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Brad's Blog

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Dec. 3
    What with taking in a family with 3 lively kids the last month went by in a blur...  The kids are getting to like the school here--it's more urban than the multiyears in one class school at Priest Lake.
    The weather turned cold again with only a thin layer of snow--highs of 20F and lows below 10 predicted through the end of the week.  We were slow to order our wood this year, but it's available anytime for a price (in this case $220/cord delivered of mostly tamarack (larch), which is the king of fuels in this area).
    I keep getting orders for stuff I don't have, and promising to have them ready in a week or week and a half, which isn't a problem if the firings continue smoothly, but also means I have to keep making pots to fill the kilns even for small orders.  Otherwise I'd be working on a CD a friend asked me to make of Beatles songs.

Dec. 6
    Yes, it's cold (10 degrees) , but it's colder (as usual) in Minnesota, so I can't complain.
  A customer mentioned having her debit card account hacked today, from a widespread and well publicized  local compromised grocery chain computer system, which led me to recheck our accounts, and indeed someone played PuttPutt golf in Texas and charged two tanks of gas on one of our card numbers, which we use frequently at the local grocery...  Fortunately the bank (well prepared for people in our position) helped us file the forms, so there should be no losses on our part.  But it does shake one's confidence in the whole banking system, particularly with many other fraud claims in the news...

Dec. 7
It was about  5 degrees this evening as a hearty party hailed our annual lighted lawnmower parade.  It's grown slightly from its inception to include a Baptist float with a piano on it and a fire in a metal pan and a few carolers, and there was enough candy handed out to keep our youngsters blood sugar levels elevated through the evening.

There were a couple Santas in the parade, but this one was on the lighted lawnmowers, that were the initial instigators of our parade, which may or may not parody Coeur D'Alene's lighted boat parade.  We met the new owner and manager of the Whitehorse Saloon (probably the 5th time it's changed hands in our 30 plus years here).   It is affirming of our small town culture (such as it is).

Dec. 10




We finally got to walk down on the lake, where the ice is mostly 4 inches thick except for one open spot out where the lake widens.  Along the edge these ice blobs were apparently formed when the waves splashed on the shore sticks before it froze solid.  We've seen these before mostly along running streams...
It reached the mid 20's today, and with the sunshine the walk was very enjoyable until we turned back into the light but cool north wind.

Dec. 15
The weather has gone above freezing again, leaving puddles on top of the 4 inches of frozen lake. On the way up to church this morning, the Pend O'Reille river was more frozen over than I've seen previously.  I filled in as pastor as well as musician due to sickness in the family, likely assisted by our increased exposure to school aged children...
Because of the thawing, I slipped on my bike yesterday morning and got a good poke in the ribs from my handlebar, and jammed my middle finger on my fretting hand, making it challenging to play guitar today.  One can tell the injured finger because it's the one that isn't wrinkled when you look at them all...  

Dec. 17
    The pressure leading up to Christmas diminishes somewhat when everything is in the mail (it's not yet...) and all the pottery orders are complete--they are, and it's too late to make anything in time for Christmas.  So it's time to make cookies (like spritz--I made 4 batches today, and pffefferneusse--one large batch last week)...
    I played an hour of 'holiday favorites' at the library on Monday--that just leaves a 20 minute set of Christmas tunes at the bluegrass showcase this Saturday...

Dec. 19
    I was back to making cookies today, 500 more pffefferneusse.  I now feel like I've met the daily recommended caloric requirements for China (in the aggregate, and possibly personally from nibbling).  I squeezed in some practicing Christmas carol tunes while baking the cookies.
    Pottery sales have continued briskly, possibly due to the tolerably snowfree weather, scheduled to end tomorrow.  The Christmas break at our local schools is a full 2 weeks, so snow might be a good thing to amuse the children (and get all their clothes and coats and gloves wet on a daily basis).  We were given a snowblower, which I'm curious to try out, but we haven't had the kind of dry snow they're designed for yet...

Dec. 20
    We're back to White Christmas mode, with around 3 inches of dry snow.  One of our youngsters was too sick with a sore throat to attend the last day of goofing off (no-- wait-- classes), so she spent part of the day watching videos at the pottery (our technology center).   As one can expect, associating with school aged kids has exposed us to more diseases than usual this Fall.  
    We went with our entourage to an acapella quintet concert at the library last evening... It easy to see why vocal music connects with our emotional centers...  It was a nice mix of carols and contemporary holiday music--even a couple in Latin.  One of the kids said they only liked the song about the Grinch...

Dec. 27
    We've reenacted the leadup to the Passover, with many of the plagues of Egypt thrust upon us--stomach flu, sore throat, coughing, and strong allergic reaction to unknown irritants--I'm sure that was the list from Exodus.  Most of that fell on the family we're helping, but it affects us all.  Frogs may be next...
    During the hiatus from blogging, Christmas happened, including dinner with our fine  neighbors (who sometimes read this blog),  a church service I dozed off during, Christmas music on guitar for the bluegrass showcase, and walking on the now mostly solid lake ice (with occasional weird cracking noises that sound like seal barks and lots of pressure cracks in the 4 inches or more thickness.
    The weather is fluctuating in temperature between 20 and 30, with little snow or rain, and pretty sunsets.
    We're halfway through the two weeks off from school, with a birthday tomorrow, and plans to attend First Night with the kids in Spokane on New Year's Eve (weather permitting).

Dec. 31
We took in the lights of downtown Coeur D'Alene yesterday:

As usual, the colored lights on the water looked prettier than the elaborate displays along the floating boardwalk.

First Night was a blast for all of us, from some doing Beethoven's 9th at the Symphony, to others watching cowboy rope tricks and sound effects comedians and Irish dancers and ourselves dancing disco.

My favorite local Irish band, Floating Crowbar, accompanied the Haran Irish Dancers (who always appeared as blurs in the photos from their high energy performance.

Books read and other media of note
WARP--the Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer  Many adults might be most attracted to Colfer's apocryphal Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book, but his juvenile and YA fiction are also quite enjoyable, with strong female characters and compelling plots.  This one is a bit too much into steampunk for my taste, but that aside it was enjoyable.

The Double-Jack Murders by Patrick McManus
 If Andy Griffith had strong animal magnetism and wandered around in the Idaho woods, he would probably solve murders like Sheriff Bo Tully

The Galactic Pothealer by Philip K Dick.  
The future of Philip K Dick generally proceeds faster than history has shown, and at least as bleak as current conditions indicate. But this one is probably his funniest work, and potter approved.

The Tamarack Murders by Patrick McManus
The only mystery series set in Idaho that I'm aware of, also the funniest.  

The Joy Machine by James Gunn
After reading a recent James Gunn novel, I searched the local library listings and requested this one.   I was surprised to find out it was a Star Trek novel, based on the original series, which is the only one I ever watched.  So it was like stepping into an old pair of shoes to find James Kirk matching wits with a world computer that doles out totally addictive joy (and this was written before the Internet :-)   Anyway, the plot was a bit too Kirk heavy, whereas the tv programs generally were more ensemble (somewhat)--although I admit this could be a novelization of a TV plot (it says based on a story by Theo. Sturgeon).  The afterward, a look into the classic 50's to 70's SF authors, was very enjoyable.

Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman  Since so many great series refuse to die with their authors, at least this one stays in the family.  It felt a bit like she was trying too hard--almost byzantine details to obfuscate the story line, which is basically Son (in this case daughter) of The Thief of Time.  As a potter, I liked it.

The Crap Artist by Philip K Dick.  
A rare nonSF look at a dystopian present (1959) made more interesting by shifting points of view for each chapter between the major characters.

Deadly Heat by Richard Castle
 The layers of Matrix-like surreality come together in this detective thriller, when the author describes a raid as (paraphrased) a real raid, not like on TV or in the movies.  This coming from a fictional narrator theoretically penned by a TV character but  actually a fairly talented
ghost writer.  So if you get over the cheesy-ness of the whole premise, it's a fairly good detective story, more cluttered with details than most successful best sellers (in my opinion good writing is clean writing).  It was often hard to tell when the tongue was in the cheek of the author, and whether his contract stipulated he put in some Firefly references for geeky fans.

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