would normally just grab for a paper towel.  It was truly an amazing exercise in psychology, really.  It took several days before anyone bothered to replace the roll - and that was me the day before Thanksgiving.

The image below was taken at home and is actually the more threatening situation.  It is (was) a roll of toilet paper.  Literally one sheet was left on the roll - if that.  I'm not sure you could have even dislodged the sheet from the cardboard tube in the middle.  Ironically, there is a container in the bathroom next to this toilet which stores spare rolls of toilet paper, so it isn't a big deal to replace the roll, but generally, nobody could be bothered to change the roll.  For the longest time, I wondered if anyone in the house actually knew how to remove the little spring-loaded axle from the center of the toilet roll to replace it.  A really, really long time.   This happens at work as well - a lot - and I often comment that I feel really comfortable at work - it feels just like home.


I must admit, however, that recently I've been finding an even more curious situation in the kitchen and bathrooms at home.  Since the bilge-rats (gerbils) arrived, we discovered that they love to play with the toilet and paper towel rolls.  They run trough them and chew them to bits, being the viscous beasties that they are.  Household members have taken to giving these toilet rolls to the gerbils, and now you don't see the last sheet, you just find the bare naked axle or paper towel stand.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

This one goes out to...


Mike seemed a bit thirsty today for some reason.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Progress from the Thotful Spot

One of the things that I was thinking about was how to finish the decks and inwales where they meet the stem ends at bow and stern.   There are, frankly, many ways to solve this.  However, I'm trying to make this relatively simple and elegant in appearance.    I went back and did a bit of research and reading and have decided to use a solution that Jerry Stelmok taught in his class.  On cedar and canvas canoes, the inwales are in place, but not attached at the stems.  After the canoe is removed from the mold, the decks are installed.  The joint where they meet is a mortise and tenon joint.  In the image above, the inwales aren't seen to let you see the joint.  A notch is made in the underside of the deck (the mortise) and a protrusion (the tenon) is left at the top of the stem.  As the inwales are fitted to the deck, they close in the sides of the mortise.  In this case, the tenon will be bonded with thickened epoxy.


The inwales and outwales will be tapered at the ends to give a more delicate appearance. After the hull has been skinned, the stem ends will be protected with a piece of brass stem-band that will wrap over the top of the deck.  The final screw holding the stem-band in place will be located through the deck and into the tenon.

More to come.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On my Soap-Box : The Holidaze

Over the past few days, Paddling Upstream has gotten a huge number of hits from a website that I'd not heard about.  That website is Pinterest.   And here is the image that brought all of this interest:

This image was taken at a mall in Florida by my friend Russell two years ago and he shared it with me on his Facebook page.  I've now seen it re-posted on Pinterest and Facebook.  To both his pleasure and his chagrin, this image seems to have gone viral this year.    He's pleased that its making the rounds, but a little disappointed that his 15 minutes of fame are anonymous. 

On to my soap box...

In honor of Andy Rooney's passing, I'm going to get up on my own soap-box to complain.  He crystallized everyone's thoughts on the issues of daily life so well.  I hope to be able to reflect those things that we've all been thinking of.

As I noted, I've posted before on this subject before, here.  At the end of September, I found myself posting a Facebook status update that my worst nightmares had come true:
It has finally come true.

I was in CVS this evening. There were witches, scarecrows, pumpkins, turkeys, and Santa Claus.

Merry Thanksgivoween.

:::rolls eyes:::

Horrendous, isn't it?  I think that both retailers and marketing people should come to realize that the public is getting fed up with the homogenization of holidays during the year.  There is going to be a back-lash from consumers one of these years, and I think it has begun.  Most of the comments that were attached to the image at the top of this post included things like "Darn straight!", "Right on!" and "Finally, a store that 'gets it'."  On a Facebook post with the Nordstrom's image, I saw this comment:

I love this!! I get frustrated with people who complain that stores advertise too early but yet they still go and spend their money at these places. People must learn to vote with their wallets! As long as these companies are making money they do NOT care what the public thinks! Nordstrom just got my business!!

I truly worry that my children will not know which symbols go with which holidays because of what they see in stores, malls and in television and print advertising.  I also think that we've diminished the meanings of the holidays - including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza (Or whatever holiday you celebrate, Festivus included!)  to candy, food and football and presents. It seems that parents now need to think much more about traditions, celebrations and how we keep them for our children.

While I love the holidays as much as anyone else, can we please just celebrate one holiday at a time?

Pretty please?

Election Day

Monday, November 7, 2011

It is a Disgrace

The image above is from Connecticut Light & Power's website this morning. (Click to enlarge) It shows the outages that still have not been resolved after 8 days.  It shows that there are over 61,000 customers without power.  While other locations in Massachusetts were without power until the weekend, CL&P says that some customers will not see power restored until Wednesday.  I know the damage was widespread, but this seems to be taking a very large amount of time.

I guess we should just be thankful that this out(r)age didn't happen in February.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A bit more progress...

I've made a bit more progress on the frame for the skin-on-frame canoe this evening.  I've got the forms mounted on the strongback and started to cut stringers.  I think I've discovered my second "boo-boo".  The chine stringers were intended to be fairly husky and while they bend well in one axis, they don't bend so well in the other.  I think I'll need to lighten up on this excessively beefy piece of stock.  I am liking the way the forms sit on the strongback for alignment.  It's a great deal more simple than trying to juggle frames in mid-air the way some kayak builders do.  

More to come.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Halloween

Ok, this is a bit belated, but it looks like Halloween will be a bit belated, too - like November 5th.

Why?  Well, we had a bit of snow this weekend.   As I'm writing, there are still about a million people without power still - 4 days later.

Let me take a step back here.  At the end of last week, the weathermen were making dire predictions of a very early season Northeaster.  We never have snow of any substance this early in this neck of the woods.  At any rate, I kept my eye on the news and made sure that we would be prepared for whatever might come.  Having purchased propane for the camp stove and batteries and drinking water in preparation for Hurricane Irene, I felt well prepared.

My canoe-building class was held as usual on Saturday morning and DW and I agreed that I'd clean the garage in the afternoon while she and DS were at a birthday party so we could get a car in the garage.    I got home from class and had a bite of lunch and then started in on the cleaning.  I had a bunch of things I wanted to put in the basement and moved them to the backyard by the hatchway.  I no sooner got ready to head down to the basement to open the hatchway when I noticed some "white" in the air.  I no sooner got the last of the things into the basement when the flakes started to grow in size.  It was just before 2 o'clock.  The flakes were HUGE - like about 2-3" in diameter and falling fast. 

I continued cleaning as the snow fell and put out birdfeeders for our feathered friends.  With the early snow, I figured food would be hard for them to find.  The snow continued to fall like white lead.  By about 4:30 in the afternoon we had several inches of heavy, wet snow that were bending branches severely.  We had been invited to a Halloween party by friends that was supposed to start at 4:00, but we figured it probably wasn't happening.  DW and DS arrived not much later and we started making dinner.  We ate and had cleaned up most of the dishes when the power went out.  Electric camping lanterns were pulled out and everyone went to bed a bit early.  Throughout the night we could hear the sounds of breaking branches.

We awoke to this:

Probably about 10 inches of snow.  We later found out that some areas had as much as 32 inches of snow from this storm.  Fortunately, the street appeared to have been plowed.  The more immediate issue was that the temperature in the house was dropping as we have oil heat which depends on electricity.  It was about 62 degrees Fahrenheit, but it wasn't that bad with the sun streaming through the windows.

I cleared the driveway and loaded up my car with the chainsaw and supplies.  My father, who lives across town, was likely to need some help with downed limbs and trees.  I hadn't even gotten to the main road when I had to pull the chainsaw out of the trunk to clear the road of downed trees with the help of neighbors.

On the drive over, there were branches and trees everywhere and the occasional downed wires along the side of the road.  To say it looked like a war zone would not be an understatement.  (Even four days later, there are still places where roads have only a single lane that is passable.)  There were several cars that had been crushed by fallen limbs or trees and some houses that were obviously damaged by more of the same.  On my way, I noticed that our local hardware store was open and I stopped in for a bit of 2-cycle oil.  They were doing a cash-only business using flashlights to find the stock in the store.  I must say, they were doing a serious community service. 

Arriving at my father's house, my expectations were proven right.  I spent several hours clearing downed branches and trees for my father and another neighbor until I ran out of fuel for the saw.  I could have spent more time, but most of the trees that were left will be fodder for professional arborists in the future.  When dealing with chainsaws and fallen trees it's good to know your limitations. 

On the way home, I saw this guy:

We skipped over Thanksgiving and melded Halloween and Christmas together.  This seemed to be a local theme.  I later saw another snowman with a Jack O'Lantern head that was playing a banjo at the side of the road.  DW pointed out a "snow-witch", too.

At home, we tried to keep a sense of normalcy going.   Halloween cut-outs that we'd made to go into the windows were put in place:

We also worked on our Jack O'Lanterns.  DD and DS drew up their own designs. I cut out DS's pumpkin - I think I'm getting good at carrying out the design intent - as well as my own. DD surprised me this year by not only scooping out the pumpkin seeds, but cut the face on her pumpkin as well.  Results were quite good - don't you think?

 We made a quick dinner and cleaned up before the light faded.  The family curled up under blankets with electric lanterns nearby to read some good books for a few hours before bed-time.  DS continued to complain that we didn't have electricity.  Mostly, he was complaining because he'd gotten a game for the Wii at the library, but couldn't use it!  We headed for bed around 8:00 and doubled up the blankets on the bed as the outdoor temperature was supposed to drop into the 20's. 

Monday - Halloween - the temperature in the house was about 50 degrees.  Bit nippy and still no power.  I made a pot of corn chowder for lunch and to share with neighbors who didn't have a way to cook.   As the only resource we had for information was a battery-powered radio, we hadn't heard much in the way of news about what was going on in our own town.  I went over to check on my father and he wasn't in.  While I shoveled some bits of ice off his driveway he drove in.  He'd been out to a local supermarket - which had power and was open!  Cool!  At lunch-time, DW and I decided to go get a few things we were running low on at the supermarket.  It would also be a change of pace for the kids and let them see the damage.

Back home, we put the Jack O'Lanterns out and had an early dinner to try to beat the darkness again.  The kids were dying to go trick-or-treating, so we lit the candles in the pumpkins to let people know we were home - and I headed out with the kids.  It was cold and very dark.  While we knew that some of our neighbors had left to try to find places where there was heat and power, we had failed to realize that probably 2/3 or the neighborhood had gone away.  At the third house, where we found people, they shared the news that the city had postponed Halloween festivities until the Saturday the 5th of November for safety reasons.  Good call - wish we'd heard the news sooner.

The kids are now looking forward to being able to trick-or-treat with their friends in the neighborhood on Saturday - and I'm looking forward to having truly scary pumpkins by then!  Hopefully by then, everyone will have the electricity to enjoy Halloween in warmth and comfort!

Wordless Wednesday