Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon

Today is a blue moon day. It is the second full moon in one month. Concept2 Rowing had a Blue Moon challenge. You had to row two 5,000 meter sessions. I decided to split my marathon into two consecutive half marathons.

It was harder than the marathon I did back in late October. The last 5K was tough. I had some leg cramping and my hands were getting sore, but I did it.

The snow stopped and I plowed out the driveway. The wife and I will be sitting back, drink a little mulled wine, and enjoy the rest of the day.

Happy New Year's Everyone!

Night Visitor

I awoke early. All was still, dark and quiet. I turned up the heat, ate some breakfast and went back to bed.

I awoke again around sunrise. I got out of bed and started to get ready for my rowing marathon today.

I walked out to the barn to get a fews things. The snow had just started. The shoveled areas were coated. There was no wind. It was beautiful outside. I really love such times.

I saw that a deer had come across the yard. It made its way over to the holly bushes. It left tracks in the older snow, but not the new powder. It probably was roaming around at the same time that I first arose. I wonder if I startled the visitor when I got up early. . .

It was a magical morning.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Shopping Day

The tests of our well water showed it had very high iron levels, was hard, and slightly acidic. We have been getting serious iron staining in the tub and toilets. Keeping them clean is getting to be a pain.

We had water treatment company come in and give us a recommendation. Looks like we will be putting in a sediment filter, iron extraction system, and a softener / neutralizer. Its will run around $3200! Our yearly softening salt and filter replacements will run us around $150/yr. You never realize how expensive and precious clean water is until you have to put out big bucks to get a system installed. We will be getting the new system installed in 1 week.

On a more fun note, I bought a small band saw from Home Depot (thanks to my daughter and son-in-law for some gift money which helped to defer the costs). Its not a big bandsaw (9 inch throat with 3.5 inch depth), but it is good for the types of projects I work on. It will be nice to have a saw that will allow me to make precision cuts very quickly! I also bought a small hatchet to help with roughing out large pieces of wood. The blade needs to brought to a keen edge. I'll be setting up the saw this weekend.

Tomorrow I will attempt to row my second marathon for this season (26.2 miles or 42,195 meters). Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nearly Done!

We were visiting our daughter the last few days for Christmas. Our visit was too short. I miss her so much!

My wife and I got back late last nite and opened a few gifts we left behind. I now have 3 more decoys to work on (a mallard decoy, a generic small shorebird, and a puffin)! The shorebird and puffin will not be too hard. The mallard has a cork body (it is a real working decoy) so it will take a little more care.

And . . .

I finished the major painting of the merganser.

I still need to add some eyes, accent the piece with black accent lines, and distress it.

Pretty good for a first try. I learned a lot from this decoy. I hope to improve over time. It is nice to work with my hands instead of punching keys on a keyboard and scribbling on a whiteboard (PowerPoint gets old fast...)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merganser 3.0

As I looked at the merganser decoy, I decided to square up the tail somewhat, add more curve to the neck, and reduce the height of the body somewhat to make the decoy a little more streamlined. I then finished the fine sanding of the merganser decoy and gave it a coat of grey primer.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the carving. The texture on the bark helps to define the wings. The lines are pretty good, though next time I would flatten out the tail more and reduce the size of the breast somewhat.

I used a grey primer as the wings on the female merganser are a dark grey. The head will be a rusty red, while the belly feathers are a lighter grey. I still haven't decided how I will do the eyes, or whether I will distress it some more. The body did check somewhat as it dried, so it is starting to have that whithered look.

I won't be working on this until after Christmas. I hope to be finished by New Years. Keep on the lookout for a final photo.

200,000 Down!

I just finished this years Concept2 indoor rowing Holiday Challenge. I had to row 200K meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was not planning on doing it this year at first as I have had a lot of travel, keeping me from rowing. We were going to go to Gettysburg last weekend, but as my wife was not feeling well, we stayed home. I did 53K meters last weekend, and another 65K meters this past week.

With all the holiday preparations and travel I always find it hard to get the time in to do the Challenge. The distances aren't the issue - it is the time.

I am glad I got this one done. Now I can focus on a marathon row on New Year' Day (42,195 meters in one effort). Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ghost Signs

We went to visit my sister for a pre-Christmas lunch, a little shopping, and a few drinks. Outside the restaurant was a 'ghost sign' painted on an old brick building.

I've always found ghost signs to be interesting. This one was particularly interesting to me as I think the building now houses shops and apartments. There is a story behind such signs. I wish I knew the story behind this one!

Let me know if you know of any others . . .

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Barn Decay

This part of the US (Finger Lakes and southern tier NY) has some of he highest densities of barns anywhere. There was a lot of timber in the area to build barns. As railroads came through in the 1800s, this was the dairy capitol of the country. Barns were everywhere, being used to manage small herds, collect milk, and ship it west and east.

As I drive around, I see a lot of barns slowly decaying. As an owner of an old post and beam barn, I know first hand that they require a level of care to remain solid and useful.

While I was out to get the Sunday paper (yes, I am one of those people that still reads the Sunday NY Times), I took a few photos of barns in various states of decay.

The story is always the same . . .

First, the windows and doors fall into disrepair. Animals get in. They nest and chew. The elements also find their way in. Water is the ultimate enemy of all structures.

Without stain or paint, the siding weathers. The barn board dries out and cups. Nails start to pull, and the siding begins to loosen and fall away. More rain then can get into the barn, allowing flooring and corner posts to rot.

Once the roof is compromised, then the days of the barn are numbered. Once the roof is damaged, more water can get in, further accelerating the decline.

In time, some barns start to lean. Some just start to fall down in sections. In either case, there will be nothing left but a pile of lumber. In time, this will rot away, and the foundation may be all that is left.

It's a pity to see barns in decay. There is a lot of history in such structures. I'm glad I can keep my barn usable - even if I don't farm or raise livestock.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another Cold Day

It was unseasonably cold this morning. We have about 4 inches of snow on the ground. It was around 14 degF last night. We got about 1/2 inch of new snow. Though it wasn't much, I decided to plow it so the sun would hit the driveway and dry it out. I don't want any icy patches.

Speaking of ice, the recent cold spell has started the creek freezing. I like to walk down to the creek in the winter and listen to the water. The chickadees will usually be about, curiously watching me as I watch them.

I rowed 20K meters this morning. As you might know, I row indoors on a Concept2 rower. I try to row1 million meters in a year. I hit my million meter mark on December 5th. I'm working towards rowing 200K meters between Thanksgiving and Xmas (its part of a yearly challenge the Concept2 company hosts). Right now, I am at 120K meters. Barring any last minute travel, I should be able to finish this by the 21st of December.

I made good progress on the merganser decoy. I started the rough sanding and fitting the head to the body. I was going to mortise it in, but it is easier to just nail it in. I'm pretty happy with it so far. The body needs to dry quite a bit more. I've decided to bring it inside and keep it near the stove. Hopefully, it will dry in a few weeks. Then I can finish the shaping / sanding and then tackle the paint job.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chilly Workshop Day

It was cold this morning (low 20s degF) when we got up. I made a pot of coffee, enjoyed a cup or two with the wife, and then rowed 20K on the indoor rower.

I put the kerosene heater in the workshop, filled it, and lit it. I went back inside for some lunch, and then went to work.

I sprayed the ark toy with clear coat. I also continued on with the merganser decoy. I shaped the body some more, and started to work the head. I'll carve the head a little more, then mortise it into the body. After that, I will finish the carving.

I want to use a distressed paint scheme. Anyone know how to do it?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We Couldn't Help Ourselves . . .

Anyone who knows us well knows my wife and I love glass ornaments. We have been collecting them for a very long time. We set out to do some shopping. We had a light snow, Xmas music was playing in the car, and we found ourselves in one of our favorite antique stores.


We found a bunch of nice glass ornaments (and had to buy them)! Quite a few were contemporary (mainly the Santa ones). There were a few mid-50's vintage Shiny-Brite type which we picked up. Shiny-Brite was the maker of a lot of the common glass ornaments in the 50s and 60s. We have as smattering of Shiny-Brite ornaments from my parents. Most were simple glass balls with basic paint schemes. We found a few different shapes which we did not have. When I told one of the shop owners that we 'collected' glass ornaments, she pulled out a box of larger, older glass ornamaments. They appear to be older German ornaments. A few were very nice (interesting indented shapes and really good paint). We just had to have them!

When we were putting up the tree, it seemed like we had no room for any more ornaments. Well, we found room. I posted a video below of some the ornaments on the tree (a special thanks to our daughter for the rotating tree stand - we can see all the ornaments easily as the tree rotates)!

And what would this blog be without a few photos of barn ornaments. The round barn ornament was one we picked up at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. The other barn was a common one we picked up in the last few years.

Enjoy the season!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's a Gusher!

Whew! We are nearly there.

We had a bit of a setback on the well. We had water at 35 feet - but just before the driller was going to hook the well to the house, we got a letter from the health department. It seems they decided to implement a new procedure to get a well put in for all of us in the town. Previously, you worked with the well driller. You picked a location which the driller would review. You sunk the well. Got it hooked up, had the water tested by the health department, and were good to go. Now we had to send in a request to the health department. Even though the health department had already been to our place and had given us a verbal okay, they now were going to inspect all the steps of the well installation process. Would be okay if they were responsive, but the engineer was never around. Finally, the driller told them we were moving forward and was not going to wait for them. He was getting backed up with all the people in the area trying to get wells put in. Once he got a backhoe in, they finished the job in about 3 hours.

We had to let the well sit for ~ 6 hours, and then draw water from the well for about 2 hours till it ran clear. They shocked the well with chlorine, so we don't want to wash our clothes or drink a lot of water for a few days. It was running pretty clear after 1 hour. I let it run for over 2.5 hours to be safe, then ran all the faucets in the house to get the air out of the lines. Still has a strong chlorine smell, but we notice the water seems clearer without all the little calcium floaters we had with city water.

I'll have to clean up the yard. One of the sweet woodruff beds was tore up as they ran the water line to the house. They also tore up some of the yard near the shutoff valve for the city water line. I'll need to clean up the yard before the ground freezes. I don't want to look at this mess till next spring.