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Brad's Blog

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Sept. 1, 2012
morning glory
Morning glory which we planted to shade one side of the pottery display kiosk...

    The Labor Day weekend is another busy one--compounded by playing for Pigout in the Park in Spokane.  This is a huge local event, 3 stages with 100 bands on the Spokane World's Fair site, and around 100 food vendors providing the Pigout part.  For the most part the music is electric bar music, so it was a little daunting to try to reach the couple hundred urban listeners who weren't used to our style.   But we couldn't manufacture a bar band, so we went ahead...  One good thing is that chairs are plentiful by the stages and a luxury elsewhere, so while eating or resting they are a captive audience...   Actually we played well, and were pretty well received...  
    The weather is fluctuating between 40 and 80 with blue skies--droughts are pretty nice if you don't need the rain...  We're certainly watering the garden a lot.  We're getting more cucumbers than ever before this year, and we planted some "mammoth sunflowers" that are over 12 feet high--I expect to see Jack the giant killer climbing down with a golden harp...  I should have planted some pole beans along side them...
 
Sept. 4
    Labor Day was busy as usual, although pottery sales are starting to slow down...   I walked in the parade, and got my photo on the front page of the Coeur D'Alene Press...  After that I played music for an hour in the park...   Later in the afternoon a friend gave me a mostly finished mountain dulcimer and I finished it and strung it with some guitar strings, and played around with it...  I had made one from a kit back in the 1970's, which  I hung behind a door, leading to its demise...
    I've been having trouble with my blue crystalline glaze for some time, and am still trying to figure out a fix.   It has been blistering and looking overfired at cone 8, so I fired a kiln to cone 6 and it still was overfired, so I tried cone 5 and it was chalky underfired--hard to believe one cone of temperature could make that much difference...  I refired the kiln to cone 6, and they were all blistered again...   I haven't figured out how to fire the new kilns to a half cone like I did the old ones so I'll probably have to reformulate the glaze...
 
Sept. 6
    The weather remains borderline warm-enough-to-swim, although that's scheduled to change by Monday with another cool front blowing in. So we're trying to get away this weekend to Banff, with all the excitement of a new national park (even if it's not one of OURS), and two border crossings...   I'm looking forward to the adventure...
    Pottery sales have slowed down, but a new coffee shop in Bend Oregon bought a couple hundred dollars worth of wholesale today... They're in town for a neighbor's daughter's wedding, which is supposed to include a parade down Maine St.  Sorry I'll miss it...
 

 Sept. 11
Our trip to Banff went well--725 miles round trip...

   Banff is Canada's oldest national park, encompassing two ranges of the Canadian Rockies.  With this dry year, the mountains were mostly bare, except where permanent snow fields and glaciers remain.  The photo above is from Johnston Canyon, where 3 falls are accessed by a walkway which is often secured over the canyon's walls on the lovely small river that feeds it. This is the lower falls, and you could go through the small cave to view it very close, which was fun.  We continued to the upper falls, which was slightly less touristed (the signs said a million people a year visit these falls, and there was a pretty steady stream to the lower falls, especially by the time we left)
Lake Moraine
This is Lake Moraine, so iconic to Canada that its photo is on the back of their $20 bills.  By the time we got there it was raining, so this photo looks a bit bleak.  It didn't stop us from walking to the end of the lake, and slightly beyond, where there were great mushroom varieties florishing in the moist environment.

Chateau Lake Louise 
    We also stopped at Lake Louise, but the rain was harder there, and we were pretty wet from the Moraine hike.  The Lake Louise Chateau is a great elegant 1920's resort, and we wandered through the public parts of that...
    That evening we planned to camp at Redstreak campground near Radium Hot Springs (they named it when Radium was the hot new element, not because it's in the hot springs).   We had called the Hot Springs to find out when they'd be open, and it turned out that an earthquake in Alaska had caused a "tectonic event" at the hot springs, sending silt into the pools (which are basically outdoor swimming pools).  So they had to empty and refill both pools, and weren't sure when they could open.  We got there near 8 p.m. (their first estimate), and kept getting the time put back a half hour, till it finally did open at 9:30.   Fortunately we had nothing better to do than wait, and the hot pool soak was very nice--we stayed in for an hour or more...


  The timing for our trip was courtesy of the weather service, that assured us a cold front with rain would be coming through on Monday...  It hit earlier than expected for our Banff expedition, but arrived with wind and some area wildfires on time on Monday.  We wanted to be back to make sure the tomatoes got covered, and we spent last evening with the yearly ritual..  This morning it seemed we'd escaped the frost, but one corner of our garden (the lowest) got frosted this morning...  There are three mornings of possible frost, then warming again, so we'll hope for a couple more weeks before surrendering to the season...
    I picked the tomatoes at the pottery, since the plants seemed pretty wimpy, and got a good sized box of green and ripening ones from just them...  Our main crop will surely last us till Christmas as well as supply the local food bank for a while...       

Sept . 12
    The frost is still just nipping at some of the squash leaves--one more night and the danger goes away for a while...  I picked about half of our second planting of corn and cut and froze it.  We have more corn for the winter than ever previously...  In fact it's a bumper crop for most things in our garden, due to steadily improving fertility and the wet June we had...  (One sign of the wet June is that the cottonwood tree in front of the pottery often starts losing its leaves from dryness in late August, but so far it's still hanging tight with them)...

Sept. 14
    A friend was posting photos of treehouses on Facebook today, so I took a photo of how our treehouse looks today and posted it as well:


We've been staying in the treehouse this week to accommodate some neighbors who rented their house out this summer, and couldn't get back in until the 15th.  The frosty nights were a bit of a challenge.  The idyllic side of night- sky -out -the- window and chillingly- close -sound- of- coyotes was somewhat balanced by the logging trucks that start by our place around 3 a.m. and are noisy as they head up the ill from logging somewhere by the lake...
    In the photo you can barely see two of our golden Buff Orpington old hens by their ladder under the treehouse, and the pear tree to the left is loaded with pears.  There's also my classy modern fendered bicycle.
    Speaking of bicycles, nearly all our sales came today from older women who were bicycling the Selkirk Loop--around a 100 mile loop that dips up into Canada and goes around our local Selkirk mountain range.  They did have the advantage of their luggage being hauled by a van, but I'm still impressed by the serious older bicyclists, including the bass player I perform with who does bike races...
    After three nights of covering our sensitive plants, the forecast looks warm and friendly for the next week.  

Sept. 16
    One of the perks of being self employed is that I never have to wake to an alarm clock.  Unfortunately I'm cursed with industriousness (as well as light sleeping), so I tend to get up early anyway.  This morning I had a vivid dream that it was 6:30, which woke me up, so I checked the time and it was 6:28...  Actually this morning I did have to get up, since I wanted to make bread before going to work at the gallery in Sandpoint (that proved to be a busy day, with over $1000 in sales (not all my pots, alas and of course).
    The many fires in the Northwest are making the skies hazy, which in spite of the sunny weather makes things ominous and depressing...  It's not likely to stop until we get some serious rain...

Sept. 18
So how hot is it?  Ranging from 40 to 80+ every day.  I had retired from swimming for the year, but I started again today.  The forecast continues in this vein for the next week...
    The second date of corn in the garden usually keeps pretty well in the garden this time of year, but I picked the rest today to refrigerate it...  We also got a half dozen cucumbers and a large basket of ripe tomatoes today, as well as broccoli florets and some of the first carrots, so the garden is doing great!
    The heat was also sufficient that the 60 pots I threw this morning needed trimming and handles by this evening...
    This weather would be great for replacing a sliding door in our main house, but the door we bought to replace it with had the wrong handle, and we're having trouble finding  a properly fitting handle.  The local hardwares are puzzled, and either the Internet or some creativity are going to be needed for this...

Sept. 20
    I got the lumber to proceed with the door project, and another window (off Craigslist) to improve one of our 100 year old windows at the pottery...
Jonathan and I played at the Elks in Spokane this evening...  The weather is veering upwards to highs in the mid 80's.  The smoke from the distant fires is making the whole area's air quality bad...  The evening sun going down looks like a red rubber ball (but I think it's going to be alright)...

Sept. 22


This is the sunrise this morning, looking pale red far above the usual horizon (from the smoke), next to our teapot water tower, which is shrouded by trees from the angle on Maine Street that I took the photo from...  I was trying to catch the sun coming up straight from the east on our east-west aligned street, but whenever I do this it's already coming up to the south of  true east, where it will stay until the first day of Spring...
    We finished framing in our new door and window, but there's a lot of finishing work to be done...
    The temperature was in the mid 80's again, so we swam again, but the cold water contraindicates long swims, at least for us...  No frost in the 10 day forecast...

Sept. 25
   
We have lots of orb spiders that are nice and fat by now--this one's body is probably as big as a nickel in diameter.  It is upside down on the ceiling guarding its egg sac above the door where we're redoing the entrance...  It's a lighter shade than the male orb spiders.  
    We picked the pears today, probably a little late, so they'll be grainy...   Usually a frost gets us thinking more about harvesting... Our bumper grape crop is just starting to turn color and sweeten, so I'm hoping the killing frost holds off another couple weeks.  Yesterday I pressure canned  7 quarts of tomatoes, which will probably happen fairly regularly as more of them ripen...  The main use for the canned puree/juice is to add to chili, and I had enough leftover after filling the canner so that we had black bean chili tonight...
    With the continuing shorts weather, people are still coming to the lake, so I'm keeping busy making pots to try to keep up with the demand...

Sept 26
    The weather continues suitable for shorts and a tee shirt except for the mornings and evenings, when a long sleeved shirt is the only added attire (it's what all the bon vivant potters are wearing this season)..
    The French door that we bought from a used lumber yard in Spokane proved to be a challenge to install, since it had the wrong hardware.  But we solved the problem by replacing the usual latch thing with 2 magnets from old computer hard drives, so it now shuts more like a refrigerator than a typical door.  The computer magnets are very powerful and give it enough force to hold it closed  against strong winds... Today I  added a deadbolt for more security, and because there would have been a deadbolt sized hole in the door otherwise.  I also added a smaller thermopane window to the framed in area, so it's almost ready to be insulated and closed up.

Sept. 28
    The door and window project is getting closer to completion...  I was thinking I was nearly done today when I noticed the storm door I hadn't installed yet.   I'd just put pieces of trim wood around the door, and it turned out that they were spaced so that the storm door would fit...  That was nice...
    I'm running out of clay again--will need to make a run to Seattle next week.  I sent some pots up to a new coffeehouse/gallery in  Kellogg today.  They are taking a low percentage on the sales, which might not be the best business sense, but it lets us keep the same prices we sell for here in Spirit Lake, and may help some of our regular customers from the Silver Valley...

Books read and other  media of note: (free Kindle books unless otherwise noted)
Once upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell (library book).  This touching story of a troubled teen coming to grips with her dysfunctional family and finding a way to adulthood is hard reading, but uplifting in the end...  It reminded me of The River Why and Steinbeck...

Lullaby Town by Robert Crais (library book).  
This isn't really a criticism, just an observation, in that if you changed the names to Spenser and Hawk, this would be a Robert Parker novel about helping a woman in distress against her ex husband and the mob...  I like Parker, and I like Crais. This is still early in his career, so I expect his writing style to diverge later...

Free Fall by Robert Crais (library book).  
In this novel Crais leaves behind the vigilante shoot em up tough guys mantra for the more nuanced study of an elite police unit getting bent and the human cost of their unraveling...

Pines by Blake Crouch  
I've had broken ribs, and it bothered me how soon the protagonist in this series recovered from his broken ribs and other severe beatings so quickly to more grueling feats of derring do.
But it was set in Idaho, so I enjoyed that..  The plot was equal parts action and befuddlement.   Spoiler alert--it never made sense why the other agent that came to Pines was tortured to death, or why the town should kill anyone that wants to leave, when conditions outside take care of that...  So, yeah, I had issues with it.  The author said it was inspired by a tv series, and that makes sense--low bar of credibility in tv series...

Break Down by Sara Paretsky
(hardback 2012)  VI Warshawski epitomizes the modern bull dog with a heart woman detective.  The novels always include a believable personal life as well as labryinthine mysteries set in Chicago.   It was good to read the latest, after 30 years...

And All I Did was Shoot My Man by Walter Mosley (library book)
 Mosley puts the "black" in "noire" detective fiction, and is one of the best writers in the genre alive today.  Leonid McGill has nothing but trouble, used to be nothing but trouble, and now has to make amends for his past by solving a major theft/murder...

A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block (library book)
 The Matthew Scudder books read like an AA manual from the inside, but carry strong mystery plots as well...  This one is written from the parenthesis of a modern aged Scudder telling a story to a mobster friend from the early days of his sobriety...  I like the "Burglar Who" and Evan Tanner series better, but I enjoy most of Lawrence's writing...

Stalking the Angel by Robert Crais
 If his first book was a tribute to Robert Parker, this one tips the hat to Raymond Chandler, like The Big Sleep, a study of a rich dysfunctional family with disappearances and underworld connections.

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