December 2012


It quit snowing sometime last night. We didn’t get as much snow as forecast, but we got enough to make me happy. After a bit of breakfast I cleared the driveway, and then I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. It has been a while since I’ve been there. There wasn’t enough snow to warrant snowshoes, so I just wore my hiking boots. They did just fine.

Here are some of the photos I took.

Trail to Northfield's sand pit

Trail to Northfield’s sand pit

Penny found a stick and wanted me to throw it. I obliged.
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It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the trail goes downhill to Little Cohas Creek (as I call it – Cross Mill Creek as per official nomenclature).
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Follow it all the way to the creek and you come to this bridge.
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Go to the center of the bridge and face north, and we can see the creek as it empties Sandogardy Pond. I liked this shot.
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I followed the trail along the western bank of Little Cohas Creek and came to the beach. The pond was apparently frozen solid enough for an ice house and a half dozen people. I didn’t venture out onto the ice though.
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I saw a lot of deer tracks on this hike, and trailed them for a little ways. I never saw any deer, but I did see where one had shoved its muzzle into the snow to uncover some grass. I didn’t think to take a picture though.

We’re expecting another 2-4 inches of snow tomorrow starting around 10:00am. I’ll go out again if I can manage it. Penny will come along too in case there are any sticks that need to be fetched.

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We finally got some snow today, and by that I mean more than an inch. Last winter was a complete dud (other than October 31, 2011), so I’m hoping this winter makes up for it. It started snowing around 10:00pm last night, and it’s not supposed to stop until tonight around 2:00am. We’re supposed to get 12-18 inches, but the last time I looked, we only had four or so. My guess is that 12-18 inches will really be about 6.

Beth had left her boots and snow pants at school, but she found that David’s boots and old snow pants fit her pretty well. So she put them on and out she went. Penny joined her.

Penny waiting to intercept some snow

Penny waiting to intercept some snow


Penny thinks her duty is to intercept any thrown snow before it hits the ground. Beth wasn’t throwing any, but Penny was prepared. She is ready to leap into action if duty calls!

David and I have come up with a motto for Penny:

Nonnumquam ergo semper!

It means “Sometimes, therefore always!” In other words, sometimes when master gets up from the couch in the family room, he goes to the living room and (gasp!) turns on the TV! Therefore, I will always be ready to freak out when the TV comes on!

Sometimes when master puts on his shoes, he goes outside! Therefore, I will always be prepared in case he lets me go out too! Incidentally, she can hear me slipping my feet into my shoes from the other room, and she will come running every single time. I am not able to do it quietly enough to slip out without her noticing.

In the case of Beth in the snow today, sometimes when she plays in the snow, she throws some of it! Therefore, I will always be prepared in case that’s what she does! Nonnumquam ergo semper! Heaven help us if I go out with a snow shovel.

While Beth was out playing, I worked on that canoe a little more. I fashioned a new in-stem from a piece of ash I ripped from a long plank. Then I tapered it. Before I glue it in place with epoxy, I decided to bend it to the proper shape so it will sit snugly against the existing out-stem. Normally, I would steam a piece of wood before bending it by putting it in a PVC pipe and running steam from a kettle into it. But I don’t know where my kettle is, and this was a small enough chunk of wood that I was able to slip it into the microwave over a dish of water. So that’s what I did, for six minutes.

But first, I had a bit of lucky happenstance. OB (original builder) used what looks like a walnut plank to add a stripe to the hull (as did I when I built mine). Unfortunately, it was about 2 inches shy of being long enough, so he added a chunk of cedar to the end to fill it out. Except that the cedar wasn’t as wide as the walnut, so he used two pieces of cedar, only one of them didn’t line up right. Instead, it poked itself deeper into the hull, so on the inside of the boat it sticks out and would prevent fiberglass from touching the surrounding planks, and on the outside, it is recessed such that no fiberglass will touch it when it’s applied. I had decided to redo that 2 inch plank, and the first step in that is to remove the botched one. I applied heat to soften the glue and was able to push them out, leaving a handy gap in the hull:

Bending the new instem

Bending the new instem

Handy, because that let me clamp my steaming-hot in-stem to the existing out-stem, thus bending it to the proper curve. Tomorrow I will make another one for the other side, and just hope that the two stems are shaped similarly enough to work out OK. The other side doesn’t have a convenient portal for a C-clamp. That should get it close enough such that a screw through the out-stem into the in-stem should hold it on while the glue sets.

So… that’s not a lot of progress for the canoe, but I’m not in a big hurry. Maybe I should be though, as I’ll want to park my car in that spot in a couple of weeks.

For the past three or four days I’ve been stripping the fiberglass off a cedar strip canoe. This is one of the three I bought back in August for the Pathfinder club, and it is most definitely the worst of the three. It would be generous to say that it was inexpertly fiberglassed when it was built. Whoever did it did not get the glass to lay flat on the hull, so there are wrinkles and waves about every foot or so. Not only does that not look good, but it allowed algae and spiders to set up camp between the fiberglass and the hull.

Algae growing beneath the gunwales.

Algae growing beneath the gunwales.

I read on Canoe Guy’s Blog that you can remove fiberglass from a wood/canvas canoe using a heat gun. I have a heat gun, so I whipped it out and gave it a shot. It worked marvelously! I had been dreading this step thinking I was doomed to several hours of tedious sanding.

Today I finished removing the glass from the inside of the hull. It is looking so much better now. The original builder (let’s call him OB) “corrected” his wrinkled glass errors by pouring some kind of gunk on it. I don’t know what it is, but it’s a light yellow color and has something like a latex feel to it. Or wood filler. Or carpenter’s glue. I just don’t know what it is, but it was sure ugly, and I don’t think it was very effective either (didn’t keep the spiders out). I removed a bunch of that too. I think OB must have used some bondo on the hull to instead of fairing it properly with a plane, or using epoxy+wood flour as filler. I’ve been chipping that crap off the hull too.

He also didn’t take the planks all the way to the stem.

Planking is shy of the stem

Planking is shy of the stem


He should have made the planking overlap the stem so that the planking had something to attach to. Instead, he glommed on more of that latex/whatever stuff and a quart or two of epoxy. The stem is a mess, but it’s salvageable. Normally a canoe will have an in-stem and an out-stem. All he has here is an out-stem. I will make an in-stem and epoxy that to the inside of the out-stem as well as to the planking. I think that will do the trick. I believe I should do that before I strip all the crud off the canoe’s nose, or the planks will just spring apart. They are threatening to do that up at the top where I have already removed a lot of the junk.

I also got a start on removing the glass from the outside of the hull.

Pulling back the glass

Pulling back the glass


I think I will wait on finishing that until I have made and fitted the new in-stem.

I didn’t take a photo of the inside of the hull like I should have. It looks so much better now that the glass is off. I will still need to sand it though, and then smooth it with a hand plane and a sander. But it will look so much better once it’s glassed properly. This – the worst of the three canoes – will probably end up looking the best, because I am taking it down to the wood. I can’t afford to do that to the other two, as it will take a full gallon of epoxy (which runs about $90) plus about 12 yards of 60″ wide fiberglass (which I haven’t priced yet, but it’s not cheap either).

Glassing should be done at about room temperature, so I can’t do that until I get some space cleared out in the basement or until the weather warms up. And speaking of weather, we did end up with a white Christmas this year. It snowed about an inch over night. The better news is that we have another foot or so on the way starting tomorrow night.

Maybe I can get some snowshoeing in then.

Yesterday I dropped my car off at the body shop. It will be there for about three weeks. Then Va and I went to the church to wait for Beth to get out of school. I decided to explore the wetland behind the church. Before I got to the edge of the woods (before the wetland) I came across this iris pod lying on a bed of moss.

Iris pods

Iris pods

A little further into the woods, and we find some of the forts that Beth and her schoolmates build on a routine basis.

Teepee fort

Teepee fort


I like that they get to do this. I think the most fun I had as a kid when I was Beth’s age was in building forts in the woods. This generation appears to be fairly adept at the practice too.

I finally got to the wetland.
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I found I could navigate my way through it by hopping from one clump of trees to the next. After about five minutes of that I broke through to the other side and came to a tiny creek that drains he wetland.

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I had to walk along its banks for about thirty yards before I found a place narrow enough to cross. From there it was an easy trek back to the church (over higher ground).

We got a little snow yesterday. It wasn’t very much at all – maybe two inches – and it took all day to fall. I guess the local highway departments didn’t think they needed to bother with plowing or otherwise treating the roadways, and unfortunately, I got to “benefit” from that assumption.

On the way home from Pathfinders I was driving maybe 5-10 MPH down a pretty steep hill with a curve. The car began to slide into the curve and ignored both my steering and my braking. Then it kissed a stone retaining wall embedded in an embankment. That stopped it.

Sigh.

The Damage

The Damage

Not too bad. I was able to back up and carefully drive the rest of the way down the hill away from the curve. That’s about the last place I wanted to be stopped. I went a quarter mile, then parked and inspected the damage.

Pinched Rim

Pinched Rim


The tire still had air in it, but I didn’t think it would hold it over night the way that rim is pinched. I was pleasantly surprised this morning though, as it was still fully inflated. I’m sure I’ll need a new rim though, and it should be aligned as well.

Because of the storm, school was delayed by two hours. I took Beth in in Va’s car. When I got home I noticed her lunch on the counter. She also left her homework in the floor. Mind you, she did not forget her sled! I guess she has her own set of priorities.

I had it in my head that we’d have to go back in a couple of hours to bring her her lunch, but I forgot that school was delayed two hours, so that time was already gone. Va had some errands to run in Concord, so she hustled to get ready, and we got back to the school around noon – just in time for lunch.

I hung around there for a while and Va ran her errands. When school finally let out, Beth got out her sled. It was nice to see her sharing it:

Sledding!

Sledding!

I called the insurance company while I waited. At first they wanted me to drive that car all the way to Manchester (lots of I-93 there), but I expressed concern over that plan. Instead, they are sending an adjuster over tomorrow to assess the damage, and I can take it wherever I want.

Tomorrow we’ll have a price tag on that little kiss.

Last year my Pathfinder Club worked on the Glass Etching honor. It was a lot easier than I had imagined it would be, and I realized that I could easily make a gift for my geologist brother which I had conceived many years ago – a set of Tectonic Plates. The constraint I had up until last month was that there just wasn’t time. Well, now there is, so I got busy. Here are the results.

The seven major tectonic plates

The seven major tectonic plates

Antarctic Plate

Antarctic Plate

Australian Plate

Australian Plate

South American Plate

South American Plate

African Plate

African Plate

Pacific Plate

Pacific Plate

North American Plate

North American Plate

Eurasian Plate

Eurasian Plate

There are a lot more than seven tectonic plates, but the rest of them are pretty small. Arguably, I could have added the Nazca Plate as well to round his set out to eight, but… I did not do that.

It took me a while to figure out the best way to depict both the plates and the land masses. I finally hit upon the idea of etching the tectonic plates on the back and etching the continents on the front. That seems to work well, and I was really pleased with the result, as it puts the continents on top of the plates. Nice.

As I was making this, my son David asked if this was the most effort I had ever undertaken for the sake of a pun. I couldn’t think of a time. Then he said, “You know, the only thing more nerdy than you spending all this time making these is how excited your brother is going to be to have them.” I think he could be right.

Maybe next year I can complete the set with some tectonic saucers.

Yesterday after I dropped Beth off at school, I stopped at the Mary and Quentin Hutchins Forest in Canterbury, NH. It’s not far from my house. My reason for stopping was to collect some geocaches (which I found).

It is a managed forest, and has a “Tree Farm” sign at the trailhead. Indeed, one of the trails is called “Tree Farm Loop.” I happened to have my backpack in the trunk of my car, so I went ahead and hoisted it onto my shoulders and strapped in. There wasn’t much in it, other than the things that “live” there all the time: a water bottle (with only a little water in it), a water filter, a first aid kit, some rope, my mess kit, fire starting materials, a flashlight or two, and some duct tape. Maybe a few other things. I figured these would be prudent things to carry since I was alone.

It was a lovely trail.

Tree Farm Loop Trail

Tree Farm Loop Trail


Before I started, I ran some software I had loaded onto my GPS – an NMEA logger. Basically, it logs the coordinates on a regular basis. I had noticed that the trails had not been entered into the OpenStreetMaps.org project, and I wanted to change that.

I hiked around the Tree Farm Loop, as that’s where both geocaches were located (there was another at the trailhead that I had found the previous week, so this was a return trip). About the time I found the second cache, the battery in the GPS died. It should not have, as it’s been mounted in my car plugged in to a power source for over a week. I guess the batteries are getting too old to take a full charge.

At the intersection of the Tree Farm and Burnham Brook Loops

At the intersection of the Tree Farm and Burnham Brook Loops


It did manage to log most of the trail I hiked, but there was also the Burnham Brook Trail there that I also wanted to log. But without an operable GPS, I decided to quit early and go home.

I came back today with the GPS as fully charged as I could get it. I figured that if I hiked the Burnham Brook Trail quickly, I could get it logged before the battery drained down. So that’s what I did. I could not resist stopping for several photos, but they were all hurried shots.

There was lots of club moss. Allen Norcross (New Hampshire Gardener) clued me in that not all the club mosses in these parts are the same species. I think this is Shiny clubmoss (Lycopodium lucidulum).

Club Moss

Club Moss(Lycopodium lucidulum)

Here is Burnham Brook, the trail’s eponymn.

Burnham Brook

Burnham Brook


I couldn’t tell from looking at the satellite photos which way it flowed, as I would lose its track on both directions. It wasn’t hard to tell once I got there (it flows from left to right, i.e., west to east).

And here is what I think is some coyote scat. It’s chock-full-o-hair.

Coyote scat

Coyote scat


Other possiblities include a bobcat (though it looked too large for that) or a fishercat (but again, too large), or a domestic dog (except it’s made primarily of hair, which you don’t get much of in kibble). So I’m sticking with coyote.

Not that you wanted to see that.