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