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Brad's Blog

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April 2
With the weather approaching 65 degrees, we took the family we've been helping through our church skiing at Schweitzer yesterday.  It kind of started a couple months ago when we took our cross country skis to church thinking we'd try skiing (needed equipment upgrades).  When we picked up the family to bring them to church, the kids all wanted to ski, sure that our adult sized skis would work for them.  (It's curious how often kids are sure if they just try something like riding a bike or playing a guitar that they will be able to do it).  Anyway, we took them yesterday and they all did pretty well for a first time...  With the warm weather and blue skies one of the biggest dangers was sunburn, so we slathered on the 50 sunblock and came away faintly pink instead of blistering.
This is the classic view of Lake Pend O'Reille that you get while skiing at Schweitzer.  One of the 3 kids we took is in the lower left.  We started them on the "musical carpet," which resembles the moving walkways in airports in a miniature version.  In spite of being a pretty good intermediate skier, I managed to fall off the side of the magic carpet the second time up (while trying to help the child in front of me get stabilized).  Then one of the next times I accidentally hit the emergency stop button (also while trying to get a child on and stabilized).  So much for Joe Cool skier...

April 4

I got the greens and peas planted at the small pottery garden, just in time for a rainy late afternoon.  We've been letting our two old hens out to forage, but will probably have to confine them since they can scratch up huge areas of garden in a day...
    The rain predicted over the next couple days will probably bring us back to heating with wood more again--a small fire in the morning has been sufficient with the mostly sunny skies
.
    We've "Pavlovianly" trained our cat Moby to come join us for morning devotions.  When he hears us singing he comes and lies down on the table to be petted (and curried).   Also if he's outside when we go for a walk he will come along like a dog if we both go, and actually will stick closer to us than a dog would.  We only take him a couple of blocks away usually, for fear he might get lost...  Previously we had a cat who would follow us on walks but complain loudly when we'd get about a block away...  Moby likes to play with rubber bands underneath a door, where he can reach for them without seeing them.  Another cat we had would carry small bouncy balls to shoes, where he would reach them out with his paw.  Both of those are training exercises for catching mice...

April 9

Grass widows

Grass widows with rarer white version...
    We've had around 2 inches of rain in the last week, and the wildflowers are looking great on the ridge...
In the last week I've planted a lot of tomatoes, peppers, broccolis, etc. in the little plastic pots anticipating May...  It was cold enough the last couple nights that we moved them into the house from the greenhouse, which has no heat source.
    The deer are moving around a lot, in small herds.  The one day (last Sunday) I didn't bring my camera to church a yearling moose stood in my lane on a fairly empty highway up near Priest Lake until it finally trotted off into the woods as I slowly continued towards it in the car.  I don't see moose much more often than once a year, although their numbers are increasing in our area pretty rapidly.

April 9
The half inch of rain we got today came as a mild Irish mist for the first part of the day, and as a thunderous windy gully washer at the end of the day.  I managed to get wet in it a couple times, picking up more free firewood from the pallet place with our pickup truck.   This weather is great for what's planted in the garden (although the results aren't visible yet).  In the green house the Brassicas (cabbage family) are coming up.  The grass in the yard is rapidly greening...


April 10



wild turkey

Our neighbors' hens have been coming over to dig through our compost pile at our house.  We were surprised today to see this wild turkey joining them.  I got the best photos of a wild turkey  yet, but this one was fun, as the one hen got a little perturbed as the turkey was moving into its space.  These hens lived with domestic turkeys last summer, so might be a little friendlier to a wild one than some others...

April 13


We walked up the ridge around sunset--this view was looking towards the Maiden rock area where a minor snow squall was developing behind it.


As sunset was finishing, this was the Mill Pond, with the hazy outline of the new Fireside Lodge Park in the trees at the right...
I spent most of today helping with 4 other Cagni members giving out chunks of clay to children at a fundraiser carnival and giving them sage words of wisdom like "experiment with the tools and poke things in the clay."  I seemed to spend about half my time handing out paper towels to them when they were done, after explaining how to wash their hands in a bucket of water.  A lot of the kids were preschool, and were as happy playing in the bucket of water as with the clay.   We had up to 15 kids at a time, probably 200 or 300 kids throughout the day.    This year the club paid for some air dry clay so they could take the pots home and have a chance of them not breaking immediately.  

April 14

This was the sunset photo in Priest River off the Merritt Bridge last evening.  After church we took two of the kids we're providing care for to Newport for lunch and playgrounds.  On the way back to the church we started seeing deer coming out along the road.  Then a large moose trotted out of the woods onto the road in front of us, causing us to brake fairly rapidly.  It was around 7:30 when we got to the bridge in Priest River.  There were no pretty colors, but the clouds were dynamic, and the river evened out the bright glow of the waning sun...

April 16
Our supply of pottery is currently so good that I decided to make some large lamps, which I haven't for 10 or more years.  They are in two pieces, and will be assembled tomorrow.  I could still remember the weights of the two pieces (8 and 6 pounds).  I will probably discover part of why I quit making them when I assemble them--they are difficult to make look like a coherent whole.   Getting back to the supply of pottery, I've been building boxes to store extra pots in under the existing outside shelves, and today cut up some of the cheap plywood we can buy from our local pallet works to put under the boxes so they slide better than on the bricks...  
    In the garden, some peas have come up that were planted last Fall, and some tomato plants are appearing in their little pots in our bay windows...  It's been getting down to the mid 20's at night, so real gardening weather seems to be off in the distance somewhere...  

April 17

These are the assembled lamps--came out pretty good.  I included myself in the photo for scale...  Although I cropped off my left hand, Sherlock Holmes could deduce that I'm right handed by the smears on my apron...
In the afternoon I brought up the remaining carrots from the root cellar to wash and store in a refrigerator (and give away).  We still have a bunch in the garden to dig from last Fall as well.  

April 21

Last night at the Bluegrass Showcase a young volunteer showed up to do sound who works for the Arena and Northern Quest Casino in that capacity, so I was happy to let him twiddle the knobs and I took more photos, which I put up at http://sondahl.com/events/INBAApril2013.html  There were a lot of combinations of people, so I put up a lot more photos than usual...  (it also made me glad that I wasn't running the sound board, as every new configuration needed tweaking...
    We had over an inch of rain a couple days ago, and today it's been a wintery mix, but mostly rain...
    Through a scheduling conflict, I ended up preaching as well as doing the music at our small church today (there were 9 including me).   I was easily sidetracked with little thoughts about this and that, and one part of my message was that we are all stupid, but it went over well (works better if you say "we are all stupid" than "you are all stupid.")  The stupidity I referred to comes from us being like sheep, easily led astray...

April 23
We went for a walk up the ridge and over to the Mill Pond.  The first flowers of Spring were looking pretty ragged after 25 temperatures and hail yesterday, but the grass is greening up and we saw several butterflies, including this one:

Temperatures are back to the 50's today...

April 25


Pygmy nuthatch


trillium

wild violets

Bluebells (not sure of the name)

These are all photos I took on a 7 mile bike trip along the lake today, enjoying the  first 70 degree weather.  This might be the best time for Spring flower diversity--there were also lots of buttercups, Spring beauties, and grass widows...

April 29
We're back to cool windy weather with hail storms, but on Sunday afternoon it was nice enough for a walk, and the flowers are still great along the ridge--shooting stars and glacier lilies are in, and camas buds are emerging... Some greens are up in the garden, as well as the tomatoes and peppers in the green house...  The  cherry blossoms are just starting to bloom in the orchard...  Most of the deciduous trees are still holding off on their true leaves, but their flowers are coming out...  
    We had a mountain chickadee couple doing some nesting stuff in one of our nest boxes, but I haven't seen them for a while.  I put up additional boxes this year because the one box where chickadees nested last year had been a swallow's nest previously, so I hoped to accommodate them both..  
April 30
    I dug the last carrots from the garden today--two 5 gallon buckets.  Some of them had been nibbled on both ends.  The quails had pecked the tops last Fall, and gophers had worked their way along the row from underneath.   Still, there were 10 gallons left, in addition to several bags in the refrigerator from the root cellar...
    April is going out cold, with frost last night and a predicted low of 22 for tonight.  Then frost-free nights are predicted for the foreseeable future.  At both ends of the summer, the tomato starts are the most vulnerable, so I brought them in from the greenhouse...

Books read and other media of note
Sioux Spacemen, Eye of the Monster, and Voorloper by Andre Norton.  In these early SF novels she developed her theme of the outsider struggling with the aid of mystical knowledge to overcome ancient planetary nemesises...

L.A. Requiem by Robert Crais.  
This is the bleakest novel so far in the Elvis Cole series, as his partner is sought for murder.  Because of the lack of Parker's trademark wisecracks,  this book marks a clear delineation from the Spenser emulation...

Cold Days by Jim Butcher  
It is purported that A.C. Doyle was so put off by the popularity of Sherlock that he did him in, only to have to revive him due to popular pressure.  This started a long tradition in comics and  even Buffy of heroes dying and coming back.  This is Dresden's come back novel--loaded with action from beginning to end.   It made me a bit wistful for the days when a Dresden novel was a mystery with a few wizardly issues thrown in.  It came close to melting down under the weight of its own earth shakiness...

The X Factor by Andre Norton  
A misfit youth steals a space ship and ends up bonding with aliens in a prototypical "space opera" of the sort that spawned Star Wars.  Still a classic read...

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