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Brad's Blog

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Sept.1, 2013
    A couple of days ago I forgot to put in the two old hens that I'd been letting out lately, and I found them in the morning over against the coop with the 5 other hens, so I opened the door, went in and threw a few sunflower seeds around, and they came in.  There wasn't any fight--they'd been looking at each other for about a year.  So this is just in time for the semi-annual chicken moving project.
    Today I tore down the small 2 hen coop, and we're planning to move them all back to our other house where they can root around in our compost area. When the neighbors let their hens run loose last Spring, it was very popular with them and the wild turkey...  The fact is, anywhere you enclose chickens, all the greenery except the most noxious weeds will disappear under their scratching and eating.  So it was time to give them new scratching territory...

Sept. 3
    About a half hour before the Labor Day parade, I decided on the theme for this year--Garden!!!   So I got some corn stalks, sunflowers, dahlias, gladiolas, and a large pumpkin, and put them in my homemade garden cart, and walked the two block parade, kind of singing "It's delightful, it's delicious, it's delovely..."    Later I put in my hour playing music in the park, emphasizing 60's and 70's music.  It was sprinkly all morning before the parade, enough to cut attendance quite a bit, but that made me more eager to participate...  It cleared up in the afternoon...
    Today I unloaded two bisque kilns and spent most of the rest of the day glazing and loading kilns.  It was still in the 80's today, warm enough to swim, but the last two shady days cooled the Mill Pond down so as to make it seem likely swimming will end for the year before mid September.

Sept. 4
    Around the middle of May I planted the first planting of corn.  When it came up, around the end of May, I planted the second date.  Unfortunately early June is often cool and the best corn weather is in July and August, so that the two dates of corn became ripe close to each other.  That's why last week I picked the first date and froze around 20 pints, and tonight I froze most of the second date.  I'm thinking it would be better to get two varieties with different maturity dates.  It used to be we were lucky to get any short season corn before the frost, but in recent years I think we could plant a longer date corn, which might have larger ears as well.
    I also pulled the plants and took them to the new space we're planning to have the chickens at.   One unfortunate side effect was that I got a big "paper cut" on my right ring finger from one of the leaves when the stalk I was grabbing slipped...  I specify the finger because it's not primary for guitar playing and only used in a group when throwing pots.  (and it only hurts when I type poilk and other letters using that finger)
    A large storm is slated for the area--it stayed hot today so we could do a swim, but there was a little thunder rumbling shortly before we swam, and it showered very lightly several times this afternoon...

Sept. 7
I've probably commented on the random nature of sales previously...  Although on average a day in August will be better in sales than one in September, and good weather is better than bad for an outside sales display, yesterday's damp overcast proved to be as good as the 4th of July in sales...  The day before was very slow.  I won't predict today's sales...
    My finger is healing pretty well, though still with a nasty red line of exposed flesh along the tip.  I plan to play guitar for church tomorrow instead of playing  the organ since I don't use that finger when picking guitar.
    The predicted storms of the last couple days were limited to cloud lightning and a couple brief showers, only enough to settle the dust.
We're enjoying tomatoes and potatoes from the garden now, in addition to zucchini and cucumbers.  At this time of the year the broccoli florets get a strong flavor, making them tend to become chicken food.  No progress on the new chicken enclosure yet...

Followup--  Sales were great again today.   I shouldn't underestimate September...  One of the ways I use this blog is to compare years in gardening.  Last September I made note that around the 3rd week I picked pears, but they hung too long and would be grainy.  So I used that knowledge to pick the pears today.  Some of them were turning yellow, but pears are one fruit that needs to be picked before they're ripe, so hopefully we'll have 3 boxes of good pears in a couple weeks.  
I also made applesauce today from our summer apples that mostly drop off the tree on their own...  The main crop of red and gold delicious look as big as store apples this year--probably our best crop yet...  They shouldn't be ripe for another month or more...

Sept. 9
    We recently replaced our washer and dryer.  The washer had the main bearing going out, and the dryer had the timer go out so it would run until you remembered to stop it.  We bought the new (used) washer and dryer as a set so they could be stacked.  But I knew that the old dryer worked and only needed the timer part behind the knob, so I opened the lid and got the number off the part, and could locate the part easily on the Internet.  It arrived today and I just had to install the correct wires on the correct slot, and we now have another dryer for our rental house...
    I started throwing pots again today, but had to wear a rubber glove on my right hand due to the mostly healed cut I got from the corn plant last week.  It works okay to throw pots that way, but wrinkles in the rubber glove can make unintended grooves in the pots...

Sept. 14
The pictures that normally cheer up my blog have sat in my camera till now.  So

These are two of the 8 or more potatoes I dug from one volunteer potato in our garden. (They are about twice the size of potatoes from the store).  Much of our potato crop was planted in the less fertile part of our garden, whereas this grew in the part where the manure gets dumped.  So we don't expect to see many more this big.  As frequently happens in large potatoes, a hole appeared in the middle with a brownish tinge (which might turn into skin--we usually cut around it).  Still these two potatoes yielded mashed potatoes for 3 and a quart jar of leftovers...

paralizer wasp with orb spider
I got this picture of a paralyzer wasp that was dragging around an orb spider out in front of our pottery.  

Little Spokane River
Yesterday we went canoeing for 7 miles along the Little Spokane River.  It was very clear, fairly cold spring fed water, heading west of Spokane to meet the Spokane River, about where we got out.  The river itself reminded me of the Skunk River in Iowa, which ran a couple of blocks from our house there, and was also fun to canoe, like this one.  The Little Spokane meanders through a natural area consisting of dry pine hills and rock bluffs, with the greenest strip along the edge consisting of reeds, cattails, grasses, shrubs, and what we guessed were wild irises.  We saw lots of mallards, mergansers, muskrats, and herons.  
    At the takeout point there was this vine growing into a tree:
wile cucumber
I'd encountered it in some wild shrubs near Holstein, Iowa, previously. At the time I guessed it was a wild cucumber, due to the shape and size of the fruit.  Putting that into Google, I found an identical photo from Canada, entitled
"Wild Cucumber" (Echinocystis lobata).  It turns out it grows in 41 states and most of Canada, but these two I mentioned are the only times I've seen it...

Sept. 15
I spent yesterday at the Newport Music Festival taking photos while listening to many fine local bluegrass bands.  Here's the link to the photos.  http://www.sondahl.com/events/Newport2013.html
Today was the last 80+ degree day likely to happen this summer, so we went to the beach at Priest Lake after church and the water was pretty nice for mid September.

Sept. 19
We only got a few slight dust settling showers from recent rains.  With highs in the lower 60's, we had our first stove fire to warm the pottery building yesterday.  The workshop still gets enough heat from waste heat from the kiln firings, which are frequent lately from restocking and orders.
    We're getting lots of ripe tomatoes, and I picked the first celery we've ever grown (it wasn't hard to grow).  

Sept. 23
    We went over to Whitefish Lake, Montana, for a niece's wedding this weekend.  It was held at a longtime family cabin on the lake, which is just below Big Mountain Ski Resort and 30 miles from Glacier National Park.  So here are the photos:

Coming and going we drove along the very long resoirvoir called Kookanusa, an Indian sounding name combining the name of a local tribe (Kootenai) with Canada and USA, since it runs up across the border.  (In point of fact, with mountains being as they are in our area, we drove within 8 miles of Canada along this lake, in spite of wanting to go due east from our home, or about 90 miles north out of our way).



So here is the couple posing on the dock before getting into a rowboat for a romantic exit (to a neighboring dock).  For their first dance (pretty much the only dance--it wasn't a dancing crowd) they chose the old Perry Como song, Moon River, probably because they've been (and hope to continue to be ) "two drifters, off to see the world."

On Sunday we drove the main route through Glacier National Park up the Going-to-the-Sun road, a narrow two lane highway usually clogged with RV's, but this was the last day it's open for the year, and traffic was as light as I've ever seen there.  This photo shows some of the amazing low tech engineering that went into making the road...

This is the view from near the top of Logan Pass, showing the U shaped glacial valley and the river and road at the bottom.  There was significant beetle destroyed areas of dead trees,  somewhat visible in the back right of the photo.   These dying trees and the tiny patches of snow on the high mountains are both related to global warming, since the warmer winters are helping the beetles to overwinter farther north than previously.


When you enter Glacier Park from the West, the first scenery is Lake MacDonald, which mostly now has a view of dead trees, except up lake in the direction I took this photo.

It was a cloudy day with sun breaks which made scenery photography difficult.  It was nearing dark when we stopped at Kootenai Falls, between Bonner's Ferry, Idaho and  Libby, Montana.   A half mile hike gave us great views of these falls and a series of rapids.   This time of year the river is at its lowest flow, but the Kootenai is one of the larger rivers in our area so the falls were still impressive.


This trip had a lot of replayed history for me.  The first time I hopped freight trains was to visit a friend near Whitefish, who drove the friend I was travelling with and me up to Glacier Park where we backpacked for the first time in my life.  It was in the middle of summer, and we were such greenhorns that when it snowed an inch on us, we holed up in our tent for a day not sure we could hike in the snow. (Fortunately the snow melted away, as it tends to in midsummer.  Before we arrived at Whitefish, the train went through a ten minute tunnel that had us tramps all covering our mouths with handkerchiefs to try to keep the diesel fumes out.  
    Whitefish is still a stop on the Amtrak route, although most of its passenger terminal is now a museum.

Sept. 25
    A frost is predicted for tomorrow night, and our schedule is full for tomorrow (including me playing in Spokane at a farmer's market) so we spent time harvesting green tomatoes today.  We got 6 or more boxes picked, with another 3 or so to come as we can fit it in tomorrow.  Rain bracketed the day today, making picking tomatoes this evening a wet proposition.  It wasn't cold yet, so I thought to myself, there are definitely worse things to do than picking your own tomatoes in the rain.

Sept. 27
For the record, the weather people recanted their forecast of frost, but we've already picked 75% of our tomatoes, which might help reduce the ones that rot from having been frost touched...  Instead of frost, we're (theoretically) facing a rainy weekend.
Yesterday, it was slightly warmer than predicted, making playing outside for the farmer's market more enjoyable.  I did play with a coat on, but only to keep my core warm so my hands wouldn't chill.  
Looking back at this month,  Sept. 15 was clearly the date we switched from summer to fall.  I finally took out the half gallon jug I keep in the refrigerator during the hot part of summer so that I can enjoy cold water when the tap only delivers tepid...
In this cool afternoon, I split some tough old elm rounds from a tree we had cut down several years ago.  We had our first fire in the wood stove at home today, while we've been having fires to keep the pottery comfortable...

Sept. 29
We had over two inches of rain with wind yesterday, and an inch of light rain most of today as well.  The wind blew over the scarlet runner bean tripods in the garden, but they were doomed within a week or so by frost anyway, and I could now pick the beans at the top that were about 10 feet high and out of reach...
    On Saturday I pulled a few glaze recipes off the internet and mixed up tests of them and all their combinations (around 40 in all), so the next glaze firing should prove interesting.

Books read and other media of note
Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen Carl Hiassen writes about the kind of stories that get Weird and Florida tags on Fark.com.  It's kind of hard to identify with any of the characters, but it's enjoyable like a roller coaster...

Simulacra by Philip K. Dick.  
Several movies could be made from this book depending on whether you wanted to focus on the robots being placed in positions of power, psi powered neurotics, or dystopian politics.  Given his popularity being converted to the silver screen, any of these are possible.  

The Good Thief's Guide to Berlin by Chris Ewan
The Good Thief's novels are entertaining and suspenseful in the "It Takes A Thief" and Raffles and "The Burglar Who"  tradition.  There's also an ongoing semiromance that seems stretched a bit thin after 4 or 5 novels.

Gringos by Charles Portis.  
This was a fairly convoluted detective story of the soul.  The narrator is an an expatriate American living in Yucatan, dealing with a group of gringos varying from Mayan scholars to UFO seeking hippies.  In spite of a cast big enough for me to mostly lose track of, the story fell together, surprisingly, in the end, with a nod towards happily ever after.

The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
This book reminded me of neorealism in cinema, like The Bicycle Thief, a small event told in great detail...  The narrator and protagonist is neurotic and semifunctional, turning a revenge story of a cuckolded husband into more of a Coen Brothers odyssey...  There's a lot that's not ever cleared up in the book, including the significance of the title...

Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis
Portis writes densely packed gentle satire, in this case an affectionate history of a misguided cult.  Several times it seemed possible something of import might happen, but mostly it didn't.  I read the book because it was compared to A Confederacy of Dunces.  It had its similarities, but was much tamer in scope.

Breaking Point by C.J. Box  
Inspired by Priest Lake Idaho landowners hassled by the EPA, this fine novel has a bit of everything, (spoiler alert) murders, drone strikes, corrupt politicians, and a forest fire, and a reluctant game warden just doing his job.


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