Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bargain garage sale

Lesterday, [doh! typo; but would be cool if my name was ''Lester'' -- I'd use it a lot], on Saturday, I stopped by an estate sale that was on the other side of the block. Of course, since we're semi-rural, our blocks are something like a quarter mile by a half mile.

As I browsed, chatted with the nice lady who was running it. Her dad had died about four years ago, and her mom had been in a nursing home for a bit, and died three months ago. Supposedly, her mother knew my wife's mother -- went to school together.

No price stickers. I asked about the pricing, and the lady said to just make a pile, and we'd negotiate something.

Maybe because there was only two hours to go (2pm; closing at 4pm) and they were down to the stuff they just wanted to get rid of, I got a heck of a deal:
  • a kid's bicycle (for The Kid, in a year or so)
  • a wheelchair (for shooting films and music videos: cheaper than a dolly)
  • a leather pocketknife pouch on a leather belt
  • three CDs of Aussie traditional (folk) tunes
  • a cylindrical piece of wood about 15cm in diam and as long as my leg
  • a wooden rolling pin (no moving parts; maybe use as a paper towel holder?)
  • a yellow plastic kick board
  • hedge trimming shears with a wooden handle
  • a small eggbeater-style hand drill, and
  • a wooden tool tote of old plywood, about 19cm x 58cm x 28cm tall
All for ten dollars. (The low price might have been because I was friendly; or because my wife's gran knew their mum.)

I phoned my sister-in-law, and she and I niece nipped out there and bought a bicycle, a dresser mirror, two folding chairs with wooden slats, and had two metal tool boxes thrown in for free. They paid fourty bucks, though.

When my brother-in-law went back there to help retrieve the larger items, I succumbed to my ''second thoughts'' over five mis-matched golf clubs that I'd passed up. I gave him some money and asked him to make them an offer. Which apparently succeeded. IIRC, the golf clubs were a 1-wood, a 3-wood, a 2-iron, a 4-iron, and an ''S''-iron. Two bucks.

Here's a closer shot of the tool-like items (from top: tool tote; rolling pin and pocketknife pouch with belt; log;hedge clipper; hand drill). No specific use for the wooden rolling pin and the log, but they'll come in handy eventually. After my BIL came back with the golf clubs, I realized that there had been an auger bit and a decent-looking file there, as well as a larger wooden tool tote (missing the dowel-handle), that I had passed up as being impractically large (if you filled it, you couldn't lift it). Should've grabbed them as well -- but, oh well.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Funny store


Amusing photo.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Seattle Monkey

On my recent trip to Seattle (I've forgotten which month...), The Lady, The Kid, and myself spent the day hanging around with Old Roommate and his very sweet ladyfriend. Old Roommate brought his digital camera along.

This is his snapshot of me, rendering my interpretation of an espresso bar called ''Monkey Grind.'' For those interested, it's in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. The have a fair amount of logo-themed merchandise for sale, if you're into mechanical monkeys.

Out of courtesy to Old Roommate's girlfriend -- she's a bit camera-shy -- I've whited-out (or rather, ''greened-out'') her bemusedness.

My dad used to do these ''monkey things'' (and probably still does, as the occassion suits), and I'm just carrying on the tradition. I'm looking forwards to when my daughter is old enough to be embarassed by her dad. Although, depending on her upbringing, she may just play along: we'll see.

''Ook ook.''


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Temporary finishing room

Sometime after the house is built, I'll have my own little woodshed out back. Until then, I'm having to improvise.

My recent acquisition of a pile o' tools that need some mild attention let me to use the kitchen table for a while (with newspaper underneath!). During the evening; after a long day of Dissertation-writing, of course! But when my cleaning efforts were resting/drying (process: a wipe of denatured alcohol to remove the grime, then a wipe or two of a boiled linseed oil [BLO] and turpentine mix for the wooden parts, and possibly a light rubbing of wax on the metal parts, to prevent further rust), it stunk up the house. Generally I like the smell of BLO; but not permeating the house.

Solution: the laundry room. The top of the washer and drier are a nice, flat, reasonably stable surface. And until the next load of laundry, I can leave things lying there, between applications. And -- most importantly -- the door to the rest of the house shuts, and there's a window directly to the outside. :)

(Pictured: on the left, trysquare and tenon saw; on the right, brace, bricklayer's trowel (in foreground, with can of ''filler'' putty and jar of home-brew BLO and turps ''tool handle'' mix), and (in background) the funny bench-thingy with an extra hammer handle on top.)


Monday, July 17, 2006

Wood and metal whatsit

Last night (Sunday), by next-door brother-in-law BrotherDave gave me a wooden and metal thing he had found while going through a small pile of metal behind one of the sheds. Anyone know what it is?

In shape, it's like a small saw-horse. You can see that I've added my size ten workboot, and a hammer, to give it a sense of scale. Also, the bathroom tiles are about one foot by one foot (30cm x 30cm). The legs are metal, with dried concrete on the lower inch or so (3cm).

Any guesses? Clearly, it was made for some purpose -- probably by my wife's grandfather.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Old tools received

The local paper's classified ads come out every Saturday, as a supplemental insert called ''The Weekend Shopper'' (or, as I like to call it ''The Weakened Shopper''). I always browse the Musical Instruments and Tools sections, hoping for bargains -- hopefully, bargains that are on my side of town.

Saturday the 8th (of July) had a posting for an ''old wooden toolbox, suitable for carpenter'' for ten bucks, that was just two neighborhoods away. I went and checked it out. Turned out be be a very nice older gentleman who was selling off most of his tools -- apparently, had been selling them off in bits and pieces over the last few weeks.

He had been a tradesman in England, and then moved to Australia in the mid-1960s. The toolbox he had built himself, I think when he was apprenticing in the early 1960s.

Seeing my interest, he gave me a good deal: AU$3 for a trysquare with brass fittings; AU$15 for a backsaw that had just been sharpened [he used to sharpen his own saws, but his eyes are getting to weak to sharpen the smaller-toothed saws]; about AU$20 for a brace and bit set, including 36 tradesman-quality bits [I already own two braces, but only one auger bit]; a two-speed breast drill; and just a lot of miscellanea. (note: US prices are about 3/4 of the Aussie prices; so AU$15 is about US$12.) I asked him to sign the inside of the toolbox and the wooden box o' bits (which he had also made) -- which amused him, but he obligeded.

The whole pile (pictured) for AU$65. As he put it, none of his family would know what to do with it.

He's thinking about selling off his house -- it's getting too much for him to maintain -- and moving to an apartment. If and when he does, he'll give me a call (he took down my phone number) and sell me his workbench. He also has some misc. lumber under the house that he'd like to see go to a good home.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wooden fruits of my labors

Well, that date has arrived -- July 11th -- that the construction company supposedly has ''posession'' of our property next door, where they're building our house. Thus, we're supposed to stay off (unless we get permission), for liability purposes: if we sprain an ankle, it's on their insurance.

Construction is supposed to start within four weeks.

I managed to finish up piling and protecting the various stashes of wood from the property. Being a mostly-desert continent, lumber (or ''timber'', as it's called here), is surprisingly expensive -- at least, from the perspective of someone coming from Washington state in the U.S. As such, I hit a pretty good bonus of a motherlode.

My wife's grandfather was very much a collector, of the ''could come in handy'' variety. He used to move houses (jack them up; slide them onto a flatbed truck; relocate), and if useful bits were left behind (pipe, sinks, bits of wood), he'd take them, rather than let them go to the tip (i.e. ''the dump''). Thus, there was a big carport-like structure on the property that had LOADS of dimensional lumber piled up. The bottom layer was rotten, but the middle was mostly good, and the top was fine.

On top of this, I salvaged some of the beams (and roofing) from another shed that was the first ''cabin'' my wife's grandparents lived in: I'll eventually use this to build a potting shed for my wife.

There were also many, MANY chunks o' metal in this shed (car parts, pipes...), which my next-door brother-in-law (BrotherDave) saved for ''could come in handy'' purposes (he aspires to old car restoring, and has taken a welding class -- so this makes sense [see photo; one of two tanks o' metal, reasonably well sorted by shape).

(Since he's taken a welding class, and I'm interested in wood-working, we have a division of labor, whereby he stores most all of the metal scraps, and I save up most of the wood. But I do have a few metal chunks, including some rusty scythe blades, and a rusty drawknife blade that BrotherDave tossed my way. And there's the half-an-axle, with two large bolt holes in it, that I plan to use for an anvil: not for blacksmithing, but just for when I need to hammer flat something metal; see photo.)

And, prior to the demolition of the big shed (the two-room cabin where my wife lived for the first two(?) years of her life), I salvaged most of the (hardwood) floorboards; I'll clean them up and use them as a floating floor for our home office/library in the new house. BrotherDave and I also managed to salvage a few support beams from the big shed, after it was knocked down; these will be used for... well, something, eventually.

So: loads o' wood. :)

In preparation for this, I'd asked the bulldozer/
backhoe guy to move some of the dis-used, concrete-lined water tanks to the back left corner of our yard (plus one or two for BrotherDave, across the fence) for storage purposes. Each tank is roughly six foot diameter by six foot long (2m x 2m x 2m). The rear tank holds the longer pieces of wood (e.g. most of the floorboards); I had to put up the green awning to shield the ends that stick out; the green awning is at an angle, so it's visually confusing in the photo. The front tank holds the shorter lengths of timber: you can see the side, and the mouth has some tin roofing leaned against it, to prevent rain blowing in (yet still allow for air circulation). In the foreground are the thicker ''beams'', and various past and future salvaged fenceposts -- all under salvaged corrugated tin roofing. And, in the very foreground is a temporary fence I put up, to indicate to the builders ''Mine; Not Yours'' when they're cleaning up at the end of the construction process.

To illustrate, here's the tank with the shorter lengths of wood. I ''stickered'' the longer lengths with other shorter lengths, to allow for air circulation. The pink tips are part of The Lady's initials, earmarking the lumber from that layer for the potting shed project. The entire stack is held up by bricks, as a defense against the local termites (or ''white ants'', as they're called).

And, here's the rear view, from standing next to BrotherDave's tanks, shooting over the fence. It gives a better sense of the size of the tanks, and of the green awning relative to the ''long stuff'' tank. On top are a few metal pipes and rods that may come in handy; to the left is more salvaged corrugated tin roofing, for my wife's future potting shed. Under the side of the green awning that isn't covering the mouth of the tank -- and thus, out of the rain -- is where I've piled some miscellaneous metal pieces that I've found.

Treasures! I reckon by Australian standards we probably have over a thousand bucks worth of lumber here -- maybe closer to two thousand.

Another big ''thank you'' to The Lady's grandfather. I wish I could've met him -- kindred spirits in the salvaging and collecting department -- but he died when The Lady was in middle school (or high school?) -- long before I came on the scene. But, his son (Uncle Jak, lives two houses down) and his grandson (BrotherDave) carry on the tradition. As does the man who married his granddaughter: me. ;)