Hobby Photos

I have four photos to share. One is of the chess board I made above. The sixty-four squares are made of poplar wood. The dark squares are dipped in a polyurethane coating I had yet to experiment with. It is not translucent in any way, which I was, in a way, hoping it would be, yet it will surely suffice for the dark squares of the board. The light squares are dipped in clear coat poly. The photo is not actually the final product, as I poured two more coats of clear poly on it. The squares were not totally perfect squares, causing the board to have small gaps. I wanted to fill the few gaps so the top surface would be smooth enough to dust with a microfiber cloth and not to be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner.

The base the squares are glued to is made of an inexpensive, thin plywood, yet the surface on the bottom of the board looks very nice, especially for its cost, and was obtained from Home Depot. If you notice the four holes in the corners of the board, they are there for functionality reasons. They look neat, yet I wanted to be able to get the board to a table from a wall and back again in a small amount of time if necessary. I thought the concave curves on the four edges added to the board’s aesthetic value, a sort of alien look, and am glad they came out without much flaw.

It is the first chess board I have made with wooden squares. Not too much of a hassle when compared to other project ideas I have in mind for chess boards. I am happy with the final result, so far. It should be dry within seven days or so, and will be totally dry within forty, in all considered probability.

Though I have a job and attempt to spend time off work reading (about writing and partially for pleasure) and writing and do, I also [at times] work some with wood projects/electronics. Below is an idea I had for someone for Christmas in 2016. Now far enough into 2017 for it to be nowhere near Christmas-time anyway, I still could not get the idea out of my mind, so I went ahead and processed the material. I hope the recipient of the box enjoys it, even if I ‘sort of’ made it to test the dye.The wood is stained with a water-based blue dye obtained from WoodCraft. The wood itself is an inexpensive hobby ‘white-wood’ plywood sold at Walmart for small picture frames and totally useful for most small box projects. In order to get the box looking at least as good as it does, despite the corners having no dove tails, I sanded it and re-coated it more than once. I made sure the corners were rounded, yet I left the lid mostly trapezoidal. The box has eight magnets for the lid to close/open, and I went with two steel wires instead of an actual hobby hinge for functionality reasons.

The lining is an inexpensive fabric I got from Walmart a few years ago for Christmas projects, ect. It is shiny on one side, so I was pleased with being able to use it for the project and think it came out nice enough. I sewed the corners and top of the fabric by hand into seams and used superglue to secure it within the box. I also used superglue for joining the planks of wood together. I have actual wood glue, yet I usually just use superglue. It will dry very quickly and still bonds wood corners with good strength. With wood glue, it is best to clamp pieces together and wait a day or two for the bond to dry. I’m not sure if I would do that, even if I was retired with nothing to do. At all.

The braided wire on the top of the box is a four-braid steel wire idea I chose over a knob, because the little knobs I got for making other boxes had a long screw I was unable to saw in half. I liked the idea and the final looks of the braid, so I was happy with the final result. On top of the dye is clear coat polyurethane to present a gloss finish. I was worried that the poly would turn the dye green, yet it did not, to my joyful surprise. Even if the box carries an amount of character, I was happy with the final result.

Here is a photo of a houseplant I got yesterday.

 

The last thing I needed was another plant to care for, yet this one caught the passionate side of my eye. After looking up “Celosia” on the web, I read that the leaves can be used for stew. I have four grapefruit trees I grew from seed that are over a year and a half old and are almost four inches tall, now, as I have cared for them, and my other house plants, daily. I also have a purple basil plant (in the old photo I still use for the header of jcm3blog), now about three years old. I am happy with it (the basil plant) and surprised I was able to keep it alive this long. The purple basil has one branch that is totally purple, so I think it is pretty impressive. For about four months, it was almost entirely green. I have a dark chili-pepper plant that makes little lavender flowers. It actually somehow was pollinated and I witnessed the development of small, spherical, red chili peppers that will probably fade to black upon their ripening.

Years ago I attempted to force pollination with pumpkin flowers and it did not work out (as I did not choose to use cubiculum, or bee feet), so I was surprised to see little chili peppers with no attempt in trying to pollinate the flowers. I think the process may have occurred from misting the plants.

This year, for Christmas 2016 visitors, I got an evergreen tree/bush. It is about three feet tall and is living, though I have yet to change its 35 some-odd pound soil mixture. Why would I even possibly need another house plant? Well, this about the best time of the year to get one -between now and about ten weeks from now, I think. This plant (the Celosia) caught my eye, as well as did another dozen, yet I chose it and plan to keep it healthy. It is an impressive plant, as its stem is lucid redish-pink in hue, and its flowers look like feathers. One way or another, I hope you like the photo of the Celosia.

Thank you for reading this post. On a personal note, I have been busy reading yet recently did write a sci-fi story after reading Ben Bova’s book on how to and plan to edit it soon enough. I am still working on my fantasy novel and plan to write some other stories and a sci-fi novelette or two as well, soon enough. Click the diamond below to check out one of the world’s best publications of sci-fi and fantasy. Have a nice day. 🙂

Secret Garden

“I happen to have a solution for you and Hannah,” said Dr. Voist, “I want to mention a few things before you consider the notion, however. As a neurosurgeon, I look at peoples’ brains all the time. Hannah has a very rare chemical imbalance. It is similar to many imbalances which are easily cured completely with non-addictive medications which usually have minimal to no side effects. These medications, be them hundreds in their number, are not what will help Hannah’s imbalance. There exists only one medication which will, and it still has a 5% chance of not working. I think it will. Our only drawback is that the medication is a new experimental one. It has only been prescribed in the US a few times this last year and is manufactured in Mexico. It will be legal here in the States for a six month time frame and will either be manufactured here or will be unavailable in this country. I think it will work for her, yet it is a tentative solution at best. If you want to try this option, I have a dosage recommendation, one pill a day with breakfast. I would like to see Hannah in seven days, and if everything is okay, within twenty, and then we will consider our options.”

“What are the chances of addiction or side effects?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “I do not think there will be any side effects, and the medicine is a non-addictive chemical which acts very minimally on the balance of brain chemicals -just enough to make things right. Hannah will not notice if she has taken anything, and the twitch in her left eye should no longer occur.” Mr. Goldbeck looked over to Hannah who was listening to every word. “The medicine is experimental?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “It is a new medicine, however I am surprised it has not been manufactured, before. It is a very simple extraction from an herb a doctor in South America isolated. Once it solves the problems it can and will in a healthy way here in the US, which I think and hope it will, pharmaceutical companies will make it here. It may cost a little more then, however it will no longer be experimental.”

“Will her imbalance change over time?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “I am sorry, sir. No. The medication should make her okay, perfectly normal even in adulthood, but she will, in all likelihood, need to take it indefinitely.” “Is the medication expensive?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “No,” said Dr. Voist, “I can get enough free samples of it to last six months. I can even report the success of our story in order to help get the medicine made here in America, so long as it works properly.” “And the new medicine is safe?” asked Hannah. “Safer than Aspirin” said Dr. Voist.

Mr. Goldbeck and Hannah agreed to try out the medicine. Since her birth, she had a twitch in her left eye. Being eleven, she was having trouble reading in school and her fellow classmates were tempted to make fun of her eye. An intelligent, beautiful, and honest girl, the new medication, Zyphan, would hopefully work safely.

The next day Hannah took her medicine and ate an over-easy egg with a piece of toast with jam and a large glass of milk. Her normal eye twitch was still there all day. You get what you pay for, thought Mr. Goldbeck. The next day she took the medicine again, as prescribed, and ate another decent breakfast. Her twitch was still there, yet she could not tell if it had gotten better. At least it did not worsen. The next few days she stayed true to her practices and the twitch bothered her much less. It was if she never had one.

The week flew by and Mr. Goldbeck and his daughter, Hannah, went to see Dr. Voist. The doctor checked her out and asked her a few questions. She said the twitch went away gradually. The doctor kept a close eye on Hannah for about twenty minutes while having a conversation with Mr. Goldbeck. During their previous visit, Hannah’s eye would have twitched at least one time during ten minutes. The doctor was sure the medication worked.

“Have you experienced any health issues such as having to go potty too often or rashes?” asked the doctor. “Not that I know of,” said Hannah, remaining as honest as possible. Mr. Goldbeck had is concerns, yet he thanked the doctor. “I think you will be fine,” said Dr. Voist. “Be sure not to miss our next appointment. It is important to make sure that their exist no side effects and that the medication is still performing properly.” Mr. Goldbeck and Hannah thanked the doctor once more and promised to return as requested.

The twenty days flew by. Hannah did better in school with her reading and her twitch was a thing of the past, did not even occur. She went with her father to the doctor who said he planned to write a good report to help facilitate the new medication’s manufacture in the United States.

During the next five months Dr. Voist did what he could to send information to the right people and entities. The medication did not work for other children and adults throughout the country. Whether it was because people did not take the medicine properly or practiced improper dieting was unknown to him. To his and Mr. Goldbeck’s disdain, the medicine was not able to be made in the United States. The medicine was also unable to be obtained in the US, and Dr. Voist spoke with Mr. Goldbeck about possibilities.

“The twitch in Hannah’s eye is minimal,” said Dr. Voist, “However I understand your dilemma. She does better in school and the children don’t make fun of her eye anymore. From my perspective, I wanted the medicine available to keep her brain chemicals in balance in a healthy way. The imbalance does cause her eye to twitch, however it can also effect both cognitive development and overall thought process. I do not have an alternative medication. If you do not want Hannah’s imbalance to return, you are going to have to go to Mexico for the medicine. I have an address of a pharmacy down there. It is cheap in comparison to other medicine. Your only problem is having to leave and come back with it. It won’t be illegal to bring it back, as you will have a prescription. One trip and you should have enough to last her for three years. The medicine won’t stay ‘viable’ after that, however by then there is the chance Zyphan can be manufactured here. It’s our only hope, for now.”

This news was no problem for Mr. Goldbeck. He was happy he was going to be able to get the medicine, after all. A trip to Mexico would not be too hard, he had vacation time stacked up from his corporate job from three years back. Hannah would be okay, and within three years the medicine was sure to be available in the US.

Mr. Goldbeck spoke with those whom he worked with and planned to take a trip down to Mexico. What fun. All went well. His boss did not mind and things were sure to be okay at work. His SUV was less than two years old and running well, as he always kept it maintained properly. He even had a spare gas tank installed up in the back of the vehicle from when he went to Canada the year before hunting elk with some of his co-employees. The trip was sure to be a success.

The first day of Mr. Goldbeck’s vacation came and he kissed his daughter on the forehead, as well as his wife, as he had his SUV packed and ready to go before daylight, thanks to a double java mocha he drank at 5AM. He gave Hannah’s younger brother, Willy, a mild noogie, and departed.

The open road was great, as was Mr. Goldbeck’s GPS navigation system and cruise control. Whoever said the interstate highway system showed no signs of beautiful country? Mr. Goldbeck begged to differ, as the scenery was far more impressive than the routine life he had been living.

Mr. Goldbeck crossed the border with no problem and made his way south. The GPS worked perfectly. Nine hours into Mexico, he found the Dr.’s office on the map Dr. Voist gave him and went inside.

Mr. Goldbeck knew at least sixty words in Spanish, yet was still happy to find that the doctor he was speaking with was fluent in many languages. Having a long conversation, the Mexican doctor explained how simple the medication was and why it was rare. The plant, common even further south of them, contained a rare chemical which acts very minimally on humans’ brains with a very specific chemical imbalance. Mr. Goldbeck, the curious and intelligent man he was, asked the doctor how difficult it would be to extract the chemical from the plant by hand. “Totally easy,” said the doctor, and drew a diagram on paper showing how to do such a thing with water and a few simple forms of glass ‘apparati.’

“Would it be hard for me to find a plant of this nature?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “No,” said the doctor, and he drew Mr. Goldbeck a map to a small city further south. Mr. Goldbeck thanked the doctor and departed with 1,000 pills of Zyphran. Mr. Goldbeck decided to travel south, surely it would be no problem to find this plant. After all, it was common.

Mr. Goldbeck, who often went by Ron, drove for a while in the night down a dirt road. He pulled over tired and slept ’till sun up and continued to drive. He drove and drove and drove, only occasionally seeing an old sign on the dirt road indicating he was on the right path to the village he was headed to.

Ron found the village. He spoke with people and found a medicine woman, who said she would happily give him his choice of five of one the plants for some dinero. Ron handed her a hundred and said the plant was important. The medicine woman nearly fainted and brought him to her small backyard. She had all kinds of small plants and fruit bushes growing in pots and flower beds on top of old malnourished and dry soil. “I would give you all five of them,” she said, “But I need to keep four to save seeds.” Mr. Goldbeck nodded as he understood. “I keep them here even though they grow wild and are not too hard to find,” she explained, “I keep them to keep the seeds.” She brought him back inside and showed him a large preservative jar half full of seeds of the rare plant. “Though I cannot give you but one plant, I can give you a sack of seeds,” she said. Mr. Goldbeck thanked her happily and gladly accepted a sack of seeds and the mid-sized plant of the five he saw. She thanked him, too, and he headed north.

Crossing the border with a plant and a sack of seeds was all Mr. Goldbeck had ever dreamt of, not to mention the pills with a prescription which looked like he could have written it himself, short a little blue stamp on the left side of the document. I might as well be smuggling contraband. Again, Mr. Goldbeck was no fool. He knew the customs at the border would at least inquire of his reason for travel. His medication would be on the front seat with the prescription.

The rear seat of his SUV contained an under-seat compartment with a key-hole lock for storing hunting rifles. Only a few hours from the border, Mr. Goldbeck slowed to a stop beside the road and carefully locked up the plant and the seeds under the back seat. It should be fine for three hours. He drove to the customs and they asked him to step out of his SUV. Ron did so and noticed some mud on the bottom of his vehicle, it was not much, however it was there. The officers brought a drug dog who scoped out the vehicle and did not find anything, and the officers inquired of the pills on the front seat. “Asthma medicine for my daughter,” said Mr. Goldbeck. Two officers looked at the prescription and let Mr. Goldbeck depart.

Ron drove his SUV up the interstate, relieved. He did not forget about the plant under the back seat and pulled over after driving for half an hour or so.  He pulled the plant and the seeds out. He put the seeds and the pills and the prescription in the center console, and secured the plant in a middle seat with a seat built. The A/C was fine, so he left the windows up. Ron drove all the way home, safely, only stopping once for gasoline.

Ron’s wife was happy he made it back and he still had five days left before returning to his job he loved and endured. His wife thought the plant was illegal and he assured her that it was not. Hannah was happy that she would not have a twitching eye for the next three years, at least, and they all went to sleep.

The next day was Saturday morning and Ron’s wife, Spring, woke up early to analyze the medicine plant. “Do you think it makes flowers?” asked Spring. “It has to,” said Ron, “Because it makes seeds. It is probably an annual.” She was amazed with these notions. “We have to hide it,” said Spring, “It’s pretty but we cannot risk it being taken. It’s not against the law if they don’t know.” “Honey, it is not illegal; no one will know we have it.” “Our friends and neighbors come here, will they not see it? We have to keep it secret; I am telling you.” “What do you suggest we do spring? Put it in a cabinet with a fan and a light?” Spring went deep into thought. Ron watched as she continued to process ideas.

“The bookshelf,” said Spring. “What?” said Ron. “Our bookshelf in front of Auntie’s room.” Auntie was Spring’s sister who stayed with them a while when sick and moved to work in another city once well. “The bookshelf is in front of one of two large walk-ins of the room. Let’s knock off a door knob, paint a hole, and install a weight-pulley.” “A what?” asked Ron. “It will be like in the movies,” said Spring, “You pull a specific book from the shelf and it opens to reveal the space behind it. You can grow the seeds and keep the plant alive in there. I am sure you can ventilate it somehow.” “We have a windowsill,” said Ron. Spring looked into his eyes with a pleading puppy-dog expression. “It’s for Hannah,” said Spring, and Ron decided construction was fun.

Spring and Ron analyzed the bookshelf and the closet and took measurements and went to the hardware store. They came back with all the supplies they found deals on and a two foot-long receipt. They worked together over the weekend and turned the bookshelf into a revolving door, the kind like in the movies, complete with a weight pulley. They re-painted the entire wall on the other side with matched paint, and it was perfect. The completed project included a vented flush closet and an ambient light system, controlled with a timer and misting mechanism. The plant from Mexico was sure to flourish, and the few seeds Ron and Spring planted would surely grow fine. Already able to grow well, they were confident the plants would sprout and survive, and they did.

Throughout the next year Hannah took her medicine and ate breakfast every morning. Dr. Voist was always happy to see her and happy that her eye was fine. He promised he would continue his efforts in getting Zyphran manufactured in the US. Zyphran was never made in the US, yet Ron and Spring kept their secret garden healthy for years and years, learning to pollinate the plants with a live bee once a year and also how to make the medicine to the proper dosage for Hannah.

Hannah went to college to become a professor and did so. She stayed on her medication and married a colleague she fell in love with, and they all lived happily ever after.

New Peppers

Recently, I added a few house plants to my home gardening effort. My basil plants are fine and I just re-potted them. My grapefruit trees are still alive, about 3″ tall, and totally healthy. Here are two photos of the new pepper plants I welcomed home a couple of days ago.

black-pearl-pepper

The plant above is beautiful, as it has dark purple leaves. Its small sphere-like fruits are black pearl peppers. They turn burgundy and then red when they are ripe. I am not sure how hot the are, yet I am sure I will put a few of them with a dish once they ripen fully. I plan to keep the plants healthy and watch them grow day by day, as a hobby.

chilli-pepper

The above photo is of chili peppers. While no huge amazing site for many, to me, they are amazing. Mostly because I am happy to have them and cannot wait to maintain their health. The plant is about eight inches tall, currently. Though the peppers look ready to eat, they turn orange and then red before they are fully ripe, from what little I read about them.

For a long time, I was not very good with house plants, as they usually died within ten weeks or so. Now, I keep my gardening simple and feel like some form of a master botanist. 🙂 My secret? I use Miracle Grow. I also change out the soil every eight weeks or so and keep gardening notes on a calendar. I water the plants once or twice a day and make sure the water can easily drain from the bottom of their containers.

When re-potting the plants, I submerge them in water to loosen most of the soil from the roots. It sounds so easy and even seems so, however it has taken some practice to get better with gardening. Some plants are easier to keep alive than others. If you are new to gardening and want to grow something from seed, I suggest pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin flowers are large yellow-orange flowers and pretty amazing. Their small curly vines are fun and like to wrap around whatever is near them, such as long growing sticks or thin rods.

Let me know if you have any gardening photos to share – the more the merrier. Have a nice day and thank you for visiting jcm3blog.

Happy Birthday Baby Grapefruit

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Around 1.1.16, I put some seeds from a super-huge grapefruit in the window seal. The grapefruit was about 1/2 a gallon in size. They took about seven weeks to germinate. The photo shows two seeds, each with two sprouts and two roots. I think they are twins.  The last time I tried to grow some grapefruit trees they only lived about six weeks, however I think these have the chance of living longer. For now, they are babies. We’ll consider their birthday to be 1.1.16, and we’ll see if they are over ten inches tall by 1.1.17.

Happy blogging. 🙂

Flowering Purple Basil

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About a year ago, I got a two Purple Basil plants. I am no master gardener, so I have tried to do well with keeping them healthy. I changed the soil out (Miracle Grow) once ever ten weeks or so and keep low-wattage bulbs on them with a timer. I water them only once or twice a day and ‘mist’ them gently with a spray bottle of water. I also give them those little plant food sticks once every two weeks or so.

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As happy as I have been that the plants even stayed living, I was even happier to see them flower. I did not know they could flower and was pretty amazed. So, I took some amateur photos of them to share. I think they are pretty awesome and cannot wait to see if the flowers make seeds. I am pretty sure they will need to be pollinated – we’ll see whether such a notion is even possible.

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Thank you for viewing this post. I was happy to share these photos with you.