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Jan. 1, 2006
Being that I'm not a drinker,  I spent New Year's Eve at the 1st Night celebration in Spokane, which is a family oriented series of concerts, art exhibits, and fun stuff, supported by button sales.  Although it rained steadily, the inside concerts were fun.  I've posted pictures of the musicians I saw (all local talent) at my folklore society webpage: http://spokanefolklore.org/1stnight2005/1stnight2005.html
Through a complex series of events, I took my wife's best friend from junior high school, while my wife stayed home visiting another friend who was passing through.  The result of taking her was mostly going to the stuff I wanted to see (hear), but throwing in a bit of dance performance viewing and classical music which were more her tastes...

Jan. 2, 2006
While I was off doddling on the ski slopes today, this came in from Linda Lander in Australia, and her life is more interesting than mine, so I'm giving her the entry today (she should start a blog of her own, as well.):

Happy New year. I thought I'd write and tell you about the first day of the new year. It got to 44 degrees celcius here with winds up to 100km/ hour. Very exceptional weather though not unheard of.  A bush fire started on the highway about 10 km from here and it quickly surrounded our town of Junee (population 4000) We  lost 5 houses and 30,000 hectares and lots of sheep, cattle and horses. One of the boys that my son went to school with was fighting a fire on his farm and was hit by a fire ball, he has burns to 60 percent of his body and was flown to sydney for treatment, it does not look good for him.I went up to work to see if I could help and it was chaos with full emergency operations in force. It is good to know however that we can operate in those conditions. I stayed up there for a couple of hours , but all I could really do was serve drinks and try to keep the evacuees calm.  We had around 60 people up at the hospital but there were several 100 from around town at the bowling club.I have come to the conclusion that the people I know to be substance abusers are the ones who are unable to cope in an emergency. Anyway when I got home the wind had changed and was blowing towards our house. I have paddocks on three sides of me and a house on the other. I suppose we weren't in as much danger as some around town, but it was pretty bloody scary anyway. Makes you think about what you have planted in your garden, I have three large melaluca trees close to the house which are very volatile.I went and invited my near neighbors down as their husband was off fighting fires, so we had extras as well as their 5 dogs and a horse here. The fire was closer to their place but it didnt get them, or us luckily. The closest it got to here was just down the gully about 500 yards away. There were helicopters with fire buckets and fire bombing planes flying straight over our house. It is now under control  but still burning up in the Bethungra hills which is rugged country but not as many houses and people to burn.We mostly have grass and farmland around here. There are other bush fires burning all over the state. Anyway on a nicer note I have an appropriate poem for you. Its one all Aussie school kids learn by Dorothy Mackellar.

I love a sunburnt country
A land of sweeping plains
Of rugged mountain ranges
Of drought and flooding rains

I love her far horizons
I love her jewelled sea
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me.

All through the fires yesterday there was an australian flag flying across the paddock from us, at one stage the fire fighters were standing underneath it with their hoses spraying the fire, it's still there.
                                Bye Linda.

Jan. 3
I started working on the beginning pottery video today.  I'm undecided between leaving in the amateur filmmaking and reshooting for a more professional look.  I generally side on the folksy approach, but even though the material presented is good, I'd hate to have anyone not like it based on production values.  Of course if I applied that standard to my cartoon, I'd have to give it up.  Life is full of compromises.

Jan. 4

At this time of year bald eagles congregate at Lake Coeur D'Alene to catch dying Kokanee salmon that have spawned.  I went to see them and try to catch them with a camera.  Although I saw dozens, and took about 100 pictures, the light was too dim to get good clear shots, but this one catches the eagle in the act of snatching up a salmon.  There were probably at least 20 eagles in the area, sometimes 3 or 4 quite close.

Jan. 5
This is the last day of Christmas.  We have a pottery candlering with 12 candleholders on it that we light for each of the days of Christmas.  They're all burnt down. The tree is still up.  We usually burn it on Epiphany, but we also can't resist giving it some water, so it's still very green.
In the pottery today besides some regular pots I assembled a couple more funky sculptures.  Assuming I can sell any of these next summer, it's beginning to look like my style is evolving from my pottery work--throw a bunch of fun forms and assemble them the next day.

Jan. 6
Happy Epiphany.  We lit off a few fireworks.  Set about in the Christmas tree.  The tree didn't burn, as predicted.  It will someday.
I glazed another couple kiln loads today, and, following yesterday's thought, made four more sculpture bases and a bunch of parts to continue this sculpture series.  I keep thinking, lawn sculptures, but I guess they could be inside a house that's large enough to warrant them...  As it is, our living space is cluttered enough to preclude most decorative art.

Jan. 8
Most of us seem to do best with a balance of excitement and "space."  Excitement is the spice of life, and space the quiet place to digest it. Today was a "space" place for me, as everyone except Grandma is gone, so I've had it slow.  My wife would love to have some space, but her time has been preoccupied lately by the deaths of friends, and her many other pastoral connections.  For me, a lot of my excitement is just a bit of well played music, a beautiful sunset, or an unusual bird or flower.  Of course in the gray days of winter some of those things can be in short supply.  Currently, in spite of 5 inches of snow in the mountains last night (good for my excitement junkie ski bum son), it's just wet and around freezing here.  The best thing I can note today is the green grass appearing, which almost seems ominous in January.

Jan. 9
Okay, special guest reappearance of winter today--about two inches of very wet snow, in a storm which may continue for two days.
I drove through it the 30 miles to my monthly pottery meeting. It was an especially felicitous one, as last month we sold over $10,000 of our various pottery in a one day sale.  We took turns assessing our parts in the sale  and looking to improvement for next December, when it will be expanding to two days...

Jan. 10
    This storm has turned into a Chinook, which if it means anything to most Americans, probably suggests a helicopter, salmon, or RV.  In the Northwest, where the term has roots referring to a Coastal native population,  a Chinook is a warm moist storm pushing in off the Pacific bringing unseasonably warm weather.  It's sort of the opposite of a blizzard.  Today it was 45 degrees, raining mostly.  In the mountain ski area, that translated as 20 inches of snow, with enough wind to close the resort for the day.  My son, who's trying to ski daily this winter, went up there in spite of warnings of the road and resort being closed, and found a few like-minded souls who climbed up and built their own jump, for a good share of the day.
    I had my own Chinook in the refrigerator, today.   Our refrigerator, a Westinghouse, is from the 1950's, a time when the U.S. built everything to last.  (We also have a couple waffle irons from that era)  Since then (when the first influx of cheap goods from Japan arrived), countries have taken turns trying to produce the shoddiest goods (but at the lowest price (;-).)  Our refrigerator was not much improved on the ice box that had probably been its model--substituting the cooling coil wrapped freezer for the ice tray...  If we were to store ice cream in the freezer, only 2 half-gallons would fit, and they would be mushy by the next day...  Fortunately we have since gotten an upright freezer and supplementary refrigerator, but we've kept the original fridge that came with our house, because it's the only one of any size that can fit in the space allotted.  (I suppose we've also become emotionally involved with it)  So I was squirting in hot water around the freezer compartment, to loosen the gallon or so of ice that builds up inevitably.  Although I've heard that ice decreases the efficiency of refrigerator coils, ours seems more to like having the bulk of ice as a backup to the coils, but occasionally it becomes necessary to clean it anyway...
So it was a Chinook day, with more still on the way.  It could be worse.  Seattle has had rain over 20 days straight, heading toward a record of 32...  But if you knew anything about Seattle, you'd expect that...

Jan. 11
    The wind's still blowing, the snow down here is going.  Up to 50 mph winds blew down trees in the area overnight, but I don't think it was so bad here.  Windblown snow develops a tough crust that makes it bad for skiers.  For once my son preferred terrain that was already "skied out," as the crust was broken up...  I plan to ski tomorrow, although I'd like the wind to quit.  I like nicely groomed runs that have no surprises to my moderate abilities...
    Meanwhile I am trying to relearn the program to make the video.  Using a complex computer program once a year isn't a good idea.  But I've got it started, and plan to finish it by the end of January...

Jan. 12
A good day skiing is one in which I do not fall down.  Today was a good day (well, half day) skiing).  Tonight I glazed about a half dozen large sculptures, which I'll fire in two kilns over the next couple days.  If I remember I'll post the results here...

Jan. 13


Ariki on the left, several years ago...
Today we struggled through the issues of euthanasia, as one of our cats became unable to eat or drink, so it became clear her life was ending.  There is a constellation of care that we considered.  A teddy bear has no life, but if its head is ripped off in anger, violence is done.  The same teddy bear, stepped on inadvertantly, evokes no searing pain for either of us.  But if you step on a cat, it is likely you are both unhappy.  We meateaters allow endless cows, pigs and poultry to be slaughtered, but sorrow if our pet hen drops dead.  And so we place pet cats and dogs ahead of the chicken sandwiches, retaining both the attachment to our fuzzy living teddy bears, and our respect of that spark of life force which we easily accept in the kitten, but fear to give up at its death in old age.  We debated whether to go to a veterinarian, as the cat suffered for years from an immune disorder, and it seemed likely its time had come.  Two years ago I took our last dog to be euthanized, and although I felt positive about that experience, it didn't make this decision easier.  In the end my wife took Ariki to the vet today, who explained her kidneys were failing, and thus eased us into the final decision.

Jan.15

So here are a bunch of sculptures that took up too much room in the kiln.  They're all made from wheelthrown pieces assembled.  The blue crystalline glaze consistantly ran on the kiln shelf, cracking off chunks of the bases in cooling.  My wife doesn't like the big inverted bowl bases.  I don't know if I like any of them, but someone might enjoy them as lawn sculptures, which was my goal. The lower right one has a planter space at the top where the hoop goes in, so is actually utilitarian.

Jan. 17
One of those days again.  I drive into Spokane for the Library and music, and the Library turned out to be closed (taking a substitute day off for Martin Luther King day, since budget cuts have them all closed Mondays anyway).  Then I had a long two hours to kill until time for the music jam (one of the highlights of my week).  I get to the jam location, and there's no jam there.  I'd glanced at my weekly jam announcement email to see it was hosted by the same person as the last time, but on closer perusal (after I came home), they'd moved the jam from the complex rec room to her apartment.  I was standing behind the door when the brains were being given out!
Fortunately there's a jam associated with the monthly bluegrass concert this weekend...

Jan. 18
It's my wife's 50th birthday today.  Because of the two hours I had to kill in Spokane last night, I shopped for a greeting card for my wife.  She didn't know what to make of the card, because I've always made my own cards.  The answer of why I got it really lies in the second previous sentence, but I found some amusement in buying a real card for her.  The reason I was amused was that I opened up card after card, and they all tried to imagine what your relationship might be like, and put their words into your mouth, so to speak.  Like other card shoppers, when I finally found one that would sort of work, it seemed the thing to do to get it.   Later I thought about how weird it is, some poor schmuck writing greeting cards for the Greeting Card Factory, trying to imagine my relationship with my wife, so that I'll read his (or even her) card and buy it.  What are they doing in my relationship?  As I wrote in my card, I can't imagine this idea of buying cards as being a successful trend (:-).  But I've been wrong before...

Jan. 19
The final parts of my beginning potters video are falling into place.  It will be 3 hours long, on 3 DVD's.  This has been a harder struggle than my first set of videos, as I'm trying to think of what's important to tell beginners, and unfortunately there's a lot...  As I watch the pieces I'm assembling, I know I sometimes throw in extraneous info, but like the Modern Major General of Pirates of Penzance, I'm teeming with a lot of news (though not of the hypotenuse)...  If you know of any beginners that might be interested, have them email me at newdvds@sondahl.com to get on a list to be notified when they're ready.
    Even though this has not been a standard winter, it resembles it closely enough that I have valued the DVD project as a way to stave off cabin fever.  We've currently got about 3 inches of slush on the ground, enough to make one think twice about walking off the plowed roads... Another winter storm is predicted for Friday (again with 100 per cent chance of precipitation, but this lately the weather service has been safe without hedging their bets.)  The question here is only whether it will be rain or slush...

Jan.20
Today was a continuation of yesterday, more work on the DVD's.  We did get 5 inches of snow which turned to slush...

Jan. 21
I went to to the Bluegrass Association monthly concert tonight.  I'm always surprised by the new permutations of musicians that form and sound good together, possibly for one concert only.  The jams surrounding bluegrass events are fertile pollinating grounds for new combinations of musicians.  I guess I'm even caught up it in this a bit, although I view my musical groups as more stable.  Next month the duo Sondahl and Hawkins will play for the bluegrass concert, with a third fine musician thrown in, Terry Ludiker. He, like most of us, is in several other bands, and it's not for a permanent association we're doing this, but because I thought it would be worth a try...

Jan. 22
I've gotten caught up with nuancing the beginning pottery DVD project, filling each disk almost completely.  The problem is that the software likes to freeze up at unexpected moments.  Well, either the software or the computer--the result is the same.  But I currently have 3 complete discs, so only need the covers and some other supplies to begin manufacturing them.
Meanwhile church today was an interesting experience, as a woman who is generally part of the "summer people" in the area spoke on the mission she founded in Kenya to help street children, which has grown in 13 years to house more than 150 boys. Their website is www.agapechildren.org.  I was impressed that she could organize such a successful enterprise.  It's just in one out of the way city in Kenya, but it sounded like very worthwhile work.  There's some lovely singing by the children posted on the website.

Jan. 24
When we got a real house 2 years ago (our 4 room pottery store with attached pottery studio had previously been our only home), at first glance it appeared mostly ready to live in.  But it had been a smoker's house, and the smell pervaded the carpet, walls, etc.  So my wife has mostly been the impetus to remove all the old carpeting, which left us with a particle board floor.  Thanks to my mother's annual largesse, we decided to put in hardwood floors.  The whole process has been hard (and we haven't even started installing it yet).  My wife looked at some pecan wood flooring that "looked like us" in that it was a bit beat up looking right out of the box.  Unfortunately, it was also twice as expensive as white oak from another place, so we went with the oak, and putting it in more rooms than we would have with the pecan, since it was cheaper.  Still cheaper was bamboo, which looks pretty good, but I figured must be pretty much artificial with resins and stuff, since bamboo doesn't naturally become stiff tongue and groove planks.  Bamboo is touted as the ecological alternative, since it grows a lot faster than oak.  So, basically I sold out my environmental principles to get Chinese oak flooring.  But it looks great, just out of the box...

Jan.25
Another project to see us through the blah days of winter is moving the pottery workshop from where it is to the next room over, which is twice as big.  I was tearing down the wall today that had confined that room to being the same size as the current workshop.  Then I measured the spaces I currently use for throwing, storing pots, glazing, wedging, and clay storage, and figured out where they should go in the new room.  I will gain some shelf space, and hopefully be able to eliminate some of the crowding that has gradually swallowed my floor space in the old pottery.  I will also have a window which should provide some north light on my wheel (north light has no shadows) as well as an inspiring view of our 100 foot pines out the window.
However this project will probably wait on getting a lot of the flooring done first.

Jan. 26 No piece of flooring is nailed down yet, but we moved a lot of furniture and did a lot of other prep work today and last night.
Then this evening I went in to Spokane for Duo music practice, so that also explains a bit of the lack of progress.  But it was a nice day, none the less.
With the new instructional videos, I even got a call inquiring about them today, so I'm happy that without any publicity (beyond my website) people are finding out about them.  I look forward to shipping them (within a week), and also to finding out if beginners find them useful...
Our new cat has gained the nickname of Dog, since he's bigger than some dogs (such as one some customers brought in today).  He also likes to play fetch with balls (about as well as most dogs, in that carrying around the ball is mostly what he likes). And he's the designated extrovert of this outfit, like many dogs are.  Whenever the showroom door opens, he gallops there to greet whoever comes in.  So far this is mostly a plus...

Jan. 27
The flooring project got started this evening.  It's going well, but it takes a long time, and a lot of getting up and kneeling down to do it...
For fun today I posted 2 videos to the latest popular rage to hit the internet, a people's video center.  These are large files so don't click below if you don't have a broadband connection.   I purposefully focused on the guitar, as I figured guitarists would be mostly interested in the fingerwork.  Here are the web addresses if you're interested:
Click here for a video of "Almost a Kottke"
Click here for video of  "Huckleberry Mountain"

Jan. 28
I think I'll desist from further mention about flooring until it's done.  It's currently about 10%, clicking along like clockwork, but the clock goes slow.
We got another 6 inches of snow today, enough so it's beginning to build up again, as deep as any time this winter.  More snow is predicted the next couple days as well.
Today I'm finally releasing the 3  DVD beginner pottery video set as well.  Since I do it all myself, there are lots of details, including making new covers and stickers to put on the DVDs.
Finally, the most interesting email I've gotten recently came from Sasha in Serbia, who sent me a link to his webpage.  He speaks eloquently of making a life from the shards of war, in spite of the challenge of a decimated economy.  I wish him well.

Jan. 29
January is a long month.  My son, who skis daily, organized a surprise rail jam at the Sandpoint library.  A rail jam is skiers (or snowboarders) doing tricks off rails.  The original rails were railings on stairs at ski resorts.  Since then enterprising daredevils have tried many other locations.  There is a small creek by the library, and his goal was to jump across the gap.  Unfortunately there wasn't enough hill to build up speed, so he landed in the creek, one of the three times he tried it.  Ahh to be young and adventurous and carefree.  This evening he has a big toenail which looks fated to come off, which has happened to him nearly every year from jamming his toes while landing difficult tricks.  Ahh, to be young and in pain from one's adventures...   In my middle aged  dotage I tend to have the pain without the adventures...

Jan. 30
It was another Chinook day, with rain, snow, hail, and strong wind, and temperatures rising to the 40's.  Spirit Lake is unusual in that the lake has a bottom sealed with muck, over extremely porous gravel.  It used to be you could see holes along the edge of the lake where water was swirling down like a bathtub drain.  Because of the leaks, the lake tends to drop a few feet from Spring to late Summer, eventually making parts of the lake hazardous for boaters, too shallow for swimmers in some areas, and one end (the Mill Pond) dries up completely.  So the homeowners association spearheaded an effort to seal the lake, including finally covering the whole millpond with a plastic-like material in hopes of stopping the leakage.  Unfortunately the rest of the lake has some leaks as well, and for several years the lake has not filled up totally even in the Spring. So I now say,  with the confidence of the record precipitation of the last month, that the lake will at least fill up this year, since it has risen dramatically in the last month, nearly to full pool already.

Jan. 31

The last snowstorm of January is starting outside.  It's supposed to echo the storm I described yesterday.  Otherwise the day was unremarkable.  So this is the view out our front window at night--the pots chilling out on our outside display, the snow falling on the trucks on Maine St.

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