Monthly Archives: August 2015



We met for coffee as usual, Raven was checking out a magazine with fancy camping ideas, teardrop trailers with cloth propane tank covers and such. Perhaps the next build a teardrop, been thinking of it and have the axle, springs and tires. Time for a tour of the Farmers market.

I brought my new basket with a handle I made last week with sticks from just up the street. Once round and small pickle stock, not quite gherkins, somebody else came by first, but these will make cornichons. They like the basket. A small melon, Raven gets a bright red pepper, purple eggplant and an onion. It all looks good those colors in the basket. Steve has a good deal on tomatoes, five pounds to cook down for sauce. In the basket, it’s heavy. We’re done here. As we cross the street the handle breaks, damn, too much weight. I pick up the few things fallen and carry it to my truck walking fast as it’s heavy. I can fix the basket handle, my first attempt and a lesson.

Today Raven wants to go shopping for ideas. We take her mom’s car, better mileage and head for the big city of Santa Rosa. First stop Joanne’s Fabrics, Raven finds some cool Halloween socks, not much for paper labels, though they have larger wine size labels too big. Next stop Trader Joe’s, I was here last night, stocked, but an avocado would be good. Raven bought stuff she needed, soap, cat food, salad dressing, stuff. Plus lunch wraps, chicken and tuna. We head for Beverley’s, I get some blue string for bigger pouches, Raven a fancy paper and jewelry supplies. The crystal shop, but first lunch under a tree, not bad, mine’s better. It’s a new age store, been around for years. I used to sell my crystal jewelry here years ago when that was my business, one of many shops. They have blue apatite rocks, Raven gets one, in case she gets hungry, yea right.

We head for home with a brief stop for my truck. It’s already late, close to two, that’s OK. I glue up another wooden wheel with slow dry epoxy, let it set. I start working on the upper door screen. It’s already cut, I find some small nails, not short enough, grind them down on the lapidary with a vise grip to hold, put a rough quad point, saved in a plastic box, eight of them. I cleaned the bench to almost fit the large frame, it hangs over. I square the two parts and drill a number size smaller with two holes, add yellow glue and secure. And again, all the way around four corners square. Let it dry.

Meanwhile Raven is working on potion labels. She finds several on line saved to the desktop. The Altoids can has a nice form stamped in the metal. I break out the rubber goop I bought at Sally’s cheap, measured in a water bath it’s a 2 to 1, but it’s already dried out, I’ll have to try another method, I have several options. Probably vulcanizing rubber at 300 degrees in the oven would work best, not today. Raven experiments with a book punched and tied with thread, blank pages for now, but the concept works. This week at work I printed a palm reading booklet from the web in black and white double sided to save paper. I put in some extra time to cover the cost. The booklet is copy free available here:

Click to access speed-palmistry1.pdf

I respected the authors request, and a good reference for the vardo in hard copy. Palm reading, cool. I shucked the weeks few mung beans, Dan at work says ‘mung’ means food in some language, appropriate.


The picture is the palm book, Raven’s new blank book, the paper she bought, clasps for necklaces and blank cards for a Tarot layout. Here is a shot of a tarot layout.


I’m not sure yet on the order of the cards. We shall see.

I did get the upper door screen frame built, it was a little over sized, sanding made it fit well. I used the vibe multitool to cut the corners out perfectly.


Next we add the screen and rove it into place with cordage.

Raven found some labels on line, I showed her how to use the snipping tool to in Win 7 to process them for Paint. It’s a good tool.


Nice labels for a start. Add coffee for color.

Another great day!


I made another basket today, a big one with a handle. I picked peaches from the neighbor’s vacation rental tree. They’re falling on the ground and the limbs are arched loaded, it’s OK. The peaches are small.
I made a big batch of pasta y fagioli, the bacon and all the veggies from the farmers market. Organic beans, kidneys and Northern. Ate a bowl and still have 5, four frozen, one for tomorrow, really good stuff. Stir fry and chicken soup for variety lunch.
I tried weaving the willow I’ve been soaking for a week in the long bucket, the dried ones collected from the river. They keep snapping, dang. Back in the tube with new water to soak longer. I drove to Healdsburg, Willow road (Grove really) near the Montessori school. I picked most of it across the street this time. A woman walking by thanked me for clearing the sidewalk, “for baskets” I said. A few more longer ones across the street. As I wove it I realized the short ones are really good to insert as the side spokes after the base. Reserve the long ones for weavers. This time at the end braid I tucked the ends under a weaver to keep them secure, see how that works as it dries, should be better.
The handle is a new thing, I inserted a withe on each side all the way down, twisted a few times, then inserted the small end half way down, catching a weaver and back up inside, around down through the same weaver as I used on the braid ends. Add another one on each side repeated. It works OK, supports the peaches still wet, should be better dry. Maybe I’ll add a stiffer handle in the middle.
A fun day, laundry is done, back to work tomorrow.



A magical day. I met Raven for coffee on time 10:30. I’ll need water, bought a set of bottles. Off to the farmers market. They have a few cornichon gherkins at Moreen’s place, not many. Home made bacon for more pasta y fagioli. Duncan’s mushrooms, tomatoes from Steve, we introduced, always a good guy and deal. Corn on the cob, a zucchini with one thrown in, a small sweet smelling melon, and green beans. We’re good here. I need good Shelton’s rice while Raven needs to print at the library, we’ll meet there. She prints the UPS labels for the wrong coffee pot, should have been a battery. We take my truck back to the UPS store next to Bucky’s and ship the damn thing back, success, mind Raven gets a receipt. They have color copies available, interesting. I drop her back to the library.

Next stop Salvation Army, Raven has drop off stuff, I go looking. I find a blazer jacket I’ve been looking for that fits me, the pockets are sewn shut, I can fix that, score. The tool room has a power miter saw, plug it in and it’s already on, blows a power bar breaker. No, not safe, I’ll pass. reset the breaker as the music comes back on. I find a small enamel canning pot, with a seven jar rack, a bit of calcium build up I can clean. This will take much less water to heat. I get it, with a tub caulking strip cheap. To the cheap bins, Raven is there. She finds a Ouija board, major good score, and a small cabinet to display potion bottles.



We’ll need to change the cabinet top logo, but it’s very cool for a display. I get some acrylic paint and a round widget.

Home for lunch of BBQ chicken, corn on the cob and green beans, excellent. After lunch I move out the cart, take it for a spin. Clean the garage floor of sawdust to lay out the big wheel, dusting and blowing it clean, face down after removing the hub extension. I mix up slow cure epoxy with a modified coffee stick, tack the hub spokes on the inside, just filling the cracks, then shift each fellow up and apply glue, both sides, pushing the metal tire back to fit. Eight fellows around, best I leave it alone to dry.



This wheel is solid, well done.

Raven has been working on the layout of her vardo invitation, transferring it from the screen to paper, major modifications.  Let’s go back to town to the UPS store where they have color printing. She prints nine copies with fading difficulties, a start. Meanwhile, I print three more decks of tarot cards and four pages of wish certificates.


We’ll revisit the invites, the wishes and decks are fine. A quick stop at the bike store for flag to keep the electric cart visible.

Back home,  cut up the wishes, folded invites are OK, one of three decks are cut out complete. We got a lot done, a fine day as we perused the net for ideas on cool labels. I tied the mirror on the car with a string to keep it attached, and wrote this. Wheels, Ouiga, wishes, invites, a cabinet and more tarot decks to build, a feast, magic indeed, well done.


Sunday, Just trying to stay cool today at 105F here. I can’t make the pickles, too hot. I did finish cutting out the last two decks of tarot cards. I also cut and sewed one row of velvet bags. A nine inch piece a yard wide, I got 13 bags, but several are too small for a deck. They could work for runes though. Cutting up the blue parachute cord I got 11 bags completed, 3 full of decks, 8 empties awaiting. The bags went well, seam over three quarter inch at a half for the seam long on each side, velvet up. Fold it in half velvet inside and start each bag at the previous seam to allow the tie strings. One seam side on the edge, in for the bag width. Another seam close to be cut, then the next bag width. The first few won’t fit a deck as I kept widening, it’s hard to judge. The very last is a tiny half, doesn’t really count.
I strung and cut one blue parachute cord to a comfortable length, melting the ends with my lighter. You need to keep your fingers wet as you twist the molten string round. I used a piece the same length as a standard, just measured at 11 inches.
I got 22 strings for 11 pouches. You could cheat and use just one, but two makes it close right. I used a straight overhand knot to hold them together, moving the knot out as I tightened it. I doubled a wire to fit inside the seam to catch the doubled over string, using my index finger to hold the pouch as I pulled it through, a learned thing as I went.
We have pouches, three with tarot decks. Eight more await. Some are big enough for another deck.
There is a huge piece of velvet left over for more bags or whatever. Two yards wide less 9 inches, plenty. We’ll need more strings or use other stuff.
It’s finally cooling down. Time for another cool shower.



So Raven had a workshop today and I’m on my own. I took a shower and ran out to the farmers market, there just before it closed. Cucumbers for pickles from Moreen, a big sweet onion, small eggplant (baba ganoush?), small crooknecks and a small melon. Off to Bucky’s for some coffee, a little shopping and up the road.

I stopped near the Montessori school where the willows grow, with my snips in hand, picked a large bundle of withes. First the red ones, not too many, the greenish yellow ones were plentiful. On the way back I noticed the weeping willows here have a good long single strand, not the branching ones I’ve usually seen. I picked as many as I could reach. More buds on these but good long branches.
Off to Garret’s for more pint pickle jars and a stop at Salvation Army. They had a wooden TV stand for $3.50, a metal colander, a copper and brass spaghetti stirrer round with holes, cheap. score.  It’s getting hot and thirsty, I head for home. The peach tree at the corner has lost a limb to the weight of them, I stop and pick a few into the colander to lighten it, still green but will ripen soon. Home.
Note, the following is details to weave a basket, feel free to jump ahead.
Unload, pet the cat. I sort out the willow withes, nice ones. Find six good base spokes cut to length a little long. I split three in the middle with my bodkin and string the six together in an X. Pick two nice long branches, little ends in the cut, twist, wrap three, twist wrap three, again and around twice, each time twisting the outer one in. Now pick up the individual spokes, keep going. Tie in another odd half spoke to make the weave work. By now my weavers are running large, I tuck them in with the bodkin and get another branch tucked in large to large, weaving now not twisting, running out the little ends are easy to tuck and another little to little around over under weaving. I keep at this to a good large base, tucked in. Gather twenty six withes, the shortest I have and tuck them in, one on each side of each spoke. These will be the upright rods for the basket, two per rod.  I’m cutting the hard stuff off each stick, just the bendy parts used. If I get a full split break I pull it and trim it back. If the bark pulls off, pull it and trim it back. I want this one a good basket. These added 26 withes will be supple at the narrow end to tie off sweet. 
Beginning the sides I bend the two up and weave leaving the base spokes below to trim off later. This keeps my base flat and a good transition up. A bit of a challenge here to keep things tight as I add more sticks tucked shortly down and around. I’m choosing the longest branches I have to get this transition up, mostly green long weeping strands. I’m upright. Keep going, I don’t think I’ll use a three rod wale on this basket, just a straight weave. I’ve been saving the red willow, time to use it, good long withes, up and up. More green, at this point anything is good, a mix. I’m running low on branches but this is becoming a very large basket. Enough, time to finish, bend the side rods inside then out all the way around, tucking the last inside the first. Skip two and tuck them back in, each one around. These are double strands kept in line. OK, cut each set on the inside long enough not to pop out, beyond the uprights carefully. Push pull make it round, we have a basket. Clip the loose ends trim. 
 Wow, a nice basket! My best yet for a willow, but each one is a lesson, what and how to do. Sticks are much more difficult to work with different thicknesses but I’m getting it. This is a really big basket, with the new TV tray for a size comparison. 

8/9/15 Sunday


Wow, another productive day. Sunday, I slept in, watched a movie and called my sister, left a message. The pickles prepped in the fridge will need vinegar, I checked the spices, I’m good. Off to town, dollar store for crackers and more plastic snap bowls for lunch soups. Safeway for a gallon of distilled vinegar, bottled water, more O broccoli for soup, there’s boneless beef ribs in the discount bin, to make stew. Ah, coffee at the Bucky’s stall.

I remembered to grab my basket snips on the way out this morning, so I hung a left up to the Montessori school and parked. There is a whole row of willow trees on this stretch of road. I walked up, a lot of weeping willows, but also a few clumps of the wild red and green stuff like near the river. The wild stuff has longer single shoots still supple. I trim back the green stuff overhanging the side walk, should benefit the public while supplying me with basket stock. I stripped the leaves and left them to return to the soil for the tree. On the way back is another wild red one, a good contrast, a bit back from the sidewalk with some old logs in front to climb up to get to the splits so the tree can keep growing strong. This should be enough for a good basket. Up the road to home.

The canning pan of water on to boil, I throw in a load of laundry for the week. Break out ‘Joy of Cooking’ for the bread and butter recipe. Canning jars in the oven 215 F, mostly new pints, a couple washed older ones and two cup jars in case of a half end. As the big pan boils I throw in the colander, jar tongs, wide jar funnel, regular tongs, a table knife, and the steel ladle to sterilize. I fish them out ten minutes later.

Meanwhile, the four cups vinegar, four cups sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp allspice, 1 1/2 Tbsp mustard seed, 1 1/2 tsp celery seed, less than 1/4 tsp cloves (too much), 1/2 tsp cinnamon. bring to a simmer. Last night I chopped 3 1/2 pounds of cucumber, a fat onion, a red and green pepper, salted with a half a cup salt split between the two bowls, plastic wrapped and refrigerated. Today, emptied the liquid, refilled with water to sit a bit, drained and again. Tastes right, added to the syrup and bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally. Time, pull a jar from the oven with the tongs, wide funnel on, ladle the pickles in, knife it in filled and bubble free, topped with syrup. wipe the jar, add the lid and screw on the ring. Repeat, five full pints, and enough for a half pint with nibbles of onions and a few peppers. Jar tong into the water bath on high, 10 plus minutes hard boiled. remove to cool as they snap sealed. Five and a half pints.

I moved the laundry to dry. Soup time. As the pickles are cooking down I prepped the veggies for a stew, potatoes, carrots, a sweet onion, garlic, Duncan’s mushrooms and the beef ribs cut of fat and gristle, scraps for the cat. I cooked the mushrooms and onions separately, pulled back, then the meat to brown waiting for the water to boil off and actually brown, pulled back. Add two ladles water and stir to get the bits off the bottom of the pan into solution. Add the beef and half a box of beef broth to simmer covered and tenderize for an hour.

Meanwhile, broccoli cheese soup. a Tbsp butter and a sweet onion in the small frying pan, cooked and set aside. 1/4 cup more butter with 1/4 cup flour to make a roux. Slowly add 2 cups half and half, two cups chicken broth to a boil. I added a cup of white cooking wine. Julienne a cup carrots from the garden, onions, garlic and half pound or more of broccoli. Garden herbs, basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and oregano. I blendered the bigger pieces of broccoli with some broth reincorporated and brought back to a boil. For cheese I used a brick of TJ’s Unexpected Cheddar, the very best, cut by knife to small pieces. Added at the end and melted in. This stuff is fabulous, lightly salted, so tasty. I packed it in five round plastic bowls, refrigerated for now.

Back to the stew, I added the veggies. The meat is tender, let it all cook down.

I have some time, play with the willow, 3 and 3 for a standard round start, with a center plier crimped long strand to tie them together twisted around . And again squared twice, then each individual spoke twisted out. I add in another odd spoke so the count works. I’m running low on strands, using the bodkin I tuck them in and tuck in a new strand.  Keep going, adding strands big end to big, small to small; for a decent base. I’m getting better at this. As I reach a small end I bend the spokes up and tie them with the blue ribbons, shifting into upright sides, weaving standard for a while. Next time I reach the small end I start three rows in three rod wale with the red stock then shift back to standard green weave as the strands run out, tucked down in the inner weave. The stew needs attention.

I mix up some flour and water to thicken the stew broth, stirring it constantly in to make a perfect gravy. Taste, a bit more salt, but the veggies are done. Excellent, packed in square boxes, cooled then refrigerated, to be frozen. I have a lot of food for lunches. It won’t all fit, perhaps some for my coworkers. But everything is now cold.

I work more on the basket, These thick ones won’t final braid, I’ll end it with a simple in out and tuck. Crude but it works, a basket. I sort out the few pears that are ripe and fill it.


What a day, pickles, two soups, laundry and a basket, that’s a lot. Back to work tomorrow, with a full new basket of pears.



A fine day, overcast morning to keep it cooler. We climbed into my truck and headed for town, coffee, yes. Off to the farmers market, a stir fry chicken lunch planned. Joe called earlier, lunch for three, plus some weekly lunches. A zucchini, mushrooms, green beans, carrots, with a batch of cucumbers and a big onion as I’m planning on bread and butter pickles tomorrow. A couple tomatoes look good too. Back to Safeway, some snow peas for the stir fry.

On to Garret’s, along the way I notice a lot of willow trees just passed the Montessori school, I’ll need my clippers for basket stock. At Garret’s we get some slow cure epoxy for the tanks and wooden wheels, also I want some 4 inch PVC tubing and caps to make very long buckets to soak the willow in. Tied down in the back and driving slow in the right lane we head for Salvation Army. The jacket that fits is too loud, I pass, Raven finds a cool green man cast for magical things to sell in the vardo..


I’ve been working on a small Tarot deck evenings at work and home we can print and cut on card stock, a serious challenge to get the back lined up. I finally went with a single large black and white back pattern and cut the colored face pages to fit.


Joe is here when we get home, out back enjoying the room with a view. Good to see him. Time to make lunch, rice on, chop the veggies plus broccoli florets I picked up at TJ’s. Chicken tenders, I’ve learned to strip the tendon out by holding it and scraping the knife down, flip it and remove, the good meat chopped, discard the tendon for the cat. Onions, mushrooms, seven spice, ginger and galangal root I picked up at the Thai store, garlic. Add the chicken and stir cook high. All the veggies, a little water, covered and turned down to steam. In time the carrots are snappy but close. Do it, some corn starch and water to thicken it stirred in to the lower broth, then a large glug of oyster sauce, stirred, a little more oyster sauce. Yea. Rice is done, lunch is ready. Served out back, no the dog is barking, to the vardo tarp then. It’s good. The sprinkler came on for the garden as we finished, cool water on a hot day, so good we get just a little wet to cool off.

Joe tried out the electric go cart for Raven’s Mom, running low on charge but fun. Let’s go to the river. Good rocks will make fine rune stones in sewn bags, We gather the nicer rocks, smooth and flat. Some are harder, some with pretty patterns. Back home, I find a diamond round bit and attach it to the ancient Fordom still running strong 30 years later, such a good tool. With a bowl of water to keep it wet, Raven tried it out.


Practice, and some gold paint will make these work.

Meanwhile, I cut the ten foot piece of tube in half using the jig saw, with a cap on the cut piece, filled with water. It’s leaking a bit, will need pipe cement. I try to pick it up, the water pressure forces the cap off and the water gushes out into the cap and up, whoosh! Oh my, that was fun. I clean it up and let it dry, gluing it in place later with PVC glue.

I work on cutting more decks with the paper cutter, marking the ends with a straight edge and pen to line up the cutter, then use the patterns to guide another deck from the pages..


Time for Raven to go home. Joe and I glue up the PVC tubing and caps for the very long buckets that will soak the willow wisps to make fine baskets from the river branches. We split a ripe pear from out back, knife cut to avoid any worms, only a few pears this year, tasty and sweet. The Granny Smith apples will be prolific yet and this tree is a good one.

Joe heads for home with the router table and router I found at Sally’s cheap a few weeks back, considered an early birthday present. While I was looking for a good diamond bit for Raven’s rocks I stumbled on to a Craftsman bit with missing threaded shaft to complete the collection of router bits I also scored at Sally’s for a couple bucks, a perfect completion of a fine tool, multiple bit forms for building his home. As he pulls out I charge him a penny, no, OK a nickle for a cutting edge, fair deal. Dad’s tradition.

A great day.



I’m back from Michigan and back to work on the vardo. I met Raven as usual for coffee, picked up some water bottles and we headed for the Farmers Market. We decided on BLTs for lunch after the first round (with a stop for gherkins right away), picked up the bacon, went around again for the best tomato price and a melon on the way. Turned out the melon guy had the best tomato deal on the next round, lettuce, carrots for my lunches and more cucumbers for dills. Wait, one more back step for a zucchini. Where’s Raven? I found her hidden in the shade of a tree. A stop at Shelton’s for dill seed and good bread. Salvation Army, no good fitting sport jackets but Raven found another ceramic dragon for “magical stuff” to sell in the vardo.

Lunch time of said BLTs turned out fantastic.

I’ve been working on a downloaded Tarot deck I’d like to print on card stock but having difficulty lining up the duplex sides.


I want a small printable pocket size deck in a pouch. I’ll figure out the alignment issue yet, downloaded Kingsoft for a free Word doc at home.

Raven is working on staining the next screen for the driver side and a love potion in bottles.


I put the grey tanks on saw horses with the joining plumbing to test them. The right one is still leaking a drip, more epoxy I guess, we’ll need to get more. I try using the wavy connector type nails on the spare big wheel, it doesn’t work, splits the fellow, we’ll need to glue them with the same slow epoxy as needed on the tanks. I wood glued the broken part back.

I took the electric cart out of the garage and took it for a spin, drove the neighbor’s dog nuts chasing me up and down the road, great fun. It’s still running on a two week ago charge. The new battery shall be here around the 13th for long distance travel. Raven drew up a shopping list including a flag for cart.

I took the measurements for a large screen frame for the upper Dutch door, 30 3/4″ x 32″, cut up the last piece of partial 2×4 and split that in half for a thin frame cut to length. Slotted on the table saw, then a simple lap joint on the saw to be glued and lightly fastened, sanded on the lapidary to prevent splinters.


The vardo tarp has come loose, pulled out the grommet in back, I retie it using the grommet as a rock to secure it up with a clove hitch.


The water for the garden timer is clogged again, I clean it and water the garden, need to keep an eye on that. Another fine vardo day as Raven heads for home despite the nearing distant fires turning the sun red at sunset.