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