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Donnerstag, 25. August 2016

New sheath for Úlenklawe

 Here it is... I made a new sheath for Úlenkláwe, my "black handled knife". It is a dangler sheath to date, but may get some more attachments to be worn like a sgian achlais.
3 mm vegetable tanned leather, hardened with a mixture of dragon´s blood, alcohol, beeswax and resin, yet to be hot-waxed. It is wet-formed around the knife and keeps it in with a snap. I´ll keep you posted!

The quest for the Brakkersfelders Knopmetz and a lovely weekend with lovely people plus some morons on top.

It was long scheduled and thoroughly planned. We had arranged a lecture at our favourite ruin about the history of the local language, a dialect of Nether German, the "Plattdiütsch" still spoken by elderly people and some sorry few younger ones. To achieve this, we originally had planned a crossover concept. I had contacted one of the greatest teachers I ever had, and a man I strongly admire, Mr. Prof. (em.) Dr. Heinz Menge for the philological part, and Ms. Friedel Hillner to contribute with some poems and stories in the dialect. We had planned a discussion, over some good food and wine, and meant the best, and, although we were being a bit sceptical due to our experience, we still had a go at it.
But it came to no surprise when Dr. Menge cancelled his appearance due to health problems, and one might suspect he had an inkling about what was to come. But sick is as sick does, and a cough is a cough is a cough. So my lovely and utterly competent companion and soulmate, the magic troll, put up a lecture with a bit of contribution on my part in but three days (and nights) course, which is a feat I encourage anyone to try. Of course we got mad at each other in the process, and of course it did not change anything, and of course we love each other even more for´t. So, even though even Dr. Menge said it could not be done, we did it, and we have another stinky finger to point at the world.
Off to the smithy, looking forward to the rewards that were to come, and hoping for the best. My beloved mother and her partner, the always helpful Fritz, who has taken me out of a lot of fixes already in this life, fetched us by car, and off we were. Entering the yard of the smithy, we were instantly greeted by Ewald, the owner. Of course, he had granted we could use the beamer and of course he came over and stated the light bulb had burned through only but yesterday. I did not believe a word, but chuckled away at it, for it was that obvious. Ms. Hillner were there already, and I welcomed her personally and expressed my gratefulness and apologized for the improvisation that were to come.
I then read through the lecture, for the magic troll did not take much to improvising without the material at hand (which I obviously understood, for I did not like it that much, either). I held the lecture, Ms. Hillner read out some poems, we had a discussion, and we invited all of them along for food. I asked Ms. Hillner if there were anything we could do better, and received her "heartfelt compliment" and she made her excuses she could not stay for dinner and took her people with her. (Last week I learned she is telling everyone the lecture was just for academical airheads and it was the worst thing she ever listened to, as well as the fact that Ewald admitted that he was lying to me about the light bulb, and gave me another tall tale about his brother-in-law not wanting to give him back the beamer, which of course I cannot verify or falsify.)
So, too bad, but begone, the people worth our attention were still there, and good food galore.  
I had prepared some lamb chops with rosemary and garlic, and there was some homemade salad. I cannot help the language dying out and the ruin crumbling even more, so I do what I can do: Enjoying myself and contributing to an enjoyable time for the people around me that deserve it. Those that do not deserve it will eventually take care of themselves. I do not need to hate them, they will die anyway. I will die too, one time, and so I do not want to give morons permission to waste my life time.
Nick enjoying a brew and having a good talk to Gudrun.
...while Henning did a good job at the BBQ.
There were few people, but the company was great and diverse,
and we all had a good time despite the adversaries...
...oh, maybe a little grievance: They simply don´t make mugs for mead! ;-) We split up in the late evening, making for home...
The other day we met again to do a lovely little hike over old hills and far away. We started with a very nice custom of miner´s culture provenience: We met at Käse Deele trailside café for "Buttern" (having a snack before work): We had a coffee, and soup, and cake, and lots of talking. And it was somewhat funny... when we got into the dairy shop to get us some more cheese and sausage and butter milk for snacking, the lady selling the goods looked at us, and with a longing sigh said :" You are one heck of a homelike troupe! I´d love to join you!" She said this so sincerely that it really went down into our heart of hearts. She then told us she was going on a holiday soon to do some kayaking in eastern Germany and we had a chat with this good - natured person. We did nothing special to deserve her admiration, just bought some snacks, but something must have radiated off us. But what is it? Nothing special at all. It does not need much money. It does not take much time, nor equipment, nor this or that. Just friendship, love and a hike that does not need to be rushed.
We climbed up the hills on an ancient wagon road that also is the St. Jake´s pilgrimage trail. We enjoyed the scenic vistas and feasted on raspberries and collected some herbs on the way, all the way submerged in good-natured jokes and talk.
Always there are wonders beside the trail for those who can see it. It can be as simple as a fallen tree...
...or fields of chamomile.
I loved Nick and Kathrin´s snack box... much in fact, that they kept calling me a foot blogger...
...anyone know what they mean with that? Anyway, just in case, this is a foot.
Along the creek we went through trails in the sunshine...

...until finally we arrived at the city of Breckerfeld. Now my faithful readers know that I am nearly obsessed with the thought of one day doing an accurate reconstruction of the famed "Brakkersfelders Knopmetz", a knife that made the Hanse community of Breckerfeld famous for their knives, sword blades and daggers in the whole of medieval Europe.

This sculpture in the city relates to this history, and it is outright hilarious. I have browsed the internet, museums and libraries for a picture of the knife...
...and it has been there, right under my nose. I cannot even remember how often I passed by this sculpture without noticing it... maybe the figures come alive and tried to hide it from me ;-).
YEAH, I AM TALKING OF YOU, HANSEL! This is a representation of a Hanse merchand...
...and a medieval smith selling the knife to him.
Unfortunately he did not want to hand it over to this faithful colleague of his... I tried to wrestle it from his hands. ;-) Turns out, he did not want to give it away, and while I am writing these lines, I slowly recover from my black eye and all the bruises... ;-), so I should say I have to forge one for myself.

All in all, it was a weekend that started out really shitty with foul characters playing dirty tricks on us... but they can eat their own shit, as far as I am concerned: They did not succeed in ruining our days.

Advice: Trust no one but your friends and family, but do not let it get that far that it ruins your day. Failure is a part of life. Try again, if you succeed one time out of hundred, you are successful still. And no one can take from you the sun on your face, and the wonders by the trailside, the joy of good company, and good food. Take everything as it comes, and they will kick the bucket while they feed on their own bile.

Where I wander in silence there is no significance

 The world has gone mad. PERIOD. I do not have anything else to say about this fact. Everyone knows it, and no one cares.

And I find I get ever more detached from the madness. I simply cannot find it in me anymore to muster any more hope or despair. I don´t care about those madmen like the Turkish dictator, or the Russian one or those American ones or the German ones. They are but flesh, and it is rotting while they jibber and jabber and scream and fight and writhe like a can of worms. Even if you go down below the ranks towards communal politicians or even my fellow humans, some few exceptions notwithstanding, and if you are not completely addled in your brain, you cannot but shiver with disgust.

I do not want to bore you with the details of a childhood of being mobbed, a hard time at Kindergarten and school and apprenticeship, and how I overcame the fuckers at the university because I was the best. You know the details of me offering my help and getting driven out of the projects I started, even my own club I helped found and all the smithies except the Bethaus where some fuckers wanted to drive me out. It is happening again, of course.

But it is of no significance.

The sun shines into the twilit woods. And twilight, the namesake and the name, calls me, violently. No, I even do not need to rant on about how the twilight soothes my soul. It does, but it is of no significance. The words do not make any difference. Words are the utterance of a species about to die out, fortunately. My soul will wander on, and I look forward to the freedom of unlimitedness, of space and time, of becoming a new kind of species. Do not get me wrong; I am really enjoying my life, and it´s good to feel alive. And while it feels alien to me, to become so detached from all this foolishness, it actually feels good. For my sentence is not spoken by their behaviour anymore. They can affect my life, true, but I will manage, as I have always done. But they will ultimately kick the bucket. And not because some obscure deity will smite them down with lightning, but because they organized their own rout by their shortsighted greed for success. But even this is of no significance.

Words do not make any sense here.  
 There is a creek. It murmurs silently.
 It flows, hidden in the thicket, and a song it sings. If you listen and do not need it to give you any significance, it starts to make perfect sense. It pulls you, and takes your spirit away to tranquil worlds where the cogs still fit into each other... and the secret is, that those are the worlds that create ours, not the worlds of human makebelieve where people put lots of energy and effort into hunting illusions, and buying and selling them.
 No pokemon whatsoever, see? But see the sprites?
 This world of trees is full of light and shadow. Sometimes it is cruel, and pain is an integral part of it, but so is joy... and since both of them are of equal significance, they lose significance... while gaining sense.
 The forest does not care about what it grows over. It simply does so. Significance is not even erased, it has no part in it. Yet sense has.

 Maybe it can be said that way: There is a cauldron full of swirling subsemantics, hurling, swirling, whirling about like a wildwind. We live in this cauldron called life, and speech and social consent have been the vectors for us to find a direction in the subsemantics. One by one, these vectors have been corrupted by lunacy and madness, and we are left with fear of the subsemantic, of the spaces deep, where dark things lurk... we have no longer faith or a belief, but religions that tell us what to do. Even mammonism is a religion, and Mammon reigns supreme. Death-in-life is his gospel, and to achieve this, he feeds us lie after lie, illusion after illusion. The mind is the destroyer of reality, but the mind is all that is permitted to believe in.

There actually IS a way out. It is a leap of faith, but it´s still here. If you are brave enough to jump into the abyss of the subsemantic, you can find sense still, not significance.
 And the forest grows silently.
 It is still solemn, and silent, and yeah...
 ...I have learned it can provide even for half-mad humans. ;-)
 And hope and fruitfulness prosper in the twilight.
 You can find herbs to cure depression...
 ...and flatulence :-)..
 Under the leaves of the strong-armed guardian of the gate, might find rest on St.Mary´s bedstraw.

A lot of sense, and healing-but no significance.

Dienstag, 19. Juli 2016

On the bench: Bushcraft Santoku and American Tanto

 Now to something different: I was wanting to do a Santoku bushcraft design from laminate steel. This is in fact a first test on the design I made from Unimog spring steel, selectively tempered, 120x 3.8 mm to 2 mm. The holes are punched...unfortunately one o´them did go a bit awry. But, it should work well enough for testing. Blade and tang are tapering for balance. The balance point should be on the index finger if all goes well.
 The testing as I did to date shows great capabilities in kitchen applications and while woodcarving can be done, it is less than ideal... I will further refine the design, I think, to make it suited better for the task. And might be I´d even make some to sell... we´ll see.
 Another altogether different matter is this tanto design, which actually is no tanto design, but an American adaptation of a kind of Katana (Japanese long sword) tip for a tactical knife. I love to experiment with knife designs and like to go to limits. This is a tactical knife, and I have not yet much liked this style, and still do not much take to the martial concept of many of them. But there is no denying the fact that the American Tanto tip is near indestructible and offers advantages not only in penetration capabilities, but also in whittling. For instance, I have broken off the tip of some carving knives when trying to carve a spoon or Kuksa without a spoon knife. Also, when working with a mason, I used my utility knife to cut the grooves into dry building boards with the tip and dulled it quite a lot. Obviously you use a chisel normally;-), but when there is no chisel at hand, you use what is at hand. So, there is more to the American Tanto design, and I do not believe it actually makes for a better weapon, but for a better tool. I forged this blade from some steel I found in the woods. When I found it, it showed some pattern, but even after 24 h of hardcore etching it shows no patina whatsoever. It slams through mild steel rods and I aborted the bending test at 25°.
 Not that it bends easily with a thickness of some 9 mm at the handle! It then tapers quite radically, as does the tang, which is drilled out for balance, too (yeah, I know I messed up, but it cost me three
!glass! drill bits to get through this material. And this after I thoroughly annealed and deep-froze and annealed once more and I could work it with a file). Not that it was that hard, it just was so ductile that the bore chips came in one long and several short ones. The grates were looking as if someone punched a pudding. Weird.
Also, it carves mild steel, chops antler and penetrates oil cans. If anything is a tactical tool, this steel is. I plan on fitting another no-go: A Micarta handle with red G-10 liners and making a hardened multipurpose leather sheath for it... or maybe I´d even have a go at a Kydex (TM) sheath... we´ll see how it goes. Maybe it´ll get desert iron wood or ebony.... would fit the bill just as well, and I don´t like that special waste on my knives still.

I look forward to it even if it is so different to my normal line of thought. In fact, I do, BECAUSE it is so different to everything I would normally make, and it might help broaden my view and confirm new perspectives.

A rookie ride with catastrophes and cake and coffee...;-)

 Two weeks ago we met again @Felsengarten in Hagen to get in some technical basics. The smiths and crafties seem to have developed an affinity for fat tires...;-) I claim to be innocent, no really, I am ;-). Nick showed up with his new Stevens Taniwha 29er (Dom, dom, the Taniwha has come...:-)) he really enjoyed.
 It was really, really cool that Kai showed up to help with the tutoring and have some fun. He has got a lot to do at the moment, what with his studies and his eagerness to be the best... ;-). It was good fun to have him around, have a chat and do some sicker lines to impress the folks... ;-)
 We also foraged for some sage and lavender and did some owl-watching... but alas... the owl family was not at home... ;-) and we did some smelling the roses.
 The vicinity is really beautiful and you can do everything, if you do it sensible. Basking in the sun is one thing...
 We did some braking practice, and then Henning came to me and asked about some funny noises his bike made. Then it turned out there were some huge chunky tires fitted, and while the stays offered plenty clearance, the front derailleur obviously did not, and the only way was to take the big/big combination...

 Turned out that with a shortcage rear derailleur and a chain that was a bit short and a 100kg body weight that was a combination that was less than ideal.

So Henning tore off his derailleur hanger. #shit, if you ask me. Henning is fighting quite some adversaries taking up the sport, and I am really sorry for this (but cannot help it any). Mountainbiking is a hard sport, and you WILL fall, and you WILL hurt yourself, and you WILL wreck your bike. Mastery comes with controlling the circumstances, so that if you hurt yourself, you do not hurt yourself permanently, and if you wreck your bike, you are prepared to repair it. A torn derailleur hanger, however, is just about SNAFU.

Since it did not work out, Henning packed up and was off for a BBQ, and we continued tutoring Nick and Kathrin. I was really fond of Kathrin, who is making some huge progress at the moment. She has to overcome some mental barriers still (some anxiety and the plain refusal to do some essential things such as getting accustomed to riding with a lowered seat in technical situations, but as is, her composure and body tonus are way good already.

Lowering your seat in technical situations is not only a requirement of style. It often is crucial for survival, and even on some leisurely and casual rides you always encounter steep inclines where a high seat will ultimately send you over the bars. This is often not easy to understand for beginner riders, why you need a high seat for some situations and a low one for others, but it is an essential technical basic to know when to say when. A lower seat, even if you are not accustomed to it, will offer you more control in steep inclines and when climbing over obstacles.

We did some more braking practice and some first practice on off road terrain. Kai gave some valuable additional input with his background in trials and hardcore freeride mountainbike riding.
 Then we rode out to Käse Deele trailside café to do some practice in balancing a cuppa coffee and a piece of cake while having a laughing fit ;-).
Just having a good time and relaxing after a cool day riding!

Folks, it just feels cool to just go out with you, and as I have said on countless occasions - I really look forward to showing you some real rides and to open up the "heart of the wind" for you! But even so, it´s cool to have you around! For this to me is what mountainbike riding is all about: hanging out with some friends at places where it is really cool, pushing your comfort zone and playing around on a bike, and some good foodie afterwards which you can delve into with relish.

Simple. Fun. ;-)

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