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Brad's Blog

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July 1
It's been raining ant eggs here at the pottery.  It's not one of the biblical plagues, but it has its moments...  The pottery building is over 100 years old, and has lots of nooks and crannies that ants sometimes utilize.  The whole area suffers in the first warm days of spring when large female and smaller male winged ants fly, mate, and look to hide and start new colonies.  Then again when it gets dry, they come in and seek water anywhere they can find it, including the toilet.  But the current plague is a new one, possibly spawned by the two hard rains last week.  We think it may have flooded their egg nursery, and they're either moving into the walls and ceiling or through the house.  For some reason holes in the ceiling yield small rice grain shaped eggs being dropped down by indefatigable workers.  The total quantity is in the hundreds.  They also dump ant body parts, so the dumping seems intentional.  I don't understand ants.  The egg storm is subsiding with the warm dry weather, which has become pleasant for swimming...
This is the view of the new Fireside Park in Spirit Lake today as I walked the dog around the Mill Pond.  There's a brand new dock which we swam from this evening.  The grass looks lovely but has proved popular with the geese, and the resulting goose poop evenly distributed has kept the old park across the road more popular so far.

July 4

I walked in the parade with Butters and a sign saluting the TLC vet clinic.  Butters wore a banner that said "tutored by TLC" a reference to the famous Gary Larson cartoon with a dog hanging his head out the window and saying to some other dogs, "I'm going to the vet to get tutored."  I also lit off smoke bombs that I had taped onto some cardboard and then onto my left lower arm.  As soon as I reached the end of the parade route, I secured the dog and took pictures of the other floats.  The old car on the left is driven by George Booten, who uses old cars as his only transportation (he once told me his newest vehicle was a late 40s or early 50's truck. He knows how to rev the engine to get crowd satisfying backfires for the parade.  Behind him a tractor pulls a church float, then there is one of several mustang cars.  The pottery gazebo roof is the right background, including the large cottonwood.  The weather was perfect today, lower 80's, and the crowd briefly flooded the park at the end of the parade.   I performed music for a couple hours in the park, partly with new musical friends who have a cabin on the lake.  Pottery sales were great today as well...

July 8
My sons are both home currently, and we usually take a day at this time for them to jump off cliffs at Farragut State Park. 
Although it looks like they're jumping onto Susa, they successfully made it over her...

I'm escaping the 90 degree heat here to predicted cooler weather in Minnesota for a week, so the blog is going on vacation as well...


July 17
Grand Coulee dam aerial view
I just completed a fly out, drive back trip to my family in Minnesota.  As predicted, the weather was (for once) nicer than back in Idaho.  The photo above I took from the commuter plane I took to Seattle.  I know the eastern half of that geography well.   This is Grand Coulee Dam, viewed from the south.  We also went by Lake Chelan and the North Cascades National Park including lakes still frozen over and cinder cone peaks including Mt. Baker.  As we came in to Seattle, I could also spot Seattle Pottery Supply (I ordered clay from them today).  On the flight east from there, I saw a brush/forest fire which may be part of what's hazing us in today.

It had been raining a lot in Minnesota, but it was mostly dry while I was there.  I went for several walks in the Carleton Arboretum, including large tracts of restored native prairie.  This distinctive orange plant by some black eyed Susans may be a variet of milkweed.

I don't know much about Minnesota native flowers, but this one with thistle leaves and sunflower type flowers was interesting.
I had a nice stay with my mother while my siblings were out of town, and I drove back because my mother graciously gave me her Honda after she gave up driving.
On the way back I took US 14 /SD34 through South Dakota, including my first hometown of Brookings.  I'd walked around the seemingly shrunken town a year or so ago.  It has actually grown, but the part of the town I knew, from my home on a much smaller lot than I remember, to the elementary school and public library, to the church, all seemed shrunken compared to my juvenile memories.  One memory I did wish to repristinate was going to Sexauer Creek, where a neighbor kid and I would go catch crayfish.  His family ate them, and I expect they taste like lobsters.  I just enjoyed drawing the bizarre creatures out with a piece of bacon tied onto a string.  I didn't have either this time, so I don't know if the crayfish have survived 50 years of farmer's insecticides, but the creek itself looked nice.  The park was a couple muddy roads when I lived there--now it's a pleasant city run RV park.

So this is Sexauer Creek.

This is a rather stereotypical view of South Dakota, but it was pleasant to drive through on the empty road.  I drove through the state capital Pierre (13,00 population, second smallest state capital).  There was a lot less traffic than the freeway, and the only construction consisted of a couple stop signs placed at either end of the bridge work, so that if there were by chance two cars coming from opposite directions, they could work out who would go first (no flaggers).
 The only drama on the trip home came from driving too late before finding a motel.   Lacking a smart phone, I enlisted computer aid from home and got to a motel in Whitehall Montana, which unlike Motel Six didn't leave a light on for me, but better, left my key in the door to my room...  Most of my visits to Whitehall have been notable, beginning with throwing a rod in our beater pickup truck there around the time we were married, and catching a bus home after staying in the hotel room above the noisy bar.  Another trip we had borrowed a van for a trip and hit a bump on the freeway that broke a bolt on one of our shocks, causing it to drag on the road.  A parts place found us the necessary bolt in a few minutes.  Another time I stopped there for gas in an old station wagon which I was hoping would limp home after having the transmission declared nearly fried.  A probably drunk patron backed into it while I was getting the gas.  It happened in slow motion, and the damage, considering the impending doom for the car, was slight.
So this trip worked out well...

July 21


We've continued going places, like hiking down from the top at Schweitzer mountain.  The beargrass was in bloom at the top.


Some of our crew canoed the Little Spokane river yesterday.  I got the drop off/pick up duty, along with Butters.  We explored the banks of the Spokane river--this shot looking downstream from 9 mile dam.


Cedar waxwings were reported to be thick on the Little Spokane-- they're highly photogenic on the berry bushes they favor...

July 25
royal ann cherries
This is a picture of our Royal Anne cherries which I took this morning.  There are many branches like this, and even ones that would be out of reach are bent
down with the abundance.  The best thing is that the organic spray I've been applying for many weeks worked and the cherries are all fabulous.
We've been selling them at the pottery, and it's likely we'll can some next week.
Otherwise our summer is rolling along, with only a slight hiccup a couple days ago when a windstorm hit our area and knocked down a tree across Maine Street just below our property (our outdoor pottery display was unaffected).  The resulting two cool days have given us a break from swimming, but it's warming up again fast.
Jonathan and I played for a farmer's market in a lower income section of Spokane on Tuesday-- it was miniscule as markets go, with less than a half dozen vendors, but it was a nice day to play.

July 28
I've been spending a couple hours per day picking cherries and raspberries.  It's hard to justify from an economic point of view, since I probably earn 5 times as much per hour working on pottery as being a fruit picker, but still--RASPBERRIES! And CHERRIES!
A friend of ours mentioned that they liked having people visit them at their cabin on Lopez Island because then they don't work all the time and do fun things instead.  That's proving true with relatives that have visited lately.  In spite of rapidly declining supplies of pottery, we took a relative canoeing on the Little Spokane River this morning.  We always see nice things on that trip, like these fawns standing along the shore today:
spotted fawns
When I got back, I glazed two kiln loads, moved out pots to dry for another firing, and threw 60 pots in the late afternoon.

The heat is revving up for a major onslaught this week, in the 90s today, possibly 100 tomorrow, and unrelenting through the week.  Good thing we live by a lake...

July 30
    In spite of the heat, I spent about 4 hours picking raspberries and cherries yesterday morning, and canned 28 quarts of bing cherries last evening, concluding at midnight.  This was most of the output of the bing cherry tree.
The raspberries are showing signs of finishing, as the green beans and peas are kicking in.  I do intend to get a photo of the garden because it's looking at its peak currently.  This year we added a squash bed across the street, a couple small greens and tomato beds, and spread dahlias and gladiolas arround festively.
    Heat in the 90's can affect pottery sales, since our display is mostly at the ambient temperature.  Speaking of ambient temperature, I built an ice chest for produce from some Omaha steak foam boxes and a glass door.  Apparently the design was poor--with 3 half gallons of ice, one in each compartment, the cooler kept only 10 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature (in the 90's).  Back to the drawing board...
 
Books read and other media of note:
Borderline by Nevada Barr  I'm sure the author intended that the title refer not only to the Tex-Mex borderline, but the mental state of most of the characters in the novel.  As much as I enjoy her many mysteries set in our national parks, I did wonder if she wasn't a bit borderline herself (spoiler alert), when a ranger gets into a life or death struggle in the dark, with another ranger, without stating their identities.

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