Brunch Buddies

11:00 has been a pretty awesome critter time up here yesterday and today.

Yesterday I was sitting at the kitchen table looking out the window and saw a bobcat sauntering across the road in front of the cabin and down the side of the hill. Amazing (except to note the bobcat was pretty big and seemed to be made of pure muscle, gulp!) I was too astonished and the camera too far away to get a picture. It’s probably the one which I got a photo of from the trail cam months ago.

deerartToday I was working on the drainage of the road segment which loops around the top of the hill, and had come up to the front door from one side and come into the cabin and look through the bedroom and out the window and there are three deer under the live oak by the road I’d just been working on, munching away on the acorns fallen on the ground.

The group consisted of an older, larger doe, a younger doe, and a little fawn. The larger doe chased the younger one away from some good acorns a couple times.

They spent about 20 minutes munching their way across the hill and then down the other side.

Speaking of art, the double sided mirror thingee has been hanging outside for a couple days and is pretty mesmerizing, especially in the morning and late afternoon when the sun reflects off the tiles and sends beams out over the trees and down the hill.

Because it sparkles and flashes, I had wondered what the effect would be on wildlife. Looks like it’s not a problem.



Introducing the Board of Assembly

Eight feet of pure art assembly line chewed goodness, perfect for putting together 12 double sided mirror thingees. And that’s good, because I need to do them in the hundreds.

Okay. If you’re like me, no matter how many supplies you have in your garage, you are missing that one thing.

I was missing brads.

board1Funny tangent: I drove the 8 miles to the nearest hardware store, cruised around the aisles and then went and asked the guy at the front “where are the brads?” to which he sagely replied “what are brads?” to which, though I was amazed I’d walked into the one hardware store staffed by someone who knew nothing of hardware I replied without missing a beat or changing the tone of my voice “they’re nails without heads” “oh” he replied and ambled down an aisle to where the little plastic packs of brads are hanging on the wall and then walked off.

Okay, brads accomplished. I went cruising for epoxy. Nowhere. I walk up to the front again. “Do you have epoxy?” and he walks up another aisle and looks at the glue for school projects and the glue for torn rain coats and the glue for all the other stuff I don’t want to do and asks “what’s it used for?” and again, laid low as I was by the question I was prepared and answered immediately “it’s a two part glue with a separate base and a bonding catalyst you mix together.” to which he nodded and then pointed up at the little 2 tube super glue epoxy for fixing something really tiny when I needed pints. “Okay, thanks” I said and took my winnings home. I already had epoxy, just wanted to stock up.


board2The reason I needed brads was for the new production board for the next batch, hopefully batches, of double sided mirror thingees. The brads were to hold the mirror tiles in place.

The board and carefully aligned brads were meant to facilitate an expedited assembly process for the double sided mirror thingees, which could then be put together in chains as desired. The process is thus:


Put in the bottom mirror tiles, backs facing up

Apply the marine epoxy to the tiles  on the board.

Stretch the baling wire in one length from end to end over the center of the tiles, apply the shim lengths of wire

Apply the marine epoxy to the other tiles, and press them, back to back on the tiles on the board.

Press down to even out the epoxy and level the tiles. Leave canned goods on top while it cures for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, remove cans, cut wire 1/2 way between tiles, curl wire into hook.


board5I was really happy with the board and a little cardboard dealio I made, everything designed to hold the tiles in place while the epoxy was applied. Way less mess, way faster. I hardly got any epoxy on my hands. I timed the operation, and was able to go through the process for 12 tiles in just under 30 minutes with is how long it takes before the epoxy starts to harden.

Okay, so now we wait for the epoxy to cure.


Sunny Day After Rain

My breakfast buddies visited for about half an hour.  Our big windows facing the Sierra are better than television.

It rained all yesterday and it rained all last night and goodness, it rained a lot. Morning inspection revealed some drainage disasters and some parts of the road to repair.

On the bright side, the sun being out and the winds died down, I was able to take out the new chain of double sided mirrors thingee I made yesterday to set up and test.

Nice! Let’s see how it holds up over several days.



Rainy Day, Make Some Art

Since it’s been raining all day and I’m cooped up inside (except when I’m outside experiencing this delicious weather), I decided to finally sit down and work on an art project.

I’ve been experimenting with placement of mirrors up here because they represent interesting ways of doing art while literally blending in with the environment, being as how they reflect it.

pivotA few weeks ago, a specific project came to mind and I’ve been collecting supplies:  300 3 inch by 3 inch mirror tiles, baling wire, epoxy cement, and pivot ring clasps.

The idea was to epoxy together 2 mirror tiles back-to-back, with a straight length of baling wire between them, bent into hooks at the ends.

Then connect the double sided mirror tiles together into a hanging chain, with each tile able to spin independently with the breeze.



art2I was of course imagining the effect of several dozen of these long strings of mirrors hanging in our forest or bunched in various ways to simulate waterfalls, and so on and so forth.

So the object today was to make a string of 10 double sided mirror tiles.

This presented a couple of production challenges, for instance, baling wire comes in rolls and would need to be straightened out, then there was the need to add shims to even out the space inside the back to back mirror tiles so they lay flat when pressed back-to-back.



Because this was my first attempt, it took over an hour to get the wire cut to the right size, straightened out, hooks curled at the end, and flat round wire shims made.

When all the wire was cut and straightened, the wire and tiles were set up on the coffee table ready to have the epoxy applied, then the wire assembled and and the tiles pressed together. Everything needed to be set up and ready at hand because the epoxy set time is 30 minutes.


Ugh. I really hate working with epoxy. It is impossible to keep from getting on one’s hands and smeared on everything. Mental note to self: get some boxes of surgical gloves for next time.

When the race against the setting epoxy was done, I had 10 double sided mirror tiles with coffee cups sitting on them to keep them pressed together and a bit of a mess to clean up.


When the epoxy had cured enough for them to be handled, I hooked them together.


Okay. That was a crap ton of work.

Also, the finished chain of 10 mirrors weighs about 6 or 8 pounds, good thing the baling wire is stout and the ring pivots heavy duty.

In conclusion, this was a wildly successful prototype. I’ve already come up with an idea for a little wood and nail “loom” to build to make the measuring, straightening and hook making of the bailing wire easier next time.

All systems go. We’ll let the epoxy cure for 24 hours and if the wind and rain dies down, hang it up and put it through its paces.

Rain. Real Rain. Finally

It started raining in earnest around 9:30 last night, I could hear the drumming on the metal roof faintly over the wind, at first, then louder and louder.

It’s been raining pretty much all day today, with gusts of heavy wind. Lots of wind is common up here in October.

woodstoveUnfortunately, it looks like the wind is blowing the rain into the wood stove vent pipe outside on the roof in just the right way to make it drip down the vent pipe onto the stove inside. Guess that explains the rust, hey? I just never noticed it before.

Always something, up at the cabin on a hill…

Falling Autumn

fall1It’s been a dry year in a string of dry years, even with the slight boost in rain from the last El Nino.

So it was with some eagerness I came up to get ready for the first so-called proper rain of this rain season.

Our driveway is almost a quarter of a mile long, and I wanted to do some work on the drainage, especially where the Bobcat used by the tree crew had torn up some runoff channels.

The soil here is mostly clay, and after it had been churned up by the Bobcat treads, it lay in drifts of incredibly fine dust a foot thick. My feet sunk down deep with every step.



rainAfter raking flat the torn up ground, I spread around 60 yards of wood chips Steve Costa had dropped off, a huge pile which took several hours of shoveling and wheel barrowing. Valuable effort, I thought, sweating, because there’s this big storm coming and it’s important to get ready for the rain.



fire1Finally, after clouds collecting all day, and then the approach of that heavy ominous feeling before a storm, the first drops fell! Yay! I was ready with my camera! And then for several hours it hardly rained at all, finally giving up the effort as not worth it and stopping before midnight. Okay, big deal. We’ll see what happens in the next couple of days.

Because it was at least damp outside with a watery film coating the surrounding foliage, I did celebrate with the first wood stove fire of the season.

Another reason I hurried up here before it started raining was to cut firewood. I start every year with a laughably inadequate supply of dry firewood to last and this year looks like it will not deviate from that pattern.

In other news, I picked up an old dried up bird wing which had been laying in the road for a couple months and brought it up to the cabin to join our growing bird feathers (and other parts) collection.  But enough blogging. Time to go chop firewood like the Zen.

Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.