Monthly Archives: September 2015



My Birthday weekend. Raven and I went to the Renaissance fair yesterday, a fine time. With a stop at Rosemary’s Garden  herbs for tinctures. I have several jars in vodka and individual herbs soaking. Fun shop. Gentian root for bitters and more.

Here is a picture of the basket I made today. I’m beginning to get it right. Rattan is really easy to work with, all the same size, long strands very supple. This is my best yet. The transition from base to upright went really well. The three rod wale in the middle works, a little off on perspective ratio, but nice. I needed to push it out to finish as it was contracting, that worked well too.With a mock braid finish. I’ll trim the ends closer as it dries.



A good day. We got some stuff done. First thing this morning I started a batch of Meyer lemon marmalade as I had prepared it last night. 3 lbs sugar to 3 lbs lemons, just 4 cups water, two last night, two more this morning to dissolve the sugar. Cooked down in my big dog food stainless pan, it looks like a dog food bowl really big, with lots of surface area for evaporation. In between I did the laundry and worked on a new bucket seat for Raven. Oops, the marmalade burned just a little but it’s still really good, light color except a few strands.
As I was bottling up the last jar, Luis, my mechanic and good friend showed up. He waited for them to be in the water bath. He came over in the pickup he has for sale, a Nissan, 160K miles, $1,600. It’s a reliable truck, I trust Luis. He can fix my truck starter today after 4:00. OK, I’ll be there 3:30 (just in case it has trouble starting).
I push the laundry into the drier. The tomatoes I bought yesterday need processing, but Raven’s hungry, me too.
I had a dream of tortillas, tomatoes and cheese the other night, we have it, quesadillas. I pick some basil from the garden to kick it off, with figs from Luis’ tree on the side. Wow, so good, the yellow jackets want some too. I don’t like those bugs.
After lunch I work on the tomato batch, Gary’s process, blanch, peal, cut and remove most of the seeds saving the real tomato meat. “A few seeds don’t matter.” said Gary, he’s right. I cook it down in the dog pan thick. Meanwhile still working on the bucket seat. I set up the router with a round over bit. Clamped to Dad’s bench with a couple peg dogs in place to hold it. The router works well but I have to release and spin it to get the other side.
The tomatoes are done with a hint of star anise, canned just one pint and a cup, plus a half or two ounce jar for Raven to spread as mock ketchup. Thick stuff, less is more.
It’s time, I need to get the truck up town for Luis to fix my starter. Raven joins in. She’s been working on a booklet to go with the Tarot decks and needs a break. I park on the road with the key on the seat under the cushion. We check out the antique store and walk home. It’s really hot. Good thing Raven brought two bottles of water and a squirt bottle to keep cool. I mention meat loaf to use the ground beef, she says hamburgers would use less heat, good idea. Lunches for work.
As we get home I cook up three hamburgers, driving Raven out of the house with too much smoke and heat. I reverse the fan, open the back door and clear it out. I’m sorry, it’s OK.
Next a batch of chicken noodle soup. Carrots, mushrooms, chicken breast, onions, noodles, O broth, garlic and bouquet garni from the garden. This stuff is good, four buckets, yum.
Luis showed up with the truck fixed. I drove him home, he topped the oil, fixed the blinking break and oil light.
I found another piece of clean sandpaper and worked on the seat. The camera is acting up, I got it.
The bottom is routed to fit a bucket, wee bit crude, but it works. It will need extensive sanding and a good varnish to prevent splinters. That’s important.
A great day.



I haven’t written here in a while. It’s been a strange week. The Valley Fire ravaged the mountain, burned Harbin hot springs and Middletown. Raven lived in Middletown and worked at Harbin. Her truck was up there as she was returning her Mom’s car in Monterey. She’s OK but everything is gone. Except the vardo, it’s here. I was concerned early in the week as the fire came ten miles from here up the hill. It rained on Wednesday, thank you.

Raven has been here since Tuesday, arriving with friend Nick who spent a couple nights, his place survived the fires, an artist, but the roads were closed. I’m glad Raven has the vardo, her little room, a very tiny home, but something. It’s working as a gypsy caravan should.

I’ve had troubles with my truck, won’t start. Stuck at the gas station yesterday eve for a couple hours until the same guy came back after I got the battery posts clean with another jump, it lit. I gave him a bottle of Two Buck Chuck, thanks so much. Trickle charged all night. This morning it started easy. I drove up to Luis’ house, he checked it out. The charge system and battery works, the starter is shot, available in Santa Rosa at Napa Auto. “If you jog it a couple times it will start.” OK. I drove home.

Raven would like Starbucks coffee, I’d like to see the farmer’s market. Let’s go. We park at Safeway, coffee, the market for tomatoes, carrots and Duncan’s mushrooms. The truck won’t start, even jogged. A lady gives a jump, no good. We’ll wait, go for a walk. Let’s eat, pizza for me , salad bar for Raven. The truck STARTS on the second try, way cool, we’re mobile. We head for Santa Rosa, up and down the avenue we find the Napa auto store. With the truck still running, Raven on watch, I go in and get the new starter. We check the hood and door frame to verify the right part. To home via Luis’. He’s deep into a flywheel job, tomorrow we can fix it, go home, trickle charge it. By the way he has a couple cars and a small truck for sale if Raven get’s state aid money.

Back home, I need to let folks know I won’t be at the Bob’s retirement party at 3:00, I email Chin, best connection I have.  Raven is online for a ride to Calistoga for more aid info.

Finally we get to work on the vardo. It is Saturday after all. Raven installs the second side screen into the already stained frame, good for cross ventilation. She installs it into the vardo window needed before a picture is available, literally cool. The big upper door frame still needs stain and some putty to fill the knots, wait on it.

Meanwhile, I have an idea. I get the piece of card stock Raven used for a preliminary sign before the sandwich board. I mark the back with the wooden home made big compass for a 12 inch circle, the size of a bucket. The radius divides to six parts lined in  The 2 x 4 I bought is 3 1/2 inches wide, 1 3/4″ to each side maps out the 2 x 4. Using the compass on the large and less than small side I get a pattern, cut out, applied to the 2 x 4 . Six pieces cut on the band saw, then sanded on the round lapidary wheel. to smooth. Fitted round, they need adjustments, sanded in individually to close in order. With the loose band clamp I apply epoxy slow cure glue, both sides, then tighten the clamp. I have parchment paper beneath.


Once it dries I’ll use a round router bit on the top two sides. Thinking a straight router bit set to the bucket diameter on the router table and feed the part around. That’s the plan. Then hand sand everything to total smooth and finish with a good varnish. This will be a fine bucket seat.

After that I chopped up the Meyer lemons I bought for marmalade to soak overnight. More to do tomorrow in the morning cool.



A vardo day Sunday. We met at Bucky’s as usual for coffee. It’s Labor day weekend so that’s good. Yesterday I picked up pickle makings, bread and butter at the farmers market and a zucchini. Also a lot of willow for baskets. Today we are on a mission for a battery for the electric cart for Raven’s Mom. I saw one in the Harbor Freight catalog on sale, 12 V, 35 AH, exactly what we need for the second battery. On the way out of the coffee shop I pulled a newspaper coupon out of my pocket, two really, for 20% off any one item and a free multi meter coupon. Raven also wants a small tarp to protect the car. We climb in my truck with the newly installed coffee cup holder on the door (careful closing it), and away.

At Harbor Freight we head for the Solar section for the battery, I’ve been here yesterday to check on it. I measured the old core battery in the truck, seems the same size plus packing material. Raven gets in line as I find the multi meter and meet her. “Oh yea, a tarp.” I run back for a small one on sale $3. Walmart wanted $90 for a battery and sent us a $9 coffee pot instead, out of box defect. We are out the door with the battery, a free multi meter and tarp for $63. They didn’t even want the core battery, worth more cash back else where.

Raven wants some herbs for Ayurvedic  potions, Community Market has a good selection, we go there. She gets a bunch of little bags. I see some vanilla beans I’ve never played with, score. Back to Healdsburg for the car then home.

We unpack the truck and start lunch, Chicken, rice and zucchini, plus a ripe garden tomato, Raven would like some farmers market bell pepper I bought for pickles, OK, I cut up a quarter raw for her. Lunch is good in the room with a view, although the wasps are a bit in the way. I should have bought a trap, will, they like chicken.

This week after work I’ve been researching labels for potions. I’ve been remodeling the letters in Paint on some with a couple proofs printed at work, paid for in free overtime, hush, but fair.


It’s time for bottles, Pete Stone has collected hundreds of airplane bottles for me as he cleans the town. mostly plastic but a bunch of glass ones too. Raven sorts out the good glass ones as I get the new battery installed and on the charger. We work together, wet pealing the old labels, using orange oil to remove the gum and ink from the bottles clean. It takes a lot of effort. We fill up a canning jar box with airplane bottles, ready to boil sanitary. The fancy corked ones will be for body potions not consumable. I’d like to make some cold cream, where to get round tins, google that later.

We break down the electric cart and mock pack it in the car, mostly in the trunk, with some in the tarp covered back seat, it will fit fine. Moved to the garage and charging. The flag needs mounting. I cut off the metal plate on the band saw and rounded the rod end on the sander. Found a brass tube the right size to fit it, cut to length and crimped to stop.  I cut a piece of walnut hardwood at an angle, a vee notch to fit the tube and opposite larger to fit the seat arm tubing with a notch to hold a hose clamp from slipping. This way the flag is held away from the arm rest at an angle, turned in works best, above the back of the cart. Easily removed and installed for shipping, safely visible orange flag out of the way.  The cart is ready to ship in the car next weekend, new batteries charging topped off in a few hours. Fully drained may take a little longer, but they’re deep cycle batteries, made for this. Still best to not drain them completely. Note: If the cart stops on a big bump, check the red and white connectors to the battery. They’ve come loose before.

We spent most of the day cleaning bottles. Raven cuts out a Love Potion label and secures it with glue stick to a clean bottle. “I have food coloring in black.”, “Not on a love potion, maybe a snake oil.” A picture with the stained glass shade I bought at Sally’s yesterday in the background,


Goo gone works to remove the gum and even the ink from the bottles with elbow grease. We have a lot of clean bottles. Raven needs to go home, work at double time holiday pay tomorrow. I hope to go sailing. Meanwhile, I decant the willow withes I collected into the second 4 inch by 5 foot bucket I made and fill it with water to keep them supple for another day to weave.

I sliced up the cucumbers for B&B pickles, I need jars. I run into town, on holiday sale at $7 a flat, I’ll take two at that price, I’ll use them. On the way home I picked up a wee bottle of bourbon for boss Housley as he’s retiring soon, a new label with his name on it.  I finish chopping peppers and onions, salted 1/2 cup split and refrigerated to process first thing cool time in the morning, I’m really hoping to go sailing tomorrow with Joe and his Dad. We got so much done today, laundry too. A fine long holiday weekend.