Monthly Archives: September 2014



Well it’s been quite the weekend as my birthday was on Friday. I met Raven at Starbucks Saturday morning for coffee. As she had a phone appointment to keep she headed for the house and I went to the farmers market. The gherkins were on sale a dollar off so I bought all the little ones. Pineapple guavas, among my favorites, throw some of them in too. I’m craving soup, potatoes, green beans, a yellow squash. Off to Shelton’s for tonight’s potato salad, free range chicken broth and a carrot. A stop at the hardware store for a dowel to perhaps plug the gate holes.
Home again, Raven is still on the phone, cool. I load up the car with tools to finish Elliot’s gate while making chicken soup at the same time, garden herbs, thigh meat. Cathy called after Raven finished, expected by 2:00, get charcoal. The soup turned out perfect, not fancy just really good. Raven didn’t try it yet as she has a tuna salad on the way.
We ride my car to Oakland as it’s cheaper than the truck, arriving on time.
I get started on the gate as Raven has last weeks herbal forum to type out. I adjust the two gates using a wrench to get them upright and even. I use a pipe wrench pulling to bend the hinge pin on the left upper side to get that side plumb, it works as I planned it, wow. The right side doesn’t have the room to bend it and needs lower clearance. Raven helps me lift the gate to the garage front saw horses where I cut a half inch off the bottom right side. I have to remove the wheel first, using a skill saw to make the cut, just clipped a screw, but alright. Replace the wheel. I use the pipe wrench to bend the upper right hinge pin while the gate is off, using a nut and piece of string to check for plumb, right on. I attach the lower right hinge plate and torque it, attaching the upper plate with one bolt loose. Raven helps me carry the gate to place and raises it as I use a hammer to get the upper plate attached to the pin, engage the bolt and wrench it home. In the middle, both gates are plumb, in line and not swinging, excellent. The left side wheel engages as it fully opens. The right side wheel hits pavement and lifts the gate as it reaches full open while the gate doesn’t bottom out, this is acceptable and good. I tweak the hinge pins to perfect the center alignment tight, then replace the side board screws.



The gate is in place right. I checked out the combination latch. As I forgot to bring the long extension cord, this will have to wait.
Party time, as the guests arrived I lit the grill. We all assembled kabobs, good fun, cooked to perfection. Dinner served at the outside table with beautiful sunset lighting so tasty.
Birthday banana cake inside with trick candles I recognized by the sparks, pinched out. Hope I still get my wish. Cool presents, book and book mark, a beautiful Sapan boat model and a yodeling pickle, odd that. Not really as I passed out pickle jars for everyone. Home time. Steve arrived after we left in full pirate costume, stuffed parrot stuck on an epee “just resting”, so funny.
Raven in the vardo, awoke me to Turkish coffee with heavy cream, dark chocolate with almonds on the side, exquisite. She worked on more gilding details as I woke up.
We need a new steel cutter blade from Harbor Freight to make the axle spring extensions. The propane gas lines need modifications, I want to convert the leaking iron pipes to brass fittings and rubber hoses. We price the parts at Garrett’s, TBD with what’s on hand. A stop at HF for the steel cutter wheel, Trader Joe’s.
On to Wells Fargo Center as the Gem Show is on, Raven’s treat for my birthday. It’s much bigger than I expected, a decent show. Raven scored a good string of raw amber she wanted at a reasonable price, I got good amethyst beads at a discount.
Back to home base Raven reheated the chicken soup, another perfect meal.
I attached the new grinder wheel, measured the distance between spring centers at 28 inches. I think we’ll need extra length to provide enough clearance for the bolts, I measured and cut two pieces of 2×2 square 1/8 wall tube at 30 inches.

Technical considerations: Just checked, the  spring mount bolts are short, I’ll need to secure them inside the tubes. Therefore the second tube set will need to be 28 inches inset an inch at each end. I’ll use 4 bolts each side, two at 2 1/2″, two at 4 1/2″ to secure the tubes to the frame.  The spring mounts can be secured inside the tube before mounting the extensions. I’ll temporarily bolt the two together before welding. Number 5 bolts at 1/2 inch diameter. 

I figured out to cut the second one on the left with the short piece and chalk line right. That way I’m not in line with the tool. The first one I had to lean over the blade to see the line, scary if the wheel broke. it didn’t, but the short to right is safer. 

Raven headed for home early at 4:30 with good soup. I finished the second tube cut and moved to the kitchen busy. I have pickles I salted early to can and Cathy asked for apple butter. I break out the apple tool, cores and peels mostly with a crank, needing an occasional trim of the peels. I start with the outback granny smith wormy apples removing the worms and fall back on the O Galas I bought at TJ’s. Boiled, blendered,  spiced, oven cooked down and canned long in the hot water bath. Meanwhile rinsing out some salt from the pickles. Cornichons, herbs from the garden, tarragon and thyme, farmers market garlic and onions, grape leaves from the vines out back. Pretty much local. Vinegar and water. Five pints, plus three and a half cups of apple butter. It’s late, what a weekend, good night.



Vardo flipped to Sunday as I hung the gate yesterday. I didn’t get a picture of the gate yet but will when I get the latch installed.
Raven was in the vardo dark when I got home last night as I needed the power cord for the job. I powered it up so she could watch her favorite vampire TV show, 2 episodes. I watched Gordon Ramsey cook. I woke up at 1 AM and prepped some pickles with salt.
We got up late, nice thing about Sundays. Heading to Starbucks Safeway for coffee in my car, “What are we going to eat? I feel like chicken.”
Raven, “I was thinking about grilled cheese. how about a chicken melt.”
“I never tried that before, I have that ‘unexpected cheddar’ from Trader Joe’s, bread in the freezer.”
Raven picked out energy drinks as I bought chicken tenders, separate tabs at the coffee station. Next stop Garrett’s hardware as Raven needs black paint, then home.
The new 84″ axle arrived last week, I’m putting it together. I found the tub of grease before we left for town. It came with the flats not welded as I requested of Bob Long, the guy. He’s been really helpful, “You need to extend the spring mounts to keep it safe as 19 inches accumulative is maximum allowed overhang. Use grade 5 bolts 1/2″ minimum”. OK. So it came in pieces, raw bearings, 5 x 4.5″ hub, three seals (one spare), caps and the weldable flats for the springs. The crown nuts and washers came attached to the axle greased and wrapped in shrink wrap. I took it apart and loaded the bearings with grease, packed the hub with more, grease loaded the seals. With the big bearing in place I used my strongest clamp to install the seals with a gate wood block on top and a hammer to coax it. It all fit except the crown nut, I don’t have a wrench that big, 1 1/2″, I’ll need Luis’ help. Jump in the car, Toni his son says he won’t be home until 3:30.
new axle
Lunch then. I broiled the chicken tenders with oyster sauce, my not hot curry powder and garlic powder, standard issue but a tasty mix. I thawed four pieces of sprouted grain bread in the already hot oven. Sliced this amazing cheddar cheese, butter pats for the hot pan. Bread, whole chicken tenders and cheese in the buttered pan, add a little water for steam and cover. Flip and cover with a little more water. Fresh garden tomatoes and basil on the side. Wow, this is good.
Raven has been painting more details in gold around the soon to be extended wheels.
The same pattern is wearing out, She cuts out a new one.
Meanwhile I worked on the pickles, a batch of bread and butters. I break out the ‘Joy of Cooking’ book, oops, the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of salt, I used two in the middle of the night. I begin leaching out the salt in cold water baths. I shut down the hot bath, oven jars and syrup and continue to change the cold water.
We haven’t used the vardo water system in a long time, I hook up the hose and and flush out the lines, watering the roses with the flush hose. The fenders need some attention, I flattened the end metal using the vise anvil and large ball peen hammer, loud. Using my knees and pulling up the sheet I got it mostly straight. I used the metal grinder to remove the attached studs. I’ll need a new cutting wheel to finish cutting the fenders to length.

The pickles are finally not too salty and I do up the batch. Five and a half pints. As I have a case of half pints, the canner is hot, I open the two previously made full pints of plum sauce. Reheated and re jarred smaller, with some loss in the pan and spoon (which I consumed as much as possible) down to 3 and most of a cup.
Luis should be home by now, and it’s time for Raven to head out. I follow her to the corner. We head our separate ways. Luis has the right wrench and is kind enough to let me borrow it. I secure the crown nuts, backed a quarter as Luis recommended, then added the right size cotter pins, plier bent back. The cap happens to perfectly fit the left over pipe I cut off the gate yesterday. I whack it into place with the big hammer. I returned Luis’ wrench within a half hour, Thanks man.
Laundry done for work tomorrow, a good day.