Friday, January 12, 2007

I Won! I Won!

Friday as I was about to set out for the Remington Art Museum to retrieve my two photos from the now-finished "Amateurs Only!" show, an email arrived from Upper Canada Village:

I am writing to congratulate you because the photograph you submitted for Upper Canada Village's Photo Contest of the sunflowers reaching up in front of Christ Church has won second prize in our "Other" category.

A a result, you have won a Family Single-Day Pass to
Upper Canada Village, that can be used on the day of your choice in the upcoming 2007 season (May 20 to October 7, 2007).

Last summer I wanted to spend an entire day there alone with my camera (in addition to the three or four family visits), but because of the beaver fever episode, it just didn't happen, and so eventually I just submitted the picture of the sunflowers and the church I had taken during the summer and forgot all about it.

It's wonderful to be a winner, but I honestly think that some of the "Honorable Mention" photos are better than mine (they probably weren't entered in the "Other" category, however). But gee, gosh... thanks! I am thrilled by this honor. Check out the other winning photos, and if you are ever in eastern Ontario, definitely plan to spend a day in the 1860s in Upper Canada Village.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


We have been over-run lately. Something had to be done.

Hey, cool!
This recipe
is easy!
And with
all these
I can
feed a
Okay everybody,
dinner in
twenty minutes...
So glad you
came by!
set the
Isn't it amazing how when you have a pot-luck supper, no two people ever bring the same dish?

Monday, January 08, 2007


A woman puts out a sign that says, “Handy-man wanted,” and a fellow knocks on her door to apply. As there are no other applicants and this guy seems ready and willing, she hires him.

“I’ll have you start painting the garage,” she states.

“Can’t do that,” he replies, “I’m allergic to paint.”

“Oh dear,” she says, “Well then, maybe you could clean out my gutters. The ladder is in the garage.”

“Gee, I’d like to, but I’m afraid of heights.”

Getting a bit aggravated, she suggests a third task: “All right, then suppose you change the storm windows for me.”

“Uh... well... I’d rather not because I might run the risk of getting cut by come glass.”

Flabbergasted by her new employee’s unwillingness to do any of the waiting work, she says angrily, “You don’t paint, you don’t climb ladders, and you are afraid to change a storm window – just what kind of a handy-man are you, anyway?!?”

“Well, I just live around the corner...”
* * * * * * * * * *
Raymond is a handy man (he lives just over the hill from me) and he's a handy-man: he can use what most people would judge to be junk to fix or build just about anything.

A visit to Raymond’s garage is a guaranteed spirit lifter. In his “If Grandpa Ain’t Happy, Life is Hard” t-shirt, he’ll tell you he spent ten years working in the woods one summer, he might walk past you with his arms spread about three feet apart in front of him saying, “Outta my way, boys, I’m measurin’ a door.” You ask him what he’s up to and he’ll reply, “Oh, about six feet.” “Raymond, have you lived here all your life?” “No, not yet.” You seldom visit Raymond and find him alone: pals, grown children and grandchildren swarm the place, and although he often has the demeanor of a bear hollering threats and warnings, nobody takes his bluster seriously. The place is a circus.

Raymond’s current building projects include early 1900s engines, cannons (large and miniature), Quaker Oats box wireless radios, home-made wine, a miniature sawmill, and horseless carriages. As you look at these pictures, keep in mind that this man's "formal" education ended as soon as he turned 16 (and that was before reaching high school). He pretends to be able to read. Everything you see pictured was restored or built from scratch (junk, scrap metal, old lawnmowers etc.). It would just about kill Raymond to buy anything he can make himself. All of his creations work; in fact they purr - except for the cannons...

This is one of more than two dozen restored engines, most of which were hauled from rusty graves in somebody's woods where they had been thrown when the washing machines (or whatever else they powered) gave up the ghost. Missing or broken parts are replaced by replicas Raymond makes.

The master adjusts his miniature sawmill prior to firing up the engine.

Cutting a "board" (1" = 1' scale, so this is a ten-foot log being cut into 1 x 10 x 10 boards). Note the augur in the lower left-hand corner of the photo (made from an old drill bit). It conveys sawdust.

A horseless carriage built from junk-pile metal and an old lawnmower. It can carry you along at about 17 mph.

One of about eight wireless working AM radios Raymond has built from oatmeal boxes and copper wire. The white knob is the tuner.

There's only one project going on over at Raymond's that I'd be inclined to discourage:

Don't let the label fool you: the Napa Valley product that once inhabited this bottle bears no resemblance to the Welch's based home-brew that Raymond is about to fill it with... His wine is, well, awful.
Okay, so he's not a vintner, but Raymond is definitely the handiest man in my end of the North Country. You're looking at the work of a genius.