...and crafting a purposeful recovery

Month: October 2019

California Burning

It is day four of the power outage where I live and the Kincaid fire to the north has now consumed 75,000 acres. It is 6 AM and dark as pitch and I am up early as usual. The lack of artificial light has me going to bed at 8 PM and so getting up early has become the order of the day.
I was fearful that the trees surrounding Sparta would either burst into flames or crash down in the hurricane force winds, crushing her. So I hitched her up and moved her just 75 yards away where there were no trees but still lots of dead grass. It may have been futile, but I have raked the grass out from under her in case the fire should arrive.

Higher ground
The world is upside down
In spite of it all, Work must go on.

Fire on the Mountain

Yesterday was an interesting one on Sparta hill. Imagine if you will… There is a brisk and gusting wind forcing me to take my poly-coating work indoors. Due to fire concerns these winds have already caused power-outages throughout Wine Country and, despite the precautions, a 10,000 acre fire is already raging 17 miles to the north. Remembering the horrific fires two years ago, everybody is on edge. Inside Sparta I’m brushing Varathane on trim strips. The wind is buffeting my trailer and the oak branches overhanging are groaning. Acorns are dropping, tap-dancing on the roof and smaller branches and twigs join the fray, creating an otherworldly din. I try not to think about the possiblities. Ambulances can be heard continuously. Then helicopters and winged aircraft start buzzing overhead. Something is seriously wrong and I’m reminded of the end-of-times feelings I had in 2017 when a perfect storm colluded to burn nearly 200,000 acres in Sonoma County. I step outside and see smoke just over the hill to the southwest and helicopters and airplanes are flying every which way.

The first puff of smoke not 1/2 mile away
An airplane makes another pass to drop retardant

I suspend my work on the trim, get the propane tank out of the trailer and go rent a hitch in case I have to move Sparta.

Although this small, 3 acre fire was put out, the Kincaid fire to the north is only 5% contained and more high winds are forecast for tomorrow. More rolling blackouts are predicted. California – the new abnormal. Makes me glad I am creating this house on wheels.


Hard to believe but I’ve not blogged in a month. Progress on Sparta slammed to a halt when I went to Italy last month and then returned to a succession of catering events, PG&E power outages and so on. Alas, my power is due to be interrupted in one hour due to wild fire concerns and what they are now calling the “new normal” in California. So I am rushing to get this typed before the plug is pulled.

Progress on Sparta was also delayed by my running out of stain (Sherwin Williams Professional Series oil-based “Golden Oak”), only to find out that the product was discontinued. Yikes. The local SW store had a MinWax product called “Golden Oak” of which I bought a sample size. Not even close! So finally I had the store mix up a pretty good match.

The exciting news here is that I am making 1/8″ X 2″ wide strips for all the interior panel seams. Have a look:

My usual crude methods
Wood conditioner
A specially blended new can so I can finally finish staining

Once these strips are covered in poly X2, they will be cut to size and tacked into place to cover all those unsightly seams.