Feb. 1 Emil
and I went skiing again today. While he hasn't connected enough
with football to be excited about the Superbowl, I watched part of it
in the lodge up on the mountain, part at a friend's house where we were
delivering some pottery, and finished watching the play by play
internet report on it (since we don't get NBC, and soon won't get any
TV with the digital changeover--come on, networks--stream your
content...) So this evening I spent
editing videos, which, I'll add to my video page (link is in the menu
above this page) at the bottoms of the appropriate lists, and on the Sondahl and Hawkins page..
I celebrated Groundhog day with a couple Library preschool groups
today. The book I read tried to make it clear that the Groundhog
thing doesn't mean anything, it's just for fun. As I pointed out,
it's still winter and the Superbowl is over, so you got to grab for
what you can get. It snowed an inch and a half last night, reminding
us it is still winter. I no longer see the snow piles taller than
me--it takes fresh snow to have any impact, and that wasn't enough snow
hardly to shovel. With it came a warming trend, bringing us above
freezing, which it hasn't been for quite a while.
I heard on the radio that American sales were down 1 per cent in
December. That doesn't sound like a catastrophe to me. I
expect the repressed buying habits of the American public (due to
their compulsive nature) will slowly resurface, if only the sky would
stop falling... Paging Chicken Little...
went for a long walk onto the lake today, to see where a faultline
developed at the end of the middle island, pushing up thick chunks of
ice as illustrated. Geography is destiny, and the large main area
of the lake is split into lobes by the island, so cracks form in that
area every year. In the pottery I got an order for 70 mugs, so I
started on them today. Because of the walk, I got about 40 of
them started... It was a nice sunny day...
We got an inch of snow this morning, which got wetter as the day went
on. It felt like a Spring snowfall, but it's a bit early to
expect Spring. Last winter the heavy snow just started around
now... I've got kid pots from the library to fire
in the next few days, along with planters, pitchers, and other
Feb. 7 I added two puppet videos today: What happened after the lion and the mouse and Bad Luck (the Fat Lady Sings) The
second one is interesting on several counts. They started with a
simple idea, of a mouse tying a doll to the railroad tracks (where it's
hit by a potato chip can). They had a cell phone with some ring
tones for the "special effects." Then they got the idea of adding
the saying, it ain't over till the Fat Lady sings. The girl
playing the fat lady cracked up, and they made a bunch of retakes, then
decided they should create some bloopers, so I strung it all together.
They're doing the filming, organizing, and puppets--I just do
the editing and some occasional directing (towards better taste,
usually). I put in a couple fun effects because I just discovered
them in the editing program, and I think the speeded up video part will
probably give them some ideas for Chipmunks style fun.
I also glazed 3 kilnloads worth of pots today, and am working on
bookkeeping, trying to clear a clogged drain, and not selling pots (one
Another long walk on the frozen lake today, where there were ice
fishermen, 7 deer, snowmobiles, and cross country skiers. There
were even some snow shoe tracks, although the snow on the lake is less
than an inch deep, and frozen on hard enough that the footing was
great. It was the kind of ice that would tempt me to drive an old
beater car around on it turning doughnuts (if I were that sort of
person, and if I hadn't seen a car plunge through the ice back in the
old days in Minnesota.) This is definitely cabin fever time, so a
sunny day hiking the lake is about as good as it gets...
In the evening I went to see Coraline (review below). I remember
vividly the 3D movies seen back in their heyday, including The Thirteen
Ghosts (maybe not 3D, but you wore one color glasses if you believed in
ghosts, and another if you didn't, as if anyone would wear THOSE
glasses), and I think it was House of Wax, with Vincent Price, which
had a guy hitting a paddle ball out towards the audience strictly as an
awesome 3D effect.
I've made it through a small but enthusiastic (fanatic) group of
vampire lovers at the library. I started the program with an
episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a funny/serious vampire series the
16 year olds remembered from when they were kids. Then they
talked about the Twilight series, which continues to be requested by
patrons from age 10 to 70. We managed to have a mostly on topic
discussion of it. It wasn't the foundation at a teen program,
but it was an attempt...
Feb. 14 I'm flying to Minnesota to visit family for the weekend, so will be out of blog contact for a while. This
week seemed a lot of blah late winter weather, foggy mornings,
occasional light snow. But what set this week apart is that two
of the hens started laying eggs again. This reminds me of an
article showing that birds are wintering on average 150 miles north of
their historic range. This is a triumph for bird observers, where
their bird avidity actually translates into scientific data. It
is also interesting in that bird migrations seem hardwired into their
little bird brains, but they clearly make some choices based on warmth
or food availability, so they are flexible to changing climates...
The last time I went to Minnesota my best photo was a cardinal,
as was this time. I'd like to say that I'm giving the less showy
female cardinal more exposure as part of gender parity, but actually
the red cardinal shots were blurrier. The most
blogworthy part of my trip was the way out. I don't fly a lot,
but remember flying to Minnesota shortly after 9-11 and being impressed
by the lack of conversation. Now it seems most conversations are
on cell phones, which brings me to my story.
I sat down in my chosen window seat (ever optimistic that I'll be able
to see wonderful landforms from the sky, though usually it's just
clouds--speaking of which, have you ever seen a bright white light like
a sundog on the clouds below you in the direction towards the sun?
Wonder what that's called...) I was just at the point of
hoping for an empty seat next to me when this woman showed up with a
large pack to fit under her seat, and settled in. I'm not a
gregarious sort, more inclined to reply to a comment than tender one,
but I did wonder why she pulled some nylon netting resembling a
beekeeper's hat over her face. There were several other women on
the plane wearing little hats over their hair (in the Amish or
Hutterite style), so I wondered if it was some religious thing.
She kept it on for most of the trip, and I kept to myself reading
a book. She also had a silver gadget in her possessions resemling a
cross between a hair dryer and the Millenium Falcon space ship, which I
found curious. After we landed, I got out my cell phone to call my
wife, which is when she finally spoke to me. " Doesn't that cell
phone make your head hot?" she asked. "That was a hot one.
I've got this device from England that tells when anyone is using
a cell phone nearby. They make my head hurt." While there
are plausible bits to her story, it was clearly nylon netting she was
wearing, which would not stop any kind of waves, but might be effective
on NonMinnesota mosquitoes...
Another busy day of kids programs at the library. The kids movies
have been changing from puppetry towards acting. Here's the link
to the one made from last week: Just a Dream Also
we gave a short talk at the local Chamber of Commerce on our business
history this morning. The weather continues winter blah.
Among the stereotypes of Scandinavians that we harbor, lefse and
lutefisk are prominent food items. Emil had never heard of lefse,
but has grown fond of it. I made some for breakfast today.
It's just leftover mashed potatoes, mashed again with a fork to
remove lumps, with white flour added to make a rollable dough, fried on
a hot dry griddle. We serve it warm with butter and jam, brown
sugar, or other fruit sauces. Lutefisk is lye
soaked codfish, of a gelatinous texture, which I find hard to believe
is still popular anywhere but in Minnesota.
Spring hit today with a vengeance--rain all day, the first rain since
last fall. The water is pooling in front of our previously
flooded garage, but there's still a two foot berm of snow and ice which
should hold it for a while (That's probably what the cave men
said about Glacial Lake Missoula, which built up behind an ice dam and
then failed catastrophically during the last ice age, changing the
geography of this whole area). Up until today the street
by our house was still coated with an inch of protective ice.
This may mark the beginning of the Spring breakup, when the roads
are fragile changing from frozen tar underneath to goopy tar. I'm
not naive enough to think the snows are over, but the average high
temperature is creeping up well above freezing. This is good
since the 4 cords of wood for our main house are used up, and we're
starting to import wood from the pottery house. Including parents there were 16 for the preschool storytime today, which
is the largest group yet. I'm pleased that the kids and
parents are happy with the program, which included stuffing all the
critters from "I know an old lady" down the old lady puppet's gullet (I
didn't create this--it's a commercial product), and making puppets out
of paper bags with googly eyes and construction paper ears.
Two days of rain, still no serious flood issues... This is
another version of the late winter blahs... I cranked out pots
all morning, and checked books and videos in and out all afternoon at
Feb. 25 The
third day of rain turned into snow, so everything looks more freshly
wintery, rather than worn out wintery. In spite of the rain,
there's still plenty of 8 foot berms of snow around. Tomorrow baseball season starts at the high school, and Emil is going to try the great American game.
He's been experimenting with hair dye again --tried to dye his hair
green with green food color. In the rain yesterday the dyed hair
got on his face, where the dye stuck on his skin in a prominent manner
over a good section of face. I guess he's ready for St. Patrick's
Day a little early.
We've got a young friend of the family visiting who is interested in
living with us next winter, and possibly learning to be a potter.
She's staying over her spring break from high school, which
should give us both a bit of time to see if it might work out.
She has a semester of high school to finish next fall, so she
would come next January, through Fall. She's also looking at area
colleges while being here. I've been making lots
of pots this week, but with the rain they've dried slowly, so I finally
filled two kilns today with them and am "candling" them (heating the
kiln slowly to let them dry out), probably to fire them tomorrow
(depending on whether we go skiing or not).
Yesterday and today no precipitation is expected, but the next week has
lots expected, starting tomorrow. Today looks like a good day to
walk on the lake--it's been cold enough overnight to freeze the recent
rain and snow and make a fairly smooth lake surface.
Books read and other media of note:
Gunman's Rhapsody by Robert Parker I'd never paid a lot of attention to the life of Wyatt Earp,
except seeing some series based on his life when a child. This
novel by Robert Parker brought it all alive. I just read most of
what's written at the link above, and his story fits the facts mostly,
although he paints Wyatt as more of a hero than his record attests.
If anyone epitomized the Old West, it's got to be Wyatt.
He even ended up in Murray, Idaho and Chewelah, Washington in
later years, chasing mining booms. He lived enough for ten men... The Bear in the Attic by Patrick McManus He
writes books regularly--collections of his humorous articles from
Outdoor Life Magazine. Each story is a 3 page gem--a very short
short story about growing up camping and fishing and stuff, made more
wonderful for me as they're mostly set in North Idaho. Two for the Money, and Three to Get Deadly, Four to Score, High Five by Janet Evanovich. Okay, I'm hooked on the series--detective fluff, but well told fluff. I guess I've got about 20 to go.
The Graveyard Book. by
Neil Gaiman. This is his latest fantasy, and it had some good
parts. I was reminded of Peter Beagle's Fine and Private Place,
also set in a grave yard. I think I failed to engage enough with
some of the characters for it all to work for me. Coraline 3D
film. I'd read the book--generally I like the author, Neil
Gaiman. This was well realized, and the 3D effect adds to the
surreality of the whole premise--a girl ventures into a scary mirror
image reality from a hidden door in a house she's moved into. It
was the first 3D movie I'd seen in many years, and showed the potential
for making it worthwhile to see the movie in a theater--2D small screen
would be a distant relative at best. I wouldn't recommend it for
kids under 10 though--mostly pretty depressing topics.
The Violent Man by
A.E. Van Vogt. This work was a surprise from the usually seat-
of- your- pants fantasy author--a well researched novel set in a cold
war indoctrination prison in China (it was written in the 50's or 60's
as well). Although it was not a topic I'd usually read a novel
on, he made it an interesting psychological study. It reminded
me a bit of the 60's series, The Prisoner, as they both have their
surreal touches. Video: Appaloosa I'd
read the book by Robert Parker last year. Although my memory has
always been like a sieve, this movie seemed an excellent rendition of
the book. The actors seemed all hard real people, in a hard
existence--not a pretty face in the bunch. In the library, it's
mostly older men that read the westerns--I guess I'm an older man...
But the drama of love, betrayal, and honor cuts across genres. Twilight
by Stephenie Meyer. I read it because it's hugely popular with
teens. The whole book seethes with repressed sexuality and other
nervous tension. I'm not sure why it's such a hit--there's a lot
better fantasy out there... Sometimes hits just happen. Or
maybe it's the seething repressed sexuality and other nervous tension.
One for the Money
by Janet Evanovich. Our library has a huge section of books by
this author on her Stephanie Plum mysteries. She's currently atop
the best seller list for her latest entry. I'm fond of female
Miss Marple to V.I. Warshawski to Carlotta Carlisle and Anna Pigeon.
This particular one (Plum) is closest to V.I. Warshawski:
urban, working class, a bit more crass than V.I., but well crafted.
Not for the squeamish. Sondahl blog index