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August 2

Here's a new bird photograph--Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
This is from our bird expedition to Kelso and Granite Lakes yesterday...  There was light rain on the way there, and thunder rumbling around us, but we avoided the rain until we returned to Spirit Lake, and it's been raining lightly now for 24 hours.  
    Because of the rain I'm glad I didn't apply to Art on the Green, which started today...  Most of why I didn't apply was that I felt that our local sales are strong enough not to need the extra pottery outlet.  July sales were up 30 % from last year...  I'm not sure if I can keep up that pace for August--the shelves are emptying quickly...
    When I put in the new electric wheel, I moved the old one onto an uncovered back porch...  With the predicted rain, I put up an EZ-Up shelter over it.   A weakness of these designs is that water will pool instead of shedding the roof, in the lower middle of each side, hanging up on the zigzag supports...  After emptying these pools a few times, I figured out I could put about a 3 pound rock in a sock, and clip it to the fabric in the middle with clothespins (could also use big safety pins).  This worked for the rest of the rainy day...

August 3
    I picked raspberries for an hour in the very wet dew this morning, then worked at the pottery assembling teapots and other pots of yesterday.  Teapots have a lot of parts and take at least 5 minutes to assemble and trim...  After the pots from yesterday, I unloaded and loaded a bisque and glazed a couple kiln loads worth of pots.  By then it was mid afternoon, and I went back to picking green beans and pea pods.  By evening I was feeling caught up from pottery work and garden work, that was delayed by the rain...
    My rain gage fell over after it had an inch of rain in it.  The local news said that the rain we got was nearly the amount we average for the whole month of August...  It was good for the yard and garden and reducing fire danger...
    Our feral cat Manxome finally let me pet him today.  My son then mentioned that his wife had managed it earlier...  I expected her to succeed in taming him--she's a real cat person...  But it's not like the dam has burst of his affections and he's now crawling all over us...  I expect that to happen this winter...

August 4
    With serious birders visiting, we spent this afternoon on Upper Twin Lake, where we saw this immature pied billed grebe:
pied billed grebe
We also saw black terns frequently on the lake. They would swoop around over the water, occasionally touching the surface for a bit of food.  Although Twin Lakes are only a couple miles from Spirit Lake, I've never seen the terns on Spirit Lake.  The likely reason was when we were at the upper end of the lake, where there are a lot of native water lilies.

We heard calls when the terns approached the area, and when we canoed near, saw several of these immature birds perched on the lily pads, getting fed by the parent birds.  We noticed a lot of ducks and coots used the lilies for eluding our observation and likely nesting. Spirit Lake only has a small patch of native water lilies, so it's likely the terns were attracted to Twin Lake for the accommodating lilies...
   
August 5

Today we went to Hauser Lake, on the border of Idaho and Washington (30 miles from Spirit Lake) and circumnavigated the mile wide lake looking for birds.  
pied billed grebe
Here is an adult pied billed grebe.  They are shyer than the red necked grebe, and can submerge like a submarine with their conning tower head going under last, as opposed to most diving ducks that lead with their head...

osprey
As we cruised past this osprey, the sky varied from blue to white, and I thought this combination set off the nobleness of this fine fish catching hawk.  We probably saw 8 of them on the lake...


As we pulled into the public beach area, the sun was behind this cloud and making the very visible sun streak shadows as appeared in this photo...

August 8
    We made a birding trip to Roman Nose lakes today.  It's such a scenic area, with 3 alpine lakes, that I said someone could make a great calendar just with photos from the Roman Nose area.  On the way up we stopped at the Bird Refuge:
turkey vulture
My camera is not great for catching birds in flight, but here's a turkey vulture...

lesser Yellowlegs
yellowlegs
These are two views of Lesser Yellowlegs

Snow Falls, North Idaho
We also made the .7 mile hike to Snow Falls. It was very nice, but crowded by our standards...

When hiking back from the Falls, my son Forrest noticed this spider's web up in the trees, so I stole this shot from him.  I like the feeling like the whole image is part of the web of life...


When we got up to Roman Nose (after a half hour delay for helicopter logging), we hiked towards Lake 2 and 3.  When in the backwoods, it's important to watch for the trail markers ;-)

Roman Nose Lake 3 was very nice.  There were a half dozen young Hotshot smoke jumper firemen up fishing (they told me there had been reports of campfires not extinguished, but it was clear they were having a day off).  This lake is fed from Roman Nose number two with a nice cascade falls:


August 9
    Although the new Shimpo RK-Whisper wheel is superbly quiet, I didn't like the new housing they redesigned from the older wheels.  It didn't hold enough scrap clay--only about half what the old one held. Also they reduced the area to store tools, and made some deep grooves to help drain off the tool surface (if one is particularly sloppy).  So I built this improved version in a couple hours in the wood shop:

It's shown with the front door flopped down on it, ready to spill the scrap clay into a waiting pan.  I used it to trim 25 large bowls this morning without straining its capacity, and the door worked just as designed. Also the varnished wood looks cheerier than the industrial gray of the wheel, but it will soon be gray from clay dust...

August 13
    It's been a very busy time for us lately.  After my son and his wife left, I went off to Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival for a night and a day.  I had to cut it short since friends were coming to visit from Montana (and they're the kind of friends that pick up clay for me...).  On Sunday we went up with them to Priest Lake, where our friend Linda sat in playing the organ for church (and I sort of followed on guitar).  After church we swam at Priest Lake, then went up to see the Shoe Tree  and Granite Falls.
Upper Granite Falls, Washington
This was the Upper Granite Falls.  You had to cross the creek on a log to get this shot...

We stayed at a church friend's cabin, then hiked the shoreline trail for about 3 miles before turning around.  This area is great for mushrooms in the Fall, and had outcroppings of this Indian pipestem fungus, which I was able to catch in a patch of sunlight...

bunchberries
I'd seen white bunchberry blossoms before, but never the berries.  Bunchberry is also called dwarf dogwood.  But this photo makes clear why they are called bunch berries.  (web research says they're edible and taste a bit like apples).
river otters
We saw this group of 3 or 4 river otters swim by.  When I got home there was a report of a person jumping off a dock on Priest Lake and being attacked by an otter (both were surprised in the encounter) and required quite a few stitches.  These were out at the limits of my telephoto lense.  But you can see they were aware of us...
    Our guests left this morning, and I jumped back into the pottery fray, loading kilns and throwing 40 bowls of various sizes this evening, after we took an afternoon break to see the Wolverine movie, which was predictably enjoyable.

August 15
    Still catching up from the last week--here's a link to the photos I took at the Bluewaters Bluegrass Festival :  http://www.sondahl.com/events/BW2013.html

August 18
    Yesterday I played music for a couple hours at a friend's pig roast, then went in to see the Robert Cray blues band in a free concert:
Robert Cray
This isn't the sharpest image I got of him (at dusk) but it had the best expression....
    We're temporarily locavores--tonight we had the first sweet corn from our garden, with our own green beans and cucumbers. (The last raspberries are still trickling in for breakfast, and we've added blackberries which are starting to be ripe for the Fall).  Unfortunately for us, the first sweet corn is also a  harbinger of Fall....

August 19
August is quite a month, just looking through the photos so far...  I could use a vacation, but it looks like I've been on one...
    The shelves are getting empty, in spite of making lots of pots (I fired 3 bisques over the last few days, so should have 4-5 glaze kilns in the next few days).
    The lake remains just cool enough to be refreshing at the end of the 85 degree days.  The level is dropping so that the Mill Pond is mostly not over my head.  But it's great to swim there where no one else is...
    Manxome the cat is getting a bit friendlier--I picked him up and petted him for 5 minutes today.  But the Wikipedia article on Manx cats says they tend to be shy of strangers, and I guess it takes this guy a long time to figure out that the guy dishing him the cat food is no stranger.

August 21
    Retailing is a bit like fishing--you can never tell when the fishing will be hot.  Yesterday we sold about 5 times as much as today...  The weather was about the same. Some stuff is just random.
    About a month ago one of the two kilns I purchased a year ago went down and I replaced all the heating elements.  Today was time for the other one to get the new elements.  One of them resisted pulling out and when it popped loose jammed a wire into the pad of one of my fingers, almost skewering it.   Fortunately the kiln wires are sterile from being heated so much...  The finger is doing well so far... And the kiln is firing now--second glaze firing of the day...
    I've always avoided teaching pottery, but I occasionally open the shop to friends and neighbors.  That happened at both ends of the day today, with 3 young children (we're working with through our church) working and playing in the pottery this morning, and relatives of some neighbors coming to do some pottery on a birthday tonight.  (I still do minimal teaching in these cases--I never had any formal pottery instruction myself and don't see the need to educate others either).

August 25
    The highs have dropped to the lower 80s, making swimming an elective as opposed to a required course of action...  Things are slowing down a bit in general--I think the pottery shelves are starting to refill a bit...   We had a rain overnight that wasn't great in quantity but settled the dust and spoke of Fall rains arriving soon...

August 30
    We played for the opening of the Pig Out in the Park a couple days ago, one of two bands opening at the same time.  The stages were less than a block apart, so whenever we stopped we could hear the louder electric band pretty clearly...  After they turned up our monitors and the volume in general it was better, but the monitor blurred the bass, so it wasn't our favorite concert...
    Currently we're helping get our surrogate grandkids ready for school, which starts next Monday... And their mom has a birthday today, so I'm making a full fledged German Sweet Chocolate cake, ingredients of which are partly leftover from not making it on my birthday.  It is my favorite cake, but I'm embarassed by how much it costs just for the ingredients--over $10, which tells you that the mix in the box isn't going to be comparable. It's not also for the low cholesterol crowd--8 eggs, a cup of butter...

Books read and other media of note

Robert B. Parker's Wonderland by Ace Atkins
  Another enjoyable faux Spenser detective novel, probably a little more complex than Parker would have written.  It felt curious that Susan and especially Hawk were given diminished roles--felt like Atkins couldn't afford the rights to Hawk or something ridiculous like that...  Or maybe Atkins is planning to write what Hawk was doing in  Miami--he's long deserved his own novel...

Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel  I always wondered how two authors could write a book together.  I can't say for fact, but it's clear this one was written by two chronically immature dooty heads taking turns writing chapters leaving the situation more comically dire at every hand off.  Inspired satire, albeit a bit heavy on the dooty.

The Ivory Grin by Ross MacDonald.  
An early classic by one of my favorite noire writers.  In this one the detective Lew Archer labors to prove a young African American innocent of a murder.  There were plenty of storylines interwoven...

Blue Mystery by Margot Benary-Isbert  
I got this juvenile novel as a library discard, but I'm glad I read it first.  It was loosely based on the German-American author's memory of growing up in Erfurt, Germany, and she evokes a wonderfully apolitical view of a child's coming of age in an indeterminate past...  The mystery is enjoyable as well...

The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  
Neil Gaiman writes stories that feel like mythology.  They probably won't last as long as the real thing, but they are interesting experiences all...

Drowning World by Alan Dean Foster
 This novel starts out mostly uncomfortable on a constantly raining planet with few likeable characters, but builds into an interesting Sci Fi plot...

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