Anthony J. Martinez

Backcountry & Mountain Flying

For years before I even considered flight training, or had earned my private pilot certificate, I have been interested in backcountry and mountain flying. Last week, I took advantage of the opportunity to get some training in those very things while visiting the beautiful state of Montana. The excellent staff at Red Eagle Aviation gave me a block of ground instruction before taking me out to fly into the mountains and land in the backcountry in one of their upgraded Cessna 172s. It was a truly unforgettable experience, and has helped cement where I will focus my aviation energy and aspirations.

2023 Aviation Highlights

In my previous post, I revealed that after decades of wanting to learn to fly airplanes I was legally able to do so when time, the weather, and my wallet allowed. That was 35 weeks ago, and between now and then quite a few things have happened in my life including, but not limited to, changing jobs and becoming a father. As one might imagine, these milestones have often been at odds with flight.

Thanks to a supportive wife, and my son genuinely appearing to love airplanes, I have managed to log another 20 flights as Pilot in Command. The highlights of my year in aviation are probably the following:

Over the course of the next four and a half years or so, I will continue to fly in pursuit of a commercial certificate with the intention of being able to legally teach others to take to the sky.

Private Pilot

About five weeks shy of one year after my first flight I have earned my private pilot certificate. The path to this point was quite the adventure, and had many ups and downs beyond the 200-plus take-off and landings executed. Flying is something I have wanted to do for my entire life, and it feels great to have the option to do so whenever time, the weather, and my wallet allow.

Earning my private pilot certificate

Ever-shifting Irons

It has been quite a while since my last post about any of the crafts I enjoy. An entire season and a half, really.

From the previous list, a few things were scrapped but most made it to the finish line. Instead of building a desk from the reclaimed wood, I bought an Uplift, and have used the wood to build a few other small projects. My shed is finished, and full of garden tools. That freed up enough space in my garage to actually use my shop tools even with the trailer taking up space. The wool is all spun, and now begs for a project to be started.

I also started training for my private pilot's license, and will likely complete that before the end of the year. Fun stuff.

Spring Mountains - 2022

In early spring, or maybe late winter, my wife and I took a 6000mi road trip across the US to visit friends we had not seen in far too long. This took us across many mountains with some pretty stunning views. Here are two of them:

Many irons in the fire

Something like 15 weeks ago things were a touch simpler, and I had an idea that I would be able to finish a desk quickly. There are now a multitude of projects all vying for my time.

  1. The desk will be resumed once I can actually get around in my shop.
  2. There is now a fairly large utility trailer occupying most of my shop.
    1. On this trailer I will eventually construct a squaredrop trailer for camping.
    2. For now, it's being used to haul things and store project wood in the shop.
  3. A small shed to store my lawn tools is nearly done, and this will help with the shop space.
  4. My brother has an electric guitar body in need of some surgery.
  5. Too many hours of watching Forged in Fire has me pondering a coal forge, and also wanting to acquire welding equipment like I once had.
  6. There is still about 100g of some Icelandic wool I need to spin and ply before I can start on a cardigan or vest with nothing but yarn I spun myself.
  7. There is a lot of bare wall space in my office, and I plan to fix that by hanging my plethora of guitars and violins.

Reclaimed Wood - Desk

Somewhere around four years ago, shorly after buying my house, I set out on a mission to collect as many nice pallets as possible. These were to be fairly new pallets with the nicest planks I could find. My coffee table? Built from pallets. The entertainment center on which my TV and surround reciever sit? More pallets. I even went as far as to build a small kitchen table from pallets.

Eventually, my parents moved and needed to be rid of the kitchen table that occupied what most of my siblings consider their childhood home. The small table I made of pallets lost its purpose, and sat unused in the garage for quite a while. The wood from that table was likely the best pallet wood I had ever found, so it seemed like a waste for it to sit dismantled and unused. Instead, I decided I would break down the table top and start re-reclaiming the wood for use in a new office desk to be built with other bits of scrap and reclaimed wood left over from various other projects.

A few days in the shop after work, and I have managed to:

A few photos of the process are here:

For my next tasks I will:

A few photos from Scotland

Here are a few photos I took on my honeymoon in Scotland back in early October. All of the chosen photos were taken with an old Canon 35/2.8 screwmount lens mounted to an aging Sony NEX-6.

The "Click" Moment

Today, while practicing my violin, I had the "click" moment where it felt like I actually knew what I was doing. What went well went well on purpose. What did not go well was for reasons I could both identify and resolve. That moment happened for me on the guitar at least a quarter century ago, and I am pretty excited that it has arrived for violin as well.

By no means am I a virtuoso player, but it finally feels like I can put in the work and learn new music and techniques. When I started, I just wanted to play fiddle tunes. Thanks to an excellent teacher, I can do that and much more. Plus, I can actually read music again.

Feels good!

Casting On Again

After something like a year off the needles, for one reason or another, I have finally cast on another knitting project. Some yarn I bought around two years ago, and started using with a different project that ultimately did not please me, is going to become a new shawl for myself.

This time it's no overly fancy pattern, just a triangular shawl knit in garter stitch with some simple eyelets (k2tog, yo) and some stripes.

Good mindless knitting and a nice way to make several hours disappear.

Going Sailing

16m2 Dutch Sailboat

This past weekend I spent quite a few hours out on the water with one of my friends learning to sail his very old, and very cool, sailboat. Having wanted to learn to sail for something like 20 years, this checked a big box for me and I am quite the fan. Add another very hands-on skill I want to pick up more seriously.

Picking it back up

A prolonged absence from playing any violin at all certainly did not do any favors for my technique. Fortunately, I can still hear the horrors and remember what I am supposed to do to prevent them so it is just a matter of time and practice before they are banished again. This time around, I am trying to be more disciplined in my practice and establish a real routine. It is easy to overlook the importance of consistency, but also easy to see how much of a positive impact comes with focused time towards any task.

Back to the strings

For the majority of my life there has always been a stringed instrument close at hand. Most of the time it has been a guitar, but about two years ago I decided to add the violin to the mix. The pandemic put a lot of working musicians in financial hardship as live venues became a distant memory, and so I did what I could to throw in some support: took lessons online!

The journey has been interesting to say the least. Where I thought there might be plenty of similarities, I found almost none. With the exception of my ear, and general musicality, there is almost nothing at all that translates from playing guitar to playing violin. At some point, I found myself frustrated that improving my violin foundation seemed to cost me some of my guitar skills.

Work got exceedingly busy, and my stress levels increased to the point where taking lessons was no longer enjoyable at all. I stopped and took a long break. Here we are several months, and a few injuries later, and I would like to start again. Yesterday, I tuned both a guitar and a violin. Playing both for a few minutes was a nice change of pace, so I'm going to get back into a practice routine and start my lessons again.

A little summer spinning

The craft section of this site was looking a little bare, and so were most of the bobbins on my Pollywog spinning wheel.

Spinning a BFL single on my Pollywog

Even though it is annoyingly hot here in Delft, it feels nice to sit behind the spinning wheel and make an hour or two disappear without any screen time. Maybe this weekend I will also spin on the antique wheel I picked up at a second-hand store here in The Netherlands for less than $30.