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Brad's Blog

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May 1
    There were only a couple showers today, so I was able to mow for the first time this year...  In celebration of May Day, I made lemon meringue tarts and brownies...  The local flower club dropped off a pansy in the tradition of May Day (they bring them to all the businesses), which got me onto the idea of celebrating May Day.  Tra la! It's May!  Unfortunately the baking kept me from getting down to the lake to check the latest in spring wildflowers.  However I get a trip to Seattle and back tomorrow to get clay, so I hope to see a few flowers and birds en route...

May 3
    It was a good trip to get clay, with a bonus of visiting friends who are having to move, and gave us some blueberry, blackberry, and huckleberry plants (which I planted today).
    Our grocery is celebrating 40 years in Spirit Lake this week, which reminds me that we probably opened up for business in Spirit Lake around this date 30 years ago...  At that time we had two toddlers and were adjusting to living and working and selling pots in 3 rooms.  That was a lot of the reason I built a sales kiosk out front--not enough room for us and the pots inside...  30 years is (barely) over half of my life...  During that time we did go away quite a few winters for seminary and church work, but the pottery business was here every summer, and it represents a family centering place for us...
    It rained another 0.7 inch today again, with more rain (and snow) predicted.  Mostly it was drizzle, so I could even wheel-hoe the garden today, to put down the early weeds.  If the weeds are coming up, the peas, carrots, lettuce, and spinach can be planted, but they won't do much without some warmer weather (which is currently predicted for next week)...
   
May 4  
    We got another 0.75 inches in a couple hours last night--things are really greening up... 
    I assembled the 80 or so pots I threw yesterday, then took the afternoon off to see the Avengers movie with my son...  I have mixed feelings about some of the Marvel comics character movies, but I like almost all of Joss Whedon's work, and he directed and wrote the screenplay so it was a treat...
I do get a bit tired of the "saving the world" thing, as always in the Big Apple...  Maybe next time it could be a  serious threat to Keokuk, Iowa...

May 5
In spite of all the recent rain, I was able to burn a large pile of fresh green branches cut off the elm tree felled a week ago.  It felt like the Old Testament story of pouring water on the sticks before they were consumed.  It actually worked because I started a hot fire and the branches had a lot of airy space and held up the other branches while they cooked dry enough to burn...   All this was preparatory to planting the small garden at the pottery, as the branches were covering most of it.  
    I also glazed a kiln load mostly of canisters, and a few mugs which I tried wax resist decorations on, in preparation for a workshop here next weekend...

May 7
    I remember a month or so ago remarking that we didn't need to heat.  That was for one or two days--since then we've had a fire every morning until today, when it reached the mid sixties outside.  So of course I did a lot of Spring work today like putting on screen windows, cleaning the chimney, and raking and hauling leaves.  At the end of the day I'm feeling like I did as a kid trying a new sport or activity--stiff and sore.  Unfortunately that feeling doesn't recede as quickly now as it did then...
    In the pottery I glazed a couple kiln loads and fired them...  The mugs that I put wax resist on came out, not looking particularly great, but hopefully illustrating some ways to use wax resist...
    The swallows finally got back to Spirit Lake, and a pair is checking out our one birdhouse...

May 9
    Some of my groaning about Spring work probably was related to a plague which has worked through the rest of the family and finally hit me--the upper respiratory crud...  Today my voice is gone, which is troublesome since I agreed to do two hours of music at a garden fair this Saturday.  It may be mostly instrumental...
    In spite of the illness, I was able to work in the pottery and even dig some in the garden...  It was a warm and windy day today, so it was nice to be outside...

May 10
    I managed to get the old pottery garden (10 X 40 feet) turned today, and planted peas this evening...  This garden hasn't benefited from manure for several years, so we're planning to plant mostly legumes here, that produce their own nitrogen.  But it's supposed to frost tonight, and beans don't like cool weather for germination, so we'll probably hold off on planting more stuff for a while, and work on getting the big gardens ready to plant...  A neighbor has peas coming up, and some years we would have planted earlier, but it usually doesn't matter as long as the seeds and plants go in by Memorial Day, since our Springs tend to be cool...

May 11
Regular readers by now are probably aware that I have a lot of days where nothing much happens (except pottery).  Then there are days like today.  I knew there was a group of CAGNI potters coming at 3 in the afternoon, so I started the day making a tea ring (and loaf of bread).   I knew Jonathan and I were scheduled to play music at the Garden show in Spokane, so I made some CD's  that we had run out of, on the slight chance someone might buy one...  Then I headed into the garden show...
    It was a perfect blue sky day with a high in the mid 70's.  When I got there I found that our playing location (one of probably 4 musician locations in the large festival) didn't include electricity, so I left the mics and amp stuff in the car.  This was slightly disheartening, since I'm on my 3rd day of laryingitis, but it was okay, since we found a shady spot to play and people mostly don't listen at these events anyway.  We had a good time playing for two hours, with a lunch break provided for free by a nearby stir fry booth...
    Then I drove back to the pottery, just in time to greet the first of the 4 potters who came to glaze the 40-50 bowls which had been made last month.  We ate some tea ring, had a brief business meeting, and spent a couple hours glazing...
    After supper I planted two long rows of green beans...  It was a good full day...

May 15
We've had two days with highs in the 80's, and have been pushing hard to get our garden ready to plant.  There are still some large manure piles to be distributed, and it's too hot to work in the afternoons, so I've rearranged my pottery schedule to work in the late morning and afternoons on pottery so the cool of the day is available for gardening...
    The pots are coming out rapidly--four glaze firings in the last two days...  I do regret not having time to enjoy the nice weather with a walk to the lake...

May 17
      We transplanted half of the broccolis out today, and planted the first date of corn.   There are lows in the mid 30's predicted this weekend, so I'm holding off on putting out the tomatoes and squash starts...
    Besides the garden work, I entertained the 2nd graders at the City Park as part of an Arbor Day (belated) celebration.  I sang 3 songs about trees and read them Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, which I was asked to read, and which I find pretty depressing, but I suggested at the end the guy could have at least planted a new tree to replace the one he destroyed through his life...  When I finished, the kids went off to eat Twinkies, and I went back to the pottery...   One kid did stop me to give me some little samples of lichen, old man's beard, and a tree seed...
    In the pottery business, the hot dry weather that just relented was enough to crack 6 platters I'd made in half, from drying too fast.  So today I remade them, and am expecting the cooler weather to yield better results.

May 18
    The forecast for the weekend improved, so I set out tomatoes and peppers at the pottery, and began to string the fishing line fence that mostly keeps the deer out...  I also had to weed the raspberry and strawberry beds.  The strawberries are blooming, as are the lilacs, but the raspberries are just leafing out...

May 19
    It was another Bluegrass Showcase, with photos at this link; http://www.sondahl.com/events/INBAMay2012.html   Nearly every group had missing members, and performers from the other groups did a great job of filling in as needed.  As has been the case recently, I helped with setting up and taking down the sound system, and for once it was ready 15 minutes early with sound coming out of the speakers (sometimes it's taken till the last minute to be sure we had anything...)  That's over till Fall.
    I got some spinach planted, and we finished a quack grass barrier around our corn patch.  Sunday looks promising for a major planting binge, before the first rain in weeks is predicted for Monday...

    It was a fine day for an eclipse.  I put in squash (both plants and seeds), tomatoes, broccolis, planted lettuce and carrots, and got a video of a quail taking a dust bath:
    I decided to go up on the ridge for the eclipse, knowing it would take over an hour, and that it was cloudy and I'd be lucky to get a glimpse of the sun.  The flowers were still great--Columbia virgin's bower is climbing the trees and blooming, and Camas is still holding in there, along with heart leafed arnica, shooting stars, prairie stars, phlox, and larkspur and a bunch of others.  Up on the ridge there was an osprey perched in a tree, and a bald eagle flew past.  It was still too cloudy to see the sun.    I came back to the bridge, and paused to see if the clouds would part.  While waiting two ospreys flew by, one with a fish in its claws,  and another eagle flew up into a tree on the other side of the lake.  I took photos, but the lighting was too subdued for good pictures.   A pair of rednecked grebes put on a noisy display as well.   Then the sun started peeping through the clouds, and I snapped all kinds of photos, varying the exposure.  This was the best result.

I remember the first eclipse I got to see in South Dakota.  As usual they made a big deal about not looking at the sun, and I think I made the pinhole deal with a shoe box, but found that my magnifying glass portrayed a better image than the pinhole...

May 21
    The first rain since May 1 brought 0.7 inch--just in time to water everything in the garden...  I worked at the gallery in Sandpoint today all day--my busiest day there yet, with over $500 in sales (about $10 of which were mine).  I still had time to play guitar for over an hour, and read a lot...

May 22
    Got the potatoes planted this evening.  After this, the few spaces left in the garden are for second plantings and some holdout tomatoes in the greenhouse that are enjoying the indoors temperatures more than the 50's we've got going outside with the showers and overcast...  The first planting of peas popped up with the rain, plus a few green beans...
    I got orders for a dinner set and some lamps over the weekend, so I know a lot of what I'm doing this week, besides the glazing and mixing of glazes I did today...
    Our son returned from Spring skiing at Mt. Hood, coincidental with the rain coming into the whole region...  The timing is also good with Memorial Day weekend coming up, when we tend to get busy (depending on the weather...).

May 24
     We had guests, which meant a little extra time spent cleaning and eating.. We walked up on the ridge, and it was impressive how few of the Spring flowers are left there since I'd gone up on Sunday...  But some nice summer ones like phlox are coming on...  After they left I went back to throwing pots, around 80 or so...
    We're back to heating  slightly with the highs of around 60 and showers.

May 25
    Today's garden project was putting the bags on the cherry tree.  In the good old days, cherries had few enemies, but then in the 1940's a fly that lays its eggs in cherries was accidentally imported to N. America, and since then the choice is frequent sprays, or one maggot in each cherry.  To that we added slipping nylon net bags over the branches and securing them with a twistem.   The last couple years have had few cherries, but this year the tree is loaded, and the cherries are formed enough to be fairly sure of a good crop-- a couple dozen cherries in each bag. .
    In our yard we've got the mountain chickadee nest, a kildeer, two quail, robins, and a song sparrow as frequent visitors.  There were two kildeers, so I'd guess one is nesting.  This time of year the quails seem to have paired off, and frequently make a ca-KAW-caw call to keep track of each other.  For years I thought it was a pileated woodpecker call, because it resembles Woody Woodpecker's  Ha-ha-ha-HA-ha call...  Then real world observations interfered with my fantasy...

May 26
I'm almost done planting the garden (just some very frost sensitive dahlias and gladiolas left).   The first tomatoes and peppers I put out don't look too happy--some warm weather would be appreciated.
    In spite of the high in the lower 60's, lots of people are around for Memorial Day weekend, so sales were brisk today.  The weather was still breezy this morning, and the temperature went from 47 one hour to 57 the next...

May 27
    We're trying to start a little garden at our church at Priest Lake, on a plot of land that must have once been a beach in glacial times--pure sand...  We were hoping a neighbor would bring over some front loader loads of horse manure, but today we took it on ourselves to haul it over in a number of 6 gallon buckets and our van...  We put out a row of tomatoes, and only now on reflection do I recall several church members mentioning how it frosted the previous night...  Indeed, the snow was prominent on the surrounding heights...  Well, little ventured, little lost...
    I also provided an hour and a half of music at a gallery there that sells my pottery.  There was a steady flow of traffic in and out, and a number of vendors in kiosks outside, where I played.   It was  the kind of performance that is only slightly better than a practice at home, but it was still a performance...

May 29
    It was the kind of day where we moved around furniture all morning before I got started doing pottery...  Then a preschool neighbor came over and I offered to make cookies with him.  I got out the Spritz press, but decided to do the recipe freestyle.  He had fun squeezing out the cookies by turning the handle on the press, and they looked good going in the oven, but I forgot that this recipe doesn't use any baking soda so as to retain the shape in cooking, so they call came out blobs (but tasty blobs) of sugar cookie...
    Sales and orders continue brisk in the pottery, and I worked all afternoon  to get back on schedule...

May 31
    My son and daughter-in-law are coming to visit, so we're using this as an opportunity to do stuff like clean, and finish some rock grouting projects...  It's amazing the places spiderwebs cover--I ended up wet mopping the ceiling of the pottery house (which is all wood, and easier to clean than the sprayed popcorn type ceilings...)  
    In the pottery business, I glazed two kilnloads this morning, and threw 12 extra large bowls, since nearly all the large bowls have sold in the last couple weeks.

  
Books read and other media of note:  (unless otherwise noted, books are free Kindle books)
Police your Planet by Lester Del Rey  An odd mixture of a police attempt to clean up dirty politics on Mars, with a hard nosed hero that would have to be played by James Cagney or Humphrey Bogart in a movie.  It was difficult to keep the good guys and bad guys clear, as they all had mixed motives.  And you seldom get a love subplot as gritty as this one...

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Burroughs
  I liked John Carter of Mars (may even rent the video of the royal turkey  movie), so I thought I'd try the original Burroughs hit, Tarzan.  It amazed me at its weak writing and plot that it could become such a classic. But then as a precursor to Superman, the superfit jungle man was clearly a model to American youth.  Since you probably won't bother to read this book, some fun facts include that Tarzan (the son of Lord Greystroke, who died with his wife when they were marooned on the shores of the jungle) taught himself to read and write from  his parents' books, but couldn't pronounce it so was thought incapable of speech when (by huge coincidence)  Jane and his rival and supplanter Lord Greystoke show up marooned at the same place.  His first spoken language was French.  Jane never said, "You Tarzan, me Jane," but left to return to Wisconsin before ever speaking to him.  He came to America looking for Jane, and in a few weeks time began speaking eloquent English and learned to drive a car...  And how exactly did he swing from tree to tree in the jungle canopy?

Force of Nature by C J Box (library hardcover).
 More a suspense/adventure novel than a mystery, this isn't a book to help you get to sleep at night.  I had a bit of trouble suspending disbelief about some of the motivations, or  (spoiler alert) how and why the Brueggeman character went from hightailing it to the lair to totally blindsiding Joe Pickett, but it still was an exciting bit of fiction.

Movie: The Avengers (2012)  A tour-de-force for Joss Whedon, great fun for us fans!  Takes itself seriously enough, but not too seriously...



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