1953 Craftsman King-Seeley shaper

craftsman-king-seeley-shaper I love vintage tools. I love vintage anything. Most of my gun collection is vintage. I have a lot of antique hand tools.

I am not  a technophobe. I don’t have have the latest of everything, but when working around the shop I use my cordless tools whenever possible. I prefer the sound of vinyl on my 1970’s era record player, but prefer the convenience of my MP3 player with a catalog of well over 5,000 songs.

This week I acquired a vintage shaper.It is a Craftsman model 103.920 made by King Seeley. circa 1953-54.

Sure, I have a Craftsman router. Coupled with a table, it would accomplish anything I need. But how is it going to hold up to big projects? The shaper is heavy duty – industrial. It will eat its way through wood without strain.  And this baby, more than a half a century old, will be running strong long after I am gone. You can’t say that about the crap that is manufactured today in China.

The down side is the cost of the shaper bits – $50 to $250 apiece. Luckily the shaper came with a full compliment.

After the studio closet is completed, I will turn my attention to the carport, turning it into a shop area. I am almost to the point that I can begin work on restoring my 1953 Field and Stream 14-foot travel trailer.

Carl’s Chili Con Carne

Chili ingredients

Now that I have a source for organic beef that is affordable, I can once again eat steak and pot roasts.  I can grill burgers. More important, I can cook up batches of my chili con carne.

Cili con carne – literally peppers with beef. No beans in my chili – that is sort of redundant.  The beef provides all of the protein that you need.  You add beans to rice; that makes sense.

14947738_10154677120852838_9203930546477433739_nI whipped up a batch two weeks ago. Took some into work, and was begged to bring some to work for Nacho Day!

Nacho Day is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Apparently we do as little work as possible all morning, then head to the break room for nachos and salsas and such. Then we leave work early to extend our four day holiday weekend even further.

Without further ado, here is my basic recipe. I tweak it every time I cook.

Carl’s World Class Casa Style Chili

2 Lbs. Beef chuck, cubed (1 – 1½” cubes)
2 large onions, chopped finely
2 tblspsns vegetable oil (olive oil is better for your heart)
1 can (15oz) tomato sauce
1 bottle (12oz) beer (I prefer my homebrew, or a good microbrew for this)
2 cups beef stock – organic beef bone sock is now available in just about any supermarket
4 Jalapeno peppers (or more to taste) with the seeds and stems removed, sliced in half
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
8 tablespoons blended chili powder
one quarter cup Masa (or cornstarch if you are desperate)
1 tablespoon paprika

I begin by browning the meat and onions in the oil in my Griswold iron skillet. I chop the onions first, very finely. I throw them in the oil on medium heat, and then begin slicing the beef.

I prefer nice sized cubes. Ground beef is fine if that is your preference, but you will have to saute the onions until they begin to dissolve before adding the meat to brown.

Note: the larger sized chunks of meat are strictly against ICS rules – the International Chili Society insists that their chili have the consistency of pablum. Their concoctions are in no way consistent with what would have been served up to hungry cowboys on the trail.

After the meat and onions are browned, I pour the contents of the frying pan into my Dutch Oven. I add the tomato sauce, beer, beef stock, chilis, cumin, garlic, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the chili powder.

At this point I taste test, and adjust the spices accordingly, sometimes I need to add more of one for balance. I add salt at this step – but sparingly.

Any beer is fine, except for a light beer.  If you are going to use a light beer, you might as well use water, or just pee into the mix. I prefer a darker, flavorful beer.  I know some people that use Guinness stout. Some chefs toss in a shot of tequila. If there is any tequila involved in my chili, it is going into my mouth as I cook, not into the stew.

Sometimes I grind my spices in a coffee grinder to make them finer and more potent. Just be sure not to use that grinder for coffee afterwards, unless you truly enjoy gastrointestinal distress for breakfast.

I am amazed at how many people don’t use cumin in their chili – to me that is one of the most important flavors. Paprika adds a nice red color and a nice undertone. You do not want to be inundated with any flavor.

I simmer the chili over low heat for two hours, until the meat is tender. This is the perfect time to grab a cold beer and light up a cigar. Just make sure to regularly check in and stir the pot.

After simmering for two hours, I add the remaining chili powder and paprika and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. During this time I add the masa to thicken the stew. I mix the masa in a measuring cup with lukewarm water. I stir it in briskly – otherwise it has a tendency to clump.

Feel free to remove the Jalepenos before serving. I used to, but I leave them in anymore. This recipe makes six hearty servings.  On a scale of one to  five alarms, this ranks a 3 or 4, depending on the heat and quantity of the jalapenos.

I might add a scoop of sour cream, or sprinkle some shredded Pepper Jack cheese, when I am ready to chow down. But I never, ever put the chili on top of spaghetti or rice or commit any other such atrocity!

Bon Appétit!


Mesa Pow Wow

marvin-and-anna-redeye Yesterday, Liz and I attended the 33rd Annual Roy Track Pow Wow in Mesa. The Pow Wow is an inter-tribal get-together. The main attraction is the gourd dancing and drum circle.

I have no photographs, as this event is a tribal affair.  The dances are sacred ritual.  Some tribes allow photographs and video, others do not. To be respectful, I only took pics of friends and the arts and crafts tents.

The dances and chants are certainly a spectacle. Many of the dancers were decked in eagle feather headdresses and brightly colored outfits. The event is not so much a tourist event as it is a reunion of the various local tribes.

The gourd dance is a dance for chiefs, warriors and priests. The dance honors the warriors and honors the enemies they defeated.  What an interesting concept to a westerner, honoring your fallen enemy.

Much of this history taught to Americans about the Indian wars (genocide) is written from the point of view of people that cannot fathom the worldview of the Native American. More than a century passed before concession were made, including concessions that allowed native tribes to practice these dances.

We white eyes were among the minority, as indigenous tribes were there to celebrate their heritage. Many generations were represented. The flag ceremony included the US flag, the state flag of Arizona, the POW-MIA flag and the flag of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. A representative from the Navajo Code Talkers was present.

There were food vendors serving up fry bread and cultural cuisine.The arts and crafts tents featured fine jewelry, pottery, carving and more.

One subject that came up in our conversations was the pipeline in South Dakota – and there was solidarity for this cause. There is a lot of rhetoric on both sides of this issue, but the fact remains that sacred land is being sold to the highest bidder – a foreign entity that is destroying the land for profit. The Native American protestors have been mostly peaceful (there are always a few bad eggs to ruin things) and have been met with police action, men armed with automatic weapons and tear gas and bean bag shotguns.

If not for social media, this protest would not have been broadcast to the general public.  It was a full 60 days at least before any of the mainstream media outlets picked up on this story.  I did regular searched on Google for weeks after seeing the posts on Facebook before finally the Washington Post and CNN finally aired stories. Google placed the interests of the energy company above any of the posts that voiced the interests of the tribes that are affected the most by this project.

I am in favor of energy independence. Allowing a foreign country to control a pipeline within our borders is not energy independence.

But enough politicking.

Liz was happy to meet up with Marvin Redeye and his wife Anna.  Liz knows them from the Superstition Mountain Museum Heritage Days events. Marvin is USMC, and proud of it.  Semper Fi! He served in Vietnam. He crafts fine silver jewelry, much of it with armed services insignia as part of the design.

It was a pleasant afternoon. I am looking forward to Heritage Days. This year I will be able to attend the events all day.

Apache Jii Festival

crown-dancers-2 The Apache Crown Dancers at the Apache Jii Festival in Globe, Arizona.

Globe is a mining town. Founded in 1875 after silver was discovered on the adjacent San Carlos Indian Reservation, it was home to the Old Dominion Copper mining company.  Old Dominion closed its doors in 1931, and mining operations moved to nearby Miami.

Globe’s economy is dependent on the local copper mines. The downtown boasts antiques stores and small eateries and pubs. We will get tot he pubs later…

Globe hosts the annual Apache Jii Festival.  Jii is “day” in the native tongue of the Western Apache.  The Western Apache consist of the White Mountain, San Carlos, Tonto, Yavapai and Fort Apache reservations. I might have missed one or two  in this list.  The San Carlos and White Mountain Apache are the tribes that are nearest. Continue reading »

New aquisition

ToolsClub Air Compressor I acquired this air compressor from an estate sale this week.  The pressure switch control valve and regulator assembly is broken – $23 for a replacement. Add that tot he $20 I paid for it, and I have a decent no-name compressor. It will surely suffice for my needs.

I am still researching the brand – Tools Club or possibly OTools Club, or CTools Club. It looks like a Central Pneumatics. Nothing comes up in a Google search. It is a 26 gallon tank, with most likely a 1.8 HP motor.  Whatever it is, it is more than ample for my needs.

Now I have to build up an inventory of pneumatic tools, a, HVLP paint sprayer, impact wrench, angle grinders and of course tire inflators. Now I won’t have to spend $1.50 at the Circle K to put air in my tires…

Catching Up


Oil on Canvas

I was going through old discs tonight and found a cache of paintings that have long since passed to others. This one struck a nerve – old friends, good times. And a looser style.

I don’t get in the studio much anymore. In my new job I get to be creative, and to also exercise my technical skills. I was hire to organize the shop, pick up trash, and to assist in the various departments.

14519856_10154590537317838_4022376401464986718_nWell, I am now in charge of the flatbed printing department. But that isn’t lasting too long, as they realized that I have many years of technical repair experience, and are now trusting me as the new repair technician for all of their printers.

Now these are not just any printers, they print on media up to ten feet wide and however long the media is.

Last night I was on site helping to install new cables and printer boards and print heads into one of the printers, a $150,000 behemoth that is not big enough or fast enough.

This morning I had to perform an emergency repair on the Scitex flatbed printer with items I purchased at he local Home Depot.

At Cabana’s in Cape May

The company is growing faster than they imagined. I can’t be the repair person for the machines and also run the flatbed printing department. I am no longer allowed to collect the garbage – though I still do.

I am loving my new job. But I miss the studio. And looking back at some of the paintings that have long since passed through my hands, I long to get back to the creative spirit that allowed me to paint with abandon.

I wasn’t concerned with proportion or realism as much as I was with reality. What is reality? Reality is the moment – what you see, yes, but more, what you feel and experience. How does a painter express music? How do you share a night of drinking?

These paintings are now in other hands. I never kept great records – when a painting passed from my hands to another, I was grateful that they shared my experience. Something that I captured on canvas sparked an emotion in another. Maybe I was able to communicate a moment in time in the same manner that Hemingway did in the Sun Also Rises, or that Bukowski did in his poetry. Maybe they misunderstood my intent in the painting, and saw something completely different. Who knows?

Somehow they caught my emotions, and were touched. But the pint of impressionistic/expressionistic paintings os not to tell a story, but to share an emotional experience. There needn’t be a story behind it, no explanation. The explanation is in the painting itself. I try not to dissect my paintings, that is up to each individual viewer.

Oyster Stew

oyster-stewOyster Stew

Today I cooked up a batch of oyster stew. I used canned oysters, as it is next to impossible to get good raw oysters here in the desert. The oysters we get are Pacific Ocean oysters, and they are not as tasty as Atlantic Ocean or Delaware Bay oysters.

Here is the recipe:

6 Cups whole milk
8 ounces butter
24 ounces of oysters and juice
1 large yellow onion
1 Russet potato
3 stalks of celery
Worcestershire Sauce
Salt, Pepper and Red Cayenne Pepper

Chop the onions and celery finely, chop the potato into small chunks. Combine in a saucepan with the butter and saute’ until the onions begin to brown. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a 3 quart pot, heat the oysters with all of the juice with some Worcestershire Sauce until it comes to a boil. Then add the contents of the saucepan and stir. Add the milk, season to taste, and stir until it almost comes to a boil. Take off the heat.  It is ready to serve.

This is a fast and delicious stew. Serve with OTC Oyster Crackers – if you can find them in your area.  Otherwise, regular oyster crackers will suffice. This recipe will serve an army, or provide me with two meals!

New Job

14212562_10154475557387838_7652666857599553801_nLiz says I stepped in shit. My new job is awesome. I love what I am doing.  The owners are the best. My boss gave me two pay increases in less than two months!

There are no ego trips – the latest project was a first time attempt. The company had never attempted anything even close to this scale of an installation.

14063881_10154434652667838_3609363754575964395_nAll ideas are entertained – well, most ideas. If we have stupid ideas, we admit it.

This project took many talents – the lead artist that created 3-D files of the art; our people that converted the CAD files to files that the CNC Router could use; the machine shop that fabricated the armatures and frame of the tree.

14088484_10154446393552838_6576543062757960169_nMy main job, at first, was shaping and sanding and priming and painting the tree and the houses.  They are all Styrofoam, with a coat of pickup truck bed liner. The tree consists of twenty-one sheets of 3-inch thick 4X8 Styrofoam. The sheets are glued together, shaped, filled, sanded. That is over 100 hours on the CNC router to rough the shape. There is possibly another 60 hours in shaping and sanding. Attaching to the wood framework.

The two larger tree-houses were fabricated from two sheets of Styrofoam. All required fine tuning by hand sanding. I did all of the base coats on the houses, and some of the tree. I worked with the artist, Joe, who works at a design studio that creates set design for theaters and such. Joe pulled everything together.

Today we completed the two-day installation at the children’s section of a local mega church. The wing houses classes and school for younger children. The entire project is intense. My employer prints all of the wallpaper which you can see in the background.  The entire wing is wallpapered floor to ceiling.

I am privileged to be involved in not only the creative process, but also the fabrication and installation. What is even more amazing is that my boss encourages me to use what I learned to engage on my own projects. I have complete access to all facilities and equipment. These people are treating me like family. The owner encourages his employees to start their own ventures, and use his equipment.

When I applied for the job, I was looking for solid employment. I was not expecting to become family, to become an integral part of this organization. I not only found a job, but a job that I love.

Feelings on Kaepernick

Feelings on Kaepernick

He has every right to say what he wants, to salute or not our flag, to stand or to disrespect our anthem.

I have every right to call him out on hypocrisy.

I identify with my Irish roots. I identify with my English roots, my German roots, my Viking roots. I am proud of my heritage. I am also proud that I was born in Levittown, PA, USA – I am a US citizen. I salute the flag. I cross my heart and stand and remove my hat at the national anthem. I am not always proud of what my country has done. I am ashamed, often. I speak out. I am vocal. That flag, and the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, and the anthem reinforce the ideal that I enjoy free speech to speak my political mind.

We are a diverse country. I am not a blind patriot. But it is pure disrespect to diss the flag and the Constitution that give us the right to speak our minds. Do not trample the flag, do not disrespect this country when you have an open forum to fight for what is right!

When you are raised in white privilege and earn millions of dollars a year, do not tell me you are oppressed. Stand up and actually fight for the oppressed. And be thankful that the flag is flying proudly, allowing you that privilege.

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