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Brad's Blog

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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...

May 5
    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 it...
rainbow
Here's 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...
Buff Orpington chicks

We've 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:


I'm 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...

May 13
   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.

May 15

    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...

May 17

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.

May 20
    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...

May 22


We 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.

May 24
    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.

    May 25
    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...

May 27
    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:
White faced ibis in Wyoming snowstorm
It 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...




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