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    Sept. 1
    With a bit of rain we had yesterday, came cooler weather (though still shorts weather).  It's the transition time to fall, so I tried to get some of the fall things done today, like cleaning out the woodstove chimney.  I do this once or twice per year, climbing on the roof, putting a plank from the roof peak to the masonry chimney peak, removing the rain cap, and pushing a chimney brush down it, then cleaning out the deposit from the bottom.  It's a small thing to do for relative peace of mind.  Just after college, wood heating was all the rage in Minnesota, with the first oil "crisis" pushing fuel oil bills up.  Unfortunately wood heat requires regular maintenance, which many neophytes neglect.  The farm I lived at never got wood heat, but the farm across the road and the old schoolhouse next door did.  Within a couple years they both burned down from creosote fires in their stove pipes.  
    The other fall stuff I did today included picking tomatoes, green peppers, and zucchini, and continuing to water the fruit trees.  I often taper off on watering them too early, leading to smaller fruit,  so I'm making a point of watering into September.  Then there was watching the local college team lose on national television, a fall tradition.  
    And a lot of the day was spent getting ready for the wedding.

 Sept. 2
   I'm done packing for the wedding trip.  I have to have lists within lists to keep organized.  There are things to do to get the pottery shut down and ready (cover the recycling clay, put out extra bags and newsprint for customers), clothing, entertainment  (books and books-on-tape, music (CD and my pseudo Ipod),  food  (enough fresh bread, vegetables, fruit, and meat for the journey, but we'll inevitably get tired of it and start eating out after a day or so) .  On top of it all, we'll be both staying in a cabin, and camping, so camping equipment is coming as well.   And the modern camper brings a laptop to check email...  (My son, on a camping trip with other youth a year or two ago, ended up watching videos on a laptop in the evening, instead of staring at a campfire).  I guess there's a place for both.  
So now you can imagine either an idealized vacation/wedding trip, or be horrified at the lows our culture has sunk to, according to your personal preference.   When I return, I'll probably have a few comments and photos from the trip.  Here's the link to the wedding page...

Sept. 12

    So here it is, my best photo from the wedding, taken while the couple climbed Sugarloaf Mountain with a retinue of friends, relatives, and camerapersons.  (During the actual ceremony, my camera ran out of memory, with the spare card at the motel)
    It was a mythic wedding--it had it all.   There was 3000 miles of driving for us parents, half of it with a piano in the van.  There were relatives and friends from around 14 states.  My bearded son who mostly resembles classical images of Jesus wore a tuxedo as best man.   There was a cat as flower girl, and a dog as the ring bearer.  There was drama, when the rings, tied onto the dog's tuxedo, disappeared on the way down the sandy path to the beach.  There was a long awkward pause as the search went on, and finally some ribbons were substituted for the rings.  This pause allowed some of our best friends to make it to the wedding, who were confused as to the time.   After the service, with a placid blue sky and Lake Superior in the background, the rings were located by patient searching, rather than the metal detector brought in, another triumph for John Henry versus the machine...
    There there was an afternoon of photos in picturesque spots, and an evening of entertainment and dancing.  My son assembled a touching slide show of photos of the two from their babyhood, including many of the family and guests in the photos as well.  The music for dancing was selected from their personal favorites.  I even was asked to play a couple waltzes on the guitar.   At times it resembled a Disney movie (they should secure the rights now) such as the last dance, to the "Au revoir, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen" song from the Sound of Music, where they spontaneously pantomimed it, ending with a sleepy bride laying down to sleep, and Forrest scooping her up and carrying her off the dance floor...
    I hope their honeymoon in the Virgin Islands is as enjoyable...

Sept. 13
    I'd heard that the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) resembled Idaho in some respects.  I have to concede the lakes are bigger there, and they get more rain. But a lot of the plant species were the same (including knapweed and other invasives), and I've seen pileated woodpeckers here, but I got to photograph one there...
pileated woodpecker
I checked in my bird book, and this species is fairly rare in most of the lower 48 states, but its habitat swoops in a continuous arc from Idaho up through Canada to the U.P.  There were also wild blueberries common there, which look like our huckleberry plants but the leaves are slightly narrower.  I look forward to seeing the plants and animals of Europe next week for their similarities and differences as well...
    Meanwhile I'm trying to be productive with the week I'm here--I threw about 65 pots today, and fired two bisque kilns.   One of our apple trees broke a branch from the weight of apples on it while we were gone, so I picked the apples and made applesauce as well.
    This time of year I always wonder when to pick the pears.  Pears must be picked before they are ripe, or the fruit will be very grainy.  So I reviewed previous Sept. blogs to see what I did then, and did a few searches for info on the web.    But in case I check here first next year--the keys are: starting to turn color, slight softening, stems break off tree easily, and some of them are dropping on their own.  Then store near freezing for best quality.

Sept 14

The bride, Susa, is very creative, and designed many parts of the wedding accoutrements, including the figurines for the top of the wedding cake (with cat).   And they looked a lot like that when dancing (except no cat).
    My son harvested 4 fruit boxes of pears today.  I sat inside on a nice afternoon and worked on paperwork.  I usually save it for a rainy day, but they're very hard to come by.   Life remains unfair, even though the weather is fair...

Sept. 15
I'm working off a  list now, of things that have to happen before winter.  It's hard to get in gear for this when it's still shorts weather, but it's a long list.
So today I finished the pear picking (two more boxes), and sorted the tomatoes I'd already picked, and harvested the ripe ones in the garden, to puree and freeze (which I got half done today).
    The morning started early (I'm still running on Eastern time, from the wedding), so I glazed and loaded a glaze kiln and threw a bunch of pots before noon.  I usually try to avoid working on Sunday, but since I'm taking off a couple weeks, it's likely to happen.
    So as to counterbalance the image of my industriousness, I also watched a couple one sided college football games today as well.

Sept. 16
A while back I bought an angel food cake pan, intending to start making a cake which has been a favorite since childhood (and is low in cholesterol).  In fact, an early memory is my mother setting the pan on a Pledge oil bottle to cool, then I'd get a piece and squish it between two wooden blocks, and  I'd call it space food  (astronauts were all the rage--we drank Tang also, which was supposedly developed for space).  Later on in childhood, my fondness for sweets led me to make the cakes on my own, as well as caramels.
   What got me started on the cake pan was buying a grocery store angel food cake, and realizing how bad it was.  When a child, I learned there were two competing mixes--one using two packets, the other only one.  The single packet cake wasn't as good.  So I looked at the cake mixes available at the store today, and it didn't look like the two packet mix won out, so I decided to go one better and make it from scratch.
    The only catch besides the pan was that I've never had an electric mixer for the last 30 years, so I thought I could use the blender to beat the (dozen) egg whites.  From the results, I'm guessing the blender doesn't mix air into it, since it stayed soupy till I took it out and started using a hand egg beater on it.  It never did get the stiff peaks the cookbook mentioned, so I finally just folded  in the sugar/flour mixture and poured it in the cake pan.  30 minutes later, it was half as tall as it started, about the thickness of a regular rectangular cake.  Some of the batter had oozed out onto the bottom of the oven as well--I don't remember that happening as a kid, but the pan does seem designed to leak.  I guess if it were all fluffy instead of gloppy that might  have made a difference.  Anyway I tried a piece, and the taste was what I remembered, and I didn't even have to squish it between two blocks...
  
Sept. 17
    I glazed and fired two kilnloads this morning, then threw the last pots before my trip to Prague.  Although September is usually only half as good in sales as August, August is the best month, so September sales are still significant, and there are a lot of empty shelves in the display.  Although the town is quiet, around 2 this afternoon several groups arrived at once and all the day's sales happened in a few minutes.
    nightshade
I took this picture of deadly nightshade at the lake yesterday.  It reminded me of a volunteer tomato growing in our garden this year which produced tiny cherry tomatoes instead of the hybrid style.  Nightshade and tomatoes are related--even the leaf looks somewhat similar.  When we moved here, we noticed the plants on the beach, and I correctly identified them. That didn't prevent our infant son Forrest (see marriage photo above) from popping one of the berries in his mouth one time at the beach, to our shock and chagrin.  We called the poison control center and administered ipecac (mostly no longer recommended), and after it caused him to vomit out the berries he was out of danger.  
    A few years later there was a story in the paper of some pre-med students rafting on the Salmon River who popped some berries in their mouths, not knowing what they were, and several of them soon died.  I never did hear what berries those were, but nightshade seemed likely, as it prefers the verges of rivers and lakes.  (They hadn't invented the Darwin Awards yet, but they would have been candidates, particularly in the "should have known better" category, if such a category exists).

Sept. 18
    I spent today getting ready for a trip to Europe (being impressed with the hotels we're staying at. from looks at their webpages, reading about pickpockets in Prague, realizing that no signs there will resemble any of the 3 languages I have a smattering of (including English).  I also canned a few jars of grape juice from grapes a friend gave us (hoping our own grapes will still be good on the vine in 10 days).  I borrowed a 220-110 adapter so I can hopefully charge my camera battery, and fill both of my memory cards with interesting pictures.
    Thank you, regular blog readers--check in again around the end of September...

Sept. 30
    I'm back from the trip to Europe, and have decided to cover a destination per day until my life catches up with me (sort of a jet lag thing).
    Our first stop was Bad Kissengen, in Bavaria.  Although not in the mountains, it was a delightful classic Bavarian town (under 15,000) to visit.
Bad Kissengen market
This photo is from the town square on a Saturday market day.  It was quite like our own better farmer's markets--good quality crafts and local fruits and vegetables.  The photo was taken  from a cafe dating back to the 17th century.  The town's main focus has been health for a long time--a hot springs, plus a couple fizzy mineral water springs brought in lots of people hoping for cures to their ills.  Many of the hotels were called "Kurhotels," which is I think a reference to the cures being sought.
    I was traveling with my mother, who, though very young for her 80 plus years, uses a cane when walking distances.  In this town she was not noticable, as many walked with canes, and it was all well designed for leisurely enjoyment of the waters, including a small river.
Bad Kissengen springs
    This is a photo of two of the springs, under the glass covers, and an elaborate system of pipes leading to places where people could drink the water (which tasted sulphorous, and I witnessed one sampler spit it out immediately).  This was just a small part of a large pavillion dedicated to this sort of water worship.  In back of this area was a  large hall suitable for concerts and dinners, with a stage area that would rotate (with a band shell backing) so as to face an outside courtyard for concerts in nice weather, or inside for evenings and poor weather.   I don't think such faith is put in water healing today, but the setting was a fine place to meet Bavaria.  
    Civic pride was apparent throughout the community.  We received free vouchers to ride the municipal buses, which we did several times to see the outlying part of the community.  Throughout this town, as well as other parts of Bavaria that we visited, great outdoor flower displays and window boxes were common, and for me there's no better way to brighten a space.  The parks were well kept, and from the large percentage of BMW's and Mercedes everywhere, it was apparent that at least this area of Germany is thriving...

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