Category Archives: Uncategorized

Smokin’

The week of smoke goes on. We now have the worst air quality we’ve ever had, almost like a good day in Delhi. Despite the smoke from the fires in Washington, life goes on. The good news is now everyone owns a filter mask! I have a whole collection of them, mostly blue surgical types, but just the other day I scored a real N95 in white (China), that fits great. So stylin’ too. Now I can parade the town with my mask on and not appear to be afraid of that little virus thing. It does make smoking difficult however. Just joking!

don’t forget your sunscreen

With my trusty filter mask I went out on my rounds yesterday, Saturday, and attended a birthday party for a friend, then later hit some thrift shops. I intended to buy an nice enlarger I’d seen, but the lens was gone. I did see a nifty painting of the Last Supper, however, which I was tempted to buy but didn’t when I realized it was not Leonardo’s, just a copy. My son and his wife are waiting for the baby to arrive at any moment, too. On the way home I saw a neighbour whom we had supposed had vanished. All this and more was later immortalized in a round of haiku typed on the Olympia Traveller, while M used her new favourite toy, the Oliver.

welcome to the future

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Filed under Photography, Poetry, Thrift shop finds, Typewriters, Uncategorized

Expired Film Follies

Yesterday I blogged about a Baldix 6×6 folding camera c.1950 that I found in a thrift shop, with an old roll of film inside. The film was Kodak Ektacolor 160, which has not been made since the late 1990’s, from what I can gather.

Baldix 6×6 with f2.9 lens

The film had been wound up to frame 3. After I figured out how to wind the film on, which requires winding forwards until it stops, then winding backwards until it stops, and then winding forwards to the next frame number, I wound it on to frame #4. The accessory on top is another odd bit I found at the same shop; a Voigtlander Kontur viewfinder. While not made for this camera, it fit onto the accessory shoe nevertheless. At first I had no clue what it was for. I then discovered how it works: you use both eyes!

look with both eyes

This is what you see:

view thru finder with both eyes open

I went for a walk around the lake with the camera, my exposure meter, and wife. I rated the film speed at 100, to give it a bit more light, since it was so old. Last night I developed the film in caffenol, using this recipe:

600ml water at 20 degrees C/ 38 gms Arm & Hammer washing soda (monohydrate)/ 10 gms vitamin C powder/ 24 gms Maxwell House instant coffee/ 8 gms table salt.

I presoaked the film for 10 minutes and poured out the bluish water, then in went the caffenol. One minute of agitation, then 20 more minutes in the tank, agitating at one minute intervals. 21 minutes is longer than normal, but I wanted to overdevelop, again to compensate for the age of the film, assuming it had lost some vitality. Rinse, fix, wash. I was pleasantly surprised to see 9 images. The edges were fogged, but there was enough detail and contrast to get halfway decent results from the scanner (Epson V600) using a little backlight correction to brighten the images and compensate for the density of the colour film base. Ektacolor is a C41 film, with a slight brown tinged base stock.

the dock
M at the teaching shelter by the nature house
M on the troll bridge over the creek
me, by M

I have another old expired roll of colour film in a 35mm camera, waiting to be processed. Time to get more coffee however, as my jar of Maxwell House is empty.

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Filed under Cameras, Photography, Thrift shop finds, Uncategorized

Kentmere Caffenola

Here are some recent BW scans from several rolls of Kentmere film I shot in the past 2 weeks, using a Minolta SRT 101 and a Nikon EL. For those who care about lenses, I used a Rokkor 50/1.7, a Nikon 55/3.5 micro (reported to be the sharpest of all Nikon lenses @ $5), and a no name 28mm Japanese lens good enough that I can’t see any difference between that and the others.

Red Ferrari

The purpose of shooting film and developing it at home is to become frustrated, screw it up, and carry on until you finally get something decent, which describes how it seems to go every time. But the results can be fun, and interesting.

old apartment door

If you just want a good picture, find a Canon A510 or something like that for $10 in a thrift shop.

ugly fish

But if you want some excitement, combined with a way to waste some time using old and simple do it yourself methods, then Caffenol developing is the thing.

old school
me – liberating Holland (Disney version)

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Filed under Cameras, Photography, Street photography, Thrift shop finds, Uncategorized, Vintage cars

The Grand Balcon

Just finished this one. Hiking season in the Alps should be open now, but with Covid 19 still about, I wonder how the refuges will be affected? This is on the climb from Tre-le-Champ up to the trail called Le Grand Balcon on the opposite side of the Chamonix Valley from Mont Blanc, that big white hulk in the centre background. Most hikers end the Tour de Mont Blanc with this hike, which on a good day affords the best possible view of the great mountain, from a trail that is. This was the last day of our 11 day trek, and I finally convinced Terry to wear the camo boonie hat I had given him.

To get the whole story, you can buy my book A Walk Around Mont Blanc.

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Filed under Great Hikes, Painting, Travel, Uncategorized

Lure of the Royal 10

1921 Royal 10
white keys
Rebuilt sticker on back: Like-Nu
love those decals
standard spool with wire to engage the gear wheel below
the correct Royal spool with tangs and the reversing tab

I replaced the old worn down hardened rubber feet with new soft rubber wine carboy bungs. I sawed them to the right depth and drilled out the centre holes to enlarge them for the holding screws. The bungs were the perfect diameter and the feet work very well now. All old typewriters should be so easy to fix this way!

worn down hardened rubber feet
cutting a rubber bung to size
drilling out the centre – held in a vacuum brush
new rubber foot
feet on, ready to type

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Filed under History, Repairs, Typewriters, Uncategorized

North (Am)Erika

North America was “discovered”, in a manner of speaking, by Lief Erikson, about 1000 years ago.

Seattle’s Leif Erikson memorial statue at Shilshole Bay Marina.

Lief got here first, and yet Chris Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci got all the glory. This must be corrected! Here are some suggestions to correct the injustice.

First, the USA shall become the USE (United States of Erika) and Canada will become SUPER, (Somewhat United Provinces of ERikland). When referring to what was previously called America, the new term shall be USESUPER.

All references to the term Columbia will henceforth be replace with the word Erika, since Chris Columbus was not first, and therefore by all logic, second rate, explorer-wise.

The Columbia River will become the Erika, and the province of British Columbia will henceforth be known as Icelandic Erikland, i.e. IE. The District of Columbia will become the District of Erika, etc.

Washington DC will become Washington DE, or Duh for short.

Now is also the opportune moment to replace all those missing and soon to be melted statues with new ones, of Lief the Lucky. We can use the bronze in an environmentally sensitive manner by recycling it in electric furnaces powered by solar energy. Those bare and empty podiums need something! Fortunately, statues of Lief already exist in many cities throughout North Erika, such as Duluth and St. Paul, Minn., as well as Seattle, Boston, Milwaukee and Chicago. Cities that can’t afford new statues, shall replace the head of the offensive existing ones with Lief’s head, change the plaques and call it a day.

The man had guts, good looks and was a damned fine sailor. His name has a natural sound, like an electric car; environmentally friendly and zero pollution.

Apart from statues, the USE (United States of Erika) already has a national holiday for Lief; October 9th.

In these tough times, we need a new hero!

Onward, Lief the Lucky! Long live North Erika!

Photo Credit: Steven Pavlov – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15950672

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Filed under History, Philosophy, Travel, Uncategorized

To The Lighthouse

This is a real lighthouse, but I took some artistic license. There were no seagulls on logs, but the ones flying were in fact present, for a few moments. The actual scene when I photographed it was rather duller, the colours too hazy, so I livened it up with stronger shadows and highlights.

The thrift shops have opened here, but there have been no typewriters, luckily – otherwise I might have bought one! Eventually I hope to have maybe only a dozen typewriters, but it will take a long time to sell what I’ve got, unless I give them away. I could do that, but even so there doesn’t seem to be much demand these days. This is why I am trying not to buy any more typewriters, because I have nowhere to put them. I think there’s an inverse relationship between how much of a given thing one owns, and one’s desire to own more of the same. If I had three typewriters I might get excited about some that are available in my town right now. Varage seems to have lots of them these days. Same goes for old film cameras, of which I seem to have boxes and boxes full. Who needs it. Hence I’m more focused on doing art, which is easier to store. I work on 1/4″ thick panels, so a foot of shelf space can hold 30 or more paintings, compared to say 2 typewriters.

I do keep a typewriter close at hand, however, just so I can always admire it even if I have nothing to write at the moment. If I had to keep just one typewriter, it would probably be this one, 1958 Smith Corona Silent Super, aka Eaton’s Prestige. Or, maybe the Olympia Traveller…. or the H3K… or the Remington All New…

debatably the best typewriter in history?

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Filed under Painting, Philosophy, Typewriters, Uncategorized

Ciel the Blue Horse

At last the sequel to Sky the Blue Mouse, which the world has been clamouring for. In these times of trouble, woe and “whoa – don’t get too close to me buddy”, let your spirits have a lift by delving deep into the world of blue animals, hobos, hot air balloons and mysterious stone towers!

Ciel the Blue Horse is now available on KDP in paper and ebook format. Click the picture to go to Amazon and get yours.

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Filed under Books, Books and Short Stories, Uncategorized

The Social Distance Isolation Blues

Two months, no gigs. For a musician this pandemic has put a halt to that, among everything else. But, we came up with a plan this week – a concert on the front lawn, maintaining 2 metres between players. I debuted the Corona Gold guitar, which performed flawlessly. I however performed less flawlessly, and more so as the temperature continued to drop and the wind picked up. By 8 PM we were done, after 90 minutes straight out fun.

my band –  bassist Larry is behind the tree

the sign says it all

Meanwhile, life in isolation goes on. Meetings are held via computer. Days are spent alone, mostly, making something, or lately – painting again. I made a second guitar following the pattern of the Corona Gold, but this one strictly acoustic. I switched the top bracing from parallel to X, and made the body a little deeper than the previous one. Also employed the X brace on the back, and the same projected neck design. Having a tall bridge allows using a nifty adjustable bridge too, which makes action adjustments dead simple. Body and neck are maple, with spruce top.

Corona Gold II – the acoustic version – Engleman Spruce top

back plate – arched X braced

detail of projected fingerboard

detail of neck heel

Again I finished this using wiped on polyurethane varnish mostly, with a few coats of french polish shellac on the top to make it glossy.

When the guitar was done, I decided it was time to get out the paint again, after a year. My first project was a kid sized card table, which became the canvas for duck. This is for the amusement of my 3 grandsons.

duck on a small card table

Two of them saw it, and were mostly impressed with the little pictures of trucks I painted around the edges. So much for the duck!

Next up was a scene from the Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Once upon a time I spent many vacations hiking along those ridges, and several times staying in the huts. Lake of the Clouds hut is the largest of them all, and commands quite a view from its perch on the shoulder of Mt. Washington.

lake of the clouds hut

Sticking with the wilderness theme, I rendered my vision of a scene along the Cold River in the Adirondacks of New York (corrected from previous label of Raquette River, which was somewhere else). This was from a slide (Kodachrome even) I took while hiking the Northville-Placid Trail in 1979. May it remain ever wild and remote.

I’ve also been working on another picture book for kids, called Ciel The Blue Horse, and intend to publish it any day now.

Ciel frees Aaron the snail from the bucket in which he was captured.

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Filed under Books, Guitars, Painting, Uncategorized

Corona Gold Guitar

Guitar #6 c. 2001

When I took up guitar building, I began by attempting to build an archtop guitar. I quickly concluded that I should try something simpler, so I put that aside and built five other guitars before returning to the archtop in 2001. I carved the top from a hunk of cedar I glued up from lumber I found at the local yard. It was a huge thing, and it sounded great, but when I tried to stick a pickup on it I ruined the top. I was going to throw it away, but then decided to see if a simple domed top would work. I removed the old top and made a new one for the body.

body with top removed

new top – domed plate

attaching new top to the old body

I didn’t try to disassemble the neck, because it was made like a classical guitar, with the ribs built into it. So I slid the new top into place and glued it on.

guitar #6 – version 2

I played this guitar for years, and stuck a face mounted pickup on it. It sounded great, but it was still huge and unwieldy. Last year I decided to have a go at turning it into a thinner, smaller guitar that I could use in the band, so I sawed the back of it off, and reformed the lower bout, reducing it by 2″. I put on a new back, and made a cutaway so I could access the high notes. I needed controls for the pickup however, so I cut a hole in the lower bout, planning to mount the controls there on a plate. When I played the guitar after making the hole, it sounded better! I decided to leave the hole, and I mounted the controls on the body between the two main braces. I stuck a mason jar ring into the new soundhole, because it just happened to fit. Everyone seems to notice this.

guitar#6 – version 3

This became my main guitar for band use, since everyone who heard it said it was better than my other guitar. This may have to do with the pickup, an old Framus single coil. I played it for a couple of years, and recently decided to build a copy. I hadn’t built a guitar in 5 years and thought this would be a good idea, if only to see if I still had it in me to do it. I began in February and worked on it steadily for the past 6 weeks. Building a guitar is intense , and I thought of little else for the time I was engaged on the project. The guitar has a maple body, stained gold with home made dye made from turmeric. Since it is the colour of beer, I have called this guitar the Corona Gold.

the Corona Gold

I copied guitar #6 closely, with a few improvements. Luckily I had a second old Framus pickup, so the pair of them sound pretty much the same plugged in. The new one has a bit more punch however, as it is a little deeper than #6. The new neck is attached with a dovetail joint. The body is exactly 70mm deep. I made the neck in two parts – the dovetail block was made first, then the neck part was glued to that. This allowed for a solid neck from end to end.

neck projects and is not connected to the body below

the back – gold stained maple

That’s it for now – I have too many guitars as it is!

 

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Filed under Guitars, Uncategorized