Monthly Archives: August 2014



Another day of vardo and gate works. It started out a bit rough as I was checking the garden tomatoes when a wasp flew out and stung me on the fore arm, damn, then chased me as I flung my hat at it to no avail and jumped in the car to avoid it. I headed in to town to meet Raven at Starbucks with a welt ring forming on my right arm. She was in line when I got there and told her about it, Ow. We headed for the farmers market where I bought stock for bread and butter pickles (big cukes, onion and bright red mild peppers) while Raven bought some lettuce. My favorite pickle lady has cider vinegar, I asked for a drop for the wasp sting, it helped stop the sting but the venom was swelling my arm. Baking soda works on bees, wasps need acid.
We stopped to check a local plants garden with signs of each kind. The figs are just getting ripe, we shared one. Time to go home.
The 20 pear trees out back are plentiful and I caught ten rock fish last week, plus I picked up some lovely horseradish cheese. Pears, fresh lettuce, pecans and cheese for salad with balsamic vinegar, fried rock fish with light curry powder, dipped in egg, breaded with blendered crackers and pecans, very tasty.
Raven is back to detailing. My arm is looking like Popeye. I need to inlay the metal cross braces to hold up the gate. I cut the cross braces with the table saw to width, flipping each plank and adjusting the fence to kerf width until it was to center, clearing out the scrap with a chisel, tricky on the knots. I laid the metal down in the slot and secured the vice to match the angle, hammering it over with the big ball peen. The angle wasn’t perfect and adjusting difficult but I got it. I tried cutting the wood end with a chisel, not good, it chips the face board. I settled on the multitool with a wood moon blade, that works well.
I need to cut the other end shorter to fit the vise, can’t find the rotary grinder, settle for a hack saw. I make the bend in the vise, dang, this is tough. I need to readjust the bend again, got it. Cut in the end grain to fit. The other side went better with less adjustments. I ground the ends smooth on the lapidary sander after hack sawing. I’m exhausted in the 90 degree heat and call it a day. Tomorrow I’ll need to drill the end holes in the metal and counter sink them secure with the wood covering.
Raven made tartar sauce for the left over fish and kicked back in the vardo with the windows open.

I got a picture of the inlaid board here.


I ordered a new axle with 85″ faces to increase the wheel base and get the wheels right side out. It’ll be easy to install and help prevent any chance of tipping over on the corners. After dark I went out and poured a cup of gas on the wasp nest in the ground. It will evaporate, pay back.



No dan this week, so this is raVen, reporting in…made my way home from Safeway, farmers market and sheltons, made some lunch and ate it in the sun. Plain ol’ tuna sandwich when dan’s creative cooking isn’t around, but I did score a fresh tomato and some beans from the garden :}.

After lunch, I decide to attempt to fill out the DMV paperwork for registering the vardo, which resulted in this:


No fun. A pain, even, pffffthhhht! Alas, it must be carried out…but not today if I’m in charge, haha. Still need some figures for the axle, trailer frame, sinks, etc. which there’s no receipt for, hmm. I’m sure we’ll figure it out to help with DMV’s needs to charge me tax on my creation, ha.

So since this didn’t obviously work out, I decided to give the new stencils I purchased in Monterey a try…


And this is what you get when trying to use gold paint and a sponge with no tack on the stencil, whoops. So then I reverted to trying to draw out the design in pencil as in previous stenciling ive done on the vardo:


And it’s pretty, but super detailed, and I’m not sure I want to be detailing til I’m 85. So onto the next idea…I’ll make a big strip on cardboard to do large chunks at one time!


…and cutting these buggers out takes just as much time as it would drawing them…ah, hell. This being a seemingly bumpy creative day, I give up and make lamb burgers :} whilst listening to metallica’s “no remorse” ahahaha




Raven is off visiting her Mom. With a stop at the DMV to acquire the necessary registration forms. I’m working on the gate  and a large batch of cornichon pickles as I got a bunch of gherkins at the farmers market yesterday. Here’s the scoop.


I’m tired and hot. It’s 90 in the shade but I’ve been working 5 hrs in the sun. Half juice half water every half hour. But I did it mostly. Check out the attached photos.
That’s both gates actually the same side with the angles added for the back view. The angles still need to be attached with screws, plugged and sanded. The back of the left one still needs plugs and sanding on the other side. I think the plugged side will be back. I kind of like the angles like this as it looks like a big shield. That and it’s a tension support, easier to use the thinner plumbers tape under the angle board. I could just use the wide stuff anyway and it would be extra strong. I’ll need to cut a slot in the angle board to except the metal using the table saw.
It’s pretty heavy, I can carry one side with some difficulty. I’ll need to cut some angle scrap to hang it level. I’m not sure how square it is but tried to keep it straight. It’s all glued and not going to move. Maybe one more day of prep work before hanging it.
By the way per Cathy’s request, I did not use the putty filled board as it didn’t look great, ended up bending the warped board into the laminations straight, good. I am using putty in places to fill small cracks. If you notice the right arc has no cracks as I filled them and the putty is tinted to match.
Research on finishing says to wait a month or more for the wood to dry before treatment. Right now it’s soaking up some rays to redden it. Thought, could stain the sap wood redder, or just leave it in contrast natural.
Time to can the 9 pounds of pickles as it’s cooler inside.
OK, pickles are done, 11 pints of tarragon cornichons light on the boil at 7 minutes to keep them crunchy.

Wash and brush with a China town brown brush to remove the black spines. Two cups of Kosher salt overnight for 9 lbs gherkins. A bit salty, I let them soak an hour and rinsed, they taste right, drained. Cover to dry while I worked the gate.
Put the big canning boiler on while chopping garlic and onions in somewhat large pieces, pick some small grape leaves and CA bay laurel cut in thirds as they are strong. Prepare 5 cups white vinegar with 2 1/2 cups water to boil (2:1 ratio). Boil the tools. Bake the clean jars at 215 F in the oven. Throw the lids in the boil bucket in a mesh bag, then to the sterile colander
In each jar:
a grape leaf
a third bay leaf (CA bay is much stronger, 1 English bay leaf)
3/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seed
1 tsp + garlic (about)
Tblsp onion
a big sprig of tarragon
a good sprig of thyme
Fill the jars each with same size cucumbers packed to the top and cover with the hot vinegar solution, clean top add the lid and screw mostly tight. Boil seven jars at a time for 7 minutes and get them out pronto. Normal canning calls for 10 minutes, you can do that but with this much vinegar and salt they’ll be alright, I want them crispy. High acid and salt will preserve them, the boil is overkill, but to prevent botulism is important for long term preservation. The lids popped to seal. 11 jars of my favorite pickles.
A good day.



Well today wasn’t as exciting as yesterday but we got some things done. Yesterday we drove the vardo to the scales a mile up town Geyserville. So Raven spent the night in the wagon, more comfortable with extra blankets under her, I guess the mattress is hard. I got up earlier the second time than she did. Played in the garden tasting all the herbs. I walked out back and picked a huge bag of green pears to ripen for work. The ripe ones are wormy.

When she got up we each took a shower and headed to town in my car. First stop Bucky’s for coffee, then a walk to the farmers market. Big cucumbers eight for $5 was a good deal for dills. All the best Roma tomatoes 5 lbs. for sauce. I’ll cook them up tomorrow morning. We picked up some local kielbasa sausages for a celebration lunch for the  road trip. Another stop at Shelton’s for potato salad, bubbly water and dill for the pickles. Homeward bound.

I prepped the grill with charcoal, lit it, looked at my watch and put it back out, way too early.  Raven needed to call her friend at noon, digging through her email for the number. I pulled out the gate stuff, laid it out in the driveway on short stock angled in the corners to hold it off the pavement. I spent way too much time looking for the caulk gun, damn, can’t find it. OK it’s time to light the coals.

I cooked up the kielbasa as Raven prepped the plates with cucumbers, tomato and potato salad. We ate inside to dodge the bees. Horseradish sauce went well with it. We agreed the bought potato salad didn’t measure up to mine, needs curry and a bit, but not bad, quicker and tasty.

After lunch I headed to Harry’s corner store for a new caulk gun, $3.50, cheaper than the search. But now it’s getting hot. Raven is varnishing the shelf boards with polyurethane in the shade. I laid out the first layer of gate boards, measured them square with Ravens help and marked the alignment. I broke out the dowel kit and set the depth, drilled the uprights, inserted the metal center plug markers and laid out the cross beams, tapped to mark with a hammer. Drill the matching hole, insert the dowels. one side of the cross beams doesn’t line up square. I know I have some fudge room, mark it square and trim with the band saw, it lines up. I cut open the glue tube and begin with glue on the six beams after a preliminary layout of the second middle layer. One screw inside, the far side to match, tap the upright board into place and drill screw square with the big tee. Too much glue, run for a wet rag and wipe it down, alright.

I chose to chisel the metal plates into the center second layer on the outer unsanded boards but not the inner thinner sanded slats. I used a metal grade counter sink to drill the plates to allow the flat head screws to flush. Everything is glued and screwed, aligned with two screws in most locations except the top arc connect. One of two gates except the last outer five dress boards and the angle brace.


With the glue and the plates, plus another angle metal piece under the board it should be very strong.

Tomorrow I’ll start earlier as the sun is way too hot.  Raven finished the new shelves with two coats of poly, ready for assembly next week.  Time she headed home, a productive day.

8/8/2014 Rolling!


Wow, that was exciting! I arrived home at 3:00, early from work. Raven was waiting in the living room staying cool. I had stopped at the mercantile for an open chain link on the way, pulled out a piece of anchor chain from the boat for a safety chain. Raven called Luis as he was backing into the driveway in his big F150. I went out and guided him in, he checked and had me lower the crank jack, then backed until he felt it, perfect. We lowered the jack and swung it up latched.


The electric connect is too short, we’ll use hand signals and I’ll follow. Need to fix that. Raven called the scales to let them know we’re coming.


Raven and I caught a picture as we ran to my car to follow (you can see my new truck in back). Hard to get pictures through the cracked windshield. We gripped tight near the stop sign as the road slanted quite a bit and the vardo leaned over, she came back up OK, whew. Around the corner went well enough and down the road Luis driving slow, his and my flashers on. She didn’t wobble side to side at all. As we crossed over the rail road tracks Raven got a picture, really no problem.
My camera came up with a no more room on card error, oh well. Rave kept up with her tablet cam after that. We drove through town (blink) to the Irrigation Growers supply where the scale is, less than a mile from home. Luis pulled in, hit a small pothole no problem and pulled around onto the long scale as I quickly parked the car.
The guy came out, told us to disconnect and drive the truck off, lowering the jack we did. We threw out numbers, I said a thousand (closer to a ton not voiced), Raven said 1500 to 2000. I stepped in to the scale shed as he racked it up, 2220 lbs. Wow, that’s a lot, more than a ton by 220 pounds. Raven came in the winner.  His name Kevin, “I need a number”, “OK” says I, ” how about 42″ (from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the answer to life the universe and everything), filled out the paper work as Raven paid the $15 for the certificate while Luis and I hooked up the truck. The scale is old, from the 1940’s, works well. Luis pulled forward before we could get a picture. I told Kevin I’d bring him some pears off the 20 trees available. Raven was filming as Luis drove off, “Get in!” We caught up four or more cars back, Raven taking shots as the vardo rounded the corner.
Luis pulled over allowing us to catch up, then allowed traffic to pass before proceeding, very well done. Over the tracks, faster this time as he knows it, up and around the corner for home.
Raven talked of parking by the garden for easier parking, less morning shade says I. Luis backed it in like a champ, first from the road around back enough to pull ahead into John’s driveway (across the street) to get it straight, then back in to within inches of the original location. We set her down.
“How much do we owe you?”,
“Ah, nothing, no problem.”,
“Raven pay the man, at least $20”
“For all that excitement!, Here, please take it, Thank you.”
He pocketed the cash, but we were beaming.
After four years, it moves with grace on the road. Slow but Wow!



I met Raven at Bucky’s for coffee, then off to the farmers market. After the once around we picked up some corn and yellow squash for lunch. I cleaned out the $2 tomatoes at 6 1/2 pounds to make sauce tomorrow. I need jar lids, off to Garrett’s. Jars are on sale, I’ll take a box can always use them.

Getting home, Raven bought a chicken from a friend wanting to smoke it. It won’t fit my small Weber whole, we cut it up, put it in soy sauce and water as I got the coals started. I also have some O chicken breast tenders planned for lunch.  I wetted down the corn still in husk and sliced the yellow squash long, half to steam, half to grill. A quick marinade of oyster sauce, horse radish, my own not hot curry powder and garlic on the tenders.

As the coals were lit I put a small wrinkled pie pan of water in the middle with the hot coals around smoker style but hot. I cooked lunch first no hickory, then put Rave’s chicken on the cooler fire with smoke chips. Too many bees to eat outside, into the living room. The tenders were done perfect, not dry, sweet corn on the cob and tasty squash.  Shortly the big chicken was done, legs and wings first.

Raven is working on a shelf for the vardo, I need to get this gate together and we need to weigh the vardo this next Friday. Raven sanded the edges of the shelf with the belt sander as I finished cooking the chicken. I showed her how to use the table saw to trim the shelf boards flush and even. She then cleared out the loose vardo stuff into the garage and hand sanded the shelf parts smooth. I cut some thin stock 5 1/2″ to use as shelf supports.

The shop is a mess of sawdust and scrap, I cleaned out enough room to lay out one gate. I cut out the center beams to accept the wheels after freeing them on the grinder. I need 5/16 bolts and washers to mount the wheels as well as some liquid nails equivalent to secure everything on the gate. Time to visit Harry’s Mercantile up town, he has it all for five bucks and a dime back.

A stop at Luis’ to confirm but he’s not home yet. Back home, Rave called her Mom. The vardo looks good, ready to move for the first time.


The gate is assembled loosely with brackets laid out, I’ll do the real work in the cooler morning.


I did get the measurements for the diagonal at 58″ total and 55″ at the angle with the angle set on the bevel tool.

Raven headed home for a play at Harbin. I went up town and bought Luis’ 1985 Nissan truck.  I chopped up some Meyer lemons for marmalade to make tomorrow, soaking in the fridge. A productive day with plenty to complete tomorrow.