Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Splash of Color

The white yarrow was the first color to bloom, and for a little while I was worried that they might all come up white since it's difficult to tell when they're still just buds. Thankfully, I do have a variety, with pinks and purples and yellows mixed in.

The yarrow behind the retaining wall hasn't reached the blooming stage yet but I think some of it might be getting close.

And while I'm at it, the fuchsia that almost died is blooming nicely.

It is incredibly vibrant.

Sorting Things Out

My bicycle tools and spares had outgrown their containment by a fair margin.

So an upgrade was definitely in order.

As a bonus, I was finally able to mount my truing stand to something, the way it was designed to be installed. Much nicer than clamping it to the edge of my coffee table every time I wanted to use it.

While I was out getting tool containment devices, I decided to grab a service cart as well.

This cart holds tools that are in use, separately from the work surface where the project itself is held. Most people end up putting both their in-use tools and project materials on the same surface, but I find that leads to too much conflict and clutter, and I end up wasting a lot of time moving materials out of the way of tools, and tools out of the way of materials. Thus, having a separate space for each, especially with the tool containment being mobile, makes for an ideal solution.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Keeping Things Fresh

Charged the batteries on the motorcycles today by riding 4 loops around Hicks/Almaden. I don't think I've ever seen so many people riding bikes along that road, and just on a Tuesday afternoon? Craziness.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Things Left Behind

Wasn't really sure what I wanted to do this afternoon, so I ripped down the last of the hantavirus shelves in the car hole.

So good to finally have that done. While I was taking down that shelf I also found a little something left behind.

Now I'm no fishing hook expert, but I gotta say these ones look a little old. Gotta say it feels a little weird to throw away something like that, completely unused and in its original packaging, after it had been lost and forgotten about for probably longer than I've been alive. Like I know it's just an unfeeling, inanimate object, but it still feels a bit melancholic that it never achieved its life purpose.

Speaking of things left behind, someone's been leaving painted rocks in my landscaping for some reason I have yet to determine.

Very curious.

And on the subject of landscaping, here's a few more flower pics. The yarrow is blooming nicely, and the oxeye daisy somehow came back from the dead to spit out a bloom.

And finally, last but not least, a western fence lizard.

Friday, May 15, 2020

It's For the Birds

Over the past few weeks I've been busying myself with building a birdhouse, in hopes of attracting some screech owls to the neighbourhood. The idea is that they will make a meal of the neighbourhood rats and squirrels, who I have been at odds with for quite some time now.

The plans that I roughly followed called for 3/4" wood, and it just so happens that I have plenty of shitty 1x12 (3/4 by 11-1/2) shelf boards left over from the crappy shelves I ripped down in my car hole.

This worked reasonably well, but things hit a snag when I realized that the board I had selected out of the pile had so much rough live edge to it that I wouldn't actually be able to get a piece out of it large enough to make the back of the box. There also wasn't enough of it to make the sides of the box, so I supplemented some pieces from a crappy cabinet I had disassembled, to make the sides and back.

I didn't take a lot of photos of this part of the process as there's not really much to see from just chopping large bits of wood into smaller bits of wood. However, I did snap a photo after I had done the initial assembly.

I'd given the shelf boards a quick sanding before the glue-up, using biscuits for that easy alignment, easy life, but left the cabinet boards with their sickly brown varnish intact for the moment. Speaking of, I also used the bisquick joiner to cut the kerf slots below the entrance for the owl to be able to grab onto while entering the box.

Cutting out the entrance hole turned out to be an adventure. I didn't have a hole saw of the correct dimension, so I put my shiny new cordless jigsaw to work making the cut. It has an oscillating feature that allows it to more easily clear chips out of the cut, and I had turned it on to give it a test. As it turns out, this can cause the blade to self-feed rather dramatically when making tighter turns, so the hole ended up a bit lopsided before I turned the oscillating off to complete the cut.

There was a fair bit of glue squeeze-out so I did go back afterwards and give the exterior a sanding, and also bevelled the edge of the lid where it met the back. Scribed and bevelled, that is, since the boards I was using had been sitting outside for a year and had gotten quite cupped.

The two different woods blended together quite nicely once the brown finish had been disposed of. I suspect they're both the same species.

Next up was fitting the hinge. The plans called for the hinge to be surface mounted on top of the box, and while I had been taking the build philosophy of "be sloppy, the birds won't notice the difference", I felt that mounting it like that was a bit too crude even for that. So instead I mortised the hinge into the edge of the lid so it would sit flush and mostly out of sight.

The mortising process did present an interesting challenge though, as I had to make a shallow cut through the end grain of the wood to achieve it. I initially tried a few approaches with hand tools, but after struggling with that for a while I gave up and used my electric router instead. All's well that ends well, but it would be interesting to learn what sort of technique I might have been missing here.

While the directions call for leaving the wood weathered and unfinished, I decided to give my box a splash of finish to keep the wood from falling apart immediately. Had I been using cypress, cedar or redwood I would have been more comfortable with just letting it weather the elements on its own.

Watco teak oil was the name of the game in this case, since I happened to have a jug of it laying around. I'm not particularly fond of it, so it's nice to use it up on projects that I care a lot less about.

It's, uh... Orange.

Last step was to mount the box around 10+ feet off the ground in a relatively sheltered spot with south or east exposure. Luckily my chimney fits that description precisely.

And for bonus points, I set up an owl-cam to keep tabs on my new tenants, though as it's late in the nesting season now I don't expect to be hosting any until next spring.

A job well done, I think.

Monday, May 11, 2020

More Blooms

Finally caught one of the succulent's flowers open.

It's incredibly vibrant, but they only open in full sun which is a bit annoying.

I also took some pictures a few days ago that I forgot to upload, so enjoy some Irises.

And some Rosea Iceplant.

And some Bellflower.

And whatever the heck this bush is.

Friday, May 8, 2020

In Other News

The Geraniums are blooming nicely.

The rose bush is going ham.

The fuchsia has literally risen from the dead.

And the... whatever this succulent is, is once again putting out buds.

One of the was blooming a day or two ago but it seems to have wilted since then. Oh well.



Many squirrels died to bring us these blossoms.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Roses are Red

I'm not growing any violets so I guess that was a short poem.

Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

So I found the rat that stole all my rat poison. On the one hand, this feels like a victory. On the other hand, the rat died with food-riches beyond its wildest dreams. Perhaps it was the true winner after all.

In terms of animals that weren't winners, I present a squirrel that died of acute lead poisoning.

That one was definitely a point for Team Me.