Fry Day 13-th

I was born on Friday 13th, 45 years ago. This Friday, to be precise. When I learned that it is supposed to be a “bad luck” day, I thought to myself “that makes sense, considering…”.

I am not superstitious, but whenever I reflect on my life so far, I do think the same still, although in some respects I am among the lucky ones. But depression does not lend itself to dispassionate analysis.

Anyhoo, this year the world burns, again, and it keeps getting worse. Hooray.

Tornadoes in Czechia

Smaller whirlwinds do happen quite often even in Central Europe, although usually we just have ordinary high winds. Occasionally some roofs get torn off, but rarely anything more severe than that.

Yesterday was different. A once-in-1000-years tornado ripped through the south of Czechia and flattened seven towns and villages.

If you can spare some money for disaster relief, you can donate here. This is run by a non-religious charity foundation.

There might be some glitches, their servers have difficulty coping at the moment.

What HAVE you been doing: an update

First of all, a profound sorry for being such a bad blog host recently. During the week I mostly just crash after coming home and then I put in some hours for chores and lesson planning and then I watch some senseless TV and then I crash again.

I also need to apologise to the people whose mail i still have here, all ready to go if only I could drag my ass to the post office…

School’s crazy right now. We were closed for a week on short notice, kids going missing, kids being found again, spending hours on the phone, exams, tests, colleagues collapsing in the staff room (it’s that time of the year. For some reason, that colleague always collapses in late spring, but is unable to just stay the fuck at home and call a doctor)… And now we get a week of break for pentecost and then  all kids are coming back and we all hate it.

At the weekends Mr and I have been very busy in the garden, which is my current delight, or would be, if the weather wasn’t what it is. It’s currently 7°C and raining, and it has been like this for weeks and it’s supposed to last for at least another two weeks. The cats tail is having a party… So yeah, I’m not a fun person right now…

Anyway, at least we finished the big project and I could now start the planting if I wasn’t at risk of drowning on dry land. But I’m really proud of what we built and it will look great once I do manage to plant stuff.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

That’s the whole slope finished, still with the plastic bags on top of the last row so it won’t wash away the concrete. The thing on the left is our to be torn down garage, I just hope they won’t completely ruin the garden when they do (in a couple of years). Those three windows you see at the top are my office, btw, so all your posts are coming from there.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

That’s just the top part. The lower terrace is already prepared for planting, by doing a good dig and mixing our sandy soil with (peat free) planting soil. The top part is still trampled flat. No wonder the cats tail is having a party: Nutrition poor compressed soil and the two weathers of “it’s raining” and “it’s about to rain”. I also did some first planting. The two top terraces will be a three sisters planting. The corn is ready and my mum promised me some more squash.

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Here’s a view downwards. Just for scale: each stone is about 20cm high, so you can get an idea about the height difference. Of all the squash I already planted only three survived and only one survived well..

I did manage to finish one small resin project. The problem is that it’s still too cold to work with epoxy, and it’s too light to work with the UV resin, as it cures before I can use it.

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A little fairy garden. And I made some new friends:

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Let’s just hope that summer will come, even though spring got cancelled and we can spend some time in the pool with them…



I have a fifty tits of grey post lined up, but a quick interlude about predators, social birds, and cooperation.

I think I didn’t mention it here, but this winter, I started leaving walnuts out for the crows – leftovers from years past that we found in the storage room, but still good. To be honest, this started when I noticed a ragtag group of corvids (crows, jays and magpies – not explaining the word ‘corvid’, all three were members of this loose affiliation of walnut aficionados) eating the few nuts we had straight from the tree. It was a small crop anyway, so I don’t feel too bitter about it…

Getting rid of the evidence on the neighbours’ roof…
(c) rq, all rights reserved

Thief, caught red-beaked. (c) rq, all rights reserved

Just taking a stroll… (c) rq, all rights reserved

Anyway, I started feeding them through the cold snowy months, and while the jays and magpies haven’t been sticking around, there’s a small flock of 4 or 5 crows (family group?) that regularly cleans out the (much cheaper, if buying) peanuts.

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Kitchen Knives Set – Part 5: “Fun” with Resin

Somebody somewhere in the comment section (I think on Marcus’s blog) expressed dislike for resin stabilized wood along the lines that it is the same as making the handles out of plastic. I disagree. Stabilized wood is a pain to work because it behaves like plastic in that regard, but it does not look like plastic and neither does it feel like plastic in the hand – it feels like wood. And as I was working on this project, I found out that it even sounds like wood – stabilized pieces give out very nice clonk-clonk when hit against each other. I think it might be possible to make musical instruments out of it, but I won’t try.

However, before said wood reaches its desired stabilized state, I have to work with epoxy resin. Lots of it.

I hate it.

It is gluey, it sticks to absolutely everything and it is transparent, so when it drops somewhere it is difficult to see in time. Tools and surfaces need to be cleaned with paper towels soaked in denatured alcohol, which is not cheap and the fumes do not smell exactly delicious. And the work needs to be done fast, because if the epoxy gels, it won’t soak into the wood no more.

With my macgyered vacuum pump I have reached a vacuum of 0,2-0,3 bar, which was sufficient for extremely porous wood, but might not be sufficient for this. Applewood has very small pores and is very hard, even the very decomposed pieces were still harder than for example poplar or basswood. So I have decided to bite the bullet and buy a small, cheap vacuum pump in the hope that it will work better. And it does – and it does not.

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

Even with my poorly sealed pickle jar, I have easily reached vacuum 0,6 bar within a minute. The wood released so many bubbles that the resin developed foam head like beer.

However, the pump also got very hot after a few minutes of running, which made me a bit worried. My macgyvered pump was a bit cumbersome and awkward, but overheating was completely a non-issue. I am not so sure about this one. I hope it does not burn out before I at least get to sell some knives.

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

Overheating aside, the wood soaked up the resin very nicely and although I have only used clear resin, it developed very nice and pleasant colors. The resin would cure over time at room temperature, but it is possible to speed up the curing by heating it to 60-80°C. So I did that the next day and I baked the pieces for two hours, after which I could appreciate the nice clonk-clonk that I was talking about at the beginning.

I have also approached the issue a bit more scientifically this time and I have weighed all the pieces before and after. Here you can see the results.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

This made me very happy with the results. The relatively healthy wood has gained approx 30% in weight, the not-very-much rotten root wood doubled its weight and the more decomposed wood has almost tripled its weight. All pieces of similar size weighed approximately the same after the stabilizing process, irrespective of what wood they were made of. And finally, all pieces when put in water either sunk completely or just barely floated with 99% submerged. So even the relatively healthy wood should be soaked up with resin to sufficient depth.

Now that the wood is stabilized, the only thing that is left is to psych myself up to go into the freezing workshop and finish the knives. Which includes first a bit of grinding and drilling, and then a lot of gluing. Even more fun with epoxy awaits, hooray!

Teacher’s Corner: Covid lurking around the corner

I’ve mentioned it a few times, Germany has decided to sacrifice its teachers on the altar of keeping businesses open. Bavaria’s prime minister explicitly said that schools and daycares must be kept open so parents can go to work.

This also means we’re not going back to a hybrid system like before the summer holidays with two days at school, in small, distanced groups, and Homeschooling for the rest of the week.

This also means we’re combining the 3Cs in an unholy trinity : closed space, crowded settings, close contact. By now we’re all convinced that it isn’t a question of we’ll catch Covid, but when.

It was kind of a wonder that we escaped our first case for so long. This week it happened and now guess who covered for a colleague in that class on Thursday. But for some reason that was the day I decided it was time to break out one of the 5 KN95 masks the Ministry so kindly provided. Haha. So I should be safe, and I don’t have to go into quarantine.

Degupdate Getting Snuggly.

It’s rare for me to like pics of myself. There are hardly any anyway, because I’m usually the camera person, but Candy has gotten me to take selfies. Also, the light in the degu run is pretty flattering, I think, and the degus make me happy, so who cares for the double chin when you got happiness?

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Estelle is definitely getting more trusting. She comes out almost immediately now, puts her tiny feetses on me and takes treats. Oh, and tries whether my thumb is edible… She is also clearly the clumsy one. Where Candy has added the top of the side track to her territory, Estelle just makes it on top of the box next to it, doesn’t manage to get up and then does a half climb, half jump, half fall off it again. Yes, three halves, that’s how clumsy she is.

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They still make me think of Caine and her kingdom of rats a lot. She would be absolutely delighted with the degus.