Saturday, August 31, 2013

Touching base

Got the twenty sutures removed yesterday (boy did that smart!); and was told I can now eat everything - just have to chew very, very well. So Jim and I celebrated by having a lovely lunch at a favorite Pan Asian restaurant, and then stopping by the bakery and buying some wonderful little cupcakes for last night dessert. 

Initially I was told I could get back to work in 6 weeks, but yesterday the surgeon said 8 weeks. Maybe I shouldn't have told him I was a potter. Oh, well, I'm sure I can find things to do till mid October that won't require lifting more than 10 lbs  or doing anything strenuous on my stomach muscles.

It dawned on me  that the back end of this healing phase would be a good opportunity to get in the studio and finish  organizing my jewelry bench and lapidary area. To that end  I ordered some stones and rough, and once I get those areas finished I can cut some cabochons and maybe even make a couple of pieces of silver jewelry for myself. I have a lot of old rough that needs to be slabbed and cut into cabochons as well, so between lapidary work and cooking again, there will be plenty to keep me busy before I can start throwing again.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Great video series

Since I have all this healing time on my hands, I've been watching you tube videos and found this series of videos on the history of pottery of Great Britain. This is a very worthwhile group of videos that I highly recommend.

Some sad news to report - just found out that David Gilhooly passed over yesterday after a long bout with cancer. I treasure my one Gilhooley piece of a chocolate covered,  frog ice cream cone. I had David's work in my 1846 Log House Gallery when we lived in Campbellville, Ontario,Canada. Fortunately I treated myself to one of his pieces before I sold the property.

David was one of the top potters of that funk era and he was wonderful character. All those amusing and wild pieces came out of such a small studio, in Ontario when I first met with him to get some pots for the gallery. He could fit his little kiln and underglazes in his little volkswagen. Of course his little black and white TV set would find a place in there somewhere so he could watch and listen to those old movies on that small screen TV.

He once did an erotic series of fornicating frogs in between hamburger buns for another gallery in Ontario -Nepenthe. Imagine them going heavily at it while trying to avoid sliding off the melted cheese. Hilarious and priceless!

David hadn't done ceramic work in recent years, which was a loss for the ceramic world. I feel very fortunate to have one of his pieces. I imagine there were a lot of smiling faces greeting him when he passed through the pearly gates which would only reflect all the smiles he gave us.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Boredom is dangerous

One week after surgery, I'm feeling well enough to sleep a bit less, but not pain free enough to do cartwheels or spend more than ten minutes on my feet. I think this is the danger stage, because I think my brain cells are atrophying. I'm finding myself watching shopping channels of all things. This is depressing! It's time to tackle a good book.

Our son gave me a copy of "Proof of Heaven", an account of a surgeons near death experience. I guess since I made it through surgery he figured it was a safe choice. He was very taken with this book, so I think I'll give it a try, in small doses.

Cleaning up and renaming duplicate photo files is my other non-exciting days activity; but something I've been doing in small doses before surgery and now I certainly have the time to hopefully finish this chore. It's another job that I can only do in small doses before I go bleary eyed. So I think it's time to open Paint Shop Pro and get to work until I'm ready to nap or find another old movie to watch.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I'm doing great as long as I don't sneeze or cough

This healing is going to take a while. Just when I think I'm feeling pretty much free of severe pain, a cough or sneeze brings up some sharp, intense, eye watering pain, which seems to stir everything up again for several hours.

 I'm out of bed a lot, but only to shower or take a fifty or sixty foot or so walk to the kitchen or bathroom and then back to bed every hour or so. Reading and TV watching is pretty much the extent of my activity for now other than 5 minutes cooking myself some breakfast farina or cream of wheat.

The masochist in me keeps watching cooking shows, when all I'm able to eat right now are soft foods. I never thought I'd  be sick of pasta but after a few days of various, pasta and noodle entrees I'm ready for a change, so tonight I'm just going to have a baked potato and maybe a softly cooked green veggie on the side.

Watching these cooking shows is proving costly. I taped the new Martha Stewart cooking shows on PBS and after watching her show on frying, I decided to bite the bullet and buy myself a tool I've always wanted - a stainless steel French mandolin - a great slicing tool to cut various shapes of veggies. She was making home made potato chips and fries - the sort of thing I'm about four weeks away from being able to cook and eat; but at least I'll have my super duper mandolin ready to go once I'm back on a normal diet.

When I told Jim I treated myself to a mandolin, he thought I was talking about another musical instrument to join the two dulcimers I've yet to master. Maybe in another week I'll be able to sit on a chair or sofa and re-introduce myself to these dulcimers.

This mandolin won't produce any sounds, but it will produce some evenly sliced waffle and other fries as well as other veggies for tempura dinners, soups and stews.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blessed uninterrupted sleep

Thanks everyone for the well wishes.I'm doing well today. It was so nice to get a night of uninterrupted sleep; and I even managed to turn on my side to sleep. Ah, the small joys!

Now I just have to figure out how to get some food in my diet that will get my digestion back to normal. Soft food diets don't help, so Jim is going to the store for some cooked prunes and carrots so I can make some carrot juice, which is one way to get some live, healing food at least for one meal.

I even managed to get into the kitchen cook my own cereal this morning - or at least measure and start the cooking process and Jim took over for the last two minutes. And the best news is that I haven't had to take a pain pill since 11 o'clock last night and I have no pain just soreness when I'm up and about for too long.

Our son came over for a visit before heading back to L.A. and our daughter called from Munich and gave me a list of TV shows I might enjoy. Living in Europe they found they could pay a very small fee to get a U.S. IP address which would allow them subscribe to Netflix and get a lot of the American mystery/crime shows that they like.

Time now to kick back a bit and read the Sunday papers, finish watching the Nadal/Isner tennis match and maybe take one of those cat naps before lunch.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Home and healing

Had my surgery on Tuesday morning and they sent me home this afternoon. Surgery went well with none of the possibly scary complications. Lots of friends and family were sending Reiki and Zimbate healing and prayers which I'm positive made for the good results. It will be a six week healing process, which means no studio time, or at least no throwing, wedging, heavy lifting,ect till the end of September.

My abdomen looks like a zipper with 19 sutures (they look more like large, metal staples to me), starting below my navel and rising about 7 inches or so to the top of my solar plexus. It's a good thing I'm long past wanting to wear a bikini or even having a body suitable for one!

The good news is that they've now put me on a soft diet (the first couple of days I was just on clear liquids and jello). Now I just need to rest, take the lovely pain meds and make sure I get up every 3 to 4 hours and move around a bit.

If today is any indication, I'll also be taking lots of naps; and I'll use this healing time to clean up a lot of computer files. After synching my iPad a few days ago I realized just how many duplicate photos I have that need deleting.

Our furry kids Bonnie and Bodhi made for a great welcome party and they won't let me out of their sight. Guess they missed their mom as much as I missed them. Right now it's time for pain meds, another cat nap and maybe a shower later if energy permits.

Jim has had to take on a lot of extra chores because of my surgery and I think he's going to need a vacation and some extra pampering once I'm up to it. No one deserves it more.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Wednesday eye candy with Chandra DeBuse

Found this delightful autobiographical video by Chandra DeBuse with some wonderful shots of her unique, colorful and delightful work.

There were 3 more local fires started overnight after dry lightning strikes. Two of them are in our town, and the smoke is so bad that we can actually smell it in the house with all the doors and windows closed. In all my prior years of living in Southern Oregon, we've never had so many fires and at this level as we have had so far this year.  Unfortunately, Southern  Oregon doesn't get rain in the valley this time of year, so it would be something of a miracle if we did get rain to put out these fires. So it's going to be up to the thousands of fire fighters out there working these fire lines to at least protect homes while they put their own lives and health on the line for the rest of us.

After days of a cooking marathon, I'm taking a needed day to rest. The freezer and fridge are filled to the max, so it's time to slow down until Tuesday's surgery. My throat is sore and I don't know if it's from the smoke or just my body telling me to take it easy. In any case, it's a day to sit tight,  do some computer filing, catch up with snail mail, and watch some mindless TV and drink a lot of liquids and pop a lot of vitamins.


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Woman plans, God laughs kinda day

Our less than one year old, top of the line Vent a Hood just quit working yesterday. And with all pre-surgery cooking I've been doing and continue to do, this Vent has been doing it's job till yesterday when the vent and lights just quit cold. So instead of studio time, I was running around checking power boxes, reading manuals, making phone calls, having meetings with the handyman and on and on. The bottom line is that the company has ok'd a local service company to come out and look at the unit. So far, no call from them. Hopefully we'll hear from them today.

Since yesterday was another heavy cooking day the house aroma was a mixture of the nutty fruity breakfast bread, followed by the aroma of stuffed jalapeno poppers with bacon. Good thing lunch was just tomato sandwiches. I think I'm going to have to buy another can of Febreeze soon!

At 6am this morning I was getting some of the ingredients for tonight's potato leek soup measured out. Guess the whole house is going to smell like tonight's soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm also going to be making a bolognese sauce for tomorrow and get the rest in the freezer. And of course we can't open the windows because of the smoke. from about 55,000 acres of burning timber here in Southern Oregon.

We can always count on life creating one interesting journey after another. I just wish they wouldn't periodically all come at the same time.


Monday, August 05, 2013

Free App of translations of Japanese Ceramic terms

Hit the link below for a free app of translations of Japanese pottery terms. One of the members of the on line clay group Clayart, created this and has just put it on to iTunes for downloading.

Free app translations of Japanese pottery terms

I'm taking a little break after some garden work and getting the major part of dinner prepped. I've made Jalapeno poppers - large jalapenos stuffed with a mixture of browned pork and beef and mixed with cream cheese, then covered with bacon slices. This is obviously not a health conscious meal; but a rare treat. I'll make the guacamole to go with it later. The margarita mix is ready, so I'll make the guacamole while the poppers are cooking.

We're still dealing with the smoke from the fires. I would have liked to spend more time out there this morning to feed the potted plants. I got the front planters fed, but the smoke was just too bad to continue.

After my little break I need to feed my sourdough starter and then get into the studio for a few hours; but I will stop to make us our first Brandywine heirloom tomato sandwiches for lunch.  That first, home grown, tomato sandwich with a generous spread of mayonnaise and a little bit of salt, and  lots of fresh ground black pepper, is one of life's great gifts and pleasures of summer. And of course, let's not forget the pickle.


Sunday, August 04, 2013

There's always another problem to solve

Yesterday was another smorgasbord kind of day - some studio time, garden chores and  lots of kitchen duty . Besides the normal day's meal prep I also made a pot of mushroom bisque for the freezer. That will be a couple of meals for Jim while I'm recuperating from surgery.  It's only 9 days till the surgery and I need to get a few more quick dinners for him made and in the freezer.

I managed to get some of the things on my studio "to do" list done yesterday, like throwing and rolling out some tests tiles; but decided to skip batching the slip and glaze tests and instead waxed and decorated a few pots. I'm continuing with the decorating today and my aim is to get some or all of these pots bigger kiln for firing in the next few days, which I know isn't practical since I don't have a full load; but I just want to wrap these up as much as possible before my surgery. Some will be bisqued and other glazed, which is one of the perks of working in earthenware since I'm bisquing and glaze firings at cone 04.

A few of the pots I'm working on now are probably going to be trashed or added to my kitchen stash of useable but not salable. I'm finding some have crazed slip after bisquing and I know the slip was well sieved and not too thick. So why is that happening on some and not on others - another problem to solve.  I suspect that although the batch wasn't on thick side, I may have dipped them too long. Next thing to do is thin the slip even more and test it on a couple of small cups. It's always something.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Peteris Martinsons

Latvian potter Peteris Martinsons has passed away. If you aren't familiar with his work, you can see some of his pieces at this link. His work is amazing.

Now that morning chores are done, I'm heading to the studio with my days "to do" list. There are more test tiles to roll out and throw so I can do a couple of follow up tests to tweak one or two of the green slip tests and other glaze and slip tests to batch. I probably won't get it all done today, but should be able to make a good dent in this list.

Due to a change in the wind direction, our air quality is a lot better than it's been for several days, even though the largest fire is still only about 5% or so contained. With the better air quality, I got to spend a bit more time in the garden harvesting a lot of cherry tomatoes and a couple of the larger ones which are just coming in and some hot peppers after the morning hand watering. Now I have to figure what to do with all these cherry tomatoes - maybe Linguini with a Putanesca sauce in the next day or so would be a good choice.



Friday, August 02, 2013

Unloaded the tiny test kiln this morning. There's a lot of information on these few tiles. The horizontal bands are various slips and on the 2 larger tiles, there are 7 vertical lines of various clear and amber/honey glazes with 2.2% black iron oxide, another couple with 4.5% burnt umber, and my clear base with 3% rutile. I wanted to see how the clear bases with burnt umber, or black iron or rutile would modify these slips. The fourth vertical line from the left is my straight clear, so you can get an idea of how much these others modify and change the original slip colors.

I think my honey glaze might give me what I want if I lower the Black Iron Oxide to 1%.   Some of these toned down greens look very promising as a base slip - quiet enough as a base to allow brighter slip accents to pop a bit. I want to test some of these glazes over some blue slips as well. The low iron addition seems to give the results I'm looking for - just need to lower it a bit.

The air is better this morning, so I need to get to our sons ranch and harvest the veggies in their garden and make a couple of stops for some pick up grocery shopping. Hopefully I can squeeze in an hour or two of studio time when I get back. It's going to be iffy.                                      

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Mason Pea stain problem

Got a call from Sheffield Pottery telling me I shouldn't use the Mason Pea green stain because the company has informed them that something is wrong with the batch. Uh oh! Problem is, I've already done a couple of tests with it and like the color; and since it's just an off color problem, I'll still use it. I only wanted this color for some simple slip trail accents.  . The only problem I can see might be when I run out of it this batch and possibly find that the correct batch won't give me the same color.

Yesterday I got some studio time to re-mix some of my clear and a few versions of amber and honey glazes and test batches to test them over some of the latest slipped test tiles. I want to see what those additions of black iron or burnt umber or rutile in a clear glaze are going to affect some of these green and other slips and under glazes. Food prep and other chores filled in the rest of the day. Last nights dinner was a Korean green onion pancake with a dipping sauce and a Thai cucumber salad. It was my first attempt at this Korean classic and it's a very tasty dish. I chose to do a ground pork version rather than the classic seafood version, since the pork was what I had on hand.  

First thing this morning, I got my tiny test kiln loaded and started. After breakfast I got a few artichokes stuffed and cooked and made a couple of loaves of Zucchini bread and got the bread cut up and into serving sizes for Jim to have while I'm in the hospital and after I get home. That and regular meal prep, some on line ordering, some household chores and computer work filled up my day.

The smoke is down a lot tonight due to a bit more wind and maybe a shift in wind direction, so I was able to get out and comfortably mix up more bird food, fill the feeder and give them fresh water.

Now that dinner is done and the kiln is off,  I'll see if there's something lightweight and amusing on the TV to use as background sound while I tackle the rest of my e emails.  A Midsomer Murder Mystery on PBS at 9 o'clock will be a good end to a good and busy day.