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Brad's Blog

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   Jan.1
    We got a break from kid watching this afternoon so we walked on the lake ice to the Maiden Rock access and then back along the Loop road and a little woods bushwhacking.  In the woods we saw a hare track, followed by a coyote, that started bounding, covering 10 or more feet between tracks before the hare headed off into the brush...
    Our son got us a game camera for Christmas, which is something I've thought would be fun to have--set it up somewhere natural and wait for it to catch photos day or night of whatever triggers its motion detector.  We have a raccoon highway that runs along the top of the ridge facing the lake, so it should be easy to get photos of the raccoons.
    It was another modestly record year of pottery sales--up 2.8 percent from last year's record.  Some local junior high kids wandered in the other day, and asked if I actually sold any of the pottery...  (snicker...).  For some reason the number of firings was down 11%.  

Jan. 7
    We got over 4 inches of snow over our base of ice, making for a beautiful but dangerous landscape.   Yesterday we took the kids to the lake and it was really smooth except for an area that had melted and receded over the thick layer of ice, leaving the white bubbles most children love stomping on.  In this case there was much more ice than one could stomp.   Then we celebrated Epiphany eating out where the children's mother is working as cook, then having a bonfire and fireworks with carol singing with the neighbors and their children.
    Occasionally I've made a report on the doings of Maine Street.  January to May usually is the breaking point for many businesses.  Maine Street briefly had a stained glass studio last year.  A couple of the retail outlets are threatening to close.   The new owner of the White Horse is making changes that may make the bar/hotel more viable.   I think a combination of high expected rents and a long slow winter continue to be hard on local businesses.  The highway remains more stable, with a new motorcycle and motor toy shop opening last year, which might also morph into a tire store.
    It is likely the old Fireside Lodge at the lake will be demolished this Spring, and the ground cleared for the planned Fireside Park.  This will continue the trend of a nicer face for our community.  The Chamber of Commerce struggles to figure out new ways to support the local business community.

Jan. 8
    Even though my life is very busy, I continue to read books regularly, but only due to a medieval sleep pattern (it's in the news) of waking up for a couple hours in the middle of most nights.  I finished Robert Crais's book Suspect early this morning.  It wasn't one of his successful Elvis Cole/Joe Pike books, but enjoyable in creating a strong story about an injured police officer and an injured police dog.  
    But it reminded me of another more famous author who took a break from his wildly successful detective stories to write a book about a series of photos of young girls with fairies.  I happened on a copy of the book in the St. Olaf library when I was wandering the stacks in college, looking for good books to read.  The author  was totally taken in by some early fake photos of girls posing with cut out paper fairies.  One would expect more from the author of Sherlock Holmes.  But he was also into spiritualism, which surprisingly didn't make it into the annals of Baker Street, either...

Jan. 12
    We live in a great natural location.  On the way to church at Priest Lake I saw  snow geese on the Pend Oreille River (seems a bit early to head north, doesn't it?)  Later in the afternoon I took the kids to Farragut State Park (saw several eagles), and in the dusk just outside of Spirit Lake we saw two large moose (thankfully off the road)..   The winds have been gusting for days, turning all the snow to mush, which freezes at night.  It would be nice for a few colder nights to solidify the lake ice so it would be venture worth again.   A couple days ago there were snowmobiles whizzing across the Mill Pond, but the January thaw has made the top layer mush...

Jan. 15
    The sun is shining so nicely these days, I finally took a walk across the Mill Pond.  The ice was firm, but the shore was 3 inches of mud, so getting on the ice was dicey.  It's a quiet time of year for birds--the only ones I saw were some quail wandering across the parking lot.  But the sun was shining, and it was warm and calm, hard to beat that in January around here...

 Jan. 17
My son Forrest and his wife gave us a game cam for Christmas.  Life being how it is, I finally got it ready to roll last night, and set it up along  a raccoon highway that runs along the top of our backyard at our cabin.  I was happy to have captured 43 images by morning, most of which were me setting it up (and a couple of a cat), but there were a dozen shots of raccoons:


and this intriguing one, clearly a hind end of a coyote:

It also obligingly records the date and temperature and the time.
It also takes time lapse and full video, so I expect to have a lot of fun...  These photos are at night, and use infrared so they come out black and white.  The colors look good in the one daytime shot I took...

Heres a photo of a raspberry leaf outlined by hoarfrost:


Jan. 20
Here's a link to the photos from Saturday's bluegrass showcase.  Running sound is kind of a thankless job--this time it reminded me of a folk story about a father and son taking a donkey to market to sell.  On the way different people offer advice as to how they should travel--the father should ride, the son should ride, they both should ride, neither should ride. In the end they carry the donkey into the market.  As this relates to the showcase, everyone has an opinion about how the sound should be done...  For one act I was stuck with an amplifier on stage that I couldn't control and a looped bass accompaniment that reverberated off the back of the auditorium.  I can see why previous stage managers had banned amplifiers... Anyway, here are the photos I took:
http://www.sondahl.com/events/INBMAJan2014.html
    I haven't had much luck lately with the game cam--I think maybe it's pointing too high, but it's just like a box with no way to aim it accurately...  I do get a couple of pictures of part of my head photobombing it each morning when I shut it off...  But I keeping having new ideas of which way to point it...  Tomorrow for sure!

 Jan. 22 One more shot of a raccoon--I guess that's what one should expect setting a camera on a raccoon trail.  Yesterday we went for a walk up the ridge and round about a bit (forgot the camera, but the hoarfrost is still lovely), and found a game trail with moose and deer tracks, so I may try to set the camera there for a while... Or perhaps first try a time lapse video of our view of the Mill Pond, including the raccoon highway...
    This Fall we got a lot of scrap wood from the local pallet shop, which I've been burning up at the pottery.  We used to return the (banana) boxes, but they changed their mind about the kind of boxes they wanted to use, so we have a lot of extra banana boxes.  I've always used 2 or 3 of them to transport finished pots.  The box bonanza is allowing me to keep them stacked up ready for Spring, hopefully getting less dusty than if out on display.  I did a count of pots on hand recently, and after the record year there are still 1500 pots on hand--that's a lot of pots to dust...

Jan. 24
The gamecam is doing a two day hybrid video/timelapse, theoretically catching animals wandering by plus the sunrise to sunset in time lapse.  I'll collect it on Saturday.  We've been socked in with low clouds for a long time, so the sunrise/sunsets aren't likely to be much...
    On the other hand, we climbed Maiden Rock for the second time in 30 years (although it's less than a mile from our home), and the low clouds have resulted in impressive hoarfrost growth.  (Maiden Rock is accessed from the Maiden Rock boat launch off Nautical Loop Road on Spirit Lake).

This photo shows how the frost forms on one side of the stems, leaving one side exposed and the other covered with an inch or more of spiky crystalline growths.  Normally invisible structures like fishline tangled on a powerline (common by the bridge) or old man's beard moss appear as heavily flocked as these branches...

This is the view of frozen Spirit Lake from Maiden Rock.  You can see docks frozen in along the right shore, and one of the two small islands in the upper left where the lake constricts.  A clear day would yield Mt. Spokane in the background.  There are four snowmobile tracks on the ice leading to the public access at Maiden Rock.  Usually we hike on the ridge opposite and upper right.  It's also a nice view, but it's fun to have a different view of the lake.  The one downside of this hike is the constant traffic noise from nearby Highway 41.
    Mostly because we've been too busy to use them, the last tomatoes from last year are a bit desiccated by now, but still edible, a record for us...  The new seed catalogs are arriving now...

Jan. 30
We've had 6 inches of snow over the last couple days, obliterating the hoarfrost and giving new life to the local ski mountains...  In the hiatus since last writing several of us have had severe colds, including me (a side effect of being exposed to that hotbed of germs, the school and its attendant children).     I'm back at operating speed again, working at setting up a new laptop before my old computer stops responding when I give it a tap atop the monitor to continue seeing anything (a new monitor is only part of what it needs--frequently failing to load the soon to be unupdateable WinXP on startup).  Having heard bad things of Windows 8, but also that they are somewhat ameliorated by the 8.1 update, I bought a low-end laptop, and have spent two days getting it set up to basic functionality.  One of those days was spent updating Windows 8 with hundreds of updates before it would allow downloading 8.1.  I've yet to get to adding old reliable programs which hopefully will still work in the new environment...  It feels a lot like Alice running as fast as she can to stay in the same place.  

Books read and other media of note
The Little Nugget by P G Wodehouse.  There's no sentimentality for children in the author's works--this little nugget is a load only a mother could love, and in this case wish to steal from her exhusband.  This is an early example of the plot Wodehouse reworked to great effect--the stealing of something with somewhat noble purpose.  A couple of American ruffians are added for comic measure...

Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler and Robert Parker.
Rereading this after many years, it would have been nice to have an author's note from Parker about what he added to the unfinished Chandler novel.  It reads like a Parker novel, probably because Raymond Chandler so strongly influenced Parker in his character development...  Fortunately my poor memory made it a whodunit for me once again...

Best Short Fiction of Clifford Simak  
I enjoy good SF stories from 60 or more years ago, particularly if they still seem visionary given the actual state of technology.  In one of these short stories, Simak talks about a gadget with buttons for history, art, etc. that you could push and request information on anything and see it in 3 D video.  He just didn't know those buttons would be the links of the WWW.

Sweet Thunder by Ivan Doig  
The classic Butte Montana novel is Red Harvest by Dashiel Hammett.  This is a less hardboiled look at the same period, through the likeable rogue and sometimes labor editorialist  Morrie Morgan.  The historical role of Anaconda Copper and labor presages our current debacle with the 1 %...

Suspect by Robert Crais.  
Firmly in the mystery category, this one was a breather for Crais from his trademark Elvis Cole/Joe Pike detective series.  Adding a police dog to the story was a great touch, including the dog's point of view.  

Taken by Robert Crais
 This book helped to clarify the line between mystery and suspense.  In this novel you know who the bad guys are, but not how it's going to play out, making it suspense.  Not a good novel to read in the wee hours of the night, unless you want to read until the morning light...

Storm Front by Richard Castle
 Another forgettable formulaic spy novel, from the formula that a popular tv series will get non regular readers to buy books purportedly written by the fictional author.


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