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Feb. 7
    I went to Minnesota for most of the last week to visit my mother (and watch the Superbowl).  It was the typical cold of Minnesota winters, with some days having highs in the lower teens, so I only went on one walk of any length, and it seemed short on wildlife--except one mouse I saw tunneling through the two inches of snow...
The visit included playing a couple songs with my sister for a 50's bar dance.  

On the way back I enjoyed watching the plains pass by, and guessed correctly when I saw a huge lake that it was the Fort Peck reservoir in Montana, that I'd heard of  but never seen.

I also was happy to figure out that what causes the bullseye rainbow pattern on the clouds or snow below a jet...  I knew it was in the opposite direction from the sun, but on earth we don't see rainbows at that angle to the sun.   What happened is that I briefly saw the plane's shadow right in the middle of the rainbow as we were descending towards the clouds, and I realized that the ice crystals in the clouds were being millions of tiny mirrors reflecting the sunlight back to us...  The crystals turned at a slight angle produce a prismatic effect, but the ones that happen to be be straight on shine the brightest towards the plane and make the spot, which is essentially a blurry image of the sun...
    It was amazing to me how many people on the plane shut the blinds--I love the window seats which offer a rare opportunity for us to see the world from high above...

New videos from this trip:
I'm Going to Heaven, written and sung by Brad Sondahl
recorded in my mother's living room with the new Gretsch roundneck guitar she gave me...
So Lonesome I could Cry sung by my sister Susan Hvistendahl
Bye Bye Love sung by Susan Hvistendahl and Brad Sondahl
Beep Beep sung by Brad Sondahl and Susan Hvistendahl
My sister probably got this record when it went gold in 1958.  I suggested it to my cub scout den to do as a pantomime (That's lip sync in modern parlance).
25 Below and getting Colder written and sung by Brad Sondahl
I wrote this back when I lived in Minnesota and we were trying to heat a leaky shack with wood heat...  It wasn't that cold this time, but I expect they've had their below zero days this year...

Feb. 9
    Our local pallet works offers free scrap wood, and the weather is getting warmer (above freezing most days) so this wood is adequate for heating the pottery.  Getting this wood is very easy with a pickup--they will load it for you.  So yesterday I got a pallet load of broken up pressed wood pieces about the size of  bricks, and have been heating the pottery for the last day with it...  It takes about a banana box of this wood per day to keep the pottery warm, but I probably got enough for three or four weeks yesterday...  This wood did remind me of my father, who would stop at a free wood box at a cabinet shop and bring home particle board which we'd burn in our fireplace...
    In the pottery I got out the first of 70 mugs for a camp in Montana.  I've made mugs for several camps through the years--usually the people running the camp turn over after a while and the new people don't order them...   In this case the person who ran a camp in Idaho years ago is now running the Montana camp, and still likes my pottery...

Feb. 12
On Sunday we noticed that some of the trees are popping the covers that protect their buds from drying out.  It's still refrigerator weather--ranging from mid 20's to mid 30's, but there is a sense of progression towards Spring.  There's still a foot of snow in most places, but it gets soft every day.
On the north side of the ridge it stays cooler with no sun on it, so some fine icicles are still in play, although starting to fade...



Today we took a walk to catch some photos of them before they're gone...  I liked this one due to the nice green moss and the contrasting sharp icicles which give it a ghoulish toothy look...


The snow melts at the top of the ridge and either drips or flows through the rock ledges...


Many of the icicles are clear, but this milky one was enjoyable, and you can see the "flowstone" type formations on the left.

Feb. 14
I added a video for the Grateful Dead covers project, where fans are invited to post versions of Grateful Dead songs to Youtube.  This song was from late in their career:
Black Muddy River  
     

Feb. 17
As soon as I posted that Black Muddy River  video, I saw that I'd already posted one--at least this one was on banjo instead of guitar...  It's hard to keep track of my nearly 400 videos...
As is my habit, I helped with sound and photographed the  February 2013 music showcase (photos at the link).   The high point of the evening was the All Star Pickers, which rumor has it are tied to the All Star Guitar store in Post Falls.  It made me want to visit the store...
The weather continues to rise to around 40 each day, slowly eating away at the foot of snow we have in most places.  Bugs are coming out in the house, and we saw this spider 10 feet out on the ice on Spirit Lake a couple days ago:

It didn't seem to be in distress...
It was weather like this a couple years ago when we got to see a turtle break through a thin skin of ice to take what might have been its first breath of the Spring...  We're seeing more sunshine than in the last couple months...  Very enjoyable...

Feb. 18
I goofed off this afternoon recording more Grateful Dead songs:

Scarlet Begonias  Operator Dupree's Diamond Blues 
They aren't ones I typically play, so I occasionally wander a bit on the chord changes...
    This morning I put a couple good hours into pottery work and came close to filling the shelves with canisters and plates...  I got another order in this afternoon, which I should get made tomorrow...

Feb. 20
    In an attempt to get more revenue for state parks,  Idaho offered a tag for year long state parks use that was very reasonable, so we got one.  That led us today to go for a hike at Farragut State Park, the former WWII naval base on Lake Pend O'Reille.  We expected snow, but there were only patches on the higher ground, so the shoreline trail from the boat launch area was easy...  It's a popular place in the summer, but we only saw 3 other people in the whole 4000 acre park (not that we checked all 4000 acres).  Here are two photos:

This view is looking towards the boat ramp pylons at a beach and point highlighted by the late afternoon sun.


This was the sky toward the west...

Feb. 22
    The sky let loose with snow all day today, totaling 4 inches.  The storm ended in rain, with winds predicted for the morrow, making this more like a typical March storm than a true winter snow...
    I mixed a couple buckets of glaze, threw chicken cookers and lotion pumps, and loaded and unloaded kilns.  Then for some reason I spent the afternoon shoveling...
    This slow time for sales seems to coincide with a major time for fundraisers.  Both Spirit Lake and Rathdrum high school representatives visited today for donations for senior auctions...

Feb. 23
The sun came out after the snowfall yesterday, and the snow had settled onto the hard base and refrozen by evening so we could walk up the ridge with impunity... We saw several groups of deer, and a lovely 
sky conflicted between clear and stormy , with a few clouds tossing off snow showers.
While we were walking, we wondered about this bird that had hit our greenhouse (possibly drunk on fermented mountain ash berries) and had sat stunned for a couple hours on the snow...

Fortunately, when we got back from our walk, it was gone...   Female Pine Grosbeak...

Feb. 24
It was another 10 hour church day (counting travel time).  On the way up we saw our first tundra swans of the season (and that season is clearly Spring), and I thought, if perchance they're there on the way home I would attempt some photos, but we returned well after dark.  

Feb. 25
    We just finished our last fresh tomatoes from last Fall, nearly 6 months after picking them...  They've sat in a cool back room in a box.  All the ones that made it into the last couple months were very green when picked, and the paste tomatoes were the longest lasting.  They tasted better than store tomatoes all the way to the end...
    Meanwhile the blackbirds are back and singing, another harbinger of Spring.  Geese are flying north as well.  In spite of these clear signs we got another 3 inches of snow today...   And in the snow robins and pine grosbeaks were feeding on our dwindling supply of mountain ash berries...

Feb. 27
    I went to a fundraiser this evening for medical expenses for cancer for a member of the premier fiddling family of Spokane, Tony Ludiker.
DellaMae played for it, featuring Tony's daughter (on fiddle, of course), an internationally touring modern bluegrass band.  The high school theater it was held at was standing room only...  
The first band was Pearl Snaps, made up of teen and preteen prodigies:

4 of them were fiddlers, probably trained through the Ludiker family...

The guy in the middle is Tony, who was so weak from treatment for abdominal cancer two weeks ago that he was confined to a wheelchair.  His brother Terry on the right  is also a great fiddler (who has performed with Jonathan and me a couple times)

This is Della Mae, plus another young prodigy singer who sang harmony with them on one song, and belted out another on her own...
Kimber Ludiker is on the right...


Books read and other media of note
The Brothers of Baker Street  by Michael Robertson.  Sherlock Holmes is the detective that doesn't stay dead (and I'm still enjoying rereading his original adventures)...  I'm also enjoying two modern Sherlock tv series  (the BBC one is better), but don't count out this far fetched series where a lawyer inherits the mail for Sherlock Holmes along with renting the location of 221B Baker Street.  Add to that a letter from someone named Moriarity, and you have a recipe for something unlikely but not impossible...

Thank You Jeeves
 A Wodehouse movie in title only--the plot hijacked in 1936 for build up to the WWII effort--spies and secret plans, as with Sherlock Holmes films of the period.  The film is thankfully short (under an hour), and its one redeeming virtue is David Niven playing Bertie, and it's possible to see that the much better BBC Bertie and Jeeves were loosely styled in appearance after the duo in this film. Only serious Wodehouse buffs need suffer through this one...

Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone
Since I briefly toyed with doing magic tricks with kids 25 years ago, I have a soft spot for more serious practitioners, and Alex Stone is among the most serious.   This book details how his life derails from being a physics Ph.D. student to being a semiprofessional magician on the outs with some of the magical powers that be for outing some magicians' secrets in print.  I see it as a blueprint for monomania--substitute in music or skiing, and the same sorts of things happen--you work on perfecting your own skills, discover heroes (often that are unknown to the world at large) and spend incredible effort for results that just bother your parents ( you know they just want you to settle down and get a good job).  It's well written, and very insightful into the mental processes that lead to our magical deception.

Back Story by Robert Parker
This one pushes the envelope for pro bono detective work--6 donuts leads to several cross country trips, taking on major mob hitmen, and continuing on doggedly to learn, for what it was worth, the truth...

Insane City by Dave Barry
Barry creates a plausible screwball comedy out of the type of headlines that have earned Florida a special tag on Fark.com

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman  
A collaboration of two of the best fantasy writers early in their careers (so early that the cars had cassette players).  Averting the end of the world is a staple of SF and fantasy--but it's never so funny nor fraught with quaint but powerful characters as in this one.  

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