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Brad's Blog

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April 1

Here's a view of the cabin kitchen area.   The cedar on the walls had been covered with cheap paneling that was glued on, so it took a lot of sanding to get it ready to go.  The door to the left goes to the bathroom--we moved the wall out a couple feet to make the bathroom bigger and allow another entrance to the bathroom.   The cabinets were mostly there in the cabin, except the one next to the refrigerator, which I built out of leftover counter scraps.  The stove is a Jenn-air type Maytag, purchased off Craigslist.  The refrigerator came with the place. The floor is fir, newly refinished.  More photos will be posted in the future...    We're still fine tuning our work, expecting the renters late tonight or tomorrow.

April 2
    They're here and mostly moved in, though nowhere near unpacked.  After Easter I'm hoping for a return to a regular Spring life.  The spinach is up in our garden (although it's covered with snow from a storm today).
    My ski son texted us today that he jumped off a 50 feet or more cliff at a ski resort today, presumably into deep powder snow.   This does give a parent pause.

April 3
  I finally got back to work in the pottery--glazing pots.  I forgot a batch of clay I was in the process of recycling--it dried out so I have to start over again--smashing it, soaking it, and drying it over again.  I also had time to catch up on paper work.  Sales for the first quarter in the pottery were up 40% from last year, which was down 15% from the year before.  Sounds like a math problem for younger, more facile minds than mine--how much are sales up from 2 years ago?  I hope a lot of the sales increase is from the economy picking up, but then the last two years we were buried in snow for the first quarter, whereas this year it's all gone except for showers.
    Buttercups, spring beauties, and prairie stars are blooming now, as well as a white amaryllis inside which opened just in time to be our Easter lily.
   
  
  
April 6
    We did Easter at an Eastern Orthodox church--3 hour service starting at 11 pm, Saturday night.  It's full of pageantry...

Here's another photo from our cabin--the bathroom, with river rock set in cement on the floor, the sink cabinet I built (with a sink we found under the deck), and cedar walls.  After this photo I put on some gloss polyurethane on the rocks, giving them a wetter look, and making them more easily cleanable.
There was a kind of anticlimax with the people moving into the cabin--it was hard to let go of it all, after working months on it. Fortunately, if the weather would improve from frequent snow and rain showers, the garden and yard need a lot of work, which would give me a new focus.   And Spring is indeed happening--the sun shines several times a day...
There was another post-work experience on Monday--waking up with my back out of whack.  I went to the chiropractor and felt better immediately.  I still plan to give my back a couple days rest before getting too active again.

April 8
    The jet stream bent near to earth today, and scoured us with up to 50 mph winds, and occasional hail and rain.  I spent most of the day visiting the dentist and running errands, like getting the free news print roll ends that we use to wrap our pots.  I also glazed pots.

April 9
    I transplanted some raspberries today with our lodger Andy.  Raspberries multiply--if it's not too late when the farmer's market starts we may sell some there as well on  May 1.
    Because a baptismal font I made got taken out by boisterous play in the gym style sanctuary of a church in Coeur D'Alene, I got an order for a new font.  Then the church split over whether the Lutheran church should allow gay pastors, so the new congregation decided to get a font as well.   I have one firing today, and one under way, along with a few sinks.
    The ice on the rain barrel was pretty thick this morning--more Spring-like weather would be nice...

April 10

    I got a dinner set order today, and other sales were good as well, echoing the nice, if slightly cold, sunny weather.  Earlier this week I mixed a full batch of my latest guess at a good black glaze.  I found out today it tends to get faded out and cloudly in the hot parts of the kiln.  So I'll reduce the melting materials a bit in the next batch, and put black stuff in the cool parts of the kilns till then.
     The yellowbells are starting to blume here, otherwise the grass widows are the main flower on the hills.

April 12
Qemiln Park Post Falls Idaho

My back was sore again today, so I took another trip to the chiropractor.  After the short treatment, I went to Qemiln Park to enjoy the Spring flowers.  There were mostly the grass widows and glacier lillies blooming.  I took a number of photos of the flowers, but I liked this photo of the rugged rocks that make up most of the park...  It looks like a Japanese garden to me.
    I started all the pots for a dinner set today.  I'll have to foot them tomorrow, and fire them for the first time later in the week.   The weather has turned to pleasant Spring temperatures, in spite of a forecast of rain today that never developed.
Other previous photos of the park:




April 14
    Yesterday during the drizzle I replaced a couple door handles in our own house, for a change.  I also finished trimming the dinner set, but I'd left two chip and dips on the shelf by my potter's wheel, which would have been fine if the heater hadn't been on underneath the shelf, which dried them too fast and too thoroughly.
    Today the weather is sunny and warm, and heading towards the 70 degree mark in the next couple days.

April 16
I've been fighting quack grass at the verges of the garden the last couple days.  Tonight I observed a couple crows land on our  two foot tall ant nest to feed on them--the first predators I've observed with them.  They're certainly all over the garden, but although I mostly sat in the dirt with them I didn't get bitten.  Our new neigbor mentioned about how when she was a kid she'd heard the red ones have the hard bites.  Our ants are part red and part black.  But it led me to wonder if this was perhaps an overgeneralization or perhaps even a myth, since I'd heard it the same in South Dakota, where we had very different ant species.
    Also in our rain barrel some diving beetles and backswimmer beetles have set up shop, eating smaller things that are no doubt burgeoning.  And the swallows have returned, and have been eying our bird house.

April 17
    I was going to work on a couple small leaks at the cabin today, but when I started I heard a hissing sound, which when uncovered, was a pipe that had split and was spraying out a fine dribble of water into the gravel under the house.  One of the things I inherited with the cabin was a disfunctional main shut off valve, and being Saturday I'll have to let it leak until Monday when the city water workers are available.
    Then I was going to work on building some shelves, but the design started seeming awkward before I even started cutting, so I went back to pottery work.  Just one of those days.

April 20
 I fixed the leak yesterday, taking about 3 hours.  Steel pipe is wonderfully logical in assembling--there are unions put in one in a while so you don't have to unscrew everything, and pipes can be bought in all lengths and angles.  But after I got it all together, and got the water turned back on, the water dribbled out of the outdoor faucet.  Having had faucets plug up previously, I'd taken off the regular faucet and stuck an open pipe at the end, so the line could be purged of rust and junk.  So I guessed it was a shutoff valve in the middle, and spent a half hour unscrewing things to get it accessible.  There was indeed some crud in it, but when I reassembled it, there was no improvement.  Then I remembered one more valve, in a hard to see place behind the water heater.  I just had to screw it shut, and reopen it, and the valve cleared.   I hate plumbing.
    If I weren't so busy plumbing, I could have worn shorts yesterday, as the temperature reached the upper 70's.

Since no one else rushed to do the math from April 3:

Sales for the first quarter in the pottery were up 40% from last year, which was down 15% from the year before.
> Sounds like a math problem for younger, more facile minds than mine--how much are sales up from 2 years ago?
.85 x 1.4 = 1.19

Up 19% from two years ago. This answer comes from my son Forrest....  We can all breathe easier now--the recession is over.

This afternoon we took a trip to Sullivan Lake, to hike to a little mountain waterfall.  The weather was extremely cordial.

April 21
So here's a picture from Elk Creek Falls:
Elk Creek Falls, near Sullivan Lake Washington
April 23
    I've been doing lots of pottery work on orders.   I got one of two fonts complete this week, and completed a wholesale order for a nearby state park. I'm working on two dinner set orders.  I'm also dragging around manure in a big grain scoop to spread it in the garden in my spare time...

April 25
Great Blue Heron
We went for a bike ride on the bike trail in the Silver Valley.  The trillium and shooting stars were in bloom, but this was the best photo of the day, of a Great Blue Heron in a marsh...  

April 26
    Since some blog readers might not do Facebook, I'd be interested to know if non Facebookers can see a video featuring my skier son at this link;

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=385692317281&ref=mf <http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=385692317281&ref=mf>

    It was a nice day today, so it was back to garden work after firing a couple kilns.

April 28
Two days of steady drizzle have yielded over an inch of rain, but no garden work...  The grass is really growing, and the trees are leafing out.  
We bought some mosquito netting today to make more bags to cover the branches of our cherry trees.  The bags keep the small cherry fruit flies from laying their eggs in the cherries, which, when they hatch into maggots. really make eating cherries less  fun.  The chemical alternative involves spraying some noxious thing every few days for a month or more, so the bags are not bad in comparison.

April 29
     We got another half inch of drizzle today. It let up long enough to continue moving manure around in the garden to its destination.
I'm firing two glaze kilns in a row today, finishing up a dinner set order or two.       A friend arrived from Seattle, transporting some clay for us.  The clay supplier forgot to include a box of smaller items like glaze chemicals and kiln elements that I ordered, but when I called they found it and will ship it for free...

April 30
    So now that I'm the building maintenance superintendant of our cabin, I have a to-do list over there.  Today I replaced a door weather strip and unplugged a bath-tub drain.  Neither of them turned out as expected.
    The old door weatherstrip was worn out, and there was about a  half inch gap under the door, so I decided to buy a new kit.  The kit was supposed to be adjustable, but didn't have any of the special nuts and bolts in the kit to make it work.  That didn't matter, because it turned out to be too high at one end of the door anyway.   Since I'd already cut it to size, I knew I couldn't return it, so I just used the new neoprene sealer strip and put it in the old metal holder.  That sort of worked, but one end was higher than the other, so I ripped a piece of wood at an angle to put in as a shim, and glued it all together with construction adhesive.   I hope it all holds together.
    For the plugged drain, I've always found the wire snakes to be hard to use in their entirety, but have found that most drains are plugged within a foot or two of the exit, so I've used a 3 foot piece of a snake and a piece of garden hose for a holder, with the snake attached to a cordless drill to rotate it. However this tub had a  plugging system that mostly blocked the drain on its own, so I couldn't get to where the problem was.  Then I remembered that sometime in my 50 plus years of experience, I'd seen a plugging system like that, and removed the 2 screws holding it in, which let me put the snake down from the top of it.  After a bit of twirling, it tangled up on something, and emerged with a tangle of hair and a 4 inch long piece of wood that was presumably the culprit.  I'm guessing it went down the drain when we were tearing out old wood in the area renovating it.
    It was mostly nice today, except one brief thunderstorm and shower.


Books read and other media of note.
Contract Null and Void by Joe Gores   A fastpaced suspenseful detective novel.  After reading enough of the series to keep the regular crew straight, it was a struggle for me to keep all the subplots and minor characters straight, which was necessary to understand the denouement. But I tried...

Count Karlstein by Philip Pullman
 I listened to the audio of this juvenile historical novel, full of orphans, villains, and mountebanks.  It was sort of like Joan Aiken, but with a lighter touch.

Dead Man by Joe Gores  
This is the most bitter book I've read by Gores, a tale of revenge by a detective whose family and nearly himself were brutally murdered by hit men.

Survivor's Quest by Timothy Zahn.  A Star Wars book, with all the light saber work and treachery one would expect.

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett  
This book also made a fine film, although emphasizing the comedy of the continually drinking sleuth and his perky wife, more than the drama.  Reading it again also evoked the clever and terse dialog which is used in the movie.  The Thin Man movie series, although not the product of Hammett aside from the first, is enjoyable period film, although by the 4th or 5th it gets a little too cute for comfort.

The Maltese Falcon, and The Glass Key  by Dashiell Hammett.  
The Maltese Falcon evokes the Bogart film, and vice versa--they are both par exemplar of the noir detective field.  Hammett always keeps the reader off balance as to what is really happening, or what it's really about.    The Glass Key is both a mystery and a back room political thriller--the protagonist is not only hard-boiled but nearly smoked to death, after having his meat tenderized...  He's also a questionable hero--hard drinking, gambling, at times suicidal.  Both the Glass Key and the Thin Man seem to evoke Hammett's own demons.

32 Cadillacs by Joe Gores.  
32 Cadillacs are conned out of area dealerships by Gypsies,  and the DKA repo firm are contracted to get them returned.  A lovely plot, with nice bits like a Shakespearian comedy.  It was thrilling when Donald Westlake's Dortmunder gang makes a surprise guest appearance.

Odd Girl Out by Timothy Zahn.  
More interstellar train mystery alien puppet master fun...

The Dain Curse
by Dashiell Hammett.  He managed to take a curse similar to the Hound of the Baskervilles, and give it a plausible if incredible explanation.




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