Sunday, September 30, 2012

This is a truly wonderful talk about the importance of creativity in schools. Watch until the end because it will blow you away. It did me!

Garden work and meeting with handyman, then cooking half the day, since tomorrow I lose my cooking facilities for a week while they tear apart the range top, cut the granite counter top and make holes in the ceiling for the new range hook, took up the greater part of the day along with garden work.

I had all these veggies from our sons and my own garden and a 1/2 gallon of milk for pudding which I had to make today. So we have three days of dessert, and I used the abundance of eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers to make ratatouille which will be lunch for a few days.  For dinner, I made lamb chops and used the fresh beans I picked yesterday and sauteed them with the mushrooms I had and some onion.
A quick trip to our sons place to harvest apples and more zucchini, a Walmart stop on the way home for a birthday card for our daughter--in-law topped off the day, pretty much other than some time I had tp spend downloading a Norton update and installing it since it seems every time Windows does an update, it screw up Norton.

I thought I'd have time and energy to do something with all these apples, but hopefully they'll be fine in the fridge for five days.

Tomorrow I have 5 different work people coming to work - one to work on the kitchen to remove the cooktop and maybe cut the granite, another to  remove the stump from the crab apple tree, another to plant the Japanese maple, and George the handyman to do some follow up work on my raised beds which had to be braced and re-glued today, and last the pool man who still can't seem to find a fix for the pool controls.

It's another one of those, needless to say, no time or energy for the studio days, and tomorrow will probably be more of the same.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Last night's dinner was Yaki soba noodles with snow peas and zucchini from our son and daughter-in-laws garden, in addition to some onions, garlic and mushroom. It's a great, quick, one pot meal.

Since I was a bit under the weather yesterday, other than morning "have to" chores and making dinner, I took it very easy the rest of the day; but I did get a lot sit down work done - noting ideas for earthenware pots, making out shopping lists and computer work.

I'm still unclear as to what direction I want to go with the future earthenware pots, so I spent a lot of time on the Internet looking at some of the more contemporary earthenware. I know what direction I don't want to take - trying to duplicate old slip ware; but not yet sure if I want to go to a more contemporary with designs, or choose another direction.

I think many of the forms I made for my soda/salt firings will work with the earthenware, so that will be a starting point, and it will inevitable evolve from there.

As for today, it will be another take it fairly easy day, since I'm still dealing with swollen glands, chills, etc. and just feeling very tired. After garden chores and breakfast, I will get a bit of studio time that was planned for yesterday, and after lunch I need to get to our sons place and harvest veggies and do a bit of maintenance on their raised beds. Then it will be a quick stop at the hardware store and grocery store and home to make our Saturday supper of Sloppy Joe's.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Looks like we will be going out to eat most of next week. Our contractor came back from vacation, and came over to go over the new range top and vent,  measure, tell the sub what he needs to do etc; and they are coming in Monday to start cutting holes in granite, cabinetry, and the ceiling to install the range top and range hood.  We're told it's going to be a week, so we will get to try a few new restaurants - not a bad outcome!

My other big chores of the day were finishing planting the raised beds and making a nice dinner. We're in zone 7b (at  least what one web site said), so I'm right at the edge of being OK to plant beets and carrots, which I planted today, as well as popping in more lettuce and a lot of onions..

It's another "needless to say, no studio time day"; but hey, this is what retirement looks like. You can sleep in if you wish, and let the day unfold without the have tos. The big thing is to not to try to do all you ddid wenty years before or work the same, very long hours of your youth. If you do, you retirement or part retirement is going to be an unhappy time in your life.

Since we will be eating out most of next week, I've planned some meals for the next three days, trying to use up some of this abundance of veggies that I'm getting from my sons and my garden. Before I planned the meals for the next 3 days, I was thinking that I was planning easy meals for studio days. So tomorrow is stir fry yaki soba noodles with garden veggies and mushrooms and Saturday is another easy recipe - Sloppy Joe's and Sunday will be a lamb chop dinner. I still haven't used all these apples, so there will probably be soem kind of apple dessert one or more evenings.

Fortunately, I have no meetings tomorrow, no outside appointments, no shopping to do and no intensive gardening to do, so it will give me studio time. I only have a couple of glazes to sieve and get on bisqued tiles and get the underglazes on the rest of the tiles with clear glazes over. If I can get out there early enough, I might even be able to get all of that done tomorrow (she says while keeping her fingers crossed).

Trying to manage time and energies in ones 70's is a whole other life changing adjustment for people like myself who have always been able to work hard, long hours, when needed, and still maintain a home and garden and keep a family happy. Boy does age take a chink out of each of those areas. At some point, comes the realization that you can no longer do it all; and you either grow old gracefully, or you become frustrated and unahppy. I think it's best to go with the flow of that life offers. As the old saying goes "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!. What I'm basically saying is that although I wish I had more energy and more time at the moment, the reality, is that I don't; but I love our life and I live with the Polly Anna philosophy that all will get done, in good time.

Frog catching some shade on a tomato

Check out this little frog resting on a San Marzano tomato. I forgot my camera yesterday or I would have had a great shot of 2 little frogs sitting inside the leaves of one of the artichokes - too precious!

The gardener didn't come to take out the tree, so that is another job postponed. Seems he can't find his chain, couldn't find his friends chain, etc. etc. Good thing I called to check what time he was coming, otherwise I would have been sitting around all day waiting for him.

The fan issue got resolved two ways. I found a used one on ebay and won the bid; and after I paid for it, Jim found a backup that works, sitting on the living room mantle. So now, we possibly have two that work.                  

Most of my day was house and garden chores again. I had to top off the new raised beds with another three bags of potting soil, and thin and transplant some of the seedlings. And since the gardener wasn't coming to pull out that tree, I suggested we pick up a subway sandwich, head to our sons place on the river so I could work in his garden for a bit, and then sit by the river and watch the salmon jump as we ate our lunch.

Then I had to get to the local Co-op nursery to pick up some more veggie starters to plant today. They didn't have any spinach left, so I got lettuce and onions to add to the second raised bed.

When we got home and I put everything away and then took a break with email and ordered a book on square foot gardening and did more research on the method and made some charts for myself.  There's a lot of information on line and I even found a place that has free software so you can create planting plans based on the size of your beds. I also ordered four grids that can sit in the beds to make planting easier. There was a problem when I planted the first bed, because the handyman did not make the width of the bed 4 feet as I specified, and made it two inches too short. So I'll have to cut those grids and adjust my planting. Time to buy a new circular saw!

Before I knew it, it was time to clean the beans I picked earlier and get dinner started. Needless to say, there wasn't any time for the studio.

Made a good breakfast (bacon, onion, serrano chile scramble), now I'll start on a breakfast , nutty fruity bread, do my watering and plant all the starters I bought yesterday; and other than watching the bread on and off, the rest of the day is for the studio till 4:30 and then it will be time to make some salad and cook the linguini and clam sauce. The days sure fill up and pass so quickly lately!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Got a little bit of studio time yesterday to weigh out a couple more test glazes and will try to do more of the same after breakfast and garden watering this morning.

The rest of the yesterday was dealing with household and other garden chores like filling the second, new raised bed with potting soil. This morning I have to move potted plants around which is going to be a bit of a challenge since the new beds took up more room than I thought they would, after leaving some walking/access space in between. Moving them means I need to get the garden helper to re-do all the drip system emitters at some point.

A good block of time was spent trying to figure out, make calls and then finally search out a replacement for the living room fan remote which is not working. And after frustrating calls to Hunter fan, the result was them saying there are no replacement remotes available and the only alternative is to buy and install a new fan, I searched google  and found a used remote on Ebay. I won the bid and hopefully that problem will be solved!

After a shower, we headed out to try a new restaurant in Asheville - - Amuse. It was truly wonderful. The chef is the owner and his wife is the pastry chef who had been the pastry chef at the French Laundry, probably the best restaurant in the country. After all the donkey work of the afternoon and skipping lunch, we opted for a 3 course meal. I brought half my cornish hen entree home so I could make room the the best beignets I have ever had. They were huge, light as a feather and served with sabayon and raspberry sauces.We will definitely be going back!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hunter Fan remote problem and suggestion

Just got off the phone with Hunter fans, trying to get a fix for the remote  for the living room fan. Bottom line is - no replacement remotes available and their only suggestion is to buy another four hundred and something fan and pay an electrician to hang it. Well, I'll give you one guess as to what company's fans we won't be buying! The fan works just fine, but the remote isn't working on the light part. So be warned about this company and maybe other fan companies which may operate the same way. My suggestion if you have a ceiling fan/light that uses a remote, is order a replacement if and while they're still available.

The handyman delivered the second raised bed this morning but his helper couldn't get his car started, so now they're scheduled to be here at one and I'll be helping fill it with all those remaining bags of potting soil; and then I'll be off to the store for some spinach starts to plant.

Looks like another day of meager studio time; but I do have time to weigh out another glaze test or two before the handyman arrives, so off I go.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Where's the mouse

Bonnie has taken to sitting on my laptop at every opportunity. Maybe she's heard me talking about my mouse and figures it's nearby. That's as good a guess as any as to why she is suddenly enamored of this computer!

Today was a bit of this and that.  I got my regular morning garden chores done after breakfast and transplanted two roses. Our new range top was delivered so now we just need the contractor to get back from his vacation and get it and the range hood installed. Then I got to the studio to mark a bunch of test tiles and then came up and updated my test notes. That was interrupted with the handyman showing up with the second raised bed. He left it on a trailer in front of the house and will be back with someone in the morning to help him get it to the back yard.

Since I'm still dealing with an abundance of eggplant and zucchini, I made a ratatouille type pasta sauce with them and some peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes. Jim has picked out one of our favorite Zins to go with it.

The computer connectivity problem is still ongoing - over 5 days of basically no service, with only  few moments of each day to check email. We're talking of only about an hour altogether each day, and that is if I get lucky and check constantly. Phone calls just result in receiving taped messages and when I finally talked to a real person, he had no idea what is causing the problem - just that he knows there is the problem from Washington and all of Oregon and maybe parts of Northern California. Since Century Link hasn't bothered to share with him what the problem actually is, the poor guy said he's gone from having calls from frustrated users, quickly deteriorating to angry and then abusive callers. Century link needs to at least tell customers what the problem is - you would think!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nachos and margarita night

 Yesterday I got the organic fertilizer worked into my new raised bed and planted it with cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, broccoli, brussel sprouts,lettuce and arugula. Today I did garden duty at our sons place - spraying, weeding, harvesting and planting some carrots and radishes. The arugula I planted at our sons place a couple of days ago has already sprouted.

I got the organic fertilizer worked into my new raised bed and planted it with cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, broccoli, brussel sprouts,lettuce and arugula. Yesterday I did garden duty at our sons place - spraying, weeding, harvesting and planting some carrots and radishes. The argula I planted at his place just a couple of days ago is already up, and the  snow peas I planted a while back are just starting to come in, so I'll be making some yaki soba noodles in a few days and will use those and the zucchinis in the dish.
When I got home I prepped the tomatoes that I harvested earlier, along with the serrano chiles for the nachos and margaritas dinner.

Century Link my Internet provider has been in and out for five days now (more out than in - like about 90% of the day out!).  The problem stretches from Washington and all through Oregon, and maybe even parts of S. California. I hope they get this fixed, because we're missing our lovely evening routine of watching Netflix English mysteries.

But I have to say that the paid for TV movie we watched  "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel",  was a fabulous substitute - great acting, great story.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


It's really chilly this morning. Good thing I harvested some basil yesterday and got some pesto made and in the freezer. My basil plants are looking pretty skimpy at the moment, so I'll  harvest some more  at our sons garden before these overnight temperatures drop even lower.

It is definitely a sweatshirt morning. By noon I'll be back in a T-shirt.

The days plan is to head off to a local, pony club, group garage sale nearby, in hopes of finding an old electric fry pan for the studio, then back home for a big breakfast, followed by some garden work and then studio for the rest of the day.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Raised bed number one done and filled

Yesterday I got involved in the studio and never did get any of the planting done; but what I did do was get all the new engobe tests glazed with four different clear glazes, as well as a few colored one, and weighed out another one or two glazes.  Now that that's done,  I need to apply the under glazes on the rest of the tiles and get those glazed.. I should be able to start on that tomorrow after I do some fall veggie planting.

This morning  was spent on outside chores - harvesting more veggies at our sons house, getting to a couple of stores in search for a new garden  sprayer,  a quick stop for some pick up groceries, a stop at Good Will in search of an old electric frying pan to use in the studio to melt wax (no luck). I threw out the one I had when we moved thinking it would be easy to find another one; but I have not found one in 3 months of looking. Then it was time to head back, drop off  some of the veggies for friends,  head for home to put away groceries, make quesadilas for lunch, and pesto for the freezer.

Soon after that, George, the handyman arrived with the 70 bags of potting soil and we used over half of them to fill the first raised bed after lining it with landscaping fabric.  He's going to try to finish the second bed over the weekend and deliver it on Monday; and by Tuesday I will have all my fall veggie planting done.

Tomorrow morning I'll plant this bed with the veggie starters I bought the other day. Right now we're heading out to the local Mexican restaurant. I'm definitely ready for an  extra large margarita after all that donkey work.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Where the day went

This is where I spent part of my day yesterday. It's our son and daughter-in-laws lovely raised bed veggie garden. There are nine of these beds as well as a flat area where I planted zucchini, crookneck squash and watermelons. And my daughter-in-law, put in some asparagus this spring.  It's all deer proofed as is their main  fruit orchard.

It always amazes me how a day can just get away from you - computer problems, dealing with deliveries etc on top of the other things like cleaning the fridge, cooking, eating,  email, garden care and all the other little things that eat up more time and energy.

Yesterday our new exhaust hood arrived so I had to move things in the garage to make way for it. Since all the container plants had to be moved because of the delivery of the first raised bed, I now have to hand water them every day because all the emitters don't fit anymore in their new position.

A week or two ago I found that a lot of my soda/salt recipes that some one had posted on Wikiclay a while back were incomplete- missing oxide additions, etc. So the only clay related work I did yesterday was to retrieve all my glaze notebooks and correct those recipes.

It was also a day to drive to our sons place and tend his raised bed garden, harvest the veggies, plant more lettuce and arugula seeds, pull a few weeds, check the orchard, then stop for some groceries and a birthday card for one of our grandsons, followed by a stop at  friends to drop off some veggies, then home to put away groceries and start on dinner. At my age, once dinner and dishes are done, I'm ready to call it a day other than dealing with paperwork, email, sketching and just leaning back and watching something on Netflix.

Since we had to dig up a bunch of perennials in the area where we're placing the two new, big raised beds, I need to spend some time right after breakfast to find  some places to plant some of them before it gets too hot.

Then I need to get in some kitchen time and make something with these apples I harvested yesterday. The trees weren't sprayed, so the apples are not in shape to store, so I'm thinking that apple tartin would be a good  choice. Dinner is going to be simple and quick - broiled chicken breasts, corn on the cob and potato salad which is already made.

It's 6:30am,  I've had my first cup of tea  and it's too cool and dark outside for garden work, so I'm heading to the studio to continue mixing and sieving those C 04-03 glaze tests  and dipping the test tiles before I have to think about breakfast.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My new raised bed

I was up early and turned on the the little test kiln with the second batch of cone 04-02 engobe tests. The handyman and helper were here at 7:30 this morning with the first of my two new raised beds. We had to move all the container veggies and do a cleanup before heading out to order potting soils for these beds and buys some fall veggies to plant. These are big - 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Now I have to do a bit more research on square foot and raised bed gardening.

I ordered 70 bags of organic potting soil and bought some cauliflower, cabbage, garlic and broccoli starts. The rest I'll start from seed. Hopefully, this first bed, which needs to have some added feet on the bottom to preserve it and protect it from sitting in water,  landscaping liner attached and filled with soil, will be ready this weekend. 

We're in zone 8 here so I can grow a lot of things throughout the fall and even winter. At our sons house I planted a lot of the same fall veggies as well as spinach, lettuce, peas and swiss chard. It will be lovely to have these for a couple of more months. The kale I planted here a few weeks ago seems to be really happy in it's east facing location. I think I'm turning this suburban lot into a mini vegetable farm.

Time now to turn the kiln up again, have some lunch, make some potato salad to go with tonight's steak and corn on the cob dinner. Hopefully I can find a block of time to get some of those glazes that I weighted out the other day, mixed, sieved and on to some of the bisqued test tiles. It's another busy and good day in our new life in the beautiful Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blue screen of death morning

Woke up to a blue screen of death on this laptop. When I went to bed, the computer was doing a bunch of updates. I guess they didn't work! Fortunately, I got that problem solved fairly quickly; but I hope that isn't a portent of how the rest of the day will be going!

I checked the little test kiln first thing this morning but it still needs more time to cool. My hope was that I could load it early and do another firing today; but since that won't happen, I'll just load it and fire again tomorrow.

This morning is Bodhi's day to go to the doggie groomer. Jim and I will  have breakfast out and then go back to the groomer to pick up a well groomed, sweet smelling Bodhi. I probably won't be getting to the studio till the afternoon. By then I should be able to unload those engobe tests, re-load the kiln with the rest of the tiles, then  start applying the under glazes. I'd also like to weigh out another couple of glaze tests before I have to start on our  eggplant parmigiano dinner.

Those eggplants keep coming and coming! And with these 90 degree and higher days, the eggplant and zucchini invasion will continue a while longer.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Engobe tests

Got these dried yesterday, loaded in the small test kiln early this morning, weighed out and got a revised slip on a few tiles and weighed out a few more cone 04-03 glazes. 

We had a great time partying on the river last night. It was a family, friends and celebrity filled night with good food, good wine, and some lovely music and stories.

Now it's time to think about getting started on our dinner - pork chops au poivre with a sherry cream sauce, salad and corn on the cob with mango sorbet and macerated fruit for dessert.We are so lucky to have a great butcher shop only a few minutes from our house. I'm going to really enjoy cooking this winter on my new range top with such a great selection of fresh fish and local meats. It's been years since we lived anywhere where there was a good, local butcher.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Interesting throwing video for teachers and new throwers

This might be a helpful video for your students or new throwers.  In between each centering and throwing move there's video of his hand positions for each move, but without the clay on the wheel, so the student gets to actually see what both hands are doing in relation to each other and the clay.

Right after breakfast we're heading out to the local Rock and Gem museum. I'm an old rock hound, and the rock club members are having their annual parking lot sale and I'm curious to see what materials they are finding locally. Now that I have a place in the garage for my rock saws, Genie cabbing machine and jewelry table, I may be able to find time this winter to cut and cab some of that material I've been carting around for years.

I should be back here in my studio before 11a.m to  get started on weighing out some clear and other cone 04-03 glazes for testing next week.  The plan is to fire to 03 and then make whatever adjustments may be needed. Initially I thought about firing to cone 1, but I'm not sure that I want to go that high with the earthenware. Going high enough to make the body a bit tighter, but not lose the soft quality that I like in the lower firing is what I'm aiming for.

It's a whole new area for me that is worthy of exploration. It will be interesting journey, departing from everything I've done for almost 40 years. It's never too late to push yourself past your comfort zone - good for the ego and for keeping the mind alert for sure.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Engobe batching

Finally got an afternoon in the studio and  got 8 more engobes made and on to test tiles. If it weren't for a computer problem that needed to be dealt with this morning, I would have been able to get in a full day of studio time. A Java update screwed up my operating system and my Norton anti virus software, so I had to spend a couple of hours uninstalling and re-installing software, which involved more times than I can count of having to re-boot the computer. All seems to be fine now, so I can concentrate on clay and glazes until the next computer glitch.

Tomorrow I'll set these tiles out to dry and in this  90 degree plus, sunny weather, they should be fully dry in a short while and ready to be bisque fired Sunday. 

Now that the engobes are done I can start weighing out some clear and other glaze tests. It looks like I should be able to get some good studio time after morning gardening chores and breakfast. Lately, studio time has been a rare luxury, while I get this house up to par, but there's finally light at the end of that tunnel.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Party night

Yesterday wasanother  one of those running around town kind of days - breakfast out, doctors appointment (toe has healed well, so no more soaking, medicating, re-wrapping), then off to the pottery supply store to pick up some pre-ordered items, followed by Home Depot to return something, and lastly some wine and grocery shopping.  That took us to the afternoon.

After lunch, we drove to our sons place where I checked the garden and orchard, weeded and planted more the lettuce and garlic I picked the day before.. Then it was back home to start on dinner, do the rest of the email and off to bed and asleep by 9. I think I made about the first ten minutes of a Miss Marple on Netflix before I was off to dream land.

This morning I'm trying to get everytrhing done for tonight's dinner with friends, who are on a no fat, vegan diet. The house is tidied, the garden work is done,  table is set for tonight, cornbread (for Jim and I is done), the main course of spicy beans is made and most importantly, the big batch of margaritas is made. I got some corn tortillas for our friends and since I have some salsa made and tortillas are not an option for our friends diet, I figured out that t if you slice jicama thin, it makes a nice scoop for the salsa .  Now, I just have to clean and macerate the fruit that's going over the mango sorbet for dessert, and I'll be done.

That will take me to noon, and after lunch I'm heading to the studio to put away those raw materials and get a few hours of other studio time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Good day to buy a range hood

We had a good meeting with the contractor about the installation of the new range top and vent, which we have to order today. Most of those cost more than our first car! So, after breakfast and garden work, we have to head out to the two appliance stores  he recommended to price and hopefully order the vent/hood for the new range top. Some of those take 4-6 weeks to arrive, so this is not going to be a project that gets done quickly unless we get lucky and find someone who has this one in stock.  I am soooo looking forward to having decent burners and a good vent!

There are a couple of other stops to make to pick up some landscaping cloth to have on hand to line the new raised beds that should be here soon; and Jim wants to replenish his wine stock, and I need to pick up a couple of grocery items. This range and hood installation and the raised beds are the two last big projects for this house that will need my input and work. There's just some interior paint trim touch up and outdoor stucco paint trim to do but that won't interfere with my schedule since I'll have Jim search out the painter for the outdoor trim and our handyman can do the indoor trim touch up since we have that paint on hand and it doesn't need an expert to match it.

So the good news for me is that after tomorrow (my doctors appointment for my post toe surgery checkup),
 I should be able to get  a lot more studio time. As a gardener, and someone who doesn't necessarily like the cold, I usually don't look forward to that first frost which portends the cold, damp winter to come; but this year I won't mind it, because it means that I will have a lot more time to make pots and cook those long simmering stews and soups on my new range top while enjoying the warmth of the fireplace.

Monday, September 10, 2012

new signature stamps

After searching out the possibility of having a professional signature stamp made, I decided to just go ahead and make my own again. That took up half the day yesterday,  first with sketching then drawing the design on plaster which I had made earlier.  I had the plaster already made. Basically, just mix up a bit of plaster and use a small, paper cup as a mold. That way you have both the top and the bottom to carve. Those become your masters and if you damage your stamp, it's easy to just impress and bisque fire another one. The last thing was to weigh out a bit of porcelain with a bit of ball clay added and use that for the stamps.

Sorry for the blurry photos, but my little digital camera doesn't like closeups. Hopefully my next camera  will work better for these close ups.

Since I'm still dealing with an abundance of zucchini, I made zucchini fritters for lunch, then took time to read the Sunday papers and go through some paperwork. The rest of Sunday was for watching the women's US Open tennis final (congratulation to Serena Williams - very impressive at 30 to win another major title). Then it was time to think about dinner - marinated, grilled lamb chops, baked potato and home grown green beans Caesar style. While prepping dinner I was watching "Julie and Julia", easy to do both with our new open kitchen/living room.  As someone who loves to cook,this great room wonderful. It removes that isolation that often is felt when working in a small, closed kitchen.

Not sure yet what today's schedule is going to be. We have a meeting with the contractor scheduled for today or tomorrow, which ever works best for him,  about the new range top and hood/vent  installation. I need his input before I order the vent. At some point we have to drive to our sons place so I can check the garden and harvest whatever is ready. Somewhere in between garden and kitchen chores, there should be a little bit of time to get into the studio.

Meantime, I need to get started on my garden chores before thinking about breakfast. Love these cooler mornings!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Where a day goes

Yesterday went pretty well as planned -breakfast, early morning gardening, meeting with the air conditioner repairman (all is working fine now), nice Thai lunch, Costco to pick up my new glasses and some wine and groceries, home to put it all away, then off  again to our sons house to check out their vegetable garden and orchard, harvest the veggies and fruit, then drive back home to put it away, and then start on dinner.

Costco had some nice little baby clams so I steamed them in white wine with lots of garlic, herbs and spices. That and some crunchy bread and a nice cold Chardonnay was dinner. Oh and, some chocolate biscotti for dessert. The rest of the night was for just vegging out watching the US Open Tennis that I had taped. 

This morning started with  finishing cleaning those clam (cockerel) shells, which I had sitting in soapy water overnight. I use these in my soda firings. There's separated, scrubbed and drying outside. Cleaning those is the only studio related thing I've been able to do the past couple of days.

The tile guys are arriving  any minute, and have said we should probably be out of the house while they seal the new grout; but instead, we're going to hole up in our carpeted bedroom with the dog and cat. I'll do my email and computer cleanup while we watch the US Open tennis. It was 97 degrees at 4:30 yesterday and today is going to be another over 90 degree day, so we're opting to stay in the  house now that we have the air conditioner working again.

Time for me to soak and re-wrap it this toe (only 5 more days of this chore!), and make breakfast. The butcher gave us some Kobe beef bacon to try. We had some a few days ago and it was tasty but also pretty fatty, cooking it the way he suggested. This morning I'm going to cook it a bit longer and hopefully render more of that fat. Needless to say, there probably won't be any time for the studio today.

Last night Jim said that he was longing for just one day where he could just sit and read, and knows that I would love just one full day in the studio. Oh yeah!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Wilting in paradise

We are sitting here in 90 degree weather, wilting and drinking some good wine. It's been another day in the dust bowl but not as bad yesterday, thank God! But the oppressive  heat is another issue. All the dust from grinding out the grout someone got up into the vents and we've been without air conditioning since yesterday afternoon.

Jim and I spent 1 1/2hrs. last night, non stop, working in the heat, at a rapid base, dusting, vacuuming and washing everything in the house, until we literally cold not lift one more finger to wipe one more thing. We left the last of the floor cleanup, for once their done and out of here.

An air conditioner serviceman showed up at 7pm tonight, took one look at the air conditioner and declared "It's frozen". So he shut it off to allow the ice to melt and told us to leave the thermostat on, so after the ice melts, in a few hours, we can turn the unit back on and we might get some cooling. Meantime we are wilted and that's an understatement. He'll be back late tomorrow morning to install a new, less complicated thermostat, for $80. I think I should rename the pottery "The Money Pit". Shambhala pottery, meansa place where  all are welcome to come and  live in peace and safety. Maybe we're inviting too many "need to pay" visitors with that spiritual name. Something to think about! :-)

Tomorrow we get a respite and have outdoor chores to  do, like pick up my new glasses and do some grocery shopping, and maybe make a quick stop at the pottery supply store for a few things.. The tile guys will be back Saturday to seal the new grout and then I'll have to do the last big cleanup. The post grouting sponging they did left the same smears that you get when you mop your clay covered studio floor, so that's going to be another major mopping job for me Sunday.

I'm getting too old for so much donkey work and Jim is older and his state of health won't allow him to do any heavy work or lifting. Getting old is definitely not for sissies, as a dear, old friend has wisely stated.

Meantime, I'm going to finish this second glass of 2007 Villa Antori and a chocolate covered biscotti and be very grateful for the good parts of the day! And a salute to my dear friend Lis Wedge, who's another grey panther warrior, fighting the battle of aging with grace and humor!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Living in a dust bowl for another day

 Since I've been complaining non stop about how much I hate the cook top that came with the house (most of the burners are under powered and the design is horrible), Jim finally told me to get whatever I want. Love that man! He said "what are we saving it for, the worms?"  Good point! So yesterday I spent hours comparing and reading reviews about the latest available range tops. I found this  new Capital Culinarian model with four burners and a grill that I'm excited about. It has very powerful burners (23,000 BTU's each) and each burner has a true simmer setting. I'll have to do some research and order a vent and then call the contractor who'll have to co-ordinate all the things needing to be done to get this installed.

Silly me thought I'd get studio time yesterday - no way! I had two workmen here all day chipping and grinding the old grout from our tile floors. I'll be vacuuming  and dusting for days! This morning we put sheets all over the living room and kitchen furniture, something we would have done yesterday had we known how much dust would be kicked up. It was so bad that we thought the air conditioner had broken, but it turned out the filters were so clogged that none of the cool air was coming through. So, first thing this morning new filters went in, and we turned off the air when they started working.

Every time we plug one hole in the dyke, another one pops up. The pool heater isn't working again and they still can't get the expensive, computer controls to work. Every time they replace a part, 3 other parts blow! Getting this house up to par has certainly been an interesting and costly journey!

Needless to say, it's another non-studio day. :-(

Monday, September 03, 2012

Party time is over

Our son and his  family left for L.A. this afternoon, so that's the end of the daily partying and dining until they come back up for Thanksgiving. We're going to miss them terribly! In fact, we already do!

A few hours ago  I spent a bit of time digging up my Cone 10 glaze notes and  glazing notebook and writing down some of the liner glazes that I need to batch so I can take the next step in finishing  these soda pots. These cooler mornings and evenings will soon bring on some cooler days which is when I can get that little soda gas kiln fired. In the meantime I need to spend this week finishing these earthenware tests. Now that all but one slip is made (I decided today to test a light blue slip tomorrow), there are a few clear and white glazes to batch while these tiles finish drying.

I have a lot of small jars of under glazes to test; but in trying to keep it simple, once they're tested, I'll pick maybe 5 or 6 colors that I think would work well together and use those as a starting point.

It feels strange to be simultaneously juggling this new direction of earthenware and the old soda work. Fortunately it's only temporary.

The challenge of earthenware will probably be frustrating at times (I've been reading Tony Clennell's journey into the world of earthenware and the challenges he's been dealing with); but at the same time, I figure that in the end, the ease of loading and firing an electric kiln will  be more than worth whatever setbacks or frustrations I'll have to face journeying this unknown territory.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Catch of the day

It's a gorgeous day here in Southern Oregon. The rest of the family went fishing this morning and our eight year old grand daughter McKenna, hooked this 24" steelhead. Way to go McKenna!

I've been housebound other than early garden chores, dealing with a bunch of eggplants which are now cooked and marinating. Having an open kitchen/living room is such a treat. For one thing, I don't feel isolated and today, I've been able to work in the kitchen while still keeping up with the US Open tennis. The open floor plan concept works great for me!

But now it's time to head into the studio for a couple of hours. I finished the white slips yesterday and today I want to do a couple of colored  versions. It's party time again  at our sons tonight, so I'll only get a couple of  ours studio time so I need to get moving! Hope everyone is enjoying a great labor day weekend!