Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Planting afternoon - more Japan museum photos

Here are a few more photos from one of the ceramic museums in Japan.

Got my tiny test kiln going this morning for a low bisque (C08) with some test tiles and the new stamps. Found a couple more, small, porcelain bowls that I missed so I'll get those trimmed later, along with a wide shallow bowl I threw during my short studio time yesterday.

First there's lunch, then some planting to do. I have a cold weather, bitter orange citrus from China that I bought on ebay, that I want to plant as well as a crape myrtle. The person who sold me the tree said to bring it indoors for the winter the first couple of years. It was wintered over in my studio last winter and I'm going to take a chance planting it. I'll surround it with a a lot of rocks which will retain the days heat and release it at night and hopefully that will protect it during it's first winter outdoors.

The bitter orange can be used like lemons. I thought it would be fun to grow my own citrus in this zone 6b climate. I have two other citrus - a kumquat and a meyer lemon, that I bring into my studio for the winter. The meyer lemon has only given me a couple of lemons the past two years and so far, nothing from the kumquat. When they flower early spring, I probably should hand pollinate the flowers to get more fruit!

Not sure what dinner is going to be - probably pizza. I may have some dough in the freezer. If not, I'll start a fresh batch right after lunch.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Japan pottery studio exterior

Here's an exterior shot of one of the studios I posted yesterday (the one with the potter throwing).

It's a beautiful fall morning - just enough chill, sun shining and the slightest of movement from the morning breeze.

Yesterday I got all my plates and bowls trimmed and waxed. This morning we're having breakfast out and then on to do some pick up food shopping. I need some mild Italian sausage to go with the fried corno de toro peppers and onion on tonights sandwiches. I also want to get a roasting chicken for Thursday. These colder morning are bringing up different comfort menu ideas.

When I get back this afternoon I have to check the other pots. I think there are some mugs that need handles. When I finish this latest batch of thrown pots, I'll slip and decorate them before I do more throwing.

Two days ago I checked my corn and the tassels are starting to turn darker. The ears don't look big, maybe because of all this rain and lack of sun; but we may actually get some. I put down more blood meal to keep the deer and raccoons away. About ten feet from my little corn area, I spotted what looks like a deer bedding down area. I told Jim that stinker is just sitting there guarding the corn patch for him or her self. When I lived in Oregon I had an old doe who would sit under the fruit trees and chase all the other deer away. Some of my late bush beans are coming in as well. I never did get to plant the spinach, but maybe I can get some in the cold frame in the next week or so.

Here's the requested fettucine alfredo sauce recipe that I use:

2/3 cup of light cream
2 egg yolks beaten
1/2 lb unsalted butter
1/4 C fresh grated parmesan cheese
fresh ground black pepper to taste

This mixture will make a generous amount of sauce for about 3/4 lb of pasta. It could probably be stretched for the whole pound; but we like a lot of sauce.

Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler. Separately, beat the eggs yolks. Add the cream to the yolks. Mix well. Then add this to the butter. Cook stirring till the sauce is hot and coats the back of a spoon well. You'll know it's right when it starts to thicken a bit. Season with the pepper.

Pour over fettucine cooked al dente. Sprinkle the parmesan over and toss well.

If you want it fancier, you can add some sauteed mushrooms and onions. If you want meat, you can also sautee some ham, sliced about 1/2-3/4" wide with the mushrooms and onions. Cook this mix until the onions, ham, mushrooms, get lightly browned. It brings out all the flavors.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Interesting ware board and shelving from Japan

Here are a few examples of some interesting ware board/shelving arrangements I saw in Japan. Seeing Michael Klines "no more horizontal studio space" message today, prompted me to dig up these photos. When you run out of floor space - look skyward, like the last photo in this set.

Got some studio time yesterday. Only one plate was firm enough to trim; but more should be ready today. This morning, I uncovered all the drying pots waiting for trimming and it looks like there are several firm enough to trim. I also want to get the new stamps I made a while back, bisqued, along with some test tiles, today in one of my tiny test kilns. I'll probably skip throwing today and give myself some healing time. Instead, I'll try to weigh out some glaze tests.

Had Mexican food with friends last night. The food is mediocre but they do make a decent frozen margarita. Tonight, we're eating in - fettucine alfredo with the addition of fresh shitake mushrooms sauteed with some garlic and shallots, and a nice red wine to cut the effects of this heart attack special! It will make a nice comfort food dinner on this damp cloudy day. Our heat actually came on this morning, so I guess fall is finally here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Antique pottery tools from museum in Japan

More potters tools from Japan. These photos were taken in a museum and the tools were under glass, so the pictures aren't the best; and that cheapie slide scanner I'm using doesn't help either! Double clicking on the photos will bring up a much larger picture to view.

It feels good to be getting a bit of studio time every day but my body is complaining this morning, so I might skip throwing today unless I loosen up. I was out there already cutting a couple of things off bats and uncovering plates and platters. A couple look like they may be ready for trimming later and I have a couple of mugs that are ready for handles and a jar lid that needs trimming and a top added. With all that done I think I'll be ready to get some earlier pots dipped in slip and decorated, unless of course, feel like throwing a few more things.

We may be going out to dinner with friends, and if we do I'll get a good day in the studio. Last night's menu changed when Jim found that I had bought some fresh corn and spinach at the farmers market, so the linguini with clam sauce was put off for a while. My next pasta dish is going to be a fettucine alfredo using those lovely fresh shitakes I bought yesterday at the farmers market. I just saute them with some shallot or onion, stir in the alfredo sauce - so good. If I feel like a meat meal, I take some good quality deli ham like Black Forest , sliced a bit thicker, then cut in about 1/2" wide strips and saute them along with the mushrooms.

Cooking was the reason I got into pottery. The first pot I ever bought was a large, Karen Karnes casserole, and in my naivete, I thought, I could learn to do that and make all my own pots. Little did I know all the time and money I would spend to get to this point! And the irony is, that I have so few of my own pots! I told Jim last week, that it's time I start keeping some more of my nicer soda fired pots. Till now, I've only saved about 4 of my own soda fired pots, that weren't seconds and half of those were saved only because at the moment I needed a small pitcher for gravy, or a small covered jar for pate! Time for that to change!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Throwing and decorating tools from museum in Japan

Here are a couple of pictures I took at a museum in Japan or various throwing and decorating tools. I'll post a couple more tomorrow.

Yesterday I got a few more various sized bowls and a couple of good sized platters thrown. I was able to center 7 1/2 lbs of soft clay yesterday, without my chest hurting any more than it's been lately, so maybe this bit of exercise is actually helping. After lunch I'll get back to work and do a bit more throwing. The plates from a couple of days ago are not quite firm enough to trim and this wet weather isn't helping.

Fortunately I was able to get out to the Creek Walk craft show in town early and beat the rain, which started on the drive home. I also made a visit to the Crimson Laurel Gallery in town (great craft gallery) and found a Ron Philbeck earthenware plate with his whimsical clothesline drawing, that I just couldn't live without! His work makes me smile. I'm sure this is one of many more of his pieces I will be adding to my collection.

I also stopped at the local farmers market. They had some lovely corno de toro frying peppers which will be part of a light supper one night, sauteed with some garlic, onion, red wine and served on a roll with some mild Italian sausage. I also got some more fresh shitaki mushrooms. They're soooo good!

Tonight, Jim requested a simple pasta tonight, so I'm just making a quickie linguini with clam sauce. He's in a lot of pain right now from a back injury, after lifting a couple of heavy boxes, so we'll have to skip a party we were going to tonight. :-(

Friday, September 25, 2009

Shiro Otani's kiln

If memory serves, this is Shiro Otani's kiln in Japan. I purchased a really sweet sake cup from him. One of the things I remember from the visit to this pottery was the large amount of empty beer bottles laying on the ground near the kiln. These wood firings get pretty toasty!

Another foggy mountain morning. It rained overnight and more showers and possible thunderstorms are expected. I feel bad for the artists participating in our local Creek Walk craft show tomorrow and Sunday. The temperature tomorrow is dropping down to the low 60's and it's going to be raining - not fun for visitors or participants.

Today I'll get some more studio time. The few plates/platters were finally dry enough last night to invert; but I re-covered them along with a couple of other small pots. We turned the propane heater pilot back on and I find that it actually can make the studio warm enough to dry out pots too quickly this time of year.

Studio work is slow going with my chest still aching if I over do it; but I have been able to center 5-6 lbs of very soft clay, which is why I made a few plates and platters. Today I think I'll throw some more mugs and small jars with the soft reclaim and maybe in another week or so I'll be able to use firmer clay.

Time for breakfast and on to the studio.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kurashiki Japan and some pieces from the Folk Art Museum

Here is a photo of the town of Kurashi, Japan. Kurashiki has the most wonderful museums. My favorite was the folk art museum. I saw Leach, Hamada, Cardew, etc pots in this museum as well as a wonderful collection of other crafts. Here are a couple of some of the crafts I was able to photograph.

Had a great visit with our son yesterday. After dinner we headed for the porch and solved the problems of the world over 3 bottles of wine (for 3 people), till 12:30am. Needleless to say, I'm moving very slowly this morning.

I made him a big breakfast at 8 am and sent him off to Nashville for his meetings. We're eating later and opting for just some rye toast after all that eating last night.

Workers just arrived to replace the motor in our less than one year old bedroom wing heating unit. We were lucky to have someone here checking something else yesterday, when he noticed a funny sound coming from the unit, and said he thought it was under warranty.

Hopefully I'll perk up after breakfast and get in some studio time. I don't have to cook tonight other than sauteing some mushrooms to top off the leftover mushroom bisque. After several nights of meat this week, I'm ready for a no meat, soup and salad, meal.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why kittens in a studio is not a good idea!

Yesterday I got a half a day in the studio. I took Bonnie Lass, our 6 month old kitten in with me. She's been in the studio before, and was fairly well behaved other that boxing with my hanging brushes; but yesterday she found she could jump on to the wedging table and then on to the ware cart. I had put some pots that were thrown the day before, high up on the cart and out of her reach. Well, as you can see, she's now found a way to get up there and knocked over this mug. She was quickly whisked back into the house to her kitty day care center in the master bedroom, laundry room area.

It felt good to get some throwing in yesterday. Working with super soft clay I managed to throw a few plates/platters and a few more small pieces. My healing chest muscles are a bit sore this morning, but not sore enough to make me want to stop. Today probably won't be much studio time. Our son Sean, is flying in for the day, so I'm going to be prepping a nice dinner and maybe baking some bread too.

After breakfast I'll uncover the pots I threw yesterday, then start early on dinner prep. I'm making mushroom bisque, roast lamb, roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes and either green beans or a salad. I have to check the garden to see if I have enough beans.

Time for breakfast. Lots to do today.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lovely wall sculpture from Japan

Here's another photo from Japan. This is a very strong piece with great texture and a wonderful blend of colors. The artist's name is lost in my long lost trip notes. I remember that we saw his work in his own gallery, which was a storefront, very different than the other potters we visited, who sold their work at their own studios as well as through retail stores.

Well, today I finally got a couple of hours in the studio. A few mugs I had covered over a week or more ago, were leather hard, so I cleaned them up, pulled some handles and got them recovered. I did a bit of cleanup and got the clay mixer going; but the clay had hardened too much, so I added some water and covered it with plastic and will have to let it all sit for a day and try mixing again.

My back is now in spasm just from that little bit of work. This is going to take time. Tomorrow I'll try to throw a few small things and see how that goes.

Fortunately I had a quick dinner planned - pork chops with a cream sherry reduction, some leftover potatoes au gratin and baby peas. Now I'm going to enjoy my glass of wine and watch a Netflix movie, while going over the slides I scanned yesterday. First look at the slides isn't encouraging. The new, cheapie scanner creates bright blue flares on a lot of the scans - very strange. I didn't figure I'd get a quality product, but I didn't expect it to be this lacking. :-(

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More Japan studio photos

Here are a couple more photos from one of my Japan trips. I love the roof line of this pottery. I'm not sure if this throwing area is from this studio or another. Over the years my memories have faded and my notes are no where to be found.

Years ago we had our daughter Erins birthday dinner at Ma Maison, the owner Patrick Terrail came over and told us about an upcoming cooking class being held at the restaurant. Erin expressed an interest so we decided to treat her with the understanding that she would have to cook what she learned. Now, this was a very expensive class, which we didn't know when we said OK. Needless to say, we were expecting a lovely dinner and some great recipes.

The day arrived for her to cook and the shrimp dish I made for last night's appetizer was the first dish. It was soooo good we couldn't wait for the entree. And then the bad news arrived - no more food was forthcoming, because the shrimp dish was all they taught her to cook! So here's the $350 recipe (the cost of the class). I served it as an appetizer last night, but it would also be a lovely entree along with some rice and a simple green vegetable - asparagus or green beans.

Wolfgang Puck's shrimp in Mustard Sauce

1T minced chives
36-48 raw, fresh, medium shrimp (I halved the whole recipe and used large shrimp last night)
salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 T safflower or almond oil (I used safflower)
2 medium shallots minced
1/2 dry sherry
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 lb unsalted butter cut in small pieces
2 T dijon mustard

Wash, de-vein and dry shrimp, and season with the salt and pepper. Get two sautee pans and put half of the oil in each and get pans very hot and smoking. Cook shrimp till pink (the recipe said 6 -7 minutes and that was way too long even for my large shrimp) and put on a warm plate and keep warm.
To each pan, add half the tarragon and 1/2 the shallots in each pan. Saute then 2-3 minutes. Then deglaze each pan, using 1/2 the sherry in each pan. Then combine the contents of both pans into one pan, add the cream and cook to reduce it till it coats the back of a spoon. Then whisk in the butter a piece at a time, being careful to never let the sauce boil. When all the butter in incorporated and the sauce is nice and hot, and just before serving, stir in the dijon mustard.
Plate the shrimp, and the sauce and top with the chopped chives.

This is a great dish - enjoy!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Toshiko Takaezu and Beato (Beatrice Wood)

Here's a sweet photo of Toshiko giving Beato a throwing lesson, at Beato's studio. I took this in the 80's. Toshiko was at Happy Valley in Ojai, California, teaching for a couple of days and we went to visit Beato who asked Toshiko for this spontaneous throwing lesson.

Jim and I had a lovely vegetarian dinner with Beato and Toshiko and the Heinos that week. Beato's dinner set was glazed with all her amazing, luster glazes. Beato burned the paneer, but Vivika saved the day by adding sugar to it. Then Beato's pecan pie didn't set; but Vivika saved the day again by taking out the filling and serving it over ice cream. I've since done the same thing - taken the basic ingredients of pecan pie filling, but omitting any thickeners, cooking it and serving it on top of ice cream. It makes a great dessert.

Today is going to be super busy. In a few minutes I'll start cleaning shrimp for tonights first course - shrimp in a cream,sherry, tarragon, mustard, and shallot sauce. Then mix up the bread crumb mix for the Rack of lamb Provencale. There are porcinis to soak and chopped that will be added to the potatoes au gratin, table to set, cutlery to polish and on and on. In other words, it's going to be an all day cooking and getting ready for dinner guests.

As soon as the sun comes up I need to see if my tarragon survived all heat and rain this year. My new little plant doesn't have enough leaves for the shrimp recipe.

I've had my first cup of tea - time to get dressed and clean shrimp.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Light Pink Cosmos

The rain let up enough for me to take quick trip to the garden and get a couple of photos. Here's a light pink cosmos - not as brilliant as the darker pink; but it has it's own charm.

It was an out to breakfast, followed by more grocery shopping morning. Living in the country, I find that I often have to go to several stores in two states to find what I need and sometimes even that doesn't guarantee I'll be successful. Today it was fresh tarragon that eluded me as well as chervil - not even dried chervil to be found. I'll have to check the garden later and see if my tarragon has survived the heat and rain this summer, otherwise I'm going to have to use dried which isn't the best choice for the shrimp recipe I'm planning as an appetizer tomorrow.

Yesterday was spent going through recipe clippings and cleaning them up a bit, throwing some out and filing others. I need another day or even two, to finish. It will be a good Sunday and evening project next week. Monday I'm planning on finally getting into the studio. It's been way too long!

This afternoon I'm going to do some food prep for tomorrows dinner and get the house tidied up a bit.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hydrangea for a rainy day

Can't take any garden pictures in this rain; but here's one I took the other day of one of my hydrangeas.

Another productive paper work day ahead. It's pouring rain, like yesterday and we're expecting the same thing every day, through the weekend.

This morning I got all my boxes of seeds put away and packaged up several varieties of tomato seeds that I saved for next year. The dining room looks like a dining room again, instead of a garden supply store.

Last night I finally finished going through all my boxes (the equivalent of 8) of recipes, throwing some out and refiling all of them. Now I have one both with just bread recipes, another with desserts, two with my most used recipes and everything else is the others. Now today's project is to go through all the loose recipe clippings and notes and either transfer them to index cards and file or get them in some of my 3 ring binders.

I found an improved recipe for the no knead bread. With the addition of a few drops of red wine vinegar and using hot instead of tepid water, the bread is ready to bake in 3-4 hours instead of 12 - can't wait to try it; but probably not today. Finishing this recipe sorting and filing is probably going to take all day at least.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cosmos are in bloom

Here's one of the cosmos currently blooming. There are about 3 colors now - light pink, this intense pink and red, blooming. I think these are probably my favorite annual. The colors are great and they fill in the perennials borders beautifully, at a time in the season when the perennials are looking more than a bit bedraggled. And, I love the way they dance in the wind! I rely on some voluteers each year which I help along by spreading the seeds in various spaces in the garden, which I then thin and replant in the spring.

We're dragging after a very busy day in Johnson City, TN yesterday. On top of it we were a bit over served last night with the wine (Jim poured!). On top of that I had a terrible night's sleep, so I'm going to enjoy this rainy day and not do anything requiring exertion.

After I take my morning vitamins, I'm tackling the recipe filing. I got a new bamboo recipe box yesterday and I'll sort through the equivalent of 6 recipes boxes and take out my most used recipes and put those in the new box.

Tonights dinner will be pizza which should be easy, since I alread have some leftover dough in the freezer that I'll take out this afternoon, so it will just be a matter of chopping and slicing the toppings and forming the pizza. I even have some leftover margarita mix. Have I told you all that margaritas go great with pizza!

We had a pretty good frog strangler rain last night which enabled Jim to check out the newly graded and asphalted driveway. He found a couple of minor spots where they have to come back to add a couple of ridges; but all in all it worked great.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No knead sourdough this morning

Here's the no knead sourdough dough that I baked this morning. My friend John Britt told me about this method and referred me to you tube where there's a video of the recipe and technique. So after watching the video, I went out to Walmart and bought a round, iron, lidded pot to bake the bread. The woman on the video took the no knead method and adapted it to using sour dough starter. The bread, when baked in the closed environment of the pot, comes out super crunchy. I had a problem with it though, and it didn't rise and I think I've baked a door stop!

The bread batch was more like batter this morning, so I kept folding in more flour till I could get it to at least hold it's shape a bit. I followed the directions and amounts exactly, so I'm going to have to watch that video a couple more times and triple check my ingredient list. If it's still too wet the night before, I'll add more flour then. The good news for me was that I was able to bring back life to my neglected sour dough starter. I hadn't fed it in about a month, since my accident, but after about 3 feedings yesterday, it came back to life.

This won't be a garden or studio day. We got a bunch of chores to do this morning, then on to Johnson City for lunch at a new (for us) Indian Buffet, then more food shopping at Sam's Club, and a few other stops.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not quite the last rose of summer

Now that the evenings have cooled a bit, the roses have decided to come back into bloom. Here's one of my heirlooms - lovely pink and peach color as well as a wonderful scent.

We took advantage of this beautiful weather to get out of the house, have lunch at the golf course and do some chores. I got a new, cast iron dutch oven to use for baking bread using the no knead method, did some food and wine shopping.

When we got home I had to get my sourdough starter fed. I'm a bit concerned since I haven't fed it for about a month; but it is showing some sign of life, but not as much as I would like. I hope I haven't killed it with neglect. A few more hours at room temperature should let me know if there's enough life in it to make some my bread.

We're now enjoying the US Open men's final. Looks like it's going to be a good match.

I have some snail mail to read after dinner and maybe I can get to one of the projects that I didn't get to yesterday - filing a large number of recipe cards.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Japan photos

Since I have long ago misplaced my Japan trips notes, I can only guess the location of some of these photos. I think these are from the Arita area. Here's a photo of the porcelain deposit. Wouldn't it be lovely to have this in your own back yard!

I still wonder why I didn't buy this set of bowls. They were really lovely and so usable for desserts, snacks, etc. By that time, I was probably already overloaded with my various purchases.

We're enjoying the cool, foggy morning after a super busy day yesterday. I got a couple of weeding sessions in, got rid of a lot of small potted things that never made it into the garden for lack of space or energy, tidied the house and did a lot of organizing and food prep for our porch sitting with friends Lisa, Bob and their delightful daughter Izzy.

Lisa brought us one of her lovely, black and white slip decorated, incised vases, filled with flowers. It's a gift to treasure! She is an amazing artist and an equally amazing person, as is her husband Bob.

Jim was equally busy yesterday and we've decided to just vegg out today. After breakfast he'll pick up the Sunday papers and we'll do our couch potato imitation reading the papers, and watching the US Open tennis. I have the perfect sit down project for the day - sorting and filing a huge pile of recipe cards and clippings. This injury to my chest has given me this gift of time to do all these little organizing projects. I sometimes wonder if I manifested that fall so that I could finally get around to doing these things!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The old and the new driveway

The drive way is finished and looks great. Here's a shot of the old weedy, gravel driveway and the new, paved version. Now we need a good rain to wash off the remnants of construction. We'll have to do some gravel cleanup later this fall or maybe wait till next spring to see how the gravel filled dirt which they pushed off to the sides, will settle.

This morning I pulled a bunch of weeds, cleaned up one of my grow light tables in the basement and got a seedling planter ready to plant. I want to try growing lettuce under the lights this fall and maybe start more basil so I have a supply through the winter.

I finished the light box and took that down to the basement along with the completed reflector and diffusion boards. So all I have to do now is hang the light box and get a lot of nails evenly spaced on a long thin board and get that screwed into the concrete wall. That will be used to adjust the height of the varitone paper.

We had a nice dinner at the Japanese restaurant. Their version of almond chicken is actually a breaded, fried, chicken cutlet topped with a bit of gravy and almonds. It was very good. In Japan, I had a pork cutlet like this and it delicious.

Before dinner we paid a visit to our children's author friend Janie DeVos who was at TRAC, participating in the book fair and I was able to get an autographed copy of her latest book "How High Can You Fly", for our younger grandchildren. I just love her stories. They are so empowering for children.

Tonight we have friends coming over for a nacho and margarita porch sitting, so I'll be cleaning off the porch and taking the recently dug potatoes that I've had drying there, down to the basement for winter storage. I'll also be chopping veggies for the guacamole and nachos while watching the US Open tennis, if it's not rained out again. If I get that done early, I'll plant some of the lettuce and some spinach seeds. My dining rooms looks like a seed store with boxes of seeds and I'll probably go through some of them to pick out what I need and store the rest away and recipes to file, if there's time. There's always plenty to do!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Assorted photos in and around Mashiko, Japan

Here are a few more photos from in and around Mashiko, Japan, The statues I believe, are some type of memorial. We saw this walking from behind Shimaoka's studio, on the way to visiting a couple of other Mashiko potters. The storage pots are from one of the pottery shops in Mashiko.

The last wood storage picture is from Shimaoka's pottery.

The driveway grading is almost finished and they'll start applying the asphalt in a bit. We'll be able to drive on it tomorrow afternoon. Yeah!

Once the driveway is usable, I intend to get back into the studio and do whatever these healing muscles will allow me to do. Even though I always have a lot of other projects to keep me busy, I get a little squirrely if I'm away from the studio too long. Plus, kitty Bonnie only has freedom in the studio or our bathroom and laundry room area, and she isn't happy with the current restrictions either.

It's raining lightly outside, so I won't get in any weeding. I had hoped to check the sweet potatoes and see if I could harvest them; but that will have to wait. Maybe I'll get my indoor herb planter replanted with some new potting soil and get it back into my kitchen green house window.

Tonight we're having dinner at the Japanese restaurant with friends after a reception at the writers conference in Burnsville..

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pink Japanese anemones

Here are my pink Japanese Anemones. They aren't as tall as the white ones and their faces aren't turned up like the white versions I have; but the color is a nice addition to the bed.

The crew finally arrived to do the road. I just love the sound of those graders! If all goes well, the road will be finished by Saturday and they say we can drive on it by that afternoon. I can't wait!

Yesterday was an all day trip to Asheville for shopping and a big lunch at the Indian buffet. I had some vegetarian minestrone for dinner that I got at Green Life and Jim opted for the not so healthy, pate and a really lovely, ripe cambert for dinner. The grain sweetened raisins made for a nice dessert while watching the US Open tennis.

This morning I got some weeding done. I can only pick the easy weeds, and Jim is still in no condition to pull the stubborn ones either, so I'm just removing the weed heads on those until one of us can pull them out. I'm doing a lot of computer work. It would take me a full month of doing nothing but computer work to get caught up with all these photo files, and finish uploading the rest of the files and software on to this new computer. Once I put the garden to bed, there will be time to deal with it all.

Not sure what I want to do with the rest of the day - probably tape the diffusion fabric on the bottom of the light box, and maybe start on alphabetizing recipe cards and organizing the recipe boxes. The others are full and I found a nice, big, old, wooden one on ebay that should enable me to get all of these neatly stored. These are good jobs to do while sitting and watching and listening to the US Open tennis.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

More Shimaoka pottery pictures

Here's a picture of Tatsui Shimaoka signing the box for the slab bottle I purchased during that visit. The other pictures are his kiln and wood shed. Some of the potters in Japan use 100 year old red pine to fire their anagama and noborigama kilns because of the long flame that it provides. In recent years Japan's anti pollution laws have closed down a lot of these wood kilns except for those potters who can afford the six figure cost of installing anti pollution devices to these kilns.

Yesterday I had a doctors appointment and she verified what I already figured, that I have some torn tissue in my chest from that fall. This is a slow healing process so I'm using my time for other things other than heavy duty studio and gardening work.

My last light and reflector arrived yesterday and it matches the other two, so now I can close up the light box. I still haven't ordered the gray card- the last item I need from my photo class list.

Today is a "go to town" day - shopping and lunch in Asheville. We have some great food stores like Earth Fare, the Fresh Market, etc. and it's time to stock the larder.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tasui Shimaoka

Here are a some photos Tasui Shimaoka pots taken around his studio and a couple taken at a shop in the town. Again, I apologize for the poor quality of most of these photos. Some were good to start with but the inexpensive scanner gives this wild blue tint to some or all of the photos and attempts to remove it result in a dull photo. I have figured out part of the problem so my future scans, will hopefully be a a bit better - I hope!

Yesterday was a deliciously lazy day. We tried taking Bonnie Lass, our 5 1/2 month old kitty for walk on a leash. This was our second attempt and we actually made some progress. At first it was more like pull, drag. Then she decided to crawl forward on her belly, doing her imitation of a sniper.

After a few more crawls, she decided to run for it and sprinted forward only to find that there was an abrupt end to the long lead. This second walk was a lot more successful than our first attempt when she just sat there and refused to budge! She's too young to let out on her own with all the predators around here. Plus, the one time we let her out, the summer garden was so lush, that we couldn't find her; and when she did come out, she ran under the deck and it took a long time for both of us to corral her!

The only studio related things I did yesterday were to figure a way to suspend the light and reflector inside the light box. Now I just have to tape the diffusion fabric to the bottom and hang it. I also went through the pile scrap foam core board. I did an Internet search to see what else I could possible use it for. It doesn't seem I have much use for it other than maybe making some templates for slab work, so I kept some of the bigger pieces and threw out the rest.

Dinner didn't go as planned. Turns out Jim mistakenly bought frozen cooked shrimp instead of raw, so instead of Cajun shrimp, I wound up making a tossed green salad with mushrooms, scallions, jicama and shrimp. It was a nice, light, late summer supper.

We watched tennis on and off all day and closed the day watching Anthony Bourdain in bed - a perfect Labor day!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Tasui Shimaoka's studio

Here are a couple of photos of Tasui Shimaoka's studio in Mashiko, Japan. He graciously did a throwing demonstration for us. Unfortunately a lot of my photos, as you can see, are pretty bad quality. Shimaoka's father was a rope maker, and impressed rope designs are one of the trademarks of his work. Tomorrow I'll post a couple of examples of his work.

Yesterday was a cooking day. I got 7 jars of grape jelly made with the grapes my friend Lisa brought over Saturday. Unfortunately, I was prepared to do the easy freezer version, only to find that I needed special freezer jars, which I didn't have. So I had to do the traditional canning method. I just hope that the balance of juice and sugar and pectin that I used for freezer jelly will work with the hot bath method. I'll find out later when I test it.

The fettucine with the sauteed garlic, onion and shitake mushrooms was great and we have leftovers for another day. Tonight I'm doing cajun shrimp - easy, spicy and delicious.

I'm not sure what the day holds. Last night I was so tired I didn't work on the light box, and this morning I woke up with swollen glands again and am still tired.

We're expecting showers most of the day so there won't be any weeding. My chest is still very sore when I try to do too much, so I'm going to put throwing on hold. Maybe I'll head to the studio this afternoon and weight up some glaze tests. Or, if I don't perk up I might just watch the US Open tennis, load up on vitamins, cook and do my couch potato imitation the rest of the time.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Having tea with Shimaoka

Here are a couple of pictures from one of my Japan trips. Here are some shots of the entry to Tasui Shimaoka's home in Mashiko. He had the kiln unloaded that morning and invited us all in to have tea with him. Tomorrow I'll post some other photos of his studio area.

My friend Lisa brought me a bag of grapes yesterday, so I'll try to get some grape jelly made after breakfast. We had a nice, porch sitting visit with her, and sent her off with some veggies from our garden.

At the farmers market yesterday I got some fresh shitake mushrooms which I'll saute with some onions and garlic and use for tonight's fettucine Alfredo.

Yesterday I got a lot of weeding in and didn't have much time or energy for anything more than some cooking and computer work. After I get the jelly made, I'll spend a quiet afternoon reading the Sunday papers and watch the US Open tennis while I work on resizing and editing some of the slides I scanned.

I didn't get the light box finished yesterday. The day just slipped away and once dinner was over I was too tired to do anything more than retrieve the U bolts and drill and mark the top of the light box where I'll drill the holes for the U bolts.