Saturday, December 31, 2011

...well we made it.
Another 150,000,000 miles or so, that long trip around our sun...
This, of course, is not even a detectable blip in the 450 billion years or so that this has been going on.
...but in our short lives here, if we are lucky, it represents a little more than one percent of our total time on this planet... for me it's 2% of my time so far.
In the northern hemisphere, we observe the end/beginning of this orbit at the darkest and coldest time of year, a time seemingly especially made for contemplation and reflection.
I tend to make a lot of observations in terms of how I can improve going forward... "I did to much of that, I will try to do more of this", "I need to stop acting like that and more like this", etc.
Commitments made mostly in vain of course, change comes incrementally at best... Hopefully something sticks and we continually move forward in some small way... assuming we even know what "forward" means.
For me I think it means moving towards being the person I was put here to be but I flatter myself thinking I even have any idea who or what that person is... Most likely I am already and always have been the person I was meant to be and the striving to be more the person I think I was meant to be continually folds itself into that person... and here I am...
And so we move forward into another year. I view every day as a gift, a whole year is beyond comprehension, certainly far more than I have ever done anything to deserve or have a right to.

Here is a good version of that great Sandy Denny tune to take us out:

Friday, December 9, 2011

A long time since my last post here.
We now have some snow and have seen below zero temps.
Not a lot of snow yet so the ice on the lakes should be good. I have heard there is some real good skating ice in places on the lakes right now, smooth and clear...but that is not for me.

...the big news, I turned 50 last weekend. It was an uneventful day for the most part, but my wife is not one to get just a "5" and a "0" candle and call it good, she actually gets 50 candles. I won't post that picture here, it was quite a flame.

The projects are going slow but steady. We have divided up forces between two projects now, the new house we have been working on for over a year and a major remodel we started in the early spring. I don't believe I have said much about that one here so I will talk about that a little...

It is a log "kit" home, not the type we usually work on but it seemed like a challenging project and the end plan looked pretty cool so I decided to go for it. Initially I thought I would find some more help and get it knocked out more quickly but that never works out as well as I would like.

Here are some shots of the cabin as it stood before we started:

Here would be an example of the kinds of things were are doing here. This is a "before" shot of one area of the lakeside roof:

And here is an "after" shot of the dormer that was added there:
I will post more shots of the project later. It has been ongoing for some time and is coming along nicely.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I have been working in the shop on two sets of arched doors for a contractor in the Twin Cities. These, like so many of my projects, should have been done a month ago and once again, I am testing the patience of my clients. Hopefully in the end they will be happy with the product...

I have the doors themselves built and finished but the glass and trim are not installed yet. I have most of the trim made but not finished yet. The glass just came yesterday so I have that. Here are some pix of the doors after I got the final coat of finish on them:

The jams are formed now. I think sometimes there is more glue in these doors than wood. In an arched situation everything has to be in thin strips and glued up over a form. Here I have the final pieces glued in place on the second jam:
The outside layers you can see are the jam now in it's rough state. Plastic separates it from the form that I had to build when I started all this which is that whiter, wider part...

After the glue is dry, I use the form as a guide for the router, and with a flush cut bit I smooth the edges of the jam.  This is the end result of that:
Now I can remove it from the form and set the form aside. I think I am done with it...
The next step is to use the jam as a form for making the stops... So, more strips glued together on the inside of the jams. They will then retain that shape and become the stops for the doors. As of right now I have a little more of this to do today, but here is where I was at the end of the day yesterday:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Last week I was involved in one of those moments in time that come along occasionally... The assemble of the playground equipment in Whiteside Park, in Ely MN.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when we started unloading the full semi truck that pulled up on Thursday morning. There was a lot of stuff there. Heavy stuff, well wrapped. A full truck...

Once we had it all out and laying on the ground it became an unwrapping frenzy. We became obsessed. It was a warm, humid day, and a couple hours later I was dripping with sweat. There was a lot of people who came and worked on this. Lots of kids too.

I showed up that morning not sure how much I would do or how long I would stay, but once we started, I could not leave. It became a lot of fun...

At about 11:00 am, the guys from Midwest Playscapes showed up led by a young man named Bryson Pudwill. We could see right away he had done this a few times before. He did an extremely admirable job of keeping everyone moving and busy with various tasks while focusing himself and his two men on the details. I was impressed by his energy and focus.

By early afternoon we had everything unpacked and laid out and were putting in the first of the posts and had many parts assembled on the ground.

In that last picture the guy in the yellow shirt walking by is J.J. Day of All Day Landscapes in Ely. It is probably safe to say this project would not have happened nearly so efficiently without J.J. and his skid-steer mounted auger. He worked tirelessly the entire two days and deserves a huge thanks for his efforts...

The next day we really hit it. It was amazing how quickly things started taking shape:

By the end of the day we had everything assembled and our orange caution fencing up. We wanted to make sure the concrete around these posts had plenty of time to set up...

It should be noted here that, even though we have all the equipment set up, the project is far from done.  About $60,000.00 was raised, mostly from contributions from generous donors. This was enough to purchase the equipment and get it set up, but still needed is about $40,000.00 to finish with ground cover, (to make it all safe), and landscaping and a few other details. To get more information on donating funds or purchasing pavers, (the picnic table area will have brick pavers), you could contact the city of Ely:
209 E Chapman St
Ely, MN  55731
...after the fencing was up and things were quiet on Friday evening, everyone had left the park... nothing more could be done but waiting... the concrete needed to set up before anyone could climb around on the stuff...
But there was one person who did not leave. Council Member Heidi Omerza. Heidi had been here the entire time helping with every aspect of this project. This has been a dream of hers as long as I have known her and she looked at it through the eyes of a child on Christmas morning. Always one to go way over and above on everything, she took it upon herself to stay the entire night watching over our huge investment of labor and money to make sure nothing would disturb anything during the crucial concrete set-up time.
...if you know Heidi, you know that's just the way she is...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

.and so ends out baseball season:

One of the things the article failed to mention is the pouring rain in the last 4 innings of the second game under the lights. The kids were soaking wet but all smiles at the end of the night. This is the best picture I have showing the rain: Spencer on the mound, probably about the 5th inning.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A recent shop project I finished. Make sure your volume is working:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

There is a secret treasure in Ely. I was unaware of it myself until a few years ago, even though I have lived here for over 25 years.
Back behind Whiteside Park, behind the little league field and softball field is the Veterans Memorial Baseball field.
This is an un believable facility that has been honed over the years to a level of beauty that, especially under the lights at night, brings a tear to the eye, by a dedicated group of staff and coaches and players that give it a tremendous amount of their effort and free time.

Over the past few weeks they have taken that dedication to a much higher level yet, (I wouldn't have believed it possible), the field is an absolute vision of beauty for the State Legion Tournament which started today at 11:00 am.

I just stopped by there and there is an energy there that makes it hard to leave, (and I am not even that big of a baseball fan). I just wanted to hang there and have some of those burgers they were grilling and sit on the bleachers in the shade and watch some high level baseball played by some of the best young players in the state. Guys that came here to play.

If you are in town town today, tomorrow or Saturday, sure, go to the Blueberry festival and get that out of your system if you need to, but then, if you enjoy baseball, take a walk back over there and witness something special.

If you are not in town and are interested, you can read all about it here:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

An old acquaintance I hadn't heard from in years called yesterday and we had a fun conversation. I had the privilege of working with this man on his log home "monument" many years ago, (I think everything Virgil does is of "monument" scale), and I enjoyed watching this video and seeing what he is up to now:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Some progress on a door I am building.
The doors are hard to see progress on because the parts are all built and all the carving is done before everything is put together. So, even though the door looks like it is nothing yet, there is a great deal of work that has been done and once the carvings are finished, the panels will be varnished and then the assembly takes place. At that point, the door is almost done.

This is basically a frame and panel door, meaning the stiles and rails form the frame of the door and the panel will be set into slots on the inside edges of the frame and left loose so that they can move around, expand and contract, with humidity and temperature changes etc.

The rails are joined to the stiles by a basic "mortise and tenon" joint. Here is a shot of what that looks like:
 This is the door frame assembled and laying on top of the flat panels. The slots for the panels in the frame have not been cut yet:
I have begun the carving on the panels. They are roughed in and I am ready to go over them and finish the detail carving. There is carving on only one side of the door, so there is one carved panel and one flat:
 This door will have a side panel. Again, only carved on one side, so there is one flat panel and one with the carving:
I have the jams all made and finished and assembled. Here is a shot showing the threshold of the assembled door jam:
Here is a drawing of what the door will look like on the exterior when it is completed:

Monday, January 10, 2011

The winter weather and the snow and the Holidays have slowed things down a bit.

There's a few less working hours in a day when you either have to do an hour of shoveling in the morning or just hold off for a couple hours when it is 20 below zero... better to wait till the sun gets a little higher in the sky and the temp gets to zero or so...

Last year and this year winter has been more like what I remember it being many years ago. Lots of snow and cold. We haven't seen 35 below yet, but it's still early...

...we have the walls completely sheeted with plywood and a layer of foam insulation ready for windows to be installed.

Back to the roof now that the fascia has come in. The fascia is a dark brown pre-finished OSB product called LP Smartside. Here are some pictures showing the fascia going on and parts of the roof sheeted and the soffets and venting being finished.