Monthly Archives: October 2014



We met for coffee at Starbucks Safeway. The farmers market is nearing done, but a good haul of pineapple guavas, some granny smith apples, a tomato, Raven scored some carrots and what not. Raven is wanting some costume stuff, why not, we take my car in to Santa Rosa. Cost plus is here next to a costume shop, I could get some Spanish Chorizo as Raven looks around. The Spirit shop has better deals up the street for costumes, a wide brim hat, long black gloves will do. Getting hungry, let’s head home with a brief stop to pick up the truck.
Lunch of half a tuna melt and Raven’s very good soup. The tuna melt is caught in McKinleyville tuna with mayo, unexpected cheddar, my bread and butter pickles chopped, on sprouted wheat, grilled to brown in butter, yum. I can’t explain the soup of rice and veggies with medicinal roots and mushrooms but it tasted great with added salt.
Weather is off and on rain and sun. I need to find a shovel as my dear cat Rosie died last night. I dug a hole behind the garden where she liked to hang out. We had an impromptu funeral. Thanks Rosie, such a good cat.
Work to do, I brought out the iron for the axle extension, it’s cut to size last week but needs holes. I took measurements from the lines I made before on the frame, 1 3/4″ centers for the spring mounts 26 1/2″ apart. I measured these on the 28″ shorter pieces the springs will mount to. Starting with a smaller 3/8 drill bit as a pilot I drilled the holes with the drill press after center punching first. A couple holes were off, I used the flex shaft drill and a rotary file to get the holes corrected, then used the 1/2″ bit to true to round.


Meanwhile, Raven is working on the shelves for the vardo display. She’s having trouble as the redwood support slats keep splitting. I find some mahogany scrap and cut some pieces to size, she finishes them in polyurethane, builds it up while researching the brake laws as it dries. Really nice shelves.


I figured out the mounting holes, with 30″ longer iron pieces a hole on each end a half inch in and two more holes at 10 and 20. This will give two bolt holes to the shorter outer pieces after they’re welded. With 1/2″ grade 5 bolts and welds, two short and two long bolts per side. Welded and bolted this should be very strong. I laid out the hole placements and pilot drilled one long bar. I found by adding a couple pieces of redwood I can drill the lower hole square as the drill press has a limited throw. One long bar is pilot drilled complete. I’m having to sharpen the drill bits on the grinder to finish so many holes. More to do, but progressing.

Raven finished the shelf and is watching the Hobbit 1, to sleep in the vardo on the new extended mattress a bit softer. We’ll need to make a cover for it, sew it goes.

a bed fit for a queen, metalcraft and splitting wood


raVen reporting here, as dan’s modem is temporarily down–but will be new and improved this tuesday.

today was a bit out of sequence, as i had to get up early, without dan, and go into town for coffee before a telephone call i needed to make.  i returned to dan’s with coffee, and he decided to go to the farmer’s market while i was in the meeting.  when i got off the phone, i went to tackle the Vardo refrigerator, which i thought might be overcome with mold. (insert photo)

when i opened it up, it was a lot cleaner than i expected, but i gave the seals a good scrub anyhow.  himming and hawing for what to do next (aside from changing out the axle, there’s not much left to do), i decided to put the bed back together, and got the desire to get a waffle mattress pad for the tops of the cushions, as its felt pretty hard and uncomfy the last few times i slept in there.  when dan returned, we had a scrumptious farmer’s market meal and plotted out that he’d work on cutting steel as i went to town to get screws for another small detail for the Vardo–a display cabinet (insert photo).  when i came back from the store, he was done (insert photo), and i decided it would be a good time to go get that mattress pad.  not cheap, but worth it, we found the cot-size pad that i was seeking, and when put on top of old cushions, it felt like some good sleepin’ was ahead (insert photo).  spent the last few minutes of the day learning how to use the drill/countersink tool to assemble the display cabinet, but as the drill was working funky, i spun it too hard and split the first wooden bracket, oh well.  at least i have a project for next week!  dan plans to move the Vardo with his truck (oh my) and then jack it up to do some measuring for the new axle fittings.  should be exciting, and i’ll try to go easy with that drill.  over and out.

10/12/2014 Isis Weekend


Wow. the grand debut. Quite the weekend. I left work on time Friday, a rare thing. As I drove past Luis’ I noticed Raven’s truck on the street. Arriving home, the front door was a jar, not the cat this time but Raven on the computer. Are we ready? Not quite, I fill the second water bottle and load them in my car. Raven already has the water heater and wind screen out, into the trunk. Chocolate? sure. She calls Luis. I moved the truck and clamped the steps inside to the pillar last night to be ready. Luis shows up shortly as it’s only a half a mile away. He backs in to match the hitch line up with my guidance, we lower the jack on and swing it up. The new extended electric plug still won’t work as the two plugs don’t mate, oh well, wind it around.
We’re off, Luis ahead, Raven and I in my car following with the 4 way blinkers on. Here’s the same shot on a different day.


I had told Luis to keep the truck to the right near the corner as the road slopes. He did a fine job. Around the corner to the right and up.

And up

Into Isis Oasis.

To Isis

Raven was concerned about a few branches, we cleared them all, up the hill and parked. Luis and I dropped the jack and placed her. Raven flipped him a bill as he headed home, thanks.


We need electric for the water pump to work, I stretched the new extension cord out, too short and across the driveway. Walter has a trailer parked across the way and is kind enough to hook his spare cord into the massage room to make it.


We have running water. I hook up the water heater, everything hooks together right, I get a wrench from my boat ditty bag and tighten the gas line. It’s right, but it won’t light up as the two ‘D’ cells are probably dead, no igniter click. Oh well, I turn off the gas and we cover it with a burlap bag. She can use the stove for hot water. We peel the plastic wrap off the Formica counter. Raven locks the door until she can get it set up right as I head for home. She’ll be spending the night aboard.

Saturday morning I slept in, waking up thinking about it. Hmm, we need to have a fire extinguisher on board, this is important. Soap and a sponge.
I head for Healdsburg, Garrett’s hardware has ABC extinguishers on sale cheap, bought two as I need a spare. Bucky’s for coffee and a trip to the farmers market, pineapple guavas, huge granny smith apples and green beans. Earl loaded me up on beans as it’s the end of the day, kind retired man, a gourd master, always friendly. Praise the Gourd.
The Dollar store has dish soap, sponges, a nice cutting board with a coffee cup print, and a hot pad, all useful. Some O chicken tenders for lunch be nice.
I stop by the vardo to drop off the new toys, it’s looking good with potions and books laid out, a chair and small table outside with bamboo background all under a beautiful pine tree. It’s gorgeous.


We hang out a while, Raven takes me on a tour of the Isis grounds, the lodge, up to the new hobbit cobb round quarters, new bird open area, much is done better.
I head for home to make us lunch of broiled chicken (marinated with oyster sauce, garlic powder, my curry powder and a dash of horse radish sauce for a kick), Earl’s green beans steamed with a jasmine rice side. Packed in Tupperware, chop sticks, a serving spoon and two bowls in a bag lunch. Arriving at the vardo, we open it up to instant wasps like chicken, we move inside to the same old table with a different view. Ah tasty. And it’s cool with the trees for all day shade.


Home again I make up a batch of chutney with the 3 huge granny smiths, three more gala apples, 6 plums from TJ’s I’ve been saving. Golden raisins, even cooking down some dried mangoes cut small with the raisins in a bit of boiling water until soft and reduced. A medium fried onion in olive oil until tender. Spices, brown sugar, allspice, a dash of dried ginger, my not hot curry powder, cider vinegar, a dash of salt. more of each and then some, this needs a kick, dry mustard, ah. Vinegar and allspice are predominant. 8 cup jars canned in the boiler. One less as I write this, yum, I ate the whole thing. That was yesterday except the empty jar.
The vardo bed is too hard. Arriving late Raven spent the night on the fold out living room couch, very comfortable. It’s Sunday I’m sleeping in. I get up and reheat the Bucky’s coffee as we talk. Raven heads for the vardo. I start Sunday laundry, thinking. She needs a good pan to cook her breakfast rice in, a small pot and lid. She asked for a plastic dish wash basin. Let’s see what Garrett’s has. I have a $5 off coupon to buy a perfect small stainless 1 quart pan and lid. There is an inexpensive plastic shoe box that should fit the sink, it does, a new dish pan with a cover.
Safeway has a sale on Fugi apples, 5 lbs., one tastes great on the way home for apple butter.
A stop at the vardo on site, Raven has a session going on, I wait, this is a first. As the woman walks off with a card in case of questions I appear. The other maker, honored. I show Raven the new toys, a pan and dishpan, very cool, she’s jazzed.
As we talk her new friend Lish shows up, interesting character with a limo converted to a sound recording studio, very well done, no visible wires or ground loops.


Back home to cook a bit.
Luis and I meet on site at 4:30 as scheduled to hook it up. Luis backs the vardo down the hill to a good turn around, amazing driving. Moving forward we all head for home, three rigs in a row, down the road a half mile home. Raven and I park in the field. Luis guides the vardo in, a little closer to the side in one try. It’s fine, set her down. Wow, he really knows how to drive a trailer well. Jack down and disconnected, Luis heads for home with many thanks and a tip. Raven heads home with a hug.
I finish up another batch of apple butter, 4 cups and a half 4 ouncer. Good stuff with everything licked clean after and washed. A fine batch as the lids snap shut, ta, tata tok.



I got up late today as it’s Sunday. Raven has been up a while, just finishing the last gold trim on the bottom stringer passenger side. It looks good. She makes us each Turkish coffee in the vardo on the newly working stove.
I start soldering the wire extension to the running lights as the sun is already coming around the tree. I have taped the wires in order not to mix them up. Stripped, twisted, soldered, sliding the heat shrink already on into place and shrinking it with my lighter. That done, I check the work, the white frame ground is still too short. I go digging around and find a piece of the original brown and yellow wire near the back of the vardo, cut a piece to length and splice it in.

Running wires

Raven asks me for help on the shutters. I grab the Altoid tin of pins and screws, fill a plastic bowl with water. Holding the screw with pliers I grind down the screw tips and quench the hot metal in the water, Tshh. Eight of them, brass with gun bluing on the tips for patina. Raven puts up the shutters as I need to go can. They fit tight, good.


I have a lot of apples to work on before it heats up. I break out the hand crank apple machine, it works well on the hard granny smiths although you still need to get some of the extra peel off with a knife. It makes a long spiral slinky of apple, once you cut it, in slices. I also have some gala apples, the machine won’t work as they are too soft to stay on the fork. I peel, core and slice them by hand. Stored in a large bowl of water with a quarter lemon squeezed peel and all to keep the fruit from browning. I pour off most of the water but save some for the batch, loose the lemon and dumped in a pan. With the stove on low I check for jars, not enough. I tell Raven the stove is on, jump in the car and head for town, back in twenty minutes with 8 ounce Ball cups. The apples have softened up nicely. I throw in a little over a half cup of light brown sugar, a heaping 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. As it’s cooking down I’m getting hungry. I push the big water bath to the back burner and put the batch aside on the counter.
Long sliced peeled Russet potatoes frying in the pan in heavy oil. I grind up pistachios with rice crackers in the blender, egg dip and roll a thawed rock fish fillet in the nuts as the potatoes finish. Sliced summer squash in the steamer, a batch of tarter sauce with my bread and butter pickles, mayo and lemon juice. Throw in the fish quick on each side, lunch is ready, fish and chips.
After lunch Raven washes down the vardo with a hose, brushing the tops of the lower stringers. Vacuums out the interior with the shop vac all tidy. I finish up on the apple butter, blendered smooth and reboiled to get the air out, four cup jars and licked the pan clean. Yum.
Way hot, time to get wet. The vardo is still full of chlorine, I fill the clean five gallon jug with fresh water. Pulling the tube carefully from the chlorine jug beneath the sink I flip the pump switch on to not spill the bleach. I swap out the bleach for the fresh jug. The hose is hooked to the outside water main, I turn it on. It’s spraying around the coupler under pressure, needs a new rubber washer. Open the main valve and go turn on the faucets, hot and cold both are running. Outside I open the grey tank and drain it onto the driveway, not good for the plants yet but it’s diluting rapidly. I flip the valves around the hot water system to clear them out. All this is on the hose main, turn it off and flip the pump switch on. We drain the whole five gallons in a couple minutes, it goes quick. I take the chlorine mostly empty five gallon jug and dump it on the driveway to dry, insert the hose to the bottom of the jug and turn on the water on the lawn, gushing over for a few minutes. It’s a good thing I’m on a well, as it all goes back to the water table and chlorine evaporates. But the water system is clear and sanitary.
Raven paints the the front yoke black again with a can of spray paint, trims the forward stringer to black for now so it’s even. She gets a kick out of the color “Ace of Spades”.


A lot got done, the vardo is ready to go after pulling the hose and power main. Running lights, water, gas yesterday, new curtains. We’ll add the hot water heater on site and carry the two five gallon jugs of fresh water in the car, a lot of excess weight. Luis will move it Friday late afternoon a mile up the street to Isis Oasis for a convocation, the first debut of the yet unregistered Gypsy Wagon. We still need to add the extended axle and fenders.



I met Raven at Starbucks as usual on a Saturday. We headed over to the farmers market, ooh pineapple guavas, yes please. A couple tomatoes for a chutney recipe I’m making. A zucchini intended for lunch. I quickly hit up Shelton’s for a lemon and butter, met Raven’s car on the street and met again at Garrett’s hardware. We need a lot as the gas system needs to work today. They don’t have the 5/16 to 1/2″ hose barb to pipe thread brass fittings I hoped for to match what’s in the vardo minus the iron. We’ll go with 3/8″ they have and 10 feet of hose to match. I’m not sure, but 4 half to 3/8 and a couple 3/8 joiners. We need to extend the running lights wires, 12 feet of 16 gauge wire. Lets head for home.
I need to remove the iron piping and use the same valves. This starts out OK as I remove the pieces with difficulty as they are bound on the studs. Down to the last long pipe, oh no. It’s stuck in the wall and the insulation (I hate insulation, it itches) is holding it from moving. I can’t find the vice grips and my hands are tired from the pliers and hammer.
Raven whips up a couple tuna sandwiches with bread and butter pickle relish, very tasty. After lunch I find the vice grips and nudge the insulation away from outside with a dowel and finally punch it through, whew, that was hard. The new tube goes in easily using a dowel fit tight into it and threaded down the stud holes, bending the dowel to make the last stud, in. I found the yellow gas Teflon tape, sealed all connections half inch to hose barb wrenched tight. I secured the inside emergency valve with hose clamps after much difficulty and reinserted the aluminum shield.
Raven had gone off to Isis Oasis to check it out, returning just in time as I need the receipt to exchange 2 hose menders for a 3/8 Tee. The price matched a penny owed from the penny jar. Back home it all fit together in 15 minutes, so easy with rubber hoses. I turn the gas on and it all works.


I made some pipe strap connectors to hold the parts down.



The water system is going to need to be chlorinated to purify it. I buy some concentrated bleach at the corner store. Raven pulls the water bottles, we dose them with pure bleach, adding the empty to the other then filling it strong on bleach. Inserting it into the cabinet with the pump on, we push high chlorine water into all the lines, hot and cold. I’m outside feeding hoses as Raven opens and closes the faucets. The whole system is full. We’ll rinse it all out tomorrow morning to insure a clean system. I used to do this with my Dad to clean the schools in the summer.

Raven scored some new curtains from a friend, they are really nice, hung, may need some adjustments on the sewing machine.



I build a couple brackets to secure the outer fittings above using plumbers tape. A good day with more to do tomorrow as next week the vardo goes locally live.