September 2, 2010
My son and I went to see Bob Dylan last night. I've always
admired him as a songwriter from my first picking up a guitar.
Unfortunately, his voice seemed pretty shot last night, and he
did more speaking his songs than singing them, reminding me of Rod
McKuen back in the day. He mostly played keyboards, but he also
played harmonica last night, but seemed to mostly play very simple
riffs, one solo consisting of 3 notes repeated... The first part
of the concert was John Mellencamp, who had a much tighter band and
performance, and was in good vocal form as well. People started
trickling out after about half of Dylan's set. I made a mental
note to check out what musicians sound like today before going to one
of their concerts. I will say that I was surprised to see a half
dozen people I knew in the area we sat, including a neighbor from
Spirit Lake and some people who had Sondahl and Hawkins play for a
party at their house this spring. The weather is doing a slight reprise of summer before returning to cool fall...
We went down to the woods to get 10 teepee poles for the Labor Day
celebration in the park, for a teepee as part of the historical
reenactors. Getting the poles was the limit of our involvement.
Our friend from the Silver Valley brought us his annual gift of a cord
of wood--buckskin tamarack--which is local parlance for Western Larch
which has shed its bark from being long dead. It's the best wood
available in our area., except (according to Pat) for black
locust, which is even more dense. We got the truck unloaded, and now
there's a pile waiting to be stacked into its 4 X 4 X 8 foot cord.
Today the high was in the 80s, which is less conducive to wood stacking
than the predicted high in the 60's which we'll have in several days.
Also I'm trying to give away on Craigslist a functional refrigerator
from the 1950's which came with our pottery house. When I posted
it a couple weeks ago, there were several immediate responses, but none
of them came through, so it's back up. This
morning early I edited about 1/3 of the songs in the gospel kids
CD--it's sounding pretty good. Mixing is very much an art--with
3-4 instruments and voice on each selection, I just try to make sure
the lyrics are easy to comprehend and the other instruments are spaced
evenly to the left or right. Later, in the pottery I made butter dishes, colanders, and pitchers.
I spent most of my productive day today messing with CD's (well okay, 2
hours doing pottery). First thing this morning I finished editing
the remade kid's gospel CD on a laptop computer. Then I spent an
hour trying to get it from the laptop to my desktop machine. I
thought I'd use a USB memory stick, but the laptop wouldn't recognize
it. I thought I'd burn the files onto a CD, but the CD player
disappeared from the Windows Explorer universe. I finally did
succeed with a different memory stick. I spent the late afternoon
making CD's and printing the covers and CD's themselves. I plan
to make a webpage with details on the CD soon.
It's also Labor Day weekend, with entertainment in parks local and
semilocal, as well as college football beginning. So I had a few
forays into those other realms today, but mostly stayed at the pottery
Oh, yes, I also got rid of our old refrigerator, which came with the
pottery when we bought it in 1982, and was old then. I put the
free giveaway ad up on Craigslist and it took about 12 hours to have
someone actually come and get it (one guy offered to meet me with it 50
miles away in Spokane). Since it would have otherwise gone to the dump,
although it still ran about as well as it had in the 1950's, it was
probably a good deal all around.
Today in many ways resembled the 4th of July, but colder and no
fireworks. We had relatives over to watch the very small Labor
Day Parade... It included a sheriff's mounted posse and 4
bagpipers as well as a couple nice cars, some kids dressed as
clowns, a few youngsters on motorbikes, and me hauling a wheelbarrow of
firewood and wishing everyone a warm winter. This parade is
billed as one of the shortest in the world, on a route of two blocks
from our pottery to the city park. When I went to join the
parade, I was told my services as musician were requested at the park,
so after the parade I immediately set up for an hour and half of music.
Following that, there was a talent show, with ventriloquist, tap
dancer, opera singer, cowboy songs, karaoke, and other varied
entertainment, which I patiently endured. Then my
son and I drove into Spokane to the same relatives who had come for the
parade, to watch the huge Boise State Virginia Tech football game, with
a nailbiting but satisfactory conclusion. Oh, yes, I did glaze and fire a kiln load this morning before the festivities. Not a bad day off...
We had our god daughter visiting with her brother and her smiley 6
month old baby yesterday. We walked down to the lake, and were
surprised to see Kokanee salmon swarming around near the dock, in
their red spawning colors. There's no stream nearby for them to
go up, so I'm not sure why they were there. I've
been making lots of pots again, trying to refill the shelves before a
wholesale buyer comes later in the month. There are also a few
orders needing completion. But I'm running low on clay, and will
probably have to run to Seattle next week to restock.
I suppose it is meetings that decide the fate of the world. I had
a potential for 3 today, opted for the pottery guild (hard to skip,
being president), and the Downtown Spirit Lake Revitalization meeting.
Neither of these will decide the fate of the world, but may
matter to me locally. The pottery meeting was to start planning
the annual sale in November, and went pretty well. The town
meeting showed the result of a $45,000 study on things to improve Maine
Street, like trees, parking bumps, more lighting, etc. They
presented 3 choices, and then we were supposed to fill out several
pages of questionnaires. Maine Street has looked better than ever
in the last 3 or 4 years--it just needs some stable retail outlets to
encourage more people to explore it, and survivable rents for the
businesses to make it through the long winters. There have been
two second hand stores to open this summer, which was good--I even
bought a vacuum for the pottery workshop there this week.
I started the morning weeding our new strawberry patch, which currently
looks like a dahlia, gladiola, and sunflower bed. We won't weed
those out till after the frost, but there were plenty of other weeds
needing to be removed. The regular garden has its share of weeds
as well, but with manure getting added every fall, getting a weed free
garden is an exercise in futility, so I only make sure the food plants
have a good head start. But the strawberry bed, being untilled for
years, must be kept low on weeds, or it will soon disappear.
That's hard to remember in the fall, when the strawberries are long
I spent the afternoon dealing with hundreds of dollars worth of orders
that have accumulated on the shelf. I was able to send a couple
off, pack one up to bring along on our upcoming trip to Colorado, so
that part of life is better in hand. I also sent off emails
related to the potters' holiday show, and have gotten some responses as
well. Both of these things were hard to deal with last month when
sales were at their busiest. Now the weather is such that staying
inside working seems a relatively nice idea... I also got a
couple more kilnloads glazed today...
our strawberry bed I weeded a couple days ago, with the dahlias and
sunflowers we planted to keep it looking nice after the strawberry
season... We can hopefully figure out a way for the birds to get
the sunflower seeds... I forgot to mention that
the other day when I went to the potter's guild meeting, there were a
series of large photos on display in the library. I was surprised
to see a nearly lifesize one of me working on the potter's wheel.
The display was "Faces of Idaho," by the guy who wrote the
article on me in the Idaho magazine last winter. (Our guild is
putting a display on for October). I cut corn off
about 60 ears of corn for freezing today. We've been eating it
daily, and still have enough left for a week or more, in addition
to having a good supply for the winter. Today
turned out to be a good day for sales, including a dinner set I made
for a wedding next week, which had shown little interest, but someone
offered to buy all the outstanding pieces...
I was about out of clay, so I made a trip to Seattle and back to get
1500 lbs today. It was 5 hours driving each way, with minimal
stoppage. I decided to visit the Seattle Aquarium with my scarce
free time (which helps make the trip worthwhile). I brought my
camera, as usual, and with the low lighting most of the photos were
extremely blurry, but this one came out pretty well:
I think it was the Hawaiian reef tank... As
a child I enjoyed keeping tropical fish, so I've always had a soft spot
for the big aquariums. They also had a few shore birds and seals
and otters, which I felt sorry for since they seem more aware of their
confinement than the fish... It was a fine day
for a 640 mile drive... It's always amazing how diverse the
environments are--an hour west of Spirit Lake is desert, then there's
the irrigated Columbia Plateau, then the Cascade mountains, which turn
into the lush green Seattle environment. There are several ups
and downs on the highway from 3000 feet to sea level in there as well.
I converted around 200 lbs. of clay into pottery today, as well as
firing two bisque kilns. That should make tomorrow a very full
day indeed. The weather was enjoyably warm, so we spent the
afternoon covering a deck with plywood, a projecct we started several
years ago. It may become a summer sleeping porch--it's always
been a bit vague, and low priority. At least now I don't have to
walk on the floor joists when getting water for the pottery workshop.
We got two cords of firewood delivered the other day, out of 5 or
so needed for our house, and 2 more for the pottery. It's still
needing to be stacked in our garage, in case you've a mind to...
And Lo, that which I spoke unto yesterday came verily true today, even
unto worketh-ing in the pottery all the day long. And I saw that
it was evening--the end of the day, and I knew not whither the day came
from, nor where it went to. And it was even a verily nice day...
I could really use a reliable order system. I do have a
program my son made for my computer to write the orders down and
note if they're shipped,and paid for. But after that I
usually bring the printed order out to the workshop, and two to three
weeks later things become a bit vague. I mention this because I
got an order for a dinner set for a wedding this weekend, and I was
surprised to learn some of the pots weren't there when I went for
them today. I'd even photographed the canisters for a special
private web page, but then I must have returned them to stock instead
of setting them aside. What I'll do in this instance is ship them
for free when ready, so I do expect things to work out okay.
In Seattle I ate at Ivar's, a seafood place on the Sound, in the fast
food part of it. There a guy took people's basic orders from one
line, called them to the cooks, and then dealt with the pick up people
at the cash register, getting their drinks and other extras. He
wouldn't be able to do that if it was 3-6 weeks between ordering and
pick up--and neither can I, at least when I get a half dozen
complicated orders, as happened last month... I
AM able to deal with things like--I'm out of chicken cookers, so I'll
make some. That's enjoyably simple... And was the case
today, as we had a good spate of shopping to contend with.
Sept 17 The sun never emerged from the clouds today, nor did it rain... It was a blah day.
Sept. 18 Another blah day, but then there was football...
It rained a lot today, which was more interesting than the last couple
days. And there was football, but the Colts trashed the Giants...
That Manning family is going to need counseling (brothers were
We've been getting our wood supply for winter. We heard through
a friend of a friend of a guy selling red fir and tamarack (best fuel
around) for $130/cord if you buy 5 or more. So we've gotten 4 and
should be getting one more later this week. Bill (the supplier)
mentioned he'd been confronted by a bear while getting our load of
wood. The bears have been hungry this year, since for some reason
it was a bad berry year. He pointed out how the bark had been
scraped off some of our wood by bears. Then he mentioned how bear
doesn't taste too good unless it's smoked, then it's like ham. I
asked if he'd seen cougars in the wild, and he said yes, and he'd eaten
cougar too. I imagined it wouldn't taste too good, but he said it
was a nice white meat and quite good. I'm happy
to leave others who like chainsaws and pickups to get our winter
fuel... I did move the cord of wood a few yards via wheelbarrow,
and I will have to split a lot of it before burning, so I still get
some exercise out of it.
We got new cell phones today, since several of ours were old enough to
be cranky. In order to deal with our carrier, we had to use about
6 different passwords. Eventually there will be digital gridlock
when suddenly no one can remember their passwords. I know I'm
about there already... The weather approached 70
and sunny, which felt great after a week of rain and clouds. But
I mostly worked inside on pottery, except for harvesting some tomatoes
The quail that wander through in coveys have a new batch of
babies--seems a bit late to be starting them--I never knew they could
have two hatchings in a year...
The good news is that I sold $1200 worth of pottery today. The
less good news is that it was wholesale, so I only get half...
And suddenly I'm missing a lot more pottery... So I worked
into the afternoon making pots. It was
cloudy and cool, but we went for a walk along the lake, enjoying the
mergansers and grebes and geese gathering for migration...
My day was quite normal, but the home of all my birth family,
Northfield, Minnesota, has taken a bad hit with a major flood, damaging
many local businesses including some owned by my family. Over
half a foot of rain fell in the area in a short time, and the river
reached record levels, closing all local bridges and flooding far and
wide. Previously the town has been at the edge of tornadoes, and
received a highly damaging dose of golf ball sized hail. Here's a link showing the high river, and the flooded Froggy Bottoms Pub owned and run by my family, just downstream from the bridge... This one shows big trees tumbling at the base of the falls..
We went to the Spokane Symphony Saturday, in fact I opted for season
tickets, but I think it was the Bugs Bunny at the Symphony scheduled
for the end of October that convinced me to do it, since I frequently
don't like the music they select. Such was the case for the first
concert-- a lot of highly perfect playing of music that didn't connect
with me. Most of what I know of classical music I did in fact
learn from Bugs Bunny and the Merrie Melodies cartoons--unfortunately
that upcoming concert wasn't part of the classical series we got.
But the next concert will have one of the Brandenburg concertos,
which I do enjoy. On Sunday the weather is back
to balmy, so I walked along the edge of the Mill Pond, looking at moose
and beaver tracks, enjoying the fine weather.
It was indeed another fine summer like day. My son headed back to
Colorado for another year of skiing (250 days this year). I made
canisters this morning, and fired a bisque and unloaded two glaze kilns.
Our garage door quit working--not the motorized part, but the cables
and springs that provide a counterweight. I wasted a lot of time
trying to fix it myself, before giving up and calling in professionals.
The door is now stuck shut, and I had two activities in mind for
this week that would really benefit from an open garage door, such as
putting in another cord of firewood, and building a bay window
enclosure. I may move my saws out into the back yard, presuming
the forecast remains rain free...
After glazing pots in the morning, and fitting lids for canisters, I
forced up the garage door about half way, and propped a sawhorse under
it, so I could work in there with enough light and breeze to make it
tolerable. Then I cut the boards and screwed them together until the
main and spare battery on my drill were exhausted, at which point I
felt tired enough to quit as well. Being such a splendid day, I
wandered out to the garden and picked a box of tomatoes, which will
need storage attention in a few days. After the rain we got a
week or so ago, a fair number of tomatoes were molding or splitting,
but there are a lot left.
I may have overextended myself a bit today for tomorrow--made about 120
pots, which will need trimming tomorrow. The garage door people
are supposed to arrive at the other house around 9, so my work at the
pottery will be delayed. I also hope to get the old window
removed and new bay window installed. And then there's Thursday
Night Football. And fabulous weather... Looks like a tough
I got through the whole program outlined yesterday, starting at 8 with
the garage door, which needed its springs rewound, and some extra bolts
added to some of the door rollers, and I was happy to have the
professional do it. Then I spent the morning dealing with the
pots thrown yesterday. In the afternoon I, with carrying help
from our friend and renter Andy, rough installed the new window.
At 5 I started watching the football game, which turned out to
have a last moment kick to determine the outcome, always a good way to
end a game if it isn't your favorite team. After the game I
picked out pots for a display at the Coeur D'Alene Library which I need
to be at by 8 tomorrow morning, so I should soon go to bed...
Books read and other media of note:
Small Favor by Jim Butcher As
this series progresses, bears of little brain like me could use a score
card, as many events and characters from earlier books are referenced,
but the basic cataclysmic struggle between good, evil, and "not sure"
continues to hold sway... The Buddy Holly Story (Film) a
very inspiring film, and even though I've known a bunch of second hand
Holly tunes, it was seeing that a local theater plans to put on the
musical version of the movie made me check it out. Then after the
movie I fact checked a bit on Wikipedia, and saw some original footage
on Youtube. He could make E A and D chords go a long ways... Burn by Nevada Barr I've enjoyed most of the Anna Pigeon novels, but this one went from deep into the severe dark. That way lies madness... Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Even though (spoiler alert) no cars are blown up (does wrecked count?),
this is still another classic Stephanie Plum story--full of madcap
hijinks and zany characters... The Tempest Tales by Walter Mosley I
guess this is in the tradition of The Screwtape Letters, or maybe It's
a Wonderful Life. In it an angel recounts his experience dealing
with an unrecalcitrant sinner, a black man mistakenly killed by the
police but refusing to accept St. Peter's judgement of his life.
I don't think Mosley intended any deep theology from this--more a
situation comedy of a black perspective on modern Christianity.
I've read many of Mosley's novels-- a fine writer, at his best
with Easy Rawlins, but always challenging.
White Night by Jim Butcher Another enjoyable vampire fight from the Dresden Files.