Mushrooming

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Everyone’s got a hobby of one sort or another.  We actually have quite a number – woodworking, stained glass, etc.  For me, the line gets blurred between a hobby and a sport.  A hobby is something that one does for the pleasure and the relaxation of it.  A sport is more of a physical activity, like golf, baseball, or football.  So I’m not sure where ‘mushrooming’ falls – as it is a source of relaxation, fun, and physical exertion (as in – LOTS of walking through the woods).

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They say one person’s trash is another’s treasure.  For those that don’t go mushrooming, it’s hard for them to understand the draw.  As someone who enjoys the ‘sport’, I get a great thrill every time I find one of the prized mushrooms I seek – like porcini and chanterelle.  It’s exciting, exhilarating, and satisfying.

At worst… it’s a lovely walk in the woods.  At best, one comes home with coveted mushrooms to eat and enjoy.  In what other sport can you eat your spoils?

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I still remember the very first time I ever tasted a porcini mushroom.  It was probably 25 years ago in Pisa, Italy.  There was a basket of porcini’s in front on this lovely bistro.  I stopped to ask the attendant what they were…. when they described this king of mushrooms fresh picked from their local forest, we went straight inside and ordered off their menu those dishes they recommended that were porcini forward.  I will never forget the meaty, earthy delicious flavor they imparted.  Like no mushroom I have ever eaten.

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Years later, now living in Northern Arizona, once I heard there were porcini mushrooms growing in our local forests, I just knew I had to get educated on the how, where’s and what to find them for myself.  Now I forage for my own, and enjoy the ‘foraging bug’ and finding my own wild things to put on my table and in my pantry.  The euphoria and joy of finding these beautiful little treasures is unparalleled.  I’m hooked.  Can’t wait to go back.

 

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Relaxing in the Woods

We got out to the woods recently if you saw my post here… https://kritterspix.com/2019/07/18/a-walk-in-the-woods/

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But since there are woods all around us up North, we are sharing the load.  A recent trip to Greens Peak outside of Show Low highlighted a much different environment.

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This forest is a bit higher elevation than the Mogollon Rim, and gets more rain.  So it makes a great spot for foraging and mushrooming.

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The woods are dense with trees and moldy rocks.  Lots of shade and shadows, and cooler temps.

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I love that we have the vast diversification of areas to solicit and wander through.  It’s a great way to relax and ‘chill’.

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Can’t wait to go back… we are already planning our next trip.  It is mushroom season afterall. 🙂

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Pez

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Allow me to indulge in sharing a fun visitor we had.  Meet Pez.

I first noticed Pez, this tiny little baby bunny in our front yard about 6am.  I checked on her periodically through the day, and she barely left the comfort of this rock overhang.

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What an absolute cutie.  I fed her a little carrot shavings and a lid with water.  When I approached near her, she ran under the rock overhang – good girl!

Last I checked on her in the daylight was 6pm.  She hadn’t moved for 12 hours!

By morning, I’m happy to report she was gone, never to be seen again.

I’m sure mamma came and picked her up.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I was delighted to have her for the day, but equally glad for her to re-united with her mom.  Thanks for the visit, Pez, you made my day.  Come back and visit any time – but don’t eat my flowers!

Javelina sighting

It’s not very often we see javelina.  They are more of a mainstay in Phoenix area and southern AZ, in warmer climates than they are in Northern AZ.

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But we got our first glimpse of these unusual beasts.  Officially known as collared peccary, they are similar to wild boar.

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Javelina are prey to mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes.  As such they are pretty skittish and aware of all sounds and smells around them, particularly as they are known for their poor eyesight.

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This small herd of 5 we encountered appeared to be 2 adults and 3 young (perhaps less than a year old).

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We’re always happy to see animals, no matter what they are… the more ‘exotic’ the more exciting, especially if I manage to get a photo.

Stained Glass Floor Lamp

glass panels4_IR.jpg  Finished stained glass panels for floor lamp

Remember those stained glass panels I wrote about here? .. https://kritterspaw.com/2019/03/18/one-thing-begets-another/ 

We have been working hard to get the woodworking done to receive the panels I worked so hard on… but the woodworking has proven to be as labor intensive as the glass work.

napkin_IR.jpg Initial back of the napkin concept drawing

I got a hearty laugh, when someone mentioned to me the other day, that as I put out these blogs, that people will know how to make our projects.

pillars groves_IR.jpg Making pillars for uprights to support stained glass panels

We never have plans for any of our projects.  Projects for us start as a hair brain idea and a need for something… in this case for a floor lamp to be able to read by… which morphed to wanting to match it to the stained glass door we had just finished.

pillargroves4_IR.jpg  Cut upright pillars

stretchers fit_IR.jpg  Trial fit of pillars to stretchers

We actually think through the project and ask ourselves questions as to how it might go together and draw up multiple concept cartoon drawings for the different pieces and phases of the project.

plans_IR.jpg  Cutting list

We then make a cutting list of the pieces and parts that need to go together, making sure to include stacked dimensions of the veneered pieces, various tongues, grooves, or other cut outs.

pillars glued_IR.jpgGlued together top section for glass panels

We often design on the fly, and the project may morph as we go along.

shelf veneer_IR.jpg  Cutting mesquite inlay for shelf

shelf_IR.jpg  Gluing shelf together

Which was the case when we decided to make a pull out shelf for the lamp base, so that we could sit a glass of wine (or coffee) on it while we read.

baseboard joint_IR.jpg  Making our own baseboard molding from pecan lumber (started as tree cut from our yard)

baseboard moldg_IR.jpg  Cutting moulding on baseboard 

Of course, in true Ritter style, the shelf had to have 3 inlays, made with birch, mesquite and pecan.

cuttg mirror_IR.jpg  Cutting mirror for light reflection

mirror ret2_IR.jpg  Retainer for mirror on top stretchers

To further complicate things as we went along, we decided to add a mirror to the top of the lamp to reflect back light that would beam through the glass panels… so yet another change had to be incorporated … no drawings to be had.

trail fit_IR.jpg  Trial fit of glass panels with light and mirror

Once we started on the base, cutting all the sides, top, bottom, and lots of pecan veneer… we decided the empty box would be better with a door… and power to be able to charge a tablet or phone.. and storage for magazines and such.

bottom ply_IR.jpg  Cutting birch bottom section pieces

veneer_IR.jpg  Cutting veneer

So with yet another change (no drawings) we are off on the fly again morphing the design to continuously improve this already interesting project we have embarked on (same ol’, same ol’ around here!)

partsnpcs_IR.jpg  Bits and pieces of bottom section, cut and veneered

door hinge_IR.jpg  Hinge recessed for door

With all the bottom pieces cut, veneered, shelf designed, cut, glued, door made, and new designs incorporated… we are finally ready for final sanding (and sanding!) and gluing.

bottclamps_IR.jpg  Lower section glued and clamped together

Someone else suggested once, we could put our projects on Pinterest… What?, and have them steal and make our ideas?  Ha, not likely.

basebd_IR.jpg  Gluing baseboard moulding

staing2_IR.jpg  Staining lower cabinet section

Since only a subset of the actual steps and operations are represented here (none of the jointing, plaining, mortise & tenons, etc, etc), no plans in sight, not to mention the 6 months of labor… I think we’re safe in no one copying our designs!  There I go, heartily laughing again.  You know what they say, ” Laughter is the best medicine.”

sprayg2_IR.jpgSpray lacquering cabinet top, bottom, and pieces

No matter.  We work for ourselves and do projects that intrigue and interest us for our own perceived ‘need’.  We enjoy the work, the problem solving, and the end product.  It is always intellectually challenging, fulfilling, and leaves us with a sense of pride and accomplishment.  That’s all that really matters.

finished vert_IR.jpg Finished lamp with shelf pulled out

finished lamp_IR.jpg Finished lamp in place

 

 

A trip to the Rim

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Life gets busy, but we should never be so busy that we don’t take time out to frequent our favorite spots and do the things that rock our individual boats … and for us that includes the Mogollon Rim.

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We actually got snow, sleet, hail, and rain during our short trip, which made for awesome scenery and elk wondering what we were doing there.

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It made me wonder what took us so long… oh, there was that project, and that chore, and that meeting, plus that snow storm, the roads were closed… well, okay.

Always find time to smell the roses, or in our case fresh forest air.

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Tinder Table

It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year since the Tinder Fire that stormed up our hill and almost took our home.  But we are still here, stronger than ever…. and found a great way to memorialize our tenacity, good fortune, and strength.

Several years back we cut a burl off a tree (making sure to keep the tree alive).  It has been drying in our shop for the past 3 – 4 years.  We figured it would make a great table top when it was good and dry.  So we used a chainsaw to slab it, then set up a router on boards across the top to slowly and meticulously router it down to a flat even surface… then sand, sand, sand.

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With the top ready, we needed legs.  So we decided to make the legs from the Tinder Fire.  We cut all the wood from our forest, using dead burned trees or fallen logs.

jointg_IR.jpgWe decided to use a combination of oak and cedar for an ‘architectural’ highlight.  The wood was super dry, almost kiln dried.  Using the jointer we cut a flat through the 6″ – 8″ logs to clear the bark and provide a flat datum.  The jointer allowed us to make parellel sides.

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For the cedar we needed to work through the exterior white to get to the ‘red heart’ of the wood.  We used the planer to make numerous passes to reduce the wood to 2-3/4″ squares for the legs.

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Once both the oak and cedar logs were reduced to ‘legs’, we had lumber ready to process.

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We used a black resin goop to fill the cracks…. a long tedious task, which took multiple applications until the cracks were filled.

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Finally, we were ready to assemble the legs and stretchers for the base.

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With base and top ready to go, final sanding complete…. it’s time to stain.

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… and finish, ironically, as it started to snow.

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I think the finished product came out great.  The red heart of the cedar shows through, as does the tenacity and strength of the sturdy oak.  They made it through the fire to become something lasting and symbolic, and will forever be a reminder of the Tinder Fire, moving on, and persevering.

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