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July 1
    It does seem a bit odd that most of us who live where winter happens,  live their lives looking forward to 2-3 months of summer, parts of which are too hot to enjoy.  I'm not complaining, mind you, but it does seem odd...  Although with the library job, the first 1/3 of summer went way too fast...
    I took a trip into Spokane today for supplies, which reduced my pottery day to about one hour, during which I unloaded a glaze kiln and trimmed a half dozen large bowls.  With the current hot weather, pots dry quickly, and these bowls had gotten white at the rim, although the clay at the foot was less exposed and still trimmed in ribbons (as opposed to little scrapings, at which point it's best to recycle the clay).  To prevent the rims from cracking when set upside down to trim (which happens all too easily when the pot is very dry, and slightly out of round (as most pots are)), I trimmed them on an ice cream bucket set on the wheel, with dabs of clay on the lid to secure the bucket to the bowl.  The ice cream bucket was actually full of kiln wash,  which helped hold it in place by its weight.

July 2
    Every Thursday is another hurdle towards my last day at the library.  Today I combined vocations and took my potter's wheel to the library, where I set it up outside.   After some warm-up songs and stories, I showed them how I make pots.  One of the pre-schoolers said, "It's magic!  Do some more."   It does indeed look like magic when anyone who's done something for many years demonstrates their facility.  My son's ski tricks look that way, except that I've seen enough of the falls along the way to know there was no magic but desire and discipline.
    Back to the library--then I showed them how they could roll out clay and make a little plate, or make a coil pot, or a pinch pot, or a sculpture, and let them loose for 20 minutes.  Most kids love the sticky nature of clay, and most of them had something figured out by the end.  I let the older helpers try the wheel after the session was over.   Tip for potters if you work with kids, cut squares of cardboard for them to work on--it doesn't stick, and they can sign their name on the cardboard so you can transfer it legibly to their pots--I did it with about 45 pots today.
    I did manage to break a piece off the plastic splash pan when unloading the wheel from my car (it's being reglued overnight)--otherwise it all went well.  The temperature was in the high 80's, so it was very warm out there, but there was a lot of shade...
    I felt that June's sales were very good, but compared to last year they're off by 30 %, which is no surprise, considering the economy.  Lately sales have gone up with the temperature, as people flood into the area for the lake and the 4th of July weekend.   I made salt and peppers, tumblers, and mugs today, filling low spots in the inventory.

July 3
    It crept right up to hot--high 80's today.  I went swimming after supper--the lake is still cool but endurable as long as you're putting out a bit of effort--you'd get cold in 15 minutes otherwise.   The water is about 6 inches below the top of the culvert we like to swim from (I put this in for future year comparisons).   This is an inbetween day--lots will be happening on the 4th...

July 4
    The 4th is always a bit too much.  I made 3 quiches last night for a brunch today following the parade.  In the parade I rode with a friend from Post Falls in his 1947 Ford, holding a banner that said "Summer Reading" and playing the harmonica.   With the weather hot and sunny there was a good turn out.  After the parade I returned the banner to the library, and saw that the stage was being emptied at the park celebration.  It turned out the committee this year didn't know how to find the local musicians, so they only had one hour of music scheduled, which makes for a very quiet festival with the 20 or so booths and all.  So I got my new sound system and played for about two hours without a break.  Afterwards I got invited to play for another event in the park for drug free youth in August.  I know there's also a Heritage Days thing the end of the month, and Labor Day celebration is there as well, so I may spend a lot of time playing there this summer, which is fine if the weather is accommodating...  The evening is scheduled to include a barbecue at a neighbor's, and city fireworks followed by backyard fireworks...


July 5
Priest Lake, Idaho
I played guitar to accompany hymns in church today.  I can play a lot of hymns--most of them are based on C or G as the root chord.  There are some I can play in both positions, but generally one or the other will contain the melody notes without going up the neck too much.  With the busy weekend, my practice for church consisted of figuring out where to put the capo so the song will be easy to sing.  For one of the hymns, I only played enough to check the pitch.  So when it came to the last hymn today, I found myself heading up  to unknown territory on the neck to play a tune that should have been easy.  I sort of had to drop out for the high part of the song.  So I figured out I was in the wrong chord group, but couldn't adjust during the hymn... Nobody minded much, but I was certainly humbled.   Practice makes perfect, and the reverse is also true.
     The church was up near Priest Lake, so we had a picnic lunch afterwards, on the beach on a lovely day.  (The photo is from a couple years ago).

July 6
    We got a brief shower this morning, enough to settle the dust and fill some of the barrels we collect rainwater in for watering.    We had the first broccoli and Chinese peapods for supper tonight.  The strawberries are still there whenever we want some--the raspberries are all very green.  The cherry trees are loaded with slowly ripening cherries, and with the little flies that lay an egg in each one.   Life is complicated.
    In the library work, I had the daycare kids cut out paper dolls today.  The one innovation was to allow them the choice of cutting out little people or little jet planes.  You can imagine how the gender split went on that one...
    My son has an internal clock that's always saying  "Time to ski."  So he may go to Mt. Hood on Wednesday for a few days...  Some local friends will be there at that time as well...  (It's kind of an expensive clock...)

July 7
    Even with the cooler weather, the spinach is bolting (starting to flower), so I cut a lot of it and parboiled it and froze 9 sandwich bags full of it for next winter.  I could easily have done twice as much, but frozen spinach isn't a favorite.  It's good with a cheese or cream sauce, and in quiche, but mostly we've had none spinach eaters in the winter, although this winter will be different, so I froze some, and plan to take a lot to the food bank on Wednesday.  
    After getting two glaze kilns glazed and loaded, I made pie plates, berry bowls, and some tumblers today.   
    I read an interesting article my mother sent on Warren MacKenzie, Minnesota potter.  He has a problem most other potters would like to have--his work is so sought after that people were buying his pots and immediately reselling them on Ebay.  That bothered Warren, because philosophically he's always wanted to be a folk potter.  (He now insists on an agreement where the owner will keep the pot for at least one year, and can only buy one of his pots per month) His problem is, he never was a folk potter--having been a professor  with the U of Minnesota for many years and gaining a national following.  Real folk potters like me hear from patrons finding my pots at garage sales, or stolen from a car then ditched when they realized it was just pottery (both stories have been related to me over the years).  
    Still, Warren is trying, even harder than I, to be a potter, working 6 hours a day 7 days a week in his 80's.  He uses a Leach treadle wheel, which is one of the slowest ways to make a pot, so I expect I'm quite a bit faster, if less authentic.  As I've said previously about wheels, you can use any wheel to make a pot, just as a carpenter can use any saw, but in both cases the electric tool is the choice of most professionals...  Pottery as a profession is fraught with habits or choices masquerading as conviction, at least in the upper echelon, or so I surmise, with minimal experience.   Anyway don't mind me--articles on potters usually make my blood pressure rise...
    I just checked and neither of us has anything made by us for sale on Ebay currently...

July 8
    We went down to the lake at sunset this evening.  Fairly large bugs were flitting on the mostly still water.  Sometimes when I'm watching a snow or rainstorm, I start tracking a group of individuals with my eyes, so I can see the way the wind is blowing, or just to amuse myself.  So I started watching a group of bugs, and I realized they were mostly going one way, at about the same speed.  Then I'd see a group whizzing past them, and track them, and a similar group was flying the other direction, like a freeway with no separate lanes or dividing lines.  I can't guess what they were doing out there, unless it was eating tinier bugs...  But it was interesting to discern a pattern in their meandering...

July 9
The wayward chicken, the one who doesn't fit in with the other three, was being barked at by a small dog this morning.  While the dog was chased away, she headed into the house, where she settled into a closet.  Now she's safe in the tool shed.
    The program for today at the library was dance, and we were lucky to have a dance instructor who's been attending with her kids, so she did the program today, with my part just a couple of songs at the beginning and leading them in the Hokey Pokey (that's what it's all about).  The most excitement for me about the program was the rain shower with a quarter inch of water just two hours before it was to be held on the lawn.  Fortunately things dried out quickly and the program could proceed as planned.

July 11
    Our toilet was getting the wood wet at the base, so it was time to replace the wax seal which is how toilets are seated to avoid such leaks.  Things were going well until I removed the old wax seal...  One half of it dropped right down the sewer hole.  This wax is permanently soft and sticky, and will never wash away.  The PVC pipe went down about 2 feet, then made a turn towards the city sewer system.  I could see it at the bottom, so I grabbed a metal rod, and poked it, and had it just to the top when it slipped off and went back down the hole, now disappearing completely.  I was weighing options including crawling in the crawlspace and cutting a section of the pipe out.  Fortunately we were able to fish it out with a coat hanger wire, which saved a lot of work.  I chose today to work on the plumbing because it never works to start a project when the local hardware store might be closed...   Plumbing is my least favorite home maintenance tasks... 

July 12
flower garden
    Here is the pottery garden as it currently stands.  The lush greens to the left are broccoli.  Poppies come up all over.  There are daisies in a clump, near the middle.  The cosmos is growing fast but not blooming yet.  There are a lot of roses obscured by the rest of the flowers, and peas on the lattice on the left.  
    Currently we're eating broccoli, spinach, lettuce,  and pea pods from the garden, along with the last strawberries and the first raspberries.  The cherries are getting ripe, and the trees are loaded.

July 13
    It rained a third of an inch last night, and drizzled through the day today, which is very nice at this time of year for reducing fire danger, as well as watering the garden.  I was mostly inside working today, so I didn't mind...  It did cut down on the pottery customers.  It also made for a busier than average day at the library, as it was a good day to curl up with a computer or a book.  I mention "computer" because it seems like about half of our patrons come to use the 8 internet stations we provide (plus WiFi)...  The users are generally a very quiet bunch except when a cell phone goes off...

July 14
    Before going off the library health plan, I got my eyes checked today for the first time in 30 years or so.  I'd read on the Internet that a person with a  parent with glaucoma has a much likelier chance of getting it, and my mother has it, so I thought once in 30 years isn't too often.  Turns out most people get it about 10 years older than me, and my eyes are just fine, aside from needing reading glasses.  And those I'm happy to buy at the dollar store, and set anywhere I might need a pair.

July 17
    I've been too busy to blog lately, lots of pots to make and raspberries to pick and lawns to mow.  It's over 90 today, so it's average midsummer.  The lake is very comfortable when we swim, mostly in the evening...
    The penultimate (does that mean next to last--that's what I mean by it, anyway) Summer reading program included sunprints on blueprint paper, tempera painting, puppets, music, and stories.   Sounds similar to what's planned for the final one next Thursday...

July 18
    It was my last Saturday to work in the library--very slow, mostly computer users.   As soon as I closed the library, I went to Rathdrum for their town celebration and played music for an hour or so with Jonathan Hawkins.  It was good to make music, the 90 degree heat not withstanding.  There were quite a few people sitting in the shade in front of us--but it was hard to tell how many of them were actually listening.  We tried two or three songs there we'd never played together before.... We were followed by a watermelon eating contest and karoake.  I forewent (possible past tense of forego?) them in favor of supper at home and a swim across the Mill Pond.
These are the busiest days of summer...

July 19
Upper Priest Lake, Idaho
Part of the busyness of summer is getting out on a Sunday. So after church at Priest Lake, we took our canoe and went from the upper end of Lower Priest Lake to the lower end of Upper Priest Lake, about 3 miles each way.  There's a 2 mile long riverlike still water connection between the two lakes, and the upper lake is totally wild (including grizzly bears, which we saw none of).  The picture above is of the view up the lake.  The water is cloudy from some clay exposed to wave action-- otherwise the water was clear to six feet or deeper.  I made a little pot from some of the clay, which I'll fire tomorrow on a scrap of waste clay just to see what happens.  Native clays often melt at stoneware temperatures--some even make a nice glaze.

July 20
    I had about a week of unpaid vacation saved up at the library, and things have been really slow there, so I arranged to take off most of the last 3 days I have there, except for Thursday, which is the last program.  This is great, because the raspberries were calling to be picked.  We picked 4.5 gallons today, and didn't get all the way through the patch.  We're also harvesting cherries from the worm infested trees to make cherry juice with, which is very nice to have on the hot days predicted to lie ahead, even if "worm infested" doesn't sound appetizing..  There's a lot of broccoli and peas in the garden now, and the green beans are looking ready to go to work.

July 21
     It was kind of a pioneer type day today.  I got up and converted the cooked cherry stuff into 3.5 gallons of cherry juice and picked a gallon of raspberries, all before breakfast.  Then I got busy trying to save the pots I threw yesterday and forgot to cover last night.   Later I watched some cracks open up on the feet I had added to them as they shrank off the pots.  I tried to fix a few of them, but probably lost a few...  Then I mixed three batches of glaze and glazed a kiln load of pots, spent part of the afternoon packing pots to ship, and the late afternoon I made some more pots.  This evening I may unload a glaze kiln if it's cool enough.  It's the 90's sort of day where a swim in the evening is obligatory.

July 22
   This was my last day of library vacation, and it was a very busy vacation.   After picking the obligatory gallon of raspberries and baking some bread, I settled in at the pottery and threw around 100 pots, many of which I had to add handles to this evening, due to the heat.  I probably would have only made about sixty pots today, but I got a wholesale order this afternoon which led to making the rest.  The lump of clay from Priest Lake that I mentioned on July 19th came out of the kiln the color and consistency of a piece of chocolate that's been melted and cooled.  It might make a nice brown glaze, but it's a long way to go to get it.
    We went swimming this evening after 9 pm, and there were still 20-30 people down around the access of the lake, and there are lots of people walking around downtown as I write this around 10 pm.   I think it's the burgeoning summer population.  This is the ideal time of year to visit Spirit Lake, or live here...

July 23
The last day of the library was mostly a picnic for the Summer reading program.  It included light opera (not me),  some music by me, a  true story about mailing a girl in Idaho to her Grandmas, which happened back 100 years ago,  and places where kids could paint, draw with chalk, make bubbles, and get temporary tattoos and face paint.  It lasted about an hour and a half.
    We had some dry electrical storms come through today, and more expected overnight.  From our house we can see the ridge on the other side of the lake smoking from a lightning strike.  Apparently it was doused by a helicopter this afternoon...

July 24
    After the usual gallon of raspberries, it was a pottery day today.  I glazed two kiln loads (the last batches of glazes have returned to normal), and I am firing one glaze kiln now.  In the afternoon I went to Spokane to get roll ends of newsprint, which are the small amounts left on each roll at the printer when a run is finished.  I cut them up and use them for pottery wrapping.  I got about a year's supply today, and they're very nice about giving them away, even helped load the car...  The inner brown tubes can be burned for heat, but they have a lot of ash.    The heat continues.  We have the first cauliflower from the garden tonight for supper.

July 25
 A frequent blog reader and potter from Michigan asked to see some of my recent pottery.  So here are some photos:
pottery6 bird house and feeder
I made the birdhouse and feeder because some family members were interested, and I'd never tried it before.  The lids lift off, and have holes that the nylon cords go through so they can't blow off.

pottery in process
In this photo from yesterday, there are 48 freshly thrown pots, mostly on the bottom (for slower drying) and upper right.  The whitish pots at the top left are double condiment holders and creamers.  To the right of them are planters which I added holes to make them hanging planters.  The reddish platter has a red iron based brown glaze on it, ready for final firing.   Behind it are plates drying out with added foot rings sticking up.  The double row of apparent plates are actually lids for the casseroles to the right.  The knobs are on a bat to the left.  Finally at the bottom are 24 dessert bowls.  The mushy clay is recycled clay set out to dry.  Today it looks all different--the casseroles are assembled, the whitish pots are put out above the kiln for final drying before the bisque fire.
sponge holder
Finally, this is a new item, an idea brought in by a patron.   There are few original ideas in functional pottery, so  I'm willing to adapt others' ideas if it makes some kind of sense.  A lot of people want something to set their sponge on by their sink, so this is what some potter figured out.  It's just like my French butter dish, but with cuts in the side to make a place to hold the sponge.  They've been moderately popular.


July 27
    I worked a full day in the pottery today, loading and unloading kilns, glazing a kiln load, firing two kiln loads, and throwing 140 pots, which is probably as many as I've made in one day.  90 of them were minipots, which don't sell for much, and throw faster than one per minute.  The heat is back to the mid 80's, making the lake very enjoyable.  Sales are currently great, which inspires the full day of effort.  
    I'm still picking a gallon per day of raspberries--need to spend more time at it tomorrow as lots have ripened over the weekend.
    Over the weekend I played music in the local park for a 1st annual (and possibly last) Heritage Festival.  I think there was a failure of publicity--the only people there were the ones with the booths, which were going down even as I started to play.  After an hour, when I quit, every one else was happy to take down as well.  Our local groups have a tendency to get grandiose--this festival was planned as a two day affair, and looked more to be a two minute one.  The same thing happened with our local farmer's market--started out doing both days of the weekend when all the successful ones around are Saturday morning and a midweek evening...  It's only hanging on now as a once a month flea market.  It's too bad since they're both good ideas.
    On Sunday I pulled knapweed for an hour or so.  This scourge of the west is scratchy, has little purple flowers like thistles, and spreads copiously both by seed and surviving perennially.  It and hawkweed are the main ones I battle on our properties.  Hawkweed is prettier, but more insidious, spreading by underground runners as well as seeds, so it's always popping up in new areas.

July 28
We had a big electrical storm with about a quarter inch of rain around midnight last night.  It took out our land phone line (and Internet).  I had a pretty good experience talking to a computer at Verizon, though it took talking to a real person to dispatch a repair crew.  Unfortunately, they got the phone working but not the DSL, hence this delayed blog.  The storm including lightning hits so close that we could hear pops after the booms from whatever got hit being fried (most likely trees).  We were lucky there were no fires apparent from that storm.
    I picked 3 gallons of raspberries in the wet canes this morning.  It was a bit uncomfortable, but not bad as it is so warm that the water doesn't chill you.
    It was another busy day in the pottery, ending up with a short term traffic jam as the shelves are mostly full, awaiting kiln firings.  That's one reason not to make 140 pots in a day...

July 29
    I spent an hour in phone purgatory today, since the Internet wasn't working.  After getting referred to a higher "expert", who finally told me to consult my computer maker since it was a driver problem (unlikely, since it stopped working both on a Windows and Linux based computer). It did lead us to the conclusion that the DSL modem had been fried in the electric storm.  So we bought a new one in Spokane today, and if you're seeing this, mostly my son succeeded in installing it.  I think they make DSL modems difficult to install on purpose, so you won't want to change ISPs...
    I had to change the rolls of pricing stickers in my price marker today, and was surprised to have gone through 1000 labels since June. It was likely early June, but that's a lot of pots in even 2 months.  I doubt we've sold 1000 pots yet this summer, but there are a few items we're low on.  

July 30
We've got guests with  4 and  8 year old children.  We're a bit busy, as you might surmise.

Midwinter Nightingale by Joan Aiken.   Although she also wrote romances, Aiken had a penchant for mildly macabre children's stories, particularly the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series.  Curiously, although the hero Simon and heroine Dido are on the scene at the denouement, usually the villains are hoist of their own petard rather than by the work of the heroes.  This is of  necessity an anticlimax...

The Yggyssey : how Iggy wondered what happened to all the ghosts, found out where they went, and went there / by Daniel Pinkwater
This very clever rendering of a story resembling the Odyssey deserves an annotated edition, with all the clever literary and cultural references.  Set in mythical 1950's Los Angeles, it evokes a time familiar to baby boomers, in a way that would seem fantasy to today's kids.  Of course it's also a fantasy with an alternate universe and very hoky adventure plot, but that's all part of the fun...

The Alchemyst : the secrets of the immortal Nicholas Flamel / by Michael Scott.  A rather melodramatic modern day fantasy.  On the whole, I think fantasy is best set not in the modern world, with all the magic and evil beings, but then I like Joss Whedon's work, so I'm not consistent.  Anyway, this one is fairly fun in a saving the world sort of way.   I finished it and immediately started  The Yggyssey : how Iggy wondered what happened to all the ghosts, found out where they went, and went there / by Daniel Pinkwater, which is more meat and bread for my soul...

Fingerlickin' Fifteen by Stephanie Evanovich.  
More of the same mystery and hijinks in the formula that refuses to die.  Since one of the bases of humor is repetition, it gets funnier the more times Ranger says "Babe" and every time her car catches fire and/or explodes.

Nation
by Terry Pratchett.  This is a mature work from the always delightful fantasy writer.  It explores the nature of God, humans, and suffering in a Robinsoe Crusoe-esque context, in an alternate universe of our own planet in the 1800's.   I can't help but believe that the early onset Alzheimer's that has affected his motor functions has turned his thoughts to the mortal sphere, although Death has frequently been a character in his Disc World novels.  He created a very thoughtful well crafted work.  I heard last week it has been adapted for theater already.

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