February 2013

Today I talked Beth into going into the woods behind the house with me so we could tap a tree or two. First stop was the garage where we found my sap bucket. Last week I bought another bucket at Bryant & Lawrence in Tilton. He didn’t have any taps, but I thought I had an extra at the house, so no big deal. Turns out I only had one tap to go with my one bucket and one lid.

So we went out with just the one bucket. She bored a hole, but I had put too large a bit in the brace. Bummer. We wedged the tap into that hole anyhow, and I jammed a few twigs in above the tap to help hold it in place. I think it will work out, but if it doesn’t, I have more trees than taps & buckets.

After we had some lunch, I headed into Concord. I stopped at Agway while I was there and picked up a tap to go with my new bucket. Well… my new bucket is actually quite old. I don’t know how old, but it has definitely seen some service in the past.

Then I stopped at the church to hang some backdrops for Va. This weekend we will have Adventurer Camp-in. We were supposed to have it the day Nemo hit, but… it’s pretty hard to get anyone to come out in a blizzard, so she rescheduled it.

I got home again just before it got dark and headed back into the woods with my brace and bit, new/old bucket, and new/new tap. Once I had bored the hole the sap started to run immediately. I mounted the bucket and listened to a very satisfying “plink, plink, plink” as the sap dripped into the bucket.

A new old bucket

A new old bucket

I’ll check on them both tomorrow.

This weekend we had our third weekend snowstorm in a row. But I am MORE than OK with that. It gets even better (for me… most people I know feel the opposite way). We are forecast to get another foot of snow overnight and into tomorrow.

But before that happens, let’s get caught up with this previous snowstorm. I woke up for breakfast and there were a couple of inches on the ground then. After I ate, I decided to go back to bed, and I slept until noon. When I got up again, this is what I found:

My snow gauge was working

My snow gauge was working

That’s about a foot of snow. 🙂

The snow was still stuck to the trees, which in my opinion, is the most beautiful sight I am privileged to see. I like this more than brilliant autumn leaves or a field full of wildflowers.

Down the Driveway

Down the Driveway

The downside is that it makes the road pretty slick. I grabbed the newspaper while I was out and saw this car in the ditch.

The roads must have been slick

The roads must have been slick

For reasons I cannot explained, I just assumed that no one was in the car and that a tow truck was on the way. So like a true oaf, I snapped a photo and then went snowshoeing in the back of my woods.

Along the trail in my woods

Along the trail in my woods

It was pretty there too.

I was out again later when my neighbor across the road (Jeff) came walking up from that direction. He had the presence of mind to actually go and check on them. It was a young couple, and they were waiting for AAA to come and get them. I felt pretty stupid for not thinking of checking on them myself. They had been there for over an hour at that point. I went in and asked Va to make some hot chocolate. We couldn’t find any cups with lids, so I poured the hot chocolate into a thermos, grabbed some un-lidded cups and snowshoed down the road to them. When I got there the tow truck was getting ready to leave.

Help arrives

Help arrives

They accepted the hot chocolate with lots of thank you’s. I know I felt better.

That night I took Jonathan back to Durham, as he was going to have class on Monday in spite of this snowstorm. It was a dicey ride, but I made it there and back again without incident.

The next morning (Monday), I strapped on my snowshoes again and took Penny out for a nice long walk. We headed down to Sandogardy Pond. I didn’t actually go to the pond itself this time. We crossed Cross Brook, which I still prefer to call “Little Kohas Creek.” More beauty.

Little Kohas Creek

Little Kohas Creek

After crossing, we kept going until we got to the railroad tracks. We walked north on the tracks. The tracks are not active this time of the year as far as trains go. But as for snowmobiles and snowshoeing, it’s quite active. There were two sets of snowshoe tracks left since the snow had stopped, and I was adding a third set.

I've been walking on the railroad

I’ve been walking on the railroad

Penny can find sticks even when they are buried under two feet of snow. Sometimes she finds sticks that are just a tad too big though.

Penny found a too-large stick (my opinion, not hers)

Penny found a too-large stick (my opinion, not hers)

I would not throw this one for her, much to her disgust. If I did throw it, she would catch it and probably lose several teeth in the process. But she would bring it right back so I could throw it again, and she would lose more teeth. Since I know she is going to need her teeth, I just let her be disgusted. There were plenty of other sticks out there, and she was able to find many of them.

I guess we did about four miles all told. I was pretty winded when we got home, but Penny was exhausted.

I have almost finished building a new deck for Miss Nancy. I inlaid our Pathfinder Club’s logo with zebrawood.

Central New Hampshire Flames Logo on a canoe deck in zebrawood

Central New Hampshire Flames Logo on a canoe deck in zebrawood

First I drew the logo onto a couple of quarter-inch thick pieces of zebrawood. Then I cut it out with a coping saw and placed it on the deck (which I had previously glued up from maple and walnut). Then I hit it with a light layer of spray paint, because that seemed like a good way to trace it. Turns out, that’s not precise enough, so I ended up laying the zebrawood shapes on the deck again and tracing them with a sharp knife. Once I had the shape transferred, I deepened the cuts with a very sharp knife and scooped out the in-between with a chisel. That was the hard part. For whatever reason, the elbows on both arms took the brunt of the soreness. It took me all day yesterday to get it to where I could fit the pieces into the cavities.

Then I mixed up some epoxy, added a bit of ash sawdust (well… sanddust, since it was from sanding, not from sawing) and mixed that in. Having the sanddust in there gives the epoxy a more solid look, and I wanted that in case there were gaps between the zebrawood and its cavity (and there were).

With the epoxy mixed up and poured into the cavity, I set the zebrawood in place, and then poured more epoxy on top of it to fill in any voids. Then came a part that was even harder than scooping out the cavity – waiting for the epoxy to set!

I left it overnight. The zebrawood was about an eighth of an inch higher than the deck, but that was OK. I had borrowed Warran’s benchtop sander (he’s one of the Pathfinder staff members), so I turned the whole thing over on top of that and sanded it until the zebrawood was level with the deck and the spray paint was gone.

I still have to square off the bottom, and varnish the underside (that would be difficult to do if I waited until it were installed). I will varnish the top side after it’s installed, and I am tempted to cover it with a layer of fiberglass just to be sure that zebrawood stays in place forever (fiberglass is transparent when it sets up). Before I can install it, I have to measure the required bevels so that the edges are flat against the gunwales. It will be a rolling bevel, meaning that it is different up at the tips verses down at the base. That part is not easy either.

This deck is a bout 18″ long. It’s funny that something this small is even called a “deck,” but it is. The decks go between the gunwales at either end of the canoe. One normally thinks of a deck as being something that can be stood upon. I suppose you could stand on these, but unless your balance was exceptional, not for very long!

This weekend we had our Pathfinder Bible Bowl and Pinewood Derby in Vernon Vermont.

The View at Mountain View Adventist Church

The View at Mountain View Adventist Church

We arrived there in time for the church service with all of us in full dress uniform. After church we ate lunch and then settled in for the Bible Bowl.

The Bible Bowl is basically a quiz that we answer in teams of no more than six. Adults and kids are on separate teams and do not compete with one another. Then the moderators ask questions, we write down our answers on slips of paper, and then run them up to the judging table. The kid team who gets the most right sets the bar. Any team scoring 90% of their score or higher gets a gold bar to hang on their Bible Bowl pin (though we will not get them until this spring sometime). Any team that scores below 90%, but above 80% gets a silver bar. All others get a bronze bar.

Beth’s team got a gold bar. They had the second-highest score for any of the kid teams which is pretty good! She was stoked. My team also earned a gold bar, but we had a very good team. I took our portrait:

My Team's Portrait

My Team’s Portrait

When that was over, we had supper, and then prepared for the Pinewood Derby. That took longer than anticipated, as Paul (our conference director) had brought a lot of equipment for car weight modification. He, another area coordinator, and I weighed the cars and added (or subtracted) weight until they were not more than 5 ounces, and as close to 5 ounces as we could get them. We probably should have just subtracted weight from the overweight cars, as we were not able to get the derby started until 8:30pm.

Here is Beth’s car:

Beth's Pocketknife Car

Beth’s Pocketknife Car

And here is mine again:

All Mixed Up

All Mixed Up

I actually modified mine since I posted it last week. I was at the recycling center and I stopped in the “junk exchange” room and found a tiny little candle holder. It was a better bowl than the plastic jug I had pressed into service, so I snagged it, and replaced the other one. I think it looks a lot better. I put it on the scale, mixed up some epoxy and cocoa, and poured it in until it weighed five ounces.

I also like Saralyn’s car (she is one of my Pathfinders).

Saralyn's "1st Place" car

Saralyn’s “1st Place” car

She was not able to come to either of the Pathfinder meetings during which we worked on our cars, so I helped her get started and sent her home with my tools last week. I think she did a pretty good job. She won third place for creativity in the teen division. But no matter what, she knew she’d go home with a blue ribbon.

Paul has been competing in Pinewood Derbys for a long time, so I knew his car was going to be the one to beat.

Paul's "Seven Dwarf's Mine" car

Paul’s “Seven Dwarf’s Mine” car

Here is is from the front.
Front of Paul's car

Front of Paul’s car

And I was right. His car was the fastest, and he earned second place for most creative. I am too humble to tell you who edged him out on that. 😉

My car placed second for speed and third for craftsmanship. I think I could have done better in the craftsmanship department, but the strangest thing happened. I already wrote that I poured epoxy into the mixing bowl until it weighed five ounces. And I weighed it again before taking it to the registration table – it was 5.00 ounces. But when we put it on the exact same scale at the registration table it had somehow gained half an ounce. I cannot understand this. I can understand the other thing that caused problems though – my car was too tall. I could have chopped the handle off, but instead, I sliced the whole top off and removed a chunk from the center. It was still way over the weight limit, so I spent another ten minutes hollowing out the inside of the mixer. When I finally got it down to 5 ounces again I glued the top back on. Where did that extra weight come from? I think I will never know!

In the end though, it still looked good enough to gain a third place ribbon for craftsmanship, a second place for speed, and… yes, a first for creativity. But I think that had to have been a difficult decision for the judges.

Meanwhile, Beth snagged two blue ribbons!

Beth collects a blue ribbon for fastest car in her division

Beth collects a blue ribbon for fastest car in her division

Hers was the fastest in her division, and she too took first place for creativity. The blade on hers would open and close. I did help her with the engineering and the power tools, but she did most of that work herself. I am very proud of her, and she was obviously pretty pleased about this too.

The derby ended at about 10:00pm. We had arranged to spend the night at the church there, and I was very grateful to be able to do that. I think the next time our church hosts the Derby, we will certainly make ours available to anyone who wants to stay. I will even stay with them.

I got up at 6:30, got dressed, and then put some water on for oatmeal. The rest of the club got up in their own time. One we were all dressed and fed we loaded the cars up and made sure the church was clean. Then we went home.

First thing I did when I got home was take a nap!

I took Penny snowshoeing on Sandogardy Pond today. It’s about the only thing I can do with her that wears her out more than it wears me out. This is something she needs, as she doesn’t get nearly as much exercise as a typical border collie needs.

While we were out I captured three different gaits she left in the snow.

In the deep snow she would “weasel jump”:

Weasel jumping

Weasel jumping

Weasel jumping is what tires her out so much. Each leap and she would find herself buried chest-deep in the snow only to launch herself forward again. It made me tired just watching her. She can still outrun me in deep snow though. Weasel jumping might take it out of her, but it’s quite a bit faster than snowshoeing. Even if I had been running in the snowshoes, I don’t think I could overtake her.

We finally made it to a place where the snow mobiles had gone before us and broke the trail. She could gallop like normal through that:



But she would only do that when I threw a stick. All that weasel jumping convinced her that walking was a better option.



When we got to the pond we walked all the way across it (well… within 50 feet of all the way across). Someone else had been out there with snowshoes too, but I think it was before Monday’s additional two inches of snow we got. They crossed it from west to east to west. Penny and I crossed it from south to north to south.

Then we went home.

Canoe seat/yoke

Maple & Cane

Last night I finished the new canoe seat/yoke for Miss Sally, the 19′ cedar strip canoe I am restoring for the Pathfinder Club. She had a thwart when I got her, but it was a rough, unplaned, pine plank with a yoke notch apparently chopped into it with a hatchet.

I was just going to make a plain yoke, but decided a seat/yoke combination would be a better option. This canoe is 19′ long after all, so having a seat in the middle is a definite bonus.

The frame is made of maple, and the side bars are set into the cross bars with hand-cut mortise and tenon joints. I didn’t make the mortices very deep because I didn’t think it was necessary and I was afraid it would weaken the cross bars. When someone sits on the seat, it’s going to pull those joints together rather than push them apart.

I went with a cane seat because all of the other seats are cane. I had never made one before, but it’s not that hard to do (the Internet knows how to do almost everything). Caning the seat took me three days of fairly dedicated effort, and the tips of my index fingers and thumbs are pretty sore for the effort. But I think it was worth it.

The cross bars are currently four feet long which is wider than the canoe. I will cut them to size when I am ready to install the seat. I can’t do that until I make some new gunwales though.

When I do mount it, I am going to put the yoke toward the stern. Normally, I mount a yoke on a canoe so that when I am carrying it, it goes bow first. However, if I did that, then the person sitting on the seat would have that uneven yoke edge poking into his thighs. This will be far more comfortable for any bow-facing passenger.

Even though it just seems wrong to carry a canoe stern first!

My sister wanted to see photos of my driveway and sidewalk after I cleared it, so here you go sis!



It’s not as impressive looking as it seems it should have been. I think the drifts settled a bit overnight. It was a pretty fluffy snow, and less so today. I didn’t see any snow walls adjacent to the cleared areas that was more a foot or so deep.

But that was at the house. Concord got 24″ of snow (second highest snowfall amount on record) which was probably 8-10″ more than we had we had at the house. Here’s what I found there when I went in for the Pathfinder meeting today.

School's main entrance

School’s main entrance

Beth and another one of my Pathfinders (Hi Joy!) cleared this door, plus another one the school uses, plus an emergency exit near where I park the club’s trailer.

Tomorrow I will clear a path from the parking lot to the woods. The lower lot is currently surrounded by snow banks, so when that starts to melt, it will have nowhere to go. This path will be primarily for snow melt (and kids can use it if they want to). A couple of years ago we had six inches of water in the lot as a result the surrounding snow banks, and had to call in a backhoe to cut a channel. Two years ago I shoveled a drain myself by hand (it’s not that hard), and I’ll do the same again tomorrow.

I put on my snowshoes late this afternoon and walked around the house. Even though we have deep snow covering the ground, Penny still managed to find several sticks that she just knew I wanted to throw for her.

The next photo shows a hole that had two sets of squirrel tracks. One leading to it, and the other leading away.

Squirrel hole

Squirrel hole





Basement door

Basement door

The task ahead

The task ahead

Now I wish I had prepositioned my snowblower last night. Instead, it’s pinned in the garage by my car, and the only way to get it out is to back the car out. Before I can do that, I will have to shovel out a place to back the car to.

Penny catches snowballs

Penny catches snowballs

The blizzard is here. We still have power, so that’s good. Church was canceled today so I was going to sleep in, but Penny needed out. Va fixed our usual Saturday morning breakfast of scrambled eggs and biscuits. After I ate, I went back to bed and slept until 11:30.

With the wind blowing the snow around it’s really hard to gauge its depth. I measured 17″ on the deck, but our well head is still very visible out in the backyard. I estimate it’s less than a foot deep there.

The snow was drifted up against the sliding glass door, so I had to knock that down with a shovel before I let Penny out. I didn’t shovel t all the way down to the deck though, and I only went out about two feet. Just enough to keep it from caving into the house when Penny was ready to come back in.

She seemed to enjoy the snow, weasel jumping all through the yard to find a place to transact her morning business. She is obviously enjoying it in the photo above with Beth. Catching thrown snow is one of her self-appointed duties.

When the wind dies down I plan to put on my snowshoes and go for a walk. This is one of the rare activities during which Penny gets more tired than I do. It requires a lot less exertion to walk on top of the snow with snowshoes than it does to weasel jump through it.

More bulletins as events warrant.

Here is my entry for the Southern Northern* New England Pinecar Derby.

All Mixed Up

All Mixed Up

*The Northern New England Conference has two Pinecar Derbies. One in the northern part, and one in the southern part. We will go to the southern one.

And here it is posing beside its model.

Mixie and her Mommy

Mixie and her Mommy

The batter in the mixing bowl is a special recipe of my own. Two and a half teaspoons of epoxy resin, a half teaspoon of hardener, and one teaspoon of cocoa. Mix well, pour, and allow to harden.

After I mixed it up, I dipped the beaters into it, installed them in the mixer, and allowed them to drip onto the bowl stand. I made the beaters themselves from paper clips, hot melt glue, and a couple of disks I punched out of a milk jug (you probably can’t see the discs, but the are just above the bowed out part that one would normally lick clean).

The bowl stand is the lid from a container of Play-Doh. I painted it black because neon pink just didn’t seem right.

After I painted everything, I photographed the Mommy Mixer’s labels, scaled them, and printed them out. Then I cut them out with an X-acto knife and glued them in place. There are three such decals: the one with the knob, one along the top of the handle, and one on the front of the mixer.

The Derby is in two weeks.

I am pretty pleased with the result. 🙂

Next Page »