Monday, March 30, 2020

Don't Laugh Too Much

I've been toying with the idea of using the iPhone to make some short videos. The other day I ordered a tripod/selfie stick to try. Here is the first go uncut and in all its glory:

The quality sucks, but the concept kinda works. I've a Go-Pro someplace I'll try using that next time.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Broken Record

I know broken record and all that rot but guys if you do not have a portable bench you are making work for yourself.

I'm home doing the "remain in place," self isolation,"  or whatever you want to call it thing. Of course MsBubba is rubbing her hands with joy. You should see the "to do" list she has on the kitchen counter.

On to the broken record.

I've one of the portable Moravian benches set up in the back garden to work on, it took less than 5 minutes to move from its storage place and set up. Now for the duration I've a functional, stable workbench to use as needed. I know, I know, you have heard it before but it is too easy to set up and use not to have one for use around the house.

I just want to add: CS was a joy to work with. Almost anyone is easy and helpful when they are taking your money. Their true nature comes out when things go south. Chris is as good as it gets, I can't say enough good things about the whole transaction. As Molly Ivans would say "Good on You Chris Schwarz.

Be careful out there and someday we will be able to go back to work and get some rest.


Friday, March 27, 2020

All's Well That Ends Well

After emails with Chris I went back to the freight terminal and inspected the chair again. All I could find was one long stick out of place so I accepted the delivery.  Once home I used a couple of spreading clamps to lift the comb enough to move the long stick back into place, put a little hide glue on exposed tenons and clamped her back down. Other than a couple of slight scuff marks which I will cover with some fresh finish, it is like it never happened.

It is a beautiful Cherry American Welsh Stick Chair made from one Cherry log. The seat is from one piece, not glued up, and the legs, arms, sticks and comb all match up. As it ages and darkens it should be lovely. Even better it is damn comfortable to sit in. Now to find a place to put it where I can use and MsBubba is happy. BTW, when I told her what she gave me for my birthday I got some serious side eye. After seeing the chair I think she is coming around.

Front view:

Side view:

Back view:

As always, click 'em to big 'em,


Thursday, March 26, 2020

What a Disappointment

I went to pick up my late birthday present this afternoon and this was the first thing I saw:

Not a good sign. 

After taking the top off I could not see any damage but the side of the shipping crate was also pushed in.

Looking in the top of the crate things look OK.

Got the back off and found the damage.

It is a shame, it is a beautiful chair, I hope it survives the return trip and Chris can repair it. If he can I want it back.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

77th Birthday Present

I decided to splurge on MsBubba's birthday present to me. She doesn't know what it is yet but It will be one of my favorite presents from her. It will arrive a little late but that's OK to.

C.S. just finished an American Welsh Stick Chair class and I bought the Cherry chair he made while teaching the class. From the picture it is a beauty.

More when I unpack the crate,


Life with Covid-19

I'm one of the lucky ones working for a large company and at this time I'm allowed to stay home and draw full pay and benefits. I do not get the monthly bonus from flight tests and checks but that is no biggie. The real value is MsBubba and I can and are self quarantined and can do it without money worries or drawing from savings for now. Most folks are not so lucky.

MsBubba being a retired ER/Trauma nurse knows how to quarantine, me I just get dirty looks and told what to do when I get out of line. Which is often. Bottom line we are in this for the long haul and will do everything possible to not catch Convid-19 or pass it on to someone else if we do.

Moving on. I'm back to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, packing ten pounds of stuff into a five pound box, or whatever you want to call it. Today's changes were ones I had wanted to do for awhile but couldn't find the time to do. Bottom line I think I've made the shop a little easier to work in but damn I have a lot of veneers, short stock, and cutoffs of nice wood that were stuck in the corners of the shop and not a clue what to do with them. Tomorrow I'll start going through the pile and hope there is more firewood than I expect.

Be careful out there, wash your hands and do not horde TP,


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

End of The Line

After 62 years flying airplanes, over 50 of 'em putting beans and tortillas on the table I may have hit the end of the line.

Tomorrow could be my last time to strap a Sim or airplane to my ass. Because of COVID-19 and my age I have been allowed leave with full pay and benefits.  I do not know how long it will last but I can not imagine more than a couple of months tops. Then there is the coming recession/depression. Bottom line, when I walk out the door tomorrow around midnight I expect it will be end of a great run. One that allowed a dumb West Texas farm boy to eat, drink, and see some of the best places in the world, as well as a few not so great ones, on someone else's dime.

The changes to the airplanes, avionics, and airspace system over those years have been unbelievable. I saw the last of the four leg range system for navigation using needle ball and airspeed to fly in instrument conditions to today's glass cockpit that can fly from Houston to London with just the push of a few buttons.

It has been a hell of a ride, I'm glad I didn't miss it.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020


I'm proud of the company I work for. They have stepped up to the plate and are offering full pay and benefits to those of us in the high risk pool until the danger passes. They will not require the used of accrued PTO or sick days. All I can say is good on them.

I will finish this weeks line on Wednesday and then home isolate for as long as it takes.

Good luck guys, be careful out there,


Friday, March 06, 2020

Back In The Shop

I've been cleared by the Doc to go back to work this coming Monday, just in time to pick up an initial line (training a pilot who has likely never seen a 604 to go forth and fly as pilot in command before learning how to open and close the door). It is a hard week of leaning between the seats and almost total concentration trying to insure they know enough to be safe.

Clearing me for work also means clearing me back to the shop without MsBubba's evil eye. I picked up some 8/4 Alder for the new dining room table today but first I will finish the small box started the other day.

While working on the box I thought about the difference between Japanese striking chisels and Western bench chisels as I was using both. There is no better chisel for use with a hammer/mallet than a Japanese striking chisel it was developed over centuries for that use with a steel hammer and it is close to perfection. Good pre-WWII Western chisels (especially those with a tang 😇)  are wonderful push chisels, light, well balanced, and comfortable in hand. Each chisel, Japanese and Western can crossover and do the other's job but not as well. I'm lucky to have both.

Feels good to be doing something other than sharpening tools even if it is just a small box. BTW, the Alder really works well with hand tools. I may find more uses for it.

Back to picking wood for the table base. I've never used Alder and when picking out the boards all I was really looking for was straight and width. After thirty or forty minutes of shoving timber around and pulling it out of the bin and putting it back in the bin I picked four boards, I did notice one of the board didn't really look like the others but what the hell they all came out of the Knotty Alder bin. Went up front to pay and the note came to $450 USD. Holly molly I didn't have that much wood. Turns out someone put some White Oak and Hard Maple in the Alder bin and only one of my boards was Alder. That's the bad news, the good, my last rejects were on top of the Alder stack and all I had to do was trade the three boards out. The bill out the door for the Alder was $120 USD.


Thursday, March 05, 2020


Most of the "markers" I use in the shop have a "yes but" factor, pen or pencil there is something that is a PITA. I have found a mechanical pencil that while it doesn't address all the "yes buts" comes pretty damn close.

The Zebra Del Guard Mechanical Pencil with a 0.5mm lead is the best all around marker I've found.  You can find them on Amazon.  

The lead is thin enough to mark inside a knife line but because of the way it is supported will not break as easily as other 0.5mm pencil leads. 

I just finished marking out a small box, I broke the lead three times which if you have used a 0.5mm mechanical pencil is pretty amazing.

BTW, the reason I'm marking out a small box is I'm finally getting around to making MsBubba's dining room table. My associated trip to the wood store was pretty disappointing.  There were not a lot of 8/4 wood on the racks and what was there was pretty grim or over $8 USD a board foot. The exception was Alder both clear and knotty.

I've never worked with Alder so I bought a small 4/4 board to play with, to see how it works and takes finish. I thought "self, what better way to test wood than make something out of it". I haven't made a small box in awhile so might as well. Kinda a long way around to a mechanical pencil, working Alder, and making a table for MsBubba but that's life, it is almost never linear.

BTW, that is a piece of the Alder under the pencil. 


Monday, March 02, 2020

"If you know Beans about Chili…. you know Chili has no Beans."*

* Song by Kent Fenlay

While anything with peppers in it is called Chili and I guess rightfully so because peppers are peppers but Texas Chili aka Texas Red or a Bowl of Red is a very simple dish with very few ingredients.

Every year around this time Tucson has its Rodeo and like clock work the office has a Chili Cook Off. I've yet to see a Bowl of Red at the Cook Off. No value judgement, most of the stews are tasty and everyone has fun.

I've counted up the ingredients in my traditional Chili and there are only seven, eight if you count stock which may or may not be needed. The first of course is meat, best is a tough cut like brisket or chuck and not ground but chopped, Next are the dried chilies which is where the magic happens. You just have to figure out what works because chilies vary so much in flavor and heat but a good start is about half and half Ancho chilies and New Mexico Chilies.

Remove the stems and most of the seeds from the chili pods then heat the pods in a dry skillet to release the oils. Transfer to a bowl and cover with boiling water to soak for 30 or so minutes. Place the soaked pods and a cup or two of the soak water to a blender and add some fresh garlic, cumin seeds (be careful too much overpowers everything else and makes it taste like something from a bad ski resort kitchen),a little coriander seed and oregano all to taste.

Brown the meat in a covered pot, retaining as much liquid as possible. After the meat is brown add the chili mixture, the rest of the soak water and cook covered until tender. Uncover near the end if a thicker sauce is needed but leave it thin enough to add Masa to thicken the sauce.

Serve with Soda Crackers and maybe beans and cheese on the side.


Sunday, March 01, 2020

Carne con Chili Colorado

Today I'll split the day between the kitchen and the shop. The shop work is still light duty under MsBubba's supervision. The kitchen will be south of the border.

The one thing store bought is a gal of Pozole from a local cafe. They only make it along with Menudo on Sunday and most of the sales are takeout. If you bring your own container it is a buck cheaper so you end up in a line to order and half the line is holding some kind of pot.

Both Menudo and Pozole are hominy based soups with a pork or beef stock. The biggest difference between the two is Menudo's meat is Tripe and Pozole's is what most Americans think of as meat. Menudo is a traditional Sunday soup because it is claimed to cure a hangover.

Pozole is usually served with a slice of line and shredded cabbage or other green.

My part today is making a pot of Mexican stew, Carne con Chili Colorado. If you google it you will come up with all kinds of foul recipes for Chili, AKA Texas Red. While the stew and Chili use pretty much the same ingredients the end results and use are different. Chile is a stand alone meal, beer and soda crackers optional. Carne con Chili Colorado is severed with rice and beans, the beans can be either fresh beans or re-fried, I like 'em both ways. Beer optional but suggested.