Projects, experiences, musings and more!

Archive for December, 2014

Tools! I have tools!

I have tools! My very own tools! Sure, there’s a hammer and some screwdrivers in the garage but it’s hard to get excited about those any more. I’d probably better explain that statement. I got my first tool – a hammer –  in early high school. I’m not sure if it was actually mine – it might have been my brother’s – but I’d carry it around our 8 acres of bush looped through one of the belt-holes in my shorts. I also got an army belt for Christmas one year, so I ran around for days carrying a canteen of water, 2 multi-tools, and my Scout pouch with matches, a mirror, another small knife, a whistle and my woggle. I don’t know what I was preparing for, but I felt like Lara Croft, MacGyver and Inspector Gadget all rolled into one.

These days the tools stay at home. It appears that carrying knives and other potentially useful (albeit dangerous) implements is generally frowned upon. Anyway, on to the main event. Behold! My beautiful new Boxing Day Sale acquisitions:


Tools 2


A few months back I decided that I needed a hobby. Having a long-standing interest in wood, I organised to go along to a wood turning meeting at a local high school, but before I got there I happened across the Sydney Woodcarving Group‘s website and decided that I wanted to learn to carve first.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the first meeting: I had called up, but I was basically turning up with no knowledge of woodworking and no real idea of what I wanted to make. Well, none I was ready to own up to anyway. Fortunately, everyone was quite helpful and I was sitting in front of a piece of off-cut wood with chisel in hand in no time. One lovely lady, Jan, even lent me half of her tools so that I could do some carving at home. I’m still not sure if she realises how very grateful I was (and still am) for her generosity, as it enabled me to dive head-first into my new hobby. For reasons I cannot disclose for around 6 months or so, I can’t upload a picture of my first work. I can, however, present my next work-in-progress:

Carving front



At this point I’m not sure if I’m actually going to finish this, or leave it and move on to something else. On the one hand, I feel like I’ve made too many mistakes. On the other hand, trying to fix them will probably be a good exercise. Either way my second project has taught me some valuable lessons, such as:

  • Which way the carbon paper goes
  • When you want to trace a picture, take the thickness of the lines into account
  • You really can’t just hold the wood with your hand to stop it from sliding around
  • Error-induced carving rage inevitably leads to more errors

All in all I think it will be a good one to keep, even if it ends up looking like crap.

In addition to my error-based learning, I’ve also learned a lot from some of the other group members, like:

  • How to determine the grain of the wood, and carve accordingly (OK, I’m still practising this one)
  • 4 billion ways to start carving a project – or more philosophically: there is no right way to carve a project, so just do what works for you

Once I get a few more projects under my belt I’ll write up a Wood Carving 101 post for those interested in giving it a try themselves. But for now: off to make mistakes!



Learnin’ German

‘Sprechen sie Deutsch?’

‘Ja, ein wenig…’

Today, Ben and I finally sat for our A1 Start Deutsch exam at the Goethe-Institut, Sydney. I say ‘finally’ because we first booked in to sit the exam back in July, but our daughter fell sick so we rescheduled for September… and then again for December. Due to a lack of study (OK, OK, we completely forgot), Ben and I were literally about to withdraw from the exam when we received a confirmation email from the Goethe-Institut. At that point we went into kamikaze mode: “We have 5 days, what could go wrong?” Well apparently, bub can fall sick, work can go into overdrive and general Christmas psychotic-ness  can get in the way of getting any study done. Wednesday rolled around and we had managed a whopping 2 hours of revision.

The exam had two parts: written and spoken. We were under the impression that we had to pass the written part of the exam before moving on to the spoken. This may not have been the case, but nevertheless we were quite convinced that we were going to fail. Badly.

Now, I could go through and describe each step of the exam, but suffice to say it was a little more difficult than we were anticipating. Real German is apparently spoken a lot quicker than Ben and I have been practising at home! I honestly don’t know how we managed to pass the exam, but we did it – hooray! The plan is to continue the study and complete a German language major at uni next year, so eventually I’ll be able to write my German updates in German. And then my Icelandic updates in Icelandic, and my Dutch updates in Dutch, and so forth…