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Brad's Blog

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May 2
Even if it weren't known to be the warmest early year on the planet ever, our locality has "enjoyed" the second hottest April on record.  My two inch tomatoes in the greenhouse seem totally out-classed by the 80 degree weather we're having.  I've been spending weeks spreading manure when I could have planted even the frost sensitive plants a couple weeks ago...  But today I did get some broccolis transplanted, and planted squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and the main crop of peas...  The first date of corn was planted last week. 
    The wild flowers are still running 2-3 weeks ahead of average in blooming.  The camas is about done, virgin's bower is blooming, heartleaf arnica is starting on the north side of the ridge.
    The early spring could be a harbinger of a dry summer, but rains have been falling just regularly enough to keep things green so far...
    Today with the heat the sky was clear and the mill pond still, so I could look in along the bank at the fish like in an aquarium, and saw several hundred of several species ranging up to a foot in length.   The sunfish were lazing with their dorsal fins sticking out of the water like little sharks...

May 10
We got 3/4 inch of rain earlier this week, luckier than most places in our area, keeping Spring on track instead of lurching off into fire season...  The lilacs are finishing here, as opposed to most years when they're just starting.    I visited the Spokane river at Stateline with Butters last evening and the tough leaved irises were blossoming, along with any that had ever been dumped by anyone.  We're going to have a large crop of them blooming soon.  We even dumped some of our excess irises on the edge of our property, having noted that they never die...
    I've been too busy for blogging, but did get back to take some photos of the fish in the Mill Pond:


I think this is a bass...  There were two of them, each about a foot long, 3 feet from us on the shore.  Right after this photo a fisherman came along in a boat and caught one of the two...



I also got some nice views of a red tailed hawk that flew and perched from tree to tree making it easy to get some photos..

May 11


Here's another photo of a painted turtle in the Mill Pond.  What's interesting is the way his pupils are parallel to the surface of the water...


We think this is a rough winged swallow on a powerline at the Mill Pond...

\
Flowers are easy to spot, not so easy the morel mushrooms at the base of the log. 
The one on the right was the biggest we've seen. We picked them for eating...

 
May 17
With gardening, the old year isn't over before the new one begins.  We're still eating carrots from last year, and today I sorted the last apples and made sauce and cider from the bushel and a half that remained...  Normally last year's potatoes would be the new seed, but they got scabby last year so I bought some certified seed potatoes and we're trying them in a new patch.  Those also were planted today.  Yesterday I found the first couple broccolis chewed off by deer, so  I bought some 10 foot poles today  to beef up the deer fence around our main garden...  I also baked 5 loaves of bread somewhere in there.  As Calvin says, the days are just packed...

May 21

We got over to Farragut Park today with some visiting relatives.   We saw few birds, but this small blue butterfly perched on my and on my sister-in-law's hand for a long time...

They are common around seepholes in the dirt and probably attracted to skin by the salt.  It's the inner part of the wing that's most blue, so it's mostly silver when the wings are together...
This evening we went for a walk again and saw 7 turkey vultures wheeling around each other, probably more related to mating than finding some dead animal...
We're getting light rains, with more predicted, and we'll take all we can get... 
A frost was warned of last week, but it only got down to 40 so the tarps were all unnecessary...   Still a bit of garden to plant, and orchard to thin and spray...

May 23
The weather is back to seasonal, which is cool and wet-- 0.8 inch of rain over the past couple days has reset our clock to Spring instead of heading towards Fire Season...   It's rained steadily the last two days, but very lightly.  It seems inevitable that we get such rains when the peonies are blooming and then they get waterlogged.  The irises are at their peak, as is the locust tree, which often blooms in June...

May 24
I returned to what I now know is Gateway Park at Stateline Idaho/Washington today with a camera.    It's a totally natural strip along the river with a few footpaths through it, and interesting varied wildflowers from our local environ.   Today I saw a lot of wild asparagus along the bank...

Also lots of wild onions.  Could probably make some soup from them and the asparagus...


Away from the river bank it's a dry prairie...


Here are lots of onions along the bank...


And there were lots of these spotted sandpipers along the bank.. 

May 25
We had our first strawberries from the garden today--earliest ever.    The flowers at our houses are at their peak also--


Some of the irises are 4 feet tall.  The small purple flowers are columbine, and the greenery in front is mostly oregano, which had invaded our lawn when we purchased the place (when it blooms it has nice purple flowers and attracts bees).  In the back left are the brown roots and shrubby comeback of our weeping willow tree that blew over in the big winds of last November.  Half of its roots were still attached, and it seems like it will take on a new, more hedgy shape soon...
I worked today on planting the last potatoes and green beans, transplanting celery, and trying to finish the deer fence around our main garden (back yard)



The deer have never eaten our rhododendrons, which are currently at their peak as well...


May 30
Since the area is crowded (by our standards) on Memorial Day weekend  (like the two large RV's and 10 cars next door), we headed up into the Inland Paper land to explore some of the logging roads, bringing our bikes and dog in the pickup...

This fuzzy headed herb was a new one to us..


The lupines were in full bloom and these blue beetles were all over them, mating and probably eating the flowers..  A quick google yielded no suggestions of their identity...


This was another new flower, growing in only one sandy patch that we saw,  they are small and easily overlooked except for the lovely color.


The logging roads were put in at regular intervals going up the ridge for practical purposes, but there were many stretches that yielded great views of the area.  Here is most of Spirit Lake visible at a glance, minus the Mill Pond, which was on the other side at the left end of the ridge...


This is the view looking east from the ridge to the town of Spirit Lake, then with Silverwood and parts of Athol and the Cabinet mountains on the east side of Lake Pend O'Reille.   Being longtime residents, seeing the layout from a couple thousand feet higher is always interesting...  The big brown patch near the middle is a new set of soccer and other ball fields going in at Volunteer Park.
On the way down the ridge we saw an elk cow and her calf on the road...

May 31

I started the month with a fish photo, and today the Mill Pond was calm enough to see the fish again, so:

I think it's a bass and a sunfish locally known as a pumpkin seed...
 
Books read and other media of note
Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard.  No one is more deft at handling cool dialogue, plot twists, and complex characters.   Like the seedy pseudonym of Donald Westlake (Richard Stark), this focuses on the bad guys rather than the good, but either direction it's a fun ride, and there's always a bit of  yin in the yang...

Once a crooked Man by David McCallum.  From the Wikipedia article, apparently I wasn't the only one who thought Illya Kurakin was way cooler than stuffy Napoleon Solo, but that's the past.  Now I wish when I'm 82 I could write as ripsnorting and sexy a thriller as David McCallum has for a first novel.   And the guy is a musician too.  Sigh.

Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt   Good suspense, good humor, good plot, good pageturner...

Brush Back by Sara Paretsky  I've read most of Paretsky's work, and spent the first half of the novel admiring the realistic back story and world she created for V.I. and the clever way of using baseball terminology for each tractor.  But (spoiler alert) I felt like the plot fell together in such a way that I wouldn't have been surprised if Zaphod Beeblebrox and the Heart of Gold also showed up at Wrigley Field at the same time.  





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