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Brad's Blog

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Dec. 2
    The Mud and Spirits show was a psychic muddle for me.  The music was good, but I'm feeling bad (as president of the organization) that we aren't coming close to a balanced budget for the event, and also that our clientele seem to be in decline.  My own sales were down, partially from taking a space no one else would want, which tended to happen to all of us organizing it.  Because of the music and the lovely old church setting, most of the potters are supportive of the sale, but it's going to take some refiguring to make it work for everyone...  There are a lot of craft shows everywhere currently...
    One new factor was apparent in our evening opener.  The lighting for the church is even but not bright, so the booths that had added lighting had a large competitive advantage in presentation.  Those booths are the ones lining the walls, whereas it would be challenging to get electricity to the middle booths, and the more amateur booths (including mine) without lights would still be at a disadvantage.
    Getting back to more neutral topics, the weather has continued with rain of around 1/4 to 1/2 inch per day...  As we drove north to church, it turned to snow and there was almost an inch of slush at the church...

  Dec. 3
    I was back to glazing in the pottery.  
    The weather was fairly mild, and it hardly rained at all (100% chance tomorrow)...  
    There was an addendum to the CAGNI sale--we were apprised that the newly finished floor (still drying the night before we set up) got scratched from our show, and will be docked for it...  Our treasurer stopped by and figured it wouldn't be too costly, but it was another blow to the stability of this event...

Dec. 4
    I got sidetracked today by going to Spokane to get a used miter (chop) saw off of Craigslist.  My father gave me one about 25 years ago that finally wore out.  We use chop saws both for carpentry and firewood sawing.  Currently we're getting pieces of pallet wood which are
studded  with nails and cutting the boards (avoiding the nails as much as possible) to burn at the pottery, and heating almost totally with that.  We have a lot of regular firewood as well, and may start using that later this week when winter's predicted to start in earnest.
    We're also setting aside better looking pieces of wood as we are sawing up the boards.  Surprisingly, a fair percentage of pallets are made from oak, and some of them are pretty clear (except for the nails).
    I've gotten an email that the Little Free Library sign is in the mail, so I went to the town library and bought some of their discard books to put in the library, along with others from our rather large book collection, but I did think I'd have to read most of the ones (sometimes for the second time) before putting them up for "adoption."


Dec. 8  It's been snowing, ending up with about 3 inches on the ground and subfreezing temperatures so it's not going away this time...  I spent last evening making some more Christmas hymn videos:
A stable lamp is lightedOf the Father's love begotten Hymn tuneO little town of Bethlehem tune on guitarJesus our brother kind and goodThe hills are bare at Bethlehem Christmas …The first Noel on acoustic guitar Come thou long expected Jesus  Away in a manger (two versions combined… Virgin Mary had a baby boy performed by …
I've put up the Little Free Library, but haven't gotten the official sign for it, nor filled it with books...
    I went and played Christmas tunes for an hour or so at the gallery I'm soon to leave in Sandpoint.  There were artists there I hadn't met in the year I've been there.  The artists alone made the place feel full, but there were some art patrons as well...

Dec. 9
    It was our turn to fix the majority of lunch after church today, for up to 24 people...  We brought our garden potatoes and squash, and cooked them during church.  Other than that bit of healthiness, the rest was hot dogs, and some desserts brought by others.  It was tasty and economical...
    
Dec. 11
    The Little Free Library is populated with books, and open for business, but I'm still waiting for the official sign.  
    I got back to throwing bowls, condiment sets, and plates yesterday, so I kept busy trimming them today.  
    It warmed up enough to clear most of the streets and sidewalks, although the surrounding ground is still snow covered.
    Our new truck, which seems to like attention from the mechanic, is back in the shop to get a few things fixed, most of which we knew about when we purchased it.  When the roads were all icy, I tried the 4 wheel drive and found it didn't go into 4 wheel drive.  Fortunately that just needed the linkage cleaned and lubricated--$35, instead of whatever a new transmission might have cost...  Aside from the expenses, it's led us to getting pallets of free wood loaded by forklift, which supplies us with both firewood and scrap lumber, so we're feeling positive about it still.

Dec. 15
Jonathan and I played for an inside "farmer's market" on Perry Street in Spokane on Thursday.  It was in a small auditorium/gym like building, and even had a small stage.  The room was very boomy acoustically, so we were asked not to bring a sound system.  As a result, with all the people (mostly vendors) talking, I couldn't even hear my acoustic guitar when I played it, so I stuck with banjo.  It wasn't a real enjoyable performance, but the building itself was interesting.  Facing Perry Street, there was an old fireplace.   As we played, I looked up and saw the characteristic holes in the back upper floor used for movie projectors, so at some time it had been a movie theater, but the depth of the stage would have also allowed Vaudeville or other live entertainment.  Back to the present era, there was also a space on the floor reserved with a canopy with a buddha.  Only when we were done did I notice it's next door to the Spokane Buddhist Temple, so I'm assuming they own the facility.
    The Perry Street business area is one of a handful of small business areas like Garland and Millwood and Hillyard in Spokane that try to eke out a meaningful presence in a big box retail world.   I'm guessing Perry Street was severely hobbled when the freeway went in below it in the 50's and didn't even give the street an underpass.
    Tonight the weather is predicted for snow, and I'm scheduled for the Bluegrass Showcase, playing Christmas hymns instrumentally...  Still I'm confident that the rugged faithful who attend will be polite and attentive, which are always the goals for us small time musicians...
    I got my official Little Free Library sign, and as soon as they list it, I'll be the first one in North Idaho...

Dec. 16
    We went caroling after church, at the few local businesses near our church at Priest Lake including a massage parlor (therapeutic), laundromat, two gas stations, and a hardware, and an art gallery.  Our singing brought tears to the eyes of the gas station operators (female, just for the record)...  We had fun, and invited members of two other small local churches to join us, and two local elementary teachers joined in as well...
    On the ride home, it was getting dark, which tends to bring the wildlife out.  I saw a deer, an elk, and maybe a wolf...
    I got a notice tonight my Little Free Library is now on their map, with a picture of me with the library:

Dec. 18
    Yesterday was my last day to work at the gallery in Sandpoint.  It was as slow and boring as usual, but it felt better being the last time...  Also there was a nasty snowstorm with 50 mph winds all day, so it was nice to be inside and watch it, after shoveling in the early morning...
    Today I got back to work on pottery, loading a bisque and a glaze and firing both, glazing a kilnload of pots, and making 65 mugs.

Dec. 20
    A white Christmas is now secured--we got a foot of snow last night, and with the existing snow there's 20 inches wherever there isn't a trench shoveled through it.  We only shovel by hand, so we were very glad when the truck with a plow that cleared the next door Baptist church parking lot also cleared the part we drive through to get to our car port (and that our customers use to park while shopping).
    One of the new kilns threw out an error message again today--"E-D" which led me to replace the thermocouple.  Then it still didn't like to work, but a call to Seattle Pottery Supply helped me figure out to use the RSET option in the menu to reset the brain, and it started working again (I'm putting the details here in case it happens again after I've forgotten, which  I'm likely to do tomorrow).
    I played music for a "holiday" show at the library this evening.  When I worked there, it was made clear to me to steer clear of religious stuff since we are a county owned public library.  This time, when they asked me to play, it was rumored they were loosening up on this.  But my old boss also asked me to learn a Chanukkah song (which in the end, I told her I couldn't--the ones I found on the Internet went in one ear and out the other).  So the latest children's librarian (there have been at least 3 since I quit) told about menorrahs, and dreidels, and Kwanzaa, and a story about a turkey hoping not to get eaten for Christmas (which was apparently the Christian part of the program).  I had determined to do songs like White Christmas and Frosty the Snowman, which are secular enough for anyone.  The last part of the program was having some fun with youth theater with Scrooge and other characters from The Christmas Carol, and there ended up being some time to fill at the end, so I was asked to do a couple more songs, which the youth theater joined in on--Silent Night and Joy to the World.   Good thing I wasn't still working there or I'd have been in trouble...


Dec. 21
This won't be news to regular blog readers, but here's our annual Christmas (or sometimes Easter) letter:
http://sondahl.com/christmas2012/christmas2012.html
I'm slowing down towards the holidays, or maybe it's the shoveling...

Dec. 23
    We left for church around 8 a.m. this morning, and returned at 5:30 this evening.  Yes, it was a long service, combining Advent 4 and Christmas...  But most of the time I spent playing guitar with Kenyon Curtiss, so it was fun...  He comes over regularly for Christmas to see his mother, and we worked through all the Christmas hymns, then did some Beatles,  Grateful Dead, Scott Joplin, and I sat out Satie's Gymnopedie #1 but enjoyed hearing it.

Dec. 27


This is how the ridge looked (a bit of the lake is in the middle background if you know where to look) on Christmas Day. We were the first humans up there since the heavy snows--we followed deer tracks, or the 18 inches of snow would have been over our boots...  The lake is still mostly free of ice, aside from the Mill Pond--so the snows are average or above, but so are the temperatures...

Since the lake is open, there are quite a few ducks lingering--these are the first of their species I've identified--ring-necked ducks, which are bay ducks that often winter on inland fresh water (but according to the distribution map, seldom as far inland as we are)...  The white part on their beak made them look distinctive...
On Christmas Eve we went to a Mo. Synod Lutheran Church in Rathdrum, then came home in time to set up a little manger scene on our property for our and our young neighbors' enjoyment.  We lit the path to our "stable" with lots of small candles, and decorated our old porch with lots of fir boughs.

Dec. 31


We still have plenty of snow in Spirit Lake, and recent warmer weather started moving it glacially down our metal roof, but a current cold spell has it stuck and hanging down over our kitchen window...  So with views like that, we decided to go canoeing to see the eagles on Lake Coeur D'Alene...


There are currently around 200 eagles feasting on the post spawn dying kokanee salmon--it was hard to look anywhere and not see them, mostly perching in the trees, but sometimes wheeling around in the sky in groups of 15 or more...  It was a dark and snowy day, so any pictures I took of them flying were blurred...



We canoed from the boat access to Beauty Bay (around three miles total).   There are two or more eagles in the tree farthest out on the point... You can also see they don't get the snows here we have in Spirit Lake.  We also some a couple great blue herons flying and 4 deer...
The temperatures were never above freezing--I had to pour water on the lines we tied the canoe to the car with to get them unfrozen to untie...  We were aware of the dangers of capsizing in frigid water, but the water was calm and we were careful...


   
Afterwards we celebrated our 35th anniversary at the Dockside restaurant, enjoying the extravagant lighting display along the Coeur D'Alene Resort's boardwalk... (This is a fragment of their many colorful scenes--I wonder why fireworks and Christmas lights never capture well in photographs)...

Books read and other media of note
The Ultimate Inferior Beings by Mark Roman     If you liked Red Dwarf and the Hitchhiker's Guide series, this is the same sort of humor, deftly administered, down to the index at the back of useful terms like "and". I borrowed it for free with Kindle Prime, but would definitely consider actually paying for another of the author's "works." Daniel Pinkwater's writing also comes to mind in reading this book. I read lots of science fiction, and it's always nice when the fate of the universe is no big deal...

Molly and the Confidence Man by Stephen Overholser
 I got this from the discard books at the library to include in my Little Free Library.  It's pretty uneven in plotting, but was an enjoyable western story.

Star Rangers by Andre Norton
 (1953)  The beginning of this novel sounds like the beginning of Star Wars--the old Star Rangers are in the way of the new galactic federation, but in this novel they're sent off to do the USS Enterprise gig of exploring (until they die the death of unrefurbished technology).  10 years later Norton had worked out some of the themes of this (psi powers, aliens as buddies, ancient pools of knowledge) into some finer stories of galactic adventure...  Still, being written in the year of my birth, I was impressed...

Perchance to Dream by Robert Parker
 I've read this "sequel" to the Big Sleep twice (with my memory it's always new).  He did a good job of integrating the quirky characters from the Big Sleep into a believable noir detective storyline...

Bandits by Elmore Leonard  
Like the film Vertigo, this novel about a corrupt Nicaraguan colonel and his former lover and a former nun and an excon male model keeps lurching off center, so you're never sure what it's about or who are the "good guys."  Like all his novels, the dialog and storytelling are first rate...

The Man with a Thousand Names by A. E. Van Vogt (1974).  
He takes a thoroughly unlikeable protagonist, pits him against a worse extra-galactic threat, and slides them around in various guises trying to win the prize of a group mind consisting of 786 Greek beauties.  There  aren't many writers like A. E. Van Vogt.

The First Rule by Robert Crais.
 I would like to think we live in a country of laws where vigilantes can't kill with impugnity, but whether we do or don't, this book is vigilante Dirty Harry type stuff about a baby that's being fought over by rival East European gangs.  

The Intrusion of Jimmy by P G Wodehouse
Before he hit on Bertie and Jeeves or the Blanding gang, he developed the hugely successful formula with one-off novels like this one.  The formula includes star crossed lovers, formidable elder relatives, and robbery with the best intentions, as well as colorful and hilarious minor characters...  This one started off looking a weak finisher, but came down to the line in good form and is worthwhile reading for free on your electronic reader...

Sunset Express by Robert Crais
  Elvis Cole researches either a dirty cop or a dirty high profile defense lawyer while dealing with personal issues with his love interest lawyer girlfriend.  This one is a little weak on action, but still a compelling story...

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