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June 2
    We got 0.6 inch of rain again overnight (like Camelot), keeping the garden and lawn green.  With our son and daughter-in-law visiting, we went to the Manito Park in Spokane the evening they arrived, and the falls at Post Falls today.
The marmots at the Falls Park perk up at attentive tourists, a sure sign they take handouts (beside the rotund figure).  Falls Park is a microcosm--tiny fishing pond, geese with young all within a few feet of the tourists,  hydro dam and natural falls, great wildflowers (mostly past now, except penstemon)...  

June 3

I got this photo of wild hyacinth today on a long walk with my son and daughter-in-law around the Mill Pond via the ridge--probably a 5 mile walk, with a thousand feet of elevation gain (and loss).
There was one new flower today:

I'll post a link to this on Facebook and see if anyone identifies it.
    This evening I thinned the pears and apples.  There were only 2 (of 4) apple trees with any apples on them.  In contrast, the cherry trees, which bloomed first, are covered with cherries (a fraction of which are covered with bags to keep out the cherry maggots).   The spinach and carrots are up in the garden (the spinach is bolting in the greenhouse, soon to be replaced in the bed with some tomatoes and squash). The squash and tomatoes that I put out over a week ago are still looking miserable, longing for hot weather...  With some gladiolas we planted this evening, the garden is nearly finished (just have to find a few places for pole beans).  

June 6
We've had two days with 0.65 inches of rain each day, and temperatures below 40 in the daytime...  The garden and orchard appreciate the rain at least...

June 9
More rain today--over half an inch.  I went to work at  the art gallery in Sandpoint and there's still a lot of flooding along the highway...  The day before yesterday we only had a shower or two, like when we were out canoeing on Upper Twin Lake.  It started out looking good, then we noticed rain on the top of the mountains to the north of us, then the wind started blowing from the north at the time we figured we'd better head back to the boat access.  That was good till the rain began, then the wind switched to a head wind.  We all paddled hard and made slow progress back to the dock, at which point the rain was mostly over...  
    The best part of that trip was working our way up the creek at the north west end, and then coasting down the creek, enjoying the sounds of the many bird species nesting in the area.  I tried making a video, but my camera battery died...


June 10
Our son played the piano for the hymns at church this morning, so I only contributed some liturgy and a short gospel song--"working on a building..."
After church we walked the soggy shoreline trail and saw lots of mushrooms and queen's cup:
Queen's cup
One of the common mushrooms resembled a cauliflower breaking out of the ground.  Playing a hunch, I Googled cauliflower fungus and found out it's likely  Sparassis  edible.  We walked by a lot of it, but I must say that it didn't look very apetizing...  

   

June 13
Spirit Lake Idaho
    We've had an inch and a half of rain again in the last 24 hours.  We managed another canoe ride at the end of Spirit Lake, once again paddling hard to get to shore before a thunder shower...  Here's a view of  some probably imported flowers on an island looking towards Mt. Spokane (the ski trails are the light green on the mountain)...
    It was so still we went into the marsh area and I made a short panarama video with the pretty bird calls...

I'll be gone for about a week to attend my son Forrest's Ph.D. graduation at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  Usually graduations are fraught with "What are you going to do now?"  Since he already started a job last Fall teaching math and computer science at Centre College in Kentucky, that's not so much an issue...

June 19
    The trip went well...  As usual, I took more nature photos than photos of the graduation,  and the second coolest thing on the trip after my son's Ph.D. graduation was seeing a Black Crowned Night Heron near Barrington, Illinois...

Black Crowned Night Heron
It was very tame, being in an urban setting, and we watched it for several minutes from about 10 yards away...
The thistles there were lovely as well:
thistle bloom
Around the time we were visiting my family in Northfield, they had over 8 inches of rain, and thunderstorms at night far noisier and longer than we ever get in Idaho...  The heat (up to 90 most days) was im- and op-  pressive, but a novelty after the cool Spring we've had at home...
    Arriving at home, I was please to find ripe strawberries in the garden, and everything looking good (although not much bigger than when we left)...
But I had a major setback getting back to the pottery--the "new" kiln I bought a year ago, and which I'd left to fire a glaze kiln when we left, did an unprecedented shut off failure and remained on until our return.  Along the way it finally burned out all its heating elements, but not until after wrecking all the pots and kiln shelves inside.  I'll find out tomorrow if the kiln can be salvaged...  I've had a few overfirings before, but this was the perfect storm of being gone for a week when it happened.  Fortunately it didn't cause an external fire...

June 20

This is what I saw when I opened my kiln this morning... The pots and shelves were melted down into a bloated lump at the bottom.  The walls of the kiln were distorted and cracked--it was a total loss...  So I cleared the mess, checked out kiln options at the pottery supply online and wrote them an email (which they haven't responded to yet).  Then I glazed pots that I fired in my "old" kiln yesterday, and found out that kiln had stopped working near the end of the last firing.  It also had a burned out wire, but I could fix it, and am firing in it tonight (it's hard to be afraid of firing, since I fire 200 times or more per year...)
    I started the day wheel- hoeing the main garden, and picking a pint or two of strawberries.  Spending a week in the Midwest reset my internal clock so I was out working by 6:30...
    This evening I took a ride down along the lake to see if the Mountain Lady Slippers were blooming yet:

They were, but the lighting wasn't as good as this photo from past blogs, and the mosquitoes are about as voracious as they get here....

June 21
I was on hold related to kiln issues today, though I found someone interested in taking my old kiln to convert it to a gas kiln.  I'm firing another glaze in the old kiln tonight...  I also threw around 100 pots today,  which would have filled the shelves if I hadn't fired again...  In the afternoon I recorded four more videos, the first two original instrumentals:
Dminor Blues
Making it up as I go along
Faded Coat of Blue
Blake's You gonna quit me blues

June 22
A couple more videos with banjo today:
"How can I keep from Singing"
Leaning on the everlasting arms
I ordered replacements for both kilns today--the old one was on its last legs and is exhibiting the same symptoms that led to the massive failure of the other one.  I decided to change to the electronically controlled model so as to avoid this issue in the future.  I'm saving quite a lot by not replacing the top and bottom lids, which I'd never thought of doing previously.  In the past I have saved the lids, and especially the bottom ones are usually in quite good condition, since they are shielded from some of the heat by the bottom shelf, and never get the stress of opening and closing that the upper lid does. Having gone through a few kilns, I've had enough lids that I've added them under the new kiln (3 of them under one of my kilns, 2, soon to be 3 under the other) as additional insulation...  When the "new" kiln massively overfired, it shriveled 1/4 inch or more of the insulating kiln bricks in the upper lid, but interestingly left the cement between the bricks sticking out like untamped mortar on housing bricks... So I intend to flip that lid to the bottom, and use the bottom (in excellent shape) for the top...
    I trimmed the pots from yesterday, and successfully squeezed another firing out of the old kiln, which I'll have to continue to do until the middle of next week when they new kiln parts should be ready...  
    This evening there's a good chance of showers, for which I'm hoping as things are drying out fast with 80 degree days...

June 23
    Our pottery group had a pit firing today at Merrilyn Reeves.  We smeared various things like salt, copper, banana peels, coffee grounds on bisqued pots and cooked them in a pit with sawdust, wood, and charcoal briquets.  If it were a Hawaiian pig roast, it would be a very well done pig... We left several days before the results will be cool enough to see...
    After the pit firing, returning to my own workshop, the old kiln had gotten stuck on, exactly as the new one had, hopefully only slightly overfired, since I caught it at around 10 hours of firing.  Will know those results tomorrow...  I'm glad I ordered two essentially new kilns...

June 24
    Well, lightning struck twice, and I toasted the pots and kiln shelves in the second kiln as well...  Then I was greeted with an email volunteering a photo of an overfired electronically controlled kiln, just to prove that these other controllers can have issues as well.  I would really like some engineer to figure out a really stable automated firing system, but I'm afraid the high amperage and high temperatures tend to make reliability difficult...
    But I also got a nice email from a potter who thanked me for my website and said my advice helped her keep her bat secured to the wheel head, so it slightly improved my negative prognosis...

June 25
Me at 59...

We've had some big irises this year...

June 26
The ironies surrounding me and electric kilns are proliferating.  Unaware of my current struggles, I got an email from an acquaintance asking my recommendation for a new kiln...  Then I got a request for help for a kiln that the button wouldn't work on...  These are hard, after my struggles of the last couple weeks...  
    It rained 0.8 inch today, which was dreary enough to get me back in the pottery throwing to fill the last few empty places on my shelves.  I should trim them tomorrow, and get the new kilns on Thursday, if all goes as planned...
    A friend gave me a portable air conditioner for the pottery workshop, since in the summer pots can dry too fast from the heat.  It reminds me of R2D2, although it's more rectangular in outline.  I wouldn't have thought there would be room for it, but I added a shelf above my stereo and hopefully on hot summer days the cool will trickle down on me as I work.  People around here are beginning to lose faith that there will be hot summer days...


June 27
    I'm mostly waiting for the kilns to be ready, so I took a nature walk today, and posted photos at http://www.sondahl.com/events/June2012walk.html
 
June 28
    18 hours after starting, I'm back from Seattle with the kilns and some clay.  I also practiced music, and got a call asking me to be included in the Spokane Pig Out in the Park huge music and food deal over Labor Day weekend (Friday at 6:30, Runners Stage).
    While in Seattle on a perfect summer day, I walked around for two hours (my parking time limit) and took the usual iconic Seattle scene photos, but spent a little more time wandering around Seattle Center and got this photo from outside the Chihuly glass garden:

The red and yellow parts are large multi sectioned glass sculptures outside the greenhouse type building that houses more of them..

   
I got the new kilns installed and fired the first bisque today...  The digital kiln controller clicks full on and full off all the time, which is okay except the few incandescent light bulbs we are still using brighten and darken with it which might prove  irritating...   It also constantly tells you the temperature when it's firing, so it's tempting to keep checking it...  With the old kiln set up, once you turn the kiln to high it's drawing steady current (48 amps, actually).  This one deliberately doesn't fire as quickly to prevent cracking for the bisque, but can be set to fire quicker for the longer glaze firings...


Books read and other  media of note: (free Kindle books unless otherwise noted)
The Good Thief's Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan  From Raffles to the Pink Panther, to Bernie Rhodenbarr, thieves make entertaining detectives.  As is typical, the thief is caught and must prove his innocence in a scheme involving murder, but this time the catchers are mob types and the Vegas setting makes for fun for all...

Trigger and Friends by James Schmitz  
An early sci fi writer who gave significant roles to the female characters, and anticipated something quite like the Internet...   It's great that they released much of his work much later in paperback...

The Disappearing Spoon by Sean Kean  Very interesting tales of science history using the periodic table as its basis.  I didn't take any science in college, but I enjoyed a science history seminar, which tends to breathe life into otherwise sterile laboratory procedures...

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