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Brad's Blog

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November 1

       I had another meeting related to the potter's guild show next weekend.  I'm also committed to making cookies for it, along with 30 mugs for the musicians.  It occurs to me that the sales events I like best (this one and the Fall Folk Festival) I end up giving enough in monetary and other support that they aren't really very profitable.  Oh well.  They're fun anyway.
    It rained in that steady monsoonal way today.  After the meeting I went and watched Monday Night Football and the end of the World Series and an NBA game all at once at some relatives.  How delightfully American...  I expect it was an American that invented the remote, even if we don't make them anymore...

November 2
    I forgot to mention yesterday we gathered several boxes of pears from a tree by the lake, which we've watched go ignored through the fall, until they dropped on the ground.  They were amazingly pest free winter pears, although pretty small since they were never thinned.  They do require some ripening...  
    Also a Spokesman-Review photographer came out and got some more pictures of me making pots, which makes 3 different groups of photographers this last year, more than in the 25 years previously...
    Being in charge of this group pottery sale is a bit nerve wracking--previously I've only been in charge of the music, which is fairly straightforward.  We're a small group, and some chose not to be involved this year, so we're spread thin.  Our treasurer, who is very good remembering details, has been gone for several weeks to Italy, so it's left a few questions as to who had paid to be in the show.   Just yesterday we realized we'd missed one set of exhibitors, and before I got the web page updated, I got an email from them upset because they were not included in the show (but was fortunately able to mollify them).  
    The weather was so fine and clear today, that I did some outside work besides making a hundred or so pots, and took a walk in the late afternoon, to catch the gold leaves with blue sky background.

Nov. 4
    More days of pleasant blue sky afternoons.  But I spent this one driving around getting snow rims and snow tires for our sort of new van.  It wasn't my favorite thing, but snow is possible by Monday, and we're planning a trip to the Seattle area to get more clay and visit Lopez Island, where one of our sons was born.  

Nov. 5
We're still in the act of shutting down the garden before the subfreezing cold arrives, as it's anticipated to do by Tuesday.   Today I pulled the corn stalks and cut the heads from the sunflowers and pulled them as well.   There are still a lot of potatoes, near enough to the surface to be hurt by a  severe cold snap.  We're trusting the carrots to overwinter, but don't expect so much of the potatoes.
    I used the last of my clay up making bowls and mugs today, aside from the clay needed to finish them tomorrow.  

Nov. 6
    I had a lot of pottery work today, but I also enjoy watching college football.  So I combined high tech and low tech, and put the Boise State Hawaii game on my computer, set a baby  monitor by the speakers, and listened in the pottery while glazing a couple kiln loads.  It reminded me of how my father used to like to crack walnuts while listening to Iowa State games on the radio.  (coincidentally, I later caught the last moments of Iowa State losing to Nebraska by going for two in overtime instead of just matching Nebraska's touchdown).
    It was another nice day before anticpated rain and cold, coinciding with our trip to the Puget Sound...

Nov. 11
Washington State Ferry with Mt. Baker in background

    We had a great trip over to the coast--900 miles total.   We took the North Cross State Route 20--slow driving but empty of traffic--particularly since snow was predicted and this road is closed by snow within two weeks of this time every year.  We stayed overnight in the western themed town of Winthrop, which was also on the verge of shutting down.  Early the next morning we set off through the beautiful North Cascades National Park, with snow only alongside the road.  We walked to a mountain lake, and stopped by Diablo lake for some beautiful cascade waterfalls.
    Although the weather had been predicted to be wet and cold, both days on the Puget Sound were better than advertised, as the photo taken on the day we left for home attests, of a ferry with Mt. Baker in the background.
    There were lots of waterfowl on the Sound to guess at their identification, and we also saw seals and sea otters.
Here's a photo of an otter that had just emerged with a white fish in its mouth:
Sea otter
Our friends, who invited us to their cabin, also transported two tons of clay back to Spirit Lake for us, so I'm ready to hunker down to winter pottery making, after a couple craft fairs.

Nov. 12
    I spent the morning setting up for the pottery show tomorrow, spent the afternoon unloading and loading kilns, and spent the evening making cookies for the pottery show.  I made about 170 cookies, using a system I worked out when our kids were little for making the most cookies in the shortest time.  I made gingerbread cookies and oatmeal cookies, and with 3 cookie sheets turned out a dozen every 6 minutes.  First I mixed up a large batch of dough, using lots of good ingredients and no particular amounts.  Then I would dab them on the cookie sheet, and stick the first tray on the top shelf in the oven, which is the hottest.  After 6 minutes on the timer, I would insert a second sheet on the bottom shelf.  Then in six minutes the top sheet is done, and I would remove it and move up the bottom sheet, replacing it with a fresh sheet of cookies.  A new sheet would go in and another out every 6 minutes...  I did this through the whole Boise State-- Idaho football game,  which I only got to listen to, but it was a blow out from the first plays, so I didn't miss a lot.

Nov. 13
    The Clay Arts Guild sale was a  big success, with a groundswell of support for making it two days next year.  This doubles the cost, and generally results in a weak second day of sales, so we'll see how it looks financially, since the group already supplements the funding from other fundraising...  The music, that I was in charge of was all great.  The fiddle group added about 8 step dancers, making quite a spectacle.  Two of our potters, including me, got articles in the Spokane area papers, which probably contributed a bump in attendance we might not have had otherwise.  If we settle into staying at this venue, it may become a stable annual event...

Nov. 14
    This was a cold dank day which was good for recovering from the sale yesterday...  I made a list of things to do on Monday, which has a lot of leftovers from the fair...

Nov. 16
    I'm back to throwing, dinnersets and pitchers, after glazing yesterday.  Our display is very thin in most areas, but not out of anything.  Walk in traffic has dropped off, but I'm getting quite a few orders.
    We had a mild windstorm last night, compared to farther south in Idaho and Washington where a lot of trees and powerlines went down.  We're supposed to get a series of storms this week, each one ratchetting down the temperature towards snow on the weekend (which coincides with the Fall Folk Festival, unfortunately).
    I spent an hour or two replacing the glass in a couple storm windows that blew over last year.   I recycled glass from other old windows to do it.  I'm watching for nice used wood replacement windows on Craigslist, but finding ones of a similar size is a slow process, requiring patience.

November 18
    We had our first sticking snow today.  There is still a little broccoli and spinach in the garden, soon to be frozen...
    The tomatoes keep ripening, so I made some sauce from them, simmering it on the wood stove, then on a kiln that fired yesterday.  We had it with elk burger for supper...

Nov. 19
    After our sale in Post Falls last weekend, members of our group were invited to display our work in the gallery at the art center for a month--they had the opening this evening.   It seemed to me like most of the attendees were the artists and their families, but it was still well attended.  This marked the first time since college I've had pots in an art gallery short term display...  A number of them sold.  I brought my guitar along and played it, mostly swallowed up by the conversations, but it gave me something to do, and some practice before the Folk Festival this weekend...

Nov. 21
    A big weekend at the Fall Folk Festival, as always.   Sales were up 75% from last year, the recession receding...  If I had a pedometer, I could accurately guess at how many miles I walked trying to photograph every act at the 8 different stages.   Having sampled every stage at every point, I do feel sorry for the small stage musicians, including myself, who look forward and practice fairly diligently, to only receive a very modest audience.  There was very good attendance over all, but the three larger spaces attract 80 % of the audience.  Thqat said, there are, among the sparse audience, other musicians, whose appreciation is more appreciated than that of the common throng...   It may be a couple days before I choose and edit from the 400 photos I took at the festival and get them posted online...


Nov. 22
We got about 6 inches of snow today, with cold winds and record lows on the way.  So I ignored it mostly and edited all the photos, now posted at
http://www.spokanefolklore.org/FolkFestival.html 

Nov. 23
    We're supposed to have our coldest night tonight, with a high of around 8 today, and low of -15.   It's been very dry cold, not too windy, so we've been out walking about and shoveling quite a bit.  This evening I made beef stew with our garden tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes, and apple crisp from our apples for dessert...  The stew cooked totally on the woodstove.

Nov. 24
It hardly got below zero, so I was tempted to edit out the expected low from yesterday, but that's a little too Orwellian for me.  It's definitely safer to talk about the weather in the past tense than the future, as many a weather forecaster has learned...
    Cold and snow puts one into a survival mindset--throw another couple logs on the fire and do some more shoveling. The trip into the dentist's today was fraught with sliding possibilities, with the road generally four narrow strips of mostly bare road in the chalky compact snow, but I negotiated it successfully.  
    Winter, emerging fuul grown from the head of some Greek God, with 3 storm systems predicted to hit in the next few days, does take a little adjusting to.
    Here's a link to a winter song on Youtube I wrote when I was about 20 in Minnesota, with scenes from N. Idaho...

Nov. 25
    We got another 4 inches of snow today, with a high around 24 degrees, so winter is settling in.  We drove into Spokane to celebrate Thanksgiving with relatives--the roads were mostly snow and ice covered, with average speeds of 30-40 mph.    We're thankful to have gotten home safely...

Nov. 26
    Our snow stick reads 8-10 inches, depending on which side of the stick you're looking at.  We've had well over a foot of snow, but it settles.  A fellow Maine St. businessman (Mark Kroetch) came by in a pickup with a plow and volunteered to plow our our parking lot, used by us and other Maine St
patrons for the most part.  We usually shovel by hand, pushing the snow to the side, and lifting as little as possible.  If it gets to the serious snows of two and three winters ago, we'll need snowplowing on a regular basis...
    I lifted the lid on the kiln today, and the folding support that holds up the lid pulled loose.  Then, since it put unusual stress on the hinge that holds the lid, half of the hinge popped off.  So I spent some time replacing the screws that slowly rust away with more roofing screws.

Nov. 28
    The snow stick is at 15 inches--a lot of settling takes place--it probably represents 2 feet or more of snow...   We're getting a little break before the next storm, expected on Tuesday.  Getting 4 or more inches of snow per day makes shoveling serious work--we spent probably two hours a day on shoveling, and my back was sore enough that after the last 6 inches we hired a local day laborer to help at both our places...
    I'm hoping to work on another kid's CD this week, more folky type songs than religious.  

Nov. 29
    I have one kiln looking forward to retirement, which is missing quite a few chunks of what separate the heating coils from each other.  When they touch one another, they short out, wrecking both of them.  So I bought some fire clay the last time I was at the pottery supply, and mixed it with my sloppy scrap clay so I could roll it out and cut out some shapes with coil ends that I could stick into drilled out holes in the kiln wall and get the kiln through another winter.  
    I also put myself on the email list for the pottery supplier's sales, so I can buy a new kiln when a sale comes around...  It was apparent from the amount of fixing I did today, that the kiln really does want to retire...

Nov. 30
    We got about 6 inches snow and still falling today, but the snow stick remains at 16 inches.  
Besides the pottery work today, I recorded a number of songs, including video, which I have gotten uploaded to Youtube, but the hour is too late for copying and pasting them all where appropriate, so they'll wait for the morrow...  So will the final shoveling of the day...

Books read and other media of note
Djibouti by Elmore Leonard I wish at my current age I could keep track of the plots of master storyteller Leonard, who must be getting on in years.  He managed to bottle the zeitgeist of our current era--Gulf pirates and terrorism--and make a thriller out of it.  A good share of the middle told the action from a retrospective of material to make a film documentary--an odd perspective, but it worked.

Bertie Wooster Sees it Through  by PG Wodehouse  
The titles tell nothing, and make it hard to distinguish it from the other Bertie and Jeeves tales, but then PG Wodehouse himself acknowledged he had only one plot, and like The Return of Jeeves, that plot included breaking and entering for the best purposes of love and honor...

Savage Run by C.J. Box  
Box can take an environmental theme and work it both ways, from the point of view of economically affected locals, and the larger environmental issues.  A good series set in the modern west, inspite a name that sounds more like a western bodice ripper...

The Return of Jeeves by PG Wodehouse.  
This is a rare volume in the Bertie and Jeeves series, in which Bertie makes little appearance, but Jeeves accepts the employment by a young man, esulting  with the usual breaking and entering for the best purposes of love and honor.

Robin Hood (Film 2010)
An interesting version, for someone used to the Howard Pyle/Disney archery contest stuff.  I liked it better than the Prince of Thieves version.  I really should see the Flynn/DeHavilland one sometime.  There was lots of arrow piercing sword slashing gore, but it was countered by the complex intrigue of the plot.  I was surprised to hear them reprise Women of Ireland, which was used for Barry Lyndon, which I never saw, but liked the Chieftains album made from it.



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