I went back to Minnesota for a family wedding. In my spare time
I walked around and enjoyed the Fall colors, which they take seriously
enough to have a colorful map guide to the Fall colors on their tv
weather programs. We have maples around here, but not the oaks
which turn the pretty red color. I was too early for the oaks,
but enjoyed the maples... And here's another one from Carleton at
weather was excellent, and the wedding went well, but I proved a less
than professional photographer at the wedding when I forgot my spare
camera battery and the power died before the wedding started...
Ahh, well, I prefer nature photography anyway...
I had a bisque kiln load waiting to be glazed when I got home, and
since I'm enthused about the lilac/purple test I came up with 4 related
variations (plus the original as a control) , and mixed them this
morning. Then I tried all the combinations, up to 3 at once, so I
got 24 glaze tests, which I should get to see tomorrow. From the
other set of tests I know this purple color is tempermental--it only
showed up on the one test, none of the hybrids, so it's possible most
of them will be failures. It sprinkled and was
cool all day today. When I pulled a couple carrots for supper the
moisture had only penetrated the very top layer of the ground... The
compacting on the road work on Maine St. was shaking the whole
pottery building enough that the pots were jingling
sometimes--put me in mind of an earthquake (which I've fortunately
never experienced). The rumor is they're ahead of schedule (the
Nov. 1st due date).
My prediction on the tiles was dead wrong--they all came out purple,
and pretty much the same. There were a couple that were smoother,
which is what I was trying for. This evening I was going to use
my glaze program to make a bigger batch. I took a last look at
the limit analysis of the glaze, and realized that there was no alumina
in the glaze. Most glazes consist of silica (to make glass), a
flux (to help it melt), and alumina (for hardness and to help it adhere
when applied). So these glazes looked good, but I'm going to do
one more set to see if I can add some alumina (clay). One source I
checked online said that Cobalt without alumina turns pink, so it could
be the glaze has to be alumina free to get the purple shade. The
next kiln firing should tell. I got asked
today when we pick our tomatoes. The answer I gave is "before the
hard frost." We haven't had a hard frost yet, but after some
consultation we decided to pick the tomatoes today anyway, due to the
wet weather and the way our tomatoes just lay on the ground,
susceptible to slugs and other pests like our old hen. Perhaps
next year we'll finally buy some tomato cages to keep them higher...
This time feels very transitional to winter, and the garden is rapidly
heading towards closure, but there is still broccoli, cabbage, corn,
potatoes, and carrots to eat fresh, as well as the first apples
and pears. We had broccoli quiche and apple pie for supper,
enjoying the oven heat (and some wood stove heat as well, with the
highs in the lower 50's these days...
I threw about 90 pots today, which will keep me busy tomorrow. I also
put what is hopefully the last purple glaze test in a kiln that will
empty tomorrow as well. When I looked out at the
street construction this morning, half of the curbing had gone in
without my noticing. So I walked to the Post Office this noon and
saw the big machine that digs a trench for the curb footing, then
squeezes the concrete through an L shaped chute to make the curb
without any forms. For curves a piece of plastic pipe bent to
shape was used to show the machine where to go. As another
lollygagger remarked to me, "that machine put a lot of cement masons
out of work..." That is a problem of our age--particularly as
robots take over more assembly line work. I enjoyed watching the
Jetsons as a child--with Robot maid Rosy and George just having one
button to push at work. Unfortunately most SF portrayed robots as
personal servants, when their real (and displacing) role is in the
general labor pool. Watson the computer has been hired to help
insurance companies determine most cost effective treatment strategies.
It won't be long before something like it replaces most
diagnostic physicians as well.
Besides trimming the 90 pots of yesterday, I mixed a 5 kilogram batch
of the new purple glaze, and tried some decoration variations on mugs
which I'll see either Sunday night or Monday. Adding a glaze is
momentous--I had to demote one of my oldest glazes to a bottom shelf to
make room for the new one. The bucket I used for it had been used
for a yellow crystalline glaze which got so troublesome I had to quit
it. Currently the blue crystalline is also acting up by
overfiring too easily so I plan on doing some tests with it next...
In the afternoon we dug our potatoes--9 fruit boxes. After supper
we canned 14 quarts of pears from our trees. So it was a long
October 9 Here
are some mugs--the purple doesn't show as well in digital photos, and I
was trying variations with my other glazes to see what would make a
the blue and black glazes work well with it, although the black was too
overpowering on the left... I typically use white glazes stripes
for a lighter version of the same glaze, but in this instance I think
the second from the left (with crystalline blue stripes) looks better
than the next one with white stripes. Anyway, it's something new
to play with...
It rained drizzly today, while the new streetlight base was installed
in front of the shop, and they worked on getting the street smooth and
compacted enough for paving. All of Maine St. will rejoice when the
project is finished, hopefully by the end of the month.
I've been working on orders again--one pot order will inspire me to
make a bunch of whatevers, including lamp bases and utensil holders
today. It's been cool enough that I had to
start heating the pottery to get the pots dried, and a morning fire in
the house is needed to keep the place comfortable.
This afternoon I'd decided to go to Spokane for a musical jam.
We're trying to finish a few remodeling projects at our house,
so lately I've been monitoring the "materials" section of Craigslist
for various doors, windows, and odds and ends. So to make the 90
mile round trip more worthwhile, I went to a used lumber yard and a
wood flooring shop and got a door and some flooring I'd seen advertised
on Craigslist. Unfortunately, with all the planning for the other
things I was shopping for, I forgot my musical instrument at home, so
just had to come home after shopping. I guess it could have been
worse--forgotten the instrument with no other purpose for the trip...
I heard a quote from China yesterday on NPR, from a young woman
on a reality show, about materialism in dating: "I'd rather cry in a BMW car than laugh on the backseat of a bicycle,"
Curiously, on Googling to get the quote right, I saw the
article in Time Magazine that cited it is a year old. I guess
news sometimes travels slowly to NPR. Anyway, the sentiment
expressed is nothing new--consider Daisy Belle...
One of the main problems about pottery supplies is that they are heavy.
There's no local clay manufacturer, so it's either pay
exhorbitant rates for a middle man, or go to Seattle. Fortunately
we have good friends with a large truck, and they just came through,
picking up 3000 lbs of pottery supplies. Besides all of us
helping to move the clay to the pottery workshop, later today I packed
pots and set up for a craft fair this weekend at Ferris HS in Spokane.
My back is feeling a bit beat up, but there's a sense of
accomplishment. We also walked around the Millpond with our friends, and saw some of the large geese flocks migrating...
We had light frost again yesterday, but none this morning. The
leftovers in the garden, and even a couple young prune trees we just
transplanted, aer getting eaten by deer... I did get some 8 ft.
fence posts to try to improve our deer protection next Spring...
Fall art and craft shows are a hard way to make a living, particularly
with heavy stuff like pottery. I was at a large one at the
affluent South Hill side of Spokane, one of 140 vendors. I'm sure
I did relatively well (there were extenuating circumstances such as a
huge new school construction project which ate up much of the available
parking), but it's a long slow haul getting through the day...
But afterwards I went to the opening bluegrass showcase of the year (to
listen), and had an enjoyable evening of good local entertainment.
went for a long walk along the upper Lakeside trail yesterday at Priest
Lake, and the mushrooms were great again, as they were last year.
So I pasted a collage of them on a photo of the blue sky day we
had at the lake. The less showy white ones (just above this
text) looked like they were made of melted candlewax. Some of the
others were 6-8 inches across. The diversity of that area
compared to our own is humbling. Although we were walking in
grizzly bear habitat, we only saw a squirrel and a few ducks...
Here's the photo from last year--not too many repeats:
Since we've made the decision to stay at the pottery house this winter
(to save on shoveling and heating), there is extra work to make the
transition. Today, this included building another hen house.
I do remember saying some time ago about how many hen houses
we've built since we got the chicks in the first year of the
Blog--2005. At this point I've lost count. When the chicks
were first here, their coop looked like this:
Then as they grew, like this:
and this one on wheels:
know there's no picture of the one attached to the greenhouse (the
portable one settled in place) we're moving them out of for the winter,
and probably a few other variations as well. I'll probably take a
picture of the latest model when it gets done. The location is
exactly where they started as little chicks:
Of the six originals-we're down to four, plus the 5 hens and a rooster we added this Spring.
The day felt rather momentous. I made a lot of honey pots and
bowls in the pottery this morning. Then in the afternoon I
planned to finish one of the two chicken coops under construction.
Just as I started on that, I learned that we'd be getting 4 cords
of wood in a few minutes, so I ended up spending over an hour moving
wood. The four cords looked more like 3 to me, but the price was
low enough that I didn't mind too much, and the providers helped stack
the wood, which seldom happens. So then I got back to work on
the chicken house, which finished this evening. The 3 hens are
moved into it and will probably be adjusted by the morning. Then
the plan is to enlargen the coop they were in so the 5 hens and rooster
will not feel too confined (and therefore peckish). We'll also
move the one special hen down to the pottery so she can hobble around
freely... We'll then have all our "eggs" in one basket....
Both the wood and the hen quarters are preparations for winter.
The cooler nights and days are pressing on us with final food
chores (such as the carrots and apples still to be harvested),
winterizing projects, and other remodeling which will involve
leaving the house wide open (such as installing a new door and window).
And it is this preparation for winter, as for a long battle, that
makes this day of 4 cords of wood seem momentous.
I also got rid of a futon couch we'd acquired for free several years
ago at the closing of a yard sale. It was an ad in the "free"
category of Craigslist that brought someone immediately from Cheney
Washington to get it (about 60 miles from here). It was also an
ad from Craigslist that yielded the firewood from someone right here in
Spirit Lake. Hard not to like Craigslist... For me it's
mostly supplanted Ebay, which I was fond of for a few years.
Amazon.com also has replaced Ebay, since they list used items as
well, and generally at the same price as "buy it now" prices on Ebay.
October 20 We
were working on Coop 2 today when we heard a sound like a squeeky
bicycle and a hawk came down with another screeching bird in its
talons, landing about half a block away. It was late in the day
and cloudy, so the pictures came out grainy, but you can see the sharp
upturned beak of the soon-to-be supper, and the hawk deciding if I were
a threat. After the photo the hawk flew to the top of a telephone
pole to finish eating...
Another afternoon and the chicken palaces should be done for a while...
Well, the coop's not totally done, but we moved the chickens in today,
in the rain. A funny thing about that rain--we'd had showers
around noon, then the sky cleared and it seemed the rains were over.
As we went for a walk near sunset, we remarked on how nice it was
now, with just a few poofy clouds. We walked up on the ridge, and
as we started back, I saw the first flash of lightning, not even sure
that's what it was. When the thunder came after 20 seconds, that
confirmed it. Then as we walked, we tried to look for the
lightning flashes while making a point of getting off the exposed
ridge. The storm quickly moved in, just one dark cloud, with
mostly cloud-to-cloud lightning, one flash every minute. It was a
very nice little thunderstorm, excluding the rain, which we were
totally unprepared for, and which got us soaked on the walk home.
Since we were wet anyway, we decided to move the chickens before
changing into dry clothes. So now all our chickens (except the
one special one) are at the pottery, where we have no near neighbors
who might object to our rooster (except me, perhaps, early in the
Although we've had light frosts, our pole beans and dahlias have not
yet succumbed. But with a predicted low the next two nights of 23
F, today was the day to gear up for the end of the season.
Picking apples was the first priority. For the record,
there were 10 boxes of red delicious, 5 of golden delicious, and one or
two boxes of other fall apples (in addition to 3-4 boxes of summer
apples earlier picked). Being organically grown, probably 40 % of
the apples had codling moth holes, but previous experience has shown
that they still store well, and usually half the apple or more is still
usable. We've already been cutting them up to cook with oatmeal
for breakfast, although fresh pears are still available as well.
The only things left to harvest are the carrots,
which will hopefully handle this cold snap without too much damage...
I got the final chicken coop 95% done today, with a glassed in
enclosure where the nesting box and roost are so they can enjoy any
sunshine we have this winter. There is a big door to the inner
enclosure for me to enter by, and a little one always open just for the
chickens. But I was worried that, chickens not being particularly
bright, they might not notice their door and roost outside for the
night. So I went out with a flashlight and found all the hens in
the enclosure, but the rooster roosting on top of the outer fence
(where it could easily "fly the coop" from). I'm not sure if he
was too stupid, or if it was some rooster protective location theory
known only to roosters... I just hope he figures out to fly back
in to the coop in the morning.
friend of ours expressed an interest in seeing the Roman Nose lakes,
but we couldn't do it till this last Wednesday, and the weather had
turned to hovering within 10 degrees of freezing. So we dressed
fairly warmly, and drove up there, encountering snow on the road for
the last 20 minutes of the drive. Part of our goal was to see
the tamaracks (larches) when they turn golden before losing their
needles, which we saw plenty of as the photo shows. Besides being
lovely, tamarack is the premium firewood of the area. With the
subfreezing temperatures and the trail partially coated in ice, we
didn't make it to any but the first of the lakes, which was nearly
covered with ice. After we got back near
Bonners Ferry, we drove the auto loop through the national wildlife
refuge (a misnomer, since they allow hunting on 40% of it). We
saw a roughlegged hawk, some coots, and 4 otters, but the
lighting was poor, as were the resulting photos, except maybe this bald
Yesterday I made a trip to Spokane to practice music, and to make the
trip worthwhile I also picked up our old Craftsman push lawnmower, in
for sharpening, and most of a birch tree donated by our friend who'd
gone on the walk with us. I also walked around Riverpark square
at sunset, and took a short video of a Mallard pursuing a wily acorn. Meanwhile
I glazed two bisque loads of pottery yesterday, and started thowing
again to have a good supply of pots for the two weekends following this
one, which should be busy selling pots.
With nights getting down in the lower 20's, it was time to dig most of
our carrots. We had so many last year that this year I planted
only two rows. I dug about 3/4 of them, and got a full feed bag
of carrots that look like you'd get them from a store, and most of a
bag of multirooted, crooked, and otherwise weird "number 2's."
Also, we noticed the other day that there were some piles of feathers
in places in our yard where our one special hen didn't usually go, and
we think it signs of "fowl" play. Once the leaves dropped from
our grape arbor she was in plain sight when roosting, and we expect
something got her. She could barely walk any more--a poster chicken for
the ones the predators are supposed to cull out of the flock...
Because of her tameness I was thinking she was the best chicken
we ever had. (Then the "wag" part of my nature responds--"so how
did it taste?") Not that we would have eaten her, but something
It was a drizzly Sunday, but with colder weather soon in the forecast,
it was time to dig the dahlias. This photo was from earlier in
October, when they stood taller than I in a huge mass in our garden.
Today they were withered fallen-over stalks. They aren't
frost hardy, so we dug up the root balls, which consisted of short
stems and yam-like tubers radiating out in all directions. Each
clump is about the size of a Jack-o-lantern. We put them in boxes
and hauled them to the pottery packing room, where it's warm and dry
from kiln firing heat. When drier, they will be put in the root
cellar until Spring.
Books read and other media of note
Now wait for last Year by Philip K Dick Just
when you think you know what Dick is writing about, the plot takes a
twist and it's a whole new ballgame. This fine novel combines
domestic untranquillity, organ transplants, time shifting
hallucinogens, and alternate universes fending off an alien invasion.
Yet it's not (as of this time) listed on the Dick Wikipedia
page... Tch Tch... Doctor Bloodmoney by Philip K Dick
This book seems an allegorical follow up to Dr. Strangelove (written in
the same period). Nuclear armageddon was only a side plot device
for the interesting mutations that might develop among the remaining
survivors of the blast. Fletch and the Widow Bradley by Gregory McDonald. The
mystery solving investigative reporter was given a new hip
interpretation in this series from the last century, which I find worth
rereading whenever I've forgotten the plot, which is getting quicker
with age... Cold Wind by C. J. Box
Taking the hottest trend in alternative energy, wind power, as a
setting for another Wyoming game warden murder mystery, Box
successfully keeps the reader off balance to the end.