September 26, 2011

Estes Park III

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 4:56 pm

Here’s another series of shots from Mike’s rock pile scramble.

Mike wants concerned citizens to know that he wasn’t ever hanging more than a couple of feet above a rock shelf.

A brilliant sort of fence–it can be built from the materials right around it and doesn’t require post holes.

Flowers around the tourist shops in Estes.

We were hoping to catch the aspens turning, but most of them were still green.

For blue fans.

As we ate lunch along the river, elk were getting a drink. My zoom was too zoomy, for once.

The mama was letting me know not to get any closer.


Meeting of the minds: what should we do about the lunkhead with the camera?

South end of northbound elk.

Don’t know why elk do this, but they do it a lot.

Mike and Britt on Old Falls Road heading up to Trail Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Jeanne inspecting the instant alluvial plain created by the 1985 flood.

Chasm Falls, from the bottom.

Seems like the Rockies should not be so pointy, this far along.

Top of the world, US version. Late afternoon storm clouds forming.

Parting shot of Mike, still not in any real danger.

September 25, 2011

Estes Park II

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 11:09 am

More from Estes Park. It’s in the 40s here at night, upper 70s during the day, in a perfect mountain fall weekend.

I love the yellow rust blue rose of this time of year. I love flowers on the downslope of days.

I don’t know what these curlies are, but they are exuberant.

Sunset the first evening.

Always on the lookout for patterns and curves and lines and shadows.

Nice combo of what man and earth hath wrought.

Estes Park I

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:08 am

Jeanne and I are staying at the cabin of friends in Estes Park, Colorado, for a few days, with Mike (our son) and Brittany, his companion. Last evening Tom and Gail Sundell (Jeanne’s brother and sister-in-law) came by for dessert and cards, then slept over on the screen porch you can see on the front of the cabin above. In the afternoon, Tim Sundell, Tom and Gail’s son, dropped in. That’s the cabin at dusk on the first night we were here, as we returned from our twilight hike.

As usual, the macro lens is rooted on the camera and I see small before I see big (if ever).

I like manmade colors, after mother nature has had her crack at them, almost as well as mother nature’s untouched stuff.

This is what Mike thinks when we say, “Hike.”

Creek below the cabin. Exposure just slow enough to get a little water blur.

Black bear by the creek. Jeanne and I were standing on the road about twenty feet away. Through a vivid lack of imagination, we did not think the bear would come our way.

This is what I was taking a photo of before a man in a truck stopped on the road to ask Jeanne if she had seen the black bear lying down near the road. I was just around the bend taking the photo from a low angle, and Jeanne said, “I think that was my husband you saw.”

More of the ongoing collaboration between man and entropy.

Fence zigging/zagging/zigging up the hillside.

Mother nature going it on her own.

Entropy going full tilt.

Those background colors are for real. How can you not love weeds?

September 20, 2011

No 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 11:30 am

My crusade to lighten the load continues. I’ve turned my attention to my collection of hand planes. Earlier in the summer I sold off the high zoot stuff–the artisanal specialty planes of recent make, with a ready, rabid market. Planes made by Lie-Nielsen, for instance, may be resold at about 90% of new price. I take that to mean that I can rent a $200 plane for a couple of years for $20. The trap is, of course, that once it’s in my hands, my hands won’t let go.

Somehow I brought myself to sell all the high zoot I didn’t use. Now I’m looking flintily at the hundred-year-old vintages–the Stanley planes made in the 1900s, 10s and ’20s. Starting in my own twenties, I began collecting a reasonable set of the bench planes–the #3 through #8. I called this “reasonable” because the #1 was rare and went for $1000 and up, and the #2 was only a little less so. #3 through #8 were made by the boatload for thirty or forty years early in the last century and are still very common. I wanted only planes I could use. I didn’t mind if they were dirty, chipped, with irons honed like butter knives. I liked cleaning them up, bringing them to a keen edge.

And I did use them–the #4, #5, and #8, plus a couple of little block planes–all the time. The rosewood handles, worn in with the oils of previous workers, fit my hands just right. The old cast iron has heft–and always, somehow, an array of paint splatters.

[Tutorial redirect: the numbers of the planes correspond, in a direct relation, to size. A #1 is 5 1/2 inches long, 1 1/4 inches wide, and weighs just over a pound, a #8 is two feet long and weighs almost ten. The #4, at 9″ and 3 3/4 pounds, is 2″ wide, and is perfect for final smoothing of a surface. It’s known, in fact, as a “smoother.” The #8 is called a “jointer,” because it is most often used to joint edges. The 24″ length of it wants to make stuff straight. The shorter length of a smoother is to let it ride over the not-necessarily-as-flat surface of a table top. The #5 is called a “jack,” because it is jack of all trades–a compromise in length and width and weight. I use it with a rank set to the iron–a course cut–in early stock preparation. The #5 is so common and so widely used that its profile is what everyone thinks of when they think “hand plane”–that is, everyone who thinks of hand planes.]

Over the years I procured four or five #4s (only one, made in 1902, of which I use constantly–the others either parts-suppliers to this One True Plane or misbegotten buys along the way to the OTP), a #5 with a tote sheared and screwed hastily back together 80 or 90 years ago, holding just fine ever since, a #5 1/2 (the 1/2 sizes are a little wider and heavier than the integer just below) that is too new for my tastes and a little rusty–I’ve never bothered to clean it up and put it into service out of disdain for its newness (manufacture date: 1931), a #6, two #7s, and a #8–all from the ’00s and ’10s. From my grandfather I inherited a #4 1/2 with a “Made in Canada” embossment that I would like very much to use, but it was used so long and hard by him and his own ancestors that it is utterly worn out. The knob is broken off, the cast iron cheek was snapped off and rebrazed, and the iron is worn to the quick. I’ve thought to repair it many times, but when the knob broke off the bolt sheared inside the casting, which means boring it out and rethreading, and Stanley used a proprietary thread pattern–no taps are commercially available. When I get my metal lathe one of these days…

I take special joy in having inherited many tools from my grandfather that are all worn right to the end of their usefulness.

All of this is to say, “Isn’t that triple-reeded brass depth-adjustment wheel from the 1919 #7 I’m going to sell way cool?”

Three patent dates cast into the bed means it is either Type 11 or 12. Type 11, made between 1910 and 1918,  is considered the perfect vintage, and fetches a premium. The only difference between types 11 and 12 is the size of that triple-reeded brass depth adjuster. If it’s 1.25″, it’s a Type 12. Mine is. I have a smaller depth adjuster in my spare parts bin. I could turn this #12 into a #11, with the twist of my wrist, if you follow me. How do I know some earlier owner did not replace the smaller adjuster with this larger one, after all? Men of stronger moral fiber than I have been hoisted on just this fine petard.

You can still see some paint splatters, though I cleaned off the more Pollackesque work.

In the days when tools like these were thought of as tools, rather than rhapsodized over in blogs, their owners often inscribed them with a unique mark in order to distinguish them from their colleagues’ tools, and thus reclaim them at the end of the work day. One owner of this #7 filed a boxed X into the cheek.

Another owner used a metal punch to stamp an Orion-like figure into the same cheek. I don’t know if the ovals to the right are a third owner’s mark or not.

Lateral adjustment lever over the brass tote-retention bolt, much maligned by screwdriver over years.

V-shaped New Britain toolworks logo  (it signifies, like everything else) at top of iron, under cap iron, under lever cap.

Old metal has presence.

The cutting edge, installed, from the bottom of the plane. I reground the iron with a very slight radius, then honed it to 12,000 grit, which is approximately 6X overkill.

Kind of the point of it all: shavings. Though, really, the point of a #7 is to to make joints, from which these walnut shavings were recently extracted.

You can make out the cross-grain striations. The shavings flex and break repeatedly as the iron shears them. These are very thick–five thousandths of an inch, or the same as a dollar bill. I wanted some substance to the curlies.

There’s such a thing as a contest to make the most pristine shaving. You want one the full length of the board (could be 8′ or more), full width of the iron (2″ or more), and uniform thickness in the one-thousandth range. These are 18″ long and 3/4″ wide.

You can deduce the open grain pattern of walnut–that’s what makes the long slits in the shavings. Maple and cherry give a shaving with no voids.

I guess I’ll offer this plane on eBay. A #7 in similar condition, but of Type 11, sold for $186 this week. I didn’t pay more than $30 for any of my elderly Stanleys.

Photo of the day: 082

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:48 am

Yellow, purple, rust, light blue, orange, five or six greens.

It rained hard, the sun came out, the photog came out, and his image appears in every one of these big, fat drops. That is, a distorted reflection of the camera and the arms holding it appears. The photog’s face is hidden behind the camera.

A solid mix of dignified and befuddled. She’s using one ear to shade her eyes.

Dandelion’s last day. The governor will not grant a reprieve.

Black-eyed susan bug.


Going over the wall.

Jaunty antennae.


September 19, 2011

Photo of the day: 081

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 7:06 am

Thistle in blue-green.

Before his pink hair punks him.

Better or worse then.

Blue and green.

Good camo.

More twining.

I’ve been surprised to learn that yellow flowers come on strong at the end of summer.

They don’t get long to show off before someone eats them…

…or brings them into his house to photograph them. Everytime I touched one, the petals fell to the ground. I collected a plateful.

The other thing coming on strong in late September is this standoffish fellow. Even his stem says, “Don’t touch me.”

He has pretty leaves, though.

God smiles even on the grumpy.

September 18, 2011

Photo of the day: 080

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:01 am

It’s fall here and for once I don’t mind. Walking back up our drive from an early morning ramble a few days ago I noticed the chimney peeking from behind the roofline and thought, “We’ll sit in front of the fire this winter.”

The photo above is daybreak over our ridge. I look there first every morning from our front window, before going out–it tells me about the light.

In a neat writerly tie-in, on my return from the ramble, having noted the chimney, I captured our front window from the other side, with lamp and fireplace.

The cord of osage orange I laid in last fall is now splendidly fungied. It’s loaded with BTUs, too.

Where the sun has not bleached it to bone, the outrageous orange obtains.

Like a crayon box in a tree.

The bleached ends have their own heartful presence.

Found art in chainsaw tracks.

Weed dreadlocks.

Life and death in one tree.

Orange fungi on osage orange.

September 13, 2011

Photo of the day: 079

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 8:51 pm

Leading off, we have a few photos from the September 11 ten-year anniversary service at the Temple in Independence on Sunday.

The Spire Chamber Ensemble and Orchestra performed Requiem, opus 9, by Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986). From the program: “Duruflé’s Requiem, written in 1947, is a testament of faith, comfort, and tranquility. The entire work is based on the original chant melodies of the Missa Pro Defunctis (Mass for the Dead). These melodies appear in vocal and instrumental parts throughout the work and may be found either complete or fragmented. Duruflé blends the elements of Gregorian chant with lush Romantic lyricism and twentieth century harmonies and rhythms into a beautifully crafted and unified composition demonstrating a wide range of textures and colors.

When the Requiem began, I stopped taking photos–the shutter release was too loud. That left me in a position to be enraptured…elegantly, utterly.

Waiting for the music to begin.

I took the photos of the dancers practicing before the service began.

Everyone is going about their preparations.

I was out this morning looking for something I hadn’t seen before. These mailboxes have always been just down the street at the corner. Today they leaned in particularly beckoning poses.

This is the flower that will soon turn into the chocolatey looking thing that makes Jeanne hanker for Toblerone.

Past their prime, and a lovely huing of green yellow brown, when taken together.

Two bugs and all their polkadots.

I’ve been photographing these Queen Anne’s lace blooms through all of their stages. We’re now at dowager.


Headed off, then looping back.

September 11, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 1:53 pm


 I took my off-camera flash outside this morning–the sun wasn’t over the ridge yet–turned the power way down, sat it on a stand lower camera left, and had a look at the shrubs by our front door. With the added pop of the flash, I could use a tiny aperture, giving more depth of field. It also yields a classy black background, as if I were shooting inside in front of a black card.


 A tent web in the grass by our front door. No flash for this one. I laid down flat on the sidewalk, rested the camera on the ground, and was still able to use f32 with a slow shutter. Those are stalks of grass in the lawn.

A vine looking for something to twine to.

Not grapes–little bird berries against the barely bluing sky. Those reflections are from the flash on stand way below.

This little vine entranced me. It reached out and grabbed a twig, made a nice double wrap…

…but the twig is no longer connected to anything else.

Another view just because I like the bokeh…and because I’m still entranced.

Almost poignant, ain’t it?

Sun just now piercing the fog.

And showering light down on us all.

September 10, 2011

Photo of the day: 077

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 7:49 pm

Cool enough for a sweatshirt this morning. Flip-flops and shorts, but also a sweatshirt. This fly is too cold and wet to get away from me.

Our view to the north. Around that little pond last evening were a black duck, a white duck, a brown duck, two fake ducks, and eight Canada geese. All chatting amicably…well, not the fake ducks.

This bumblebee may very well be deceased. Or maybe he’s just resting. Nope, stone dead. Could be stunned…or pinin’ for the fiords. Nope, demised, ceased to be, pushing up daisies, expired, bereft of life, shuffled off to meet his maker.

I’ve gone back to these little pink weeds all summer. It’s one of the true stayers of the ditch blossoms.

Like Christmas candy.

Makes me look forward to frost.

I was back inside enjoying a cup of coffee when the sun finally came through the clouds this morning. These large red sparkling curves caught my eye–I was on the couch editing the first passel of photos of the morning and this plant is in the neighbor’s yard across the street–but my peripheral vision said to look again.

Tree in the same neighbor’s yard. He’s much better at yard work than I am.

A glacier of spiderweb filling the valley of the plants by our front door.


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