Mighty Kites

For me, a true sign of coming spring – a red kite sitting on the huge ash tree behind my house. They are magnificent beasts and I do wish they would sit still long enough to get really up close and in focus pictures.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I have realized that I have not posted any bird pictures for a looong time. Unfortunately, there are very few birds around lately and even fewer opportunities to take pictures.

A Day at the Zoo 3: Because the Night

Night zoos are one of my favourite things because they have the coolest animals. They’re also bad for taking pics. Even my most light sensitive lense isn’t much good, mostly because it’s too dark for the auto focus but also too dark for me to use the manual setting. But there are some acceptable pics.

Dark image of a tree porcupine

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The tree porcupine was kind enough to step into the little light and my focus. This is where digital cameras with their near limitless image storage play to their strength: I probably deleted 100 blurry images to walk away with about 6 decent ones.

Very dark and blurry picture of an echidna

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Nope, that’s not a worse pic of the same animal, that’s actually an echidna. No, I don’t care that the father next to us told his kid it was a porcupine. Zoos offer many learning opportunities, but obviously no learning obligations.

And now, are you ready for one of my absolute favourites? The aardvark!

Image of an aardvark, full body

©Giliell, all rights reserved

We were very lucky: on our second visit to the night zoo, the aardvarks (3 wonderful animals) had their enclosure cleaned and the caretaker had turned up the light there. They didn’t mind (they could have gone to their dark burrow) and posed for some nice pics.

Image of an aardvark, front view

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Aardvark in action!

Side view of an aardvark

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Look at that snout!

There is a story that goes with the aardvarks: The zoo in our state capital also has a night zoo with aardvarks, but while this here has the glass all up the enclosure, our zoo only has it about a metre high, just enough so the aardvarks cannot escape. Some years ago when we visited the zoo, Mr looked at the aardvarks, not realising that there was nothing between him and the animals at the level of his nose. Well, the aardvark obviously thought it was only fair game that if Mr got to look at it, it got to look at Mr, went on its hind legs, put the front legs on top of the glass and put its snout almost into Mr’s face. The look on my beloved one’s face was something I still treasure to this day.

Mini Holiday 2: Fishes!

Aquariums are always cool. Fish are cool. Glass fish are double cool, just hard to take pics of.

A translucent fish

©Giliell, all rights reserved

A small blowfish

©Giliell, all rights reserved

A tiny but relaxed blowfish.

The head of a fish üoking out of the ground

©Giliell, all rights reserved

What’s up?

A piranha

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Nobody ever told me that piranhas are sparkling!

A striped scalar with several smaller fish around

©Giliell, all rights reserved

several clownfish

©Giliell, all rights reserved

a clown fish ion front of anemonae

©Giliell, all rights reserved

No trouble finding Nemo here

A yellow and blue fish

©Giliell, all rights reserved

All of Frankfurt is decorated in support of Ukraine, and it seems like even the fish are showing their solidarity.

Mini Holiday: A Day at the Zoo 1

For the easter holiday we wanted to do a day trip with the kids, but given the ongoing pandemic we didn’t want to do a theme park with all the screaming and close contact that entails. But even my two very cool teenager can be lured into a nice zoo with interesting animals. This time we chose Frankfurt. It’s easy to reach by train, not too far for a day trip, and the train tickets were still in the affordable range, though they only were because the kids were free.

And my camera got something to do (it’s getting bored in here), with the stalker lens giving insecure men inferiority complexes. So stay tuned over the next days for a lot of animal pics.

A male lion lying on a stone, looking relaxed.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This chill boy has his enclosure near the entrance, and showing off his amazing talent of chilling 20hrs a day, he didn’t move once between us arriving and leaving.

A ball of fur in a green canopy

©Giliell, all rights reserved

A ball of fur in a green canopy

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I saw a sloth! At least that’s what the signs claim. But it had moved from the canopy to a location unknown between our first and second visit.

A binturong family with 2 babies on top of mum

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Look at those babies! Binturongs are seriously cute, even though they always look ancient, even when they’re babies.

Gingerbread Houses

These are the more “traditional”

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

gingerbread houses my mother made this year.

 

Gingerbread Bird Feeder

My mother has tried her hand on something a bit different this year. She has made “ordinary” gingerbread houses too (I will post them later), but she also made this.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Simple Finish Knives

I have made twoo puukko. To be honest, I was not a fan of this type of knife at all. I have only decided to make them just as a part of my ongoing knifemaking education. But now I am totally a convert.

The first one has a handle made from birch bark, cow bone, and white brass. It looks a bit like a stacked leather handle but it feels different in the hand. Birchbark can be flattened by boiling it in hot water and pressing it between two boards to cool and dry off, making it into flat hard sheets. They are slightly more brittle than wood, but they do not have any preferred failure direction, so they do not split and break easily.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The second one has a handle from birch wood with a small burl in it. It is not proper burlwood, it was just a piece of firewood that I thought will be interesting. I think I was correct in that surmise. The endcap and bolster are from pakfong.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Both of these knives have just a simple finish to them. The blades’ primary bevels were ground only up to 120 grit and then tumbled after quenching in sand as long as it took to take all the scale off. Bolsters and end caps are not highly polished, as well as the handles. In fact, I took a steel brush to them to roughen the surfaces a bit. And the finish is just several layers of ordinary boiled linseed oil.

I was aiming for a simple, rough-looking sturdy knife as well as a simple, easy-ish manufacturing process. I think I have managed both. I really like these knives and I will make at least somewhat fancy sheaths for them. And I will definitively make more puukko in the future. I also think that this design is ideal for recycling old files into knives, so I will probably do some of that too.

Frosty Morning Walk – Part 6 – Frosty Leaves

And one cobweb. Frost is very beautiful. It would be more beautiful if it were pleasantly warm, but one cannot have everything.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

An Experimental Kitchen Knives Set

This set is numbered, but I won’t be selling it. I have tried several new things whilst making it and it was designed in part with a focus on ease of manufacture, except the experimental dimples in the blades.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The stand is made from three slabs of massive black locust wood and the front of the knife stand, the bolsters, and the end caps on knife handles are made from a coconut shell. Fitting the curved coconut shell perfectly to a piece of wood is of course not possible, and I have solved that problem quite successfully by dyeing the epoxy glue dark brown.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The finish is simply drying oil (commercial “Teak oil” which is a mixture of various oils) applied in several layers daily for over a week. It is still a bit tacky to the touch, but that should solve itself in time and with use. The surfaces are not overly polished – I did not go above 330 grit for both the metal and the wooden parts. Black locust wood has big pores in its growth rings, so polishing it very highly makes little sense anyway. I have, in fact, brushed the wood with a steel brush to accentuate the pores.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I tried to make divots in the blades to make them less sticky to food, but it did not work out, they have too small a diameter to have any noticeable effect (I think). I will either have to build a tool to make these divots wider or to make very shallow fullers reliably and reproducibly. Neither of those two tasks is easy and I do not currently have any ideas.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The handles are not of an overly complicated shape, they have simply hexagonal profiles with some curvature to the facets and smoothed edges. They are reasonably easy to make and comfortable in the hand. The tang is held not only with glue but also with a nut on the end, which is covered by the coconut shell endcap.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I think these three knives should cover just about any task that an ordinary home cook needs to do in their kitchen. I hope. I have given the set now to my mother to test and I have forbidden her to use any other knife for the time being under the serious threat of confiscating her other knives. She has got instructions to use and abuse them to test them thoroughly. If they pass the test, I will make multiple sets (without the divots in the blades) for sale.

I have also been thinking of adding this kind of picture in the future to my blades when I offer them for sale on the interwebs, to save myself the trouble of having to write the sizes in words for each piece. What do you think about that idea?

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.