May 2013


I have been busy lately. I started a new job earlier this month, and it is sure eating into my leisure time. I decided today that it was time to make time to take a few photos. I stopped at a “secret” park near my church. I call it secret because there is no sign on the road alerting the public to its presence. I had driven by it maybe a thousand times before I knew it was there, and only spotted it from satellite photos while playing around on Google Maps a few years ago.

But the park is there, and it has wildflowers. I stopped for maybe ten minutes. First up was some tower mustard. I have this growing along the south side of my house.

Tower mustard (Arabis glabra)

Tower mustard (Arabis glabra)

The yarrow is blooming now too:

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

And the king devil is out. Some people call this yellow hawkweed, but “king devil” definitely has a more adventurous ring to it.

King devil (Hieracium pratense)

King devil (Hieracium pratense)

The birdsfoot trefoil has been in bloom for a while, but I think this is my first shot of it this year.

Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Then I found this unfortunate fellow.

Deer?

Deer?

This is only about half its spine. All together, I estimate that the spine was at least three feet long, and maybe more. There aren’t a lot of animals around here that are that big – deer, bear, coyote, and sometimes beaver. I think this is a deer, but I’m really only guessing. It looks like it has been picked pretty clean.

Not far from the skeleton I saw a black locust in bloom. Most people don’t know it, but these flowers are edible, and indeed, they are very sweet and quite palatable. I ate this bunch after I took its picture for you.

Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

On the way back up the hill towards the car I found some white campion.

White campion (Silene latifolia)

White campion (Silene latifolia)

And then I saw this clump of yellow sorrel.

Common yellow sorrel (Oxalis stricta)

Common yellow sorrel (Oxalis stricta)


These are also good to eat. As most kids can tell you, they are very sour (in a good way). That sourness comes from oxalic acid (hence the genus name). Too much of it is said to be bad for you, but kids everywhere seem to pay that no heed whatsoever.

Then it was back to the car, and off to work.

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It’s snowing here. At the end of May. There’s enough on the deck right now that David was able to make a snowball about the size of a tennis ball.

Today I worked on attaching the newly-scuppered inwales to Miss Nancy. The first step is to dry clamp them to the hull up at the sheer line. Once an inwale was clamped on, I was able to mark it for cutting. Truth be told, I cut them a little short, but I used some pieces of filler wood to get them to reach all the way to the stem.

Marking the inwale so it can be cut to length.

Marking the inwale so it can be cut to length.


As you can see, it looks like I marked it in the right place, and I definitely cut it on the mark. The problem was that I had not clamped it sufficiently so the inwale was bowing inwards a bit. Enough to make this mark be off by a quarter inch. That’s a LOT in the woodworking world, but I will recover.

Once I had the inwale cut to length, I mixed up some epoxy, painted it on, and then started clamping it into position. The initial clamp placement is just to hold it in place while I drill some pilot holes for the screws. Sometimes a clamp was in the way of drilling the hole, so I would have to move it. With all the holes drilled, I ran a steel screw into each hole and then backed it out again. The purpose of this little exercise is so that the brass screws don’t have to cut the threads in the wood. Doing so is very difficult with brass and often results in either mangling the divot in the top of the screw (where the bit grabs it) or twisting the screw in half.

With all the threads cut, I then made a second pass and set the brass screws in place. I put a screw between every other scupper, and I offset them from the center. The offset is because when I mount the seats and thwarts, I will want to drill a mounting hole there. I skipped every other scupper, because the outwales will attach there. When I get to that point.

Port side inwale clamped, glued, and screwed into place.

Port side inwale clamped, glued, and screwed into place.

I had other things to do today, so once I got the port inwale glued and screwed into position, I let the glue set for a while. Also, I used every C clamp I could find (which is probably not all of the C clamps I own). I returned about six hours later and gave the starboard side the same treatment.

Ditto for the starboard inwale

Ditto for the starboard inwale

With both inwales in place, I turned my attention to the bow deck. I should have mounted the stern deck first, because it does not have the inlay in it, so if I messed it up, it would not be a tragedy. It would be easy enough to make a new one. Luckily, all went well with the bow deck, so my impatience didn’t bite me. This time.

Bow deck

Bow deck


Fitting a deck is not an easy thing to do. The inwales’ inner surfaces do not go straight down, so a square cut along the edge (relative to the top of the deck) will not do. I measured the angle with a bevel gauge, and transferred the measurement to the edges of the deck.

The deck was quite a bit wider than it needed to be, so I had to trim it to the correct width. It’s really a little too wide, but I figured I could wedge it into place and spread the hull a little bit. Making it narrower would have meant the edges would have come all the way to the inlay – maybe even into the inlay, and after all the effort i put into doing that, there was no way I was going to let that happen. So I wedged it into place.

With the deck rough cut to the correct width, I placed it on a sanding belt and sanded the edges down to the correct (ish) angle. I didn’t get it exactly right, but I did come awfully close. Then I mixed up some more epoxy, painted the edges of the deck, mounted it in place, and ran some screws into it from the hull, through the inwale, and into the deck. The mess on top of the deck is where I mixed wood flour with the leftover epoxy to fill the gaps. They weren’t very wide, and now that they are filled, no one will notice.

I did not get around to fitting the stern deck. I will probably cut it to the width the boat wants it to be since it has no inlay. Or I may make it a little wider so that it kinda, sorta matches the bow.

Updates as progress warrants!

Today I turned my attention to Miss Nancy’s gunwales. I had joined eight lengths of ash into four using scarf joints last week. Today I sanded the joints smooth (they are pretty difficult to see now, which is good), and then built a jig with which to scupper them.

I borrowed a router from my friend Shaun a couple of weeks ago thinking I was almost ready to do the scuppering, but… it took longer to get to that point than I had anticipated. The jig is just a piece of eighth-inch plywood with a few scraps attached to it – but attached very precisely. There’s a piece on the bottom that the gunwale gets clamped to, and then there are three on the top that the router’s bottom plate rides against.

I made one miscalculation while screwing the scraps to the plywood, which resulted in me running the router through one of the screws.

Oops!

Oops!


Luckily, I was using my own router bit, and not one of Shaun’s. That could not have been good for its edge, but I was still able to cut wood with it.

Here’s the jig in action.

Scuppering Jig

Scuppering Jig


The scuppers are those small areas of scooped-out wood. The scooped-out edge (or scuppered edge) will get glued and screwed to the inside of the hull. The scuppers reduce the weight a little bit, but more importantly, they will allow water to drain from the canoe when it’s heaved over on its side (presumably on land).

But the best thing about doing this is that I get to say “Scupper me gunnels!” in a piratey voice.

Maybe tomorrow evening I will have a chance to attach them to the hull. Then I can fit the decks, and attach the outwales. Miss Nancy is almost ready.

Yesterday it was raining, but since it had been a while since I had been able to go out for a walk, I fished my raincoat and rain pants out of my backpack, put the leash on Penny, and headed down to Sandogardy Pond.

We cut through the cut-down forest. There were tons of blueberry blossoms, and I took several shots, but none of them really turned out. I’m blaming the rain. It was not only getting everything wet (camera included), but it was also reducing the available light. I had better luck with these purple violets.

Violets are violet!

Purple violet


I’m pretty sure I ate a bunch of the leaves from this batch. There are few greens in the wild that are better than violets. Actually, I can’t think of any other wild green that I prefer to these.

We crossed Sandogardy Pond Road and made our way along the edge of the town forest. I stopped to see if the lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) had come up yet.

Lily-of-the-valley

Lily-of-the-valley


Yup. The blossoms will probably open sometime this week, so I need to get back to that spot soon.

As I walked along the class VI road (meaning they don’t plow it in the winter or perform any other maintenance on it – ever), my eyes were scanning the ground for wild flowers. Ha! Here’s are some!

A clue!

A clue!


Seeing these petals all over the ground forced my eyes skyward to find their source.

Some sort of wild cherry.  I think.

Some sort of wild cherry. I think.


I think this is a cherry tree, but I don’t know what kind. I really ought to learn to id the TWWF’s (trees with white flowers). There must be hundreds of species that fit that description. They all bloom at about the same time, and they all have five petals. It’s a daunting undertaking, which is, I suppose, why I have not done it yet.

Penny and I got to the pond in short order. The city has moved the dock back into the water. I wasn’t expecting them to do that before Memorial Day, but there it is. Someone else’s dock appears to have broken free and drifted into position next to it.

As is someone else's!

The dock is in the water now.

Penny didn’t care. She went straight into the pond to cool off. This did not make her any wetter, as it was raining steadily the whole time we were out.

I turned from the dock and found some white violets in the grass.

White violet

White violet

Near the violets was a small patch of wild strawberries.

Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries

We walked along the beach and turned back into the forest. The Indian Cucumber Root has come up since I was here last:

Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana)


These are one of my favorite wild vegetables. The roots taste for all the world exactly like cucumbers. I have never eaten them in quantity though as they are not terribly abundant. I let them be today.

We made a loop through the woods and then headed back to the house. When we got home I shed my rain gear and sat down on the couch completely dry. Penny shook her fur all over Virginia (she did not appreciate that), and laid down on the floor, soaking wet.

She was still quite damp when I went to bed, so score one for a good raincoat.

Even though this blog is mostly about nature, I sometimes take a tangent. Sometimes for a while. It has been a little while since I’ve done any nature posts, so today I hope to set things right.

I took a lap around my property today and was surprised to see so many plants in bloom.

First up was goldthread.

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)

Goldthread (Coptis trifolia)


This plant is also called canker root because it was reputedly a cure for mouth sores. I don’t know how efficacious it was, but that didn’t stop the colonials. The rhizome is a bright gold color, which is where its other name comes from. The white “petals” are really sepals. The actual
petals are those yellow-orange club-shaped things in the center.

I turned off my trail to look for some ferns, but instead found this:

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)


Blueberries! This was the only plant (out of hundreds) on my property that I found to be in bloom. It borders the neighbor’s land where he cleared all the trees in preparation for building a house. Maybe the added sunlight made them bloom sooner.

I went looking for this one too:

Pink Ladyslipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Pink Ladyslipper (Cypripedium acaule)


It’s not in bloom yet, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. I looked for these last week (in this very spot) and didn’t find even a hint of it. I conclude therefore, that this is one week’s work for Lady Slipper.

I was in the middle of my woods looking for some trillium when I found this.

Sessile bellwort, or wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia)

Sessile bellwort, or wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia)


I did not sow them. They grew here by themselves. I didn’t find any trilliums either, but I’ll be camping with the Pathfinders this weekend, so maybe I’ll see some then.

This is one of my very favorites (though I say that about several plants).

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)


This morning I found a batch of them just exposing their petals, but the petals had not opened. This evening I found another batch with petals unfurled. This is such a fascinating looking flower. I know of nothing else even remotely similar.

Finally, there’s the dwarf ginseng.

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)


This plant has edible tubers, but it’s best to dig them after it goes to seed (because then the plant diverts its energy into the tuber for next year). The only problem is that the above-ground parts of the plant completely vanish, making these a lot more difficult to find. I have eaten them before, but not in quantity. I never harvest more than a plant colony can sustain, which in the case of this plant on my property is about four tubers per year. Not enough for a meal, but enough for a taste.

I glassed the inside of Miss Nancy today. First I had to sand the interior hull, and I guess that took about an hour. I used up my last sheet of 40 grit paper and had to switch to 80 before I finished. That took about an hour or maybe two – I don’t know what time I started. But it was ready to glass at noon, and the temperature was right at 70 degrees – perfect.

But first I ate lunch. Once that job starts, there’s no stopping until the first layer of epoxy is on. First I cut the glass cloth to length and laid it in the boat.

Ready for epoxy

Ready for epoxy

I smoothed it out as best I could, and then started wetting it out with epoxy, starting about a quarter of the way from the bow and working towards the bow stem.

Wetting out the bow.

Wetting out the bow.

Up near the stem was far and away the most difficult place. There’s not a lot of room there, and you can’t even think about applying the epoxy with the squeegee. I had to use a paint brush. I got epoxy all over my sleeves too, but I knew that was going to happen before I got dressed this morning. So I was prepared.

Once I reached the stem, I went back to the starting point and started moving towards the stern.

Moving aft

Moving aft

I cut the glass off at the sheer line as I progressed. That was because the weight of the dead glass was pulling the “live” glass off the hull up near the gunwales. Removing the weight put an end to that.

It took me four hours to get the first layer of epoxy down.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Then I needed to wait three hours and add the second layer. By then Beth was home from school and excited about going to “Safe Kids 500,” a bicycle safety event at the New Hampshire Speedway. That was the first I had heard about it, but it sounded too cool to pass up. They would have helmet checks (etc) and then the kids got to ride their bikes around the racetrack. It was just over a mile long (Wikipedia says it’s 1.058 miles). It took her about five minutes per lap which I guess is about 12 MPH.

After the first lap

After the first lap

I would not have been able to go at all except that Eric and his daughter Joy were planning to be there too. Beth really wanted me to be there, and I kinda wanted to see it and get a few pictures. I still had two hours before the canoe needed the second coat of epoxy, so I was in.

After Eric & Joy arrived, I didn’t stay too long at all. Epoxy waits for no man.

Leaving the infield

Leaving the infield

I got home just in time for the second (and final) coat. That one only took about thirty minutes since the glass was all in place and it doesn’t need to soak in like the first coat does. I’m not sure I’ll be able to work on it any tomorrow, but if I do, it will be time to sand the epoxy. I didn’t have time to “scupper me gunwales” (which I like to say in a pirate voice) so that task still awaits. Once they’re scuppered, I can attach the inwales & decks, then the outwales, then the seats and thwart. Actually, I need to make a thwart, but that’s a fairly quick task since it will be a simple yoke with no seat (unlike Miss Emma’s yoke).