A Post for The Drabble

“The Drabble” is a popular blog and many people take part in it. Recently, they liked one of my posts/stories as they have, before (“The Story of Mathias Wizandar”). The seemingly most important rule behind a Drabble is to write  a story in one hundred words or less. For us lovers of poetry and flash fiction, it is one of those exciting ways/places we can express ourselves efficiently as writers, and prove that it is not so difficult, after all, to write a story that meets literary qualifications in so few words.

I have never submitted a Drabble until now (send one here 🙂 ). I sent the last one-hundred word story I crafted to “Reader’s Digest”. It was not accepted for publication, yet I thought others might find it humorous. It was about a time when I accidentally felt the leg of a woman who I thought was my girlfriend; it was her sister. At any rate, here is a photo of a candle (please, pardon my amateur photography) and a kind of summary of “The Story of Mathias Wizandar” in the form of a semi-poetic Drabble.

To Light A Candle

As a Christian, Mathias endured thoughts of the use of magic for decades. Dedicated to his work, he stayed single yet happened upon a young woman in a bookstore while dreaming of fantastic, goldenly magical, shadowed forest glades. He read a spell book she sold to him and considered its prose, held his hands above a candle while speaking a spell to watch the heat of its light dissipate surrounding shadows.

The rhyming may have seemed cheesy, yet I think the summary was there, and it was fun to do something spur-of-the-whim. “Goldenly” was a quick neologism, I cannot imagine how many words may have been better, yet I sometimes dream of dark forests with trees that drip glowing gold from their leaves and attribute those ideas largely to H. P. Lovecraft, especially if there is a big tomb there with a man reading about fantastic worlds besides a casket.

I usually like to craft a good plot with an outline and re-think it to a more valuable idea, write out a draft and revise it, then polish it until I think an editor somewhere may want it. That all takes time, yet we, as writers, have our hopes and goals. Thank you for reading this post; I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

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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. 🙂

A Chess Photo

About twenty two years ago I read a not-so-lengthy book on playing chess written by Gary Kasparov. I lost the book years ago, yet I think it was titled, “Gambit”. In the book it showed a few opening strategies, one of which I enjoyed learning to use better over the last twenty years while playing chess from time to time. I am an average player, for the most part; I still have a great deal to learn.

I am currently a fan of Magnus Carleson, hope he wins in NY in November.

As I played better and better players online, I started losing more and grew tired of chess about six years ago. These last few weeks I decided to learn to play better and not to worry about winning or losing. I have enjoyed playing the app Chess with Friends,” which can be played on iPhones or Smartphones (and maybe online).

Here is an engine I have yet to win against: nc3bb4.

There are plenty of openings in chess. This one is my favorite for quick moves early in the game, especially for ‘rapid chess’ – if necessary, the center four pawns are sacrificed for position and sometimes an efficient, safe checkmate.

Here is a photo of the goal of my current favorite opening in chess. It is not always easy to accomplish, yet does have its advantages. The four leading pieces are a bishop, two knights, and the other bishop. The queen has yet to move and white has castled. Of course, to get the pieces into this position, plenty of the opposing pieces would not be arranged as seen, as it takes plenty of moves to get the pieces to where they are in the photo. If one manages to get them there, however, again, it can be beneficial for mid and end-game tactics.

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I love the game and cannot wait to get better with it. There are plenty of ways to play chess online, here is one (over 15 million players play there).

Thank you for reading and have a nice day. 🙂

A File Handle Project

Recently, I learned a few things with woodworking. One project I did was a handle for a file. Here are some photos and a few words describing the process I used for the final product, which you can see in the first photo.

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The small grip notches sawed into the corners are stained with ebony polyurethane. The rest is coated with clear coat poly. This next picture is of the file from Home Depot and the block of wood I used for the handle. You can see the guidelines I drew on the handle with a .7 mm gel pen. The file itself is a nice one and worked great for what I needed it for, even came with a lifetime warranty. I used the pen lines for sawing out the grooves with a hand saw and also used the saw to make some small grip marks.

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The photo below shows the file and the handle after I sawed the block of wood and before I sanded it.

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This next photo shows the handle after it was sanded with a course sand paper a few times and then a finer grit sand paper afterwards.

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This next photo shows the handle with ebony poly on the grooves.

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After I took the photo above, I put the handle in a jar full of polyurethane with it wired to a weight. I customized the lid of the jar to hook up a break bleeder to it which uses a pressure gauge. Every six hours or so, I increased the vacuum to 17 pounds, for a day or two. The air leaked, gradually, however it was an attempt to stabilize the wood with poly. I let the handle sit in the jar under the vacuum for five days, even though it was not really under much pressure due to a slightly leaking seal.

The wood soaked in the poly, nevertheless. I removed the handle from the poly and wiped it clean with a napkin. I then cleaned out the hole for the file. I baked it at 200° f for an hour, letting out the air every ten minutes or so. I let it cool and sanded it with a course grit paper to remove the heat bubbles. I could tell that not too much polyurethane soaked into the wood, which is the hole point of stabilizing it, so it will last longer. While under vacuum, I did see bubbles come out of the wood, which means it was at least partially stabilized.

After I sanded it well to remove the heat bubbles, I could see that the poly did not fully penetrate the wood. The harder a wood is the more difficult it can be to stabilize it; I do not yet have a vacuum pump which runs off an electric motor, which may have been able to produce a stronger vacuum. I do have a pump of such a nature on the way, however I think my efforts with the file handle have come to a satisfactory conclusion.

I sanded it once more with a finer grit sand paper to get it smooth and coated it with clear coat polyurethane one last time. It came out smooth and glossy and is nice enough for me. Here is a larger photo of the final product.

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Thank you for reading this post; I hope you enjoyed the photos. This was a fun project and I cannot wait to learn more with woodworking. There are plenty of different wood hardeners and stabilizers out there, as well as many kinds of wood, some of it soft enough for proper stabilization. If I ever make a small wooden car or Christmas ornament, I will be sure to post some photos of those projects here on jcm3blog. Thank you for reading; we always appreciate your feedback. 🙂

 

 

Shelves

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The above photo is a picture of some shelves that I have spent the last couple of weeks constructing. I have wanted to put together a nice set of shelves for months now and I finally have. I got the 1×12’s from Home Depot, as well as the polyurethane. The shelves are 5′ wide and 7′ tall -huge for me. I cut the grooves in the shelves with a jig saw. I sanded the shelves really well with a course sand paper, then I ‘poly’d’ them. I coated them one side at a time, letting them dry over night, so they did take some time to do. After I had the first coat done, I sanded them again with a more fine grit sand paper and coated them once more, the same way, one side at a time, so they could dry well with no drips.

I put them together carefully by drilling small holes and using 5/8″ wood screws. In all honesty, they are not as stable as they could be. I may eventually re-enforce them with additional hinges. The small ones seen in the picture were found on Amazon. I like the way they look, for now. What started out as a quick throw together project to have something to put the few books I have on ended up being an effort for a new piece of furniture. I liked the way they looked, so I decided to share the above photo. People I know ‘endured’ my talking about how they were coming along, so now I can happily share these photos with them.

Thank you for reading and viewing my efforts in regards to these shelves. Now I have something to put my books on. 🙂 Let me know what you think. Now that these are complete I plan to continue with my study of literature and writing the novel I am working on specifically designed for the enjoyment of readers of all ages. It is a fantasy tale that leaps from reality to a magical, tropical world and back to reality again. My goal is to have it complete by the end of the year.

Below are some more photos I took to better see the beauty of the shelves. The wood is a ‘soft’ wood, which I believe is white pine. I love the way it looks. I also like the way the curves in the shelves came out. Surely there are plenty of structures that far surpass my skill. For me, however, these were a lot of fun to put together and I am proud of them. They are complete, for now. Click on the diamond at the end of the post to check out the ‘Your Story’ competition held by Writer’s Digest – it is one of my favorite contests. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Purple Basil and Baby Pumpkin

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These two photos are very similar.  As I am not very good with photography, yet, I still wanted to share these two images.  When I began blogging, over a year ago, one of my most favorite blogs was Prairie Views, and still is.  I love to grow pumpkin flowers, as usually anything else I try to grow dies within an 8 week time frame.  I have never properly pollinated a pumpkin flower, however they are sure pretty when they grow to be large and yellow-orange.

The two plants with many leaves are Purple Basil plants, which have doubled in height in the past 9 weeks or so.  The little baby seedling in the bottom of the photo is a sturdy pumpkin sprout I germinated and planted around 10.28.15.  Its roots have already grown outside of its container, so I am sure the seedling will grow to be a tall, healthy vine with flowers.  Will it be pollinated?  I am not sure.  If it lives to make flowers, I may try to pollinate them, even though my past attempts with pollination were of no success. The flowers are nice once in full bloom.

As for the Purple Basil, I am not sure what I plan to do with it, as I did not think it would live this long.  If it lives two years, I will probably give it to a trusted gardener, upon finding one.  Thank you for visiting jcm3blog.com – a great place to discuss astounding short fiction.  Thank you, too, for your understanding in regards to the quality of these photos – I hope you enjoy them. 🙂

Corrosion of Elements

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The picture above depicts two heating elements.  They are from the inside of a water heater.  The one on the top is a new double-coil, and the one on the bottom shows what three years of corrosion can do to an element in a water-heater.  The corrosion was caused from calcium in tap water, though I thought it could have been caused by fluorine.  One way or the other, the lower element was why I had no hot water for a while, and the above element works nice when I have it on.  I posted the picture because I found it to be interesting.  From what I understand, about one in fifty hot water heaters endure a special phenomenon.  As they are all grounded, some can posses a magnetic charge that allows the elements to repel additives or contaminants contained in tap water.  Such a water heater can last for over 40 years.  Most will need their elements changed within five, however.  One way or the other, I am happy that the hot water heater works again. 🙂

Acoloftals

This is my beloved first book, “A Collection of Tales”.  It is available as an e-book or by mail as a matte-finish paperback.  This is the first edition, the second edition will be highly similar and is on the way.  Here is my author page on amazon where you can buy and review Acoloftals, which is what I like to call this first book of mine.  I am thankful to be able to present it to you…

“Acoloftals”

 Enjoy. 🙂

"A Collection of Tales" on the web...

This is a picture of the cover of the book I published with amazon.com.