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Brad's Blog

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March 1
    We took advantage of $8 lift tickets (after 3 pm) and went skiing at Schweitzer for the first time in 3 or more years.  In spite of fog at the top, and flat lighting from the heavy cloud cover, we had a good time, and may take advantage of their $100 late season pass if we can fit a day or two per week in for the last 3 weeks they are open...  As I get older, the most important thing is skiing is to not fall down,  and we both didn't fall down...

March 3
It was another long day at church today, as we moved a family into the apartment above the church as a temporary shelter...  We got home at sunset, and since the sky was brightening above the ridge, we drove down to check out the lake at dusk.


The sky was just catching fire as we watched two geese (lower left) waddle across the thinning ice to get to the open water from the first culvert. It was a nice end to the day...


March 5
    When our kids were little, I made moccasins for our family from some sheepskins we'd buy from a tannery in Iowa.  They were very important for living in our little pottery shop, as the floor had no insulation and was quite cold in winter...   When I finally ran out of sheep skins, the tannery had gone out of business, so I gave up making moccasins.  A couple years ago I tried getting a sheepskin from Ebay, and it turned out to be both too thick (unshorn) and fragile from washing...  So I was discouraged.   But a month or so ago I made a pair from what was left of the fragile fat sheepskin, and until it tore was happy with the results.  Last week I got 4 sheepskin car seat covers (used) off Ebay, and I'm back in moccasin mode again.  But I was running out of the heavy waxed nylon thread I use to make it, and the deerskin to strengthen the sole...  So I went back to Ebay and was able to locate both items quickly and "buy it now."  I'd gotten away from using Ebay, after being an initial adherent, since Amazon is generally comparable in price (and living 30 miles from most shopping makes me like Amazon the way people used to like Sears and Wards...).
    I finished pruning our orchard today.  A couple weeks ago there was a foot of dense snow on the ground.  Now there's only a couple inches...

March 7


I got out these glaze tests today.  There were 6 tests originally, lined up along the top, then the various combinations in the rows underneath.  The one on the right of the original tests is a very nice green, which may overcome some pinholing I've had trouble with...  I also learned that, in the 4th lavender one, cobalt will make a lavender without manganese in high magnesia glazes.  I've no use for that info, since I've got a nice lavender, but it's new knowledge...



Then this afternoon I finished making this pair of moccasins, then cut and sewed a pair for me (which I'd overlooked at first).  I couldn't help observing that in the time it took to make one pair of moccasins (two hours), I could make 120 mugs.  In other words, I'm not quitting my day job to be a cobbler...

March 9

  I used up the free  pressed wood I got a month ago--still have a lot of regular firewood to burn, but I may get another load of the free wood...
Yesterday I moved the just received 2500 pound order of clay from the front back to the shop with a wheel barrow, three fifty pound boxes per trip...
Today I went up to the Sandpoint Library to hear a lecture on a pond a couple miles north of our church at Priest Lake.  It's got a peat mat over about half of its surface, and has cool plants like carnivorous sundews.  I was looking forward to visit it, but apparently it's on private land and they just allow researchers on to study it...  The presenter did, when I asked, admit that Upper Twin Lake near us in Spirit Lake has a similar peat bog ecology and is accessible (and one of my favorite natural places to visit in the area)...   I learned that this common flower of Twin Lakes is called, unsurprisingly, cotton grass
    The third child of a family we're helping out came on the day after her birthday to visit us (the other two had come on their birthdays also for overnight stays).  I made her a pair of moccasins last night, and got the sizes of her siblings today to make some for them (they're very involved with the sibling rivalry for stuff issues)...  (That makes 6 pairs I've made in the last couple weeks...)
Priest Lake Idaho
Here's a panorama stitched together from 3 photos of Priest Lake taken last night.

March 11
It was a rainy day today, and my back was acting up a bit, so I recorded some tunes in the afternoon...
Finlandia played on 6 string banjo by Brad Sondahl
Hesitation Blues played by Brad Sondahl
Top Time banjo tune written and played by Brad Sondahl
Soon My Work Will All Be Done
Walk in to Jerusalem just like John


March 17
Like most lives, a lot of mine is fairly boring, but it got busy this weekend.  On Friday afternoon I went into Spokane to buy a used table saw (off Craigslist) and played music with my bassist friend.
Saturday morning our clay art group had a session of making pots for our summer fundraiser, and the new ceramics instructor at the local community college stopped in...  Saturday evening I went in to run the sound system for the  
March 2013 bluegrass showcase
I managed to take some photos, but didn't spend the time I normally would at is as I didn't want to abandon the control board for long.
On Sunday morning I got up early to make communion bread and hamburger buns and cinnamon rolls to feed the 11 people who stayed after church.  And soon we'll be going into Spokane to see one of my fingerpicking heroes, Leo Kottke, in concert...

 March 18

This is my photo of him from 2006 (he's just a little grayer, as am I)
The Leo Kottke concert was highly entertaining as well as being totally devastating to my own sense of being a fingerstyle guitarist.  Of course I knew what to expect,  having seen Leo a couple times before.  In the relatively small Bing Theater it was easy to observe his fretting hand making magical passes over the strings.  Once or twice I recognized a chord...
    I got my saw set up today.   From the plastic on-off button, I can tell it's from the 60's to the 80's--otherwise it looks like an antique (funny how time flies). It even uses the old style of a separate motor run by a V-belt, which I like because if the motor dies I can replace it with another...  Once the saw was set up I cut some pieces of Formica to go on the storage shelves I started last week...


March 19
The sun was out so nicely today, that I had to walk around the Mill Pond.  First I did pottery work and spent an hour changing the Chamber sign and replacing the interior light tubes (Sondahl Pottery rented it this week).
The walk was pleasant--still dense snow in patches, mud in other patches, but quite walkable.  I was hoping for some birds and got these:

American Widgeon


Northern Shrike.
In both cases I couldn't identify them till I got home, but I knew the  robin-sized shrike was distinctive.  I'd only seen a shrike years ago chasing another bird (you can tell by the beak it's a killer).    The magnification on these is so great to make them both pretty grainy, but I'm coming to like some of the grainy photos produced by telephoto in low light.  My favorite was this dancer from a few years ago:


March 22
I've been enjoying woodworking lately, finishing off the inside of one of the faux-bay windows I like to make yesterday.  Unfortunately the turning twisting and pushing to screw in some screws set my back back again today...
    It was 25 with a thin fresh layer of snow this morning, but come on, it's March, can't last forever...  I heard the windy weather we had the last couple days loosened the ice on the main part of the lake (and the dock at Bronze Bay).  Usually the ice melts first in the shallow Mill Pond, but the wind was the deciding factor this year...  The Mill Pond is covered with ice except the flow area from the bridge...  With the inch of rain we got a couple days ago, I imagine it's starting to flow over the dam at the end of the pond...

March 23
    My back recovered on its own this time, in time to work unloading more scrap wood and plywood after the local pallet place called and wanted me to get a truck load of scrap today...  
    In spite of it feeling pretty cold lately, the Mill Pond is now less than half ice covered, and the main part of the lake is ice free...
    So today we had the family we're helping (through our church) down to do pottery, have hot dogs and marshmallows by a warm fire (on a chilly evening), and took them to see the falls (spilling out of a dam) at Post Falls.   While they were here 4 members of the family we helped last winter stopped by to say hi on their way to their now apparently more stable home in Oregon.  This was while there were three customers in the shop, making 14 people here at once.


March 25



I saw the first Spring beauties and buttercups today, on the west facing hill across the street from us...

March 26
Because we have a pickup truck, we started getting extra horse manure for our numerous gardens--the third load I got today.  It was warm enough to enjoy the sunshine without a jacket as well-- and the ice on the Mill Pond  is gone...    There's still a 6 foot pile of snow in the parking lot across the street, and patches are seen in the woods, but the snow is fading fast...

March 27
    It was a nice day, so I thought I'd work in the basement on organizing it and making more shelves.  Then I thought again and went for a walk around the Mill Pond and up on the ridge.  There were a few grass widows opening (as in this file photo, but without the fresh snow)

I saw Stellar's jays, which are fairly common in the woods but I never see them here in town...
Stellar Jay
I also saw some red crossbills, common goldeneyes, and a couple eagles...  It was nice to enjoy the 50 degree temperatures.

March 29
    My back was acting up again so I had to drive into Post Falls, so we loaded in the garbage to take to the dumpsters, and some broken pots to take to a guy that makes mosaics with them, and I went to the chiropractor (the guy works for the school district, and I was 15 minutes too late at 4 on a Friday afternoon to catch him).  The chiropractor did his thing--twisting and popping my back, then I went to the library in Post Falls (which seems exotically large compared to our local branch) and got some music CD's and a new Harry Dresden novel (he died in the last novel--I'm curious to see if he makes it back to the land of the living).
    Then I took the truck to the manure place and got another load of manure, which, when my back is slightly better, will go on our strawberry plants (counting on ultraviolet to sterilize everything before the strawberries are ripe).  I got home in time for supper, which was roasted hot dogs in the pottery back yard with robins singing and a pleasant sunset.

Books read and other media of note
Indigo Slam by Robert Crais  This book has everything but a memorable (and related) title.  It's got kidnapping, drugs, lovable and unlovable waifs, mobsters and counterfeiting...   It would make a good movie, even has a Hollywood style double ending...

Out of Range by C J Box.  
I think of Box as Tony Hillerman without the spiritual/native stuff...  He knows Wyoming and uses it as a stomping ground for elk and spies alike, as well as vindictive small town sherriffs and in-laws...   In this novel Joe Pickett has to fill a vacancy in the Jackson area, exposing him and his wife to potential affairs and other dangers...

The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
 Leonard is fascinated with the interplay between law people and  and criminals, and usually writes in the present day, but this one is set in the 20's or 30's with a young U.S. marshall and the wannabe public enemies number one...  I liked the references to some of my favorite old time bands, and bits of trivia about the real famous outlaws and lawmen of the day.  I did wonder when a recording was used to help identify a suspect--unless it was a victrola type record I don't think there was much recording technology until wire recorder near WWII...  Still a very enjoyable book...

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