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Brad's Blog

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   April 1, 2009
    No fooling--it's cold and snowy today.  I played a kind of April Fool's joke on myself--working away in the pottery this morning when I heard 
on the intercom someone enter the showroom .  I went out to find my cellist friend, with cello--I'd forgotten we'd agreed to practice on this date.  Fortunately I have a quick adjustment time, and we had a pretty good session.  Because she's classically trained, we're working on stuff I've written out which I can hardly play myself, but which I've always wanted to hear a 'real" version of (as opposed to MIDI, the way I composed it).
    Because it's Spring Break in the local schools, everything is a bit off at the library--both daycares that I usually visit were closed (which I discovered on arrival).  Today we started our Every Child Ready to Read program, and although some of the preschool parents said they'd be gone this week, there were about a dozen kids and dozen parents in attendance, and the first program went well.


April 3
It's been snowing during the day for the last 3 days, but today it was obvious the world didn't really mean it, and most of the accumulated snow evaporated.
It's been Spring Break for the local schools, and since it wasn't Spring Break for the Library, I continued my program for any who would come, which amounted to only 4 in my older group and total no shows for my younger groups.  So presumably next year I'll learn from this and schedule a Spring Break for the library program as well.  
Today I got orders both for pottery and music CD's through the internet.  The music CD's are the rarest, from someone who appreciates the guitarist Sam McGee as much as I do.  But they were both appreciated.  
    I made bowls of all sizes in the pottery today, still trying to fill the shelves before summer...

April 4
    This is the way the Millpond looked today as the ice is slowly giving way to water, with plenty of glints of snow in the hills.  It was the first blue sky day in a long time, so of course I had already reserved it in my mind to do taxes.    At least it's a relief to have them mostly done...
    My family is gone away this weekend, and when such a thing happens I frequently have corned beef hash for a couple meals (since a can is good for two meals).  I think it's a food that evokes my childhood.  I can vaguely remember helping my mother make hash a couple times with the old meat grinder, but it usually involved leftovers from pot roast (with a different flavor), and that gave way later to us mostly eating canned corned beef, which is probably identical to what you buy today--fatty bits of meat scraps and potatoes chopped up into mush with strong chemicals added to hide the real flavor.   The dietary label on the can puts the fat content too high for mortals to endure...
    My father would have his own food like that--Scrapple, or corn mush with bacon bits in it, fried like a piece of French Toast.  The family story is that when he was growing up in the Great Depression, ground corn was dirt cheap, so they often ate it, and sometimes had little else.  My mother would make it for him on occasion, but I think he was the only one with any desire for it.  But both he and I liked corned beef hash.  The other reason he popped in to my mind as I opened the can, is that the canned dog food we fed our terrier also strongly resembled hash.  You would have to know my father to understand why thinking of him might be evoked by opening a can of dog food like substance.  Let's just say he was always a dog's best friend...
    The tomatoes came up today!  Normally the cabbages would come up first, but I left them out to fend for themselves in the greenhouse.

April 5
    The sun shone, the air appeared quite balmy, and the first croci bloomed in the yard.  Snow disappeared by the puddles full.   I pruned the tops of the fruit trees, hitherto prohibited by the snow piles, and restored some fascia board and gutter on our house.   That seemed an adequate response to the day.

April 7
We're currently letting the chickens loose in our back yard.  Since there's no fence they are roaming pretty far.  Longtime blog readers might remember one hen who had a hurt leg, and we took out to let it recuperate, and ever since then it has been hated by the other chickens so we had to keep it separate.  Now that they spent the whole winter in adjacent pens, they seem to get along alright, but it is still much more independent and roams farther afield than the other hens.  In fact, most of the other hens are happy sitting around in the open pen of the wanderer.  I guess it's a "Grass is always greener" thing.  Anyway, there's no green grass yet, since the ground has only been clear of snow (if it is yet) for a couple days.  But the hens are pecking and scratching anywhere that's promising.
    A library patron returned a book the other day called, "The Joy of Raising Chickens."  "Joy" may be stretching it a bit, but they are pretty and entertaining, as long as they survive out there...
 

April 10
grass widows
    The snow piles are vanishing quickly at the lower elevation, although there are still a few piles in our yard that are so dense you can walk on them any time of the day.   While driving to a nearby town today to get a wheel for my bicycle , I noticed a large patch of buttercups blooming, so I made a point to hike up the ridge to check out the earliest spring flowers.    The picture above is of grass widows from 2007, but it's a timeless annual slow fireworks show, always the same, but always beautiful.  There were also spring beauties,  bumblebees, and mosquitoes (a couple polite ones).

April 12
    For Easter we hiked further up the local ridge than I had before, stopping when the snow was over the tops of my moccasins.  In spite of a fairly steady drizzle, it was a nice hike.  I didn't have my camera, to catch the golden eagle, deer, Townshend's Solitaire, and other nice natural things.  The ridge that I usually refer to in this blog goes up in bumps to attach to Mt. Spokane, so that every time you think you're at the top, there's a drop and then another higher hill behind.  C.S. Lewis might have been referring to this with the phrase "Further up and further in," which was in the Last Battle of the Narnia series.

April 13
    Our old cat went in for a hundred dollar tuneup today--removing matted fur, overgrown toenails, and other materials that made her stink.  I think it will be worth it...
    In the pottery I glazed a kiln load of pots in about an hour so as to get a glaze firing started.  That was only possible because there were some large bowls that take up a lot of space and don't take long to glaze.  
    The weather continues worth grumbling about, but why bother?

April 15
 There was an inch of snow on everything yesterday morning, but within a couple hours it had evaporated away.  Then the longterm forecast predicted 80's by next week.  Hope...

 April 16
I managed to break two teapots out of ten in the glazing process today.  Teapots have more work to them than other pots, so it hurts a little more when they break...  One of them I crunched through the side with the glazing tongs (they were very thin).  The other one rolled off the side as I moved the board.  But I got a couple kiln loads glazed, and I never would have made it this far as a potter if every little broken pot or overfired kiln affected me too deeply...   On the whole, the pots are turning out well currently, so I'm satisfied...
April 17
I got the first garden planted today, in advance of a rain shower...  We're already eating spinach that overwintered in our green house.  That was totally unexpected--it was planted in the fall, and remained dark green while frozen solid through most of the winter, then began to grow as if nothing unusual happened to it at all.  Anyway I started as I usually do with spinach, lettuce, carrots, and peas.   I turned the rows where I planted them, although that's really only necessary for the carrots, who like to be able to work their roots down through soft soil.  After planting I covered them all with a thin layer of horse manure, and the planting was done.  This is not the main crop for any of them, but a starter, since the weather is still pretty iffy for a month or so.
    In the pottery I made berry bowls and regular sized mugs.  We had a wholesale buyer come yesterday, so there are a few more things that need to be made, besides the regular "more of everything."

April 18
     I took my sound equipment to my bass player friend's house, where we tried to record with his Mac laptop.  The program we used only recognized his tiny laptop microphone, so we gave up and just played some tunes...
    Afterwards, I went to the always entertaining Bluegrass Thang.   It's amazing the various permutations the local musicians go through to form new and interesting groups.

April 19
    It's the first shorts weather (for me) this year.  The ice just went out on the lake earlier this week.   There are still piles of snow on the north sides of buildings and trees. I think Emil started wearing shorts in February.  
    I built a new arbor for our main grape vines (the last one was crushed under the snow this winter).

April 20
    Blue skies, coming my way, nothing but...
    If only there weren't all this work.  I made honey pots and canisters this morning, then worked in the library for the rest of the day...

April 21
       Another open window sort of day.  I got the pots assembled from yesterday, and a glaze kiln going.  I got some sensitive plant seeds in the mail which I ordered 3 or 4 weeks ago off Ebay, for the kids to plant at the library.   I had some as a kid, and always thought they were cool the way the leaves fold down when touched...  The reason it took so long to get them was it turned out their shipping center was in India...

April 22
    A guy came in the library today, asking if we had a microwave.  "Uh, yes,"  I said, wondering where this was going...  "What for?"
    "To heat up a baby bottle."  The guy looks like a biker, wearing a do rag on his head and usually leathers, but I knew he'd previously checked out kids videos, so anything was possible.  So he hands me a doll baby bottle with about an inch of yellowish stuff in  the bottom.  After heating for 3 seconds, I asked him if it was for an animal.  He explained that a neighbor's dog had killed a mother squirrel, so he was raising the baby.  
    "Where is it, outside?"  I said.  
    "No, it's in here," he said, unzipping one of those front fanny packs and a juvenile squirrel popped his head out.  "It's really active," he said.
    I was expressing my doubts about the wisdom of having it in the library...     About that time my coworker boss showed up to make it more clear.
I've had patrons in carrying their toy dogs before, but that was different.   Even though I enjoy watching squirrels, I'm part of the sensible bunch who view them as way overpopulated aerial rats, since they've done a lot of damage over the years to my abode...  But it was a fun surprise for Earth Day, anyway.  

 April 26
pileated woodpecker
 The trillium and glacier lillies aee blooming now--in spite of cool weather and snow showers, Spring marches on.  
I got this picture of a pileated woodpecker when I heard their distinctive call, caw Caw caw, reminiscent of Woody Woodpecker's, when I stepped out of the back door the other day.  

April 28
    It's cold and windy today around 40, reminding me that April in N. Idaho tends to be that way into May.    It's amazing what one puts up with for a few nice months of summer...
    The blog was updated fairly regularly lately, but the address where I was sending it to had changed, so only this morning did I learn I had to fix something (which I could with son Forrest's help).  
    I don't know about pandemic, but pan-ic is certainly widespread over the current flu outbreak.  I think a lot of the people in the world are keyed up to expect the worst of everything right now, like it's the second horseman of the apocalypse (as I'm sure is being brought up in certain quarters).  I do understand the potential for a serious world flu problem, but we're not there yet...
    Yesterday I had a sort of klutz ballet in slow motion in the pottery.   I made some honey pots that were a little more globular than usual, and from the first transporting of them on boards to the kiln I've had some roll off the side.  Of those that survived the first trip to the kiln,  a few more jumped ship yesterday when I was moving them to load in the glaze kiln, and they landed on two rows of gravy boats below them in the shelves, damaging some of them.  That happened early in the day... Then later I just popped in to look at the workshop and noticed  a couple more gravy boats had chips off them, so I decided to consolidate the two boards to one.   The one board was partially pulled out, and by adding pots in the wrong place the whole board tipped down,  finishing off almost all of the gravy boats.  Must be another horseman of the apocalypse--pots will break, and potters will gnash their teeth...


   


 
Books read and other significant films and stuff

Sleepwalker's World by Gordon R. Dickson  This is sci fi from the 70's, a fairly surreal novel of the side effects of beaming power to earth from space to power food factories, which results in most people falling asleep.  He accurately predicts GPS guidance for cars, otherwise it's super talented good guy takes on malevolent forces to save the world...

Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich  
Being stalked by a homicidal maniac has never been so fun.

Find a Victim by Ross MacDonald.  
In the classsic American PI tale, the detective usually loses consciousness a couple times per book when a bad guy clocks him one.   In an Agatha Christie, this would be unthinkable.  In both of them, the clever investigator still doesn't understand enough to prevent a second or third murder from occuring.   And yet we are surprised and entertained by the outcome...

The Chill by Ross MacDonald.  
I love Ross MacDonald's writing, except I'm a bit of a bear with too wee of a brain to keep track of all the characters he employs in his pithy P.I. tales.  He's generally described as the direct descendant of Dashiell Hammett via Raymond Chandler.  Anyway this novel has 3 murders over twenty years that are all surprisingly tied together.  Detective Lew Archer  (name derived from Sam Spade's partner) shows his human side as he doggedly pursues the truth.

The Alien Way by Gordon Dickson
 A serious portrayal of the cultural differences between earth and a potential invading stellar civilization, where an earth man gets inside the head of the alien.  As one reads, one wonders if he, like the others suspect, is getting overly influenced by the alien thought patterns.  

Pro by Gordon Dickson  
An amusing SF tale of a gung ho world manager bending rules to shake up an alien world, and his comeupance from the amateur he replaced...

Film: Rings on her Fingers   1942.  
I've always been fond of Henry Fonda in The Lady Eve, and only now discovered he played a similar chump in  Rings on her Fingers, but with Gene Tierney as the con artist love interest.  The link goes to the movie, viewable free in the U.S. on Hulu.com.  It was worth it just for the jitterbugs...

The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
.  The original time machine book, by Jules Verne, was fairly depressing in its portrayal of the future.  So was this one, but it had some nice romantic touches and time loop mystery to keep the plot moving.

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovitch  She uses the local New Jersey mythology to make a sort of James Bond romp in the Pine Barrens for ever intrepid Stephanie Plum.  I haven't tired of her formula yet, though 12 novels in a couple months may be pushing it.
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