Monday, June 30, 2008

Lonely firefly

I shaved and filed and sanded the kayak deck seams today, getting them down to as near perfect as I could. There are a few spots that will need to be re-glued though, there were bubbles in the epoxy that have left holes in the seams that need to be filled.

Saw a firefly in the evening. One single firefly. Reminds me of the hundreds that you could see in the Tennessee woods at The Farm, as if the stars swarmed down to Earth all around you. One single firefly, must be pretty lonely.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day of rest

Today I didn't do much work, I walked with Sheila and her dogs, took a few photos.

This is a club moss.

This is some stained glass hanging from a tree in the woods.

In the evening I went into New Minas with Ruth and Erin to see "Kung Fu Panda" at the cinema.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Shopping day musings

Cloudy and dull this weekend they say. Canada Day falls on a Tuesday (July 1) so a lot of people are "bridging", taking the Monday off too. But the weather is not so great here in the East. I hear that the West is finally getting a little heat though.

I decided to go into Wolfville to pick up some bread at the Farmer's Market, but I dawdled so long that I only arrived at the Market in the last half hour. Fortunately though the bread folks still had bread, and they had it at a two-for-one price, so I got two loaves. Don't need two loaves but I can either give one away or freeze it. I also bought a disgustingly good and sweet piece of carrot cake. It was so gooey!

I had a small shopping list of other things to justify my trip into town but decided I'd go to Carolyn's first to check email and such. Carolyn wasn't home, but she arrived soon after I did. We had coffee together and chatted, I gave her the extra loaf of bread and we talked about her weekend task of gathering stuff together for the Church yardsale on Sunday.

She's trying to tackle the perennial problem of Too Much Stuff and after decades of living in the same place, it really is daunting. As someone with no personal or nostalgic attachment to any of her Stuff, I can easily say, Be Ruthless! Chuck It All! But I do remember when I was going through the same exercise myself in 2006 how hard it is to give up The Stuff. In spite of my best efforts over a couple of months of focussed attention, I still managed to transport close to 5,000 pounds of Stuff to my new home in Toronto.

We also decided that I would take an old armchair up to the house on the land in my truck, but she wanted to wash its cover first, so I went out and did the rest of my shopping while the chair cover whirled away in the washer.

Went to Stirlings Farm Market and they had strawberries, two quarts for $6.00. Again, I didn't need two, but was fairly certain I could unload one quart on Carolyn, to go with the bread. A few weeks ago one quart cost me $6.00, now I get two for that price!

Strawberries are probably my favourite fruit, but only when they are in season and local. The imported ones from California are atrocities, big and red on the outside, hard, white and tasteless on the inside. No doubt they are great when picked and sold locally in California, but shipping them across the continent so we can have strawberries in the winter is just plain stupid, they only look like strawberries.

So much food is available now, the farm markets are bursting with fresh local vegetables. And when the strawberries finally give out there will be other fruits to take their place, right through to November. It's so different shopping here than in Toronto, so many farm markets to pick from. Every major farm around here has its own market, Stirling's, Hennigar's, Elderkin's, Bishop's. And the local grocery stores carry local fruit and vegetables too, unlike in Toronto where it is very hard to find locally grown stuff in the major grocery stores.

Not to diss Toronto, that city makes up for its lack of fresh locally grown food in many other ways, a wonderful array of foods from all over the world, an incredibly multicultural population that celebrates its diversity very loudly (figuratively speaking, but occasionally quite literally) on the major streets and in the many ethnic neighbourhoods.

I wish I could live in both places at once!

I got back to the Harbour around 5.30pm, Mike and Ruth's son Erin helped me haul the chair from my truck to the house. Now I have an armchair and a couch, in case I have guests!

After a very quick supper of leftover chicken soup, I went to the Garden House to do the last of the gluing. It was an hour's work to remove the last tie-down and fill in the last few gaps between the deck and the hull. Tomorrow it will be ready to shave/file/sand down to a nice rounded edge ready for the fibreglass covering.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fourteen nights

A rainy morning today. The smell of the woods in the rain is exquisite. There was a brief period of heavy rain and thunder while I was having breakfast, but it quickly dissipated into mist and very light rain. And stayed there for the rest of the day.

Gluing the deck to the hull is going to take four days even with the extra tie-downs. I moved the tie-downs and did some more gluing today, but there will be more gluing to do tomorrow. I also started filing and shaving the cured glue at the stern end of the kayak, it will go slowly as well.

Looking at my list of steps to complete, I find that no matter how much time elapses and how much work I get done, I still have fourteen more nights to go. The magic number, 14. But Mike looked at the kayak and said that when I was finished gluing the deck to the hull, I could in theory put the kayak in the water. He made a cryptic remark about the tide, I asked him to elaborate but he just said it was him being foolish.

Wandering around in the evening I spotted a few more plants to identify. There are now daisies (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum), buttercups (Ranunculus) and Indian Paintbrush (Hieracium) everywhere along the road, especially where it goes through the field. I spotted Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus crista-galli) and Naked Witherod (Viburnum nudum) on the edge of the field, and False Solomon's Seal (Smilacina racemosa) in the woods. Blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis) are flowering as well.

The Lupin floral spikes are getting so tall and top-heavy that the plants are starting to topple into the roadway. The Aralia used to have three branches of three leaves each, now there are five leaves on each branch. I'm not seeing Strawberry flowers anymore, I'll have to start looking for the fruits.

I saw the mother rabbit today, not far from Ruth's garden. She wasn't actually in the garden, she's still grazing along the roadway. Mike says he'll have to start thinking about what to do if she moves into the garden.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mike's tie-downs join the fray

Today I removed my brother's tie-downs from the stern of the kayak and put them on the bow. I put one of Mike's tie-downs near the cockpit but I was missing one part of the second tie-down so I couldn't use it. I had to use knives and a metal ruler to pry the hull edges out to meet the deck edges. I applied the epoxy as glue to all the seams that I had tied down and also to the spots that were covered by the tie-downs and tape at the stern yesterday.

I was hoping that the glue will cure by this evening so that I could move the tie-downs and do some more gluing tonight. But Mike said don't push it, leave it to cure over night before moving the tie-downs. I was able to add the second tie-down after finding the part for it, and I added a bit more glue to that area of the seam.

I tried making some baking powder biscuits in a frypan in the evening. I had some chicken soup and a spinach and lettuce salad, I thought biscuits would go nicely with it. The biscuits turned out OK, but I did burn the bottoms of them due to having the flame up too high too long. Next time they'll be better! The cast-iron frypan distributes the heat nicely so they were fairly evenly cooked.

I haven't seen the baby bunny, but Mike says he has seen the mother fairly regularly, so she is still around. A family of raccoons moved into the old stained glass studio and did a lot of damage there, Mike set off some firecrackers just outside the studio to scare them off. He says it worked, but he will invest in more firecrackers to ensure that they stay away. Now he has an excuse to set off firecrackers whenever he likes! The raccoons were tearing holes in the roof of the studio, apparently just for fun. The studio was in bad shape anyway, the roof is pretty rotten, but I guess having the raccoons deliberately tearing it apart was a bit much. When I am done using the Garden Shed for building the kayak, Mike plans to move the remaining stained glass there for safekeeping.

The ants don't seem to be deterred by the borax I am putting down to keep them out. They are kind of weird, apparently they like to make nests out of spruce needles, so they are constantly stuffing whatever spaces they can find with the needles. There are piles of them along the base of the walls and also on the roof plates. They pile the needles on top of the borax. They stuff them in behind the shingles on the outside walls. A half-barrel left sitting on the ground was filled with needles. The wood pile is full of needles. And they are always busy moving needles, long lines of them each carrying a single spruce needle to whatever site they are currently working on, and they seem to have several locations on the go.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My brother's tie-downs go to work

In preparation for gluing the deck and hull together, I taped them together. This was not as hard as I was thinking it would be, however there were some discrepancies between the two that the tape was not strong enough to deal with.

I remembered that my brother had given me a couple of ratcheted tie-downs to use to transport my kayak back to Ontario, and I thought that they might work to tighten the hull so that the edges of the hull and deck meet better.

They did, but it was clear I would need more than two to do the job. I thought I would glue the hull and deck together over a period of several days, moving the tie-downs along the kayak as each glued section cured. However in talking to Mike when he got home from work, he came up with two more ratcheted tie-downs that may allow me to complete the job in two days instead of three or four.

I wanted to take some photos of the ladyslippers which are still in bloom, and while I was doing so I could hear rustling in the bushes nearby. This is right where the baby bunny appeared in the road last night so I think it might be the bunny trying to stay clear of my camera. I wonder if young bunnies usually set out on their own at this age, or if something has happened to its mother. I am hoping the former.

After supper I went for a walk along the brook in the vault. The boundary of this land runs along that brook. On the other side, the owner cut down all the trees right up to the edge of the brook a few years ago. He did this days before they changed the law making it illegal to cut next to a brook. I tried walking along the other side of the brook, but the tangle of old branches left to rot was too much for me. It is growing up fast in bushes and ferns, but is hardly easy walking. However the view across the brook to the tall trees on our side was nice.

I saw a few jack-in-the-pulpits along the brook.

And of course, lots of ferns.

It was still light when I got back home so I set out on my bike down to the shore and walked a ways along the water.

Several people who have cabins there were out on their decks or on a log on the beach enjoying the sunset.

The quacking tree

I was cycling along the road back to my place from the Garden House and I heard what I thought was a duck quacking in the woods. That seemed rather unusual, there was no water in the direction I heard the quacking from. I stopped in the road to listen to the quacking, it sure sounded like a duck.

Out of curiosity I left the bike on the road and started walking into the woods in the direction of the quacking. I kept looking up into the trees for the bird making that was quacking, the sound appeared to be coming from the trees not the ground. Following the sound I reached a small clump of trees but could spot no bird in the tree branches.

Instead, what I thought was quacking was actually the branch of one tree rubbing up against another tree. A birch was swaying in the wind, and it was rubbing a short stubby branch on a spruce growing right up against the birch. The branch had actually rubbed a groove into the birch, and that was where the quacking was coming from.

It doesn't quack all the time, only when the wind blows the birch in a certain direction. I feel bad for the birch, the sound is not really quacking, but a kind of screeching.

My defective passport

Today I went to Halifax to renew my recently expired passport. I had been warned about long wait times if I didn't arrive early so I did try to leave the Harbour early in the morning, but not very successfully. I arrived in Halifax around 10.30am, and at the passport office a half hour later. At the door I was required to take a number, but I didn't even have a chance to sit down before my number was flashed on the screen. So much for wait times!

I had not yet completed the renewal form, I thought I was going to have lots of time for that while waiting my turn. In fact I also brought two books to read and some knitting to pass the time. So I laboriously filled in the form while the woman at the counter waited, she was in no rush so we chatted and joked our way through the form. She checked it over for me and then brought to my attention a small glitch.

Apparently the US border folks are suspicious of passports that contain an initial instead of a name, and my old passport is written that way. In order to change my passport to make it more innocuous, in other words to include my full name instead of an initial, I would have to complete a longer application form and provide a guarantor's signature and personal details. The renewal form only requires two references. Well, that means I would have to return to the Valley and try to find someone who qualified as a guarantor (doctor, lawyer, engineer) and fill out a completely new form. And I am under a bit of a time constraint as it is, a further delay will make the whole project less than useful.

So I decided to take my chances with my existing name. I guess border crossings are going to be a lot slower for the next five years. The passport woman said, just bring along ID with your full name on it, but the problem is, I don't have any such ID! The last piece of ID I had with my full name was my BC medical card and that is long gone. My birth certificate has my full maiden name on it, but I don't use that surname now. She said, get a new driver's licence. As if that is easier than getting a new passport.

Well, I'll just have to see what happens. I do think this business of vastly increased border security has been a rather gross over-reaction, but my opinion on the matter is of little consequence.

I took the pictures for today from the elevator of the office building where the passport office is in Halifax. I went up and down a couple of times to get them, on either side of the building.

Since I was finished at the passport office within half an hour, rather than head immediately back to the Valley, I tried to think of other errands I could accomplish in Halifax. I decided to go looking for parts for the kayak, or at the very least a line on a source for them. Mountain Equipment Co-op was close by but not helpful. Mike had mentioned The Trail Shop on Quinpool Road, so I went over there and drove slowly down the street until I spotted the shop. Amazingly, they had everything I needed and were very helpful. I only bought one item for now, a pair of adjustable footrests that will bolt on to the inside hull walls.

I also checked out their book section and ended up spending $60 on a night sky star chart, The Backroads Mapbook of Nova Scotia, Gibson's Guide to Bird Watching and Conservation by Merritt Gibson, and The Last Billion Years, A Geological History of the Maritime Provinces of Canada. I've had my eye on this book for a couple of years, several friends have copies of it.

Dr. Merritt Gibson is a retired biology prof at Acadia University, I took histology with him. His book is illustrated by Twila Robar-DeCoste, who was a biology student when I was. She has illustrated a number of local natural history books, including other books by Merritt.

The mapbook is part of a series of mapbooks produced by two brothers originally from New Westminster, they started with mapbooks of rural BC and have since expanded to the rest of the country. It is not quite as good as the Atlas of Nova Scotia, the maps are smaller but just as detailed so they are a bit more difficult to read. However it is considerably cheaper and takes up less space.

I returned to Wolfville shortly after my Trail Shop shopping, did a little grocery shopping and went to Carolyn's to check email. Carolyn got home late and had to rush off immediately to a meeting that she was already late for, but we agreed to go out for dinner after 9pm. Boy was I hungry when she finally got back from her meeting! There were only a couple of places in town where the kitchen was still open so we settled on Joe's Emporium, formerly Elmer's Pizza.

Joe's is one of the original restaurants of Wolfville. Carolyn had fish and chips, I had a burger and fries, we both had a glass of wine. When we got back to her house her son Kurt and his girlfriend were watching the tail end of O Brother Where Art Thou, so I stayed long enough to see the end. A very youthful looking George Clooney and some good gospel and old-time music.

My midnight drive back up the Mountain was kind of neat, I still had a bit of a buzz from the glass of wine, and I was listening to Bruce Cockburn's "Bright Skies" on the radio, the stars were out but it was otherwise dark and cool, no moon. Something about that road up the Mountain and then down to the Bay is quite uplifting, makes me very happy to live in this country.

On the road through the woods to my parking spot, the baby bunny I saw the other day appeared right in front of me. I was driving slow enough to stop before hitting it, but in its panic to get away it ran straight ahead of me on the road instead of off to the side into the trees. So I was forced to drive the rest of the way home at baby bunny speed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Laundry day

I slept in and still I was tired. A slow day, low energy. But it was very hot, I think it reached almost 30C here. It cools off quickly in the evening though, I like that.

I did a laundry at Mike and Ruth's place and hung it out to dry on their laundry line in the woods.

I measured and cut out the bulkhead templates for the kayak. That was all I had energy for today. I am going to bed early because tomorrow I have to go to the City (Halifax).

Oh yes, today I saw a baby rabbit on the trail out to my truck. It ran in front of me and tried to hide under an aralia in the trail. I was just two feet away from it when it decided to make a run for it. I was so close I almost could reach out and touch it, but of course he had other ideas. He was about the size of a small squirrel. Very cute looking.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Paddling on Lake George

Yesterday Ruth invited me to go kayaking at Lake George with them on Sunday. Mike's family has some land and a cabin on Lake George, on the South Mountain just south of Berwick. They have three kayaks, all handmade. Two of them were built by Mike, and one by a friend. One of the three kayaks is just like the one I am building, so I will have a chance to see what my kayak will be like to paddle when it is done.

It was a wonderful day of paddling and hanging out at Mike's family's cabin.

One of Mike's younger brothers is there working on a project. He is carving three foot high chess pieces from poplar logs with a chainsaw, for a commission. He has some dental surgery coming up and needs the money to pay for it, so he is anxious to complete the job as soon as possible. Which is too bad for us, he needs to use the chainsaw in a space next to the cabin all day. The chess pieces are impressive though, he has most of them done.

The knights...

The bishops...

Lake George is not very big, our first trip before lunch we head west, and then after lunch we head east. There are some high speed motor boats and Sea Doos also on the lake, just to complement the noisy chainsaw next to the cabin.

Also there are still black fly here, and a lot of them! Especially at the east end of the lake. Bug dope, even DEET, is of no use against them, they drive me crazy. Mike and Ruth seem curiously immune or invisible to them, they paddle slowly along the shore when all I want to do is get out in the middle of the lake and paddle like mad to escape the flies. Later in the day I go out by myself west and south, there are few flies in that direction. But that is also where the Sea Doos and motorboats are roaring around. I try to ignore them, assuming that they can see me and will avoid running into me. Rather a risky assumption but no one runs into me.

Mike jokes about his Sea Doo remote control. He has a contraption he constructed of wood and bits of electronic parts, that basically looks like a large wireless remote control. When the Sea Doos are most active he goes out to the end of the dock and aims his remote at them and begins fiddling with dials and switches. He says that he gets relief and satisfaction from this activity, and sometimes manages to scare the Sea Doo-ers down to the other end of the lake. I joke that this is like the old Kids in the Hall joke, "I am squishing your head!" He says yes, it operates by the same Law.

After dinner (barbecued hamburgers, strawberries and chocolate) Mike leaves with the badarka to play music at Paddy's Pub Celtic night, Ruth and I go for a final paddle. But the flies are even worse than they were during the day. As we head back to the cabin, the rain starts. By the time we get to shore it is coming down hard. We run for our rain coats and then load one of the kayaks onto Ruth's car. We are leaving one behind for Mike's brother to use tomorrow. There is a stunning rainbow from one end of the lake to the other.

We chat most of the drive back to the Harbour but by the time we reach the land I am almost catatonic with exhaustion. It was a great day and I much enjoyed being out on the water, fantasizing about what it will be like when my own kayak is completed. Could have done without the flies though.

Bulkheads, flamenco and gamelan

Today is the summer solstice and the first day of summer. There is a potential thunderstorm in the weather forecast. In the morning I visit Mike and Ruth and while chatting in the garden (Ruth is weeding her tomatoes), we can hear thunder. Mike starts telling me stories about people being struck by lightning. By the time I leave, the thunder is much closer and I am beginning to worry about it.

While chatting with Mike about the kayak, we decide that the next best step for me might be to make some templates for the bulkheads that I will eventually want to install. The deck is soon going to be permanently glued to the hull and it will be a lot harder to make a template after that. Mike digs out some cardboard boxes from his woodshed for me to use.

I cycle over to the Garden House with the cardboard. I then walk over to the outer field to look at the sky to see how close the storm is. Big black clouds loom on the south, and appear to be moving northward toward us. Mike had said the safest places to be in a storm are in a car or in a massive building. I decide that Fritz's house is more massive than the Garden House, I'd rather be at home than in the workshop when the storm hits. So I leave the cardboard in the Garden House and head home again.

The thunder is getting closer and closer, but still no rain. The sun finally disappears, but still no rain. I think I might as well do something useful while I wait so I start gathering kindling from under the spruce trees along the edge of the vault. Then I notice that the thunder is getting fainter, it appears to be moving away. After a few minutes I am quite sure that that is the case, there is not going to be a storm after all. I make some lunch and read for a bit until I cannot hear the thunder at all and the sun is back. No storm. I think it must have moved up the Valley, bypassing the North Mountain.

I return to the Garden Shed, do a bit of sanding of the deck and measuring for my bulkhead templates. But after working hard over the past few days, I am feeling lazy and disinclined to complete the job. I cut out some strips of cardboard and wire them together to use to measure seam angles, mark with masking tape roughly where I think the bulkheads ought to be, and cut out some rectangles of cardboard that will eventually be the bulkhead templates.

There will be two bulkheads, fore and aft, and I want two templates for each bulkhead, one to fit in the hull and the other to fit in the underside of the deck, with a 2" overlap between them. Figuring out the location of the aft bulkhead is easy, it will be an inch or so behind the cockpit opening. The fore bulkhead is a little more tricky, I need the cockpit to be long enough for my legs and possibly the legs of a taller person, but I don't know how much I should allow for that, since I am just guessing that I might be letting someone else use my kayak when it is done. I also have to allow for the length of the footrest pieces and I only have the vaguest notion of what that might be. I finally settle on a distance of 56" from the back of the cockpit to the fore bulkhead and mark that location with masking tape.

I also filed down the "bow bubble" from when I poured thickened epoxy into the bow the other day.

That's it for today. Ruth wants to go into town for a concert at Heather's place, Ken Shorley on percussion and Bob Sotherby(?) playing flamenco guitar, so I go with her. My inclination is to say No and stay home, but my instinct is to go nevertheless.

The concert is wonderful. Ken plays a variety of drums and shakers from around the world and a Southeast Asian gamelan, Bob plays several different flamenco styles. At intermission there is wine and cheese and biscuits and fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate. Very tasty! After the intermission Bob and Ken play together, a fusion of Spanish, Thai and Arabic styles.

It really is quite amazing the musical talents in this part of the world.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Seam reinforcing and bow pour

I went to the Garden House today to check the results of yesterday's work. It looked good. I didn't have a lot to do today, but nevertheless it took most of the day. I sanded everything down to get rid of any roughness in the hull and to prepare the underside of the deck for a saturation layer of epoxy. The fibreglass needed to be reinforced around the middle butt seam, with three pieces of glass each a little wider than the previous layer.

The next task was to epoxy the entire underside of the deck. I also decided to epoxy along the upper edge of the hull fibreglass to cover any spots that may have been exposed during the tape removal the previous evening. Finally I inserted a small triangle of cardboard into the hull bow to create a small area to be filled with wood flour thickened epoxy.

As with the stern stem filling, this area of thick epoxy quickly heated up and began to harden. A small dome rose out of the bow pour area, because I did not allow for the expansion of the epoxy. However I was prepared for something like that to happen and before the epoxy had hardened too much I was able to scrape off much of the excess with only a wooden tongue depressor.

Ruth came by and invited me for dinner later, which I gladly accepted. We had broiled chicken breasts and a salad from Ruth's garden. Ruth enquired about my Belize trip photos so I brought my laptop over and after dinner showed them the photos I had of the Belize trip. Mike and Ruth have travelled in that area, most recently a couple of trips to Cuba, so we were comparing their impressions of Cuba with mine of Belize. Ruth had been in Belize as well, but way back in the '70s. A lot of what I showed her was somewhat familiar to her, although she did not remember town names. She just remembered driving through Belize to Guatemala. There is really only one road that takes you through Belize to Guatemala, so I could tell her which towns she would have passed through.

A social evening in the Harbour

Having finished fibreglassing the hull a bit early, I thought I would go visit Nancy and Peter to hear about Peter's trip west to cruise the BC coast with some friends. I cycled out to the road and just before turning in at Nancy and Peter's, Sheila came along in her Jeep and asked if I wanted to go to the beach with her. It was shaping up to be a spectacular sunset and she wanted to get some photos. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me but going to the beach sounded good to me. So I left my bike behind a tree in Sheila's yard and hopped in the Jeep.

The tide was out and the rocky Baxter's Harbour beach was wide and long. A couple were having a small bonfire at the top of the beach. The sun was setting over Parrsboro on the other side of the Bay, and down the Bay you could see rain showers slowly moving eastward up and across the Bay. Amazing view. Sheila took pictures and I just enjoyed the view. Off to the right we could hear a seal snuffling in the rocks. We couldn't see it but we could hear it, snuffling and scrabbling over the rocks. I think our voices alarmed it and it was shuffling back into the water. We also saw another seal out fishing in the water.

We watched until the sun had set, the clouds had lit up bright pink and then subsided back to grey. We drove back up to Sheila's house and I retrieved my bike and headed on to Peter and Nancy's across the road.

Peter, Nancy and their daughters were having a little bonfire beside their house. I was offered the bag of marshmallows and roasted a couple over the fire. How can you have a bonfire without marshmallows?

Peter described the trip route he and his friends took on the BC coast, and then the rather horrendous flight home, involving among other things a six hour imprisonment on the airplane sitting on the runway, with no food or water. There was a thunderstorm in Toronto that had rather unfortunate repercussions for people trying to fly into Toronto, most of whom were diverted to the smaller airport of Hamilton. As a result Peter's arrival home was delayed by a full day and he was quite exhausted.

Around 10.30pm we all headed off to our respective beds. I had a flashlight and cycled home through the woods by its light.

Upon getting home I realized I needed a loaf of bread from Mike and Ruth's freezer for breakfast, so I walked over there to get it and found Mike outdoors examining his rock collection.

He showed me the rocks he had collected over the years from different beaches along the Bay of Fundy, a lot of fossils and jasper. He has been practicing flaking jasper into points, similar to how the local Miq'mah would have. We talked about the prehistory and geology of the area, Mike's plans for making a display of his rocks, and tales of some of his rock hunting expeditions. There used to be a Miq'mah quarry nearby, where jasper was mined and flaked into various tools for trading with other aboriginal groups.

I got home for the final time around 11.30pm, after a very busy day of kayak building and visiting!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Glassing the hull

This is a big day, my first day of laying in the fibreglass. I have to time it right because after glassing the inside of the hull I have to let it sit until it is tacky and then trim the edges.

Sheila and Nancy come by walking their dogs so I accompany them up the woods road and back. Nancy points out some twinflowers (Linnaea borealis) growing on the side of the road. They are tiny, and true to their name the flowers are in pairs. She shows us how you can pick them, hold the pair of flowers to your nose with one flower for each nostril, and sniff their wonderful scent. I never knew these tiny little flowers were so beautifully scented!

The fibreglass looks and feels very silky. I swept the floor of the Garden House so I could lay out the various pieces, measure them and decide which ones I would cut up for the inside of the hull. I have to leave enough fibreglass for doing the second kayak that still sits in Peter's barn.

I mark the inside of the hull with a line of masking tape about 3/4" above the upper chine seam. This will be the limit of the fibreglass inside the hull.

I select one piece of fibreglass and lay it inside the hull with one edge along the tape on one side of the kayak, holding it in place with more masking tape every 6". I cut the piece so it lays flat, covering the entire bow end of the hull up to the tape line on the other side. I trim it and tape it into place. I do the same for the stern end of the hull, and then cut a small piece to fill the stern end.

The two large fibreglass pieces overlap at the middle of the hull.

Once it is laying smooth and flat, covering the entire inside hull, I remove the tape holding the fibreglass in place and begin mixing and spreading epoxy with a small foam roller. The roller is only 3" wide, and the foam about 1/8" thick. Mike had warned me that this would be difficult, that the fibreglass would tend to lift off the hull as I spread the epoxy, and it was true, but not as hard I expected.

After covering the entire layer of fibreglass in epoxy and it is sticking to the hull, I took a plastic squeegee and scraped off the excess epoxy and smoothed the fbreglass into the seams, squeezing out all bubbles of air.

The bow end had a fold of fibreglass that was difficult to do well, I should have cut it to eliminate the fold.

About the time I was finishing up, Mike arrived home from work and took a look at what I had accomplished so far. He said it looked good. Now I could take a break and leave it to get tacky.

The last time I had to leave the epoxy to get tacky, it took four hours, so I planned on leaving it for four hours again, meaning that I would have to return to the kayak around 8.30pm. I had dinner and did a few chores around the house, listened to the radio for a bit and then finally went over the Garden House to see how it was doing, around 7.30pm. It actually was beyond tacky, four hours was way too much time. So I started trimming the fibreglass and removing the masking tape line. It was rather difficult because the epoxy was already too hard, so there were bits of the tape that I could not remove. However by 8.30pm it was done as best I could.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lupins, lupins, lupins

Today I had errands to run in town so I spent a little time on the kayak spreading a epoxy on the inside of the hull, in preparation for putting in a layer of fibreglass.

In town I checked my email and had dinner with Carolyn at Paddy's Pub, fishcakes and salad.

I took some photos of lupins on the road between Fritz's house where I am staying and the Garden House where the kayak is taking shape.

The lupins are pink...



and a mix of colours....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sanding in the rain

Spent the day sanding and touching up some of the epoxy. It rained heavily, I was going to go home after a couple of hours but didn't feel like cycling in the rain so I ended up working quite a bit longer than planned.

I have gone back to my list of steps and added another night, to make 15 in total. A week ago I had 14 nights on my list, and now after several days working on the kayak I actually have more nights to go than I did a week ago! I haven't reduced the list one whit! And I haven't even started the difficult parts!

I was talking to Nancy the other day, she was admiring the work I had done so far and saying that I would be able to build my next kayak twice as fast. I told her there was no chance I'd build a second kayak, one was quite enough for me.

Nancy remembered when her husband Peter and Mike were working on this kayak hull. She said they quit because they were tired of working with the epoxy. They were working on two hulls and one of them was supposed to be for her, but Mike advised her to look for a second-hand plastic kayak because the wooden one was not likely to be completed any time soon, if ever. So that's what she did.

I told Nancy I didn't blame them for quitting at all. I'd have to be pretty strongly motivated to do this again, and right now I can't think of anything that would motivate me that much.

Went for an evening bike ride, now that the rain has cleared, temporarily. The roads are soft and muddy, the mosquitoes numerous, but my bike runs faster through the mud than mosquitoes can fly.

The lupins are out now, and gorgeous. They line all the roads here, ranging in colour from deep blue to pale pink. Some are multi-coloured, the upper and lower lips of each flower on a spike a different shade of blue or red. But I don't have my camera with me, so no photos, you'll have to imagine it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ways of knowing

Considering this was a do-over day, I can't really claim to have had a productive day, since I was really only catching up to where I should have been a few days ago.


It felt good to refill the seams right this time. I feel like I have finally figured out the epoxy and how to get it right. I felt really confident this time around. Well, tomorrow I'll check my work and see if I really did get it right, but I am pretty sure I did.

I wrote yesterday that I was learning skills I don't really want, and in a way that is true, but I think there is something else I am learning here that is worthwhile. I feel like today is a kind of turning point, I had some insight that allowed me to correct old mistakes and feel confident about proceeding. For the first time I actually feel like I can go beyond the written instructions and improvise as necessary.

I am trying to put my finger on exactly what has changed besides growing familiarity.

Later, I thought I had lost my pocket watch, I thought it had fallen out of my pants pocket. As it turned out I had merely misplaced it, but for a couple of hours I retraced all my steps since I last remembered seeing it, and could not find it.

Several times during the search I was distracted, first by my effort to distinguish between between white, yellow and grey birches, then between red and mountain maples, then aspens and white poplars. I'd stand staring at one or more of these trees trying to get some sense of it as a unique tree, different from others of its genus but similar to others of its species. Then I'd remember that I was looking for my pocket watch and continue on, scanning the ground.

Then I saw a trail that I had not been on in awhile and decided to follow it, rationalizing that I would resume the search for the watch when I returned from that trail. But by the time I had finished following that trail, I decided to give up the search for the watch. I had this sense that it was not in any of the places that I was looking for it, that it was somewhere else altogether and there was no point searching further.

And sure enough, that was true. I did find it very shortly after returning home, in my pyjama pants pocket. I would never have thought to look there, I didn't even remember wearing them. But when I happened to glance at them while doing something else, I suddenly realized that was where the watch was. Finding it was anticlimactic, I already knew it was there.

I am reading Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse, a science fantasy story about a man who murders Death and must then take its place. At one point Death has a conversation with Nature (in this story there are five personified "Eternals": Fate, Time, Death, War and Nature), in which she, the Green Mother, describes to him five different ways of knowing, represented by symbols made up of five lines.

Serial lines: ordinary linear thinking, good for most learning situations.

Parallel lines: powerful conservative thinking, fast and strong, leading to a virtually certain conclusion.

Radiating lines: Divergent creative thinking, going in all directions and not necessarily limited by current circumstances.

Pentagon formation: Schizoid thinking, going around in circles getting nowhere, internalizing. Good for coming to terms with an ugly situation.

Intuitive formation: A sudden jump to a conclusion, not the most reliable but sometimes effective.

Nature suggests that all five modes of knowing are useful for different occasions. I like the metaphor. A panoply of learning tools.