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Brad's Blog

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December 1

    Here are the latest videos posted to Youtube: 

25 Below and Getting Colder song written and performed by Brad Sondahl

Daisy Bell or Bicycle Built for Two 

C-H-I-C-K-E-N 

The Bear went over the mountain 

 The Ants Go Marching performed by Brad Sondahl      

Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuei Advent Hymn

18 inches on the snow stick, inspite of 8 inches new snow yesterday (and a record for local November snows)

Dec. 2
     Weather just above freezing has caused the snow to compact to 14 inches, and slide off the metal roof of our house.  Cam, the local multibusiness entrepreneur, added some nice snow figures to Maine St. including a large dalmatian dog curled around our fire hydrant.  They look great!
    I've been busy shipping orders and making lamps the last couple days.

Dec.3
More videos recorded and put up today:
New River Train
Oh Susanna
Hallelujah I'm a bum
If I had a hammer
    I made Advent candleholders today--it may be about a year before they sell, but I was down to two...

Dec. 5


I went for a walk down on the Mill Pond today--the ice is about 3 inches thick,  The only other tracks I saw were deer on it, which reminds me of the deer tracks in our yard...
    There's an old joke where one person is telling the other about something that happened, and every time the second one would say "that's good" or "that's bad," the story teller would contradict and explain why what happened was the opposite.   I haven't heard the joke for 40-50 years, so the specifics have left me.  But applied to deer in our yard, it's one of those situations...   I was cutting up some of our meager apple harvest today to make applesauce.  "That's good," you're supposed to say....  No, it was bad--most of them had insect holes, and a lot of them seemed riddled with some new kind of pest holes that made the whole apples unusable.   "That's bad," you say.    Well, yes, but it mostly affected only one of our apple trees, and maybe if I remember to treat it with the organic dormant oil spray next spring a lot of that trouble can go away.   Anyway I had to throw the bad apples out, onto our compost pile out back.  "That's good,"  you say.  No, the deer have been coming in our yard at night and eating the vegetable scraps and pears and apples...  "I'm not sure if that's good or bad," you might say.  I might also...  It's possible that by eating them the deer will destroy the eggs of whatever insect was eating the apples, which would help us.  But it also gets the deer in the habit of coming in our yard for good eats..., which is very bad in the summer when the garden is vulnerable.  "That's life..."
    Back to the walk on the Mill Pond.  On the way down I saw a flock of Clark's nutcrackers, which I wrote about a month or so ago, since I hadn't seen them around for years.  I guess they're around :-)... With them a flicker was hanging out, a woodpecker family bird about the same size and shape as the nutcrackers...
    I didn't see much else, but in a willow clump I heard a high whistle and saw a group of golden crowned kinglets (pictured above).  They're tiny as wrens, and very active, and I took about 20 photos to get this one...
    The main part of the lake is still unfrozen--a bit surprising with some of the cold we've had.  We look forward to it freezing for longer walks on flat terrain...
    This evening I'm performing a song for the local (Rathdrum) church Christmas concert, because I was asked.  I've done it about 5 or more times before, and felt I'd used my best Christmas material and so declined to participate last year, but the organizer from previous years died, so I felt like doing it again in her memory...  I'm going to re-use my original Advent hymn--Bethlehem's Journey...

December 7
    Our cat Moby likes to play with rubber bands.  He learned a game as a kitten where he'd slip it under the door between rooms, and reach under with his paw and catch it...  He hadn't done it for a long time, but today I got the fat kind of rubber band such as is used in groceries to hold broccolis together, and I threw it to Moby, and he soon trotted with it over to the door...
    When I was in college,  I watched the art building custodian dig out a drain sump where all the clay from the pottery room accumulated--it was a lot, and a very messy job.  I resolved then not to flush clay down drains, which it tends to clog...  So all these years I've never had running water in my pottery workshop--always carried it in with 5 gallon buckets, and washed my hands in the bucket.   Aside from washing, and the small amount used for throwing pots, I do use about 4 gallons of water when I mix glazes.  
    All this is leading up to the exciting news that I now have running water in my studio.  It cost $5.00 in parts (additional to those lying around), and took about an hour to install.  It will probably save about an hour per month in time, and if I remember to bring a hose and store it in the pottery, it represents a good all season fire fighting hose (hopefully never needed).

December 8
    In honor of my new faucet, I mixed 3 batches of glaze today.  It was also due to the lamp bases I needed to glaze, which require fairly full buckets.  For all of the glazes which I use, I keep a second bucket underneath it, which will either have leftover glaze which I can add to the top bucket, or be empty, in which case it's time to mix more glaze.  After the glazes were mixed, I spent the afternoon glazing two kilnloads. and firing one.
    A winter storm was predicted for today, but we only got a light drizzle, with even a few sunbreaks.
    I spent a little time last night trying guitar duets (by double tracking) on some Christmas hymns.  Usually I like to add more varied sounding instruments, but double guitars sounds good.  I noticed listening to some classic 60's recordings that the acoustic guitar was often double recorded (though I can't remember any specifically right now).
    Thinking again of the cat game I mentioned yesterday-- we had another cat that liked playing with little bouncy balls--would take and drop one in my shoe and reach in with its paw to get it.  Both cat behaviors are one step short of using tools--I mean, using tools to play doesn't count, does it?.

Dec. 9
   We're getting our November weather in December--cold drizzle all day tomorrow, and for the indeterminate future...
    I worked on starting some Christmas orders and finishing the new kids CD, which I decided to call Campfire Songs for Kids Young and Old.  I'll have a webpage up on it by tomorrow...

Dec. 10
    I had a kiln shut off last evening, so I assumed everything was fine, but the timer shut it off instead of the kiln sitter, which meant the whole kiln was underfired.  I'm refiring it--it just means my schedule is off by a day, unless it turns out there was a burnt out element or switch...
    We had about two inches of snow overnight, with weather hanging around the freezing point.
    Here's a link to the newest CD--campfire songs...

Dec. 12
    The weather went from November to March, with a warm wind melting a lot of the snow, and high of 45.   The local weather people refer to this as a Pineapple Express
(Wikipedia says it's an informal term adopted by the media...) --I'm not sure if that's supplanting the more traditional Chinook  .  It was the first strong wind we've had in months, first shedding the snow from trees, then melting it off our roof.
    Two new videos recorded today--the second one is part of my twin guitar Christmas hymn project:
Picardy
Go Tell it on the Mountain

Dec. 13
    We had heavy showers and winds early this morning, the start of a reversal back towards winter.  Everywhere the snow wasn't piled for snowplowing there is only a couple inches of slush.
    Today was Pffefferneusse Day.  My grandmother would always send us a Folger's coffee can of the cookies when I was a child, and even though my mother made lots of great ethnic cookies like sandbakkels, Russian teacakes, and springerle, I always appreciated Grandma's cookies, and made them today to send off to my own children for Christmas.
    I'm still working on a few Christmas orders in the pottery--glazing today.

Dec. 14
    We did some present wrapping and shipping today.   Our town is small enough that when we got two of three packages ready to mail, and I took the two (farthest away) boxes to the Post Office counter, the postmaster looked at the addresses and said, "And don't you still have a son in Colorado?" to which I had to admit his package was still forthcoming...  They don't miss a thing...
   
Dec. 17
    I got a book in the mail today, "Blind but now I See," a biography of Doc Watson.   It started with an email from the publisher, asking if I'd want a free copy to review.  It seemed odd to me, since I'm not with a paper or anything more than the Folklore Society web site, but I've always admired the blind flat picker, so I'll read it and see if it's worth promoting...
    It was a big sales day, as was yesterday, that seems to coincide with sunny dry weather, as opposed to the snow and ice that's been more typical.

Dec. 20
We're getting just enough snow to be seasonal.  
    I'm really enjoying the Doc Watson biography--it puts his life in context with the whole 60's folk thing, and it's loaded with household musical names from that era, as well as more obscure ones that I'm familiar with from my own focus on old time music.

Dec. 21
    Today I started the last firing with Christmas orders--pots which I made last Friday.  Usually I figure one week is the minimum to get pots through the process, but I had enough other pots ready to fill the kiln, and the orders were thin  and thus able to dry quickly.
    We're working on getting out  traditional Christmas cards, which every year seem a little more anachronistic.  With Facebook and blogs, the people you really want to keep up with, you can. But like paper books, also becoming endangered, there's something about holding a physical object from someone from your past, a touch stone...

Dec. 23
     A few times this winter we've had a fair number of birds at our feeder, but it's been surprisingly unbusy until the last two nights, when a deer that is coming regularly through our yard discovered it, and licked it clean of sunflower seeds.   I don't like feeding the deer, so I'll let bird feeding go for a while.  I saw an article recommending not feeding wildlife today, saying that deer adapt to eating woodier food in the winter.  It also said starving is part of the natural cycle for them, which is unfortunately true.   Those two statements aren't totally reconcilable, but anyway I don't like feeding the deer, even if I usually like seeing them (just not in the garden).

Dec. 24
    We went caroling around the local businesses and a few neighbors, and this evening had a neighborhood service in a stable made of fir boughs lit by candles in the snow.   That's what comes of not being connected to a church, I guess...  Merry Christmas!

Dec. 26
     We went to the little church by Priest Lake today, and a son of one of the members was there with a guitar as well.  We'd never met, but each of us  looked forward to meeting the other, and we both played separately for the service, but immediately sat down after the service and played for an hour and a half, versions of Christmas carols mostly, with another of his family joining us on vocals.  It was a lot of fun.  Too bad he lives in Seattle.

Dec. 29
    We're getting one of those 24 hour snowfalls, about a foot so far, not much wind so the trees are packed...  It's hard to call it a storm--it's so gentle, but it still feels ominous, with a lot of slush lying underneath it and temperatures expected to plummet.    Surprisingly, we had 3 sets of customers today, wading through the snow to do a little shopping...
    I made a Swedish tea ring today, so there are now only a couple foods left from our traditional Christmas dinner which we have spread out over a week or so.  We had a turkey  on Christmas, which became a couple big pots of turkey noodle and turkey rice soup yesterday.

Dec. 31

We went for a long walk along the lake yesterday in stunning sunshine with the trees still all laden with snow.  There was no wind with the storm, so narrow branches like these elderberries accumulated up to 3 inches of snow on them.  Powerlines did also, the snow occasionally slumping sideways but still remaining hooked onto the lines...
    We thought we'd walk on the Mill Pond, but there was an inch of water under the snow, making for a slushy walk.  The lake still appears open out by the first island.  We saw tracks of deer and raccoons....
    Overnight the temperature got down to 5 F, and is not expected to get higher than 15 today. So I mostly admire the beauty out the windows...

Books and other media of note
Stewball by Peter Bowen  Even though the constant drinking, smoking, self righteousness, and terse dialog of Gabriel DuPre can be a little over the top, these are fun Montana novels.  

Cobra Alliance by Timothy Zahn  
Although I'm generally able to go along for the ride on this series about augmented soldiers, it seemed a glaring plot hole that, although the host on the planet the protagonist arrives on professes ignorance to inviting her, yet his son picks her up at the space port, rescuing her from a tight jam...

Blind but Now I See by Kent Gustavson  
This book kept me up at night, with emotional tales from the life of the famous flat-picker, Doc Watson.   Although by the end the many accolades from loads of famous musicians got a bit cloying, over all it's a great and revealing portrait of the life and times of Doc Watson.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Although this mostly seemed an angst driven satire about suburban Christmas celebration, Grisham is a good enough storycrafter to keep you guessing.  This was my first Grisham novel--I don't expect it's fair to judge his work by a Christmas special, but I didn't like the tone or plot enough to start mining for more of his work.

The Everyman Collected Short Stories of Raymond Chandler
 These stories were mostly long for short stories, short for novellas--
probably first  published as serials in The Black Mask magazine.  Several became the basis for his longer novels.  The later ones were interesting in departing from gritty realism into what is now termed Urban Fantasy.
The preface contains an interesting timeline on his life and times, but neglects to tell the publication dates of the stories themselves...

Tangled 3D (Film)
If you haven't seen a 3D movie in their recent incarnation, this is a good one to start with.  The story flows, with strong characters and lots of humor, and no bad taste.

Martian Time Slip by Philip K Dick.  1964.  
This book starts as an extremely lame Martian settlement fantasy, rather surprising given that by 1964 a few basic facts about Martian temperatures and atmosphere should have been known.  But in spite of Mars sounding a lot like parts of southern  California, the plot, when it gets rolling, is mind bending as well as time bending, combining themes of land speculation and precognitive autistics.  Gabble gabble gabble!

Film: Double Indemnity
 I've been reading the collected short fiction of Raymond Chandler, so when I ran across this at the library I decided to give it a try, since I'd just read that Chandler, with director Billy Wilder, contributed the screenplay.  It's a heart of Noir film--no winners--just a depressing sense of loss.  As such, I prefer films like the Maltese Falcon, even with the cynical last line--"I'll wait for you, baby..."  Hammett's Falcon is a more careening plot, although this film has its twists as well.  It's worth the viewing to see affable Fred MacMurray in a heavy role...




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