Pottery and life have been pretty busy lately, so I'm trying to
complete the garden and work on the orchard in what spare time I have.
I planted out a row of tomatoes, and seeded another row of
carrots, since the two I planted looked pretty spotty (I reseeded them
as well). Carrots require moist soil for about 10 days while
sprouting, and that's hard to achieve, particularly when juggling other
interests... In fact I hope I remember to turn on the sprinkler
when I go home... The fruit trees need thinning,
and I started thinning one today while overseeing some children playing
(one at a time--that's the rule!) on the trampoline my ski son
got in order to practice making turns in the air with... It looks
like a great year for the apples, with about 8 apples from each clump
of flowers, which means they'd be the size of crab apples if they
aren't thinned... I was thinking of crab
apples, and how the only crab apples I'm aware of that are
planted today are flowering crabs... I remember a tasty eating
crab called a Whitney crab I encountered as a child, and crab apple
jelly was pretty common as well. In the pottery,
May sales were up 25% from last year, which was partially the improved
business climate, and partially the improved Spring we're having over
record rains last Spring (part of why the carrots didn't come up too
well this year).
My skiing son is always happiest skiing, so we went with him up to
Schweitzer ski area yesterday so he could do some tricks on some
plastic pipe left up there on the snow for the purpose... After a
while I went back to the car and took a nap, and woke up to it raining
hard. He continued through the rain, but quit when his knees
were getting sore. I was reminded of this because we're having a
heavy shower right now. As if we didn't have
enough garden of our own, we started one at the church at Priest Lake,
then added another one a week ago to give the children one they could
plant. We've brought several truckloads of manure, so it's
looking better than last year, when it was mostly just sand.
I made a long weekend trip back to visit my mother in Minnesota, and
only learned when I got to the airport that she'd contracted Strep
Throat. She is still recovering from a broken arm, so she had a
couple good reasons to be unhappy, but she bore it with grace and
fortitude. While she rested, I borrowed a
bike from my brother and rode around Northfield, one time taking the
Mill Towns bike trail to Dundas (3 miles). It reminded me of the
time when I was six and visiting a friend a couple years older staying
overnight in Brookings SD... I think he'd been harboring a desire
to wander, since he convinced me to walk along the railroad tracks out
into the country, until we arrived at Aurora SD (about 6 miles
away). As I recall he called his parents to announce the feat,
and they came and brought us home. I wasn't encouraged to visit
him after that, so my wanderlust waited till my college years... Oh yes, photos...
is the view of the Cannon River from Sechler Park in Northfield.
The righthanded foliage is on an island--the river is twice as
wide as this appears. There were some wildflowers blooming--phlox,
columbines, and a bunch I don't know the name of. Also it was
unusual and delightful to not encounter any mosquitoes, probably due to
the late Spring...
At Lyman Creek in the Lower Carleton Arboretum, these Cedar Waxwings were enjoying a communal bird bath...
flight out to Minnesota was mostly cloudy, but the return trip was
mostly clear, so I took what low contrast photos of Flathead Lake, and
Peck Reservoir, but this was the sight to welcome me home (and
just at the "shut down all electronic devices" time). This is
Lake Coeur D'Alene with the namesake city being the whitish
blotch above the lake.
June 12 I'm
writing this while the granola bakes, and the chicken noodle soup is
cooling, and the elk chili is cooking. All this is happening
after supper... This afternoon I made an angel food cake from
scratch, since we ended up with a dozen eggs we didn't need...
Yesterday I peeled the last of our potatoes from last year's
garden, and we ate some of our first strawberries of the 2013 season.
It's only been a high of 70 lately, but sunny, so it's comfortable
indoors or out with short or long sleeves. The garden could use
rain, but only a few showers are forecast... I
may be adding a new pot due to interest--a canister for storing
sourdough in, with a perforated lid to allow it to breathe. I got
an order for one, and then she tried it and ordered another for a
relative. Meanwhile the guy from a honey shop stops by to get
some honey pots and buys a canister with the same intent, then stops
back and buys another for one of his customers. I'm making one
for myself--I told the customer I'd only make her another if she brings
some sourdough starter with her when she comes...
Gardens do take a lot of maintenance. I thinned the apples last
week, and now they're twice as big and easier to spot the multiple
apple clusters that I missed, so I spent about an hour doing that. I
tied up the raspberries so they don't hang to the ground and get dirty
when they are ripe... Then I picked strawberries, which needed to be
weeded as I picked, so that took an hour, to get a couple pints...
The wheel-hoe I made a few years ago makes it easy to weed row
crops efficiently, but strawberries aren't in a row in the garden...
The weather was nice for outside work, overcast and with a high of 70 so it was comfortable in long sleeves.
The readers of this blog are a select few, but one of them read the
last post on making a sourdough pot and ordered one, so I'll make a few
of them and see how they sell... We've got a couple books on
sourdough, but I haven't read them yet... I have a sense that
it's like feeding a pet to keep a healthy culture going...
Speaking of feeding a pet, the feral manx cat that moved in on us is
still too wild to pet, but will come in the house to eat cat food once
or twice a day. I declared his name to be Manxome, after a line
in the Jabberwocky, "Long time the manxome foe he sought." He has
been a foe with his unfixed tomcat ways, spraying his scent around our
door occasionally. But he has a Cheshire cat face...
Last Saturday our clay group went to Diane Simon's studio for a tour
and to do a raku firing. I posted a picture of the firing at http://www.cagni.org/.
It's always interesting to see how people set up their studios,
and raku is actually a new experience for me--taking a red hot pot and
plunging it into crumpled newspaper to give it a quick blackening
reduction... I've always been too committed to utilitarianism to
experiment with what is by nature not functional--raku vases will not
hold water, for example. The pot I decorated I will donate to our
club sale next month... I got the carrots thinned
today, after a quarter inch of rain last night. The yard and
garden are looking forward to the significant rainfall predicted.
These June rains are all that stand between fun and wildfires on
the 4th of July.
June 19 Slow
but steady rains yielded an inch accumulation in the last day. I
used the time in the afternoon to build some A-frame trellises for
tomatoes. The design came out of an old Rodale organic gardening
book. The book has advice on everything, but mostly use lots of
manure and mulch. I've backed off on the mulch as it can harbor
slugs, but the manure idea has been great for us... Anyway, the
tomato trellis is basically a grid made of wood supported by two legs
that swing out at the end to make a stable form to attach the growing
tomato plants to. I used an old railing from a former porch and
more free wood from the local pallet works to build them...
June 20 Another day of drizzle, another inch of rain...
June 21 And in the end there was 2.1 inches of rain, falling almost continuously for 48 hours.
We took the 3 children we're providing enrichment (from a difficult
life) to the Spokane Public Radio free kids concert in Spokane today.
The Bing Crosby theater was nearly full, and lots of children
were dancing to the bluegrass/rhythm and blues beat of "Big Red Barn."
They used songs like "Iko Iko" (a New Orleans Mardi Gras song
frequently covered by the Grateful Dead) and "You can't judge a book by
looking at its cover" by Willie Dixon. They also threw in a few
songs about chickens. Kid concerts are the hardest venue in the
business--it's hard to know what will work in children's minds.
Our kids were wiggily with the music half the time, and
wiggly "when is this over?" wiggly the rest...
After the concert we ate some orange chicken at the River Front Square
food court, and rode the Carousel and the played on the giant red wagon
in the Park. We finished with a tour through the sky walks, and
rode the escalators up and down in Macy's, which we did with our own
kids when they were little. (By the end of the day we took them
to two more parks, since they don't tire of playing in parks as soon as
June 23 It was such a nice day today that I walked around the Mill Pond this morning, when it was still:
I saw nothing amazing, but it was all green and fresh...
The baby California quail are out on parade...
This is their mother, not as showy as the fathers with their topknot.
June 26 I was out weeding and picking strawberries today, and saw this butterfly resting on our grape arbor:
It's a fairly common species, but I don't know its name.
We had another half inch of rain in showers yesterday, and a couple
brief showers as well today... The garden generally looks quite
happy, unaware of the burst of heat predicted starting in a couple
Although the weather has been predicted to be hot, the 50% chance of
showers keep us cool and wet all day, which gave us a chance to do some
baking. The strawberries are in, so I made Pavlova, or strawberry
meringue pie, which uses the meringue (with pecans) as a shell to add
strawberries and whipped cream on. We had already used up frozen
raspberries in a raspberry cream pie... But the
major baking project was sourdough bread. I got some starter this
week from a customer, and I'm trying out one of the sourdough pots I'm
introducing in the pottery showroom... I had a lot of time to
peruse a couple sourdough books while the bread was rising. I
think no two sources agree on how to do sourdough. Even the
relative amounts of flour and water that you add to keep the
culture active vary from 1:1 to 2:1. Some say to leave the
culture out all the time, others to refrigerate it whenever you're not
using it. Some call for adding regular yeast to the culture
regularly, others say avoid regular yeast as it may inhibit some of the
good wild cultures. The length of time you should let bread rise
varies from 4 to 12 hours. Also the amount of starter you add to a
batch of bread varies widely. I dumped in a couple cups of
starter, added flour then I found it was too dry, added more
water and some oil and salt. I had the impression you avoid
adding sugar to sourdough, but there was some disagreement on that in
the books and Internet sources also. I set the bowl of bread
dough on top of a firing kiln to keep it warm, and it rose quickly
enough that I could punch it down in a couple hours, and let the loaves
rise for about an hour. The result was tasty, but not as tangy as
the local Rathdrum IGA bakery that got me hooked on sourdough. Anyway I
think I'll enjoy trying pancakes and longer raising with less starter
next time to see if I can get more sour flavor...
One of the many interesting bits of trivia about sourdough that I
enjoyed is that the liquid that rises to the top of the starter is
called hooch, and is where the term for cheap liquor comes from, since
sourdough miners would drink that liquid for the possible 15% alcohol
Books read and other media of note
Much Ado about Nothing (movie) A fun version of the Shakespeare comedy, especially for fans of Joss Whedon...
Man of Steel 3D (movie) A
fairly slow paced movie where, if you'd ever read an early Superman
comic, you would tick off points in agreement or variance of the
accepted creation myth... I remember baby Clark's rocket being a lot
more like a tin can with a pointy end... Beyond that there was a
lot of blurry 3D explosions, and it was generally enjoyable. Flashpoint by Linda Barnes -Carlotta
Carlyle tracks down several mysteries including arson with an ending I
didn't see coming... She and VI Warshawski are favorites of mine
among the tough women PI's. The Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds This
was a step backward for Reynolds, whose imaginative star ships which
reconfigure on the nano level first captivated me. I'm not a big
fan of Steampunk, and this, with blimps and mixtures of technologies,
is too typical of Steampunk fare.. The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais. Another terse crime story by Robert Crais, with a lot of backstory on Elvis Cole...