It didn't rain today since early morning, but I should have revised up
to 1.5 inches the rain we had ending yesterday, and more expected
through the week. I went to a new jam today in
Coeur D'Alene. I've been thinking, a jam is to music like
aerobics is to ballet... But I go to jams as one might go to an
aerobics class, to give my fingers and voice a workout. It's hard
to inspire myself to play for two hours steady, but at a jam that can
be done pretty easily, even if the music is mostly lowest common
denominator... I had to pay the sales tax on our
"new" car today. It came to more than I used to pay for my first
used cars, back in the old days.
June 2 We
went to the public radio Underwriter's Thank You concert in Spokane,
and it was very enjoyable brass music from the Spokane Falls
Brass Band playing a reunion concert. The music spanned 150 years
of American popular music, and although differently instrumented than
the folk style I prefer, fine music all the same.
June 3 We
got another inch of rain yesterday--today was my first chance to mow
the lawn in 3 weeks, so I mowed. I also went for a walk to check
out the wildflowers--most of the spring ones are gone except phlox and
lupines, but the main one up on the ridge is rock penstemon, which
grows in bouquets out of the rocks, and looks particularly nice this
year with the wet May: picture from this year...picture from another year...
The wind blew after the rain ended last night, and our front door is a
bit tricky and didn't get shut tight, so it was open this morning,
letting the house approach the ambient temperature. More
significantly, we've gotten two new cats, a result of a friend's having
to move away, and they are by no means acclimated to their new station
in life. So I checked around everywhere and finally located the
cats in the house, breathing a sigh of relief.
Later I set off to the pottery, and forgot to slam the door tight.
The door came open, and one of the cats, named Stumpy as it was
born with only a partial front paw on one side, got out. I
haven't really gotten on close terms with either cat yet, but this one
had consented to eat a few treats from my hand, as opposed to the other
cat, Velcro, which mostly goes where I am not. But by imitating
the cat's former owner's whistle, I caught the wayward stumpy, and
ascertained that the fleeting Velcro was still safe inside.
Another day, another 3/4 inch of rain. There's promise of a gap
tomorrow, which is good since we're doing a farmer's market, including
music. It's still taking two days for the pots to dry enough to
foot and add handles to. One would think with all
the worms and bugs the birds wouldn't be needing bird feeders, but ours
has been seeing a lot of use, from more varieties than we have in the
winter. I transplanted about half of the
tomatoes out to the garden yesterday, the rest will be as soon as I
The rest of the tomatoes went out yesterday, just in time for the
drizzle today to help get their roots set. The farmer's market
was a bit slow, but better than the first week. We're committed
for the season, so it's all an experiment. Sales at the market
were about half of what we sold from our shop on the same day. We
did sell all the spinach we brought, which was grown in our green
house. I immediately replanted tomatoes in their place.
The irises are finally opening in our garden--it will be a few days
till they're really photogenic. Things are slow this year--the
lilacs are just finishing their blooming. The
main crop of carrots are just up in the garden--I spent over an hour
thinning one wide row of them (3 more rows left). Each row will
yield several hundred carrots, or it would be hard to justify the time.
The time went quicker since I listened to music on headphones
while doing it. When I worked in the fields as a teenager, it was
just prior to the invention of the Sony walkman, so we had to tough it
out without background music. Whether driving, working in the
pottery, or gardening, I like having music or talk radio (NPR) going,
although I know I'm missing some bird calls and other enjoyable nature
bits when I do. The world is full of choices... It is
fascinating to see how dependent most people have become on their own
bit of electronics, be it cell phone, blackberry, mp3 player, or
I got back to the glazing/firing part of my pottery cycle today, and
the weather got back to "very nice." I'd left a couple loads of
wash out on the line since Saturday, which included the drizzle Sunday,
but they got dried easily by noon today. There's
only one comfortable chair in the pottery compound, and it's always a
toss-up who gets it, between the cats and me. The new cat,
Stumpy, has, like the others figured out this as "the catbird seat,"
and takes its turn on the seat like the rest of us. There have
been a few growls, but no cat fights, so that's doing well, where
cattiness is concerned.
Here's Stumpy, at home on the comfortable chair. He has a flat
Persian face, not so obvious from this photo, but the first I've
encountered in our catscapades. I got the rest of
the carrots thinned out--the last 3 rows together went quicker than the
first one--they weren't planted as thickly (I had a garden apprentice
who figured out the proper density after using half of the 10,000 seed
packet on the first row). In the pottery I was
back to making French butter dishes, bowls, and plates, and colanders,
and firing a glaze kiln.
One of the side effects of having our van die in Iowa was that a some
components for the van were still here in Idaho, such as rear seats and
snow tires. I got rid of the seats last week with a free ad (free both
to me the poster, and the item going free to the collector) on
Craigslist. Our new van has different radius tires, so the snow
tires went on the list today, and I had 6 responses within a couple
hours--not bad for summer. We'd been storing some snow tires for
5 years for some relatives--they turn out to be the right size for the
new van, so I think their storage days are over (the relatives aren't
desirous of them any longer, anyway)..
Yesterday was the kind of day where I ended up replacing a faucet that
wouldn't drip, after separately learning that our kitchen faucet
sometimes drains down to our sump pump, contributing a ripe odor to our
basement. I would have fixed that today, but I had two meetings
and two trips to Coeur D'Alene. The first
meeting was the local Chamber of Commerce. I learned that plans
are on hold for the far side of the Mill Pond (till the economy
improves), but the former Sedlmayer resort is undergoing redevelopment
with plans for a year round restaurant and seasonal RV space rentals.
I also volunteered to supervise kids bouncing on an inflated
castle at an upcoming business fair (what that has to do with
business, I don't know). Our chamber has a new golf cart
converted to a Slurpee machine, which we got a free sample of.
I also learned that some of the area between the roads at Spirit
Shores is city park land. The second meeting was
my first as president of our local pottery group. Due to the
skills of others in the group (like a secretary who takes good notes),
the meeting went well. I'm having a handle workshop in a week and
a half for members of the group. It rained
another 3/4 inch yesterday, and a few showers today, with high in the
50's. It wasn't bad, for a day in early May, which just shows one
should keep one's sense of perspective.
The weather people assure us this has been close to record for both
cold and rain over the last month. I believe it, but we're having
a couple great days currently. This photo is how our flower
garden looks currently--mostly irises and columbine.
In my not so copious spare time, I'm converting one of those bike
trailers for kids, which was given us by a friend, into a garden cart.
Mostly I had to strip off the old nylon coverings and extra
gadgets, and add a plywood box and handles. I'll probably post a
photo when finished.
It started with moving our 50's fridge to the front of the pottery,
with a mind to selling our extra garden stuff, such as spinach and
flowers. I took down the current "seconds" shelf to make the fridge fit. (This is the fridge featured in the Grandfather's Fridge video)
Then it became obvious that the fridge stands out like a sore
thumb. But now we've moved it under our tree house, and I'm
starting to make new shelves for that area and repaint the front of the
old pottery building (probably the first repainting it's had in 100
years). One of our god children came to visit,
with our first "god grand baby" or whatever you might call it.
They're on their way to hang out in Minnesota for the summer,
before her husband becomes a teacher in the Alaskan outback. It
sounds very adventurous to us sedate oldsters...
I seem to have a few projects going, but the one that got done today
was the sandbox for our cabin, a joint effort with our renters. A
couple years ago someone dumped off a thick plastic ring which was the
sides of a cheap vinyl swimming pool, 3 feet high, by 30 feet or more
in circumference. I saved it, thinking it would be good for
something. It ended up cut up and laid in the bottom of the
sandbox as a barrier between the sand and the dirt.
We also had our book group, which discussed the Checklist Manifesto, a
surgeon's argument for use of checklists in complicated tasks like
modern surgery. Being summer, with a lot of stuff happening, only
half of us had finished the book (and I wasn't one of them). I
could have read it last weekend but it wasn't on a to do list...
I worked on glazing a couple kiln loads today, then I went to town this
afternoon to get wood for the new display shelves. It was drizzly
all day, so that cut down on outside activities.
I got the two sides that show painted on the pottery building today, in
spite of constant drizzle. (The canopy sheltered me from the
rain, if not the dank cold). This is a good
time for the Maine St. report. There are currently 4 restaurants,
3 bars, one hardware (Esterlys have decided not to sell), two antique
stores, a physical therapist, a second hand store, and Sondahl pottery
in the two main blocks of downtown Spirit Lake. The woman who
started one of the antique stores and the second hand store is in
process of opening another second hand store across the street, making
it look like she's got all the grey spaces in the Monopoly game.
This should be good for tourists wandering into our area, as well
as good used stuff for locals.
I built the replacement display shelves today. Both our cars were
in use, so I spent a lot of time bicycling from our home woodshop to
the pottery shop and back with pieces of wood. It turned nice
during the day. Yesterday we needed a fire in the stove all day
to keep the place warm, and it rained an inch. Today the morning fire got the place up to 78 inside,
although outside the high was around 70. The weather people
assure us it was unusually cold this spring, with the same highs
yesterday that we had on a couple days in February.
It was a fine day today, perfect for the farmer's market and the
Spokane garden show, that we were involved in. The Rathdrum
farmer's market had to move to another part of the park due to all the
grass in half of the park being killed by some wrong herbicide
application. Since farmer's markets tend to feature chemical free
produce, the irony was not lost on us... For the
garden show, we were to be the closing act at one of the locations, and
from past experience there aren't a lot of people there even by the
middle of the day. It's a tour of local flower gardens, with a
ticket which accesses all, and booths selling gardeny products and
musicians. But the day was so nice and sunny that there were
still quite a few people coming through while we were there.
Jonathan the bassist brought a friend with him who played guitars, so
for about half the time he sat in with us playing guitar while I played
banjo guitar. It made the time go appreciably faster.
There was some cool and rain this morning, but it didn't interfere with
most activities, including the Big Back In lawnmower races that happen
in front of our shop. We had other things on the agenda, so we
only profited from the experience rather than thrilling to the action
ourselves. In the afternoon, as a Father's Day activity, we went canoeing on Upper Twin Lake The
area looked like this old photo of the bog there, except the skies were
all grey and the wind seemed to blow into our faces both ways. It's
better to decide to canoe on a perfect canoe day, than to canoe on any
particular day. Still it was a nice lazy Father's Day, and my son
Birrion gave me two seasons of Red Dwarf, a comedy BBC sci fi series
from days of yore, so I've much to look forward to.
I had to go to a meeting about a fundraiser for local nonprofits today,
the first price paid as president of the potter's guild. The
biggest issue at the meeting was whether to sell the donated items at
silent auction or use raffle tickets. After some discussion, we
voted to stick with the silent auction. Then someone noticed that on
the tickets for the event we were just handed out, it specified there
would be a silent auction. There was some expression of relief
that we didn't change to a raffle... We had
another inch of rain today--greenness oozes everywhere, and mushrooms
are rampant. The natives are getting restless, making comments
like--might as well move to Seattle (which is, of course, frequenly
rainy). Except that it interferes with summer activities, too
much rain is far better around here than too little...
I started cranking out pots again--we sold a lot over the last weekend.
From here on out, every weekend in the summer is some sort of
significant crowd bringer locally, like the Iron Man competition in
Coeur D'Alene this weekend, and the 3 on 3 basketball competition in
Spokane. We catch crumbs from those events, as well as people
actually coming here for our fine lake.
After spending most of the day dealing with the pots from yesterday, I
did some weeding in the strawberries and found a few ripe ones. Our
main crop of spinach is getting ripe, so it's time to clean the freezer
and start fresh for next winter. But that didn't happen today...
Meanwhile the pole beans I planted in the green house are
flowering, and with warmer weather finally appearing our squash plants
may quit hibernating.
These are some of the mushrooms growing in our irises. Some of them are about 8 inches across.
Aside from throwing lots of pots today, I spent most of the afternoon
moving our lighted sign from a tree to the post on the corner of our
display area. This moves it forward about 10 feet, and will
hopefully make it more visible. Today was finally shorts weather, and possibly even open the house at night to cool it off weather.
I've mentioned Stumpy the cat previously, who has adapted marvelously
to our life of snoozing in comfortable chairs. The other new cat,
Velcro, was AWOL and presumed missing in action, until this evening
when our oldest cat started hissing at it where it was hiding under our
porch. Before it originally disappeared, it stayed behind the
washer all the time, so the porch might be an improvement--more room to
lurk. I put out a bowl of food for him.
Another fine day--the business fair happened in perfect weather, but
the bouncy castle I was supposed to oversee didn't make it, so I was
just a spectator at the proceedings.
I have a workshop on Saturday on making handles, so I'm
attempting a once a year or so pottery cleaning. Working with
clay makes for dust and spatters, and if I thoroughly cleaned up after
every spatter, I'm convinced I'd never get any work done, so the work
shop is generally a little crusty around the edges. Now it's a
little less crusty.
I had a very nice birthday celebration today, including eating
dinner out at The Wolf Lodge Inn, a rustic steak house near Lake Coeur
D'Alene, then after supper hiking a 3.3 mile trail up a 600 foot ridge
to view the sunset from high above the lake. I also got a new
bicycle with all the features a bicycle should have--handle bars bent
to fit your hands, fenders, and a comfortable seat. It also has
just one derailleur with 7 speeds possible. That's plenty.
I had five local members of our clay group attend my workshop on
handles and slip decoration today. We sat around and chatted
after lunch for an hour or more, and I think a good and educational
time was had by all. The weather continues to be great, and
sales have been quite good as well. Ahh, summer.
We're only doing the farmer's market every two weeks (that's their
schedule), and produce hasn't done well for us there (or anything else,
except maybe publicity). But I mention this because our main
crop of spinach is ready NOW, and will probably be flowering by next
weekend's market, so I cut and parboiled and froze half the crop (about
18 sandwich sized Glad bags) and gave some away to friends and
neighbors. It's planted interlaced with carrots, with the idea
that when the spinach is done, the carrots will use the space.
We're still planting a new bed with potatoes--it's very late, but
they grow fast. It was also the first day to pick strawberries
enough to save and eat--about a pint. With all the rain this month
they're mostly looking pretty good.
June 28 The
weather was up in the 80's today, so we took our first swim across the
Mill Pond. I'm a wimp where cold water is concerned, but after 20
yards or so I adjusted and it was very pleasant.
I'd heard on the radio last week how a young man drowned canoeing a
stretch of river near here that I've always wanted to try.
Apparently the current was stronger than expected due to open
flood gates at the dam, due to all the rain we've gotten this month.
That would have been the end of the story for me, but it turns
out he lived nearby in Spirit Lake, and liked my pottery, so I was
asked by his family to make a pair of urns for his ashes. I do
remember meeting him with his three young daughters recently.
So I volunteered to make them for free, feeling in touch with my
own daughter's tragic death not that many years ago from a car
accident. And I also felt, from my own canoe adventures,
that it could have been me...
It was another splendid day, but I have to make pots when the sun
shines, since over half of my income comes from the summer, so I
cleaned up pots from yesterday, glazed a kilnload, and fired two kilns,
then threw several dozen pots this afternoon. But it was nice to
do it all in shorts with a nice warm breeze blowing in the workshop.
Our flower garden is progressing out of irises and columbine, into
poppies and daisies and tiger lilies. It still looks great...
Lately, in spite of generally warm temperatures, Moby the cat has
been sleeping on a porch futon curled up in a tight ball. So I
took a photo today and posted it to the Lolcats site: http://cheezburger.com/View/3702055168
It was indeed a bit cooler today, back to long sleeves, in fact, good
working weather, and I'm still churning out pottery to try to keep up
with current demand. I've mentioned previously
about how one of my kilns (the newer one) resists starting, due to some
problem with a little wire spring that's supposed to catch the button
in that I push to start it. So today I had the idea of looping a
noose of fishing line around the wimpy spring, and pulling on the
fishline when I push in the button. If the fishline doesn't melt,
it looks to be a good solution to a rare problem.
Books read and other media of note
The Man Upstairs and other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse These
are totally non series short stories, of his classic, boy meets girl,
they overcome humorous obstacles, and go off into the sunset style.
He usually tried for an O. Henry twist in the ending. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande A
well presented argument for using checklists in our increasingly
complicated world, particularly in the author's area of expertise,
surgery. I use them for groceries and art fairs myself... The Cobra Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
I guessed by the cover this was a military SF book, and it is, in
part, about a man augmented to be a high tech weapon, but it passed
over most of the military action in favor of how he had to cope when he
finished with the space commandos. This is early Zahn,
employing a lot of detail to make the story more believable, but
in the process making it more wordy.