Thursday, March 29, 2007

Medieval Stuff

click on the images to enlarge.
One of the things I do is research my trade as much as possible. There are so many people who think that just because they can do a little body work that they can make a suit of armour. Okay, I was one of those people. However, going to the trouble of actually measuring the real suits of armour goes a long way to providing the credibility that you need if you want to call yourself a "professional". The top picture is of me demonstrating real techniques I have picked up from medieval books. Doing live steel fighting in full armour, in this case, chain mail armour, is very illuminating! I am certain that without actually getting into real armour, you cannot really know what it is like to actually fight in it. How does your body move, how does the weight drag down arm, what can't you do in armour that you would have no diffiulty doing in street clothes.
Similarly, to measure the real armours in a real armury is so worth while doing! The bottom four pictures are of my "direct measurement" session in the Palace Museum in Malta in 2005. Just as you should not fight without learning how they did it in the "old days", you should not make armour without at least holding a couple of real pieces of armour in your hands and absorbing as much as you can during the inevitable short session. Not like I can make a psychic connection with the armourer from 1675, but rather, to know that what one man made once can be made by another man now.
I learned how big the hammers were that he used to dish that metal out. I learned how he scrubbed all the hammer marks off the face of the armour with abrasive bricks which left deep scratches that not even subsequent passes with grit could totally remove. I learned that the guy who made the armour is very unlikely to be the one who decorated it. And I learned where the armourer put his leather straps to allow the armour to hang properly. And I learned that it is not a one person job; that somebody has to hold the chisel!
So looking forward to another trip sometime in May.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

3 grads in one week!

Three classes graduated in one week! Now I have, what, 4 weeks to myself!
Well, myself and the spring cleaning!
Yes, there DOES seem to be an overlap in some of the students here. Nice to be popular.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

March 23 1936

Try to Remember...
Try to remember
The kind of September
When life was slow
And though so mellow
Try to remember
The kind of september
When grass was green
And grain was yellow
Try to remember
The kind of september
When you were a tender
And callow fellow
Try to remember
And if you remember
Then follow
Try to remember
When life was so tender
That no one wept
Except the willow
Try to remember
The kind of september
When love was an ember
About to billow
Try to remember
And if you remember
Then follow,

2004, memories

March 11, 2004. Bill catching a little nap with his old doggie.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Kodo Drummers Concert

Finally made it to the Kodo drummers concert on Monday night. Tickets had been sold out for more than eight months! Excellent concert! Amazingly enough, at one point, I started to fall asleep! Turns out (by reading the programme) that that particular passage is supposed to relax you to where you fall asleep! (it was a passage which sounded for all the world like rain on a tin roof)
There wasn't a lot of "sleepy" drumming though! Most of it was exciting. I think Brenda perked up a bit when a couple of the well developed drummers stripped down to breech clout to pound on a drum the size of my living room!
I had been to the Japanese drumming concert in Ottawa during the Tulip Festival a few years back, and of course the Toronto Japanese drumming ensemble performed at the Ren Faire in Milton a few years back, but the Kodo drummers are the first and the best. Two thumbs up!
Please link through to their web site. There is more to it than drumming, like a martial art, it is a way of life!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Last Day of Winter

click on the images to enlarge.
Hey wait a minute, hey Zlanth...isn't that YOUR car?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Every Sunday, Post Secret publishes a collection of secrets which are mailed anonomously to them on postcards. Some are scary, some are cute. Some brighten up the day, some make you want to cry. Some are downright disgusting, some are uplifting. All of us have secrets. Its worth dropping in from time to time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beer Boobs.

Brought to you by the company which produces the "Beer Belly", here is the "wine rack". Yes ladies, now you can boost that B cup to a double D to attract his attention, and they are filled with wine to KEEP it! Well, seems like the best of BOTH worlds!
Me, I prefer the "beer belly", a much easier way to store a case of beer when at the Rough Rider's game than in a "beer helmet".
Note, those of you who have just spit your coffee all over the keyboards and screen, its NOT MY FAULT! This wonderful product is brought to you by "Beerbelly Corp.,

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


The Limbourgs present here the year's first farm work, in a broad landscape at the foot of the Chateau de Lusignan.

Several scenes of country life are juxtaposed.

On the upper left, a shepherd and his dog watch a flock of sheep; below them, three peasants trim vines within an enclosure; on the right, another enclosure, with a house, seems to surround more vineyards; below that, a peasant leans over an open bag.

A small monument known as a Montjoie rises at the intersection of paths separating the different plots; a customary sign or milestone, it resembles one on a subsequent page representing the Meeting of the Magi (folio 51v).A beautiful picture of plowing occupies the foreground. A white-bearded peasant wearing a surcoat over a blue tunic holds the plow handle with his left hand and goads the oxen with his right. The two oxen are differently colored; the fine reddish hide of the near one stands out in relief against the other, black, animal. Every detail of the plow is carefully recorded. The plowshare penetrates earth covered with faded winter grass, churning it into furrows that are distinctly marked by already dried blades of grass.

These rustic scenes are dominated by the powerful Château de Lusignan, above which hovers the fairy Mélusine, protectress of the château who turned into a winged dragon on Saturdays, recalling the legend of its construction. (Mélusine promised to make Raimondin, son of the king of the Bretons, the first nobleman of the realm if he married her, on condition that he never see her on Saturday, the day of her metamorphosis. Raimondin's curiosity got the better of him, and Mélusine flew away from the château in the form of a winged dragon. The artists have meticulously depicted the château's different parts: the Tour Poitevine below the fairy, the queen's quarters, the Tour Mélusine, the Tour de L'Horloge, the Barbacane, and the two enceintes. This was one of the Duc de Berry's favorite residences; the improvements he made on it are evident in the high windows of the royal quarters and the Tour Mélusine.

The month of March is the first of the great landscapes favored hy the Limbourgs in the Très Riches Heures. It is rendered with such veracity that one wonders if they had access to some optical device, a dark room, or rather a "light room," which would have lent such linear and proportional exactitude to their work. Furthermore, with the delicacy of their brush they have achieved an extraordinary precision of detail without detracting from the overall effect of grandeur imparted by Mélusine's château forcefully standing out against the blue sky.

Bill's commentary....there are many stories of serpents, women changing into serpents and dragons. Here are some wonderful ones....

(cut and paste from After the duc de Berri's death, Lusignan became briefly the property of Jean de Touraine (died May 1417) and then passed to the dauphin Charles, the future Charles VII.
First the village, then the town of Lusignan, grew up beneath the castle gates, along the slope; it formed a further enceinte (surrounding fortification) when it too was later enclosed by walls. Lusignan remained a strategically important place in Poitou, in the heart of France: during the French Wars of Religion, about 1574, a plan was made of the castle's defenses; it is in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. In the following century Lusignan was reinforced in the modern manner by Louis XIV's military architect, Vauban. Thus it was a natural structure to be used as a prison. Later it housed a school.

The château was long used as a local quarry of pre-cut stone before it was razed by the comte de Blossac in the 19th century, to make a pleasure ground for the town of Lusignan. What remains today are largely parts of the foundations, some built into steep hillside, part of the keep, the base of the Tour Poitevine, cisterns and cellars, and remains of a subterranean passage that probably once led to the church.

and not to be outdone,

Category: Archeological site

, castletime of construction: Average Agehistory: Construction of a first castellum in the middle of the 10th century. A castle is announced at the beginning of the 11th century. With 12th and 13th centuries, apogee of the family of Lusignan. In 1308, the castle passes in the royal field. At the end of the 14th century, work completed by Jean de Berry, work which continues until 1463, date of the construction of the Michaelmas vault. The castle is dismantled by order of the king in 1586; only the Mélusine tower remains until 1622. The walk was established on the site of the castle at the 18th of the communedate protection MH: 1997/07/02: registered voter

(And Bills' words...) The history of the Lusignan family is fascinating.

They were rulers of Cyprus, and ruled Jerusalem. You might remember the Lusignan prince in a recent movie about the great siege of Jerusalem. They got around! The symbol of the Lusignan family is the mermaid, somehow confused with the water sprites and dragons of folklore. It is a real pity there is pretty much nothing left of it nowadays.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Wood House

Another look at the best woodcarver in the world.

as usual, click on the images to enlarge.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Guest Blogger Daniel

How to install marble on your bathroom floor brought to you by Bold
Renovations…That’s me Daniel.

Preliminary notes, this is a project that can be done by the do it
yourselfer provided you have some skills in construction, don’t mind
falling through the floor and possibly getting soaked… I did get a
good one this time and so did Calia our kitten.

In our demonstration today we are going to describe the steps
required to installing marble on your bathroom floor, you could also
use less expensive ceramic tiles but after the following steps you
will see why we chose marble. Please note though that you may want to
have the phone number of a plumber handy. Also, this is a great time
to get rid of that ugly wallpaper you can’t stand.

Here are the 21 steps:
1) Remove the toilet and vanity from your bathroom. Toilets are
usually held down to a flange in the floor with two bolts that will
need the nuts removed from. If however, your house is like ours, just
bend at the knees and lift, our toilet came out floor flange and bits
of the sub-floor all attached. Here is where we discovered that the
toilet that has been in the house since Christ was a cowboy has been
leaking nearly half of those years and there is serious water damage
to the sub-floor and floor beams.
2) You will now need to remove the wall that has the bathroom door in
it because as you will discover, that big old cast iron bathtub was
installed before the wall was built and will not fit through the
door. So, if you didn’t already own a sledge hammer from “How to move
a light switch” now is a good time to buy one.
3) Once you have cleaned up the mess from demolishing that wall that
was in the way, disconnect the water supply from the bathtub (make
sure you have turned the water off, this is when Calia and I had an
unexpected shower together) Now drag that 350 pound tub down the
stairs and outside.
4) Go shopping for a new toilet, vanity and tub…if your anything like
me, you dropped the toilet on the stairs and broke it, that 350 pound
bathtub will be impossible to get back up the stairs by yourself and
nobody has a good friend who will help, so go buy a new acrylic
whirlpool they are much lighter! The vanity? Well everything else is
5) Rip out the sub-floor in the bathroom right down to the floor
beams, be careful not to fall through the hole and land on the
kitchen floor below…this by the way is when I had a shot of scotch
and marveled at the wonder of how I didn’t go through the floor while
sitting on the thrown.
6) Call a plumber, you need help getting that cast iron stink stack
out and replaced with a new plastic one. There is no less expensive
time to do it than when the floor is all ripped up anyway.
7) While you are waiting a week for the plumber to come, keep that
sledge hammer from rusting and demo the rest of the walls because you
will have by now discovered you have knob and tube wiring and will
wonder why the copper pipes weren’t leaking as they were so badly
soldered. (See picture to know when this step looks right). I used a
sheet of plywood to stand on as there wasn’t any floor. If you do it
right, all the plaster and crap will fall into the kitchen below so
that you have one less floor to carry the garbage out.
8) Help the plumber remove the old stink stack; this will require at
least two trips to Tim Horton’s and carrying 50 pound pieces of cast
iron pipes outside. At $110/hour it’s best to mostly stay out of the
way and not talk too much.
9) Now that you have a wonderful skylight into the kitchen (or what
ever room is below your bathroom) it’s time to start putting things
back together. This will require some 5/8 plywood or thicker to glue
and screw to each side of your floor beams as they have no doubt been
cut away with large 4 or 5 inch gouges by previous owners who thought
they were handy.
10) Now that the plumber is out of your way, you can run new copper
pipes up to your second floor for the new tub, vanity and toilet.
Some people are using that new Ipex stuff (its plastic or something)
but you don’t risk burning yourself with a torch with that, so I used
11) Screw down two layers of 5/8 plywood to the top of the beams,
this will be your new sub-floor. On the first layer place a bead of
construction glue (liquid nails) to the top of the beams and screw
every foot or so. On the second layer screw in every 4 inches. This
should ensure that there is no movement in the sub-floor which will
crack the tiles.
12) Install your new bathtub, follow mfg’s guides or call that
plumber back.
13) Build a pocket door wall to replace the wall that you tore out to
get the cast iron bathtub out. Pocket doors are great! This way you
won’t have to worry about which way the bathroom door will swing and
it will never be in the way.
14) Go buy some floor leveler, as you will have discovered when the
plumber came back, that your house is crooked and out of level. Mix
and poor the floor leveler onto the bathroom floor, make sure you
plug all the holes first or you will have a big mess in the kitchen
15) After the electrician has left from fixing the knob and tube
wiring issue, hang new drywall in the bathroom, tape, mud and paint.
Alternatively, you could install moisture resistant wallpaper…just
remember though that you will need a sledge hammer to get it off.
16) Now, you can finally install your wonderful new marble floor. We
chose a smoky beige marble. Why? Well after all the rest of the money
spent it was only $50 more for marble over the ceramic we were going
to put in. First step here is to carefully measure and mark the
pattern onto the floor.
17) Next using a ¼ inch notched trowel spread some thin set mortar
and place your tiles down into it.
18) After 24 hours or so has passed, following mfg directions grout
the floor tiles. Use non-sanded for stone (like marble) or sanded for
19) Install your new toilet, vanity, vanity mirror, lights and
install and paint your new pocket door, and trim.
20) Go and buy some oak stair treads to replace the ones that were
damaged by dropping the toilet down them and dragging that 350 pound
cast iron bathtub down the stairs by yourself, cause nobody has a
friend who will help with that either. (We will discus in a future
memo how to do this repair)
21) Poor another scotch (or beverage of your choice)and go sit in
that wonderful new whirlpool tub and forget about the $3000-$5000 you
just spent on the marble floor you thought would cost you $150-$200.
Hope you found this information useful, or at least entertaining. P/s
don’t forget to purchase a couple extra pieces of marble because if
you did like I did, you will drop one of them and it will break and
you will just simply screw up the cuts of another. I call those
pieces practice runs. PPS don’t drink scotch while doing this work,
or you will likely screw up on all the steps and that diamond bladed
wet saw will take fingers off quite quickly.
Smocks n Frocks
Costumes, Lingerie, Swimwear & Fashions
Cell 905.577.7209
SKYPE smocksnfrocks

Men, reprised

Smile....its not really that bad! I think the second one is Jxxxxxxx's husband. And Zlanth, isn't that your new beer fridge...the one at the bottom?

Saturday, March 03, 2007


(A good news story!)
When you buy a house, the bank demands that you get "mortgage insurance". Though you pay for it, it is not for you, it is for the bank. To cover the rest of the mortgage. Stands to reason...they don't want to forclose on properties, and they are still smarting over the image of the poor widder woman being turned out into the snow by the unfeeling banker. An image they picked up during the dirty thirties and never really lost, especially out west where I grew up. So you can imagine the bad press they got by standing by the provision that death in combat voids the provisions of the mortage insurance. Seems the vision of some dead hero's spouse being turned out into the snow was too harsh even for the banks! It didn't actually happen, but just in case, the question was raised in the House by a Winnipeg back bencher.
So, the good news is...all Canadian Banks have quietly waived the clause whereby a death in combat will void the mortgage insurance. Of course, standard everyday whole life, and normal civilian term life insurance is like, tough titty, but then, that is why we soldiers have always had SDB's, and military sponsored term insurance policies. (SDB...Supplentary Death Benefits)
Nice to see that not everything is a bad news story!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Thaipusam 2007

Thaipusam 2007
One advantage of living in a multi-cultural society is that we get to experience and participate in so many diverse events and festivals. Possibly one of the largest religious and cultural event in Malaysia is the annual Thaipusam Festival, celebrated by Hindus all around the world.
This year, Thaipusam fell on the 1st of February

As people go into trances, they are poked with skewers and fishooks. They don't bleed, and don't feel pain.
They pull heavy loads with harnesses like the one above. For more information, visit