Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Warren MacKenzie video

Here's a nice little video clip of Warren MacKenzie talking to visiting advanced ceramic students, about his time at the Leach Pottery.

This morning I mixed up some kiln wash and cleaned up the Olympic kiln and Jim helped me put all the rings back. Then I came in to check the Olympic pdf manual to make sure I was setting the shelves properly and that one little job took forever because my older Dell laptop, seems to be dying or is very sick. So I dropped everything and set about to see if I could back up the computer since it keeps freezing and needing rebooting if I try to do more than one thing with it. I'm also getting error messages telling me the destination back drive or device is not connected; and it is!!! AARGH

So, I've manually transferred all my documents and I guess I'm going to have to manually transfer photos, music and whatever else I can and then do a major diagnostic checkup or take it in for repair. Before I do that I need to check if it's still under warranty. So much for my intention of getting a full day in the studio.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Garden photos

The garden is lush and ablaze with color.All the roses and clematis are in full bloom as well as many of the other perennials.

Yesterday turned out to be kitchen and gardening time. The only studio chore I got was spending over an hour unclogging a sprayer only to find that I still need to seal the rubbery or vinyl area next to the brass nozzle. That area melted when using it to spray soda in the kiln. Once I got the sprayer working, it was spraying through parts of that melted area. That sprayer will have to get some sealant around that area and be designated for the garden instead of soda firing.

I got all the tomatoes, eggplant, squash and potatoes sprayed and did a bit more mulching on the potatoes. This morning, after breakfast, I need to re-plant corn. The seeds I planted a week ago haven't sprouted. It was older seed, but not that old, and should have sprouted. So today I'll plant a new variety of 2011 seeds.

Snails and slugs are doing too much damage on the broccoli and cabbage, so I need to wet the soil and put down some Escar-go, which is a safe granule to get rid of the critters. Then I'll head to the studio and get some pots slipped and decorated. I have about a week and a half before the TRAC tour and there's a lot to do before then. Now that the small Olympic gas kiln is ready to go, I should be able to re-fire a lot of pots Thursday or Friday when the current forecast is calling for sunny days.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Drying Cabinet

This is our old fridge, now living in the studio, doing duty as a drying cabinet. Since we were going away and I wasn't sure how well this would work, I covered the pots with plastic as insurance; and they did just fine.

The small Olympic gas kiln is ready to fire those re-fires as soon as I have two clear days in a row, which are in the forecast later next week. John Britt came over yesterday morning and finished installing the last couple of plumbing parts and checked it out to made sure that all was working. This is one great guy, with a big, generous heart always ready to help this old lady in need. You are a treasure John!

The garden calls this morning, after our sourdough pancake breakfast. The potatoes I heeled up again yesterday need spraying. After that my sourdough no knead bread will be ready to bake, followed by some early dinner prep.

I may even be able to squeeze in some studio tidying time today. First thing I have to do is get Jim's help and get the Olympic kiln sections back on the frame. With the TRAC tour coming soon there's a lot to be done other than re-firing some pots later in the week. With all the rain in the forecast for early this week, it looks like there will be plenty of time for the studio before the garden calls again.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Back from the beach

We had four lovely, sunny days at Nags Head with our dear friends Jim and Laura. The sun and sand were very healing. My face actually looks fine unless you look closely and the other black and blue marks are well hidden by clothing. It was our first visit to North Carolina beaches. Typical of beach communities there were lots of funky shops, houses and restaurants.

Yesterday was spent unpacking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, picking up Bodhi and Bonnie at the kennel and dealing with all the other things you need to do when you've been away from home for several days. One of the things I got done was signing up for Square, which will hopefully, enable me to swipe credit cards using a little gizmos they're sending me that should attach to my new Ipod Touch. Today I'll tackle the snail mail and check out the garden. I know there's spinach to be harvested. It was pretty ready before we left.

We got some very sad news yesterday afternoon. Jim's niece Eva passed away after a long term illness. She and her husband Don, bought a little get away house in Burnsville a while back and she so loved her time here in the mountains.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Down to the wire

I'm down to the wire with the garden. Today was a 6 1/2 hour day of planting and weeding. All the terraces are planted, with just a small section in one where I'll plant more corn tomorrow.By Sunday I should have most of the seedlings planted that are large enough to plant now. I've run out room in the terraces and the knoll for veggies, so today I planted some tomatoes and herbs in the flower beds. I'm probably going to have to clear some new area in order to plant some of these other seedlings this season.

The fava beans got planted today along with watermelon, herbs, corn, bush and 3 different types of pole beans, 3 different yellow bush beans, more squash,tomatoes, kale and lettuce. And of course, there was a lot of weeding along the way, as well as digging up and moving a few perennials. I'm one big ache, but feeling very satisfied to get that much done in one day.

Since I was too tired to cooked what I had planned, I opted for a simple carb fix of plain pasta with garlic, parsley butter. Now I'm going to finish my wine, shower and probably pass out while watching TV - a good day!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

IPod touch finally arrived

It took me two days to figure out the problem I had with my new Ipod touch, which would not let me on line. I spent the morning dealing with it again, and finally gave up and went out to get in some gardening before the forecasted rains arrived early afternoon. The rains never came, so I had enough time to dig up some Japanese maple seedlings for a friend, transplant all my kale seedlings, some flowers and artichokes and do a lot of weeding, and mulching. Before I came in I harvested asparagus for the last time this season.

I had to weed the cold frame again, since my plan this year was to plant some of the artichokes in there and hopefully, the cold frame will help them to survive our winter. If that doesn't work I might just give up on that idea, although I do have one other alternative which, although not too practical might work - plant one in one of those half wine barrels and wheel it inside the garage for winter.

Before dinner, I googled the Ipod Internet connecting problem, and followed the recommendation solution I found,which was to delete the current network setting and start over; and it worked! Now I can cancel my appointment with the computer guru.

I also read and deleted some of the emails on the Ipod, but found that they did not show the deletion on my computer. I downloaded a couple of the free apps - a game and the weather channel, but could use some recommendations for other fun and useful apps.

Now that dinner is over I'll start entering some more contacts in the ipod. It didn't take long to get used to fingertip typing on that tiny keyboard. I can't wait to find out all the things this sweet little tool does. I downloaded the manual, so I'll be spending my spare time the next few days, checking that out.

There are still a lot of plants to plant and it looks like tomorrow is going to be a good day to make good headway on that chore; and a few pots need trimming which I should also be able to get to at some point tomorrow.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Great gardening weather

Here are a couple of the peonies that opened up fully this morning.

It's been a beautiful day to be working in the garden. I finished weeding and mulching the strawberries bed, planted three more beefsteak tomatoes, two more French tarragons, penstemon and did a lot of weeding and general garden cleanup.

The heat pad set on low worked for some of the seeds, and in a matter of hours! By nightfall, pot of squash seedlings peeked through, and even one of the South American peppers sprouted after doing nothing for a couple of weeks in the pot! I put some corn seeds in a tiny bowl covered with water and set it on the heat pad yesterday morning, and by last night they were showing signs of starting to sprout!

After a quick almond and water lunch I got right back out to do another two hours of planting (zucchini, buttercup squash, and a French variety whose name escapes me at the moment, several Serrano and other chiles, some marigolds and Swiss chard. I got it all mulched and of course there was more of the never ending weeding to do.

The early afternoon thunderstorms that were forecast never came, so I kept planting. One more planting day and I should have all the bigger veggie starters and some more flowers planted. It's been a good gardening day. Time for a big glass of water and a shower and some computer work before dinner.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roses blooming

The garden is a bit bedraggled this morning from the heavy thunder storms last night and this morning; but I managed to get a couple of nice shots once the sun came out. Here's one of my favorite heirloom roses. Luckily, we escaped any heavy damage from the storm.

I need a day off - at least from the heavy donkey, digging, lifting, planting work I've been doing, to give myself time to get over this cold and scratchy throat. So, early morning was pretty restful. I started to clean up my Itunes files, and dealt with seeds and seedlings. Some of my heat loving seeds are refusing to sprout, so I hauled out a heat pad, set it on low and hopefully the bottom heat will remind them to wake up!

Yesterday was an all gardening day. I finished planting the knoll next to my gallery with some frying peppers and basil; and I found room for two more tomato plants. I weeded most of the strawberries on the knoll and mulched everything but the strawberries with straw which I'll mulch with pine needles when I'm done with the weeding. I also got a few more buckets cleaned out and planted some bells peppers in them.

Some strawberries are starting to ripen already, and it looks like some of the peonies will be open by the end of today. All of the knock out roses as well as many others, including three of the climbers, are blooming. The garden is full of of color now with so many perennials in bloom.

Time too cool off, have some lunch, and continue on cleaning up photo files and music files. My new Ipod touch is en-route to our local Walmart, so I need to get this cleanup done pronto!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Garden chores morning

Mother's day was a mixture of morning vegging out in my PJ's and an afternoon of cleaning up and planting some big containers. I got all the big containers prepped and transplanted 6 plum tomatoes in them and saved the biggest container for an egpplant that I planted yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday was an out and about day - osteo treatment, lunch out, some pickup grocery shopping and a quick Walmart stop for some more potting mix and a couple of veggie starts and a new Peace rose to replace one of the roses that died this winter. I was wiped after the osteo and shopping and didn't get around to weeding and mulching the strawberry bed and knoll, so I'll try to get that done later this morning before the expected isolated thunderstorms arrive early afternoon. I still have whatever bug/allergies/cold hanging on which is probably also accounting for my low energy and scratchy throat at the moment.

Many of the seeds I planted just a few days ago have sprouted, so they're getting moved to the front porch this morning. None of the South American peppers or the one New Mexican pepper have sprouted yet even though I warmly wrapped the pots to get them a bit warmer than our 72degree room temperature. Other peppers I started came up fine last month without the added protection, so I'm starting to think that maybe I was sold some old seed. :-(

Time to chug down a bunch of vitamins and start moving seedlings to the their new temporary home on the front porch.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Spent about 5 hours yesterday turning over and digging through some very rocky soil sections next to my gallery (the area was part of the old gravel driveway), to deeply plant these 10 tomatoes. To say I was tired afterward doesn't come close to how exhausted and sore I felt; but I managed to make a quick pot sticker dinner, shower and get to the Michael Kline and Stacey Lane opening at the Crimson Laurel gallery, here in town. The show is great and they had a wonderful turnout! There's another show at the gallery called "Containment", with a great selection of boxes. The gallery has several new artists and I highly recommend it if you're in our area.

John Britt came by late afternoon and installed the bees and brought some of the plumbing parts for the Olympic kiln which will have to get re-installed later. With all the rain in the forecast, and the need to wheel the kiln outdoors to fire, there's no rush to complete the job in the next few days.

On this Mother's day, I'm going to indulge myself with a do nothing, lazy morning reading the Sunday papers. I ordered myself a Mothers day present - an Ipod touch, inspired by Michael Kline giving me a demo on his at the gallery last night. With it, I'll be able to take charge cards through Square, which gives you a free, little card swiper that attaches to the unit and a downloadable free app to go with it. This will work better for me than an Ipad, which is bigger than I need for what I wanted. It's also half the price of the IPad. It takes photos, hd video, has an on screen keyboard for email, notes, etc. and has wi-fi and blue tooth built in, and of course stores all your regular IPod music, photos, etc

If I perk up by this afternoon, I'll transplant the plum tomatoes into large containers which works well for the smaller tomatoes, but not the big heirloom and hybrid beefsteak types.

There's only one day in the next 10 without rain in the forecast, so I'll be able to get in some good studio time in between seedling care and maybe some garden time if they are any lulls in the rain.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Michael Kline pot

Here's one of Michael Kline's wonderful wood fired pots with some rhododendron I cut this morning. Michael and his wife Stacey Lane have a 6pm opening at the Crimson Laurel Gallery here in Bakersville, NC tonight. The show will feature some of Michael's new porcelain and other pieces and Stacey's jewelry. Here's a link where you can preview the show:

Not sure how this day is going to shape up. I'm still feeling fluish; but I managed to get all the older seedlings back on the front porch, and once it warms up a bit more I'd like to transplant some of the paste tomatoes into big pots and get some of the larger, heirloom and other tomatoes planted on the knoll near my gallery.

A single cosmos seedling from the various flowers and veggies I planted just a couple of days ago has sprouted. I guess wrapping some of the peat pots in towels made for ideal, warm conditions.

John Britt may be coming over at some point to deliver the bees and get them into the hive and get the new plumbing on the Olympic kiln. I doubt if I'll get any studio time today but with possible rain forecast starting tonight and continuing every day this week, that will give me plenty of time for the studio.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Pricing and delivery

This morning I was definitely under the weather,but after breakfast and a handful, of vitamins and minerals, I perked up enough to tend my seedling, and then found my way to the studio and got all the recently fired pots measured, priced and set up in in the gallery.

The old fridge is now in the studio and almost ready for do it's new job as a pot drying cabinet.

After pot pricing and placement,it was time to pack up the two pots for the TRAC tour exhibit and drive to Spruce Pine to deliver them. Dinner at the Tin Lizard followed and by then I was ready for nothing more than relaxing evening at home with some wine and a favorite, old movie "Love Actually". And if I'm a lucky girl, (I usually am), there will be a lovely foot rub to go with the movie. :-)

Life is good even on the not so good days!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

kiln plumbing

After reading my problem of not being able to get some of those plumbing parts off the Olympic kiln, John Britt, called and volunteered to come over to help. This knight in shining armor came in a car armed with some big wrenches and the strength to get them to work. We couldn't get one bell shaped piece to move, and decided to leave it, which meant that the extra length of the pipe holding the water column gauge, made it necessary to make another trip to the plumbing supply store in Spruce Pine to get a longer piece of the copper tubing and new fittings to connect the pilot burner.

Yesterday was another, super busy day - spending all morning on planting seeds in peat pots, planting the rest of the pansies and some kale, doing more weeding, dealing with the kiln plumbing, then having to move all tender veggie starts indoors and cover some already planted lettuce because of the expected freeze. At around 6 am this we were at about a bare 32F degrees; but looks like we got very lucky this time.

The new backup fridge is being delivered early, so I need to empty part of the old one and clear space in the studio for it. Once it warms up in the afternoon I need to get the tines back on the rototiller and till the last 2 terraces and the knoll next to my gallery.

A month ago I felt a bit more than overwhelmed with all the garden work ahead; but I'm now feeling on top of it all and think, weather permitting, I'll be able to get the planting and cleanup finished before or soon after the spring TRAC tour.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Flowers and kiln plumbing

Only half of this rhododedron is in bloom; but it's still a sight to behold on this cool morning! I'll have to cut some for the house later; and I have the perfect Michael Kline pot for them.

The only things on yesterdays "to do" list that got done were finishing planting, weeding and mulching one more terrace and calling Olympic about those kiln plumbing parts. The morning plan to plant seeds turned in a marathon of phone calls(4) and emails back and forth to Olympic. I finally suggested that I take a picture of the current plumbing since what they were telling me didn't match what I was seeing and sure enough, the picture was worth a thousand words. After seeing the photo they called me with a list of other parts to buy so I could get the water column gauge installed.

Dinner plans got scrubbed so we could get to the plumbing supply store for nice, new brass fittings, followed by a trip to Walmart to get the recommended lubricant which will hopefully loosen the current fittings. I sprayed them last night and will attempt once again, to remove them this morning.

It's going to be too cool for garden work this morning; and after the heavy rain it's probably a soggy mess any way. So today gardening will be an indoor job. I just re-planted 5 types of South American hot pepper seeds and will plant a bunch more seeds before I head out to the studio.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Terrace farming

Yesterday I spent most of the day working on these terraces where I grow most of the vegetables. I finished weeding and mulching two of the terraces, weeded two others, and dug up a bunch of volunteer potatoes and transplanted them. There was room for one more row in the terrace where I planted the other potatoes, which was going to be for red potatoes; but I waited too long to buy them and everyone was out of the Red Pontiacs. The garden devas provided enough volunteers to fill the whole row.

Yesterday morning I attempted to remove some plumbing parts from the Olympic gas kiln but they wouldn't budge for me, even with the heaviest wrench. The water column gauge I got from Olympic doesn't seem to have any place to fit on either the new regulator or the solenoid valve, so I need to call them this morning and find out whether I need a different part or a new part to get all these things working together.

Today is a new moon, so according to planting by moon signs, I can plant some seeds of above ground veggies, which I'll do right after breakfast. Then I'll head back to the garden and weed another one of the already planted terrace beds, transplant a few more kale seedlings and mulch the bed.

Dinner is going to be easy - bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, so I'll try to squeeze in a bit of studio time.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Pizza margarita night

Yesterday morning was spent driving to Banner Elk to get some plants at Lowes, then back home to do some weeding and get the bean A frames and tomato cages out of the shed.

Then it was time for lunch, followed by early dinner prep - made the pizza dough and got the toppings prepped. I don't know why, but after that, I was extremely tired, and wound up napping for over an hour; and I'm not a daily napper. During that long nap, the pizza dough tripled on its first rise; butit had no trouble rising again and turned out fine. Good thing to learn.

After breakfast I'm going to see if I can remove the old regulator and solenoid valve on the small Olympic kiln and install the new parts. There was no time for the studio yesterday, nor enough time to get the weeding and mulching done on the already planted terraces, so I'll continue that job right after lunch, then make the bolognese sauce for tonight's pasta dinner.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Garden shots

A couple of garden shots from this morning. Everything is waking up very nicely. The first rose bloomed yesterday - a bright red heirloom; and it looks like more roses will be blooming this week. The rhododendrons are now opening, and various irises and the aquilegia are blooming.

It's been a busy couple of days with everything but hands on studio work. With friends coming for porch sitting last night I spent the morning getting the house and porch company ready, caught up with some paper work, followed by a few of hours in the garden before getting all the porch sitting food ready. The only studio related thing I got to do was reformulate a turquoise glaze.

The garden continues to strongly call at the moment so I'll concentrate on that for today. Some not quite leather hard pots are under plastic and will be fine for another day or two.

We bought a new backup refrigerator which will be arriving later this week, and the old one is going into the studio to be used as a drying cupboard for freshly thrown pots. It will be so nice not to have to deal with all these piles of plastic any more.

This morning my friend Laura is coming over to dig up some of my extra plants. Then I'll be off to Lowes for a new, sturdy trellis for one of my other climbing roses which is now flopping over and shrouding it's perennial neighbors. The current trellis literally fell apart after only two years. This afternoon I need to weed and mulch the already planted vegetable terraces. I doubt if there will be time to do anything more; but if there is, there's a bush cherry and some veggie starts ready to transplant.