Sept. 1, 2009 The weather continues 90'ish and swim-able.
I spent a long time assembling teapots today. There's no other
item I make with so many details and parts to assemble. This time
besides the main part, lid, spout, and lugs for the handles, I decided
to add a splayed coil foot on the bottom, because the last time I made
them they were so round that I lost some when moving them around on the
board, so a wider foot should improve stability. Because of the
necessary order of assembly, I had to add the foot, which was soft
fresh clay, then set the pot on the foot while adding the spout.
This resulted in some deformation of the foot, so I then started
setting the teapot in a thrown chuck ( a chuck is anything used to hold
something in place, known most familiarly in usage as a drill chuck).
This worked--I hope I remember the trick the next time I make
teapots, which might be in a year or so.
The cat brought in a skink today. Better a skink than a skunk, I
say. Anyway by the time it was called to my attention, the cat had been
put out and there was a partial tail wriggling on the floor.
Skinks do that sort of thing to evade predators. The skink
is at large in the house, under the piano or somewhere. Hopefully
it will find its way out this evening. Or maybe it will catch
some of the hobo spiders we've got...
One project I started today is to make an accordion like screen to put
in front of triple sliding doors that turn into large ice cubes in the
winter. We took up some carpet after buying our house, and saved
the pad, as it seemed to be wool felt, instead of the usual rubber
stuff. So the idea is to make panels framed with wood, with the
wool felt secured to the panels for insulation, and cover it with cloth
to make it look better. We'd originally talked about using
hinges on it, but a lot of accordion pleated dividers use cloth or
other similar material as a flexible hinge. It has the advantage
of reducing drafts as well. So today I made two of the panels,
and hope to make 4 more tomorrow.
This isn't the prettiest picture of trumpet vine, but it's likely to be
the best this year. In the background is the garden, corn
and scarlet runner beans are in view. But I included
this trumpet vine photo because of how we have often sought
flowers that remind us of our own childhood. When we bought this
property, I could identify the trumpet vine, even though I'd not seen
one since I was a child, at my grandparents' house. But it took 5
years before it finally bloomed this summer. Then the wind today
blew over the tripod we'd put up to support it. It survived.
Another flower I grow, remembered from childhood, are cosmos, which
practically take over the garden in the fall from all the volunteers I
don't hoe out in the Spring. I guess it's a
retrospective period, Fall, which seems to be starting today with
strong winds heralding cooler predicted weather. Having caught
up on the basic decorations in pottery, I've reverted to making some
pots in the first one I learned, and the first one I figured out
on my own. The first one I learned was the blue scallop, during
my apprenticeship in 1975. Several years later I thought it would
be cool to have a brown version, so the brown scallop with speckled
slip evolved. In the first several years as a professional,
brown and blue scallop were the basic colors I produced. I
figured out how most pots could be decorated with them right when they
were thrown, so the pot was mostly done after the handles were put on,
just needing to be dipped in a glaze or two. I also learned to
squirt glaze with an ear syringe, but it was a lot more random how it
came out in the early days. Now that I have 8 or 10
standard decorations, it takes extra planning to decorate with slips,
so I tend to skip it till I'm low on them, as is the case currently.
This was the first day I wore long pants in a long time, but I could've
gotten by with shorts still--those weather people!
Now that things are slowing down, I spent several hours today editing
some of my webpages, and some for the Folklore Society that I manage. Some
time ago I made some webpages from the bird photos I've put on the
blog. Today I organized them alphabetically, so I could easily tell if
I've added the bird photo previously. A small victory for order...
I'm making slow progress on the folding insulating curtains. The
wood parts are ready to be finished, then the insulation needs cloth
"bags" to look better. If one side were dark, and one light, it
might be possible to rotate them whether one would desire solar heat or
Good news in the skink department. The cat was sniffing around a
bag of cables I had on the floor, so I thought it was worthwhile to
take it outside. I dumped it out, and the tail-less skink was on
the ground. I was able to pick it up and take it to some deeper
cover where it will hopefully not get caught again.
I spent some time today dealing with ripe corn and tomatoes, freezing
both without blanching. The Labor Day weekend has returned a
healthy amount of customers, and then it also heralds the start of
college football. Also we went and enjoyed the free Spokane
Symphony concert in Liberty Lake, with excellent weather. So
there was a potpourri of activity. On a slightly
irritating note, I was trimming my beard today when I snipped the end
of one of my earlobes. It didn't bleed much then, but on the way
home from the concert I absent mindedly rubbed it a little, then later
felt some blood draining down along my chin. Now I'm waiting
between layers of liquid bandage drying, so I'll be able to sleep
Sept. 6 The
weather turned cool and rainy today. In the later afternoon we
decided to hike up the local ridge to the upper level. We got too
late a start to get to the top, and we began hearing pretty good
thunder in the distance, so as we hiked down, the only appreciable
wildlife we encountered was this yearling buck deer. It stood
still, in essence posing for me. We don't see deer with antlers
much, particularly at the velvet stage...
By the way, I think the recession is over. Loads of people put
large checks under our door today for pottery...
Sept . 7
We had relatives over for brunch after the usual small Labor Day parade
in Spirit Lake. I carried a very large box with "Sondahl Pottery
We Ship" on the sides on my bicycle for the parade. After brunch
I played music for about 45 minutes in the park. The other musicians
and the sound guy all said they really enjoyed my playing. There was a
better crowd in the park today than for most of the weekend, in spite
of lots of entertainment. The new Parks Department put a lot into
getting it organized. Sales were about
1/5 of yesterday, surprising since the parade starts right in front of
our pottery. Still it was a good weekend over all.
The forecast for tonight mentions frost possible for the first time
tonight. If we avoid it this time, the next week promises returns
to the 80's.
Sept. 8 The frost worries should be gone for a week or so now... Nice weather back again.
Aside from the usual pottery stuff (loading a couple glaze kilns,
making a bunch of pitchers, bowls, and canisters), it was a quiet
day today. I put linseed oil on the frames that will hold the
felt pieces for the curtain project which will be completed whenever a
relative comes to get our sewing machine in good order for the
The canisters I finished today were for a special order. Many
years ago I started making canisters, and differentiated them by adding
a pound of clay between each size. The largest size, from 5
pounds, holds a lot of whatever. The special order was for
smaller canisters. It made me realize a lot of people don't do a
lot of cooking, such that they need a huge flour container. So I
may rethink my canisters, but for now I just had to make some in
graduated widths as well as heights (the current ones are all the same
width). For these I made flat lids with the knobs an integral
part of the lid, as opposed to the bowl like ones with knob added later
which I usually do. One advantage to this was that I could easily
make them too large but quickly trimmable to the proper size...
I picked a lot of tomatoes today, some of which I'll take to the
potter's meeting tomorrow to give away, as was suggested by the
president of the group.
I went to the first potter's group meeting in over a year--all the
faces were familiar, which is good. We discussed the coming
holiday sale at the new Kroc Center in Coeur D'Alene. This is
mostly a sports complex payed for by the sins of overeating fats and
sugars at McDonald's, from their foundation. The sale will be in
a relatively small conference center, combining the 3 multipurpose
rooms. Last year's sale, set as the bad economic news of last
year had begun to snowball, was fairly depressing to participants, set
in the local county fairgrounds. The new venue is just a couple
blocks off the freeway in a brand new widely publicized facility.
In fact I'd like to go and use it sometime this fall.
Oh yes, since I mentioned it yesterday, I was the only one to bring
tomatoes, so that worked out nicely. Still have to freeze some
Sept. 11 The weather was so warm and nice today that I had
to walk along the verge of the Mill pond. I took my camera, got a
couple forgettable photos of turtles and a kildeer, mostly just enjoyed
being submersed in nature.
For Americans 9/11/2001 has become for this generation what Pearl
Harbor was for our parents, or the assassination of JFK. In each
case those of us who were alive and alert can probably remember where
they were and what they were doing when they first heard. About
9/11 I mostly remember seeing a banner about it on the Internet, then
turning on the TV for live coverage. I remember not knowing how
to respond, keeping the pottery shop open, basically because it's
always open. I was even surprised to have some people looking,
though I doubt anyone bought anything. Later I went in to the
church where my wife was an interim minister and we had a service with
quiet organ music. Although it affected us deeply, there was a
certain unreality at least to me, living several thousand miles away,
on a nice fall day (like today was).
With the temperature near record highs in the mid 80's, we had to go
swimming today. It had been a week or so since swimming last.
The water level of our favorite place to swim, the Mill Pond, has
been dropping steadily, so that it was about 4 feet deep in the deepest
part today. The water temperature is cooler, like some of the
larger lakes around here in the summer. I spent
about 5 hours today finishing the 60 or so pots I started yesterday.
They all needed lids trimmed to fit, holes punched in them,etc.
They included globe vases, teapots, garlic pots, pie plates, and
soap dishes. I think it only took a couple hours yesterday to
throw the pots--just showing that the throwing is the tip of the
iceberg in making pots.
Lake swimming is not noteworthy, unless it extends into mid September.
With weather in the mid 80's today, and pleasant cool nights, it
couldn't be nicer currently. The lake is cooling off from the
midsummer temperatures, and a lot of the seaweed is blooming, but
Still swimming daily... I also played some tennis, and
watched a bit of the US Opens, which has never interested me before
(still learning to score the silly game). There
were quite a few windfall pears in our orchard, some of them ripe
enough to eat, so I harvested the two trees today. One tree is a
bit sickly and only yielded a couple dozen. The other was loaded
and yielded four fruit boxes. I glazed and fired one kiln today, then made some bowls and berry bowls to fill an order.
Today the chickens stayed inside their coop, even though the opening
they've been using to slip in and out looks the same size as ever.
They also seem a more cohesive flock lately, not persecuting the
one hen so much. The ways of chickens are inscrutable.
I made bird feeders and houses today, since I enjoy them myself.
There are lots of stories I don't remember, but one that I do
remember was hearing how Hubert Humphrey's father, who ran a pharmacy
in rural South Dakota (the "rural" is redundant when used with South
Dakota), sold classical music records in his drug store.
According to Hubert, they didn't sell, but his father liked them, so
they stayed. In this case, however, the birdhouses I made this
summer all sold, so I thought I may as well make some more. This
time on the feeder I will only put a hole for the seeds to spill out on
2 sides instead of 4, since most people like to mount them so they can
observe the birds from the side... Our own bird feeder has quieted significantly in recent weeks, probably due to some of the birds migrating.
Sept. 16 The
weather was again in the mid 80's, so a swim again felt good.
They're redoing the beach area at the public access with handicap
accessible cement walkways, so it will never look so rustic again.
This was not a huge loss, as previously the area grew up to poky
knapweed. This evening I began recording for
another CD of instrumental arrangements of church hymns. I'm
using all four of the instruments I'm relatively proficient at (guitar,
banjo-guitar, harmonica, and tin or bamboo whistle). This will be
the first time I've mixed more complicated instruments then just the
bass and guitar.
The day started with a dust settling rain, then cleared off.
Jonathan and I played for a group at the Elks in the Valley
tonight. It seemed like an urban RV park, set in the hills
overlooking the Valley, but right in the middle of town. There
were probably 10 RV's hooked up. The place we played was the Elks
Lodge, a rather civilized bar. There were about a dozen
attentive polite listeners, who even requested a couple encores at the
end. In spite of the low turn out, it was a pleasant gig.
It's like fishing, sometimes the fishing is hot. The weather
wasn't hot, only very pleasant today, but the customers kept coming all
day, so sales were about 30 times what they were another day this week.
That other day was pretty low sales, so it's not like totally
amazing, but today was a good day for sales. It coincided with a
good day for making pots (about 80), so pottery work continues well.
Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light? First frost
predicted tonight--tarps covering the dahlias, tomatoes, and green
beans. Coming home today after playing tennis,
coming up to the door on a bike, one quail shot out from under the bird
feeder, where they tend to clean up the sunflower seeds. Hmm, I
thought, usually they're in a flock... But I didn't notice any in
the thick underbrush. Then they started pouring out like clowns
from a clown car. There were probably about 20. Pretty
There was a light frost, and everything we covered survived. In
two days it might be swimming weather again (high 80's)... In
spite of the freezing low, the bright sun was sufficient to heat our
home still. Ordering fire wood for winter is on my mind, though...
The photo is from this weekend at Priest Lake. The signature peak
of the area, Chimney rock, is visible at the top, and though I took
several pictures, I like the way the point of the lake mimics the
skyline in this photo, taken at Ledgewood picnic and beach area.
With Autumn a day away, I pulled the corn plants from the pottery
garden and harvested the 3 pumpkins to put up the standard Fall
decoration in front of the shop.
We got some cheap wood windows off of Craigslist last week, without
being sure how we'd use them. Then there was talk of adding a bay
window to our bedroom. A couple windows are the same height as
our current permanently fogged windows, but wider. So today I had
the idea of boxing the larger windows outside the existing window
space, creating a semi-bay window. The impetus for this was a
place to put some of our many house plants for the winter, that reside
outside in the summer. It may look a bit odd from outside, but
might also be neat... Because of glazing
the pots from last week, so far this week I've made 10 soup bowls.
I'll probably make a lot of pots tomorrow, but then it'll take
most of the rest of the week to deal with them. I guess that's
not news, just the way things go.
On the way to the pottery this morning, I was redirected to go some
other way by some people who'd been working on installing some kind of
cable. Then I heard the hissing sound, coming from the hole by
the road where they'd been backhoeing. "Is that a gas leak?"
I asked. Indeed it was a split open main, half a block from
the pottery. I made it to the pottery by the circuitous route,
then proceeded normally to open the shop, although each end of the side
street that fronts the pottery was blocked off, and the fire department
and police were on the scene. After about an hour, the hissing
stopped. Later I saw the backhoe assisting the utility crew to
replace the damaged gas pipe. I had two glaze
kilns to unload, and some pots from them to ship, so I didn't get as
many pots made as I expected. I fired two more kilns as well.
I also spent time in the afternoon starting the window project. I
was framing a sort of square donut which will have 2X6 sides and
plywood with fiberglass filling (very tasty). The hole in the
donut will hopefully fit a preframed window purchased off Craigslist a
week or so ago for $25.
I seem to be spending all my pottery time loading and unloading kilns.
I still haven't spent a day throwing this week.
But we also got most of the pieces ready for the new window, which
hopefully could go up in the next couple days..
With evenings getting down below 50, the lake is chilling out, but with
days approaching 85, we still go down and cool off briskly, with aid of
air mattresses and stuff to stay mostly out of the water. We're also still enjoying the last few ears of sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini, and pole beans.
It's still so warm that I forgot to check the pottery I'd made this
morning before leaving for a football game tonight, and by the time I
returned the tops were turning white. So I dipped them all in
water (upside down, keeping upright after removing until the water had
all drained out, so as to avoid having the bottoms fall apart), covered
them with plastic, and redipped them this morning before putting on the
handles. I also covered them afterwards, in hopes that slow
drying will keep the handles from shrinking off.
In the afternoon I was looking at the Mill Pond from our view property
and noticed a couple bumps that shouldn't be there. It was a cow
moose and her calf. The family and I went to see it. I took
my camera, but a small lever on the side had gotten bumped from
Autofocus to Manual, so all the pictures I took were blurry.
(More recent versions of the camera have made the manual focus
choice a menu option instead of a lever, probably for this reason).
We walked down to the lakeshore to get a good view of it,
forgetting that they are shy of humans, so it was spooked and left soon
thereafter with its calf. Then we went for another swim, being
down there already.
I picked the last of the sweet corn this evening--a great run this
year. A couple frosts are predicted in the next week, so fresh
garden produce will soon be history. The pears I picked on the
14th got canned today as well. I worked more on the "bay" window today--mostly finishing work is left now.
I also had to replace a rusting out stand for one of the kilns today.
The replacement stand I cut 4 inches shorter, and added an old
kiln lid, so there are two kiln lids on the bottom, and 2 on top when
firing (for added insulation).
The Long Fall by Walter Mosley. I
generally like this author, for tough noir detective novels. I
liked this book, but it suffered from being overly
complicated--everyone had a back story. In some ways it invoked
Raymond Chandler, others more like the similarly complicated fiction of
Ross MacDonald. It promises to be the first of a series, of which
Mosley has had several great ones.
Three from the Legion by Jack Williamson. This
reissue of 3 novels, started in the mid 1930's, were prototypical of
the space adventure sagas that spawned Star Wars. There's even
the phrase, "Size doesn't matter," speaking of a weapon built out of
household materials that actually disintegrates the moon... There
are also characters that remind one of the initial crew of Star Trek.
But the writing of these early works leave much to be desired in
terms of quality of plot and character development. Still, for
the pioneers, you have to allow some wiggle room--they were inventing
Revolt on Alpha C by Robert Silverberg. This
1955 SF novel was the first by a later illustrious author. It might be
one of the first references to Space Cadets. One of the characters is
named Harl Ellison, a clear reference to another of his contemporary SF
writers. Written a year out of college, it had more Land Before
Time type stuff than visionary future stuff, with a weakly wrought
revolution thrown in. Most of the dialog is laughable. But
I reread it because I could buy a paperback version for a dime, and
because I remember it as one of the first SF novels I read, along with
Podkayne of Mars by Heinlein and Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars
(with her cow, as I recall).
The Magnificent Wilf by Gordon R. Dickson. Dickson
is part of the old school of writers that I grew up with. This
novel from the 1990's was both inventive and humorous in describing how
a seemingly average Earth couple might fair when being sent out as
Earth's ambassadors to a complicated set of Galactic political