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%.
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
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...
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...
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:
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
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).
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...
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...
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.