I’m back in Western Australia working. This is one of my favorite places to visit; I’ve been here over a half-dozen times. Yet, in all the times I’ve been here, I haven’t visited Rottnest Island, home to the quokkas. We have the weekend off, so my colleague, Rachael, and I took the early morning ferry to the island Saturday to explore. After walking aimlessly a bit, we returned to the main settlement and caught a free quokka tour and then got on the hop-on hop-off bus for a tour around the island. We asked to get dropped off between normal stops so we could hike to the Oliver Hill Guns. After the guns, we hiked to the Wadjemup Lighthouse, and then caught the bus to the west end where we could see the seals swimming by Cathedral Rock. We took the bus back to Thompson Bay where we ate lunch at the bakery with the quokkas wandering around at our feet and then caught the 2:30 ferry back to Fremantle.
We only saw the quokkas at the main settlement; they are naturally nocturnal animals except for the handful that have learned to look for food scraps during the day where the tourists are hanging out. It was well worth the visit, and I could have spent a few more hours exploring the island.
I was hoping that things would slow down with the end of summer break and Izzy back at school. It didn’t feel like it today. Susanna is quarantined until early next week, so I get to run the show for the weekend. I’m trying to finish off a not so major, but really needs to be done, house project; I’m replacing the roof over the sun porch. I’m also watching Izzy and trying to keep the house somewhat clean. I recognize that it is too easy to get wrapped up in doing chores and projects and forget to enjoy life. I don’t think I did a good job balancing chores with fun over the past year, and I’m trying to do better.
This morning I focused on chores . I changed the oil in my car, did a bit of cleaning around the house, assisted Izzy in cleaning her room, and ran to Home Depot to get more roofing supplies. But the afternoon was set aside for some family fun. Of course with Susanna being sick, and Will out for the day, family fun was just for Izzy, Hoagie and me.
I loaded up Will’s tandem paddle board and life jackets and we headed to Amos Lake here in Preston. We inflated the board and pointed the bow out into the lake and I paddled. It was only my second time on a paddle board, but the tandem is so wide, that stability wasn’t a problem, even with Hoagie wandering around. The board is just very slow, but we didn’t really have a destination. Isabella eventually found the courage to jump in the lake, but Hoagie never really relaxed.
The weather was nice; sunny and nearly 70 and the lake was pretty warm. We got home by early afternoon. Izzy was able to head across the street to play, and I was able to get an hour working on the roof.
Tomorrow, Will is taking Izzy to The Connecticut Renaissance Faire and I’ll try to get some more time to work on the roof.
Today we spent a family day on the water. Will and I had launched his boat earlier this year for a trial run and didn’t hurt anyone, sink the boat or run into anything. The boat had been out of the water for a while getting some painting and maintenance done, and not sinking at the dock was an improvement over the first time we launched the boat, so it was a successful relaunch. The sail earlier this summer wasn’t without issues, and we learned a lot of lessons; mainly about rigging the boat on the trailer. Today’s launch was much smoother. But we forgot some things, so the plan will be to make a checklist before the next outing.
Susanna and Will had tried paddle boarding after she had returned home from Sweden and both had enjoyed it. Will picked up a used board and we got Susanna a new board this week. We brought Susanna’s board with us to the launch and we all headed out into the Thames as a group. We launched from the New London boat ramp (the Groton ramp is closed this season). There was almost no wind, so we all drifted towards Long Island Sound with the ebb tide. Susanna paddled circles around us, Isabella swapped between the boat and the paddle board, and I even took a try on the paddle board.
The wind picked up around lunch time and we slowly sailed back up to the launch, towing Susanna (and Izzy) behind on the paddle board. Once we got upriver of the launch we let Susanna go and she paddled back to the dock, apparently falling in once (which we all missed). We recovered the boat, stepped the mast and returned home by mid-afternoon after a successful day on the water.
We drifted as far south as Electric Boat before the breeze started and we were able to head back upriver towards the Interstate 95 bridge and the boat launch. We sailed past the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival in New London and saw a few sailboats out in the light breeze and a few more powerboats and ferries and three US Navy security boats returning to the base. Overall it was a quiet day on the water without much traffic.
I was finally feeling up for getting back out for a short hike this morning. I took Hoagie to the Benedict Benson Preserve to hike the yellow loop trail. It is short, around a mile and a half long, but I figured it was best to keep the loop short today.
Hoagie was also feeling better. When I took him out last weekend (before I came down sick), he seemed tired and was walking pretty slowly. Today he was back to himself, running ahead exploring.
The trail was nice, quiet and well marked. There are a few bridges over some streams, but at this time of year the streams were dry. We did find the rusting carcass of an older car sitting in the woods covered in spiderwebs as it slowly dissolves into the forest floor. We didn’t see anyone else on the walk, but the lack of spiderwebs everywhere save the top inch of my head, suggested that it had been hiked by someone just slightly shorter recently.
It has been a long week already, and it is only Tuesday. It feels like Thursday at least.
I started feeling symptoms on Saturday night and tested positive on Sunday. Luckily it has so far been mostly mild, but I have had no energy. I’m stuck isolating until Friday at the earliest. It has been a long journey since the first lock down in spring of 2021, and I was hoping that it had passed me by. My luck ran out this week, though as far as weeks go, it wasn’t too bad of a week to get sick and have to isolate. Will is mostly in his room in the loft above the garage. Ben is at his mom’s house. Susanna and Izzy are six hours ahead in Sweden. I get the whole second floor and my workshop to myself all day. I just haven’t had energy to do much for the past few days.
Today I’m starting to feel better, though my energy is ebbing by the time I’m writing this. It is almost time to give into watching YouTube and Netflix for the night.
My weekends started out well. I got up early on Saturday and took Hoagie for a walk. It was hot, so I picked an easy 2 mile hike in Ledyard, the Pine Swamp Wildlife Corridor Loop. It wasn’t a very nice trail, and there was a section that I had to pass through some construction by the local power company. I’ll be avoiding that trail again.
Over the past few days I was able to finish off a few smaller projects that I had started last week. I didn’t get any work done on the house, but I was able to get some time in the workshop. I completed the sides and brass reinforcement on the holder for my #4 smooth plane. I also made a simple holder for a try square that I put above the chisels. I’ll probably make additional wooden holders for my other squares.
Most of what I did when I got tired of sitting in bed and watching TV was to just clean the shop a bit. And yes, I am bored. My workshop is probably more organized than it has ever been. there is hardly any crap left sitting on my tablesaw. My goal this week is to entirely clean the junk off the horizontal work surfaces and put everything into a home.
It was way too hot and humid to climb on the porch roof and work on the house tonight, so I decided to finish another very quick workshop project and use up some of the cherry I pulled out for the chisel rack. I built a shelf for my No 2. smooth plane. The nice thing is that I used the No. 2 plane to smooth the lumber after milling.
The shelf is made from cherry with a piece of what I think is likely teak for the front edge. The teak is reclaimed from an old boat project that Ben and I started years ago and never finished (and eventually cut up the boat and disposed of it). I reinforced the glue joints with 1/8″ brass rod. The whole project was finished with shellac and a final coat of wax.
I have some more space above the chisels, so will make a few more over the next few days. I’ll laser engrave a label on the front of the shelf for the next one; I didn’t think of it until I had already glued on the edge trim on this project.
Tonight I finished a quick workshop project, my upgraded chisel rack. I had previously milled the cherry rack and back board, and cut the slots for the chisels in the rack. Tonight, I finished the groove and attached the rack to the back board. After the glue dried, I finished the project with two quick coats of spray shellac and let it dry for an hour or so. I removed the old rack and installed the new one. The English mortise chisel (pig sticker) doesn’t fit properly in the rack, but it works for now (2nd from right on the picture below).
I have the other half of the cherry board still; I just have to figure out what I want to build with it. Maybe a second chisel rack to allow me to grow my collection of chisels. It is a bit of a sad collection of chisels at this point and not a very coordinated set. But it matches my ADHD (I have Japanese and western style chisels, just in case I get bored with one style). I just need more.
Today finished up the first of for weekends with Susanna and Isabella away in Sweden. But, with Ben over for the week, it isn’t as quiet as I suspect the next few will be.
We started our day with a visit to a new donut shop, Dixie Donuts. My friend, Mark, recommended it; it is much better than the usual Dunkin. To be fair, this morning wasn’t the first visit. Will and I stopped by there yesterday morning while we were out running errands before Ben came over.
After our second breakfast, we headed to Stonington for a short hike at Hewitt Farm and the surrounding trails. It was a good chance to get Hoagie out for a walk and practice some off-leash training.
After lunch, Ben and I worked a bit on my summer house project, repairing the sun porch roof. I’m working on repairing the soffit and fascia on the main roof in the area directly above the sun porch. That lets me get all the work and wear and tear on the old roof before replacing it. The roof has been leaking for a while; I think the roof pitch is too shallow for the shingles. Today we scraped and washed a section of the upper exterior wall and main roof trim. It is an area that isn’t very visible, and we didn’t paint it when we repainted the house many years ago. Tomorrow I’ll prime the area we prepared and I’ll paint it later this week and move over to the next section of wall/trim to repair. I took the gutter off the upper roof, so I’ll have to figure out how to install one if one is needed for that section.
This evening I milled the back board for the chisel rack that I started on Friday night. Again, I flattened the board by hand, but milled it to thickness on the planer. I jointed the first edge by hand, but didn’t have a good way to mark that wide of a width, so ripped it to width on the table saw. I marked out and started chiseling out the grove that will hold the rack (seen in the background). I’ll try to finish the piece tomorrow night after dinner. Ben and I are watching Westworld in the evenings this week, so I won’t get too much time in the shop.
It is much quieter around the house with Susanna and Isabella out of town. My evenings are pretty open without having to juggle getting Isabella to go to bed. Tonight I decided that I would be happier if I did something other than watch a show after dinner, so I headed out to the workshop. I’m sure I’ll get plenty of TV time over the next few weeks until Susanna and Isabella return. Yes my life is that exciting.
I decided that my next workshop project was to replace the rack I built to hold my chisels. Chisels stick in the current rack and can be difficult to get out. Plus it doesn’t look very nice.
I headed up to my loft and pulled out a piece of cherry lumber. I was in no mood to dig out a piece of exotic lumber after the pain of working with Yellowheart. Cherry is very nice to work with. Not too hard and not too soft and darkens to a nice color with exposure to the sun.
I decided to do as much by hand as I could. I cut a 25″ piece off of the board, and ripped (by hand) a 2″ wide piece off that cutoff. I flattened one face by hand, but there was no way I was interested in milling to thickness by hand, so into the planer it went. I used a handplane and scraper to finish the surface
I edge jointed the board by hand. It felt nice to get the handplanes out again. I marked out and then drilled the holes using the drill press; I had already setup the drill press for a test piece and don’t think digging out the bit and brace was really worth it tonight.. The slots were cut by hand and then shaped with a rasp.
Finally I lightly sanded the entire piece and softened the edges, wiped it down with mineral spirits and put a few chisels in it for a test fit.
The next step is to mill a backing board with rabbet to allow me to mount the rack to the wall and apply some sort of finish to the project. I’ll probably also put some sort of ledge below the chisels to keep hands from bumping into the sharp edge of the chisels. I also don’t think my mortise chisel (far left on top picture) will fit in the holes I made, so I may have to modify or add another spot for that chisel. The final step will be to acquire more chisels. Maybe make the set match better, because matching tools are always important.
Now I just need to think of a project to build for the house.
This morning, Will, Izzy and I drove to the Connecticut College Arboretum for a short photo walk. It was warm and humid early which elicited complaints about the walk early on from Izzy. However, for the most part, she was good company and a somewhat willing model for pictures. Will focused on the wildlife, and I tried to get Izzy to at least not look too grumpy for pictures. She did take some pictures of me, but I had a manual focus lens on, so they didn’t turn out great.