Thursday, December 31, 2009


As 2009 comes to a close, I look back at a great many things with a sense of wonder. My little ones are getting bigger and bigger each day. Sometimes right in front of my eyes! The Boyo lost his first tooth about a week ago. Sweet Pea continues to expand her vocabulary. They are both happy and healthy and wonderful. I've got a wife who loves me for all of my faults and an extended family on both sides that I love spending time with when the opportunity arises.

I've had some good adventures this past year, and even got to the Island.

There have been some miserably rough calls at work, but that is to be expected as a Paramedic. And they have all taught me a thing or two about being thankful for the health of my own family.

My little business continues to grow, and for the first time this year my knife building "hobby" was self supportive financially.

There were some low times, some setbacks, and some trials and tribulations. But such is life.

Happy New Year to you all. May 2010 be that many times more wonderful than the last year!

More Later

Thursday, December 10, 2009

That was Different

Just sold my first knives on the Etsy website! It's a little like eBay, but for handmade or vintage items only, so I'm not competing with the factory made knives or the much cheaper production knives from third world countries that are imported over here for resale.

I sold these two.

The Red Fox

The Cherokee

As usual, I am little sad to see them go because I like them so much. But their sale means I have some more cash to buy more supplies for more knives! Etsy seems like a good outlet for some of my stuff. Listing prices are decent and they don't gouge on commission like eBay does. I also like Etsy because they let me call mammoth tooth...mammoth tooth! Unlike eBay that forbids the sale of mammoth tooth because it comes from "endangered species". Of course, eBay has a little wider customer base, so I'll keep listing there as well.

Also, today I made my first "jewelry piece" from some scrap mammoth tooth. Take a peek.

It beats just throwing away the scraps, and maybe I can start selling them too!

More Later

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


The Boyo just finished the first snow day of his scholastic career! And it was a doozy! We had a huge blizzard slam into us, dumping tons of snow. I don't know who calculates it, or how. But we've got over a foot in our yard where there was withered grass yesterday.

The morning began with all of us snug in our beds. The phone rang as the missus and me were stirring. It was a dear friend calling for assistance. Her car was stuck in an unplowed road. I started to gear up for a winter rescue mission. My first thought upon opening the door to warm up our vehicle was that the clouds had vomited up too much snow. It was just over knee deep as I waded out to start up our Highlander. The wind was really whipping and drifting the snow in great mounds against whatever it could hit.

By the time I had shoveled that off and scraped the windows, our friend had already received a ride to work. So we made plans to try and extricate her car after her shift. I figured that as long as I was all dressed warmly, I'd get the snowblower going and take a crack at the driveway. It started up like a champ, and soon I was plowing away. The snow was so deep that I had to take it off in two layers! Fortunately it was very light and fluffy. But it still took twice as long. By the time the drive was clear, I had ice hanging from my beard, and my glasses were literally iced over from the fine, misty snow landing on the warm lenses.

The dogs were released to romp and play in the snow. I don't think Holly remembered snow, as she spent a great deal of time leaping through it and burrowing under it, trying to figure out how it worked. I tried playing fetch with her using a snowball, and she always ran right to the hole made by the little snowy orb. But she never did retrieve any.

The children awoke and we had a great day getting started on making Christmas presents and watching movies and lots of play, play, play!

We finished the day with a warm Mac & Cheese supper and toffee bars made by the Wife last night. The wind has died down a bit, leaving our back wall nearly encapsulated.

Happy Blizzard everyone! I guess we'll have a white Christmas after all!

More Later

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Few and Far Between

Seems like I am just not posting like I used to. There are a few reasons for this. The loaner computer has been giving me fits trying to figure it out. I do not transition well between Mac and PC! I miss my right click option!

I have also been spending an obscene amount of time trying to sell knives on eBay. First it didn't recognize the computer, which took a day or two to sort out. Then it wouldn't let me past certain checkpoints in the listing process. I have no idea why. But finally tonight I found the circuitous path that let me list them, and I got four knives listed for sale.

Speaking of time eaters. Did I mention I love my shop time? I spend lots of time out there, and usually come back with something awesome. Less blog time though.

And of course, there are the two adorable kiddos that take a little time, too! The Boyo is off to school in the mornings, giving me ample Sweet Pea time. Then she goes down for a nap when the Boyo returns. And he is a wall of sound for the afternoons. Then comes dinner, bedtime routines, and by the time I get some time, well, my body tells me it's time to hit the rack!

Right now. the Boyo is in the shower (calling for me to come and get him out) So, I had time for this short post.

They may be few and far between, and I do want to get back here a bit more this month. But in case I don't - Happy Holidays!

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Island Adventure

Dad and I recently returned from an adventure at the Island. It was a gift from the Wife to get away from everything for a few days and relax and recharge up there. If there was ever any doubt as to the beauty of the place, I humbly submit the following pictures as testimony, as no words I could write would do the place justice.

The Island late at night.

Drifting in a sea of stars.

Sheltered in the firelight.

All the dreams we have are ours.

There is magic in this place.

And we are never far apart.

On the Island of my heart.

We also played Robin hood a bit. This is dad shooting.

His hits

My shooting.

and my hits.

The water has dropped quite a bit, making circumnavigation of the Island on the shoreline a possibility.

It wasn't easy. But it was done!

All in all, a great time. I brought home some rocks and giant lightsticks for the kiddos. It was like a little Jedi training camp in our house for the night. Sweet Pea definately had the Darth Maul style going... our little Sith Lord in Training. And the Boyo had no trouble imagining up some dragons to battle.

Also great fun! Best part of coming home is seeing the little smiling faces so happy to see my return!

I am recharged and relaxed a bit more than I was. Thank you Wife. And thanks to Dad for going on the adventure. The days weren't bad weather wise, and after the rear end clenching cold of the first night, the nights weren't too cold either. It was a fun, November visit to the Island, and we have tentative plans to go back after the snow has fallen to try and get some winter shots.

More Later

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Bithday to the Wife

Celebrating the birth of the woman I love. Mother of my children. Patient and kind. Funny, smart, and amazingly in love with me!

I am so glad she was born.

Tell you about the day later, too much to do right now!

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Julie (knock, knock, knock) Julie (knock, knock, knock) Julie

Here's one for the friend listed in the title. And of course a reference there to Big Bang Theory, a mutually admired sitcom on CBS.

This lovely pocketknife has scales of pure pipestone. It needs a good final sanding and polishing, and a buffalo etched on the blade, but will look pretty much like this when I'm finished.


More Later

Friday, October 23, 2009

Snow, Knives, Lumberjacking

An interesting thing happened as the Boyo and I were playing Wii today.

We were trading off playing Wii Fit (the ski jump, no less) and it was my turn. I had just caused my little Mini-Me to leap daringly into the air, when I noticed movement outside in the corner of my eye.

My head turned in time to watch a rather large tree drop right across the road! Right across it! Like a railroad gate closing, and about as fast too. No more entry or exit to our little Cul du Sac.

I didn't hear it fall though. So I guess even when there is someone there to see it, it won't really make any noise. I commented that our new roadblock would make access for Mommy a little harder when it was time for her to come home. The Boyo immediately decided that the tree would have to be moved, and he could think of none other to do it than his Daddy.


Did you notice too, that it has snowed up here? Not the light, fluffy, let's go make snow angels kind either. But the big, wet flakes that accumulate quickly and heavily on anything they touch, forming a nice substrata of slush under the deceptively pretty marshmallow top.

I discovered two things today.

One - I'm not ready for winter snows. The only footwear I could find for a while were my Tiva's. Not great for slushing around.

Two - I'm not ready to play lumberjack in the snow.

I geared up as best I could, remembering in the nick of time that my snow boots were in the hall closet by the front door. Then I retrieved my trusty chainsaw from the shop and headed out to work. The Boyo had instructions to continue the Wii, or watch me, but not to join in the outdoor fun, and my little Sweet Pea was hard asleep.

After a good long time, the road looked like this...

The day was saved! The wife returned from work in time for me to spend a couple hours in the shop, where I finished putting this together...

It needs a little sanding here and there, and a nice final polish. But overall, I'm pretty pleased with how it came out!

And now, I am tired, sore, and in need of warmth. Fortunately the Wife turns into a little furnace when she sleeps. So after a little ibuprophen and milk, I'm going to go bask in her radiance for my evening slumber!

More Later

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm Back!

Thanks to a loaner computer from my folks. It's a Mac though, and I'm having quite an amusing time trying to find my way around it.

For the last few days I've been griping internally about not having access to the almighty Web. Also about the chance of losing all of my business files and some wonderful pictures of the kiddos, of course. But mostly grumping about not being able to check e-mail, or post something here.

And you know what? I haven't really missed it at all. Oh, it's nice to be able to look up that ever important information that I need from time to time, like how to harden stainless steel or who played Zelda in "Singing in the Rain". But I was able to busy myself with a great number of other projects. Working on knives mostly. And entertaining the folks during their visit this weekend. We stayed up late late late into the night after sharing some homemade bean soup, beer bread, pepper jelly, and cookies. We also had a campfire up on the back hill, and were joined by some friends, so we had a very packed little 'campsite'. But we enjoyed the s'mores and too soon went in for hot chocolate and hot buttered yum that the wife had whipped up earlier.

I showed Dad a video about forging knives, and I think we'll set a little blacksmithing rig up nest to the campfire next spring and give that a go. The Wives watched too, and were utterly perplexed by our interest in and desire to make forged knives. They are good sports though, and will let us explore the forge idea so long as it doesn't blow up or burn down the house.

Today the parentals and the four of us went to an apple orchard to do some pickin' and get a couple of pumpkins for the punkins. We went off into the corn maze and ended up making our own trail out because we were a) hopelessly lost, and b) extremely tired of wandering around in the corn! But we got the squash and the apples and a good time was had by all!

So, a good week without interenet is actually possible.

Enjoy Life.
It is too short

More Later

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dead Computer, Live Dreams

Our computer gave up the ghost last week.

Do not weep for it though. It lived a good, long life in computer years. (About six)

The trouble now is, I have no place to post blog entries! I am doing this one from a computer at work. I'm on call right now. Which essentially means I'm off the clock and just waiting for something to happen.

So, the Wife and I are shopping around (albeit hesitantly) for a new computer. Most of our extended family has Mac's, so we gave those a brief glance. But they are VERY pricey. A friend of mine at work pointed me to the Dell outlet store. Those seem reachable financially, and they are PC, which we already have a history with.

Anybody want to donate to the My Dog Shoba Computer Fund? :) Maybe I should do like NPR and offer a gift for donations... I do have lots of extra pepper jelly!

Anyway. A computer will happen somehow. On to the dreams!

Found this on tonight and nearly spewed Pepsi from the nasal passages.

After hearing that my brother has harbored small neural nibblings about building something to cruise the open waters with, and having similar designs flit through my head from time to time, I'm wondering if a joint effort would produce something worthy enough for a cruise from St. Lo down to Cape. Or perhaps the completion of the 2002 adventure my Dad and I started when we paddled from Lake Itasca in Minnesota down to St. Louis.

Now, I am (of course) thinking of something a little less white trashy. Something a bit better balanced and something able to carry everyone who wants to go.

More importantly, the dreams in my head are active again. The Wife has already been warned somewhat, and now I'm warning the rest of the world too. I may not build myself a pontoon boat, or anything that crazy. But there's something brewing in my head, and change is coming on the winds of Autumn.

I have always had a multitude of 'wacky' ideas floating around up there. Sometimes they've been really successful and fun (like the 2002 river expedition). Sometimes... well... not so much. (Let's not talk about Broccoli Jelly. Ever.) The point is, they are there. I am so lucky to have a wife who lets me chase those dreams down, even if it is just gabbing about them for awhile.

Alright. Call is almost over. Time to drive home and snuggle in with that beautiful wife for a few short hours before the sun comes up and a new day dawns!

More Later

Friday, October 2, 2009

How to Make Pepper Jelly

It's really quite easy! See...

First take your peppers and clean them off so they are nice and pretty.

Then chop the peppers into small chunks.

Mix in a blender with some cider vinegar and apple juice. (The Boyo loves this part) Then store the puree in the fridge overnight. We actually have a separate fridge for this, as the soaking peppers will flavor everything in your fridge. Two years ago we had pepper flavored string cheese - and the package was still closed when we soaked the peppers!

The next day (today) we take the puree and strain it to get all of the yummy pepper juice. Toss the pulp away, or make it into a jam if you please.

Add pectin, sugar and a pinch of salt and bring it to a roiling boil.

Put the finished soupy liquid in jars and boiling water can them.

Ta Da! From the bottom up we have Purple Pepper Jelly, then a Red Pepper Mix Jelly (King of the North and Buran with a Hot Portugal for spice), then Chervena Chushka Pepper Jelly, and on top Sweet Orange Pepper Jelly! I've got 8 jars of each. The Sweet Orange and Chervena Chushka are gelling up quite nicely and are ready for eating any time (like an after dinner snack tomorrow night!)

The Purple didn't gel up very well. See, I made that batch first and couldn't find my recipe book, so I did it from memory. Turns out my memory gets a little hazy from year to year, and I added the sugar before the pectin... a big no-no in the canning world. So it's more of a syrup. I think if it doesn't gel up by next week I'll open them all up and re-work it to get it to gel. It's too pretty to use as a syrup. Although the Boyo used some of the leftover of it for dipping sauce for his chicken at dinner tonight. Turns out to be a VERY tasty idea!
So, you see. Easy Peasy! Come Thanksgiving, we'll put out a jar with cream cheese and enjoy!

I'm also running a grand experiment this year. I didn't have time to turn all of my peppers into jelly (I've got a Hazardous Materials course to do this weekend) So I only did these four batches. I cut up the other peppers into the big chunks and put them in the freezer. There's enough pepper parts in there to make two more batches of red, four batches of green, and maybe even another batch of purple!
In a week or two I'll try a batch with the frozen peppers and see how that works. I also had leftover juice from the two red batches and the orange batch. I combined those with about a 1/4 cup of apple juice (to get the right proportion) and have frozen that mixture as well. If these methods work, it will mean that next year I won't have to spend three or four solid days making pepper jelly! I'll be able to spread it out a bit and do it when I actually have time!
And freshly made pepper jelly in the middle of winter!?! Imagine the possibilities!
More Later
PS. I've got about six dozen extra Jalapenos if anybody needs some! Let me know...please!
Maybe I can freeze those too... Hmmm.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Peppers and Beans


Although the dreaded blight ate all of my tomato harvest, it didn't spread to the peppers! Unfortunately, while I was staying away from the garden so as not to spread the blight, the insects and other critters made no such promise. So about half of the pepper crop was munched on by slugs, borers and other pests.

No worries though, I still got enough peppers for some serious pepper jelly. Take a look.

Purple Beauties did great, but they took the main hit from the pests. I lost about two thirds of those.

The reds are mostly Buran (the normal looking red ones) and Chervena Chushka (the tongue looking ones). The Jalapenos did great again, of course. And I did get some good Anchos and even a couple Hot Portugals (the skinny red ones).

The upshot is I'll have at least a good 30-40 jars of pepper jelly in a few days.

The beans went pretty good too!

This picture is from just after the first harvest. The Boyo and I picked a bunch more tonight, so we've got a little over twice as much as this picture shows. Dad's Climbing Pinto's and Cherokee Trail of Tears did the best, but that isn't surprising. There's still a ton of beans left out there, but we're expecting a frost tonight, so I wanted to get as many as I could before that. If it doesn't frost over too bad, we'll be able to get even more beans in the next few days.

Fortunately we are located in a little bowl of a valley, and even when the rest of the town gets frost, it takes a pretty thick layer to get to my garden!
Keep your fingers crossed for a warm-ish night!
More Later

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Like Brother, Like Brother

I was just reading my brother's wife's blog over here. Amazing similarities between the thought process of we two siblings! Not that the apple (or nut, as the case may be) falls far from the tree.

I remember fondly the conversations with my father about making access to The Island easier. It started off with a simple dock at the landing, but by the end of the conversation we had discussed helipads, chair lifts like at Disney or Adventureland, and even a glass tunnel through the lake with a moving sidewalk.

My dad and brother and I are dreamers, no doubt about it. Always with ideas and plans. Most of them never happening, but every once and awhile one takes hold and gets done. River trip, gardens in the yard, retaining walls. And you should see the playground my bro built in his basement under the guise of physical therapy for his son! PT should ALWAYS look that fun! I am very hesitant to visit because I know that the Boyo will be demanding a playground of his own in our basement!

With the exception of the sunflower stalks and the balloon races (which we don't have here) I totally agree with all of Jason's ideas. In fact, I've mentioned all of those to the Wife at some point in our married life. Except instead of a recycling chute, I devised (but have yet to install) a kitchen composter that grinds the material, mixes it with a little water and shoots it to a main composter outside for processing. Other than that... Rooftop gardening, check. Lap pool and goats, check. Did I mention yet our retaining wall?

I love seeing such similarities in my brother and I. He's one of my best friends, and I wish we lived closer together. (Although proximity might make a difference in project accomplishment, which might just put our wives over the edge!)

So, a toast to my brother and his witty, enduring wife. May your sons grow to be the best of you both!

Now... JP, about that pontoon boat...

More Later

Friday, September 18, 2009

Right Place at the Right Time

Never has going to work been so enjoyable! It isn't that I don't like my job, because I really do. But yesterday the helicopter from Mayo visited our little hospital for a PR tour. This included rides for all of the local bigwigs - Sheriff, Police Chief, College President, Hospital officials, board members, etc. There were only nine slots available for the rides. I got some great shots of it coming in.


The second group of riders was supposed to include our ED Chief Doc, but he couldn't make it. I had a brief glimmer of hope for a hop, but one of the other medics had never flown on a helo, and since I had been carried by Army choppers before, I graciously stood enviously aside. One of the passengers on his flight was the Sheriff, who had to get to the courthouse, and so their hop was cut short by a few minutes.

As we stood around chatting with the crew I said to the pilot half jokingly that if he wanted to finish the last few minutes of that flight, I'd be happy to accompany him up.

Well, it turns out that by cutting the flight short, they decided that there was enough time before the last group flew to take a few more people up! There just happened to be three willing riders standing right there next to the helo, so we got to go flying! It was myself, another medic, and the PR gal who had coordinated the whole event. I was really glad she got a seat, since she had helped all the bigwigs get their rides and she had never flown before in any aircraft. The other medic and I gave her the front seat. After all it was a first experience flying, and I'm a firm believer in making a first flight something as wonderful as possible.

So off we went for a quick tour of the area, and a demonstration of Mayo One's capabilities. Cruising over the local airport runway at 25 feet and 140 MPH for example. Then a demonstration of flying back down the runway forward, sideways both ways, and backwards for a little bit. I was seated in the port side rear seat, backwards facing, so flying backwards was pretty cool!

As we were returning to the landing pad at the hospital, the pilot asked if we had time to go and get more fuel for the last hop and the trip home. Not one of the three of us minded the extra air time, so we headed back to the airport and fueled up. After that, the pilot demonstrated the climb rate of the helo, going about 1500 feet in less than a minute. Then we headed back down to the hospital and landed.

It took the rest of the day to get the smiles from our faces. Our little group of worker ants got the longest ride, and for that I was well pleased. After all, the PR gal had set the whole thing up, and the other medics and I have loaded lots of people into the back of that helo in our jobs. So it was fun to be able to ride without anyone being sick or injured!

We three were in the right place at the right time, it is true. But had we not asked to go flying, it probably would not have happened. Important Lesson - write this down. It never hurts to ask!

I also realized that it has been far too long since I've flown. I need to find a way to get back into the sky. Hmm. Thoughts?

More Later

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Black Death...

...has hit my tomatos!

I'm pretty sure it's actually called blight, and is caused by a fungus that likes to grow during cooler, wetter seasons, such as the one we just had. It has decimated my tomatos, as seen here. It makes the leaves and stem die out and the tomatoes rot quickly. Grr.

I've stopped going into my garden at all (hence the weeds) to try to stop the spread of the fungus to my peppers. I will need to head in to harvest peppers and beans in the next week or two. Then I'll chop out the blighty tomatos, and burn them down in the washout area near my house. The tomatillos seem to be immune to the disease, so I'll at least get some tomatillo salsa from those. But no good tomatos.

It would have been such a nice, big harvest too.

But at least the beans are doing well! The peppers might be ok too. So there may be some pepper jelly and bean soup for the winter!

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