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Brad's Blog

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August 2
    With all the produce getting ripe, today was the day to deal with  peas.  My son and I shelled them, without getting bored, while watching the DVD set he gave me of The Bertie and Jeeves series, most of which we've seen, but never in order, and still very funny.  After shelling, there were about a gallon and a half of peas to be parboiled and frozen.
    I also went and picked up another wood framed window (I found it on Craigslist), which I plan to use to replace a cracked bedroom window in our main residence.  It's significantly bigger than the existing window, so I'll make another planter/bay window thing out of it, sometime this fall.
    The sun shone red for most of the day today, from smoke haze from forest fires several hundred miles away.  The air is pretty stagnant, or presumably it wouldn't be this hazy.

August 3
    My son and his wife arrive for two weeks tomorrow, so in addition to the usual potting, gardening, food preserving, and swimming, you can add in cleaning and last minute other stuff-ing.  That doesn't leave much time for blog-ging...

August 4
Due to a thunderstorm in Chicago, my relatives are arriving 10 hours later.  This is actually a good practice for house guests--making it more likely that the house will be clean and reassembled in working order.
    In the pottery news, after trying various methods of securing kiln heating elements that like to stray, my latest idea is to make U shaped staples of heavy gauge element wire (supplied with the elements) and pushing them into the soft brick with a pliers.

August 7
Art fairs are consuming events, even though for the exhibitor most of it involves sitting (and consuming kettle corn).  We set up for this two day sale on Friday evening, then spent half of the first day (today) earning back the entry fee.  The day's sales were no greater than several days at our shop this week, so I'm inclined to think we may have done as well spending the fair fee on advertising.  But we're there for this year, and the weather is cooperating nicely.  

August 8
    The second day of the fair started pretty slowly.  It got a boost when a business that had contacted me previously paid in cash in advance for an order of mugs.  Finally there were a couple of bigger sales near the end, making it creep into "feel good" territory.  However, when I got home there was a similar total (not counting the wholesale order) shoved under the door in my absence.   That's why I like my regular system so much more than art fairs...
      We had a sprinkle over night, first precipitation in about a month, so it settled the dust.  It didn't affect our fair booth with the EZ-up awning, until we took it down and some water had pooled in a few places which dumped on us as we disassembled it.

August 10
I fired a bisque and a glaze yesterday, and repeated both today.  What I didn't do was make any new pots.  I've been getting orders everywhere recently--from the art fair, by phone, and by email.  I wish the orders would come after the summer (which is my busiest time), but I've got to take them as they come.
    The same is true with house guests...  Besides the five of us including my married son and his wife, we had 6 more for supper and a night's stay last night.

August 11

This is an old photo of a cedar waxwing.  I can't resist photographing them when I see them, they're so cool with their crest, bandit eye patch, and yellow fringed tail.  So I've been photographing them lately, but the photo isn't nicer than that one... Currently they're in our Chinese elm, where they annually eat the small caterpillars that are eating the leaves at this time of year.
    Today I started making pots, to make up the huge gaps in inventory.  I sold two of the chicken cookers out of a kiln I'm emptying tomorrow, for instance.  Most of the pots were for orders, but I also made 24 larger bowls, because they were almost gone as well.

August 12
     Sales were a bit slower today, but then I got another dinner set order, setting back my orders list another week or so.  This one we might be able to deliver to Colorado when we take our son back to his winter home.  
    We've picked about 5 gallons of green beans to freeze, but haven't had time to process them yet.
    Our current family reunion is affected by a summer cold running through various members.   I thnk that's preferable to the time we all got stomach flu when we gathered at my parents one time..
    This evening there's a nice rain falling, without lightning--just the thing to lower fire danger.

August 13
Mt Spokane from Brickle Creek
We went canoeing at the end of Spirit Lake today, hoping for moose, seeing only ducks and muskrats...  And this view of Mt. Spokane, from Brickle Creek.  The round mountain in the middle has ski trails leading down from it, and Brickle Creek starts on its slopes, and ends in a canal straight (-ened) flat water area leading into the lake.  The day was approximately perfect.  This evening another god child stopped  over for a visit, enlivening our evening.

August 16
 The weather's back to hot (around 90), so we're putting in a lot of lake time again.  We went to Farragut Park canoeing, in hopes of seeing the elusive mountain goats, and  had to settle for seeing a lizard and a coot.  Birrion jumped off a 30 foot cliff into the water, as is his wont.

August 17
    More hot, more lake.  We're finally getting a few ripe tomatoes and peppers from the garden.  This has been our best year for cucumbers--planted in the bed in the green house, where the heat helped the plants a lot.   The pole beans have gone from being covered with scarlet flowers to yielding lots of green beans--I hope to pick some for the food bank tomorrow.   The potatoes, corn, and squash are the last things to come in the garden--we've got the usual excess zucchinis already.
    I'm mostly working on orders in the pottery currently, although the stock is getting low so I hope to start making refilling supplies tomorrow.\

August 18
    My son and his wife left today, so I have less excuse to spend afternoons at the lake.  And less goof off activities in general. Too bad.  
As I predicted I was able to pick about 5 gallons of green beans for the food bank.  The raspberries are nearing the end of their cycle, but there's still enough for eating at breakfast.
    A customer asked me today if pottery was my retirement business.  Hmm, my hair IS gray...  At this point, I don't imagine retiring.  It's just my life--why would I give it up?  Although I am tempted sometimes to give up a few months of winter sometimes.  I guess when I qualify for Social Security, I'll be ready to call it my retirement business..

August 19
     I was out picking vegetables to go with steak stir fry when I thought of checking the early sweet corn.  It looked ready.  I've been too busy to check. But the supper menu was fixed, so it will have to wait another day or two.  
    Tomorrow my son and I are going to the Arena football national championship in Spokane.  I don't expect to ever see a Super bowl, but for $17 each plus the usual exorbitant ticket fees,  we can see Tampa Bay play defending champ Spokane.   It will hopefully resemble real football.
    I've been firing two kilns per day lately to try to get some orders through.  We decided tonight my son and I will go to Mt. Hood next week, which fits my plan to deliver 74 logo mugs to a store there.  The firing today was delayed by repairing a broken kiln element.
    The weather's easing up from very hot to moderately hot, and still very nice for swimming in the afternoons.  We floated around on the Mill Pond watching a traffic jam on the lake road due to road resurfacing.  That's the only way to enjoy a traffic jam...

August 20
    The Arena Bowl 23 was a lot of fun, high tech pageantry and old fashioned standing and yelling for the team.  There  were times when the outcome was in doubt, but our Spokane team won by 69-57.  Arena football's high scores make for lots of crowd pleasing...  I doubt I'd become a regular spectator, but it was a great introduction to arena football.   I checked in advance to make sure I wore the appropriate team color, which was orange.  There were plenty of football fan characters, like an orange Fred Flinstone and blue hair dye (their other color).

August 21
    So the plan was to leave tomorrow for Mt. Hood in Oregon, so my son can get a few more days into his incredibly long ski season.  And I was coming along to camp out, enjoy the mountain, and deliver 74 mugs to Portland.   It was all on schedule until another element burned out in the kiln yesterday, so a dozen mugs weren't fired to completion.  So we decided to delay leaving until Monday, which may explain a few days of nonposting, with a chance of nice nature photos around Friday.

August 22

It was a slow day today, so here's a photo I took yesterday of a wedding that processed from a private residence to the bar where the reception was held, on riding lawnmowers.  They rode in the one with the light green cab, and there were several other festive representatives of our lawn mower racing society also in attendance.  On the left is a mysterious  object on a trailer I was too polite to go stare at, which had nothing to do with the wedding, but on magnifying the picture might be an ultralite airplane.  In back  is the local firetruck, where they were soliciting funds for some good cause.

August 28
    We got back from Mt. Hood late last night.
Mt. Hood from Summit Meadow
    I
I took a lot of photos of Mt. Hood, an 11,000 foot volcanic icon near Portland Oregon.  This is the view from Summit Meadow, a swampy meadow which was a resting place on the Oregon Trail before beginning the steep descent to the end of their journey.  Next to the meadow sometime an airstrip was built and later abandoned, and that area is now a free camping area where we stayed.  My son reports that there was heavy use and partying  (not him) during the middle of the summer, but it was almost empty when we were there.    One day was hot and calm, one was windy, and the last was fairly cool, with a 15,000 person relay race starting in the parking lot for the ski mountain.

This photo I set the timer on the camera and jumped on a parked bulldozer.  It shows the permanent snowfield which is used for the only summer skiing center in the lower 48 states, the reason my son went (to get to his goal of 250 ski days for this season).   One day I hiked up to the ski area from Timberline Lodge, a gain of 2000 feet.  I went back down partway on one of the gullies filled with snow, which was fun.   As you can see from the photo, it was fairly arid near the tree line, from the thick layer of volcanic ash which makes up the soil and doesn't hold water well.   In spite of that there were lots of flowers blooming in some places.

This is another side of Mt. Hood with asters and yellow sedums blooming, along the Pacific Crest Trail.
I wasn't impressed by the amount of wildlife I saw, but I did get one nice picture of a bird which I posted to a birder  group for identification, reported back as a juvenile Hermit Warbler.

On the morning we left, I waited around the parking lot doing a little mending of our tent while my son finished skiing, and was amazed by the culture that has grown up around the 150 or so mile relay called Hood To Coast.   Some of the teams showed up in matching large vans with professional lettering.  Nearly all the vans had funny, scatological, or suggestive comments written in markers on their exteriors.  And every fifteen minutes for 15 hours 25 people would be set off on the relay course.  It got to be annoying, so I took my banjo up to an outdoor amphitheater, and practiced for the 2 hour outdoor concert I had in Spokane today.
    It was a week off from doing pottery, but I still managed to deliver 75 mugs as part of the trip...

August 30

    I worked most of the day on pottery, catching up on orders, glazing a kiln load, etc.  We had a brief heavy shower today, nice dust settler.
    Tonight's supper includes elk steak (from a friend), and corn and broccoli and cukes and tomatoes from the garden.  There were only potatoes from the store, but I'm guessing we could even start eating our own potatoes soon.

August 31
    I've been rerecording the kids gospel CD with my new gadget that connects the microphones to a laptop computer.  It's working well.  I'd get more done on it but I'm also caught up watching the US Opens tennis series with my son...

Books read and other media of note
The Starchild Trilogy by Jack Williamson and Frederik Pohl  The 60's was a great time for speculative fiction--this set had some very Big Brotherish aspects to it, anticipating a world computer that planned for everything and everyone.

A Matter of Honor by Jeffrey Archer  A page turning thriller of what now seems an alternate history regarding the Middle East.

The Other Guys (Film)
A very funny film about the desk police who chase boring white collar crime.  The closing credits gave a whole other spin to the satire involved in the film.

The Expendables  Yes, it was full of car crashes, explosions, and vivid violence, but even that didn't save it from insipidity.

Work Song by Ivan Doig  
Butte Montana has two great novels set in it--Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett and Work Song.   Both are set in the mine labor disputes of the early 20th Century.  Doig has a gentler approach, but still paints a vivid picture of a difficult period.  And he manages to make it a love story without so much as a kiss.  Prairie Nocturne is a required prerequisite for full enjoyment of this book.

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
 In a continuance of the Dresden Files, Dresden has to deal with life and death justice issues of a friend's daughter breaking the rules of magic.   Good compelling action.

Prairie Nocturne by Ivan Doig
Doig has woven a rich tapestry from the early life of settlers in eastern Montana.  The plot leaves one guessing like a mystery until the end, and even with the end.

The Angel TV Series
by Joss Whedon et al.   I had my doubts when I first saw this spin off of Buffy, taking a couple characters that were hard to like, and making a series based on them.  But it grew into a fine fantasy series of its own,
and good to the last (5th) season.  Watching TV series on DVD helps elevate it to higher art status.



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