Monday, March 16, 2015

Builder's block

What's that old saying? If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail?
To a certain degree, the type and variety of tools that you have will dictate the projects that you take on. Maybe if I start unpacking some tools, I'll be able to break this terrible case of builder's block that I'm suffering.

My tool box.
It's been so long since I've looked in here, I've forgotten what I brought, tool-wise. For the most part, I had my head on straight when I was planning what to bring with for the great Hawaii move, but there have been some notable fails. What use is a froe handle without its blade? Given a choice between the two, I would've rather had the blade.


Ah well.

Box o' kanna.


Why the tags with the numbers, you ask? When I packaged everything up, I wasn't sure exactly how long this stuff would be sitting around for, or in what sort of conditions. The climate in Hawaii is notoriously harsh on tools, so all of the kanna blades were removed from their dai's, wiped with paste wax then wrapped in paper and vacuum sealed. Suffering from an uncharacteristic amount of foresight, I even thought to number them all. A good thing,too.



Good old #16 & #22...... I've missed you!


#16 is a small single blade compass plane, while #22 is a funazoko-ganna (bottom-of-a-ship plane).

I pulled out the big drawknife.

I even gave it a few licks with my best $1 sharpening stone. The good stones will stay packed up for a few more days.


I've been working on a 3-tine fork, which is becoming more of a necessity as our compost piles grow ever larger.


That explains why I unpacked the funny curved bottom planes rather than a nice smooth plane. I tell you though, I am really looking for any excuse to plane some lumber smooth, so the big kanna will be making an appearance soon.




Funny how these simple little projects take on a life of their own. It starts with just a few tools, and before you know it, I've got half the box unpacked. I guess it's becoming a "fix tool" day.

My nata has been needing a new handle for quite some time now.


The original handle was this short little stub of a thing, and what I really wanted was something a bit longer, with a colt's foot butt end.


So, that's what I made.



I cut the branch from a native Hawaiian ohia tree that blew down during the last wind storm. Carved out the slot for the tang....



....wrapped the blade in a wet cloth, then heated the tang red-hot.



Burned in, a perfect fit.

Soaked it thoroughly, using boiled linseed oil.
Which reminded me....Lots of the other tools are in need of some rust-proofing love.




Soak 'em good. The linseed oil seems to be doing a good job of keeping the rust at bay, forming a thin flexible skin when it dries.




What else needs doing?



Another crap saw, for my friend Sebastian. I found this one at the dump/recycling store. The prices are totally arbitrary, but it was probably around $0.25. I bought a whole pile of stuff that day ( including A TENT!) for $6 total. A very cool place, the dump store.



At least this one cuts on the pull stroke, haha.



The teeth were a bit rusty, but not ruined. They cleaned up nicely.


Don't you hate it when you think that you've done a tolerably good job of something, then when you look at the pictures you need to revise your original assessment?


The teeth feel sharper than they look,haha.


And Sebastian, I promise that I'll make a saw vise soon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Abundance in our yard

I am sure that I will soon look back at the drought conditions with fondness, but right now? I'm ready for some rain.




Gorgeous,beautiful,wonderful weather.



Rain, it's a comin'.


All it takes is just a brief spell of moisture to get the plants fired up. Orchids are everywhere.




There are so many different varieties of Orchid (and other plants) that are blooming, the air everywhere is sweet, saturated with scent. Even the parking lot at the grocery store smells nice, this despite the constant flux of cars coming and going. Even the COMPOST PILE smells good.....amazing!



Our single orange.



Hopefully the first of many.




Wild thimbleberries are to be found in any direction that you care to look.



Ellie picks a handful every morning for breakfast, but there are still more than we can eat. I need to make a solar drier.



The invasive guava trees are in continuous production.



The fruit is tasty enough, but I think that it would make the basis for a great fermented beverage. Hmmmmm......




Rain brings our unhappy little cacao trees into leaf.



Why so unhappy you ask? Well, after doing some reading and observing trees in other plantations, it seems clear that these guys would be much happier with some over-story trees to provide a bit of shade. It's pretty hot and exposed where they are.



That's not all,though. There is a secret menace at work here......



The lace-work remains of the leaves is a characteristic telltale, indicative of these little guys....



The Japanese rose beetle (Adoretus sinicus). They love to come out at night and snack on our cacao tree's leaves. Evidently the first 30-60 minutes of darkness coincide with their peak feeding /mating period, so we have been keeping a jar of soapy water handy and picking them off as we find them. What else are you gonna do at 7 pm and no electricity (much less TV)?




I had the good fortune to meet the vice-president/chairman of the Hawaiian chapter of the American bamboo society. She hooked me up with a big pile of Sacred Bali Bamboo (Schizostachyum brachycladum).



Beautiful, long, straight internodes, with a vibrant yellow color and delicate thin walls, this bamboo is wonderfully suited for making flutes.



Some of these segments are nearly 30" long. That would make one honking big shakuhachi!




Along with the rain, we've been getting some wind. This is taking its toll on the roof.



Time to track down the ladder. While I'm up there, I'll set some new gutters,too.



The wind is also taking its toll on some of the trees here.



In one day, there were 3 different trees that fell across the driveway.





Good thing I'm packing a saw.





Sunday, March 1, 2015

What to write... Digging Hulgelbeets?

Hmmmm.......time seems to be escaping me......


I would love to say that I've been so busy.... using awesome tools....building incredible things.....but, well, mostly I've been driving. Drive my daughter to school. Drive home to get the water jugs they we use for storing our potable water supply, then drive to the public water tap and fill them (and possibly squeeze in a trip to the dump/recycling center while I'm at it). Drive back home, then maybe drive into Hilo for some shopping at Home Depot/Safeway/Walmart, then drive back to the Mountain View school to pick up my daughter. Then drive BACK to town to get groceries. Ahhhhh....fond memories of the good old days, back when we had refrigeration.


Although I'm all aware that the east coast of the USA has been getting pummeled be winter storm after winter storm (and I am duly sympathetic,believe me!) here on the big island of Hawaii we've been in the midst of this crazy drought that has our burgeoning garden fighting for its life. Actually it's not that bad, I'm just bitching about needing to actually water the plants. Isn't that supposed to happen automatically every night? We are spoiled here, it's true.




Despite putting on nearly 400 miles /wk on my awesome little Scion Xa (thank god for 40 mpg!), I've somehow managed to squeeze in a few projects.




German style permaculture, raised bed gardens....Hugelbeets.


(Wow! Don't know what happened to some of these photos but...)
Pile up a bunch of branches, leaves, and sticks.


You might want to cut the pieces smaller, in which case I use an embarrassingly non-japanese saw (But at least it has Japanese saw-style teeth,haha!).




Enlist your heat-fatigued daughter to jump on the pile, to compact it down. She'd rather be off hunting something.



build it up in layers, but add in some soil and /or compost every now and then, because we want this thing to ROT.



If you're feeling very can add some, ahhhhh, human elements.



Decorate as you see fit.....



Then, cover the whole thing in topsoil. Plant some stuff,then hope that it grows. Everything else here grows faster than I would've thought possible, so I don't know why this should be any different. Stick stuff in the ground, then kind of gardening!


We (Renee) planted a couple of Dragon fruit plants, and has thoughts of adding some Japanese squash, maybe some bush beans, or maybe......well, there are many different options to explore.



So, sorry that there isn't much that is very interesting. One of these days I hope to actually break out the tools and actually build something. God knows there enough that needs doing, I just need to start DOING it,haha.