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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another lovely video of Hannah McAndrew and Doug Fitch at work

Got to spend a few minutes catching up with some blogs tonight and was happy to see a couple of new posts and videos from Hannah  McAndrew and Doug Fitch. Since I don't have any time or energy for the studio right now, I was happy to see that other people are busy in their studios making wonderful work.

As for me, it's been and continues to be time for family, planting and taking care of two gardens and spending a lot of other time in the kitchen these days.

Our son and family were here over Easter and our daughter and son-in-law, who live in Germany, arrive tomorrow, so today was for finishing up some planters and doing some tidying in the back yard.  It was cold and wet and wasn't a fun job; and of course the sun only came out after I called it a day. Since I had to get the guest room ready and clean up my office which has been subbing as a plant nursery, the rest of the back yard tidying will have to wait till late tomorrow morning when it warms up a bit. 

Even with this seesaw, hot then cold weather, both gardens are doing well. I was surprised yesterday to see that there's a ripe strawberry to pick; but I'm saving that first one for our daughter. Erin There are flowers on some of my pepper plants that I've been bringing out every morning and bringing in at night. Potato plants are over a foot high in my raised beds and not far behind at our sons place;and we've been harvesting lettuce and asparagus for about six weeks now.  I'm hoping that by next week the night time temperatures will be high enough,that with the remay covers at the ready, I'll be able to plant some of these more tender veggies in both gardens. I'm getting a bit tired of bringing these tender veggie and herb plants in and out twice a day; but they are certainly doing well with all this attention.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Linda Arbuckle show at Akar design

Looks like there are only 3 of Linda Arbuckle's pots still available. Lovely work as always!

As for me, it's still all gardening and cooking and computer time with emails, and other household chores.. Yesterday we headed for the garden center and I came home with 3 trays of annual flowers and veggie starts. After unloading the car I got some more things planted and watered, prepped and filled a new planter, fed all the containers in the front of the house and atrium, some in the back yard and trimmed the last couple of damaged perennials. By then, it was time for dinner prep.

Since I'm still a bit on an Italian kick,  for dinner, I made chicken Francaise and asparagus grilled after being tossed with a tiny bit of olive oil and good quality  balsamic vinegar. Jim isn't much on lemony tastes except in margaritas! :-) So, I cut the amount of lemon in half and he loved the recipe.

This morning, after breakfast, I moved the pepper and eggplant starters outdoors for the day and got the last earth box into place, so all the planters are now where they will be permanently living and I'm waiting for my helper to arrive who will be checking  the whole drip system and adding a few more for the new planters. He'll also turn on the automatic watering which is going to save me a lot of time every day.

The tomato plants were left out overnight and all seemed to fare well. The people at the garden center told me they don't cover any of the veggie seedlings this time of year unless temperatures go down to 36F, so it looks like we're OK for at least the next ten days.

While James, our garden helper is working on the drip system, I'll be fertilizing and transplanting a lot of these veggies. Things are looking really good now, and it looks like I just might reach my goal of having all my transplanting finished here by the beginning of next week, other than peppers, eggplant and basil which prefer night time temperatures no lower than about 50F.  They would survive if I planted them now, but experience has shown me that it slows down their growth if planted when night time temperatures are below 50 or close to it.

 Next week, I'll focus on my son and daughter-in-laws vegetable garden. I have  lot of veggies to transplant there as well as hand watering to do every other day, since they haven't had the people in to set up the automatic watering for the season and  may not have that done for another week or more.

Keeping in the Italian mode, I promised Jim stuffed clams for dinner tonight, so I'd better start on those transplants now, so I can get to the store right after lunch for the clams.  Ciao for now!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Pedulum glazing

Pendulum glazing - very inventive, fun technique.

Today was a gardening marathon - first at our son and daughter-in-laws garden, turning over and amending part of a raised bed  to plant kale and cauliflower, pulling some weeds and doing hand watering, and then the rest of the day in our back yard.

I'm exhausted and sore, but most of my flower pots, other than those in the shade are cleaned out and planted except for a few more annuals I need to get for them. I'm off tomorrow to buy a couple of more planters, more veggie starts and hopefully some annuals for shade. If they have all the annuals in stock, I should be finished with all my early planting at our house by the end of the week. There will still be some cold sensitive veggies and herbs like  basil, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes to plant; but evenings have to get a wee bit warmer before I plant those. We're in a very warm spell right now but in few days temperatures will be down to the low 60's during the day and high 30's low 40's at night. The weather this year has certainly been a challenge at times. It's definitely been keeping us on our toes.

Well, that's it for today. The tomato plants are in for the night and so am I.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Great free art book resource.

 Here's a link to a great resource of hundreds of free art books courtesy of the Getty Museum. You can read on line or download the pdf files.

These days our garden, our son and daughter -in-laws garden and our  kitchen are the three spaces where one can find me, other than these times on the computer or browsing cookbooks. Our local county library system, I have discovered, has some great cookbooks and I've been availing myself of those. Unfortunately, most that I ordered arrived at once, so I've been in cookbook heaven all week. I think I'm suffering from writers cramp from all the recipes I've written down on index cards.

Since I'm anticipating a good crop of tomatoes, most of the cookbooks are Italian and a couple just for pasta. I've made my own pasta before, using my pasta hand roller, but never rolling by hand and there are some great videos on you tube demonstrating the technique. Now I have to order one of those long, wooden, pasta rolling pins and give a it a go some time this summer. I wonder if anyone has ever rolled out pasta on a slab roller? HMMMM??

This morning we're heading out for breakfast, then driving to our sons place to hand water and retrieve the asparagus I harvested, and left behind yesterday, then back home to clean out some planters and  plant the annuals that I bought yesterday. After today, I'll have half the containers in the back planted.

Our daughter and son-in-law will be here in a couple of weeks and I want to have all my planting finished before then. My seedlings are watered and now it's time to check the weather and see if it's warm enough to put the tray of tomato starts out for the day. As you can tell, there just hasn't been time nor energy for the studio right now.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mesmerizing, is the best word to describe this visual delight, thanks to Russian potter Mikhael Sadovnikov.

As for me, it's the usual morning of email, animal and husband feeding, seedling care and other chores. While out to dinner with our son and his family last night I lost one of the lenses in my prescription glasses, so I'll be off to Costco after lunch to make an appointment for an eye exam so I can order new reading glasses. These are two years old so it's probably time for new ones.. Then we're off to the lawyers to sign some papers. So, it doesn't look like there will be any time for the studio.

Yesterday I did get into the studio just long enough to put a few things away and decorate a small test cup. I spent more time having to laboriously mix up and sieve a couple of under glazes that were a lumpy mess after sitting for a while.Some company must make a mini hand blender that would fit in those small Amoco under glaze containers. In fact, come to think of it, I used to have one like that, so I'll have to dig around the studio and see if I still have it tucked away somewhere. It felt good to finally be back in there even for just a short while.

There are only two no rain days in the current ten day weather forecast, so it looks like I may be getting a lot more studio time after today. It's about time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NCECA Photos

After bemoaning the lack of NCECA feedback and photos early yesterday, a couple of more digest emails arrived from Clayart with a few more members sharing their experiences; and I found the above slide show video on you tube this morning. I have two suggestions to make before watching it. Turn off the sound. It was as irritating to these ancient ears as the sound of fingernails running down a blackboard.

The video is a rapid fire slide show, so my other suggestion would be to keep your mouse arrow pointed to the pause button the whole time, so you can stop it and get a better look at the work. There is a very generous amount of photos on this video and to really appreciate the work, you may want to use the pause buttom periodically.

We are on day two of a week of rain in the forecast, so my gardening will probably be confined to indoors. Today is the last day with the family before they head back to California tomorrow morning.  We're all getting together again for dinner so I have a good part of the day at home before we head out for dinner.

With all the rain in the forecast,  it looks like I may get in studio time in between seedling care, cooking, computer and other chores this week. Being optimistic, I turned the studio heat on a few minutes ago and it should be warm enough after breakfast to get in there and make a decision as to where to start again, after I  put away some recently purchased clay and other items. There's a small group of bone dry pots waiting for some sgraffito work and that's the most likely place to start. It's a good sit down job that my aching, arthritic hip will appreciate in this cool, damp weather.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nceca musings of the day

Read my Clayart digest this morning and it seems that there is so little information being shared on peoples experience at NCECA this year. Only two attendees had anything to say and that was only after someone remarked about the absence of information and asked for some members to please share their experiences. Even then, only two people in this group with over 3,000 members, replied.

In years past there was an abundance of shared photos on Flicker, as well as video clips and enthusiastic run downs of peoples NCECA experience; but this year seems to be a very different story.

With increased costs of the event, travel, hotel accommodations and costs of eating out, attendance was way down. Even sellers cut back on the number of booths. Someone mentioned that many schools are no longer funding their instructors attendance at these events. If that trend continues it doesn't bode well for the future.

In my 40 or so years in clay I've never attended NCECA, mainly because it's my time of year to tend to my seedlings and do spring garden work; and the cost and time away from home, family, studio, just never seemed to make attendance a priority; but I have to admit that I always enjoyed feedback from the returning attendees who were always so generous in sharing their experiences.

Maybe some news and photos may be forthcoming in a couple of days. It will be interesting to see what if any changes those in charge of NCECA may institute in the next few years. Perhaps they could start streaming some of the lectures, and demos for a fee. Now that is something I would be happy to pay for an watch at home.

After rain all morning, the sun has now appeared; and thunder storms with possible hail are forecast for this afternoon. My gardening chores were indoors this morning, other than moving a lot of leek seedlings outdoors, bringing other trays of more vulnerable vegetable seedlings back indoors and making a couple of trips to my outdoor potting bench to get some potting soil so I could transplant a bunch of tomato and pepper seedlings.

It's an early, wood fired pizza night at the Perry Horseshoe Falls Ranch tonight, with our son manning the pizza oven, so I get another night out of kitchen duty. With the bad weather coming in, Jim and I may eat and run, since sitting under an out door pavilion in 50 degree weather, in the middle of  wind and thunderstorms may not be the best thing for this body, which is just getting over an upper respiratory infection. I will bring my appetite and a heavy, hooded jacket and keep my fingers crossed for better weather than is forecast.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lovely video of Dough Fitch and Hannah McAndrew slip decorating

They do make it look sooooo easy! Love them and their work. Both have such lovely energy!

As for me, family is in town - son and eldest grandson arrived with the new puppy last night and daughter-in-law and the twins arrive later today, so the next several days will be just for gardening and family.

Next week, starting Tuesday some cool, rainy weather is arriving, so, other than indoor seedling care, I'll get time away from gardening for a few days and maybe even see if I can my way back into the studio. No promises, just hoping that my chest wheezing will stop before the rains come.

Meantime, I'm going to enjoy this sunny day and get some planting done this afternoon.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Done Reitz video

This three year old video of Don Reitz, who just passed away, shows him working on a triptych. I just love the spontaneous decorating - spontaneous, yet still with the ability to make those right choices almost instantly.

As for me, still waiting for my bronchia to clear of this upper respiratory crud before even looking at clay. Meantime the seedling care, planting, cooking, and lots of reading are keeping me out of trouble.

This morning after during the usual seedling watering, I planted a bunch more leek seedlings that had sprouted. Not sure what the rest of the day will bring since the weather has gotten a bit cooler. I covered my other raised bed with remay last night since the first potatoes have come up and we were due for temperatures in the high twenties. It's a real juggling act with the vegetable gardening this time of years. Some seedlings are taken out for the day and brought in at night; and other are still doing well under grow lights in the house.

I may just drive over to our sons place and transplant a few more things in their vegetable garden. First I have to check the weather report to make sure it's not going down to freezing again. My supply of remay is down to the last sheet, so I can cover whatever I plant if a freeze is in the forecast. I just need to feel perky enough by mid afternoon, when the temperature is as high as it will get for the day, to get over there and plant. Yesterday at that time I nodded off and didn't wake up till 6 o'clock. Guess the universe decided I needed that more than planting time.

Time now to think about breakfast. It's corned beef hash this morning.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sad news

Just heard that Don Reitz has passed away.  We have lost some of our best potters and teachers this past year. So sad.

Here's another photo of him and his work:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Top of the morning to you all on this St. Patrick's day

After doing some 6am work in the plant nursery, transplanting some seedlings, I pulled out my corned beef and cabbage recipe for tonight's traditional St. Patrick's day dinner, while watching "The Quiet Man" with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. It's the one time a year I can get Jim to eat cooked cabbage!

It rained overnight and more is due this morning; but I'm hoping there will be a respite at some point, because temperatures are due to go a hair below freezing so I need to get out and cover some of my tender veggies and then drive over to our son and daughter-in-in laws place and do the same in their vegetable garden.

It doesn't look like it will be a day for outdoor planting. This is the first day of the moon cycle for planting root vegetables again, but that can wait a couple of days till we're past this cold spell.

Time to get dressed and look for something appropriate for this "wearing of the green" day. In the meantime,

“May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand”

An Irish Blessing.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's all about gardening these days

Been feeling a little bit better the past couple of days, with this virus/upper respiratory thing starting to break up, so I've been able to get in some more planting and other garden work at our son and daughter-in-laws place as well as ours. I over did it a few weeks ago which brought this virus thing back, so now I'm pacing myself a little more wisely.

Today has been one incredible day - calm sunny and in the 70's. All the outdoor furniture is in place, and the decking around the pool is pretty clean for the moment, but will be getting messy again once I start doing a more extensive cleanup in all the containers; but that job will have to wait a few days till we get past the cold and rainy spell arriving tonight.

I've been picking asparagus for over a week, the first beets have come up and most early plants are looking very good except my one cauliflower which looks like it's been discovered by slugs or some other leaf chewer.  I protected all cucurbits from early moths, using remay and didn't think those high raised beds would have slug or other similar critters in residence. I may have to go out there tonight with a flashlight and see if I can find the guilty party and send him to another dimension, or at least to another neighborhood.

 I also filled another new window box sized planter and planted cilantro, dill  and a few other things, hand watered and transplanted a couple of seedlings in the house nursery. There's more of those to do but it will be raining in the morning so my gardening will be indoors unless it clears. A cold spell is arriving tomorrow night with below freezing temperatures so I'll be out there covering some things in both gardens; but all in all I feel that even with losing so much time with a viral thing the past six weeks or so I have really gotten a good start on this years vegetable gardening.

All the lovely flowering cherry trees, forsythia, Bradford pears and daffodils are blooming in the valley. I do so love this time of year here in the Southern Oregon. Now that I've cleaned up, it's time for a margarita and some Mexican food.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sunday morning cup eye candy

Some nice work to enjoy at Artcetera gallery cup show.

Another rainy morning, so transplanting may be out for today. Made another trip to the garden center for more compost and potting soil yesterday and the plan was to do some transplanting when I got home; but after unpacking some groceries and unloading those heavy bags and newly purchased plants, and checking the beds,etc.etc.,  it was time for a break before starting some early dinner prep. After dinner it was time to update my garden notes, do my last seedling check and watering, and vegg out for the night with PBS and some Ric Steves and Doc Martin shows.

These days all my time and energy is going to planting two gardens, seedling care and cooking, which is not a bad thing and pretty much typical for me for this time of year.

After breakfast I'll get these cold weather seedlings out from under the grow lights and outdoors under the eaves till I can transplant them; and maybe prep the new box planter I got yesterday. I have so many lettuce volunteers, some of which now have to be re-located before I can plant some of these other things in my raised beds. Other than cooking, email, reading the Sunday papers perusing my newly purchased Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley, and watching some of the tennis tournament at Indian Wells, I'm going to re-charge my battery a bit on this lazy, rainy Sunday and hope tomorrow brings renewed energy and a clearing of the weather for the planting marathon to continue.

Dinner tonight is a plain cheese pizza and margaritas. My dough and sauce are already made, so dinner will be easy.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Rain and worms in the pool kind of a day

After several intense, laborious days in our son and daughter-in-laws garden as well as my own, the universe decided I should have a lazy day by bringing in an all day rain. I can't say that it isn't welcome other than, perhaps, the fact that this rain may wash away a row of newly planted carrots seeds.

Today was to be an easier day for seedling care and planting some of the newly sprouted beet and leeks seeds in my raised beds, and dealing with a lot of catalogs and magazines that have been piling up while my focus has been on doing my imitation of an urban farmer in between the usual cooking, shopping and other household and life chores.

I must say, I don't feel one iota of guilt sitting here in bed in my lounging jammies and shopping on line for unglamorous things like vitamins, a new hose nozzle, a meat pounder and a set of 9 measuring spoons. The shopping spree, may continue since I have a few more garden catalogs to go through. I see the King Arthur flour catalog has a recipe for sourdough pretzels which is very tempting after a light breakfast of banana bread, and a planned, kale smoothie for lunch to offset the calories to come, in tonight's experimental pizza.

Hoping to get a bit more flavor in my New York style pizza dough recipe, I decided to add some freshly fed sourdough starter to it, and lower some of  water in my original recipe, to balance, it; but the consistency after partial kneading wasn't as tacky as I wanted so I started adding water till it felt a bit better, but not as wet a dough as my regular recipe.. Now, if it come out great, I have no idea of how much water I added, after the initial mixing; but I did redo the recipe last night and if this batch is a miss, I can try that one next.

Meantime it looks like the rain may have let up. Time to rescue the worms that are now swimming in the bottom of the pool. I don't know if this is the group I saved two days ago and put in the raised beds, or new visitors. Just what I wasn't looking forward to on this lazy, resting day - worm, lifeguard duty. False alarm, rain continues, so the worms are on their own. Could this be a version of worm suicide - like lemmings jumping off of cliffs? Inquiring minds need to know; or did they really think they could do a back dive off the edge of the pool and find their way back up. Guess they never bothered to notice we don't have a pool ladder.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What does you day look like

It's going to be sunny and 70 degrees today so the garden is the focus of the day. Prepped some soil and transplanted most of the garlic yesterday, and got the kitchen freezer cleaned out and organized and got the new freezer organized. It's now ready for some of the meat our son is sharing with us.

Todays "to do" list - before breakfast water seedlings, find seed packets for today's planting, soak beet seeds. After breakfast fertilize and add compost to areas of the raised beds I'll be planting today. After lunch, transplant spinach, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli seedlings, plant carrots, beet, and a few more spinach seeds.

Mid afternoon update garden calendar, read email and snail mail. Attempt to find a work around for the ongoing, thought it was fixed, problem of  iTunes which refusing to complete my syncing. Windows informs me in the error message that they'll let me know if they find a fix. So is it their problem as well as mine?

After dinner - collapse and watch some mindless TV and BBQ podcasts which our daughter tells me are very good. What does you day look like?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Planting time or another woman plans God laughs couple of days

It's been in the sixties, and no frost is forecast for the next ten days, so I went out to plant some of the sprouted scallions that I didn't get to do yesterday. Realizing that that my tiny table top grill was not going to work for cooking two chicken halves using the indirect heat method, Jim and went out before breakfast in search of a new grill. The early shopping was necessary because the new freezer was going to be delivered late morning. 

After breakfast there was the garage to sweep out and get ready for the new freezer. After lunch I had to get those un-assembled pieces of the new Weber grill  out of the box and put it together, as well as do early prep of some of the dinner sides. The grill worked great and I'm looking forward to trying more recipes using that indirect heating method which worked great for the chicken. I never had to baste or turn the chicken with this method - just used the right amount of coals, lay out the chicken cover and in 30-40 minutes it was brown, and perfectly done.

This morning I google "top Barbecue cookbooks" and found a good list and ordered a couple of used ones. If I need more information, I can check out county library system. There's much to learn, since my barbecuing has been limited to throwing a steak or burgers on the grill once or twice a year.

So today was the new day to plant those sprouted scallion seeds. Again, I thought - short easy job - just put some root fertilizer and compost in one square, work it in and plant. Unfortunately, I forgot to note on my last years planting grid, that I planted four squares of garlic in that bed late summer; and on top of that, there were also chives that needed to be moved. So a quick job turned into a much longer job of digging out deeply entrenched chives with a trowel, cleaning out a big pot with a deeply rooted, late annuals, so the chives could happily live where they never have to be moved.. 

There were also two parsley plants to dig up and move, and a few more squares to clean out. By this time my back was  begging for mercy, so I called it a day for the gardening, and will l dig up and transplant all that garlic tomorrow.

Now that my back is out of spasm, it's time to prep the veggies for tonight's yaki soba noodle dinner.  I might just have some sake with that tonight.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

East Asia slipware 3 potters exhibit

Watching this was like a meditation - just lovely. And that little white teapot - what a treasure!

Yesterday was a very busy day and today will pretty well be the same. The seedlings have been watered and the scallion seeds have sprouted and need to be planted after breakfast. Later this morning the new freezer is being  delivered and I'll have to get that set up.

After lunch I'll be making some pico de gallo and pinto beans to go with tonight's El Pollo Loco chicken, There's also an upgrade of iTunes to do at some point, since I'm getting an error message when trying to sync my iPod. There's always something with these computers.

A Ceramics Monthly arrived yesterday and it would be nice to find a few minutes to peruse it; but I've been watching some of the Olympics during and in between chores and haven't had much time for reading other than email, a quick scan of the morning paper, some Pininterst inspiration viewing with my morning tea, and a couple of Facebook minutes.

The new grogged clay is patiently waiting for me to give it some attention. Tomorrow may be the day! But first, the slab roller once again must be cleared. It's my only work surface but it has to double as a holding area. I might just find time to do that today. I will certainly try.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Smogasboard kinds of a day

We were out and about with meetings and shopping yesterday. After a lot of research (way too much really), I finally settled on a freezer which will be delivered tomorrow. After an over two hour meeting at the lawyer's, it was time to shift into shopping mode. The first stop was the Asian grocery, then Fred Meyers for more groceries and finally Best Buy to order the freezer. All I could manage for dinner was a simple pasta Puttanesca which was easy since the sauce was already made.

So today became another smorgasbord kind of day, seedling watering, email and a few house hold chores after breakfast and then heading to the garage/studio to find places for and move a couple of bags for rock salt, and a few other things, as well as getting my very heavy slab roller pushed back an inch  to make way for the freezer.

Then it was time for lunch and veggie prep for the pea soup I made for another day.

I've also been making an easy reference, spacing and fertilizer chart for my square foot gardening beds. This year I will fertilize a bit more which I didn't have to do last year with that beautiful, very rich potting soil we used in the new beds. I have Mel Bartholomew's formula, from his Square Foot gardening book,  for making my own organic fertilizer but I will have to do a lot of searching around for some of the ingredients, like green sand. Composted leaf mold is another ingredient in the recipe, and I sure don't have any access to it in this house and I've never seen it for sale; but I will check Google to see if there is a commercial source for it.

Fortunately there was leftover quiche for dinner, so now it's time to finish my square foot garden spacing/fertilizing chart,  get that pea soup in the freezer, and make a marinade, and prep the chicken and get it marinated for tomorrow's El Pollo Loco chicken dinner. After that I may just have time to read the morning paper and a couple of days of snail mail; but I won't take any bets on that happening since I fell asleep sitting up last night after another busy day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day to buy some clay

The rain is back. Maybe I really should be searching out ark plans! First, there's breakfast to make and then off to the pottery supply store for a grogged version of my clay body, then to Harry and Davids so Jim can re-stock the wine cellar,, followed by food shopping at the organic grocery store and lunch at the Chinese buffet; and lastly, a quick look at freezers at Best Buy.

Thanks to a lot of searching on line, I found a few items that will make good  hump and slump molds and am eager to get some slab work done once I get the right clay. I've been using the grog free version of this body for throwing; but it needs grog if I want to do slab work. Guess I'm finally ready and even a bit eager to get back into the studio.

Last night I finished revising my garden plans and made new charts. Morning seedling watering and checking is done. More spinach popped up overnight, as well as the first leeks. The seedling nursery is doing well so far. My office/meditation room/greenhouse has a ceiling fan  and keeping that on, I have found, protects the seedlings from damping off - so far.

As soon as the rain lets up - hopefully,  in another day or so I'll be planting some scallion seeds and fava beans outdoors. Last year I planted those fava beans too late. Since then I have found that you are supposed to plant them the same time you plant peas. This time I'll plant them are our son and daughter-in laws garden, where I can space them further apart and guarantee larger pods. You don't get a lot of harvest for them as is, so I need to maximize the potential and doing the in the square foot gardening method didn't yield much. Planting them later as I did, was probably another reason for the lower yield.

Well, time to hit the shower and have a light, breakfast of fruit and nut bread before heading out and about for a day of shopping.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Laptop search a dud but good results from old seeds

After email, seedling care, and meal prep, I've spent most of the day reading up on laptop computers and am more confused than ever. Bottom line - I am going to keep my fingers crossed and see what spring or even next year brings. Apple is out for several reasons (initial cost, cost of having to replace software; and our daughter who switched to Apple recommended against it), Windows 8 is a disaster and Windows 9 may not be out for another year, so I'll stick with my ancient Dell and almost as old HP laptop which is still functioning well with Windows 7. That ancient Dell, like my ancient body has had some replacement parts, is moving slower, gets stuck once in a while; but still it lives.

My computer want list is for a 17" screen, good customer care (Dell is way down there lately), a 1 TB hard drive, good sound, non gaming, but able to play some games, and all the usb ports, SD, HDMI ports, bluetooth, etc. etc. Trying to match my want list with what is available, is not bringing up a lot of great reviews in the under $3,000 range . Maybe there will be some new models coming out this spring or summer. Meantime I'll hope that my current machines keep running well enough until I absolutely have to buy a new laptop. In case anyone is interested, my google search to find the best companies for support were Apple, and for non Apple Machines, Lenova and Samsung were the two top ones.

My seedlings are coming along well. This morning the first older, spinach seeds sprouted. Yesterday we got a break in the rain so I was able to get out and clean one of my raised beds and planted some snow peas that I sprouted in the house. I also revised my planting chart yesterday, so now I have to make clean grid plans for those beds. I also made separate plans for our son and daughter-in-laws garden. I don't know how much planting I'll do there other than squash and my excess seedlings and potatoes. Meal prep, bread making, more seed ordering, and watching the Olympics rounded out the day.

The family won't be up to the ranch as much this summer because of their new house remodeling and construction projects. I will be able to plant a bit more for our personal use, because we just decided to buy a small freezer. It will make my studio space tighter, and the positioning will necessitate moving the car to open it, but that really doesn't have to be a problem since I usually plan my meals about a week in advance and won't have to access that freezer on an every day basis. Slowly, but surely we keep finding ways to make this house and studio/garage space work for me.

Time now to re-draw these raised bed plans. It took a lot of time trying to juggle and incorporate companion planting, crop rotation and inter-cropping in the plan; but I finally have this years plans down after a few revisions. The studio must be growing some mold right now; but I've stopped feeling guilty about it. Don't know if that's a good thing or not; but it is what it is.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Takashi Yasudo wedging video

Nice alternative wedging method. Looks like it woud be a lot kinder on the wrists.

Not sure what today is going to look like. Got one computer backup fixed and backed up but still not able to get Norton to back up to the Toshiba stand alone hard drive on this HP laptop. May have to see if I can get some on line help from either Norton or Toshiba. Norton isn't able to recognize the drive and everything is saying the drive is fine. Also, when trying to copy and paste a file folder into the drive I'm getting that error "Incorrect MS Dos function". What the heck does that mean. So it will be back to Google to see if there are some suggested fixes. So far, nothing I have found has worked.

Meantime I'm going to enjoy my morning tea and watch the last hour of last night's Olympics coverage that I taped, thanks to Direct TV. We don't own a smart phone, but we do have a smart TV. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

A morning chuckle

This Brett Kern video is a hoot. My favorite part is the one arm wedging - hilarious!

After all this drought, we are now being warned of possible flooding. Maybe it's time to look up ark plans.

I may have fixed that Toshiba hard drive. Funny how accidents can turn into something positive. Yesterday this HP laptop didn't like something and uttered the most gawd awful screeching, screaming, high pitched, non stop sound; and the computer would not shut off. So I unplugged everything, turned the computer upside down in an attempt to remove the battery; but couldn't get the door to open and when I turned it right side up, tried to shut it down, this time it worked. So I reconnected everything and took a peek at that stand alone hard drive; and the ever present message saying it needed formatting showed again. This time I selected the quick format and lo and behold it seems to have worked. So right now I'm hand copying my documents drive. It has progressed a bit but seems to be stuck in one spot for the past 15 minutes. So I may be celebrating a bit prematurely. :-(

The rain never let up enough for me to plant those peas, but I'm hoping I can get to that today. We have a delivery that I have to sign for today and a pickup scheduled, so I'll have to be here in the morning while Jim is at the store getting me a couple of things for my Mexican chicken and margarita dinner tonight.

I'm planning on a little bit of studio time after lunch - finally! A couple of days browsing Pinterest has definitely given me a little motivation to walk away from these computer issues and the ever growing paper pile. Happy Valetine's day everyone!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cooking and computers

Did some morning emails, fed my sour dough starter, and spent some time browsing through Pinterest looking to get me inspired to get back to work. Now that breakfast is done,  I thought I'd take a blogging break before I head to the kitchen again to make some cookies that will be in the mail for a unsuspecting, hard working, recipient  friend of a friend who could use a treat. If this sounds confusing, I'll explain.

Gail Galusky gave me hours of her professional time a few days ago, and did an amazing job to get my computer cleaned up a lot, got iTunes uninstalled and re-installed, and refused any compensation. After my bit of insistence, she finally suggested I made some cookies for a friend. What a great idea. She termed it "pay forward". :-) Thank you, thank you, thank you, a million times Gail!

Yesterday we went out to the mall (my once a year visit into that den of commercialism and confusing shopping), in search of a new comforter and new sheets and it was a useless trip. Some food shopping, lunch out, a stop at Ross for less, hoping they may have something we'd like in their bedding department was also a bust. After getting home, there were groceries to unpack, more seed pots to fill, spinach to plant and dinner to make.

My first seedlings of escarole, broccoli and cauliflower are up and the first fluorescent grow light fixture is set up in my office/meditation room. If this rain lets up, I have some peas that have sprouted on damp hand towel paper that could use planting outdoors. Otherwise this will be mainly a cooking and computer day with a bit of time getting some potting soil in a couple of small pots to transplant a few small basil plants.

After 3 days of formatting a piece of junk Toshiba stand alone hard drive, which I hoped would make it work again, turned into a bust. When I tried to open the drive I got an error message telling me I need to format it. What the h*ll! GRRR!

Seems these Toshiba hard drives can go to sleep and never wake up under some circumstances. So I will be looking for another stand along hard drive or maybe some on line storage. I had signed up for Jcloud and that was a bust. It was about  hundred dollars and didn't tell you how slow it's transfer rates were; and of course, it's only after you pay for the service, you find that out and they then offer you faster speed for a lot of extra dollars of course. With the problems with this stand alone hard drive, I'm not sure what direction to take for backing up my photos, music and data files. Any suggestions and recommendations  would be greatly appreciated. 

This spring I'll be buying a new laptop - just waiting to get past a month or so of mercury retrograde and seeing the direction some of these companies take in the next couple of month. It's either going to be a new Dell or I may finally switch to Apple. I'm really sick of Windows and that's putting it mildly! The latest version 8  is gawd awful from all I've heard and read, so one option would be to get one with Windows 7 and hopefully upgrade if they fix windows 8 or use Windows 7 and upgrade to windows 9 down the line.

Apple's new screen evidently sucks - doesn't display well outdoors, and the other Apple downside is it costs more, gives you less memory options, fewer USB ports (only 2 in their high end laptop), and I'd have to pay for a lot of new software. So the consideration are going to be will Apple fix that screen in the next few months, will Windows 8 get fixed, and will my software work with Windows 8 since I had problems with some of it even working right with Windows 7. Basically it's two not so great choices at the moment.

Time to forget about computers for a couple of hours and make some toll house cookies.

Friday, February 07, 2014

10 Best Cities to be an Artist

10 Best cities to be an artist
Interesting article. Think my choice would be San Francisco with Atlanta a close second. I never like to be too far from the ocean and a milder winter climate is definitely a factor for me. I'd probably settle for the Napa Valley - close enough to the Ocean and San Francisco, and a little slower paced.

This morning I'm continuing copying all my data to my stand alone hard drive. All the documents and photos are done, so I should be done with that job today; and then I can try fixing some of the problems with  friends help. Some wonderful Facebook friends warned me that RegCure Pro is malware and suggested I remove it, which I did.

This morning I watched the rest of last nights Olympic coverage and Jay Leno's last Tonight show. I'm so glad I taped it! It was a wonderful and emotional goodbye.

We had a lovely dinner with our son last night and I was somewhat over served. Boy, does he have a great wine cellar! When we got home we watched part of the Olympics that I had taped, and by ten o'clock, my throbbing head informed me that the wine had won, so I took a Tylenol for the headache and called it a night.

It's raining today and I'm hoping we get a small window of no rain so I can get out and plant a few snow peas. My little seedling cells are ready to plant, so I'll be starting the first group kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and leeks today. Our son is coming over for a bit so I'll have him take my grow lights down from the rafters, and I'll get those set up this afternoon.

Today is pretty much a repeat of yesterday - computer work, some kitchen time, gardening chores, dinner at our sons and little, or no time for the studio. I'm taping the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and we'll watch that when we get home. One of the NBC people doing the coverage said she's been to a couple of rehearsals and said it's going to be a great show. It is certainly the costliest Olympics ever - costing more than the last 3 or more Olympics combined.Wow!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

3 snowflakes

3 snowflakes - I swear that's about all the snow we got this morning. The forecast said we'd get 1/4". Jim answered the front door and got hit with these loner flakes and that was it. Rain is due this afternoon - certainly hope we get some. It's desperately needed here.

The studio has been ignored this past month while I dealt with a virus that hung on that long; but I did manage a couple of hours of studio time two days ago to remix a pale green slip, and  slip a few pots which were a bit past leather hard but not bone dry. After lunch I'll get back in there and do some under glaze and sgraffito decorating.

Yesterday I got some of my seedling pots cleaned, filled them with seed starting mix and checked my Farmers Almanac. Looks like tomorrow, according to the moon signs, is a good day to start some above ground cold weather crops like kale, cabbage, collards and peas. So I updated my gardening calender for the month, then spent most of the afternoon going through old seed packages, discarding a lot and putting them in new, dated boxes. Some seeds like tomatoes can still be viable for 5 years or more, so I'll test those in another month or so.

I'm still dealing with old computer problems and as of yesterday, a new one. After a windows update or iTunes update, I'm now getting an  error message and can't open iTunes or install a new one because I'm getting an error message that I'm missing a dll file. Found out a lot of people have been getting the same error after an iTunes update. One of the on line fixes said to uninstall iTunes.So after uninstalling it, and attempting a re-install, I got the same error message, so it was time to search Google for another fix. An ad for RegCure pro showed that they had a fix for this problem,. So, I downloaded RegCure Pro yesterday and it was still running by the time I went to bed and woke up this morning to find that the old Dell laptop had 9042 problems with two categories judge to be critical. And just when I was going to try to fix everything, a half an hour ago, the program froze. So now I'm having to rescan the computer. Has one one here ever used this or any other register cleaning, repair software? Norton says that program is safe, with the caveat that is does crash about once a month. So couldn't it wait until I cleaned the registry! Gheesh! Anyone else had this problem and found a fix???? Some of these registry program cause more problems than they solve!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Early southern pottery collection

These pots were auctioned off two days ago. There are some nice examples of early southern pottery.

Jim seems to have gotten this flu bug so we're giving each other a lot of "poor baby" hugs. Chicken soup was on the menu again last night. Good thing I made a big pot and froze some.

Tonight it will be a simple, comforting pasta dish  - maybe just mac and cheese and steamed broccoli. I'm not up to spending hours cooking at the moment and my aching stomach is not up for anything overly spicy.

I'm grateful that we're retired and can just sleep and rest till these bugs run their course. That's the pony in this manure pile right right.

Hope everyone else is feeling OK and making lots of pots and enjoying some good weather. Looks like we may be getting a bit of much needed rain in the next couple of days. We've already had a couple of fires this week. The whole valley is like a tinderbox right now.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Interesting video on making a tray for a non round form

Here's another nice little video from from Ceramic arts. After a day of feeling like I was over this bug, yesterday I got hit with a whole host of new symptoms and Jim isn't feeling too great either. I don't know if this bug morphed into this new thing or I picked up something new. So I'm just going to continue resting, eating bland foods, drinking ginger tea for the waves of nausea and taking tylenol for the aches and pains.

It's certainly been a few interesting, not fun, weeks.

Friday, January 24, 2014

All baking no clay

This was my day yesterday. Never did make it into the studio. My energy ran out after lunch and my glands starting swelling again, so it was time to just sit down and work on computer clean up and watch some TV. As a friend said about this virus yesterday "this bugger has tenacity"!

I'm really happy with my new pizza dough. I think I'll just add a hair more salt to it next time but the texture is great and it's got a crispy, yet foldable bottom much like the typical New York style pizza I grew up eating. I used a little free program called pizza calculator to come up with a recipe that fit my requirements. Other than a bit of tweaking here and there, I will keep the basic recipe. It would have more flavor if I did a cold rise method, letting the dough sit in the fridge for two or 3 days where it can create a bit of a sourdough flavor. Come to think of it, maybe I can just try using my sourdough starter and see if I can get that flavor in one day. HMMM - always something new to try. The other option is do what my friend Ron does and add a bit of rye flour to the mix. Oh yeah, there's a couple little tweaks to try next time.

I'll do early dinner prep after breakfast.  I'm making potato pancakes tonight. All that frying messes up the kitchen but it's such a comforting, vegetarian meal, that it's worth the greasy cleanup a couple of times a year. Not sure about getting into the studio; but my body will let me know later; but I'll heat the studio just in case.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Korean pottery video

This is a sweet little video on the traditional onggi storage jars of Korea. I saw these forms being made in Southern Japan where the ancestors of the many captured Korean potters after a war between these two nations had been re-located. 

Finally coming out of this upper respiratory virus that just didn't seem to want to leave. Yesterday I felt good enough to make a lovely dinner and I'm feeling pretty good this morning. So after breakfast I'll get my pizza dough made and get the toppings prepped and  get to the studio for an hour or two after lunch.

I'm afraid those covered pots may have dried too much to slip; or maybe the clay gods will have smiled down on me and  they'll be fine. Optimism is still a freebie.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Revisiting a historic Hamada Leach video

Still bored silly with this bronchial crud virus. Thank goodness for the Sunday papers, TV and you tube videos to re-visit.

Time to dig out the old Hulda Clark zapper and put it to work. It can't hurt.