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Brad's Blog

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July 1
    This looks to be another 4th of July when heating the house sometime might be appropriate.  With a high around 70, and sunshine, the house is staying warm enough currently, but some storms are predicted which might make it a heatable moment.  This always seems a bit odd, being summer and all, but our area manages to do this fairly frequently around now.   At least it makes for lower fire danger from fireworks this weekend.
    Speaking of the 4th, I got asked in passing on the street to play music for the 4th in the park, but that's as far as it went--I don't know if I'm the whole thing, or an afterthought.  I guess I'm ready for either...  I also haven't got a fabulous idea of what to do for the parade yet, either.
    I did thin the apples today, which took little time because there are so few this year.  We had lots of blossoms, but there were almost no bees out when they were blossoming.   The two trees that did have a fair number of apples are the "summer" apples, and probably bloomed at a different time.  I'm guessing the lack of bees is due to the colony collapse disorder that's wreaking havoc among beekeepers.

July 2
    We're resisted a fire in the wood stove so far, but I baked cookies and croutons today, which helped considerably.  The croutons were from my son returning from a ski trip with a whole loaf of old smushed  store bread.  Just recently, we've started making our own croutons, adding butter or margarine and garlic salt and baking them till dried out (actually finishing by setting them over a firing kiln on cookie sheets).   They're very good with soup and salads, or even snacking on them like popcorn.
    Sales were good today, in spite of the cool weather and frequent showers.  The rest of the weekend looks to be less rainy, still cool.
    I bought $50 worth of fireworks today, which isn't much at today's prices.  I also donated money for our local town display, which is short  (around 10 minutes) and lovely.  The small firm that puts them on is quite erratic-- on a good year they keep up a good tempo--on other years it's hard to tell whether they've already ended for half of the show.

July 3
    The pottery business is heating up, even if the weather is still cool.  I'm continuing to fire a kiln per day or more.  I'm glad we got over a half inch of rain, enough to put off watering the gardens for a few days.  I picked over a gallon of strawberries today, with the lion's share still to come.  I took our "new " van for an oil change at one of those drive through places--I felt manipulated all the time by them to add premium services like changing the transmission oil and stuff.  I only went there since it was due and it's going off on another expedition to Mt. Hood (not me) next week.

July 4-5
    The 4th was packed from beginning till end.  It's always one of our biggest sales days, but I learned early in the day I was the only scheduled music in the park for the afternoon, so I spent time setting up my sound system and then getting ready for the parade.  The parade would seem like a joke in a town of 1700--there were no notices advertising it--but everyone showed up to do their things, and after 5 blocks with about 25 people per block watching, the one block of Maine Street by our pottery was crowded with excited parade watchers.  First there was the Color Guard with a bunch of flags, then some kids walking and on bicycles and on small floats, like a round bee hive that alocal church was promoting their vacation Bible school with.   I rode my new bicycle, pulling a bike trailer with an extra large teddy bear riding in it, with signs saying "Be kind to wild life."  I also played harmonica on a neck holder while lighting off smoke bombs which I stuck in a bowl mounted on my back carrier.   So I kept busy.   As soon as the parade was over, I played music for about an hour and a half straight, then broke for a half hour of lunch, and played for another hour and a half.  I forgot to mention we also served a chicken dinner lunch for around 10 friends and relatives (but then I wasn't there for that.)  After supper my son and I doctored some firework tanks with extra surprises, then it was time to go to the local fireworks show.  
    The pre-show at the fireworks show is spectators lighting off their own fireworks, some of which rival the commercial ones.  The outfit that does our fireworks is small, and the quality of their shows has varied--some years it seems as though they would fire one and watch it go off before lighting the next fuse.  This year there were 3 guys with flares, and the show started off with multiple bursts and continued that way furiously for about  5 minutes, at which point it was over. It did seem a tad short.  But I don't think many people were disappointed, because---
    The post-fireworks show starts up all over town, with large mortar type ones going off as a backdrop for the small safe and sane ones, such as we invited friends over to watch with us.  It was mostly over by 11.
    The weather was cool enough on the 4th that I went home to get a sweater at lunch for playing music outside in the park.   It seemed warmer at each end of the day.
    The 5th was also a good sales day, but a lot quieter and more relaxing.

July 6
    I played pirate (music) at the Athol library today, for their Summer reading series.  I did a bit of talking like a pirate, and sang "The Pirate King" song from Pirates of Penzance, as well as a couple originals based on folk songs.  The fact is I know hardly any pirate songs, so I stretched the topic to include anything with water in it, such as the Erie Canal, the Crawdad song, and others.  
    When I was a child, I would go catch crawdads (crayfish, or small fresh water lobsters) in Sexauer Creek, a place at the edge  of Brookings I could never find as an adult even if I looked (although I have, on Google Earth--it does look like there's a park there now).   Anyway, the crawdads would be caught easily by dangling a piece of bacon in the water on a string, then putting a net under them before the bacon left the water.  A neighbor ate them (their tails, I assume), but I just found it interesting to catch them, such strange looking critters.

July 7
    The high was in the mid 80's today.  We picked over a gallon of strawberries  from half of our strawberry patch--we're sharing them with neighbors.  
With the large amounts of spinach available, we made spanakopita today, a spinach, cottage cheese and egg  pie.  Some recipes call for feta cheese but I'm not a fan.
    I worked on filling pottery orders today, and filling expected holes in the inventory.  

July 8
        This was my "two meeting day--"  Chamber of Commerce and Potter's Guild.  The chamber had a barbecue picnic by the lake, showing off the old pump house that is planned to be converted into a canoe/bike rental shop.  They already replaced the roof, just need to replace everything else except for the walls...  It's the kind of project that might have been cheaper to start from a bare lot...
    The pottery meeting was congenial, talking about alternative firing methods (of which I know little) such as raku, horsehair, sagger firing, fuming, and other stuff.  We're moving ahead on several group fundraisers, and planning for our November show.   Two prospective members, young art teachers, showed up, to add a touch of hope to the long time prospects for the group.
    It was over 90 today, and our newer car went skiing with my son, so I drove
into the pottery meeting a very old Honda  with nonworking air conditioning.  So I took a wet towel and draped it over my lap and legs, or sometimes over  my head, to make the trip more endurable.
    We picked about two gallons of strawberries today, and my back and neck were a bit stiff from it...

July 10
    Now that summer is truly upon us, the pace speeds up for everything.  We've had friends and relatives visiting the last couple days.  The strawberries are ripening quickly, and the spinach is going to seed (which is okay, since we use the seeds).   Some of my family went off camping, but I'm here making pots and selling them, which also is happening more quickly.
    The lake's finally warm enough for my personal taste, so swimming is a daily add on as well.   I weeded the whole garden before swimming this evening.  So, while I like the song Summertime, where the living is easy, it's a bit of lie for me...

July 11
    I spent the day making a Christian children's CD, inspired by several neighbors with young children.  I did spend a few years playing for Sunday Schools, so I have a repertoire:
 1 Noah’s Ark (arky arky)
2 Dem Bones
3 Do Lord
4 Give me oil in my Lamp
5 I have decided to Follow Jesus
6 I’ve got that Joy, Joy, Joy
7 Keep on the Sunny Side
8 Lord I want to be a Christian
9 Go Down Moses
10 What a friend we have in Jesus
11 You can’t get to Heaven on roller skates (new verses)
12 You’ve got a home (written by me)
13 Children of the Heavenly Father
14 I’m so glad Jesus lifted me
Besides recording the basic songs, I also added harmonica, banjo-guitar and tin whistle on a number of tracks, and designed the CD sleeves. And I've put a sample on Youtube, of Noah's Ark.  Some of the songs we sang in the car for entertainment as children.  

July 12
    You can add me to the statistics of bicycle riders injured while talking on a cell phone (if there is such a category).  I would have been fine if I hadn't seen something on the lake as I was bicycling from our house to the pottery, while talking to Mom on the cell phone.  I applied my handbrake, and the new bike has such good brakes that I tossed over the top and ate some gravel.  I got patched up with 3 bandaids, and later noticed a sore elbow and ribs, but expect I should be good as new in a couple days.
    It didn't stop me from working in the pottery, making about 40 mugs and a dozen chicken pots, and glazing two kiln loads.  
    I also edited and uploaded three more songs to Youtube  
Do Lord, oh Do Lord     You can't get to Heaven on roller skates and  Ive got that joy joy joy joy...

July 13
    The forecast was for a high of 70 today, so when I got up I switched from shorts and tee shirt to jeans and flannel shirt (that's about the limit of my range of attire).  Then when I got outside at 8 it was sunny, and nearly 60 already, so I changed back into shorts.   But the day clouded over, and it never got much above 60, so I switched back to long sleeves in the afternoon.  It's been that kind of summer..  The cherries and raspberries are just starting to turn pink.  It looks like we're at least a year behind last year.  The peas are getting ripe now, anyway, and the pole beans are blooming.
    I made a bunch of pots again today, using a tight rubber glove on my right hand, which still has some raw skin on it.  I mention the tight part because the usual loose fit rubber gloves wouldn't work nearly so well for something like throwing that uses fingertips so much.

July 14

I took this picture from a plane of the Snake River Canyon last Spring.  But I'm showing it here to show how mountains tend to run in ridges separated by valleys, due to millions of years of erosion.  The main ridge that defines the shape of Spirit Lake runs up and up to Mt. Spokane.  But just as this picture shows, there are lots of parallel ridges in a mountain range as well.  That's what I found yesterday, when I was bicycling around the back side of the Mill Pond.  4 wheelers have made a lot of trails through the hills around here, a real problem for foresters trying to control erosion.  But since they're there, I enjoy riding on some of the less steep ones on bicycle or walking, and that's what I was doing today when I finally tried a new trail, and found myself on one of these parallel ridges, which often had views of the main ridge.  It's too easy to lead a circumscribed life, doing the same walks and drives over and over again.  There was nothing amazing about the trail, except that it was new, and thus unpredictable.  Unfortunately I found it after tiring from other bicycling, so a good exploration awaits another day.

July 17
I've decided not to release the kids gospel CD I recorded in a whirlwind one day session.  The device I use to hook the microphones to the computer added a lot of hiss.   It's been pretty iffy ever since it fell to the floor a year or so ago, but never did work well.   So instead today I ordered a different brand a TASCAM USB 2.0 Audio.midi Interface which I can hopefully use with a laptop which a relative gave me also, to be more portable in my studio setup.
    The weather is hot days and cool evenings, so it's easy to maintain a nice temperature with judicious use of windows.  Pottery sales are going very well currently.  The raspberries and broccoli are getting ripe now.

July 18
    After church today I'd seen another route back from Priest Lake on Google maps, so we tried it.  First we needed to take a short cut called Powerline Drive, so as soon as I saw the power lines diverge from the highway I went off at an unmarked intersection and followed along the powerline.  This route had grass growing between the two tire tracks that defined it.  After a mile or so, I came to an intersection where the regular road was clearly a block to our left, so I got back on the road.  Shortly thereafter, we came to the Powerline short cut.  It was gravel.  So was the 30 mile 
East River Road I'd selected off the Google map.  It was a nice drive, if a bit dusty when we met the few other cars that ventured that way.  The views were nice anyway...

July 19
    I went with a friend to see Inception last night. Being the sort that enjoys Sci Fi blockbusters, I was very suitably entertained.  There were levels to understanding the psychology of the movie in addition to the levels of dream that were encompassed.  It most reminded me of Matrix, another movie where all is not as it seems.

July21
    We use our greenhouse mostly for starting plants in the spring.  In the summer, it can get too hot in there, even with the windows open.  But I've kept one fairly large planting bed in there, which we start the year with spinach, and after that's done I've stuck in other heat loving plants like tomatoes.  This year I tried pole beans, which have grown well, but produced no green beans from their pretty scarlet flowers.  There are several tomatoes--same deal--no fruit set.  But the cucumbers I planted at the end of the bed are producing the nicest cucumbers I've ever grown, so that makes my daily watering worthwhile.   Speaking of watering, we've been without rain so long that the rain barrel is finally about empty, so I've got to refill it with a hose (it's so handy to have a water supply right by the green house).
    I've finished the garden cart--still need to take a photo of it.  Now we're doing some remodeling projects at the pottery house as time permits.

July 22
    I did my final Pirate spiel at the library today. I wrote new words to several songs for the two events: I thought this was the most clever, from an old Pete Seeger song where Willy got "drownded"  I changed it to:

Deep blue sea, darling, deep blue sea 3x
It was Willy that went sailing on the deep blue sea

The wind blew strong and the waves grew high 3x
It was Willy that got tossed upon the deep blue sea       
   
Moaned and cried, how he moaned and cried 3x
It was Willy that got seasick on the deep blue sea.

Fished for whales, how he fished for whales 3X
It was Willy caught a minnow in the deep blue sea.

Sailed back home, how he sailed back home
The fish was larger in his story when he sailed back home.

July 23
garden cart from bicycle trailer
So here is my new garden cart, converted from a bicycle trailer (the kind people haul kids around in).  I had to remove the cloth material and the tongue of the trailer, and cut up a piece of CDX 1/2 inch plywood and reattach it with strips of wood, some nuts and bolts and a couple old tool handles.   It's probably the best thing one could do with an old bicycle trailer.
It's pleasantly warm today, headed towards HOT over the weekend.

July 25
Chase Lake, North Idaho
After church today we went the same way back on the dusty road that we had gone last week, only this time we looked for Chase Lake.  This is the busy season for the Priest Lake area, and it was a hot Sunday, but this lake was empty when we went to the public access.  It was totally quiet except for the wind blowing softly across the lake.   The rules prohibit any motors except electric, which is probably part of the reason for its unpopularity.  It appears to be a shallow lake, mostly used for fishing.  We could see little sunfish establishing their mating territories in the shallows along the lake, obvious from where they had swooshed away the sediment by constant swimming in the area.   There was a small shore bird when we got there, but otherwise we didn't see any other landbased animals.  A friend told us moose are frequently seen there...  We may bring our canoe back in the next couple weeks...

July 26
    The green beans are available now, but we've had so many other vegetables we haven't started on them.  Currently we also have spinach, cucumbers, hot peppers, pea pods, broccoli, cauliflower, and raspberries in abundance.  Still looking forward to corn and tomatoes.  One mistake that I made in the garden turned out to be a usable space saver.  I double planted part of a row with corn seeds and green beans.  It turned out the corn stays slightly taller, so isn't competing for sun light, and apparently helps hold up the bush green beans.   Corn and beans both take up a lot of space, so this would make room in the garden for more other stuff.    I also purposely tried double planting corn and potatoes, but the potatoes grow much faster and shade the corn, so the outcome is doubtful.  Then in the new front strawberry bed, not too strongly established yet, we planted both sunflowers and gladiolas mixed in, which makes a fun flowerbed when the strawberries are done (except for their spreading by runners).
    In the pottery I noticed I was out of minipots today, and low on bowls, and with less then 2 weeks before the only art fair I'm doing, it was impetus to keep working in the heat.  I also unloaded two glaze kilns and fired a bisque.
I've added a video panarama of Chase Lake to Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJPBTXow45E

July 27
The weather has turned squirrelly again. Always nice to have a change.  It clouded over today and never got out of the 70's, with only a slight breeze.  The weather people call it a monsoonal flow, or something like that--no deluges like the Midwest has been getting, but a chance of showers tomorrow.  Showers at this time of year are good--thunderstorms are potentially bad--for starting forest fires.  This being the 100 year anniversary of a fire that burned millions of acres just east of here, and having read the book on it, I can see how things could get very bad very fast, with lightning and wind storms combined.
    In the pottery I footed the bowls from yesterday using a thrown chuck--a lump of clay centered on the wheel, which holds the bowls in place while I trim and add the foot.  I don't use that system too much--only when there are a lot of bowls, or they are dry enough to crack if set on their rims.  It does have the advantage of not marring the rims at all, which always happens slightly when I use water to attach them to the bat (which is the flat circular thing I set pots on when throwing or trimming).

July 28
    One of the things I enjoy most about summer is going to music in the parks.  Locally a promoter put together a bunch of small town park concerts, and it's all fun.   Tonight my son and I went to hear Meet Revolver, a Beatles tribute band.  Although they were a bit corny with English accents and assumed personas, they did a great job of bringing the early Beatles music to life.  If you were going to play in a cover band, the early Beatles is great rock and roll to cover...
    I'm taking a day off tomorrow, which is kind of hard when the garden and the pottery both need a lot of attention this time of year.  But I expect I can put it off for a day, so we're going a back way from Priest Lake to Sullivan Lake, 30 miles that's rumored to take 3 hours to drive. Pictures and details soon...

July 29
yellow swallowtail butterfly on wild lilly
This was the best photo of the day--yellow swallowtail butterfly on a wild lily.   
    The trip reminded us of some of the grades in central Idaho when we lived there--one lane gravel roads with few turnouts, almost no traffic (3 vehicles in 30 miles), no guard rails, and great scenery.  For a while we were stopping every hundred yards for a new batch of flowers or vista of distant mountains.  We stopped at the burned shoe tree (new photo added )--found that the tree, although most likely killed by being torched, has had about 10 pairs of shoes nailed on to the scorched bark where the previous shoes burned.  Shortly after that we started on the narrow windy road, that took 3 hours to drive 30 miles. (It always looked like a shortcut on the map).  Besides a lot of the lovely wild lilies shown above, there were wild columbines (yellow), and lots of pretty paintbrush.
View towards Priest Lake from west
It was hard to get a balanced photo that would show both the light background and sky and the dark green foreground, but this was probably the best of the day's shot, showing the dense forest with bluish mountains in back, looking east towards Priest Lake.
    After we'd been at our friend's cabin on Sullivan Lake for a while (which was our destination for the trip) we found we had a flat tire.  So we put on the absurd donut tire which on our new car is stored between the two front seats under the car, and drove home in the evening without incident (in spite of seeing some deer ahead of us).

July 31
    I glazed two bisque loads today, and since there were a lot of bowls stacked inside each other, that might make 3 or 4 glaze firings before the art fair next weekend.
    It sprinkled a couple times today, but no rain has fallen for a long time.  Our lilac leaves are shriveling, as they often do this time of year.  We mostly water only our vegetable and flower gardens.
    Speaking of gardens, I picked a couple gallons of green beans today, and started selling them along with raspberries in our pottery show room.  It's not like we need the money from the vegetable sales, but it helps get rid of our excesses, and the money does help make gardening more self reliant, paying for our increased water bills for the summer.
    I got my new microphone connector for computer recording yesterday, but I've been too busy till tonight to try it.  The first surprise was that when I went to update the drivers, I found the one I bought has been replaced by a Mark II version.   Fortunately after installing the usual drivers it seems to work quite adequately for my needs.  Now to find the time to start recording with it...

Books read and other media of note
Catch Me if You Can (Film) Having followed some of the exploits of the Barefoot Bandit since last year when he stole a plane near here, I was primed for a lovable rogue movie, especially based somewhat on real life-- a young forger who eludes the police for 5 years.  Not that I condone any of that, yet it is fascinating.

The Shotgun Rule by Charlie Huston.  
I'm having second thoughts about reading more after this second book I've read by the author.   It's tough gritty realism.  I first met similar stuff reading Nelson Algren's Walk on the Wild Side.  I never read any more of Algren.  It's hard to find a character in the novel to have compassion for, let alone assume the role of protagonist.  This is the story of the kind of punks that rip off your house and vandalize your property to get money for drugs and booze.  I guess I prefer escapist claptrap.

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
 On the face of it, most of the book seems a reminiscence of a dryland Montana farming community, along the lines of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but there is a mystery in the origins of the new house cleaner and her brother that leaves one uneasy, until the resolution at the end.  The writing is very comfortable, and the children of the one room school are given their own unique personalities, whereas the adults seem painted more with a broad brush..

The Mystic Arts of Erasing all Signs of Death by Charlie Huston
 A new book by a new (to me) author, epitomizing the noire style of crime fiction (no detective here, just a broke lost unlikable protagonist struggling to get by).  But the mystery is the protagonist as much as what's going on, and they're both presented authentically and plausibly.

Honor Among Thieves
by Jeffrey Archer.  A good story for around the 4th of July, as it centers on a plot to steal the Declaration of Independence.  Although now dated, it still made for a good spy yarn.

Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb.  I had to see what the underground comic mastermind would do with the Bible.  It was an odd mixture, both coarse and respectful by turn.  5 years he worked on it, and that is obvious from the detail of the illustrations.  I'm not sure who his intended audience would be...



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