all projects big and small

This blog has been sorely neglected. Two months is too long to go between posts. Here’s something to get back on track and review some of what’s been happening in the meantime.
(The big and the small of it all)

I wish I had more of an update to give on Zeus, the dog I wrote about who was hit by a car. I know he survived the accident and went home after a few days in the hospital, but I don’t know the extent of his injuries. The most information I was able to get was that his front leg and maybe shoulder was broken and may have needed amputation. I haven’t seen him around since the accident. I did see his owner a couple weeks ago, but she was on her phone so I didn’t bother her. Hopefully Zeus is just lying low and fully recovering. I do hope to see him again, maybe on a leash next time.

There are no major updates to give about Bubba, he continues to be awesome and challenging. I’ll save those details for another post sometime soon. Right now he is sleeping next to me, tired out after a long morning bike ride in the rain.

I’ve been working on a bunch of different projects this spring, some boring and some exciting. The boring ones are side jobs, general handyman type work that I do for a couple families in the area. One particularly odious project was repairing and refinishing a large pedestal base dining table with three removable leaves. This was a nightmare and took up almost all of my basement workspace for a month. I couldn’t do much else during that time because I didn’t want to generate any sawdust that would settle on the never-ending coats of paint and topcoat that went onto this thing. I am so glad it’s done, and can’t even bear to post a photo of that beast. I delivered it to the family in time for Passover and they love it, so I guess that is what’s important.

Slightly more satisfying, but still falling under the “boring” category is this storage solution I worked up for our back stairway. It holds dog food and treats, bird seed, gardening tools and other miscellaneous stuff we use outside. As you can probably tell, it’s made entirely from materials I scavenged from the dumpsters at work and neighborhood trash days. I also rearranged some hooks for our camp chairs and tall garden tools. Now all that stuff isn’t just stashed into this tiny space that’s barely three feet wide.

On to the really good stuff, GIFTS! I’ll start with a couple pictures of the finished tree blocks I made for my niece Sadie’s first birthday. This was a really fun project. The finish (shellac) application took a lot longer than I expected but I think they came out great. They were a hit at her birthday party.

Next up is a Mother’s Day gift. I’m posting about this a little early, but my parents don’t use the internet so there’s no chance of ruining the surprise. This spoon is made from a stick of firewood that I hauled up Doublehead Mountain in Jackson, NH. We were camping in a cabin on top of the mountain with a great group of friends. That trip warrants its own post, too. I started carving the spoon up there on St. Patrick’s Day, which is also my mom’s birthday, so it seemed an appropriate gift for her. The final carving, sanding, and finish work happened back at home. It’s finished with some non-toxic salad bowl finish. I really like this spoon and look forward to seeing it in use in her kitchen.

Rolling right along, here come the bikes! Natasha has made the big transition to the road bike. After her first ride on a friend’s bike (30 miles, no less!) she was hooked. So I found this Raleigh that’s her size for $75 on Craigslist, and after replacing the brake cables and derailleur cables, adjusting the brakes, replacing the chain and slapping on some new handlebar tape (chosen by Natasha of course), she’s ready to roll. Thanks so much to our buddy Travis for first lending Natasha his bike to try out, and then helping me get everything tuned up on her “new” bike. I also want to shout out to a great local resource, The Community Spoke, which offers free bike repair space, use of tools, and general guidance and encouragement. Check it out, Boston bike riders.

And here’s the cutest project I’ve had the pleasure of completing in a long time, a balance bike for two and a half year old niece, Maya. I’ve had my eyes peeled for a long time for a small bike that would be suitable to convert to a balance bike for her, but nothing seemed right. Even the smallest of traditional pedal bikes looked too tall for her, and they all were pink princess mobiles, which is fine and all, but this one is about a thousand times cuter I think. My plan was to create a balance bike by removing the pedals and chain from a regular bike, but this particular bike originally had pedals directly attached to the front wheel, like a tricycle. I found it in a trash pile about a mile away from home while I was out on a bike ride with the dog. One of the pedals had broken off so the previous owner just junked the whole bike. I carried it home (quite a trick when one hand is already tied up with holding a leash and the other is on my own handlebars) and spent some time taking the front end apart and replacing the old pedal assembly with a shorter straight bolt and some nuts and washers. It took some figuring and fiddling to build the right kind of assembly that would allow the wheel to spin freely but not wiggle around, and not loosen over time. I also took off the training wheels, along with the warning stickers that said “DO NOT REMOVE TRAINING WHEELS.” Don’t tell Fisher Price. I think this will be a great little introduction to two-wheeled movement, and not only is it my style to “take the longer way” by building rather than buying a balance bike, it’s also about a hundred bucks cheaper. Can’t wait to watch her try it out.