Sunday, June 26, 2011

Boxing in Guelph

So, I'm just back from a lovely day of letterboxing up in Guelph, Ontario - they are very fertile lands.  As per usual, I took my letterboxing pack, my logbook, some extra ziplocks (cuz ya never know), my Marvies & sig stamps in my zippered case, my iPhone (maps, compass, access to clues), and my wallet.  What you don't see is that I also take  my camera and two pairs of shoes - I learned my lesson.

Bon voyage from my feline supervisor.

See? There she is, watching me go.  Guilt sets in.
The drive to Guelph from Burlington is always a nice one. It's a simple drive up the Niagara escarpment via Hwy 6 and usually only takes around 30 minutes.  I went to the University of Guelph back in the day, so I'm pretty familiar with the roads up there, so as a whole letterboxing in Guelph is always a calm and and enjoyable experience.

First up: Deer Crossing. This one I had already attempted back in the early spring.  Luckily, second time around, I found the box - which was a good thing, Lone R had made another delightful box and I loved the carve.

Next up: Acting Like an Idiom by Fiddleheads and Seeking Sylvie Sylvilagus by Lone R. Success with both of these boxes, which each reference a similar landmark in their clues.  Thus far, I hadn't been munched on too badly by the 'squiters, but the day was still early.

One delightful thing I found were some stacks of balanced stones.  Just like letterboxing, I love the idea of something new and magical is out there in the woods. I'm not sure how long these particular stacks were there because it was clear that there was a couple stacks had toppled, but the others looked like they were there for some time.  I remember seeing an incident on the news about some folks seeing balanced rocks in the Humber River last year and being sad that I couldn't see it in person, so it was a delight to see this.

Next up,  Who Doesn't Love a Picnic? by the Landmark Leapsters. You know who? Me.  Not a picnic fan. You get eaten by bugs - just like I did when I found this box.  Great carve and theme, but I could have used a few less mosquitoes. 

I then went for another hike to find the Little Tract Letterbox by Lone R and got munched on a little more.  It was at this point that I recalled the words of the nice ladies at Canadian Blood Services who told me I can't give blood any more often than two months because it's bad for me - I think the mosquitoes got more blood from me than they do when I give blood.  Something to watch for... Go give blood!

My first hiccup of the day came when I went to go find Water Lily's Comberton Mazles box.  The Jesuit Centre was hosting a large local food festival and the site was swarming with muggles.  When I got to the location of the box, I was slightly alarmed - the hedge the box was located in looked like it has been blown away by a small tornado - and the box was directly out in the open.  I have no idea how no one noticed it.  It took me five minutes to grab it because there were so many people wandering around.  Then, the book was soaked... Poor box, it's been having a rough time.

Nearby, I found another Lone R box, Peace in the Park.  After a nice jaunt (and some side stepping of more muggles celebrating something or other) I found the box.  I got a little turned around due to not paying attention to the landmarks and because of some overgrown grass, but the delay only resulted in more time for the 'squiters to munch on me.  Circle of life, and all that.

I then headed back into Guelph proper to visit a beautiful garden and find Fiddlehead's Thrift Flower Up the Garden Path.  Nothing thrifty about this box; the stamp was perfection, the box was perfect, the location was spectacular and the clues were cute. 

Back into the downtown, I sought out the first of the Justice League of Guelph series. After waiting out some muggles, the find was find.  When I went for the second box, it was clear that the muggles there would outlast me.  Then the third box wasn't where I expected it - I'll have to try again later.  At that point, having found nine boxes and three hitchhikers, I decided to end the day.

On the way back to my car, going over the bridge, I came across a very friendly black and white spider.  He was very photogenic and allowed me to get close with my macro lens to snap some shots - he put on his cheeriest smile for the camera.

Happy trails!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Love and hate for LTCs

Here I go again with my second attempt at this LTC thing. I don't think I'm quite cut out for LTCs, mostly I just don't get the joy in sending out really intricate (let's face it) art projects.

What I do like about LTCs is receiving a slew of stamp impressions of a certain topic that you like.  When you go out letterboxing, you're at the mercy of whatever is planted in a given area; when you participate in an LTC exchange, you can decide to join based on a theme... That's what I like.

So, after my recently planted Can't Stop the Signal series, I am participating an an LTC exchange for all things Joss Whedon. I plan on making three cards to send, each using the stamps I created for my letterbox series.  As with the last time I participated in an LTC exchange, although I'm really excited to see what others carve, sometimes I think I've bitten off more than I can chew.


Here they are before they are cut and made into whatever I'm going to do for these LTCs.  Wish me luck!
Inara, Mal, Jayne, and my harshest critic who is clearly unimpressed with the images.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mystery clue

Today, I finally managed to get a box planted and the clue finished.  You can try your hand now at The Purloined Letter letterbox.  I'm not spoiling anything by saying that The Purloined Letter is one of Edgar Allen Poe's short story mysteries.  The carve itself is cute, but I spent a lot of time designing the clue, which I also post here:

I spent a lot of time on this image to get it juuuuust right.  I'm not very good at graphics and image editing, so it took me a long time to create this.  I'm really hoping that the clue works at all - and mostly, I'm hoping that once folks figure it out, they will have that aha! moment and a smile on their face.  Time for the count down...  That's the worst part for me, waiting for the first finder.

Back to carving.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to not get a box finished

So, I came up with an idea, found a fantastic image, had it printed and transferred, and now I'm stuck unable to force myself to finish the carve.

To go back a bit, the idea actually came from a location first - a place I had been to a couple of times and always stuck out in my head as somewhere I really wanted to plant given the opportunity.  I wanted a big, intricate carve for the location - the location demands it - and spend quite a bit of time looking for the perfect image. (I'm not creative and can't draw. Finding something was a must.)  I found the perfect image and, with a new photocopy image and blender pen in hand, proceeded to transfer this 12 centimetre square image on some newly purchased pink stuff.*  

Unfortunately, this is where things went wrong.  I began to carve the complicated image and then promptly lost interest in the carve.  I still love the image, still want the box done, but can't muster the enthusiasm necessary to finish the carve. I feel like it will take forever and I'm having a hard time dedicating the time.  To make matters worse, I can't bring myself to start another carve - even when the next carve on my agenda is a new sig stamp (my current one is about 5 stamps away from total destruction). Essentially, it's interrupting my carving groove.

Now I am stuck in limbo, unenthusiastically carving a little each night - essentially forcing myself to do so to try to get it done.  I feel like it will never be done.

The offending carve.

*In retrospect, given the nature of this image, I wish I had held out and used Firm Cut instead.  Live and learn.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Remembering the Remembering the Railroads Meet

Okay, so it's been a couple weeks, but what better time to rehash the Remember the Railroads meet than when I'm stuck home on a Saturday night with food poisoning? (Rhetorical.)

So, St. Thomas is a beautiful place and all in all somewhere I haven't taken the proper time to visit.  I tried to go in early in the morning in order to snag a few boxes before we checked in.  A Fiddleheads box on the 401: nowhere to be found... First Big Blue Team box: exactly where it was supposed to be, but now my feet are soaked.  Next box, attached to the proper tree, but tree now on the ground.

Off to Waterworks Park to meet everyone... Sign into the park says to use the hill at my own risk and it occurs to me that the meet itself could have been an elaborate ruse to confuse and haze new letterboxers.  Luckily my rusted out Mazda made it down the hill and I finally met some fantastic boxers.

Finally off to get some boxes.  Ended up going to the museum and learning about Jumbo.  In horrific detail.  I want this to be a family-oriented blog, so I'll spare you all the gory details, but Jumbo didn't have a peaceful death.

I was off then to find quite a number of other boxes, had lunch with the boxers and did some more exchanges, and then back out to nip a few more boxes.  Along the way, I learned about St. Thomas, the war, the City's influence on the national and international railways... and I became jealous of Big Blue Team's ability to convince unsuspecting store owners to keep boxes in their stores.  But, I have to say, it makes economic sense: I think I bought something in just about every place I went.  (I am now the proud owner of a beautiful elephant tea set.)

High density bird living.
The last few boxes I found in Pinafore Park, where, based on the clues and dates the boxes were planted, were part of previous year's letterboxing meets. The park was just amazing and I wish I had more energy to continue and search them all out - but as it was, I was swaying as I stood.  Fun fact: the park has some amazing bird condos.  Love them.  It's this decade's answer to suburban birdhouse sprawl.

I had planned out a lot of boxes to find that day, but having left so early in the morning from Burlington, I petered out pretty fast.  On my way home, I planted my new Annandale box (found a mere 24 hours later). I was lucky enough to find the perfect place to plant the box... Love it.

All in all, a fantastic day.