Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boy scouts in UK are being robbed of good values...

Wow it's been a long time since I blogged!

And I am sorry I have not blogged more recently but things are very busy in the way of crafting new things! So thank you to all my patrons for asking me to do those wonderful projects!

Now on to the real reason I decided to blog tonight: Something awfully wrong happened in the UK: They lost some of their common sense!

The boy scouts over the pond are now being told: Stop carrying your trusted boy scout knife!

Now I admit freely I was never a boy scout. But... I learned to hunt, fish, trap, hike, canoe, etc... And one golden rule I was taught was this: Carry a knife in case you might need it. Keep it sharp, keep it clean and keep it accessible in your pack or belt case.

In all my years when I went alone in the outdoors, I used a knife for my own needs quite a few times. Now I can say with absolute truth that I used whatever knife I had on me at the time for others more then for myself. A tough cord need cut. A screw needed tightening. A stake needed sharpening to plant it in the ground. A fish needed cleaning. Name it, I most likely done it with one of my knives.

Now I'm thinking that instead of instilling the usefulness of such a tool, that decision they made about scout knives will make things worse. Yes they have knives aplenty in that country. I must admit I have seen any abuse from them,but yes I can see them used to mean ends. I'm thinking it is a certain lack of teaching the value of a knife instead of making it more and more taboo. While I lived in UK, I heard stories of people being asked to put out of sight their knives whilst hiking or teaching bushcraft. How daft is that I ask you?

I always carry a knife on my person, be it a multi-tool or a regular pocket knife. My knife allowed me to help someone fix their bike a little while back. The person was impressed a bit by what my knife could do for them so they started to ask me where I got mine and what kind would be suitable to carry around. This is the one I carry around more often then not. Small, compact and useful, exactly what a knife should be.

I really irritates me to see this reaction about scout knives. Extremely so. All those boy scouts will now be shown and given a knife as a mark of their advancement but will never "be ready" to face any possible situation. As the article writer mentions, those boys are now being put in a bubble and over protected... Not good for any society I say...

I leave you to think on this and wish you a good life with a sharp knife in your pocket, ready for anything...


Friday, July 3, 2009

A passion I would like to share with all... Mushrooms!

Good Evening all.

Here I was, not wanting to craft or watch tv, listening to the rain falling in a long monotone sound when out of the blue I think the following random thought:

"Mushrooms are gonna grow aplenty after that rain..."

Ok, yes, I know I have random moments sometimes (often times?) but when I'm on the prowl for wild mushrooms, I wait eagerly for the next rainfall. And it had been a while since I blogged (shame on me, I know *slaps own wrist, not too hard*) I felt my Muse kick me up in the behind and get me to talk to you about wild mushrooms. In fact, I think I'm gonna write a blog here and there about them to share my love of the tasty fungi that can be found around the world.

My first blog on wild mushrooms will be more of an introduction really, just to talk common sense and possibly intrigue you enough to come back for some more information.

Now the first reason that I go a-hunting the little buggers (sometimes, NOT so little!) is that there is a large variety of different flavored mushrooms. The second one, it's free food! Thirdly, it's FREE food! Fourthly, It's a fun hobby: you get to go play outside, it can be done alone or with a group of people!

There are groups of people, sometimes amateurs, sometimes veterans, within almost every city that you will see gather together before going for a walk in the woods. Ever wonder why? They are treasure hunting of course...

Now the strip above may contain some funny element in it, but I keep it as a reminder: It is a good thing for people to be wary of mushrooms you see in the wilds as too many people thought this or that mushroom looked just like the ones they bought at the shop... Only to suffer from either severe cramps, skin changing color, or worse, painful death...

Now I want all to understand this: I am no expert. But I can help and provide provide basic information on various Fungi available out there. I will always try to identify a species from multiple sources just to be on the safe side..

** There is one golden rule to follow: If in doubt, don't touch it!

Collecting mushrooms and eating them is an extremely serious endeavour. The first step I will recommend is to get yourself a good book on the mushrooms that can be found in your country. After that, read all of it, no exception, no skipping, no thinking you seen it before. Then, read it again! The more you read it, the more the various types of mushrooms and information about them will stick in your mind.

After that, once you feel ready to go out there to look for mushroom to supplement your larder, take picture of or simply discover while walking in the woods, you'll need some basic tools:

1- Your book! (preferably wrapped in airtight bag, in case it's rainy).
2- A small pocket knife/multi-tool to help you collect the mushrooms
3- A small ruler/measuring tape to help measure your findings
4- Loads of airtight bags to keep each species separate!
5- A small basket or backpack, big enough to carry your mushrooms without crushing them. I favor the basket method if I don't go in an area that is too dense with trees.
6- Most important of all: your common sense!

Equipped with all that, and with multiple excursions, you should be able to find and safely eat wonderful wild mushrooms!

As the picture above shows, no one is too old (or young, with parental supervision, of course) to go and collect mushrooms. If you have a digital camera, and you find a mushroom worthy of taking a pic of, do so! Create for yourself a small archive of where and when you found it: chances are next year there will be some more there!

As can be seen by the picture above (No, it's not a Photoshop Job, I verified for that), mushrooms can grow to a gigantous (Ok, maybe not a real word, but sounds cool) size. Sometimes, it can be quite the opposite. You just never know what treasure you will find.

Here are some guidelines that are very good to follow when you think about mushrooms collecting and eating. I would recommend you save them and print them to keep around if you want to start eating wild mushrooms:

1. Unfamiliar Species:

Check and re-check your identification, especially looking out for a similar poisonous species. If still in doubt, ask an expert or throw it away.

Herne's Tip #1: I like to go with a small camera and a small 6 inch steel ruler, just so I can take pictures and study them later, as mushrooms don't last forever...

2. Examine each specimen:
Always check each specimen in case a different species has got in amongst your collection of edible ones. I have seen it happen more then once.

3. Keep your collections separate:
Do not mix edible and non-edible species in a collecting tray if you are collecting for the pot. It is a good idea if collecting for the pot to only collect edible species and not other species for identification purposes.

Herne's Tip #2: I usually bring multiple plastic bags, sealable ones preferably, when I foray just so I can keep all varieties separate. No chance of contamination then!

4. Check the spore print:
A simple operation, leaving a cap on some white paper for darker mushrooms (brown or paper bag for light colored mushrooms) and covering them for an hour or so. This will help check your identification as many types of mushrooms have a specific type of spores to them.

5. Do not eat raw wild fungi:
Some wild fungi are poisonous if eaten raw, e.g. Wood Blewit, Lepista nuda, the Blusher, Amanita rubescens or species of Helvella. Always cook your collections before eating them. Common sense really...

6. Retain an uncooked specimen:
This is a very sensible idea. Keep one example of what you have eaten in the fridge. In case, you do poison yourself, this will help others identify what you have eaten and therefore know how to treat you. Different species contain different toxins, therefore treatments will vary.

7. Only eat good specimens:
Many poisoning cases occur when edible species are eaten in poor condition. Only eat good specimens!

Herne's Tip #3: As soon as I see any trace of discoloration on a mushroom I picked, I throw it out. Thus far this as prevented me getting ill, unlike some other people I once knew and collected the same mushrooms I had that day...

8. Keep your collections in the fridge:
This keeps your specimens in good condition and fresh for longer.

Herne's Tip #4: I will also place them in separate open plastic containers if I have multiple variety of wild mushrooms. This will insure good food etiquette in your fridge and prevent contamination of the other food in there. Common sense again really...

9. Experimenting:
If experimenting and eating a new type for the first time, only eat a small amount. Different people react to fungi in different ways and it is safer to test your own body out gently!

Herne's tip #5: I have a friend with whom I shared a slice of Giant Puffball with who got really ill after ingesting it. She knew she had some mushroom intolerance from time to time but neglected to mention it... Always ask your guest if they have any reaction to any mushrooms first before serving them, even if you have had no reactions.

10. Alcohol:
Avoid drinking alcohol with species you haven't eaten before and with certain species, e.g. the Common Ink Cap, Coprinus atramentarius.

Herne's experience #6: There are a few species that can easily send you to the hospital in a hurry if ingested with alcohol, read about those as much as you can.

11. Fear:
Do not feed wild mushrooms to people who don't want to eat them. Fear can make people sick.

Herne's Tip #7: I would never let anyone force me to try a mushroom I did not want to try. But do inquire as to how they prepare them and compare with what information you can find. This has proven a very good practice to me: A few friends of mine were cooking wild mushrooms they picked that same day but while discussing where and what they picked, they let slip they used a single basket to collect them (both edible and poisonous kind).

I kindly informed them that I would not eat any of those mushrooms for fear of poisoning. Turned out I was right that time: They went to the hospital that very night, with severe cramps and heavy sweating while their system slowly digested said mushrooms... Not my idea of a relaxing evening .

12. Susceptible people:
Do not serve wild fungi to young children, old or sick people. Their resistance may be lower and cause them some serious issues.

13. Greed:
Do not eat large quantities of wild mushrooms in one sitting. This alone can make you sick.

Herne's Tip #8: Very Mea Culpa on this one. No major effect except for me visiting the "Aulde Worshipping Altar" (toilet in plain speak) all night through... Not pleasant, but definitively my own fault as the mushrooms in question were soooo tasty... Live and learn and grow wiser from it.

So as you can read from above, eating food from the wild can be dangerous to oneself. But with a little bit of proper research, common sense and your trusty book on mushrooms handy, you will discover extremely interesting and tasty mushrooms!

Until next,


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why I love Wednesdays...

Hello again!


Ok, some folks who know me will go "What in Hel?" and wonder if I lost my sanity...don't worry folks... I lost it many eons ago!

I love Wednesday for quite a few reasons actually. One main one is because I know I have done half the week at work. I know, I know... Hump day is like a boost of energy when I hit lunch at work. But the main reason is it is Comic day for me. Anyone in America who collected comics will get the reference. Except that instead of buying comics, I read them online!

The main one I focus on is titled Girl Genius, by Studio Foglio. I met Kaja and Phil Foglio a long time ago when I was still playing Magic the Gathering trading card game. I was in the USA for a convention and learned they were signing cards for one day. I had a nice chat with the pair of them and followed their work over the years until I stumbled on Girl Genius. It is a story that is in the Steampunk style, similar I find to a cross between Jules Verne and many a sci-fi movie. It's got it all; action, romance, weird concepts... Go read it!

Another one I like reading is Sinfest, created by Tatsuya Ishida. Just to give you an idea of what the cast is like; God, the Devil, a pig, an angel worshiping God, a devil worshiper, and a self centered (little) man and a girl who thinks very highly of herself. There are a few other characters that pop in from time to time, Buddha included! It makes me giggle a lot...

Another one I read is called Sorcery 101. It is not as flashy but it keeps me coming back. Vampires, werewolves, magic... Need I say more? The plot is good and took a few turns I was not expecting... So reading it, I keep doing!

The next one in line is PVPOnline. Picture a group of gamers working for a gaming review magazine... Oh and add wacky personalities in the mix and you have a winner! Scott Kurtz has a way to keep surprising me in a comic. A really good one for gamers this one!

Yet another one I follow is called Brat-Halla... Yes I have the title right! Inspired from the Norse pantheon, picture the gods as...Kids! This one makes me go through a whole range of feelings, from laughter to extreme sadness. Some chapters are really funny!

Being a gamer at heart, I could not pass Goblins up. For all players of D&D out there, picture goblins but... Gaining levels! The characters have depth and are well constructed and the story is great.

These are the one I read regularly, there are a few more I read on a monthly basis when I don't feel like doing anything constructive in wood or antler.

I hope I get you addicted to at least one of the above comics and enjoy your day!


Friday, May 29, 2009

Kubb! A new hobby for me...

Guess what I did last weekend....What, no clue? I'll tell ya... I went Kubbing! (pronounced Koobing) And no I'm not trying to say Clubbing! =)

Kubb is a Swedish game that is now reaching international status. The game didn't catch as much in Canada but it is slowly growing again and hopefully we will see more people playing it in the future. There are a few variants that can be found online.
Above: all the parts needed to play Kubb

A little while back I was looking for more games to make and I found one, completely by accident mind you, that is mostly played outdoors but can be played indoors as well. I was looking more for a board game but my curiosity got piqued. I saw pictures of it being played on grass, sand and even parking lots! From the youngest to the oldest can play it and it can last from 5 minutes (like I found last time I played!) to at least an hour, if not more.

The picture above shows the set up of the game.

To figure out who starts, you can use the traditional flip of a coin or any such method. The object is simple yet can be hard to achieve; you need to knock your opponents Kubb (the 5 pieces standing at each end of the field, see picture above) with one of the 6 Sticks provided for that purpose (bottom right, again, see above picture).

Above: fully decorated set of Kubb

You must bring down all your opponent's Kubbs before you can go for the King. Once the King (biggest playing piece, the one in the very centre) is down, the game is over. Just keep in mind that if you make the King fall before you're supposed to, you lose!

Above: Proof that Kubb can be played anywhere!

Now what got me exited about the game is this one rule; after you knock down one of your opponent's Kubb, they must throw it on your side of the field, where you raise them up and then they try to knock it down themselves. That means if they miss, you get to throw your Stick from the closest Kubb to the King they failed to bring down!

Above: People playing Kubb in winter! Notice the young woman is
throwing the Stick from a Kubb the opponents did not knock down.

One good tip; Try to place your opponent's Kubb close to the King to make it difficult for them to hit it. The closer to the King the better I found.

Above: Swedish students playing Kubb with...Logs!

I strongly encourage you to look into this game. It is not expensive, can have up to 12 players, from a low age to an high age. What could be more fun on a nice day with friends and family then to have a good time?


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why do I make board games...

...was a question that was asked of me today at my super-secret daytime working place. Ok, maybe not so secret. I just don't want to tell. *grin*

So this co-worker of mine turns to me and asks me that question. He knows I'm pagan, more specifically a follower of Norse traditions, but he didn't get why I enjoy making wooden board games, thinking that I was mostly about worshiping and such... Well I just explained to him quickly the reason behind it; it's fun to make them play them and share them!

My first commission for a board game, a Tafl Board!

Yes, worship is important to me, but there is more in life then that. I value traditions, especially older ones, that can bring people together for good reasons. One of these is playing games. My father started me early playing Chess before I actually learned to play Draught. Then it was Backgammon. In school and college, I advanced, so to speak, to other types of games like Reversi, Go, Stratego, Risk, Axis and Allies, and many more from there.

Now I find that a lot of people around me have forgotten to slow down and relax and just be with people without watching television/movies or playing World of Warcraft and the like on their computers. From time to time, me and my wife get a game of backgammon going, with the lights turned down a bit and a glass of red in our hand. Granted I'm told I'm very lucky on my doubles but hey, fair's fair, right?

When I can convince her to play it with me, we play Tafl, a viking board game for 2 players, where one player attacks and the other defends. The rules are simple but the strategy is fiendish; The attacker has twice the amount of tokens then the defender. All the pieces move like a rook in chess. Sounds simple, right? Well it's not! LOL My wife, I'm pleased to say, can beat me fairly regularly at that game! And I'm considered an intermediate by most folks I play the game with. Why I like to make this one is because vikings would play it often in the long winters and the bigger boards (18x18 squares, also known as Alea Evangelii) could take a few days to play!

A portable Nine Men Morris Board I made,
with runes in the playing spaces.

Another game I like to play (and teach to others when I vend at fest, I'm always up for a game!) is Nine Men Morris. There are many version of this game, but my favorite is the Nine Men one. I do make smaller the versions for kids (3 men Morris, Trip-Trap-Troll, Tabla Lusoria, pictures to come in a future blog, I promise!) so they can learn to play the game, sometimes with the help of their parent. It uses simple rules and can be played anywhere and even young ones can get quite proficient at it. One of the variants a friend introduced me to is using Runic dice, which are sometimes used by some people to practice divination. It throws a nice twist in the game, to say the least.

Details of a recently comissioned Tafl Board

In the near future, I'll be making a bigger variety of board games. I especially want to start making them with more then just pyrography (woodburning), I want to use inlay, staining and other means to get different looks. This will also allow me to customize a lot more then what I did in the past.

Well that's it for now... Just be patient and keep looking, you'll see more coming and not just on what I make! I'll try to make an effort to talk about other things as well!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What have I been up to lately

I know I am not posting very often but I am looking into that slowly so bear with me please gentle readers of lovers of crafts…

This time I’d like to show you something I should have started to make a long time ago; smaller sized boxes that are easy to store. How many times have you looked for a small container to store paper clips, tacks, loose incense or even your favorite jewelry? These smaller boxes fit the need perfectly!

With enough surface area on the lid to put almost any picture and a band thick enough on the side to put a Personal name or ingredient name, they are very easy to customize. The realization came when I was looking for a practical container to store the tips for my wood burning machine; they are many, very small and very sharp. The original container was a small see through plastic thing that I kept losing even though it was right in front of my eyes all the time.

Before I lost my sanity every time I wanted to change a tip, I bought a few of these boxes and tried to keep various parts in them to see how it would go for me… And lo and be hold! I can now locate all the parts I have put in those boxes without having to second guess or use my non-existant x-ray vision. *smile*

I am planning to get a few more to store my loose spices (salt, ground pepper, mixed herbs, etc…) in for when we go camping this summer. I will have another one or two at my day job to keep my tacks in and rubber bands. I have a few more ideas I will try out (once I have the time to do so!) and will post the results of those experiments once they are completed...

Until next I post!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Why I have not posted in a long time...

By golly!

Between my daytime work, my crafting and a myriad of small other things getting in the way of other things, only NOW can I find some time to write a new blog! Since I have started to work some extra time at my day job, I could use a 36 hour day to do all I want in a day... But the money is good and money is still a part of our life to get food on the table. Thankfully I love my job so that helps tremendously.

I have a multitude of projects I want to work on, but quite sadly I have to start making priorities if I want to keep up with things!

I will be working on, once I am done my super-duper-uber-mug of coffee, the following this weekend:

Add final touches on a Tafl / 9 Men Morris board game.
Make a small customized pentacle plate.
Make game pieces for board games.
Make a Senet game for a very lucky young lady, including the game pieces for it.
Do website updates.
Redo stock inventory list.
Take pictures of my latest creations.
Upload pictures to Facebook.
Upload pictures on website.
Work on a jewelry box design.
Work on a plaque design for a hunter.
Work on new plate designs, like the one below:

If I can do two thirds of all that, I'll be well ahead of the game!

So off I go, to play with wood once more and to listen to music like Tyr, Dead Can Dance, Tragically Hip, Mediaeval Baebes and the like as I plough on...

Until next I write, much sooner this time!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My new Rune Set...

I have finally done it... after waiting for so long... I got wood, cut it, shaped it, burned it... and my first, yes as in not had one to call my own before, Rune Set!

I decided that as an Asatru, I needed to learn more about the runes, this for many reasons. The main reason is that I use the runes quite a lot in my crafting so knowing about them is a plus, especially when you make personal bindrunes for people.

Another good reason is that I have been asked a few times at festivals I vend at to do a reading with runes; I will admit I am not confident enough to do so, even if I can name all the runes and their main meanings.

Above is what my new set looks like. I made it out of Red Oak because of the coloring and the grain of the wood, which I find very pleasing to the eye. You can obtain a very fine mirror finish on this wood with a little bit of patience, using very fine sandpaper. I used a 60 grit sandpaper to start with then I used a 400 grit to do refine the edges as I have reached that stage and the picture above shows them slightly unfinished. The great thing is the more I use them, the better looking they will become!

To make sure I use them and practice my reading of them, I draw what some people call an "Odin" rune; a single rune reading for the day. As I progress, I will proceed to do full readings, meaning I will be using all the runes, in a cast method. This method allows to read runes within runes; once cast, I will be able to see runes made from the stick crossing or overlapping each other.

Until next I post,


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Time to start this blog properly!

I'm going to start this with the kind of craft work I like doing. I love to work with my hands mostly, even though I work in an office at the present. Give me a piece of wood to play with and a very,very long time can pass before I lift my head from it!

I do mostly pyrography work, but I do delve from time to time in carvings, as can be seen on my website: I also work in antler and bone, preferably pieces that have been shed naturally or found outdoor.

I'm not sure I can truly explain it, but it feels like I am in another world once I focus on a project I work on... Nothing else seems important...ok I'm lying... food is necessary and so is drinking fluids. And the effect is enhanced when I listen to some music while working.

Right now I am working on a box with a beautiful design I will post here once I have completed it. The project has so many different shades in it I have to keep changing the area I work on so I don't do too much of one color/shade at once! It is a very nice challenge, one I love taking with more ambitious projects all the time. Perfection comes with practice, right? *big grin*

An extremely good friend of mine lent me his pyrography machine so I could finish a few projects faster then usual; up until now, I was using a soldering iron-like pen to do all the work you see on my website... yes, I know... I have LOADS of patience to have done those thing that way! Just look at my current profile picture for an example =).


Saturday, January 24, 2009

This is my personal blog...

... meaning I will be talking about things I love, things I hate, things in between and many things that catch my interest... So be prepared for variety!

Keep an eye never know what I'll post on!