Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hungry hummbingbirds

I'm having to fill this feeder once a day. Sorry about the quality of the photo, but I had to take it through the screened, living room window. These little guys are very camera shy!

Jim and I had a great 50th anniversary dinner at the Eseeola lodge. We never buy presents for each other - just have a nice dinner at a good restaurant, with a really nice wine; but this year Jim surprised me with the sweetest little gold and diamond studded locket that he designed and had custom made. The loveliest part is the message on the back "50 years of joy.". Needless to say, I was over joyed and my mascara was running a bit!

Kitty in the studio experiment worked pretty well. I didn't do anything but sort some of the paper work (huge pile on my desk). She enjoyed having a new, larger, more interesting place to explore. She knocked some papers off the desk a couple of times; but other than that she didn't get into any real trouble. She tired herself out so much that at one point she snuggled next to me in the chair for a very short cat nap and later, when I brought her back in to her kitty quarters in the house, she slept a very long time.

I brought some of those papers into the house and I'll work on them after breakfast and head to the studio after lunch to continue cleaning my desk. I also want to check my Soldner mixer and see if I can get it working. If not, I need to get my friend Jim over to see if the motor is burned out. I've decided to get all these things taken care of before I start another throwing cycle. I also need to take my pugmill apart and get it lubricated and figure out how to get the de-airing part working.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Our 50th anniversary today!

Some new irises opened up a couple of days ago. Isn't this color amazing!
Today is Jim's and my 50th anniversary. I can't believe this passage of time!Where did it all go! So many experiences, memories and mutual growth - such a gift!

We're enjoying a quiet morning with our animals, and breakfast with Wimbledon. Later this morning I'm going to take the kitty, Bonnie Lass and her toys and other kitty paraphernalia to my studio and see what her response is to the new environment; but more than that, see if I can get anything done with her in there. It's going to be more observational than anything to see what she can get in trouble with at this stage. She's not quite 4 months old; but boy can she climb and jump high! This morning she slid into our spa tub and had no trouble jumping out! I figure I'll just sit in my new recliner, try to sort and file some of the huge paper piles on my studio desk while keeping an eye on her.

I'm going to try to get a tiny bit of planting done before studio time. If nothing else, I want to plant the basil and a couple of tomatoes which are very pot bound!

We're going out to dinner to celebrate and our son and daughter in law sent us this hugely expensive dessert wine, Chateau Queem (not sure of spelling), so we'll bring dessert home from the restaurant and have it with the wine when we get home - good day so far, with more to come!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cone 6 soda glaze tests

Yesterday was spent on getting all the test tiles from my latest cone 10 soda firing and the cone 6 soda firing done in John Britt's soda test kiln. I put all the photos, and recipes, etc. on my yahoo soda salt firing group. You have to be a member to access all the photos and files but membership is easy and free. It's not a chatty group so there are rarely any messages but there are a lot of glaze and slip recipes in the text folders and pictures of peoples kilns and work in the photo folder. Here's the URL for anyone interested:

Many of my tests are done one two or three different clay bodies. Most of these cone 6 tests are pretty dry because there should have been borax in the soda mix to help flux everything more. Both John and I forgot about that little details - OOPS; but I'm very encouraged by the results and plan to re-fire these either in John's kiln or when I get my 4cu ft Olympic gas kiln converted for soda firing. Will Baker is going to cut out some ports when he's free and then I'll spray the interior with ITC, do a little bisque firing and we'll be ready to go.

There's no breakfast with Wimbledon this morning, so after an early breakfast I'm heading for the garden to do some transplanting.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Latest cone 10 soda fired test tiles

Here are the test tiles from the last firing. I spent half of yesterday scanning these and getting the information (#, glaze name, recipe etc) up on my yahoo sodasaltfiring group. I have a bit more work to do on it this morning before it's finished, but the majority of recipes are up with just a few more to go.

Last night we enjoyed a great dinner at the seafood buffet at the Inn at Little Switzerland. When we got home I checked the garden and found that those darned bunnies had eaten the tops off all my snow peas! So, before I even changed clothes, I checked my garden supplies and found a spray jar of bunny, deer repellant and went around the garden spraying anything that they've been munching on.

After that we vegged out watching some brit coms on Netflix while I caught up with some email.

Today will be more of the same - breakfast with Wimbledon, Jim hand watering my potted plants, me finishing this cone 10 soda test tile project and later scanning the cone 6 test tiles for the next project. I'll probably finish that tomorrow. The plan is to get these tile projects finished this weekend so I can be back to work in the studio Monday.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Unloading soda kiln spring '09

I guess I'm just stubborn; but I'm trying again to upload this video to the blog.

We're enjoy a lazy morning with breakfast while watching the Wimbledon tennis and once I get this blog finished I'm heading up to my office to see if I can scan the test tiles from the firing on the new printer.

We're expecting thunderstorms this afternoon, so I'll probably not get in any garden time; but I want to get all this computer stuff done so I can get back in the studio next week after an hour or so of morning gardening time. Hopefully that will be the daily routine for the rest of the summer other than off days for shopping, and other non studio or garden related chores.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Here's a video I put on you tube of unloading the soda kiln

It's taken all day yesterday and this morning to get this video uploaded to you tube. Here's the URL:

We continued our furniture search and found a recliner for the studio and an end table for my side of the sofa (I've been looking for the right table for 4 years). I'm thrilled that the search is over and both pieces were on sale at 1/2 off. Oh happy day!

I start back work in a couple of days and the new kitty is going to be coming into the studio with me, so I needed a comfortable, reclining, rest time,paper work time, cuddle kitty time, chair for these old, damaged bones.

I took a few more pictures of some new garden blooms, and I'll try to post them tomorrow.

The garden is so alive,right now, with more young bumble bees and hummingbirds than I've seen in a few years - more young bunnies too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wood soda fired vessel

I'm late blogging today because I've been working on uploading a video of my kiln opening to you tube, all day, without success; and I couldn't access my desktop because the laptop is on line and all my newer photos are on the desktop, so here's a wood/soda fired pot of mine from a couple of years ago.

I cooked a nice bolognese sauce for our pasta dinner and then went out and partied at a friends house for a couple of hours. It was a fun, all girls, get together with lots of beautiful children running around, playing in the pool and lots of friendly dogs to pet - my idea of a fun evening. After two glasses of wine I decided to head home and let the younger women continue on. These young women today just amaze me with their abilities to deal with family and jobs and do it all so well!

Now I'm gong to just watch "The F word", Gordon Ramsey's show and later "Top Chef" - an all night cooking show marathon which we enjoy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Soda fired mug

This was one of my favorite mugs from the firing. The picture doesn't do justice to the depth of color. It was one I was going to keep for myself but an early tour customer bought it and another one of my favorites before I even got to take more pictures.

Yesterday I got all my test tiles marked and made my assessment and follow up notes. I also got in some gardening time and dead headed several roses and perennials and of course, pulled more weeds. I also worked on the video I made unloading the kiln and have to work on that some more. If it looks OK, I'll put it on you tube tonight. My movie maker software doesn't seem to allow me to adjust text size on the title and closing pages, or maybe I'm just not finding the right button.

Have an osteopathic treatment late this morning, so there won't be any studio or garden time and by the time I do some pick up a few groceries, there won't be much of the afternoon left to start anything but dinner (pasta bolognese tonight).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cone 10 -11 Soda test tiles

These are the test tiles from the last soda firing. This afternoon I'll makes assessment and follow up notes on these. I'll also mark the cone they reached on the tile, since I'm still getting too much temperature variation. Looks like some are quite promising and others look like they need a bit of tweaking. Full studio days will have to wait till the weekend at the earliest, while I play catch up with garden work, doctors appointment, and some trips to Asheville and Johnson City to restock the larder.

We're enjoying breakfast with Wimbledon this morning. With Federer and Sharapova matches this morning.

I got 3 hrs in the garden yesterday - planted cantaloupe and cucumbers and got the knoll next to my gallery well weeded and added more mulch, weeded a few other spots, and dead headed one of the climbing roses and a couple of perennials. There's a lot more of that to do today which I'll probably fit it in during the Wimbledon commercial breaks. :-)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Soda fired bowl

Here's one of my fish design bowls from this latest firing.
We decided to make yesterday a play day. Our first stop was the Farmers market in town where I got some home made Cherry jam, pickled 3 bean salad, and a banana nut bread which we'll have with boiled eggs this morning. After that we drove up to Roan Mt to see the rhododendrons. It's a good thing we did because they're starting on the down side of their peak blooming; but still going strong enough to see a lot of color. We forgot to bring jackets and the heavy fog made it too uncomfortable to walk around too long, and the crowds were huge, so we decided to cut our visit short with the intent of going back in another day or two.
As we were driving down the mountain, we decided to drive to Spruce Pine and try the 50's style drive in for lunch. Jim had seen their sign for Philly cheese steaks and wanted to give it a try. The food wasn't great, or bad; but it was fun sitting in the car and eating while the 50's and 60's music was piped in.
Needless to say, I didn't get in any garden time in the heat of the afternoon, but I will this morning. It's going to be a bit cooler today than yesterday so I should be able to get a couple of hours in this morning. We had a strong storm come through again yesterday so I've got to put down more blood meal to keep the bunnies away.
We're planning a lazy Sunday afternoon reading the Sunday papers, and later I'm going to get the barbecue going for the nice steaks I'm making for Jim's Father's day dinner.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Soda fired bowl

Here's another bowl from this firing. The liner is my regular celadon base, replacing the black iron oxide with cobalt oxide and some Alberta slip.

Yesterday was another day that unfolded itself into something other than I planned. Gardening was put off because we had to take our dog Bodhi to the vet. He was sneezing and wheezing and since it was Friday and no vets are available on the weekend, we wanted to make sure it wasn't anything serious. Turns out that he has allergies! So now he's on antibiotics and allergy medicine all in one.

We stopped and did some shopping on the way home and then I did some food prep for our porch sitting with friends. I'm having a hard time waking up this morning after all that good wine and food; but I am going to get out and get some weeding done after breakfast and maybe plant a couple of things.

This is Bakersville's rhododendron festival weekend and I'm wondering if it will be too crowded at the top of the Roan with all the local and out of town visitors checking out the blooming rhododendrons. I'm up for the crowds if it means seeing all that glorious shrubs in full bloom.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Soda fired Jar

Here's a jar from my latest soda firing - my attempt to get more color on these orange, flashing slipped pots. The green is much brighter than the picture shows. I definitely need Joy Tanner's photography class next month!

Yesterday was busy with some young potter friends, Joy Tanner and Will Baker coming in the morning to pick up some firebricks. I pulled enough for myself to make some more kiln furniture and raise my bag wall, and in the process, dropped a 9 lb firebrick on my left toe which is now piece of art work with the most wonderful shades of purple, burgundy, and black!

Today is the first "no rain" day in a long time, where I'm actually free to do some planting, so after breakfast I'm going to try to get as many of these things in the ground before the heat wilts me completely. It's going up into the 90's today and the humidity is oppressive, so I'm going to have to start early and work fast.

Tonight is porch sitting with our friends, Jim and Laura. Jim picked up a lot of munchies in Asheville yesterday after he got the car serviced, so I'll just have to prep some raw veggies for the the dip.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Soda fired serving plate

This plate with a reed and cane handle is from my latest firing. Can't wait to take Joy Tanner's photography class so I can do justice to these pots.
I've been enjoying my recharge time - cooking, playing with the new kitty, catching up on my reading (mainly emails), and making a "to do" studio list for next week.
I tried my new glue gun yesterday, but realize that it will not do what I intended because the glue comes out too thick for making small signature stamps; but I can see that I might be able to use to to make thicker patterns to impress the clay.
Looks like I may get gardening time with two no rain days predicted this weekend. I'd love to get the rest of these plants in the ground before I get started on another studio cycle next week.
Jim added up my TRAC sales last night and found some sales receipts I had missed - nice surprise. He's my unofficial book keeper. It's great for me that he actually enjoys doing that, since I'd rather just make the pots.
Joy Tanner and Will Baker are coming over this morning to see if they can use any of my surplus firebricks for a small soda kiln Joy wants to build. There are some leftover arch bricks from my soda kiln, and a bunch of high alumina firebricks that I got a few years ago to build a tiny wood/diesel fired kiln. But I realize that I don't even have enough time and energy to deal with my current work, garden, cooking, etc. At 69, it's time to slow down a bit and work a bit less and play and meditate a bit more.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Soda fired bowl

This was one of the first pots sold during the tour. This bright blue liner is popular and it's a result of a glaze mistake! A friend admired my blue green celadon and asked me to make a batch for a firing in her soda kiln; but when we opened the kiln, we had a lot of pots with a bright blue liner. It turns out, someone had labeled her cobalt oxide, black iron oxide; but everyone loved the blue liner with the avery slip and shino pots. Sometimes there are good accidents in the studio!

We canceled our Asheville trip due to the strong storms coming through this morning, so it will be another paper work day, unless this weather miraculously clears a bit later.

The sourdough bread and soup came out fine. Jim really loved the soup and he's not a broccoli fan! I wound up with two loaves of sourdough, not as pretty as the last loaf; but I was afraid a single loaf would be too big because the dough kept taking more flour in this high humidity, much more than the recipe calls for, so I decided to make two smaller loaves. The dough was too sticky, even with all that extra flour; but the finished bread tasted fine.

Here's the recipes for my rich Potato, broccoli, cheddar soup if anyone wants to try it:

2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 T butter
2 1/2 -3lbs of potatoes, peeled and diced into about 1/2" cubes
3-4 cups of broccoli florets cut into small pieces
5 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 cup of 1/2 and 1/2
3 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter till softened. Add the chicken broth and diced potatoes. Cook about ten -15 minutes till potatoes are tender. While potatoes are cooking, steam the broccoli florets till done and set aside. When potatoes are done, add to the broth/potato mix. Cook a couple of minutes more and then puree the soup or just part of it if you want some of it chunky. I have a new portable, hand blender that I used for the first time yesterday and it works great!
After pureeing, add the 1/2 and 1/2 and stir well. Then add the grated cheese, stir to melt the cheese, keeping the heat around medium. Taste and then season with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick for your taste you can add some more chicken broth to thin it. This is a rich soup. Serve with some nice, crusty bread. It should serve 6.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Soda fired jar

Here's another piece from the last firing.
My sourdough is proofing for another ten minutes before I have to add the rest of the flour and salt and start the kneading process. This is going to be a good day to have the smell of baking bread in the house.
We're expecting thunderstorms and heavy rain at times. It feels like it will be a good soup night to go with the bread. I still have to cut the broccoli before it starts flowering, and I'll check google, the fountain of all wisdom, for a broccoli, potato soup recipe.
Last night we watched a Netflix movie on my laptop. If you like wine and a good story, check out "Bottle Shock". It's a true story about how California wines came into prominence with the International wine market in the '70's. We enjoyed it very much! Make sure you have some wine on hand while you watch!
If you subscribe to Netflix, that's one of the movies you get for free that you can watch on your computer, or on your TV with the right connectors.
Time to cut my broccoli and get the bread kneaded and on to its' first rise.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Post tour, recharge day

Here's a bowl from last weeks firing. I'm going to try to make more like this, but make them lower, wider and with a bigger rim to decorate. I'm already making a list of things to make to replace what sold, and new ideas to try. Right now I'm taking a post firing, post tour, day off and plan to do nothing but catch up on email mail and play with Bodhi and Bonnie, who is now running around my office (new experience for her), and thinking the shade cord is her new best toy! She's also enjoying running across this keyboard, so it may take me a while to finish this post! LOL
I had a great tour with a bit more visitors than the few past tours I've done. My sales were double and I think I owe that to the detour which brought people right past our property. The last couple of tour maps have us in the wrong location on the map and a lot of people just couldn't find us. Hopefully by the Christmas tour, I'll have some permanent signs up; and maybe next time they'll proof check the map to make sure the printer made the changes they submitted.
I was pooped after 3 days of the tour but managed to stay awake to watch the Lakers win the NBA championship.
Bonnie kitty is sitting in front of my monitor chasing the computer mouse. Too funny!
Well, it's time for breakfast, and if I can perk up I need to feed my sour dough starters and cut some broccoli in the garden which is just right for picking. I noticed yesterday that my early planted potatoes are in bloom, so I might just harvest a few young ones and make a broccoli potato soup tomorrow.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

My little gallery space

One more studio tour day to go. Hope it will be quiet this morning, which is the norm for tour Sunday's. It was so busy yesterday that I couldn't find any time to blog.
Here's a picture of my little gallery setup with a big fan to keep customers cool. We've been lucky so far with the weather which has been great. None of the predicted thunderstorms hit out area, and maybe we'll get lucky again today.
Sales are up 1/3 over last year and we still have a full tour day to go. I'm thinking that a lot of people have decided to keep their money local in this economy which is helping all the artists. It's been a very nice surprise.
With the state of the economy, I think some of us weren't having high expectations. On top of that the bridge is out near our property and there's a dirt road detour to mine and other studios and I was concerned that might be a deterrent to some tour goers; but God bless them, they're an adventurous lot and were not in any way discouraged by the detour!
Our friend Shane joined us for an after tour porch sitting, margarita and nachos time. After two margaritas and all this tour and pre-tour work, I'm definitely moving at a very slow pace this morning.
Well, tour officially starts in 35 minutes, so I need to open up the studio and gallery and get the morning snacks and juice set out just in case we do get some early bird visitors.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Soda fired platter

Here's a soda fired platter from my latest firing.

Today is the TRAC (Toe River Arts Council) studio tour and I still have a few things to do - like getting my hospitality and sales area set up, and do a bit more tidying in the studio. If I have time I want to take one or two more pictures of some pots from this firing. This is the first time we've had Friday added to the weekend tour; but fortunately it starts later and end earlier than the Saturday and Sunday tour times.

If we didn't have to pick up the new kitty, shop for her and get her acclimated to her new home, I would have had all of these tour chores finished by now. And of course, I've been taking many kitty play breaks. Bodhi, our Jack Russell terrier find her super intriguing, although he isn't sure what to make of her, or what to do with her!

Lakers won last night in another nail biter that went over time. It's now Lakers 3 Orland 1. The Lakers are one game away from winning the NBA championship!

We had a bad storm go through here last night that dropped hail on some local areas, knocked down trees and created a muddy mess of things. More thunderstorms are predicted for today and the rest of the weekend, so I don't hold much hope for a heavy turn out for the tour.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Teapot from this firing

Here's a teapot from the firing. It's a particularly nice one, I think.

I got so much more accomplished yesterday morning than I thought I could - did last minute sanding on the last remaining pots, got them priced and into the gallery, did some arranging in the gallery and then hauled some of them to the basement where I've permanently set up my photo cube and took pictures of some of the pots.

We brought the new kitty, Bonnie Lass home from the shelter, and I had so much fun playing with her. Her big bother Bodhi, our Jack Russel terrier, just doesn't know what to make of this new addition; but he is very excited. I'm not sure at this point if he thinks she's a toy or food; but she definitely thinks he's a toy! In fact, I think I can say without exaggeration that at this age, she's thinks of everything as a toy!

Before we picked her up we headed to Walmart to load up a cart with kitty necessities and toys, which she's definitely putting to use. Wish there was a way to get some of that energy!

There's food shopping to do today and I have last minute studio tidying and organizing to do, flowers to arrange for the tour. We have relatives coming over tonight so I have to get everything done, including making appetizers before 5 o'clock. I will definitely be ready for wine and nibblies at 5. I was on antibiotics this past week and couldn't have any wine till last night; but I was too tired last night to even have a glass of wine and fell asleep watching a movie and never saw the end. Fortunately it was an old movie I had seen years ago and remembered the ending.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lilies in bloom

Wow, some of the lilies are in bloom - exquisite!
I checked the garden at 6am, and there wasn't any more bunny damage to my beans and peas - guess the blood meal is working until the next rain. As soon as I get time I'll spray with the bunny/deer repellent which is supposed to work for 30 days.
Today is going to be a super busy day, getting ready for the TRAC tour. Yesterday I got all my throwing bats washed, arranged pots in the gallery and got the floor thoroughly cleaned with the new wet vac. It works great, picking up dried clay spills and doesn't leave streaks like a regular mopping. It was also lot easier on my lower back.
I did a super thorough job of it, moving heavy glaze and slip buckets out from under tables, etc. My friend Shane came over to help me figure out the wet vac since the instructions were somewhat confusing and definitely lacking. Thanks Shane - great potter and all around great guy, who always makes himself available for my big and little emergencies. He's also cute and available ladies. :-)
Jim and I had a nice dinner out and then watched the Lakers game. Orlando was just too good last night, making 75% of their shots; but the Lakers are still ahead in the series 2 games to 1.
After breakfast I'll do more studio organizing and bring some pots in to photograph today or tomorrow. There's food shopping to do at some point today, and if our new kitty had surgery yesterday, we'll be able to bring her home. All we know right now is that she was at the vets yesterday, but the girl at the shelter said that they didn't know if the vet would get to her this week even if her weight was enough to permit the surgery, because there are so many adoptive animals needing to be altered before the shelter will release them to their new owners. We should hear something this morning.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Soda fired seconds display

The gallery was too full of pots, so I thought it was a good idea to make a seconds display in the studio.

Yesterday I got the studio vacuumed, took apart and scrubbed down one of the ware carts and some glaze buckets, and set it up as the seconds display, got the counter tops wiped and arranged some other pots in the gallery. The studio still needs mopping and there's a lot of stuff to put away,sales and snack tables to set up, etc., so those will be my jobs for the next three days, in between doing some outside chores.

I thought I might get out in the afternoon to do some trimming but the thunder started and that ended that thought, so I came in the house and flipped through the Sunday paper and got dinner - fettucini with onion, julienned ham and sliced mushrooms - definitely a heart attack special which we only have about once or twice a year max - so rich and so tasty!

If we get news that our new kitty, Bonnie can have her surgery today, then we'll probably pick her up later and make a grocery store stop to get cookies, juice and some other nibblies for the studio tour. I don't hold much hope that they can do the surgery today because she's so tiny!


My new studio mascot

Here is our new family member "Bonnie Lass", Bonnie for short. She was the cause of my interrupted work day Saturday, when we visited the Spruce Pine animal shelter in search of a new kitty. Unfortunately we can't bring her home until she's altered, and she needs to gain another pound before they'll do the surgery. If they can do it tomorrow, we can bring her home afterwards, otherwise we will have to wait till next Tuesday since they only schedule these surgeries once a week.

Hopefully, Bonnie's presence will be a deterrent to this rampant population of bunnies running through all my flower and vegetable beds!

Yesterday I got most of the rest of the pots priced, did some touch up sanding and got them into the gallery. Today is major studio cleanup day which I'm not looking forward to; but it's a must do to prepare for the TRAC studio tour which starts Friday afternoon.

After dinner we watched the Lakers win a nail biter, in overtime - only two more wins to go for the NBA championship, I hope!

Tonight, if I'm not too tired, I'll try to take some pictures of a couple of the pots from this firing.

Till later,

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Kiln - back stack

Here's the last layer from the firing.
Got some pricing done yesterday but still a long way to go. There was a pleasant interruption to the day - acquiring a new, tiny, furry, family member. I'll post more later today.
We're planning a lazy Sunday morning - a bagel,cream cheese and smoked salmon breakfast while watching the mens final of the French Open, then back to pricing pots or planting or both.
I cut the last of the asparagus for tonight's dinner - asparagus on toast topped with chopped hard boiled egg,crumbled bacon, and lemon butter - one of my own concoctions which Jim loves. Of course, he loves anything with eggs.

Till later,

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Soda firing photo of middle stack

Got all the pots sanded yesterday and this morning I'll be pricing them while I watch the women's final of the French Open Tennis.
The Gail Nichols mixture worked well, even though the draw tiles seemed dry and I wound up adding a gallon of saturated soda ash solution, which proved to be too much soda but only on the bottom layer of pots, which is making me think that the Nichols mixture may not be migrating through the kiln as it should. I lost most of my mugs on that first level due to an oversupply of dry soda deposit; but got one that I think is fabulous. I think I'll try re-firing one or two of them in one of my tiny test kilns with a long soak.
This afternoon I should be able to get a bit of planting done. We are over run with bunnies! Jim saw 5 little ones around 6 o'clock last night and set out a have a heart trap; but it was empty this morning. I spread more blood meal around the whole garden to keep the little buggers away from my flowers and veggies. I told Jim it might be time to get to the pound and adopt another kitty, to replace our last cat, Shino, who disappeared last fall. We have a feral cat we've been feeding for a couple of years, but she stays away from the house and garden and we think she may have kittens because we haven't seen her for a few days. I just hope she's OK.

Till later,

Friday, June 05, 2009

Unloading the kiln this morning

I unbricked the kiln door yesterday afternoon, and will start unloading this in a few minutes. A killer headache and exhaustion yesterday made me put off unloading till this morning; but I'm raring to go now!

How about those Lakers last night!!! Kobe played out of his mind garnering 40 points in their 100 point, winning game. He was so focused and unstoppable! The Lakers just plain, outplayed Orlando in this opening game for the championships. If they keep playing like this it will be a 4 game win to the championship.

We got about an inch of rain overnight and rain is expected most of the day, so it's a good day for the studio and watching mens semi finals of the French Open which starts at 10am EST. I'll be more listening than watching while I unload the kiln,for part of the telecast; but should see enough of it while I sand pots.

Till later,

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Yellow Rose

This is the most beautiful, yellow rose! Another climber, an heirloom pink rambler, started blooming yesterday. It's acting more like an ungainly shrub rose than climber, so I may have to do some pruning after it blooms to get it to climb.

I did my garden check at 6am when I went out to check the kiln's temperature and the after heavy rain all the flowers look a bit bedraggled. Before the rains came yesterday I got eggplants planted, did some weeding and put more soil around more potatoes; but the weather didn't permit me to do any more planting and the forecast today is for more thundershowers,and showers again tomorrow. There are about 6 flats of plants that desperately need planting.

The kiln is still too hot to unload; so I opened another spy hole at the top front and opened the damper a hair more. Unloading may have to wait until tomorrow morning.

Yesterday I had to deal with a Trojan virus on my desktop and Web Root Spy Sweeper removed it but now I've lost computer sounds and a hardware check says it's a hardware issue; yet I can play sounds of archived radio shows. I guess this morning is going to be spent trying to fix this problem, while I watch the French Open.

If planting is out of the question, I'll start on getting the studio cleaned up for the TRAC tour the weekend of the 12th. I don't plan on starting another throwing cycle until after the tour and until I get caught up with planting.

Tonight is the start of the NBA finals - Lakers versus Orlando. I'm betting on the Lakers winning ! :-)

Till later,

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Roses, kiln update and orecchiette recipe

Seems like all the roses have decided to bloom! Here's the New Dawn climber on one side of the arbor. Eden is on the other side but isn't blooming yet.
Still waiting for the kiln to cool. The top is just over 400F. When it gets down to 300 I'll open it up a hair. I got a better peek this morning and looks like less reduction kept the oribe green as far as I can see, except for a couple of mugs on the bottom front that look like the oribe just washed out. The flashing slip also looks strange on them. That was the hottest part of the firing, so that extra heat must be the cause since I didn't augment with any wood this firing. I can't wait to see these pots!
Looks like the rain isn't due till this afternoon so I'll get a couple of hours of planting in this morning, then watch the French Open this afternoon while I start on sorting through my various paper piles.
Clay Club has their anniversary bash tonight; but I think I'll probably be too tired to party. I'm still tired from firing week and I haven't even started my day!
Here's the requested recipe for the Orecchiette with broccoli and anchovy, olive oil,hot pepper and garlic sauce.This recipe is from a gem of a cookbook I bought several years ago at one of the wineries in Napa, "Italian Country Cooking" by Susanna Gelmetti.


14 oz Orecchiette or any short dried pasta (small shell pasta works ok if you can't find Orecchiette; but it won't be as firm as the orecchiette.
1 lb broccoli florets, cut into small sizes
6 T Extra virgin olive oil (I use about 7)
1 garlic clove chopped (I use 3-4)
2oz can anchovies in olive oil, drained (I use 2. Jim loves anchovies!)
2 fresh hot red chiles chopped. (If if don't have these I just use dried red pepper flakes for our heat preference)
Fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or 4 tsp breadcrumbs fried in about 1 T olive oil until golden. (I use the parmesan)
I add several T of pignoli nuts which Jim likes; but the original doesn't call for these.

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water till done. In meantime get the broccoli cooked till firm (I steam it while pasta is cooking. Don't overcook because you'll be adding it to the sauce and pasta later and it will heat up more.
While pasta is cooking, in a large, flat pan, heat the olive oil and add the anchovies, peppers or pepper flakes and garlic and saute on low/medium heat. The anchovies will break up as you stir this sauce. Add pignoli nuts if using now and stir. When pasta is al dente, drain and add it and the broccoli to the anchovy sauce. Toss well and serve, topped with the grated parmesan or the toasted bread crumbs. Enjoy!

Till later,

Monday, June 01, 2009

Shopping and gardening day

Here's a picture of white and purple perennial geraniums I started from seed a couple of years ago. I love their delicacy and if I dead head them, they bloom again.
While the kiln continues to cool, I'm recovering from the firing and taking care of all the things ones neglects the week or so leading up to a firing. Each year it seems to take longer to recover from a firing.
I find the aging process very interesting. You can still do what you always did but not as long and with longer recovery time. I used to lift 100 lb bags, then after 50, it was 50 lbs bags and now with a titanium hip, I'm not allowed to lift over 25 lbs. I think this slowing down process is nature's way of providing us more reflective, meditative time in our twilight years.
Yesterday was pretty much a total vegging out day. I did manage to broil some chicken and make a salad for dinner,drove up to Banner Elk to the kitchen supply store to buy some things for the house and studio,and a couple of plant buying stops.
After breakfast I'll transplant some veggies and flowers and this afternoon is going to be spent doing the weeks food shopping, lunch out and a couple of stops for studio items - builders sand and a replacement wand for one of my sprayers, then back home to watch some of the French Open tennis.
I'm making orichette pasta with an olive oil, garlic, anchovy sauce with hot pepper flakes sauce,with steamed broccoli and pignoli nuts (Jim's request). I love the dish because it's a nice, ten minute, savory dinners. If any one loves anchovies let me know and I'll post the recipe.

Till later,

Kiln put to bed

Kiln is cooling and I'm achy and vegging out this morning. Here's a picture of the kiln at the end of the firing and below is a photo of the readings on the FLuke pyrometers before I started salting. I was dead even in temperatures throughout the firing, thanks to the adjustments I made to bag wall, flues and chimney; but these readings don't match the cones because the pyrometers are not quite at the very top or very bottom. I'll make a few more adjustments before the next firing; but I'm definitely on the right track with the changes I made.
I have a new sprayer that has an automatic recharger so I didn't have to pump it the whole time. It doesn't last for the whole spraying cycle; but you can also hand pump it. I imagine I can buy a second recharger for it. Will have to check into that.
It will take 3 days to cool, so I'm going to take this time to catch up on shopping, do some cooking and gardening.
I did a quick perusal of the garden yesterday while I put down blood meal to keep the bunnies at bay and see that all but two corn plants are gone! I don't know if the bunnies, deer or crows got them, so I'm going to replant and put down some netting this time along with blood meal once they sprout.
Today is a shopping and play day combined after a morning rest and recharge time. I just wish these old knees would stop aching. Cone 6 soda is sounding better every firing; or maybe cone 6 electric will be in order after 70! I don't know how my friend Otto does it - firing his wood kiln, alone, in his 90's - must be those sturdy Finnish genes!

Till later,

Kiln fired.s

It's 12:30 am and I just shut down the kiln, washed the soda sprayer and I'm off to the shower and bed. Will write more tomorrow.
The new changes on the kiln worked, but I'll tweak it all a bit more for the next firing. Top and bottom temperatures on the double fluke pyrometers were dead even 99.9% of the time; but the cones didn't match it since the fluke were one or two brick up from the bottom and down from the top; but fortunately my two celadon liners , oribe, temmoku and shino have a wide firing range so no problem there. I might have gotten more reduction than I was hoping for so my oribe might go liver colored - we'll see.

Till tomorrow,