May 3, 2011 The first Shooting Stars are out for this year: This is an old photo--there are just singles so far... We're getting a few sunny days, usually with a storm or two by the end of the day... This is an improvement. I
transplanted some Stanley prune trees from our pottery property to our
other properties--they are small sweet plums, pretty hardy against
drought, that spread from the roots producing genetically identical
offspring, as opposed to a lot of fruit trees that you have no idea
what the fruit will be like...
Yesterday the new batch of goslings were out by the Mill Pond,
proof that life is going on... I'm also working on an order
of 70 mugs, and a couple smaller orders, proof that the pottery goes on
as well. Yesterday was also a lovely day, but today is gray and
sprinkly... I moved manure in the garden yesterday, which makes
me less eager to do the same today...
In fact, I ended up building a new mini-coop for the chicks we're
expecting--building it over our grape arbor, which should prove
interesting. I may post a photo, but only after the chicks are in
a rainbow picture, part of a full double rainbow seen after one of our
short showers today. The interesting part is as you follow the
colors down, after it fades to violet, it starts right back through the
colors again, but only makes it to green.
May 8 We
got the chicks yesterday-- 6 Buff Orpingtons, described in the
book as the golden retriever of hens... We have two of them
already--one of them is the tame one that lets me pick it up...
been too busy to watch them much since we got them. Today I
played music for our small church, then we went into Spokane and I
jammed at Auntie's with about a dozen musicians. We visited a
local cemetary to put flowers on a friend's mother's grave, then walked
around some of the People's Park and got home after dark.
Last night we saw the final classic symphony of the season--Mahler's
first symphony, which was fun to listen to, with parts even sounding
familiar to me. Well, yes, I did doze off a couple times, but the
timpani and horn section generally revived me again.
We've been seeing lots of rainbows lately with all the showers.
Theoretically it's getting nice tomorrow, approaching 70 with
little chance of rain. Whoopee!
May 10 Great weather, another fine walk to enjoy the spring flowers.. The latest to start is this one:
not even sure what it is. It was in an area where 6 petalled
Queen's cup is common, but the base leaves are different. It's
nice to have a surprise... Later--I think it's Richardson's Geranium... Our neighbors brought a few little worms
for our chicks--they immediately knew what to do with them--play
keep-away from the other chicks...
Because of the chicks we ended up having a marshmallow roasting
party after supper with 11 friends and neighbors, mostly young kids who
wanted to see the chicks (and eat marshmallows). Today I
mowed for the first time, after the second day of breaking 70 degrees
for the year. Pottery sales have been brisk corresponding with
the warm weather. I'm planning to go on Monday to get a new kiln
to replace one that has been patched way too thoroughly over the years.
The last firing didn't quite make it in 11 hours. I'm
looking forward to the drive to Seattle, although the weather's
supposed to revert to rainy and cold by then...
May 14 With
the warmer weather come lots of outdoor sales and music opportunities.
Jonathan and I played two hours this morning for a huge (100+
vendor) garden show in Spokane. It was large enough to have
multiple stages, our sound got swallowed up immediately by the crowd,
and the weather was windy and sprinkly, but it all worked out okay in
the end. The PA I bought a couple years ago is mostly suitable
for inside use, but I've wound up using it outside a lot, where it
doesn't have the wattage to fill the outside, but later I heard a brass
band which could only be heard in the bass register when less than a
block away, so given the wind and setting it was all good. There
was also an artist who made kaleidoscoped photos like I've used for CD
covers and combined multiple images to make them literally 3D, in
glassed boxes, which was interesting to me.
The camas flowers are blooming now. The phlox are coming out along the highways. It's
beginning to feel like the end of the spring wild flower season, but
because of the cool spring our cherry trees are just beginning to
blossom, and the apples and pears will follow soon after.
After several lovely days the rain returned strong and steady...
Fortunately we had a lot of pottery customers before the rain
shut the day down...
This is the old kiln... I
drove 11 hours total yesterday to Seattle and back to get a new kiln,
and clay and glaze materials. As soon as I got to Seattle, I
parked under the viaduct and walked the waterfront downtown, and back
through the Pike Street market, for about an hour and a half.
Today we unloaded everything, and I disassembled the old kiln,
and installed the new one. I just finished loading a bisque fire
in it, and it felt weird, to have such bright perfect walls on the
kiln, that I did the whole thing like I was handling eggs.
Actually dry pots are as fragile as eggs, so that's a good thing
to do, but it was still an odd experience.
May 18 The
day started with the new kiln staying on all last night (only one
switch on low) because the timer which should have shut it off wasn't
working. Knowing how far it is to take the kiln back, I
investigated on my own and found they'd forgotten to attach the wires
for the timer. When I reassembled it, it seemed like the kiln
wasn't working, but I'd knocked loose the wire to the pilot light, so
finally it was all as good as new again, and I fired a bisque in it.
This afternoon I played music for the
Millwood Farmer's Market opening--from 5-7, repeating next Wednesday.
It was one of the nicest days so far--I could sit comfortably in
the shade with a short sleeved shirt and never get cold. I played
pretty continuously for the two hours, just switching between guitar,
banjo, tin whistle, and harmonica to give my fingers a break...
Next week Jonathan will be there to make a more complete sound.
We went to see the touring production of "Wicked" last night. I'd
written the wrong time down on the calendar, so we were nearly a half
hour late--not an auspicious beginning. We'd already read a
synopsis, so it wasn't hard to follow the plot, which isn't generally
the point of a musical anyway. We were sitting in the cheap
seats--last row, balcony, so we brought field glasses to see what the
actors really looked like. Those caveats aside, it was an
impressive and interesting performance. The sets seemed to be
continually in motion. The flying monkeys were suitably scary,
although less so than in the original movie. Having read many of
the Oz books, I found it to be an alternate universe from the Oz I
knew, but I was able to go along for the ride. I'm pretty sure
I'll never sing the songs from this one the way I can from the original
movie, but they don't make them like Harold Arlen any more...
The garden should be a priority currently, and is, but there are lots
of other things happening as well. The last steps before planting
involve spreading manure in the no-till method, or turning the soil if
there's no manure to spread, which is the case at the pottery garden.
So today I turned the soil, which was already getting thick with
weeds, and planted four rows of green beans and a hill of pumpkins.
It's still too early to put tomatoes out here, but the brassicas
(cabbage family) are hardy and I'll transplant them soon. I think
everything else seed-wise can be planted now...
went for a 5 1/2 hour hike today, up the highest part of the ridge that
we can see when looking at the Mill Pond. It was an
elevation gain of around 1800 feet, and probably about 5 of hiking.
The area is all timber, with various wild flowers found at each
elevation. We saw our first local phlox of the year, yellow and
purple violets, and more of the pictured Calypso orchids than we'd ever
seen before, over 50, along a logging road... The weather was
cool and overcast, and calm, very nice for hiking. We saw several
other intriguing trails going off, but aren't likely to repeat this
hike soon, due to its strenuous nature.
I started planting the corn yesterday--anticipating the rain today
that's making finishing planting more difficult. Although
another frost is possible before the end of the month, I think it's
time to get everything into the garden. There are several
nice days predicted for later in the week... We
went in to Spokane for a dinner with relatives at the nice fish
restaurant with a front row view of the upper Spokane Falls, now going
at maximum flow. So of course I forgot my camera... It was
a lovely dinner, nonetheless.
With more rain predicted for tomorrow, I worked most of the day on
getting the last corn, carrots, potatoes, and squash planted. New for
this year is cilantro, which we like in salsa... If cilantro
matures to produce seeds, the seeds are called coriander... Or, since
we like to save seeds, they are called "next year's cilantro."
This evening I repeated the farmer's market music in Millwood with
Jonathan Hawkins. There were sprinkles from the time we arrived,
so the whole event was more subdued than last week. There were
more gremlins in the PA system than usual as well. I got there
with extra time, so I set up my mp3 player to play some background
music. But one of the little knobs on my PA was bumped that is
for digital effects, which resulted in a low hum which was fairly
irritating, and only discovered after a lot of twiddling. There was a 3
way plug- in for the power which would disconnect the whole system
several times seemingly randomly. Technology--can't live without
it, can't live in peace with it...
I'm heading to Colorado tomorrow to pick up my ski bum son, so there
will be a half week hiatus to the blog... I'm hoping the weather
is warmer somewhere between here and there. We're covering our tomatoes
nights... I can't expect much in the way of warm weather in
Summit County--they got 3 feet of powder last week... Also after
hitting a deer in the dark last year, I'm planning to avoid night
driving. On my return, the next day is the elementary talent
show, where I'm accompanying our first grade neighbor as she sings "The
Erie Canal." So I'm hoping the car doesn't break down.
May 31 Four
days and 2200 miles later, we had a successful trip there and back.
The shortest route back proved to be through the Grand Tetons and
Yellowstone. There was some wet snow over a hundred miles of
Wyoming, but the roads were generally okay--just strange for the end of
May... On the way I saw hundreds of these birds in some of the many
flooded fields of Wyoming, while it was snowing:
was fairly dark, but the birds are, I believe, white faced ibises.
Most of the ibises in N. America live in the far south, so this
would be a rare photo indeed with the snow... I also saw lots of
bison and elk in Yellowstone (almost goes without saying), and many
antelope in Wyoming and Colorado and Montana...
Books read and other media of note.
Sixkill by Robert B. Parker A fine coda to a strong body of work by a strong writer of two fisted American detective fiction... Fiddler's Dream by Gregory Spatz. The
good parts of this book were about the life of a young fiddler trying
to move up to the big time in Nashville, which no doubt came from this
very able fiddler's own experience. But the plot seemed to
meander rather aimlessly, like a monologue from Lake Woebegon, so in
the end it was disappointing. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov Another
Hugo winner, Asimov can be a bit dry mixing his science and science
fiction--this one posits an alternate universe with different enough
physical laws that power could be drawn from one to the other, to the
advantage of both, but with unexpected consequences. No blasters
here--the drama is all on the laws of physics. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.
I'm trying to elevate my reading choices by reading Hugo and
other award winners. This one, first in the series with the Black
Out/All Clear which I really liked, carried time travel to the year of
the plague. It was very visceral--I found myself wishing for some
blasters and aliens to evade the grim reaper presented here...