August 1, 2009 Our guests are
into geocaching, which is using GPS to locate a small cache of stuff,
which usually includes a guest book and some little prizes. So
we set one up here at the pottery, just for fun. There are only a
couple other sites around Spirit Lake. Some of them can be as
small as a tiny vial. Some are as large as ammo boxes. I
learned from them there is a cache where I often walk over on the
ridge. They can exist unnoticed by all but geocachers. Sometimes
people take what's in the cache and leave other things. I'll
check the one I left and see what happens. I put a minipot and
some Folk Festival buttons in it to start. The
green beans are getting ripe, along with the cherries and raspberries,
and the tomatoes are starting finally as well.
It was over 90 today--a neighbor spent most of the day cutting firewood
in the woods. That's Idaho--summer is illusory--the long winters
are what's real... It's a pretty good illusion when it's 90
though--swimming in the evening is great...
August 3, 2009 The weather continues hot.
Since quitting at the library, I've thrown myself into doing more
pottery work, and also hosting several sets of visitors. Today
was slower, but my son just left for Argentina (summer ski break), so
I'm selling the pots as well as making them, and more tied down than
when my son is helping. It's been the kind of afternoon where a
nap would be nice, but the phone would ring or some customers come in
whenever I'd drift off. Now that I have more
time, I'd like to get photos of the birds at our feeder. Last
week there were black headed grosbeaks, and we're getting lots of pine
siskins, little brown birds with bits of yellow on them. Across
the street a couple days ago I saw a western tanager, one of our
lovelier birds--black and yellow with a red head. I hadn't
thought I'd be feeding birds in the summer, or even at all, since we
just had one sparrow last winter, but they've been coming steadily
lately, and lots of varieties. I'll include some photos if and
when I get some. I picked about two gallons of
raspberries this morning, but the end is near for them. I'm also
picking the cherries that have been protected from pest with the nylon
nets. The cherries outside the net are dried and shriveled, but
inside they're very good. I hope to make more nets this winter,
to save more of them... Lately our one loose hen
has been entering the cage to join the others to roost. In the
morning she makes loud noises when she wants to leave, since they're a
lot more more pugnacious in the morning, and we open the door and help
August 4, 2009
The raspberries are finishing up. I picked a gallon this morning,
then switched to green beans. We have two rows of green beans,
about 30 feet long. This was the first major picking other than a
few for eating. I picked over four gallons of them from the first
row, then decided to save the rest for tomorrow and give them to the
food bank. The beans I grow are called Provider, and they really
provide... So I parboiled and froze them into 12 pints this
evening... This was a great day for sales, after
Sunday being one of the slower days in the last month. I did
check our sales for July, and they were off 25 % from last year, as is
to be expected. I listen to NPR as much as I can, but so much of
it is on the bad economy that I sometimes switch back to my 1000
Grateful Dead concerts on CD (I'm about 1/4 through, after 5 years of
The weather continues unabated, although the forecast is for a high of
70 by Friday, so change is predicted, but invisible so far. I
made double and triple condiment holders, mugs, platters, and large
bowls today. I also sold more pots than I made, which is often
the case by this time in the summer. The curious thing was that
the customers almost all came in between 12 and 2 pm. Since my
son is gone, I'm doing most of the sales, so it was nice that I was
taking a break during those two hours from the studio.
Speaking of my son, we've gotten a couple emails, and he should be
skiing Argentine mountains by Friday, after a 20 hour bus ride from
This bird is a female black headed grosbeak. It frequents our
feeder, and it even perched on our window and seemed to look inside for
a couple minutes. Grosbeak means big beak, which it has, for a
bird of its size, suited to breaking open seed cases. I've seen
the male in the area a couple times, but not at the feeder. Also
last week I saw a western tanager just across the street. a lovely bird
with black and yellow body and red head.
One more comment on the photo. To capture bird photos, you must
rely on the automatic focus and light settings of the camera, due to
their rapid movements. In this case the bright daylight behind
the bird made the bird almost as dark as a silhouette. But by
increasing the brightness in a photoshop type program, a lot of the
color details are actually there. It does make the background
sort of whited out, but makes the bird photo far improved... The
yellowish background becomes a cheery highlight. Sales continued briskly today, as did my pottery production.
Mostly I took care of pots from yesterday and kilns, but I managed to
throw some plates and berry bowls at the end of the day.
It was cooler (70's) today, but the promised rains never happened,
leaving us coolly dessicated. The first tomatoes are getting ripe
from the garden, as the last raspberries are picked.
A while ago I started thinking about how many industries have been
radically affected by the Internet. The music, news, tv, publishing,
and movie industries spring to mind, as well as general marketing...
Someone on NPR was saying that it is a real revolution, one that even
NPR may not survive. Certainly the current world financial
troubles are rooted in corporate greed, but the back story includes
many layoffs caused by shifting economics resulting from the web.
My father, if he still lived, as a journalism professor, would be
mourning the impending death of the print media. Even the
advertising industry can't figure out how to get people to watch their
spiels, with all the ad blockers and such.
Although I sell some pots on the web, and was an early adapter, I never
figured out myself how to reach a large customer base, so I'm still
mostly a "brick and mortar" seller. I've noticed more people this
summer asking about having my pots on the web, so it's always possible
that my web business will expand. Since I use it for shipping,
the post office would like that--another victim of the digital
I played and explained a history of American popular music for an hour
in the Spirit Lake City park today, to a small crowd of kids and
vendors . Then I headed into Spokane for the Bluewaters
Bluegrass Festival. I may make a webpage of photos from it later
this week. It's always a mixture of good old fashioned bluegrass
and edgy modern stuff, which from my description you can guess which I
prefer. For myself, I figure as soon as the improvisations bear
no resemblance to the original tune, it's jazz... So some of the
edgy modern jazz was based on old time tunes, which was a good start,
and played with incredible virtuosity (i.e. lacks soul). I
occasionally wonder where my music fits in the continuum. I know
I'm not just a re-creator of old music, but I don't want to take the
music off into the deep end either.
Today we biked in the Silver Valley, where scenes like this were common
along the Coeur D'Alene river. This used to be called Lead Creek,
and it was so acidic that an old time friend of ours hung a hammer in
it and the head was eaten off in a week. So it's currently part
of a superfund cleanup from mining wastes, but very lovely none the
less. We bicycled from Pinehurst to Cataldo, where we had lunch
at the only place in town, then returned, about 8 miles in all, on an
asphalt bike trail. There were quite a few bicyclists, but often
we'd go 5 minutes or more before someone passed us going one way or the
other. We also talked to a friend who told us
there's enough silver ore in the area to last another hundred years.
There's also a group that currently ran out of money
digging a mile long tunnel, which stopped a ways short of the ore
body which had been located with test drilling. Mining is a
chancy business. We'd also been told of a major vein of ore that
ended abruptly in a fault line, and they couldn't tell which way the
ore vein had shifted, so that was the end of that rich vein.
We've heard a lot of mining tales from the Silver Valley...
It was another one of those summer work days. I picked 6 gallons
of green beans before moving on to the pottery. I unloaded two
kilns and loaded and fired two more. The mugs I made this morning
needed handles by afternoon. And this evening I turned 5 gallons
of green beans into 21 pints for freezing. The
story of the little lone hen keeps evolving. She's been coming into the
pen at night, slipping under the fence, to roost with the other hens.
And now she's laying eggs in the nest box with the other hens.
She can get back out the same way she goes in, but prefers to
wait to be let out the door, probably to avoid being pecked. None
of the other hens try to slip out the fence hole. She likes to
follow me around the garden when I'm picking...
August 11 It was a slower pace of day today--no vegetable or fruit picking...
This morning I looked out and noticed the lone hen had gotten out of
the coop by herself. Then later I went to get the eggs out, and
dump in some leftovers, and I left a pancake outside the door for the
lone hen, who'd wandered off somewhere. When I went in the coop,
I noticed the matching yellow hen was on the roost, the way the lone
hen stays when in the coop to avoid being pecked on. Then when I
was leaving the coop, the hen flew out the door and began eating the
pancake. I put it back in, and it was immediately pecked by the
two remaining hens. So I figured out it was the lone hen, and the
other yellow hen had found its way out this morning (after I'd just
recently said they don't leave the pen...) Anyway, we can't tell
the two hens apart, but the other hens sure can. But one
way we can tell the two hens apart, is that the other hen isn't as easy
to catch... We've had about a half inch of rain
today, mostly drizzle, but one brief extremely local thunderstorm.
I could count to two between the flash and the thunder,
making it less than a half mile away... I heard that in a storm
last month, a local resident had a tree in his yard hit, which broke
off against his house, and the house received a big enough jolt to fry
all his electronics. The rain made it so I couldn't pick green
beans for the food bank.
August 13 I posted my photos of the bluegrass festival last weekend at this link.
It rained a lot last evening, so that this morning there was 1.6 inches
in our rain gage. We can put away the hoses for a while.
After the rain this morning it seemed there were birds everywhere.
At the feeder which only hosted one sparrow all winter, I could
see 10 species in a couple minutes. This is an old crossbill
photo--there was a female at the feeder this morning.
Quite a few news sources noted the passing this week of Les Paul, who
was a great guitarist, but gained fame for lending his name to the
first solid body electric guitar put out by Gibson. Some accounts
credited him with inventing the electric guitar, but although he
did invent his own solid body guitar, it was another design that bore
his name. Mostly I remember him for playing on tunes like
Mockingbird Hill with his wife on vocals. But I
mention it because Mike Seeger also died in the last week, who may have
had as large an influence on the music community as Les Paul, but
received little notice. The only time I saw Mike Seeger was
around 1970, when I went to my first folk festival at St. Olaf College.
I'd heard of Pete Seeger, who was his half brother, but didn't
know what to expect with Mike. He sang with a pleasant high tenor
obscure mountain songs accompanied by autoharp, fiddle, harmonica, and
guitar. I was hooked on folk music, thanks to him.
At the time I saw him
the folk period was already in deep decline. He'd made his name
in 1958 by forming the New Lost City Ramblers, which recreated the
music of the Southeastern US previously known only to a few collectors
of 78 rpm records. He also helped bridge the gap between the
Northeastern US music scene and the roots music of Appalachia,
promoting bluegrass to a wider audience. The New Lost City
Ramblers inspired a second generation of folkies, including the
Grateful Dead, whose popular "Uncle John's Band" song was a reference
to the Ramblers, another member of which was John Cohen. The
Ramblers recorded on Folkways, a New York company better known to
musicians than the general audience. A few
years ago I requested a quote from Mike for my Sam McGee page, since he
had recorded and produced Sam's best album. He graciously
consented (it's on the Sam McGee page). On the
more mundane daily front, it got cold starting around noon, so that we
had a fire going through the afternoon and evening....
It was another cold day, ending in sprinkles, but the pottery shop was
humming with customers all day. I only unloaded and loaded a kiln
today and mixed a batch of glaze. The rest of the day was spent
getting ready for company. My son got back from
Argentina yesterday--it rained one or more of the days he was skiing,
enough to close the mountain temporarily (he hiked to ski on that day).
He enjoyed the trip overall. He's been learning Spanish on
the Internet, including listening to Spanish TV programs and movies.
My other son and his wife arrive this evening at 11 for a week
or so, from the Chicago area. I'm glad the weather is expected to
The weather is at "pleasant" heading towards "torrid" later in the
week. I spent most of the morning dealing with loading and
unloading kilns, glazing, and packing pots for shipment. I
finally got to throwing in the middle of the afternoon. I had
three kids come asking for work so I set them up cleaning the pots.
They did a fair job, and didn't break any, so it worked out.
I've no doubt cited advice about children working from a 90 year
old lady which stuck with us--"one boy is one boy, two boys is half a
boy, and 3 boys is no boy at all." I
didn't get a photo, but yesterday we had Evening Grosbeaks at the
feeder. They're more colorful in their winter plumage, but I'll
try to get a picture if they stop by again. The feeder has
been emptying in about 3 days, as the bird party continues. In
the winter, when a flock of 25-50 Evening Grosbeaks stops by, they can
empty a feeder in a couple hours. We started calling them seed pigs.
There's a patch of hawthorns half way between the pottery and our
house, and I saw an unfamiliar bird eating in it.
We finally decided it was an immature cedar waxwing, with no crest
yet... In the photo you can see the haws, and the thorns
We went canoeing at the end of the lake looking for moose, but saw
none. That's the problem with moose looking--if we weren't
looking for moose it would have been an acceptable experience. We
did see a bald eagle and a heron. Last night I
played the preshow at the Rockin B Ranch. It was to be with the bass
player I work with, but he left for the month. As it was, I
played reasonably well, while people ate, talked, and some of them
listened. The rest of the evening were bluegrass groups
I've heard for years, but I was impressed how good they all sounded.
There must be some advantages to regular practices and
We went to Farragut Park today, at the north end of Lake Pend Oreille.
While our progeny canoed across and along the lake, we hiked to a
swimming area (about a mle along the side of the lake). Our
arrangements to remeet were a little hazy, so we walked a half mile up
to a road, thinking we might meet them, then realized they might have
chosen the option to pick us up in the canoe. So we walked
rapidly down again, and located them in the canoe. We made it
back just as dusk was falling, in time to still see the corn ears well
enough to pick them. The photo is from the
day before on Spirit Lake. With near record temperatures
predicted today, another lake is not out of the question for tomorrow.
We finished off the green beans today, taking some to the food bank.
This year we planted some scarlet runner beans on the other side
of the fence we use to support our peas, so we'll have a late supply as
well. It was also the joyful first day of sweet corn from the
I don't think it got over 90 today, but we evaded it by going to the
middle part of Lake Pend Oreille, Green Bay. On the way there we
passed through dark woods where it was only 70 degrees. The final
descent was a rough road, with a parking area for the pebble beach and
primitive camping area only having room for about a dozen cars.
So it was relatively isolated and lovely. The haze from
forest fires made the distant views pretty hazy, but the lake itself
was excellent. This lake is the largest natural lake in Idaho,
about 30 miles long and over a mile across over most of its domain.
In the last two days along its shores, we saw a rubber boa snake, and a tiny blue tailed skink (lizard). The skink was in the pebbles on the beach.
I've been home catching up on pottery work for the last two days.
Sales are slowing down, which is not surprising, as friends and
relatives are back at or getting ready to return to school.
The hens have settled into a pattern where the wrong hen is out every
morning. Also they seem to all be getting along better, which
might make it so we can house them together this winter.
We had more visitors--a couple nieces and their mates. That
turned our visiting son and his wife into part of the host team.
I can imagine getting another set of visitors and our kids could
take over and we could step out, something like a chain letter (hmm,
sounds a bit like life). Anyway we're getting our share of
visitors. We went to the high
school to play some tennis tonight, and one would think school was
already in session. There were kids practicing football, cross country
track, and there was a volleyball tourney going on that had filled the
parking lot. It's all reminiscent of a little over a year ago
when our exchange student arrived.
August 25 With
the last day of our family reunion, we played croquet and keep-away.
My son was briefly in charge of croquet for his college,
including creative variations. Our yard is peppered with bushes
and garden spots, so the course had a dog leg in it. They also
added a few frisbees and a soccer ball lying about, that could earn you
an extra whack. I won in the regular part of the game, but lost
in the poison section. The keep-away game was played in the Mill
Pond, throwing around a small beach ball. It was the
usual--somebody "it" in the middle, throwing the ball around.
Still it was a lot of fun, helping us to forget that the water is
turning colder again, and Fall is nearly upon us.
My son made a pepper shaker that looks like a squirrel out of clay--his
wife made a candy dish with a toad and some acorns in full relief as
decoration. The day they made them, I sat with them and turned
out rattlesnakes and turtles.
I forgot to cover the 40 goblet cups and 40 stems I made yesterday,
which meant they were very dry to assemble this morning. I still
succeeded, dipping the joint areas in water and smearing liberally with
slip. But in trying to trim them, I wore out one of the last loop
tools I had on hand. So I spent some time today making more of
them, from wood handles and scraps of street sweeping brush metal that
I've collected over the years (I noticed recently the new brushes are
made from plastic, so I'm glad I stockpiled a lot of these thin strips
of metal. So as to make the ends replaceable when they wear out,
I secured them to the handles first with many wrappings of strong
fishing line, then covering that with electrical tape, both of which
can be cut off later.
The short version is that I've been gone for two days, and several
hundred miles, to get some peaches. These were organically grown
peaches, from along the Columbia River at Kettle Falls, Washington.
The travel coincided with some of the hottest weather this
year--nearly 100 F (38 C). The most exciting part
was near Sullivan Lake, where we stayed in a friend's cabin. As
we approached the lake, a black bear dashed across the road in front of
us. This was the best way to encounter a bear, from inside a car.
I've never experienced them the other way, and in fact the last
bear I saw in the wild was in the process of being euthanized after
being hit by a car. Anyway this bear was loping towards the
campground at the upper end of the lake, where I was glad I wasn't
camping. After eating supper at the cabin, I
thought I saw a dark blob moving on the far shore of the lake, so we
paddled over to see if it was a moose or bear, but it was only a stump
(cleverly moving to fool me, no doubt).
Yesterday we stopped in Colville for their county fair. It had
everything a fair ought to, except the rides. This was the first
time I'd seen an emu up close. It looked pretty evil. The
big beak didn't have any sharp serrated parts to it, but it was still
big, and light coming through its throat when its mouth opened glowed
red. After the fair we stopped at Kettle Falls to
get some peaches, at an organic orchard we'd known about. Like a
lot of the towns named after falls around here, the actual Kettle Falls
apparently got drowned by hydro dams on the river. There was
still a lot of lovely mountains and other scenery in the area.
August 30 This month came in and went out with geocaching. We were up at Priest Lake again
today, looking at a peat bog set up as a nature lesson with signs and
stuff, and my son noticed an ammo box right there. A month ago,
we wouldn't have known what it was, but today we opened it and found a
rubber ducky with a winter motif. The rule with stuff in the
boxes is if you take something, you leave something, so I emptied a
little pot I carry with various allergy pills in it and we left that
there. I'll have to check my geocache to see if anyone has found
it yet... The hot weather continues, predicted
through most of this week. It used to be we were lucky to
make it to this date without a frost.