Brad's Blog
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April 4
The sun shone significantly today, so we combined a first time shopping online at our nearby grocery with a walk near Farragut State Park.
Here's a view of some of the rocky promontories that we had to scramble among in a vain attempt to find a loop trail back to the car...

We were under a sort of deadline to pick up our groceries (not sure if letting employees handle them all is better hygiene than risking it ourselves, masks still uncommon here, including on us).  Anyway the grocery pickup went smoothly, although they deleted one of our two egg cartons and both of the 5 lb flours,  and only unsalted butter was available so rationing is still happening...  At least we have freedom of movement, which I hear in King County (Seattle) can result in jail time....
On the way home, as we stopped for a train, I saw a guy swinging around what turned out to be jesses, the leather thongs used to secure a falcon.  Then we saw the small falcon wheeling rapidly above him, and return to his hand...  It is amazing the cooperation between wild bird and trainer, although I  have some ethical reservations on the process...

The swung jess appears as a gray dot to the right of the post where his right hand is pointing.  This was shot through the side window of a van at dusk, so detail is lacking...  By its size I think it's a kestrel or sparrow hawk, which I learned from the Wikipedia article is frequently a beginner bird for falconry.  

April 6
Here's a short article I wrote for an upcoming bluegrass association newsletter:
Before I got into bluegrass, I was into blues and "folk" music.  In the 1970's Pete Seeger was one of the best known old school folk musicians, having performed with Woodie Guthrie and introducing a plethora (that's a bunch) of banjo styles and folk styles to a broad audience, inspiring many a youngster to take up the 5 string.  So I was excited to go to a college folk festival in Minnesota in 1970 and see his brother, or half brother as it turned out, as a featured performer, although I knew nothing about his music.  Mike Seeger performed old-time music and ballads on fiddle, autoharp, and guitar, and held the unruly college crowd spellbound...
 For the purposes of bluegrass history, Mike Seeger is at least as  prominent as Pete in promoting bluegrass and especially old-time music, with his late 1950's and 60's group The New Lost City Ramblers with John Cohen, and Tom Paley. and later Tracy Schwarz. They introduced the songs of the south eastern US to  musicians such as Ry Cooder, and the Grateful Dead, and a national audience. John Cohen coined the term The High Lonesome Sound as a title for a movie he made on traditional performers like Roscoe Holcomb, which has since become synonymous with bluegrass.
Getting back to the Ramblers, they both reproduced higher quality recordings of early 78's as well as flavoring their recordings with their own unique sound.  Along the way I picked up an album of ballads sung by Peggy Seeger (Mike's sister) joined by Tom Paley on guitar...  (Peggy was  a gifted singer and instrumentalist, and ended up marrying a British folk singer who adopted the Scottish name Ewan MacColl...)  When Tom Paley left the group, Tracy Schwarz joined as fiddler.  Five years after being blown away by Mike Seeger's performance, I got to see Tracy Schwarz in concert at a Minneapolis coffee house.  In the meantime I'd expanded my knowledge of folk and bluegrass music significantly, becoming a 4 hour/week folk disc jockey at an NPR station serving the Twin Cities area..  I had access to a sizable record collection, but bluegrass was not prominent in it, so I picked up Flatt and Scruggs records and a few others as  time went on.  A neighboring college had the McLain Family Band perform, from Berea Kentucky, and I got to record and interview them at the height of their popularity as international bluegrass ambassadors...
Minnesota also has the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-time Music Association, which has promoted both styles of music since 1975, when I graduated from college and started my 4 year radio "career".  Through attending their festival, I met and recorded local old-time and bluegrass musicians on my radio show.

I mentioned blues at the beginning of this ramble, and my interest in blues led me to buy a Sam and Kirk McGee album because something on the album indicated he was a "white blues performer."   Sam and Kirk are a topic for another column, but the album was recorded by none other than Mike Seeger.   Being a fan of the album, I made a fan page on my website in 2005 and asked Mike Seeger for a quote about their influence on him . Here's his response:

 "Sam was one of the most talented and influential early country guitarists.  He was a hot player and was well known through his 1920s recordings, some of them with Uncle Dave Macon and his frequent Grand Ole Opry appearances.
    Obviously he's been a big influence on me as I play a number of his banjo and guitar instrumentals.  He was modest, laid-back and had a sunny disposition.  He and Kirk were fine wonderful people."

I also asked him how he came to record the two Folkways LP's, and if they were commercially successful:

"I saw the McGees at a Grandpa Jones show at New River Ranch in 1955.  I knew very little about them except Sam's guitar picking, and only a little of that.  They were still playing well and I asked them to record.  Their LPs didn't sell very well, as far as I know.

Well, they wouldn't be the first or last to not make a fortune off of their music...


April 13
Spring flowers are proceeding nicely:

Spring beauties

buttercup

Grass widows
There are also a few yellow bells and glacier lilies...

April 17
Farragut Park gets more attention than usual, since we've been picking up our groceries near there brought to our car to reduce exposure to Covid 19 as have a number of friends in our age group. 
Here's a photo from a couple days ago, Bernard Peak on Lake Pend O'Reille:

 And here are more flowers from Spirit Lake:

Trillium or Western Wake Robin

Yellow bells are usually pretty solitary, so this pair is special


Glacier lily.  The last 3 photos taken today...

April 21
Last year's garden continues to yield, even as we prepare to plant again.  We have seedlings of tomatoes and cabbage family up in our greenhouse, but need to clear the garden and spread manure.  So here are the last of the carrots that wintered in the garden, plus one egg that our one young hen lays every couple days:

They are already getting green on top, and taste a bit bitter as they rapidly turn their sugar in to growth.

In the same part of the garden spinach was left to go to seed in its rows last year, and came up early this spring, so I transplanted enough to fill several rows.  I've not done this much before, and transplanting can stunt plants, so it's a bit of a gamble.  Meanwhile spinach planted in the greenhouse last fall is yielding enough to share with neighbors.

This photo shows the rows of transplanted spinach and our 3 Buff Orpington hens.

April 23
We walked through one of the many campgrounds in Farragut Park today, empty, as they may well be this summer...  The loss of large communal occasions cuts through many strata...
But we had the park, as far as we could see, to ourselves:

This was taken with my old camera, which I had about written off for a few quirks, till I discovered that one of them was fixable: I'd flipped a small lever on the left side to "macro" mode, making the focus always start at an inch and take a long time to focus out at any distance.  It still has a sticky zoom feature, but took a nice still today...

This was a new wildflower for us, small yellow tubes with lovely radiating foliage...  I think there's a bit of lupine confusing things at the bottom left...

April 25
We went back to Farragut Park yesterday, to solve a minor mystery, of a loop trail that seemed to dead end when we tried it a week ago.  Coming at it the other way, there were several confusing trail marks, but we found our way to the viewpoint:



This is on the highpoint trail, which you can tell is probably 1000 feet above the tree-filled gravel plateau which is leftover from the glacial Lake Missoula floods...  Mount Spokane is the ski slope striped mountain to the left, and the rising shallow cone with a tip of white on the right is Larch Mountain, which we only realized for the first time today.  Larch is a gentle sloped peak that starts up at the west end of Spirit Lake.  We've hiked up Breakfast Creek which comes from springs on the mountain, but never made the top...
Also the many smokes appearing on the left of the highway 54 gash are due to removing open burning restrictions today, which had been in force due to Covid respiratory concerns..

We saw two turkey vultures sunning their wings like this on adjacent trees.  Makes one wonder if they were a source for the birds atop totem poles...


 When you see turkey vultures flying, they are easily distinguished from eagles by the half white features showing on their underwings as they fly.
At rest it looks like more than half white...



 I know you see mallards everywhere.  In this state park, they swim towards you for handouts...   He was about 6 feet away when I took this.


His mate was startled, but I love this as an artistic shot.  I call it duck soup...

April 28
It was near 70 today for the first time, and the cherry trees are starting to bloom.   The wildflowers have the most variety going on the ridge.

Here's Butters with some late grass widows, on the north facing side of the ridge at the Mill Pond.


Here's a pair of red necked grebes building their floating nest by some willows...


And here's a modern twist on the jumping off the bridge--having your buddy film it from a hammock as you go over the edge.  Just part of the spring craziness..

April 29
On the walk yesterday in the cool wet corner of the Mill Pond the yellow violets and calypso orchids were in bloom:

Viola Glabella,  yes a yellow violet seems a contradiction in terms...

These are always a favorite, hard to find in quantities.  There were about 15 in the area I searched for them...

April 30
In the old days, a train came twice daily to Spirit Lake from Spokane:


The station was designed by Kirtland Cutter, who also designed the magnificent Davenport Hotel in Spokane


  The railway park led the visitors from Spokane up to the main part of town.  Until recently, the only remnant of all this was the stone fountain in the middle of this photo.  But just to the right in this photo you can see a stairway leading up to several paths into the town.  We'd seen a bit of the stairway overgrown, 40 years ago, when first exploring our neighborhood, but my son went looking for traces of it last winter without luck.  I had mentioned it to Marc Kroetch, whose family owns the property, and while adding in some Ebike trails he uncovered part of the stairway, and from photos such as this discovered it was in two stages, and uncovered the rest, as well as a cement pad probably related to the station itself.


This is what is now exposed, plus the pad below:


And this is what a snowshoe hare is looking like these days, still with white feet, although the snow is long gone..



The Enchanted Castle by Edith Nesbitt  Before there was Narnia, there was Edith, bringing life to ancient god statues, leading children down enchanted pathways. 

A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais
Robert Parker is dead, but his legacy lives on, not only on the semi-ghosted works that come out in his name, but from Robert Crais, who adapted his formula of a wise cracking gifted PI with his dangerous semi-legal partner.  Hmm, reminds me of the Joe Pickett novels also.  And Stephanie Plum, if you count her romantic hunk boyfriends.  Must be a system that works...  Oh, yeah this novel works, page turner, kept me awake for a couple hours longer than I might have desired, would make a good suspense movie, blah blah blah.

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson 
This was an engrossing read, ala Ender's Game, about humanity struggling for a comeback pinned down inside a planet by unknown alien forces.  I liked the flow of the prose...

Gumshoe seriesby Rob Leininger.  With the libraries closed, I've started borrowing Kindle books from the library, which so far is a disorganized affair, scrolling through random titles and authors, but liking noire detective fiction this title caught my eyes, and it has been clever and intriguing, and rather a male fantasy version of the Stephanie Plum novels, complete with recurring themes and destroyed vehicles...  Also interesting that he doesn't yet have a Wikipedia entry.


Spy School British Invasion by  Author: Gibbs, Stuart.   This, geared for middle schoolers, offers a similar flare of spy adventure to the Fox and O'Hare novels of Janet Evanovich et al.


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