Wednesday, October 31, 2007


After a day on the roof with proofreading awaiting the attention of my eyes, I ask myself am I too tired to scribble on paper, and have to admit that I am not, but the results say that perhaps I am. Last job as dusk drew down was adding copper edging to the small flat world of greenish roofing felt I have created. Off to work then.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


The evening table. Our winter source of vitamin C the mikan or satsuma orange on a little platter my wife wove some time ago. Her most recent christmas present ipod, the day's news and a whole range of objects all with their own reason for being here.
I was contemplating the infinite after a fairly early walk with the pup this morning when I noticed that the sun was shining delightfully on my cup of tea lighting up the brownian surge of vapour from the surface. It was resting on a book on the sofa and as my attention drifted a little I spotted the reflection from the surface of the tea on the opposite wall making perfect little ying yang patterns in time with my heart beat as it was transmitted to the liquid through the sofa. The planet ignored my rapture at this primitive cardiograph and rotated the tea cup, the sofa and everything else out of alignment, reminding me that I had work to get on with.
So I did.
I had a busy day up on the roof and I need a break. So you have a test card image from our living room.

Monday, October 29, 2007


I had a very scrappy day, mostly spent on the computer, which I must return to when I am done here. The scrappiness extended to fiddling with a scrap of glass just as darkness was falling. I was trying to come up with a kind of birthday card in glass for my wife who is a very occasional viewer of these pages (so hopefully won't spot this until the day has passed). She is also a lover of most things connected with penguinery.
My sand blaster had been idle for a long time, so it took a while to get the wasps nests out of the tubes and seive the sand, etc. I really must look in to buying a unit that produces a more precise jet. This is a combination of masking blasts and engraving on a sheet of clear glass that has a blue layer applied on one side. About 5cm from bubbles to beak.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I had a good day at the roof project getting the timbers I had made established in their new home with anchors and the beginnings of copper footings to protect them from the damp. I got as far as cutting in the rafters before it got too dark to work safely. If I can get in a few hours tomorrow I should be able to get the roof planks on and spread some tar paper.
I had to do a bit of a two in one this evening, sketching while skyping as I had some rewriting work to get done so that I can get those hours on site tomorrow, so rather distracted mark making. I was chatting with my brother who has recently forced his way through another birthday barrier while nursing some kind of cold. The six million or so of us online at the time certainly owe a debt of thanks to those chaps who have managed to make a video conference software system that works really well most of the time.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Drifting off

My main useful work of the day was vacuuming the shop floor. I found I was leaving traces a bit like the marks left by wasps scouring a surface for nest building material as the clean concrete was revealed underneath the detritis of recent work. My mind wandered a good deal, fortunately my body did not actually drift off with it. The cheap and noisy shop vacuum had sufficient suction to keep me anchored to the floor as I found myself pondering the podcast I had been listening to. A BBC roundtable program called midweek that rather stuck in the brain box. Twice in the past three episodes I have heard people making comment on war. The first was an american soldier who had just written a book about his horrific experiences. At one point he spoke of watching his small sons playing with toy guns after he had been home for a while and stated that he hoped they would have the courage and opportunity to serve their country as he had. I remember feeling an incredible sense of dissapointment that nobody around the table told him he was a burk. I am a bloke so I can understand aggression and the desire to defend friends and family, but patriotism is not the same and the war being fought in Iraq by the US (who I think of as the THEM, when I am not careful) has nothing to do with defending friends and family. Today there was a chap talking about a book he had written that included letters from doctors and nurses serving the sick and injured in many wars . They spoke of officers dying with a smile on their lips knowing they had had the honor of giving their lives for their country. Infantrymen who wanted to keep the bullets extracted from them to show the misses back home. Other than comments agreeing that there is just not that kind of patriotism in the country today there was again silence around the table. The silence stands out as ugly when one realizes that those people who suffered were pumped so full of propaganda that it is a wonder their eyes didn't bubble.
I remember once thinking that it was strange how the propensity for war has survived in us as a species. If you think of the proportion of folk killed during episodes of war you would think that through evolutionary forces alone we would become more peaceful as a race. Then I realized that the fact that so many die means there are fewer witnesses to tell of how disgusting, terrible and banal the whole business is. Thankfully there are a few, or I would have no basis for my opinion. The consistent occurrence of this nasty war habit has nothing to do with those who die fighting, it is the ratbags that send them off to war that not only survive these awful episodes, they positively prosper.
Japan is one of the only countries that has a constitutional obligation not to bear arms or go to war ever again, I hope they will stick to it and eventually feel empowered to reject the protection of the US as no longer required when there are more countries and peoples who are similarly bound by a personal conviction that "the true enemy is war itself".
Feet back on the floor again now, just in time for bed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rubber hammer

Rain stopped play outdoors and it looks like a typhoon is approaching. I switched to computer work and a bit of laying about on the floor for some of the day. I also made a start on some of the copper I will need on various parts of the tiny roof area. I am going to use shingles to cover the roof, but it will need some kind of edging and flashing. To make the pieces I need I have a piece of steel I stick in the vice edge up. It has a good edge and I match up my marks and then tap along the line of the edge with a rubber hammer to score in the fold lines I need to make a section.
I ought to do something about making up a device to do this more easily, but not now, unless that typhoon lingers and keeps me indoors.
I did use the electric shear I made the teath for the other day. That made speedy work of cutting out the blank pieces for the parts.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Small hands

I had a very brief session on the scaffolding at the end of the day having got the timbers scorched up. It looked like rain and I was worried the dentistry or tree surgery from the other day would suffer a relapse, so I wanted to cover it with some copper clading. The owner of the place kindly helped me out by painting up the timbers with preservative while I was up top. He claims to be useless at manual work and boasts of having very small hands. Nevertheless I am grateful of all help, however small the hands that give it. The timber is now camped out at the site awaiting developments tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Clifton Shaves

I have another pair of spokeshaves made by a company called Clifton. One has a concave curve the other convex. I am using the concave one here to round off the corners of a pillar for the roof project. Pulling here, but as explained back on sept 29 you need to push sometimes. Tomorrow I shall be scorching off this and two other timbers and hopefully fitting them, but there always seem to be fiddly bits I forget like copper cladding to protect the bases of the pillars. I hope to include some decorative windows in this structure, so I have to decide whether to include any joinery for them to be fitted in these main timbers while they are still available on the bench. I think I may just stick them in and hope for the best with adding the windows after, worth sleeping on that to let the subconcious have a say.
As long as I have some physical memory of doing something during the day, drawing with crayons is quite good fun as the evenings close in.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lowering bob

I popped up the scaffolding for another bit of measuring this morning. Just lowering the plum bob to check something here. I wasted some time making up some little bolt fitments to anchor a pillar to a bock wall thinking it would be hollow, but the builder had filled the spaces with cement, so I can use normal anchors.
My brain box is increasingly distracted with measurements, but I have just enough cells left to draw. The blurry smudge at top center is from where I used the pad to brush a centipede that had dropped down from the ceiling off of my leg. Immediate cremation I am afraid.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Truck tying

No major developments today, last job was unloading wood supplies from the truck at home and at the site. Here we are tying them on at the shop. Sammy did the driving and I think he likes to take these chances to check that he remembers the nankin knot for tightening down on truck loads. I was taking a back seat and he did OK, a few more trips and I should be able to send him shopping for timber on his own. I suppose there are still some issues to do with aesthetics of grain that might
give pause, but as to the practicalities he should pass the test.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Down in the shop roasting the three timbers I got jointed up today. Two Cypress and one cedar. I burn the surface until it gets that kind of crocodile skin texture and then move on. This is followed by a session of wire brushing.
The other possible subject for the day was an earthworm that I noticed squirming up a concrete gutter at the side of the road while I was out walking the dog. It was trying to find a point to exit the sides making its way up stream in a fairly leisurely way like someone looking for a good place to cross a road. The morning sun was making lovely peacock feather colors refracting through the tracts of cillia lining its body. At one point it got a tiny bit further up the side and then suddenly lost its grip, slipped and rolled onto its back. At this point I realized I had been empathizing with it in some way in that I could sense its slight discomfort at being belly up. It is strange that one can empathize with an earthworm and yet the awfulness of humanity continues without cessation when it comes to empathizing with those with some slight cultural difference. It is the first time I remember contemplating that worms too have their back and belly, despite their apparently simple tubular construction. Anyway, it twisted itself back right side up and continued on its way.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I must confess to bearing a mild longing for beddy byes as the hour of eleven would have just struck if there were a striker in the clock instead of a radio receiver to check the proper time.
Some useful measuring activity at the site today and consequently some timber ferrying to start work on tenons etc for the roof timbers. It is but a few steps from the yard to the shop, but all things have to be carried there unless they have wheels or their own pod like perambulatory protuberances. I suppose I am guilty of giving my feet more to think about than is necessary, but sandals were entirely appropriate given the local climatic conditions and like some intelligent horses they do have some conception of the path they are to follow.
I still have a couple of calculations and ponderings to complete before I can get everything cut, but at least I can make a start.

My thanks as usual to David Bowie, the toon Five Years is somehow a help when the hour is late and one is still fiddling about with bits of chalk in the hope of making a picture to record something of the day.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Just possible

Back up on the scaffolding today doing a bit of dentistry on one end of a beam that had gone rotten. The left end of the beam in the photo back on September 16. The attachment base of the light had made it a permanent nasty damp spot. I made up a filling and inserted that with some glue and screws. The filling also has a mortice in it ready for a support pillar to be added on. Once the work above is completed I will put a copper cap over these parts to give them some protection from the weather.
It took a while to chisel the gunk out so I tried various poses for the job including one where the left leg got a bit disjointed as I was standing on a bit of wall lower down.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Not possible

At all possible, it was not. I got home from the site and then had a bit of a go at the computer with translation work. I lent my daughter the fisheye camera to take to college, and this was one of the ones she took. Back to the paper tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Worst foot

With heights and stuff I seem to be OK as long as it is for work. Putting the worst foot forwards up just a few feet today working on the scaffolding for the roof project. I was sorely tempted to resort to a test card photo for the day, but I am trying to force myself to put down something if at all possible. I always remember a conversation in a pub with a one time teacher of mine who had had a mental collapse. He had been in an art therapy course at one point and he said you could tell the worst cases because they just couldn't force themselves to bring anything out to leave as a mark on the paper. So when I am stuck I just start making some kind of marks and wait for an image to develop like one of those instant photos of old. Today's started the other way up. I usually shrink the images before compression, but didn't today, so you can click and get quite a lot of detail. I shall ask my darling dad if it makes a lot of difference in download time when he looks at it, and if not I'll not bother shrinking anymore.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Little biter

I took the first step toward the roof project today. Went round to confirm the new plan was OK and arrange to borrow some scaffolding poles. They were more worried about a draughty door than the roof, so I shall mend that for them tomorrow. Not one of mine, so I made free to criticise its construction. Part of the roof job will involve copper flashing, so I decided to try out an electric shear I had been given recently to see if it would be of some use. Sure enough as soon as I started it up the blade fractured rendering it useless. The mating surfaces of the mount and the blade both have a kind of serated surface like a file to eliminate slippage I suppose, so I made a replacement blade grinding it out of a section of an old file removing the teath from the front surface. That too fractured, I figured it must be some issue with the way the blade and its mount were interacting so I had one more go at making another replacement and this time sandwiched a shim of copper between the blade and the mount. That faired a lot better and I spent a further half hour fiddling about cutting various scraps to see what I could and could not do.
Sitting just outside the shop here where I have the vice set up as I had a hose running water to keep the blade as cool as possible to avoid having to heat treat it after cutting and grinding. My eyes are still OK, but I had to keep holding the little biter up to reflect light off at different angles to check what I had made.

Monday, October 15, 2007


One of those days filled with distractions. The last was when the old lady who lives just up the hill from us called to say she was having trouble with snakes. I popped up with a branch grabber to see what was up. The larger of the two snakes she had been pestering was hiding in plain sight on a stone wall, so I just grabbed it by the head, which was more action than she had bargained for and put her into a bit of a tizzy. I am not without my principles, so I wouldn't follow her plaintive request to kill it. I am afraid I would have had no hesitation in administering the chop if it had been a proper venomous number this near the homestead, their heads pickled in alchohol have certain medicinal qualities on stings and whatnot that I would trade some bad karma for. This is a kind of garter snake I think, it is venomous, but the fangs are very short and toward the back of the mouth. My main fear was that it might force me to have to burn my glove as I think they also emit a nasty odor from their skin if they are distressed. I can still recall the scent of a grass snake I clutched when I was a kid. New mown hay times five million. I leave the snakes to do their stuff around our house. I think they take their fair share of mice and other chaps with prominent teath. I tried to persuade herself that there was no harm in the little squirmer, but in the end it just seemed best that they be parted, so I trotted away with it and dropped it down the embankment to where the bamboo grows along the river. A homely spot for a snake.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dusty ceilings

I don't know why it is, but tool designers can't seem to resist the desire to put little dust blasting air vents on their products in the right place to do no good at all for me. Obviously the motors need to be cooled, but I wonder whether they ever do any product testing in real situations. I had to look the other way in this already weird pose to pop a couple of screws in for some battens ready to fill the nasty gap at the edge of the ceiling. I was standing up on the bench at the right hand side of the picture yesterday where the arch meets the edge of the ceiling panels. I think I was wearing glasses and a dust mask, but even so the little tools manage to find a little nook to blast through. Nevertheless, an impact driver makes the job a lot easier than it would be trying to knock in nails in such a confined space.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I used that string technique for elipse drawing to get a curve that would hide all the iron pipe and match the width. Once I had half the elipse drawn out on some pieces on the floor I stuck them up and used the negative cut outs as templates for the other parts. The panorama maker made a jolt in the curve, but it is pretty smooth. I popped a cap of bendy plywood over the edges just after taking this, and when I have sanded the sharp corners off tomorrow I will see about painting it to make the room a bit brighter. It doesn't give much extra wall space, but maybe room for a shelf up near the ceiling. I can also finish off the edge of the ceiling to cover up the edges where glass wool insulation pokes out, which is not too healthy. I may have a "before" picture somewhere, but the room does appear in some past work-in-progress photos. Everything is still in a mess in this room, but each little step is getting things into a more permanent shape. A future step will be to whip out the aluminium windows along the front and replace them with a set of glass double doors and a couple of windows. That will make a higher entry way. More work than it is worth at present, but one day. I am still trying to figure out a place where I can run stairs down from the living area of the house above the shop so that I don't have to walk right around outside the house to get down to work.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Back woods

This is the area I was sweeping out yesterday. Sammy popped out to have a night time view of the half full wood cart. We have one of those sensor lights out there, which comes in useful if we forget to fill up the stack of wood outside the window next to the stove before it gets dark in winter.
I started up on the workshop improvements again today, clading a set of metal beams I put in ages ago. We had a level three earthquake the other day and stuff that makes the house stronger when one thinks of it feels like the right thing to do. I am using up some of that 25mm plywood to make a sort of arch shape that will span over my bench area. That should make it easier to add bits and bobs to that wall space and join all the metal work together more effectively.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Trolley done

I got the firewood trolley set up and half filled with wood today. I am sure I look a right nutter fiddling about with these things. One episode today involved wheeling each of the two side parts that are like huge inverted Fs (with an extra cross bar) up from the shop. On their own they just look nutty with no apparent function, making two just seems doubly foolish, but once bolted up they worked out fine and I have a lot more air around the wood stack as well as a fair bit of flexibility should I decide to revamp the kitchen wall, which is what gets covered up by the wood stack normally.
Last winter we stacked wood under the shed roof with the press, but I have a load of materials stored under there now. Reorganising those was the last job before coming in to work on the computer, but just before that I did a bit of sweeping around the area I had tidied up to place the wood trolley. A truly damp and nasty space that will now hopefully be easier to tend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Having welded up the side parts of my metal construction project I had to figure out a way to bolt the middle bits on and make it into a whole. I drilled holes from either side of the square pipe to have bolts go right through to nuts welded onto tabs on the ends of the cross pieces. I had a lot of these bolts, so it seemed like a cost effective method. It got dark just as I was ready to shift all the bits up to their home outside the front of the house where the firewood processing happens. I have a couple of those stepped bits that make it pretty easy to drill quite large holes in sheet metal or pipe. As usual, crouching on the floor to do it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Floor Welding

As per usual the objective remained unatainable. Perhaps with a little perseverance I will get the firewood holder done tomorrow. I got a fair bit of welding done today, tacking up with TIG and then gas welding. Sammy came down to the shop when he got back from uni and had a go at both. I think he liked the gas welding more than the TIG despite the extra heat. As with the work yesterday I was crouching about on the floor again for the gas welds.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Not much in the way of after effects from yesterday's exertions on the sports field. I made a start on another rack system for firewood. There are a lot of areas that need work, so I want to put some of the firewood stock on a wheeled rack to make it more flexible. I got a few lengths of square pipe from sign boards at one of the recent sites and I was cutting off some of the unnecessary bits from that with the torch and grinding back to flat metal. It should be ready to put wood on by tomorrow evening. I work on the floor a lot, so I end up crouching on top of the work on these jobs.
I have taken the guard off of this grinder to give more freedom of usage angles, but it does mean you have to be a lot more careful to avoid slips. I was wearing goggles and ear protection, but that stuff doesn't get included in the remembered self image unless I force it, the towel on the head makes it through OK for some reason.
All the recent drawings are on a little B5 sized sketch pad.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Warm hearted

The year is turning and the stove is lit more often. I started posting back on 8 October 2006, so approaching a birthday. I see connections between this collection of stuff and the sculptures I have made. Always there each day, and always the same, but always different in some small way. Thanks for looking in, my humble appologies to all those I have upset, dissapointed or dissilusioned in any of these little snippets, my intention is basically to record some of my doings. I have very little feedback from this, but even for me it is a useful activity, so I shall aim to keep on with it.
Today was the community sports day, so I am a little orange again from exposure to the sun. All in all it was OK, our village is the smallest of the teams participating and we always struggle to get enough people to compete. We are usually last, but one year we made it to second place through some series of coincidences and miracles. There were complaints I believe.
The last event of the day is a relay of several different age groups each passing the batton to the next. This we are always last in. My Son was the anchor today, he makes it look easy to step around the track and always gives it his best despite being the last one on the field. He also sometimes does a heroic "bansai" finish with a big smile as he crosses the line. He got a big round of applause today and a lot of cheering around the track, bless him. After the event there is a little doo at the local meeting hall. The eldest chap present there made a little speech praising sammy for this attitude and it made both me and my espoused a bit misty I think.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ply drop

Not very satisfactory, but descriptive of the last job of the day just as dusk was falling. We live below the road level, so I can drop stuff that is not too easily damaged down into the space by the shed I have the press in. It certainly makes dealing with firewood easier, but today with a bit of care we dropped the truck load of sheets of plywood down one by one. Sammy was down below moving each one out of the way to stop the next one whacking into the edge. It is about a four or five meter drop, so after this scene I lean right down over the guard rail along the road side clutching the edge to get the piece as near the floor as I can, then let nature take its course. I wonder whether the strong link between electricity and magnetism also exists between gravity and some power we have yet to discover. Would that make it possible to generate gravity? Anyway, gravity is pretty predictable on the whole, but things can easily take a diversion when that way inclined, so sammy stays well out of the way.
We made a bit of headway with firewood as we were making space for the new arrivals. We have the community sports day tomorrow, so I guess I will have to leave off my autumnal tidying for the duration.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I had occasion to return to one of the recent houses I worked on. Lots of driving, and not much work. The client has not yet moved in, but some of the tea related items had found their way in to the room with the shelves and whatnot. Everything looked very nice all clean and finished, but there were a lot of little bits of masking tape around that made it look like a stage set with marks laid out for actors. I think they were just places where someone had noticed a scratch or something that needed attention, luckily most of my stuff has already suffered scorching and wire brushing, so a scratch here and there is part of the finish. I hope I can say that the work looks OK when it is handed over, but I believe that it should get better and better as time passes and the patina is revealed by constant contact in use. However, not everyone is a fan of that and the new car smell attraction of mass production does have very deep roots in the modern psyche. The trouble is that however much you wax and clean, everything goes downhill from the day you take reciept of the puppy, so it is probably better to start out with a few dings built in.
I also stopped by at the other site to pick up a bit more of the water damaged spruce plywood I have been finding so useful recently. This has little cuts on some edges and the fact that none of the sheets are pristine somehow makes it very easy to use up on home and workshop utilities with a light heart.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sleeping dogs

I feel the urge to write about a weird news item on the frontpage of the BBC website from the UK for want of anything better. The strange story of the banned photo owned by Mr John. Perhaps it had been editted on the website, but all I saw was two kids messing about, and that photo was being carted off in handcuffs by the local constabulary. I am sure I should let the urge lie like the almost sleeping mut defending the entrance to my daughters space. But what the hell.
I remember when I first went to primary school we had a regular excercise session when we were told to take off all but our vests and pants and daps and skip about doing various pranky things like making ourselves really big or waving in the wind. And that was at a CofE school. I am sure there are many laws banning that sort of thing now, but it goes to show that times change. We as children were assumed to be innocent. I am pretty sure that I had no idea what the girls looked like inside their undies, and I don't think I was that interested in finding out, despite finding them attractive in some way even at age six.
I do not subscribe to the inherent guilt advocated by some religions, but I believe that somewhere in my being I can still contact the time of my innocence as a resource that advises me when to say "That is silly".
It is said that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and it can now be added that the same is entirely true of depravity and filth.

Time for dinner.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

More carting

A mixed up day of translation and carting materials around to fill space more efficiently. Today mainly my sheet glass and window collection. Nothing grabbed the imaginary self image and I used up time sitting at the piano with sammy to discuss what he was aiming at instead of drawing while we were chatting. So, today is an SP in a distant and dirty mirror. Now I may have a quick tikle myself.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


In the nature of all endless things, the fiddling continues. I now have only one dark corner of the shop left to dig through and I think it is best if I don't go there because it needs some kind of rendering or concrete damp proofing. More odd bits of machinery with suspected usefulness met the light of day and a splash of grease today. I think I will have to take a few of them in a well ordered crocodile up to the rubbish on Friday, they can choose partners to hold hands with on the way up the road. Their sacrifice will clear the way for something, but now the space is opened up it seems a shame to fill it, perhaps more stuff on trollies is the solution.

Monday, October 01, 2007

More bearing

More tidying today and at the end of the day I went on a lightning trip to get petrol and money from the relative establishments. On the way home I popped in to the junk yard again to have another dip into the bearing bin. This time I went equipped with a box and a pair of gloves to save on grease removal. The crop from the last trip looked so useful I thought I should get in a few more, as well as possible baseplates for the ends of the shafts.
We have to get down a few steps to the house, so everything that can't be dumped down in to my little yard from the road has to be carried. I still favor the left ankle a bit, so the right one does more work going down stairs, I suppose it will start complaining in the end.