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Brad's Blog

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May 1
    The Garden Club left off a pansy at the pottery today, continuing the long tradition of May baskets.  
    We were supposed to start selling at the Rathdrum Farmer's market today, but a forecast of rain and muddy conditions at the park has moved the opening date to May 15.   I got one dinner set order ready to bring with us, as the recipients are staying 
at a remote camp where we are going to a baptism  of our God child's first born tomorrow.

May 4
dogwood
    We're back to a chilly world, blown home on the tails of a windstorm that took out a lot of electricity and branches, but mostly left our property alone.  We had a pleasant, relatively warm sunny ride up the 50 mile lake, but on Monday it snowed most of the day, giving us a 3 season experience in 24 hours.  Both the baby and her father were successfully baptized.  The mountains and cascades were lovely as always, as was the greening wheat country we drove through to get there.  The photo is of a dogwood blooming at the level of the lake.  Holden Village, that we visited is a couple 1000 feet higher, and there were no flowers out there yet.

May 6
    I planted green beans, corn, and more spinach today,  The first two are warm weather (no frosts) crops.  The spinach is just planting more of what's already up, to stagger the harvests.  We've been eating spinach from our green house.  I plant the spinach in 2 foot rows with more space demanding crops like bush beans and peas, so that when the spinach is done it can be pulled and room made for harvesting the beans.
    It's still been frosting some mornings, but I hope in 2 weeks when the seeds come up this 10 degree below average weather will be over.

May 7
    I added a little search window up in the menu to search my website, which I thought would be handy if I wanted to find a reference to spinach or something from other years, or for people searching for some other reference.  I followed Google's step by step instructions, and pasted the code in.  It looked fine in Firefox, but my sister let me know there was only a lot of blank space at the top in Internet Explorer, so I had to delete it.
    The temperature still isn't topping 60, but that's an improvement, so I went for a walk this evening to check the wildflowers.  This is probably the peak time in terms of diversity.   I didn't have my camera, but would like to return later this weekend with it to take a photo of each kind of flower, as a kind of survey.  They're actually all the same every year, but I'd say some species, like shooting stars, are becoming much more common, perhaps the result of several wet Springs.  One other surprise is the first flowers of the year, Spring Beauties, are still blooming.

May 8
    Today held several points of interest.   A musician friend who teaches photography at Gonzaga brought out a photography club (5 total, including two shooting actual film instead of digits).  So I showed them the pottery workshop and demonstrated pottery making.  I invited them to email me some of the results to put on my web page.  
    Then, in the afternoon, we worked on one of the worst construction type jobs--insulating under the shallow crawlspace at our cabin.  Fortunately, after a couple hours, I had to get cleaned up to go play music in  Dalton Gardens at a private barbecue, with bassist Jonathan Hawkins and added mandolin-violinist Don Thomsen.  It was all acoustic, no sound system, and a nice polite multigenerational audience wandering in and out.  
    There was still a rain shower today, but the weather is trending towards pleasant.  I got the last of the manure spread out on our big garden yesterday, so major planting should happen soon.

May 9
calypso orchid in moss bed

    This was a pretty good day for a wildflower census, between the frequent showers.   So on our walk we saw:
Spring beauties, phlox, larkspur, Oregon grape, syringa, prairie stars,  chokecherry, camas, shooting stars, yellow bells, glacier lillies, kinickinick,
balsam root, Richardson's geranium, calypso orchid, trillium, yellow violets, false soloman's seal,  Columbia virgin's bower, grass widows, buttercups, and about a dozen types I don't know the names of.  Most of these have been shown on my wildflowers of Idaho webpage.  The photo above shows a calypso orchid surrounded by the lush moss and other forest plants (including wild strawberries, which never yield berries here, being too dry later on).


May 11
We had some young friends (5 and 9) visiting, so I spent part of the morning with them making pots.  For real beginners, I often center the clay for them, giving them a better chance of getting something worth keeping.  It seems hard to tell a beginner pot from a 5 year old from an adults--they all equally don't know what they're doing, but generally enjoy the experience.
    I bought a half of a sliding door set (the other half damaged) at the Habitat store for $10.00 the other day.  I installed it on the blue cabin as a double glazed storm door today.  The pneumatic closing gadget cost more than the door.
    The weather is back to excellent.  Time to do serious garden planting.

May 12
Morel mushrooms
I was putting in a couple more shelves for the pottery display, when I looked down and saw these mushrooms.  I hadn't seen any in the wild since high school, when on my first very first date the girl invited me to come down into a ravine to look for morel mushrooms.  While that was, in retrospect, a great pickup line for canoodling, I didn't care for mushrooms at the time, but was interested in wild stuff in general.   Getting back to the story, our woods don't seem to be wet enough or something for these to be common, as I haven't seen them in spite of wandering the woods looking for wildflowers.  So here were 4 of them, plus one popping out of the bricks by a downspout.  
    I got a book on mushrooms from the library one time.  The first half of the book showed how to tell them apart and told how tasty they are.  The last half told about various painful ways you can die from ingesting the wrong ones.   I did recall that the morel is quite distinctive, and the only "false" morel is solid fleshed, whereas these are hollow.   So we ate them for dinner with steak, and they tasted better than the steak...
    The main crop of corn, green beans, carrots, and spinach got planted yesterday.  Still more to go today, and transplanting of broccolis and cauliflower.  

May 13
bumblebee
I'm still here, so they were morels...   I saw a sign at the local natural food store advertising them today in Coeur D'Alene, where I went for a potter's guild meeting.  The president had to step down, and it was decided by consensus that I become president--the consensus being nobody else wanted it.
After the meeting I walked on beautiful Tubbs Hill, overlooking Lake Coeur D'Alene.  The flowers were at their finest, including some we don't have here, like this vetch like flower the bumble bee was perched on.
In the evening our new neighbor and I planted peas, runner beans, potatoes, and  corn.  I'm trying an experiment in one patch, alternating hills of corn and potatoes in rows, hoping the potatoes will mostly be done when they're shaded out by the corn..

May 14
We're getting ready to sell at the farmer's market, so it was the kind of day where I started fixing a bad wheel on the dolly we use to haul the boxes of pots.  I had noticed that an old wheelbarrow of ours had the same sized wheel, which the hardware store didn't, so I spent some time taking off that wheel, putting it on the dolly, then putting another wheel on the wheelbarrow.   So this was all pottery work...
    I spent the afternoon putting net bags on the cherry trees, to prevent the maggots that will inevitably infect them otherwise.   We made a lot of new bags this year, but there was still 75 percent of the tree that was bag-less...
    The weather couldn't be better.

May 16
    The farmer's market looked quite lovely, but sales were disappointing.  Part of our thinking on doing this market is promotion, and several people indicated they'd visit our store, so it may pay off better than it looks.   And the weather was nice.
    The blog and I will be on vacation till Memorial Day weekend--approximately May 28.


May 29
    It was quite a trip.  We set off in our 98 van that had 180,000 miles on it.   The first night, needing to drive till midnight to reach our son in Colorado, we hit a deer at the Wyoming border.  Besides the trauma of killing a deer (hitting birds and butterflies bother us as well),  the front end of the car was damaged, and all the lights and fender on the left side were knocked out.  The wiring and motor appeared intact, so we continued to our son's.  The next morning, while he packed his roomful of possesions, I spent $50 on replacement bulbs, using aluminum foil and clear tape to recreate the semblance of  a lighting system on the left side.   Not having comprehensive insurance, we knew we were facing $1000 or more in body work when we got home.
    Our next planned stop was Chicago, with a brief stop at my home town of Ames, Iowa.  En  route, we started hearing a grindy noise that I thought might be a wheel bearing.  Being late Thursday afternoon, the prospects weren't good.  We used our cell phone to Google an auto repair place in Ames, and drove there an hour before closing.  They looked at it and decided it was the rear differential, expensive and time delaying to fix.  It was enough to make us decide to shop for a new car,  a possibility we were aware when we started the trip, considering the 180,000 miles.  We were able to walk from the auto repair to a motel, and from there, in the morning, to some of the used car dealers.
    The first used car lot we went to only had a couple unsuitable vans (which we needed, for my son's possessions on this trip,  and our business), but the  salesman there lent us one to drive to a larger Honda dealer, where his son was also working as a used car salesman.  We found one, just reduced, with 100,000 less miles, and only 4 years old, which was otherwise like our expiring van, even to the color (red).  So by noon the next day we were able to continue our trip to Chicago, where our other son lives.
    In Chicago we avoided driving, taking the Metra train instead to the Botanical Gardens and Downtown.  The weather was hot in a delightful Spring way.  The Gardens were huge, and worth spending a whole afternoon wandering through the varied exhibits.
    The next stop was my family's adopted hometown of Northfield, Minnesota, where two days went by quickly with family meals and visiting an old college friend.
    We'd resolved to not drive by night on the way home, to avoid the many deer and antelope that are common in the west, but made it to our friends' home in Hardin Montana by dusk of the first night of the drive, and home safely on the second day from Minnesota.  In all, it was around 4000 miles in 10 days.


Japanese Garden Island of the Botanical Gardens

Chicago downtown
Old and new buildings mixing in downtown Chicago


Millenium Park band shell with skyline of Chicago behind it.

Chicago mirror bean sculpture
Milleniam Park mirrored bean sculpture, looking more tree enshrouded from this angle than it really is.


Bird seen at rest stops in South Dakota--a lark sparrow, I believe.

May 31
    I leaped back into being at home--weeded most of the garden space yesterday.  We had 2.5 inches of rain while we were gone, and another .5 or more inch today, with rain predicted every day this week.  That's great for the garden, but it dampened a lot of Memorial Day picnics, I think.  
    A lot of pots sold while we were gone (the honor system, as usual), so I made a lot of bowls, berry bowls, and honey pots this morning, and loaded a glaze kiln.
    This afternoon I worked at patching a clear plastic roof over our eating area at the pottery.  It's very nice stuff, UV shielding, etc., but seems to like to leak a bit too much to have nice furniture under it.  So I cleaned it off, and added some better metal to cover where it attaches on the regular roof, and tightened the screws and dabbed caulk on them, between showers.



Books read and other media of note:
The Way West, a Walk across America, by Peter and Barbara Jenkins.  This was great to read out loud while driving in comfort across the west on our trip.  A story from a similar aged traveller, in the late 70's, hiking with his new wife from New Orleans to Oregon.  Peter even was trained as a potter, as I was, but apparently never tried it as a profession.  From the book, it was obvious the pair had interpersonal issues--through the web it was easy to learn that they divorced after a few years (and 3 children).  Their walk was an epic event of that era, helping to craft a better image of America than the dregs of the Vietnam war had left it in.

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher  
A  good Zombie novel in the Dresden series.

Cons, Scams, and Grifts by Joe Gores  Another gypsy scam novel in the DKA files series.  Very fun plot, excellent cover art, showing a woman picking the pocket of a mark on the front, while the back cover shows him stealing her purse concurrently.

Split Image by Elmore Leonard.  
These early novels of Leonard he's still looking for his voice, which I believe he found later in a mixture of clever hip funny dialog and the terse suspense plotting.  This novel had a perfect romance which should have been a tip off that it was too good to last... The title refers to the split image of a charming handsome rich guy who obsesses about killing people.

Cat Chaser by Elmore Leonard.  
Leonard's early novels seem to be about moral dilemmas--a strong man presented by temptations and moral relativism.  In Hammett's Falcon, Spade might love Bridgit, but he sends her up the river.  You can't be sure of either happening in Cat Chaser, where a veteran slacker motel owner falls for a rich former Central American general's wife.

La Brava by Elmore Leonard.
 Leonard is a master of lowlife scheming and great characters and dialogue.  Most of his novels are guy novels, like this one, in which a former secret service agent, disillusioned from his job of guarding Mrs. Truman, gets involved with a movie star he was screen-enamored with as a young man, and her adventure on the wild side.

Star Wars Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn  
This is a prequel to Survivor's Quest, explaining what happened to a failed intergalactic mission, full of intrigue and inter-species discord.  Although a young Anakin and ObiWan are characters in it, they seem more spectators to the event, with Thrawn and Car'das as the protagonists.



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