Monthly Archives: August 2016


Being as it’s harvest time I didn’t get a lot of instrument work done, though a little. Yesterday was Joe’s birthday party, so today was it. Coffee and some hamburger, a stop at Rite Aid for some blank labels to cover Raven’s mail. As I was leaving, my friend Dave from work said hey, we talked a while. On the way out the willows were enticing for a basket but I have to much else to do.
Home, chicken soup to make from the carcass and leftovers. I cleaned out the cavity of any viscerals and threw it in the pot with the drumsticks and thighs, added water, left over garlic, bone soup to cook.
I have a lot of roma tomatoes from the landlords tomato patch, a pot of boiling water to blanch and skin them, cut and seeded in the big bowl. To the wide Emeril pan to cook down, it’s a good pan, thick on the bottom to spread the heat not to burn and wide to evaporate the water. I threw in a star of anise, just one seed ray for maybe ten minutes to sweeten it.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Tonto, cleverly disguised as a tea bag, is up to his neck in hot water.
Back to the chicken soup, I cut up some celery, carrots and onions, looked up mirepoix, that’s the word I was looking for yesterday, a ratio of two onion, one each of the other. In a separate pan with olive oil to cook. Chopped a half zucchini, a small crookneck and some cabbage. The cabbage is still growing from last week in the fridge with longer leaves in the middle, hardy stuff. A batch of farfalle bow tie noodles for soup in the finished blanch pan. Strained and cooled, I picked clean the bones and chopped the larger meat, back in the broth, cat food outside. To the garden for herbs, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, tarragon. Hey there’s a few small green beans picked to add, chopped and cleaned, into the batch. A bit more broth from TJ’s and a dash of wine, salt to taste, a glug of Worcestershire sauce, noodles done added. This is good soup.
Chili, another batch of mirepoix, just one carrot, celery, and a small onion from Steve at the farmers market, in the pan. Garlic, garden herbs again. The tomato sauce is thickening nicely. Three hamburger patties broken down and browned nicely, drained. Add the thick tomato sauce, a can of organic pinto beans, heavy with cumin, needs more cumin and a touch more salt. There is no heat spice in this chili but a ton of flavor, perfect, add it if you like. Just two buckets and a small bowl for now, really tasty. Dated, one frozen, one fridged soon. The freezer is full again.
OK, I put the ladder in the truck after brushing it down for spiders, bags in. The damson plum tree is ready. I pick what I can, there aren’t very many, a sparse year but a good batch. Pears are nearly done but I fill up with ripe and light greens as many as I can carry, into the truck. To the tomato patch, more than a few large ones in red and yellow, a quart of cherry size mixed. As I’m driving out, the ancient apple tree, I think golden delicious, has quite a few on it. I pick what I can. They’re perfect but small, Julie’s favorite at work, a good score as last year there was one. I sorted them all out on the plastic table, washed, three bags fruit, a zip lock of small tomatoes ready for work and a pile of pears to ripen.
Laundry folded, back to the instruments to build. Yesterday I cut down the neck for the tenor ukulele. It needs a wider head stock. I cut a piece of the leftover maple on the table saw to a little thick and wide and glue it up.
Next I worked on the bass frets. The sixth fret high has been a problem, refilled with carpenters glue and sawdust, I sanded it down with 400 grit, resawn,  then 600 grit. I re bent it on the jig I made of an aluminum 3 inch round sawn on the band saw at work. It worked, but will need additional super glue to keep it. Using the aluminum bend jig I got three more frets in, bent to really close and tapped in using the bone tool I made last time and an additional curved wood form to smack them down. It seems the depth of the kerf needs to be deeper, I re adjusted the kerf saw and went over each slot. It’s working better now, but frets are a challenge with nine done.
I’m getting the hang of this, but it would have been much easier to put the frets on before attaching the fingerboard to the neck. Filing each fret to length is a challenge. Being my first fretted instrument, I’m learning. That’s OK. It will be a good one yet.


Another fine day. Laundry in, I headed to town early for coffee, water is on sale buck off, get two, chicken at 79 cents a pound, one bird, the shampoo I need. To Garrett’s for screws, I need qty 28 size 10 by 1 3/4″ long for the chair and five small brass ones to fix the music box.
Back home I threw the chicken in a batch of brine following the turkey recipe cut in half, a cup sugar, half a cup salt, 3 cloves garlic crushed, 5 allspice berries, five juniper berries and a large bouquet of thyme. I finished blanching, seeding and cutting up the next bowl of tomatoes for sauce. I put them in the dutch oven to cook down with the other bowl from the fridge I peeled yesterday, eight pounds. What the heck, I headed out to the landlords tomato patch with a bag. A whole lot more tomatoes, mixed cherry size, romas, early girls with a few yellow ones. I peeled and seeded a few more of the ripest romas and threw them into the sauce.
Meanwhile, I cooked up the linguine pasta and microwaved the frozen Alfredo sauce. The Alfredo sauce didn’t stand up to freezing very well, the butter all separated out. I poured it off to a container as flavored ghee. The sauce is thick but tasty, added to the noodles and packaged in a large drum for Tuesday.
As the sauce is getting close I fire up the canner and put cup jars in the oven to heat. Sterilize the lids, rings, into the sterile colander,  funnel, tongs, knife, ladle and board. Good to go, I tong a jar from the 215 oven, ladle the sauce into the jar funnel, a lid and ring, repeat. I got five and a half cups of thick sauce from maybe ten pounds of tomatoes. I added a small piece of star anise for about ten minutes removed near the end to sweeten it up and loose the acid, Tom Stobart’s trick. Jarred and boil canned for more than ten minutes.
In the garage I laid out the chair parts. I laid out some guide blocks and cut them so I could reproduce the drill holes easily. Clamped, drilled and screwed the pieces together, first the small inner one, the outer one, need to drill the swivels, marked to center and each 1/4″ drilled. Assembled they look good. I laid out the back rest holes at four inches down using the guide block, centered. The back rests I drilled at center 5/8 from the end, a little more than center to reduce the stress. I put the cross brace in the middle of the 22 inch back rest, 11.
It all worked fine. I think the back rest could be shortened ( or maybe lowered) an inch or so to match the folded chair. Rather than cutting canvas, I have this roll of jute. I used it to tie a crude woven seat, adding a figure eight to the back. It works as a crude seat. I find the width is not enough as the front edge (now down to 11″) is way too short. I think a 16 inch minimum width could work well. If the front edge was rounded it would be better. But as a proof of concept, this chair design is very simple and effective. The back is fine, using canvas instead of the crude woven stuff would make this a very comfortable chair at 16″ wide. I’ll finish designing it in CAD at that dimension. Note round the outer edges.
I laid out the glued up neck for the ukulele. By reducing the head stock width I can make the part fit the plans. Also reducing the neck width will bring everything into scale. The angle of the head stock is not flush with the neck. I used a piece of flooring as a spacer and used the surface grinder to make the neck flat again the full length, ready for the fret board. I cut a couple pieces of maple from the end to glue up, clamped done, to make the neck fit the body width. Wayne gave me some spruce to use for ribs on the soundboard and back. I cut them to size at a 5 mm and sanded them flat smooth with the surfacer. Progress.
I baked the chicken at 350, done at 165 in the leg joint. Cooled and cut up for Tuesday lunch for the gang. The crostinis are also baked for the week. I have a full quart of small tomatoes, split in three. one for the landlord, the lunch gang, and the team. We’ll eat well.


Another great day in paradise. Ratatouille the movie as I woke up, great flick. A burrito I made for breakfast. I headed to town, coffee and the farmers market. Eight pounds of tomatoes from Steve. I met the woman that works with him, her name is Wahtee, something like that. Plus an onion later. Carrots and a couple small yellow squash from Preston farms, a small melon from the carrot and garlic folks.
Safeway for some stew steaks, bread baguette, dry basil. I picked up a piece of clear pine at Healdsburg Lumber, nice stuff for folding chairs.
Next stop Salvation Army, I found a really nice folding TV size table. with wrought iron legs and a woven rattan top, perfect for what Raven wanted, just needs a coat of black spray paint.
 It’s a little heavy not bad with the solid iron, but perfect for the vardo. I also found an extraordinary Italian inlayed music box, it needs new filled screws, can do.
I made a good beef stew in the dutch oven and blanch pealed more than half of the tomatoes. It’s hot enough that I’ll wait until tomorrow morning to cook them down with the rest of the batch. I need jars, back to Healdsburg Garrett’s hardware for cup size jars, plus the bolts I’ll need for the chair, 4 quarter twenties 2 inches, nuts and three washers per, 12 total. Home.
I cut and sanded all the chair parts for the folding chair.
The top pieces will need trimming as the swing back needs to clear. As the first one, it’s a little narrow at 12 inches wide but a really good prototype. I’ll need to figure out the canvas dimensions and layout, I have the cloth in white. The first prototype is a challenge, usually turns out nice. The second is a cludge, what goes wrong does. By the third the kinks get worked out.Great day, more to do tomorrow.


 It was a good day. I made crostinis for lunches of baguette sliced thin dipped in olive oil on the plate, salted, garlic and basil dusted, baked in the oven at 350 for maybe 20 minutes. I made up some burritos of flour tortillas, refried beans, mild cheddar grated and hamburger meat I cooked yesterday taco style with onions, cumin, garlic and salt. Two for breakfast and four more for lunches, the last one ran out of meat, short bag.
To the boat, I called Cath. I left a little after noon with a stop in Santa Rosa for primer at West Marine and coffee before that. Traffic was thick through Petaluma. Finally got there a little after 2:00, with a perfect parking spot right up close. I brushed her down dry with the on board hand brush, pulled out the scraper and chisel and removed as much loose paint as I could get off with the scraper. I started in the cockpit benches, brushing the chips into the cockpit well. I’ll vacuum that later. Proceeding to the upper deck heavily chipped, scraped clean of loose pieces, the cabin sides and the fore cabin needs it. The starboard side forward is a mess as the tarp bashed the pulley into the wood in a winter storm, scraped clean and ready. The deck lightly scraped in the bad spots.


Cathy showed up in the middle of all that for an hour to work. She mixed up the paint with the stick I brought, thick on the bottom mixed. Canted into the metal measuring can from Sally’s. We used Raven’s good Purdy brush, I’ll get her a new one if we mess it up. She painted the cockpit benches as I kept scraping and brushing deck. The port forward corner of the cockpit has rotting sponge, she skipped that covered with the hatch door to dry until later. We passed the brush around as I touched up the upper cabin and she the hand rails. Selfy pics. Time to go with a bag of pears, tomato sauce and a fat yellow tomato, off to see bartender friend Randy, perhaps a fresh pear martini.


I finished painting under the hatch deck with it closed, all the sides and decking just covering the open wood as much as possible. The thing about primer, it’s a filler for all the holes, liquid putty. It’s sand able, patches stuff and secures the loose pieces. Thick in the cracks, all of a sudden, the boat looks good again. As the cockpit was dry enough I brushed off the sponge corner and touched it up. It still needs a lot of work to smooth it down, but it’s white again, beautiful. I cleaned the brush three times in thinner, wiping it with the rag, should be good for another session. Clean up and pack, head for home.
I finished folding the laundry for the week to come.
I’ll pick up Luis in the morning and he’ll drive my new truck home to replace the clutch it needs to be a good truck. He’ll pick me up after work, as he has the day away from his job with a time off cap.
Onion soup for lunch will be tasty with string cheese and the mornings toast.


Another Saturday. I bought 6 pounds of tomatoes at the farmers market, a zucchini, melon and a cucumber. I picked at least 4 more pounds of tomatoes from the landlords patch, he said I could. It took a couple hours to blanch peal them all and deseed them. I drank the strained seed juice with salt in the heat of the day, it hit 95. A batch of French onion soup made as the tomatoes cooked down.
I checked the mailbox, my new $5 ukulele tuner arrived, cool, but it needs a button battery. Harry at the corner doesn’t have one but suggests the drug store will. I know he’s right, into town again. They have a four pack of the size I need or single off size should work, I’ll get that. The battery cost a little more than the tuner, but it works fine. All three of my ukuleles are in tune.
I turned the heat back on the tomato sauce as I got home, threw in a single ray of star anise for twenty minutes and pulled it. I’m looking for a thick sauce but not paste, just right. I think this batch is on it. Four cup jars and two half cups, a quart and a cup from 10 pounds. Most of the day and hot, these are a lot of work for extraordinary tomato sauce. At a buck a can at the store, it’s a better deal.
The onion soup turned out great, I used last weeks croutons and the TJs Gruyere cheese, stringy but excellent. Two tubs for lunches will need more croutons and cheese.
I also cooked up a  batch of taco meat hamburger with cumin, garlic and chopped onions. Made a burrito of meat mix, tomato and grated mild cheddar. Another tasty addition for lunches, add refried beans.
I managed to get a mix of carpenters glue and rosewood dust into the 6th fret of the bass guitar. Once it dries I’ll sand it and re cut the fret slot. I still need to make a jig to bend the frets more than the camber on the neck so they fit right.
Tomorrow I’ll be heading for Frolic with a brief stop at West Marine for the good primer, not cheap but sand able and fills the cracks.


An interesting day. To coffee and the farmers market, a small melon, carrots, cabbage, 3 pounds of Steve’s tomatoes. Safeway a bunch of green onions, burgers half off and some mayo. Garrets for three small screws and some canning lids.
Sally’s turned up a label maker and a plastic router dovetail jig for making drawers and such.
Home. On the way I stopped at Luis’ and cut him a check for the new truck.
I cooked up a 3 lb batch of potato salad. Potatoes boiled salted. 2 eggs in water I used to blanch the tomatoes. I blanch pealed and seeded the tomatoes in a bowl, pulling the eggs after a while done and set aside. The tomato meat I cooked down in an Emeril pan on low, with a star anise at the end. I strained the seed juice and added salt and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, tasty with cottage cheese on the side. It boiled down to one cup of concentrated sauce, jarred and water bath sealed.
Potato salad sauce of mayo, mustard, a dash of horse radish, Larrupin dill sauce, green onions, my own garlic, green olives, celery and the two boiled eggs diced. Good stuff.
I hand drilled and secured the truss rod cover with the three screws to the bass head.
I worked on the frets, making a hickory tool to hammer in the frets, it split after a while, dang. I tried cutting another of bone, it too split. The sixth fret is giving me trouble as it won’t go in and now is loose with damage on the fingerboard.
I need to find the little iron to steam raise the grain if possible, Then use superglue to close the gap. I need to make an iron or brass tool to securely hammer the frets.
I wrote up a bill of sale for the truck, Luis signed it, then pulled out an official version I will fill out later.
On the way, there is a fire across the 128 highway near the river, oh no, The fire trucks are coming. And it’s up wind from me. I hope they get it out while it’s still small, but the fire is raging visible. When I got home I collected my music instruments and jewelry creations in my old book of wizardry, stashed in the back bin of the new truck. Microscope packed, ready for Dad’s clock, the bass and Mary’s harp ready to grab with the laundry basket. I move the old truck so I can hitch the vardo, but the hitch is still on the old truck. I find the wrench and move it, but the ball hitch is too short to catch the nut thread. I ground the nut thinner to bind the threads for now. It will need a longer ball or to machine this ball back thinner to lengthen the threads. But this one is holding for now in a pinch to carry the vardo. Later it looks like they’re getting it out, with a bulldozer ready. My most valuable items are the things I made, instruments, and the family heirlooms, packed in my truck ready. I would miss my tools, but they can be replaced.
Wow, the threat of fire is a scary thing. It looks to be out, but I put a notice to ‘Wake me up!’ on the door.
They got the fire out last night, good thing. This morning I headed to town for coffee and some chicken breasts. I pulled out the local farmers market bacon from the freezer to thaw before I left.
Back home, I cooked up a batch of my favorite Pasta y Fagioli, pasta and beans Italian soup. Chopped the bacon 5 slices thick cut small and fried it in the deep soup pan, grease mostly off and saved the bacon in the new glass bowl I bought at the dollar store. I fried up a small diced onion in the fat, carrots, celery, my zucchini from the garden, garden herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, tarragon, basil, oregano) and my garlic. Bacon in, TJ’s box O chicken broth, a glug of white wine to simmer. A can of strained O pinto beans, mostly with a few held back mashed to thicken it later. Orzo noodles in a separate pan of salted water, tiny stuff but it gets bigger, more than enough al dente, most added as the veggies are nearly done. Thicken with mashed beans, a little more salt and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. It’s a full pot, I sample a small bowl and still have 4 cartons for lunches, three frozen, one for soon. This is the best, bacon soup with everything good.
I worked on the ukulele neck piece of maple, squared the band saw and cut the angle I drew last week. Clamped together, I tried a plane but it wouldn’t cut it, belt sander, lapidary and finally a piece of long 50 grit clamped to the bench got it flat. The head seems short, but if I cut the neck to thickness it will work OK.
Next time cut the head extra long and trim it to size 19 centimeters as this one is. Once I take off near quarter inch from the head top and neck back this piece will be in proportion to the drawing.
I cooked up a batch of chicken breasts, cut smaller and lightly marinated in soy, my not hot curry powder, garlic powder, lemon juice, baked a while at 350, then broiled less the juices to a nice brown done but still juicy. I think I’ll serve this Tuesday to the lunch gang with potato salad and some fat ripe tomatoes my landlord told me about behind the pump house. Pears gathered a large bag mostly green to ripen.
Much done, not burned out, hurray.


Another interesting day. I got home from the Arcata / Trinidad fishing trip yesterday. That went alright although Saturday the fishing was disappointing. Salmon wasn’t running, five rock fish and ten crabs to bring home, no ling cod. Oh well. Michael and I went out on the bay later in his little electric boat. We caught 5 small bait fish on the Japanese rig, then went out hoping for bigger game. No luck there, although the birds were amazing, Pelicans coming in vee formation, skimming just above the water, up and diving in for the bait fish, so graceful. The terns were following them in. Avocets on the shore. Home burnt by the sun.
Michael and I processed the twenty crabs, open and rinse, pulling the legs and claws to crack, then carefully removing the meat inside the shells for crab cakes. Connie came over for crab and (bought by April, pity that, we should have caught) salmon dinner. A tasty meal.
Yesterday I broke into my locker again, forgot the combination. A big cone and three pound hammer broke the lock. Once in I dug under the bench where I know the good wood is buried. I pulled out a bunch of rosewood one by ones, a hefty piece of oak, several pieces of mahogany, other miscellaneous good wood. Back to Michael’s, friend Tom showed up. We talked, as wood working friends walked by I passed out a couple pieces of rosewood from the stash gifted to me 20 years ago. Michael pulled out two huge pieces of walnut I think, from the rafters of the garage, thrown in the truck. Goodbyes as I drove home. Laundry done, to bed.
This morning as I drove to work the oil light flashing, CLUNK, oh no, my engine died. I pulled off and opened the hood to flames down by the exhaust, extinguished with a bottle of water. At least I’m on the off ramp, two exits from home, Litton Springs. Locked up, I walked home, a long ways, an hour and a half later. I called Luis, he’s working. I picked some pears. A message to friend Joe and sister Cathy. Of course work before that.
As I received the banjo strings I restrung the banjolele. Delicate tuning with steel strings. I made a batch of crab cakes, scavenging the supplies from what I have and the garden, plenty actually and very tasty indeed, six more for the lunch gang.
I harvested more garlic from the garden, some big ones, set aside for seed, and the little ones to eat.
I worked on the bass, installed two frets to get the process figured out, cut a piece of black plastic for the truss rod cover, sanded smooth, needs holes for the small screws.
I mounted a piece of the new rosewood into the four jaw chuck,centered it and turned it round. Drilled and reamed to a 1/4 inch with clearance for the potentiometer. Cut it off spinning. Sanded smooth, this is a perfect knob after I drill and thread an Allen screw to lock it down.
Luis showed up with a clean truck he has for sale, a Toyota with 99 K miles, plenty of room for  more. Stick takes getting used to again, tows 3500 lbs, will carry the vardo. A fine machine, my new truck.


We drove the old one home on two cylinders smoking, but home, no tow.