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Donnerstag, 18. Dezember 2014

New blog project for my employer...

 
 For my employer I started quite an interesting project. We are a city marketing corporation in the small town of Schwelm in the vicinity of Wuppertal and Dortmund in North - Rhine - Westfalia, and there are many citizens organized in three work groups doing a lot of charity work for the city. Amongst the many projects we have worked on so far is a historical tour through the city, guided by real people, but also signs on the walls of intersting buildings referring to the history. Props to the inhabitants, by the way! 

Now the guided tour through the small city has a new dimension: A blog:


The information is in German, English and French (albeit just Google translate in the case of most posts, for many of the authors are not exactly native speakers in English), so that should not be a problem. If you want to learn more about an interesting city (and a lot of local legends, too;-)), this is the place.

Enjoy!

Donnerstag, 27. November 2014

Yonder hill along the creek into the realm of twilight

 The other side did call me violently again, and so I packed my gear and followed an ancient trail into the realm of twilight, the ever-growing forest´s shroud. It greeted me with sunlit aisles, and as I leisurely strolled along the path, I heard what I often hear when I leave the roaring world of mankind behind: Five buzzards circled high above and cried their lonesome, eerie cries.
 Over treetops they circled, over the deep crevice of this ancient valley, where once upon a time there roared the smithies. Fallen sullen and silent, the old machines lie rusting in the wold, and death embrothers them to the red-brown mould of fallen leaves.
 One buzzard sat above in the crags and cried and sang to me; and as I passed, it flew along my path for a good while, some 10 m away from me, from time to time perching upon a tree stump. And I looked into the eyes of the bird, and I understood.
 All the while the creek sang its vivid, living, striving song.
 And over old hills I walked, not meeting a soul, but bird and deer kept me company. I found a lot of treasures that day; the skull of a marten, two spades, a nickel silver plate and a piece of horse bone. The spades I left in a cache in the woods...just in case;-).
 I´d love to restore this barn... and live there, by the stream.
 I met with this sleek fish hunter, a cormorant.
 And yonder crags I climbed along the stream into hidden thickets.


 For there it is my soul is soothed; I need these outings to remain sane and true to myself. The folly of the everyday race of life subsides, and in the quiet solitude of the woods I experience sense and purpose that in the hectic of our society goes alack.
 There is a beauty in the silent regard of tree and stone,
 and death and life, and plant and beast, blend into each other. My racing mind is calmed, and I understand without words, where my path is headed.
 I am grateful to be able to pass by the homes of those little inhabitants of the woods without disturbing them, the true rulers of the wild, the gentle servants of the savage grace of the woods.
 And when my roaming draws to a close near the evening, I take home those cherished memories to dwell on them forever.
Legally I am considered poor. But there is a wealth far richer than words can describe, that no banker or tycoon can take from me. The savage grace loves me, and I love her. More there is not to be said, and no worship done would do her justice, and there is no sacrifice that is mine to give. Just my love.


Archery meeting@Bethaus der Bergleute


 It was long overdue.

The folks at Zee Aylienz mountainbike team had asked for an archery event, and I organized it, with some difficulties. When they had inquired, I had thought, they´d work for it also, but turns out I was being wrong. So, all systems reset, and I planned it the other way round. Vikings, smiths and archers seem tro know better that if you want to fetch a penny from the cobbles, you have to bend down to fetch a penny from the cobbles, and it eventually even worked out. From ten inquiries of the team there were actually four left who were coming, and two not even shooting. No harm done, there were enough folk having fun.

 Olaf, the gnarly viking soulbrother, was responsible of a good part of the organization, too, and brought a load of friendly people with him. He had made a bow out of a lath floor board and PVC. Unfortunately it broke when drawn out the first time. But I lend him mine, and he took care of the kids and beginners in his trademark friendly and laidback way.
 Nick deserves a load of respect, too, for he had gone to the extra length of making a funny 3 D target out of old bed linen. Willibald, as it was tauted soon, received a right whacking that day. Thanks, bro!
 Jens is one of the better individuals at Zee Aylienz bedlam and capable of social contacts even;-). He had a youth bow with him, but no less fun for the fact.
 There was a lot of socializing going on, too. It was more like a giant party from lunch till well after midnight!
 Frank from Zee Aylienz, an accomplished archer and one of the more clever trolls of the team;-), mounting his bow.
 He also did a fair amount of tutoring for the beginners, and contributed a lot to the great atmosphere.
 I loved his quiver with the beautiful etching.

 His forearm brace-sweet!
 This one´s made by Olaf, who is an absolute expert in leather tooling, doing this for some 30 years!
 There also was a great abundance of delicious food and strong Java-perfect!
 Then Dirk, Kirsten and their kids arrived and added a whole new spice to the event. They are all accomplished competition archers (Olympic recurve), but they also love the traditional side of archery, so much in fact that Kirsten actually will shoot the competition season with a traditional blank recurve bow. Now to Kirsten I must sincerely apologize. We "know" each other since we went to school, but I always thought her to be a bit stiff. But we always treated each other with respect, and since she also is the midwife of one of my best friends, Gesa, we always stayed in contact. On Gesa´s birthday party, Dirk and I had a chat and I simply invited him along. Should have done this years earlier, and I look forward to many more sessions like this!
 They brought along a load of gear. Those funnily fletched arrows to the right are bird arrows with a blunt tip. The spiral fletching makes them slower to not smash the bird to pieces, by the way.
 I want to introduce you to Krümel, Irmi´s lovely licce Corgie, the one dog I know who can actually talk.;-)
 Of course we took good care to have a clear range. All of those folks were acting very responsibly.
 Three targets were there.
 Nick nocking new arrows;-)...
 Aim..... shoot....
 ...and do the fetching with a grin.
 I was very fond of a very precious and rare knife Olaf had on his belt. It is a very close replica of a not-so-widely-known Horace Kephart knife. Presumeably of Sheffield or US origin, the blade is made of carbon steel and the handle´s beautifully aged stag antler.

 Then Volker had, in spite of getting paid by us not to do so, a children´s birthday party scheduled. Not wanting any kids to be hurt, we obstained from shooting in the afternoon and did some forging. This time Volker really got the wrong end of me, and, consulting a lawyer of the team, I made a waiver of liability together with a treaty of beneficial interest for him and had him warrant a conventional fee in case of any irregularities on his part. I hate things like that. I hated even more the fact that this treaty bounced loose an avalanche of completely mad discussion in the team. It went like this:

A: I want to make very sure the team cannot made responsible or liable.
B: The treaty is made to ensure exactly this.
C: But I must persist, the team is not to be made liable.
B: The treaty is a waiver of liability.
D: But indeed the team must not be made liable.
B: The treaty is a waiver of liability.
A: But the team must not be made liable.

Goto 10, ca. 10 hours of discussion long. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

But at the event, all was good. The forge was lit, I traded some sincere words with Volker, and all went smoothly. We had a lot of fun, and the atmosphere, in spite of the bad start, was very freindly and laidback.
 Jens did some forging, too, and had fun in the process. I really admire him for the broadness of his expertise; from cave-climbing, freeclimbing, mountainbiking, engineering, carving, painting, making music, archaeology, reenactment, ornithology, ecology, to philosophy he has a vast line of interest. Jens, if you happen to be around, don´t be shy and drop by!
 It was funny...the magic of fire just did its duty, and molded a community of hearts again. Many different characters, many with nicks and dents, simply blended into a good-natured day.

Well after dawn we gathered around the long table, barbecueing and having a feast, Jandark and Erdmuthe dropped by, everyone had a good time, and lovely Irm took out the guitar and we played some music and sang along.

Jan took back my bow (on the ride to the smithy it was quite .... interesting;-), with the bow tied to my top tube and seat stays), and well after midnight I rode home, again with a warm feeling in my heart.

It was not easy organizing the event, because of morons and sociopaths;-), but what really counts is the outcome. Friends, for you I fight with joy!

Freitag, 14. November 2014

An old knife revived - Fimbulmuk....

Now this is an old knife I have somewhat revived these days. I just cleaned the blade a bit and did some stropping. I had shared it some time ago, and I find it appropriate to share some thoughts with you.

First and foremostly I want to say that I searched for it for some time until I realized it rode on my belt. I guess that tells more than thousand words. I use it hard. Every day. It´s a good kitchen knife, it cuts meat and skin and chops bone and antler, opens boxes, letters and destroys analog spam. I had to fix the scales a bit for they came a bit ajar, but nothing that could not be mended with a drop of epoxy and a gentle tap with a peen. I like the blade´s offset a lot, and the simple spring steel has never seen actual sharpening, just a bit removing of scale due to a fit of aestehtics;-). By the way, the lanyard bead is by my lovely magic troll... ask politely and she´ll make you one, too;-). (I know she will whack the good out of me for that, but it´s worth it;-)) Contact her via her blog: Koboldkerker.blogspot.de

I will try to enhance the design in a further knife, but it will be hard. Why do I rant about this here?

I made this knife from scrap steel and antler from a flea market find. I use it hard for years now. There´s a message... I daresay you can find it.

Tribal knifemaking rocks!!!!

Short introduction of a very traditional knife - The Otter Hippekniep

 At my recent visit to Solingen I also dropped by the Otter knives booth. Now they were very persuasive;-) and I got this beautiful traditional knife with a history.

Now it is very interesting that these knives are called "Hippekniep" in Solingen, and there are many theories concerning the origin of this name. I take it to be cognate with the "Hepchen" or "Hippe" knife, a knife wiedly used in farming. It might go back to gothic *havi = hay, *Haviknapi would mean "Hay-biter". In either case, the "Hippe" was a scythelike tool but with no offset, similar to the "Falcata Illyrica" or "Falx", a billhook weapon used by the Illyrians in their fight against Rome. Another theory is that the handle looks like a goat´s leg (in  Niederdeutsch, a Saxon stem of German quite similar to Anglo - Saxon "Hippe" is a female goat) or that it was used to shorten goat´s hoof horn. In Solingen it was sold as a "Taschenschlachtmesser" (emergency butcher pocket knife). In France it is famed as a "mineur", because it was common amongst coalminers there where it was a do-it-all utility tool and more often than not a last defence against the ever-prominent tunnel rats. As a "sodbuster knife" it is known in the USA. Germany, however, is the first place I came across where it found production.  First examples date back to the early 19th century.

This one is an excellent piece of craftsmanship. It comes with a razor - sharp C - 75 blade, 95 mm long and tapering from 2,5 - 1,2 mm in the tip. Blimey, this is a razor! The handle is beautifully finished Grenadill wood that is polished to a high lustre. A great addition in my book is the pivot, that is a simple rivet peened over a brass disc on either side. Apart from it being quite a feat of craftsmanship to do this properly, by that way play can be adjusted by gentle taps with a ball peen should it ever occur. The blade has a stiff slipjoint spring with enough stay to withstand moderate spinewhack testing. The opening was a bit rough, but nothing to be ashamed of. Also included is a lanyard for faster access. The brass bead aids in drawing and counteracts the cool design with a warm golden colour... beautifully made.
Tolerances are virtually non - existent. It is an excellent knife for everyday work, for snacking and whittling the odd stick, and it is simply a sight to behold. It does everything a knife is supposed to do, it has a friendly appearance and it is beautiful. Plus, it is one of the very few folding knives where I do not miss  a locking mechanism.

Go to their website here: www.otter-messer.de

Review of a KatzeK55K special run knife

 I am very proud to give you a short review of a knife you will not see that often... up until now, there are just some 10-20 pieces worlwide. Let me tell you its story. Readers of my blog know that I am somewhat acquainted to Mr. Morsbach, a very experienced knifemaker from Solingen and of ancient Solingen grinder nobility, former head of corporation to Otter knives. At the "Messer-Gabel-Scherenmarkt" expo we met again, and he had these on display I coveted ever since I saw them on Jagd und Hund expo in Dortmund in February (I reported about it). So, the time was now, and I had a closer look. While it loosely follows the lines of a very classic Solingen Jagdnicker design, that´s all about tradition. The knife has an extremely well - made convex bevel with a moderately thick spine at some 3 mm. The scales are rough-ground Micarta, which is a good thing, for they offer a load of grip. The blades is some 90 mm long (ca.) making for a great EDC, and the edge geometry makes it fiercely sharp. This is enhanced by the choice of steel: It´s made from 1.4153 Böhler N678 steel, which is stainless and quite similar to 440C or AUS - 8 with one important distinction: It is alloyed with Niobium, hence its nickname "Niolox". The Niobium content makes it capable of taking an extremely fine edge for a stainless steel. I was surprised by its sharpness, which is really up to par with a good carbon steel. And the best thing is: For mere mortals it comes at a price of 65 €.[EDIT]: Willy notified me that this is not true, and 1.4153 is NOT alloyed with Niobium. Niolox is a trademark of Lohmann (Witten - Krefeld) steel corporation and is NOT to be confused with a Böhler steel or a simple 1.4153. Böhler N678 has the following steel analysis:

http://www.bohler-bleche.com/english/files/downloads/N678_DE_v2010.pdf

But of course that does not render this knife any less capable. It´s an able cutter and keeps a good edge. It just dents Mr. Morsbach´s reputation (and mine).

Advice: Never trust anyone.

 The scales are a bit refreshed by beautiful red liners. Craftsmanship is very solid, albeit not high lustre. But it is a workhorse I have now used so far for a lot of tasks and that always rides in my pack these days.
The sheath is of good quality, although it makes for a bit top - heavy carrying and I do not recommend leaving the button open. It is a priority for me to make a new one, but for the price, the sheath is well enough.

And it might be, just thinking, if Mr. Morsbach receives enough questions  concerning the topic, he will make more of them ;-). Contact him via his website www.katzek55k.de

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