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October 2

    The pleasant weather has continued.  We attended a fundraiser for a Catholic charity that provides support for single mothers last night.  It was a very nice event, but also coincidentally provides me with a bit of fodder for a Phil Steen video I'm contemplating on fund raising
    While installing the display of pottery at the Coeur D'Alene library the other day, I saw a new hardback book on the life and times of Scrooge McDuck.  As a child I had a subscription for a couple years to Uncle Scrooge comics, and only later did I learn they are regarded as classics due to their cartoonist, Carl Barks.  One glance at the book told me these were more modern (by their shading in the backgrounds, unknown in the 60's).  But I got the book anyway, and was delighted to find that in the 90's, the comic franchise was still going, although mostly marketing to Europe.  A skilled cartoonist took Carl Barks stories as his Bible for making an authoritative biography of the fabulously stingy duck, using stories and incidents from some of the comics I still possess from the series.   These newer comics are now being reprinted in book form, due to the rising popularity of "graphic novels" which are essentially book length cartoons.  I've also been getting (mostly as gifts from my son) book collections of Little Lulu  comics, reprinted by Dark Horse Press, lacking the color of the original comics, but containing all the comic genius.  I still enjoy reading them--I guess I never did grow up...

October 3

mushrooms of Boundary County Idaho

    After church up by Priest Lake today, we took a drive up the east side as far as Lionhead State Park.  Just before arriving there, we saw a little turnout for Moose Lake, so we took it.  We'd already noticed the mushrooms all over along the highway, resulting from their heavy rains recently.  Moose Lake is vastly overnamed--it's the small pond in the middle of the photo, which we walked around in a few minutes.   It's the photos of the mushrooms which I pasted around the outside  that made the trip worth while.   They were in colors from red to blue, and we'd never seen so many in one day...  I don't know the names of many mushrooms--and if I did they'd probably be Latin and rather boring--but as artwork they're tremendous--faux fall flowers...

October 4
    I filled every ware board in the pottery, mostly because I didn't get a couple firings done last weekend, being gone during vital parts of the day or evening...  So I fired two bisques today, and will have lots of pots to glaze tomorrow, and empty ware boards after that.  
    In the afternoon I pressure canned 14 quarts of tomato puree, using our 50 year old canner, but modern processing times.  When we started canning tomatoes, we met an elderly lady in her 80's who canned tomatoes by boiling them and  putting them in jars and screwing on the lids--no boiling water bath canner for her!   It could be that the older varieties of tomato were acidic enough to do that, but we stuck with canning them in a canner which was a major purchase for us at the time, and which we gave our kids baths in when babies as well...  The canner developed a flaw in the enamel and started to leak at the bottom.  Thinking about how in boy scouts I learned you could boil water over a fire in a paper cup, I sealed the leak up with epoxy cement.  It has never leaked to this day, so the theory was sound.
    But canning theory has evolved, and pressure canning is recommended for tomatoes now.  Some yard sale or other along the way we got this old aluminum pressure canner, with instructions for use with coal or wood stoves in addition to electric...  The rubber seal is still pliable and functional, the main thing that might doom the canner, besides a clogged pressure valve, which might doom me...

October 5
    I forgot to give the timer for the second kiln enough hours to complete the process, so I had to refire it today, slowing down my glazing schedule.  In the afternoon I went into town shopping for things including wood to make some new shelves for craft fairs.  The old ones required screwing together with a cordless drill, and took TIME, always crucial when setting up for a show.  The new design, common with potters at fairs, resembles two ladders hinged to each other, folding out to make a tripod to support one end of a display board.  I got one built today, mostly salvaging from the previous supports.  I have to make 5 more in the next couple days.

October 6
    Another very nice warm day, spent working...  Hmm, I see the problem...
    While it would be good to goof off on days such as these, I was working on the shelves again.  Then we got a call that our last cord of wood would be arriving shortly, which needs to pass through the very part of the garage I was working on shelves.  So I moved saws and tools  out of the way, and helped unload the pickup load of wood, filling the center of the garage.   Then I had to stack enough of it so I could resume work on the shelves.
    By 6 I was tired, and suggested hot dogs on our backyard campfire for supper.  After supper the neighbors came over and we roasted marshmallows and sang a few children's songs, so I guess there was a bit of goofing off after all.

October 7
    Today was a great day to work, since it drizzled continually.  I mixed glaze, fired two glaze kilns, and finished the shelves for the craft fair, and packed everything ready to leave early on the morrow.  
    I've been thinking about how my little business is a little speck floating on the larger economy.  Last month the stock market defied expectations and rose significantly.  Usually Septembers are a major slowdown from August, but this one was very good for pottery sales.  I'd prefer not to be subject to the vagaries of the stock market, but everyone is somehow tied to it.  The boom -bust cycle which goes back a long ways, mimics the life-death cycle of hunter and prey, or winter and summer.  I wish economists could do enough prescribing to keep the troughs higher and the crazy manic peaks lower (like gold prices currently), but its obvious no one is really controlling the world economy, some are just bigger specks floating on it, able to make a few waves...

October 8
    The bazaar in Sandpoint was a bit of a surprise--We were told we'd get  10 X 10 foot spaces, although I had my doubts when they sent a map that had circles instead of squares on it.  As it was, it was lucky the next booth had 6 foot tables.  Mine were 8 feet, and abutted those tables.  The actual space was close to 6 X 8 feet, which would be 1/4 of the advertised area.   It didn't really make any difference in the end--except I'd sometimes have to crawl under my shelves to get out.  Sales were modest, but acceptable.  The community center is a lovely old log building with white chinking between the dark stained logs.  There was great food provided by local Mennonites (I only had a raised donut, but the pies and soup looked good).
   
October 9
    Sales at home topped the sales at the bazaar today, but the bazaar was still reasonable.  It's just a lot of effort to do these shows, particularly if not driven to it by need...
    I stayed home and picked tomatoes and prunes and watched football.   I did also fire a couple kilns, since the pots are pretty well backed up...  The weather was in the 60's and verging on moist, with a moister forecast followed by a solid frost on Monday.   It's time for frost, but our grapes would like  another week or two...

October 12
    The frost finally hit last night.  We gathered boxes of ripening and green tomatoes.  The frost was light enough to spare our dahlias, with luck for another week.  Our grapes need a couple weeks without a hard frost.
    Over the weekend we went to the symphony--one of Bach's Brandenburg concertos started it, and the Firebird ended it, and I slept through Prokofiev's highly chaotic piece.  One of the reasons I'm reluctant to go listen to the symphony is that a lot of it affects me that way.  There are a lot of classical pieces I'm very fond of (probably the same ones they get tired of playing so they avoid).  And there's nothing to beat the dedication of classical musicians, who practice hours every day, compared to my own playing around for an hour or two per week.
    We got another cord of wood yesterday--we guessed we had enough, but the wood supplier called with another load, so we took it.   It's better to be safe than sorry with wood supplies.  We're also shopping for a new fireplace insert for the blue cabin, to improve the heating efficiency.

October 13
    I got the new Phil Steen video up on fundraising  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcigTz7RfKE   I made the video in one take--Moby the cat is a totally instinctive actor--can always tell where the action is (I changed his name in the video to protect his identity).
This morning I made mugs and creamers and chip and dips.  This afternoon I visited the chiropractor again for a sore back, and arranged for the purchase of the wood insert.  This evening Jonathan and I practiced for the bluegrass showcase this Saturday.  Full day...

October 14
    It was meeting day again--3 of them.  Two were local Chamber and Maine St. redevelopment meetings--new sidewalks, lights, benches, trees for Maine St. if we get the grant...  The other was the potter's group--vital planning for our upcoming yearly sale, with only 3 in attendance...  But the basic work got done...
    I also picked up an antique kiln that a Silver Valley Lion's club wanted rid of.  It's missing chunks of kiln brick and is seriously old, and I'm not sure how best to get rid of it, besides the free listings on Craigslist.  I'll take a photo and give the potter's group first crack at it.
    It was a nice day outside, but I spent the morning assembling pots, and the rest of the day and evening in meetings.  That's more tolerable in January.

 Oct. 15
    I was loading a bisque kiln today when I noticed the dozen batter bowls I'd made earlier this week didn't have handles on them.  A senior moment...  I might be more successful if I stuck to one thing, like potting, but I like to have a lot of irons in the fire (not sure whether for branding or ironing)... So today I had web page work for both the pottery group and the folklore society, whose events are on successive weekends in November.  I worked on finishing the window I started a week or two ago.  And I may watch football or can tomatoes tonight...  (I wonder which one will win...)

Oct 17
    No tomatoes canned yet...  We had a nice performance at the bluegrass showcase Saturday.  It was a little chaotic at the start, since the school was locked until shortly before I got there due to a scheduling mixup, and we were scheduled to go first, but they opened a school room for warm up so we wouldn't have to do that in the hall..   The rest of the evening's entertainment were fun to watch as well, including a group with 3 under-15 year old top fiddlers...
    On Sunday we did church at Priest Lake again, and came home in mid afternoon, taking advantage of the cool but bright day for a hike.   We started hearing a grating call, and then a flock of these birds came right by us...
Clark's nutcracker
At first I thought they were Canadian Jays, but then recalled one time seeing a Clark's nutcracker at the top of our pine tree, many years ago.  So here was a flock, and this was my best photo.  They have a really obnoxious call, like a crow but more gravelly...

Oct 18
   With the hard frosts, we cleared our grapes and apples away, leaving only the potatoes, squash, and carrots to harvest.  So we let the chickens loose today.  Before long they found the only thing they could bother--our strawberry bed--where they rooted around a lot.  That's chickens for you.
    In the afternoon I worked on making a couple outside water faucets so they would drain outside the house and not freeze.  I got about half way done before I had to quit for Monday Night Football.

Oct. 19
    I finished the plumbing, including removing a sink in our garage that we never used.  I made about 60 pots this morning--there's a good chance I'll run out of clay before a scheduled trip to Seattle next month--I guess that will be a forced vacation...
    A local business owner brought me a sample of some broken pottery found near her store this morning.   I knew it to be some goblets that had S cracks in the middle of them, making them "Third Quality," which I might otherwise just trash, but figure people might find a use for such pots priced at $0.00...  So a few little boys on bikes showed up a while ago, wondering what we had that's free.  That day one of them said he wanted to get something for his mother's birthday, so I picked a pot off the second table that hadn't been selling, and gave him that one.  The problem is, it's kind of like feeding cats tuna--they always want more, and can get pretty obnoxious about it.  The kids were back twice since then, and last night I gave them the goblets, which became litter...   Our pottery display is easy pickings for shop lifting, vandalism, etc., and young kids have historically represented the biggest threat of that, so it's hard to strike a balance between being nice to kids that wander by, and making it clear to them that we're a business, not a free for all.

Oct. 20
    I was trying to get a lot of stuff done before leaving for a trip to Minnesota.  I took care of yesterday's pots, but left a kilnload to glaze upon return.  I pressure canned 11 quarts of tomatoes. I spent time dithering about choices about the insert stove that we're getting for the cabin.  I still need to pack.

October 27
Lake Chelan aerial view
In that odd way of airway ticketing, I started flying east to Minneapolis by flying west to Seattle in a smaller commuter plane.  It was a clear day, and I always enjoy looking out the window, guessing at landforms and cities.  We flew right over this lake, which I used to live by, 55 mile long Lake Chelan in the Cascade mountains of Washington State.  The towns of Chelan and Manson are on it, and the prominent point towards the middle bottom is Wapato Point, housing a reservation casino.  I couldn't see the orchard area where we used to live, farther up and around the bend...
    I had a good visit with family in Northfield.  My son and his wife joined us for the weekend from the Chicago area.  We walked along the now sedate river where several weeks before it had flooded my brother's and several other's businesses, and the Carleton college athletic center and stadium.  The day after I left to return home a record wind storm swept  the multi- state area,  sparing Northfield for the most part, where my family lives, but causing a lot of other damage in other areas.    The sedate college town of Northfield used to have an unofficial motto of "the town of cows, colleges, and contentment."  In recent years, they had hailstones large enough to destroy every roof and car exposed to it, and have had several floods at various times of the year.  So I suggested their new motto should be "Cows, colleges, and catastrophes."

Oct. 28
The day after I returned from Minnesota I got interviewed for a newspaper article which is mostly supposed to promote our upcoming pottery sale.  The reporter asked that I write a statement about my "art."  So this is what I wrote:

I make pots in an ancient method that was displaced by the industrial revolution--hand thrown on a potter's wheel.  Every pot is slightly different--every lid must be trimmed to fit--every glaze decoration comes out slightly differently.  The pots are made by hands for hands. The handles are formed to the exact shape that is most comfortable to thumb and fingers, since it the hand's shape that determines it.  
    Because they are made by hand, rather than by machines that can churn out thousands, the results are valued for their scarcity as art if they look and function well enough,   Making things out of clay appeals to our base instincts--the mudpie of childhood, slightly grown up.  People often comment on how therapeutic making pottery is.  I don't disagree with them in theory, but if it's therapeutic I must be the best adjusted person on the planet, having made 100,000 pots over 35 years.  Unfortunately it's not guaranteed therapy--I've still got my issues ;-)
    I'm in a group of clay people (CAGNI), all of them in it for love--some of them like me actually making some money from their avocation.  All of them are capable of taking a piece of dirt and making something that can touch a person's heart.
    I'm also a musician, a cook, a gardener, photographer, and a writer, and in all those endeavors it's the same thing--taking something commonplace, and making it something beautiful, something that does touch the heart.  I prefer to sell my pots where there is a positive feeling, including the setting and the entertainment, such as Art on the Green, or the upcoming Fall Folk Festival at Spokane Community College, or the CAGNI Mud and Spirits sale at the Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center, where both my potter and my musical friends and myself reach out to connect and share themselves with the people who come.
    I can't design and build  the clever next generation cell phone--teams of very smart people have to do that.  But I can make a mug you will want to hold while you talk on your phone, or a platter you might send off a picture of on your cell phone  to a relative or friend.  Like the cell phone design, my pots are evolving--changing  over the years.  I develop a new glaze, which leads to a new line of decoration.  A customer suggests I make a beer butt chicken cooker, and after figuring out a process to make them that doesn't result in half of them breaking in the firing, I have a new hot item my customers enjoy sharing with their family and friends at Christmas.
    One often hears that hardly anything is made in the US anymore, and for many consumer items that seems true.  But there is a push back to that, which has become popular, of buying locally grown and produced goods, which is good for reducing environmental costs as well as improving quality.  This is true of locally made pottery as well.

Oct. 29
    It's rained over an inch in the last week, plus a half inch today, making yard work not likely...   But there is inside work related to the garden, such as making grape juice from our 3 gallons of grapes, or sorting through the ripening tomatoes.  I also used a few of the tomatoes to make beef stew from some leftover steak.
    I finally finished the window installation today--we've had some potted plants looking forward to it.

Oct. 30
    It only misted instead of raining today, so I harvested carrots--6 feed bags full, leaving about 1/3 in the ground to harvest in Winter or Spring.
This evening we went to see Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.  As they mentioned there was a reason the early Warner cartoons were called Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes--music and animation were a great combination.  So the Spokane Symphony played the arrangements made for a number of Bugs Bunny and other Warner cartoons, which sounded a lot better than it ever did coming out of a TV screen.

Oct. 31
    It rained over night and into the morning, but mostly cleared off to make a nice night for Trick or treating.
We walked up into the ridge this afternoon--it's very mushroomy here, but less diversity than the mushrooms of Priest Lake.


Books read and other media of note
Open Season by C J Box  The first Joe Pickett, Wyoming Game and Fish man.  Gripping suspense more than mystery, but well plotted and written.  I like the rural setting.

Changes by Jim Butcher
 I'm not sure if this one was the author tiring of some of his characters like A.Conan Doyle did with Sherlock, but it was definitely a shake up in the line up.  As usual the action and suspense were great.

Body Work by Sara Paretsky.  
It's been a long run for the V I Warshawsky detective series.  It started before the age of cell phones, and now has texting and lots of computer stuff and avantgarde art as its backdrop, as well as the Middle East conflicts.  I think I prefer some of the earlier ones, but they're all worth reading.

Scarface by Andre Norton (1948)  
Before she became a grand master of Sci Fi, Andre dabbled in other formats, such as this pirate yarn, quite conventional, along the lines of Captain Blood.

Adventures of a Cat Whiskered Girl by Daniel Pinkwater
Aside from his predictable fixation with food, Daniel's mind wanders far in his imaginative novels, particularly this series beginning with the Neddiad and the Yggysey.  It's a very interesting universe, seldom truly scary, but genuinely weird.

Star Island by Carl Hiassen  
He revives a couple of major character from previous books, both wackos--one an environmental extremist--the other a weed wacker wielding psychopath, and  combines them with a sort of Prisoner of Zenda story for the current age, focusing on a pop starlet and her double.   It was hard to find a sympathetic character in the mess--there were a lot of ironically funny lines, but the story was bleak.

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher
More a mystery than most of the series--who killed one of the White Council, and why?

Nowhere to Run by C.J. Box  
A new author for me--an Edgar mystery winner.  I don't like it when the police detective goes into a dangerous scene with no backup--not realistic.  But in the Joe Pickett novels, he's a Fish and Game officer, and they actually do a lot of ticketing armed miscreants with no backup.  This is the first of the series I've read, so I didn't necessarily follow a lot of the back story, but the main story was rivetting.  It managed to catch a bit of the current Zeitgeist of political disillusionment.

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck by Don Rosa
 Uncle Scrooge rides again, but it's a young Scrooge, taking the chances he made Donald take in his elder days!  A sympathetic look at the famous tightwad...




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