Sunday, April 29, 2018

Flummoxed on the Social Media hamster wheel......

During my Facebook hiatus I had time to deliver the dinner set for 8, finish the website, take 50 billion pictures of pots, delete 49 billion pictures from my camera, update the layout for the blog, set up an Etsy site, get the gardens sorted out, plant some peas and lettuce and get a couple plants in the wheel barrow for a Spring side out rotate and.....  wait for it, re-activate my facebook account.  I think I've just about linked everything together and my bank account numbers are painted on a bathroom wall in LA with yellow neon highlighter ...... Ha and I thought facebook was a time suck!  Still working on getting the html social media icons on the blog and website.  And have yet to get Bing search engines to recognize the new website.  Google is pretty easy, Pinterest is pretty easy but Bing...... I think I only had two eye bleeds while figuring out my meta code! Code Blue, that would be my heart stopping but meta code....   I didn't even know what meta code was two weeks ago...... but here is the astonishing thing; I kind of got it!  Talk about a dog with a bone, although I think I would prefer tenacious.  See those nice new headers on the sidebar?  LOOK AT IT!

Before I deleted my Facebook account I read a too much, rolled it around in my head more than needed, listened to the Pope of Facebook and his high holy cardinals, and decided to go forth into the wildness alone.  I didn't delete on whim, I really did my homework or thought I did. 

By week two in the wilderness, I decided to host a studio sale this June 15th and 16th.  Now, how to get the word out?  The blog, instagram, new website, Etsy announcement...... high five myself and go plant peas.  But while planting peas I wondered just how many people do I really reach without the facebook platform?  While I sipped my 3 o'clock coffee I started looking at numbers on all those other time suck platforms.  My blog post went from 300 - 350 readers per blog post to 20 readers.  Instagram stayed about the same.  New website had about 100 hits and as I gulped the last of the coffee grounds on the bottom of cup, it was becoming clear; cross posting on Facebook had made a huge difference in the getting the word out about "stuff".  If you are a small business this is gold and last time I counted I have a workforce of 1 and one free loader who holds the floor down and sheds like it's his job.

Listening to NPR and reading several articles written by young kids and adults (age 15 - 29) who had deleted their facebook account and raved that they were more creative, had more time to work out, read books, drop out of the cool kids club and they were never going back to facebook.  One young man reported he'd opened his facebook account when he was 13 and deleted his account when he was 17.5;  he spent an average of 3 hours a day on social media per day and came up with this equation:
(he gets an A++ for math!)

17.5 -13 = 14.5 x 365 = 1642 x 3 hours = 4927 hours wasted.  

Epiphany #2
Socia media allowed me to surround myself with so many like minded "friends" from politics to gardening to pottery and on and on.  It kind of creates a false illusion.  I don't work a regular job where I need to go interact with people on a daily basis.  I interact with a dog, an obnoxious neighborhood cat and lately a couple rows of peas.  None of them knows or cares about Trump or pottery or ..... well maybe the yard because they are all going to eat it or pee on it.  I live in Trump country and have completely and totally withdrawn from local life as I once knew it.  I live next door to a guy who plays the Star Spangled Banner out his front window at 10 am.  I live in town with no grocery stores, a jail and 4 gun shops.  I think I just discovered why the country has is so divided;  social media!  What happened to the days when neighbors really did need each other.  Remember; Timmy's in the well and Lassie ran to the neighbors for help?  Ya those days are gone; Timmy's in the well!!  Did he vote for Trump?  OMG just toss him in anchor and nail the lid shut!  Did I mention I live across the street from a cemetery?  I have friends hosting studio sales in the bucolic hills or pastoral acres.... substitute bubonic and perpetual care acres .....  welcome to my studio sale. 

While discussing the idea for a studio sale with the dog, I asked how shall we advertise this studio sale?  The dog just wanted to know if there would be cookies?  Not many read the paper anymore, bill boards seem to be a bit of overkill.......... crap back to social media and facebook or the dog and I will be eating all the cookies and switching out the lemonade for bourbon. 

And in other news....... Daughter #2 is graduating next Saturday from Western Colorado University in Gunnison.  I am packing up the dog, camping equipment, oxygen tanks, large bottle of aspirin and husband of 36 years; who is down right giddy over the prospects that the last kid made it.  My house looks like the FBI flipped an REI store.  Next Saturday morning at 9 am we will be sitting on cold metal bleachers in an outdoor stadium, dressed in long johns and battery powered socks, in the mountains of Colorado freezing our pa-tooties off and grinning from ear to ear.......  yup, she made it!
Congratulations Abby!  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Time Marches on ...... and on and on.......

Time marches on........ and Spring is hiding.

Since last posting I've taken a seat on Mr Toad's Wild Ride and forgot to buckle up!

Sporadic gardening at best but so much to get done, it's daunting.  Our weather has been set on rinse and spin, rinse again, add snow, repeat.  A crack appears and life is left standing while you run to the garden, drop to your knees and weed like a person possessed before the sky opens up again.  Can't remember a Spring like this for a very long time and hoping the end is near!
After a day of panic gardening the neighborhood; Not My Cat, Rufus showed up.

And did I mention people are down right cranky?  I'm trying hard not leave the compound until I see a daffodil.

 Kirby rides shot gun on our way to Pittsburgh NCECA. 
Time to set up the show at Borelli Edwards Gallery curated by Stephanie Craig!

Our own Todd Leech and Lynne Lofton setting up! 

NCECA has come and gone.  Shows have been set up and broken down.  Great chance to have my pottery battery recharged and getting back to a little excitement in the studio.  I was taken with how little there was on glaze chemistry at this NCECA.  Decals are huge, as is wood firing.  Pots seem to be more decorated and embellished, unless it's wood fired and then drumroll please..... wood fired pots with decals....... and mug prices just keep going up.  I'm not sure I'm up to paying over $100 for mug.... yup, I have heard the argument on the side of the artist for the $100 mug but I'm a potter and the lights need to stay on.  I still make $25 utilitarian, knock around mugs you can take in the garden and put in the dishwasher.  Don't get me wrong I do have a few of those fancy mugs that get used on Sunday morning but my "go to", take to the studio, drive out of the driveway with it on the roof of my car mug, gets used almost everyday.

And I listen to NPR in the studio and heard the grand Mea Culpa of Mark Zuckerberg. Mr Facebook sound shocked at the fallout over Cambridge Analytica.  The more I read the more pissed off I became.  So I downloaded what Facebook had skimmed off my profile over the last 10 years and the final straw was seeing my entire address book in their "information".   WTF Mark?  Do you need honey from my honey lady or eggs from my egg guy up the road?  You have more money than God and you sold out 80 million facebook users information to a shady group in Britain?  I have one vote, and I have buying power and an opinion, that sometimes gets me in a bit of trouble...... BUT I am an advocate for transparency on all levels.  Soooooo I did the unthinkable, I deleted my Facebook account.  I am sure this is having more of an impact on me than Mr Facebook and I am now coming to terms with how this will affect my tiny little business.  I listened to the Congressional panel "grill" Mark and realized Mark was as shocked as I, at just how little Congress knows about cyberspace, advertising dollars etc. and have no hope of any regulation from an impotent government.  I find myself in a constant state of outrage these days....... well unless I'm in the studio and then it's just rainbow poop'n unicorns.  And NPR reported yesterday,  Facebook is making major changes in security and privacy next month........  I'm still on Instagram and Facebook owns Instagram and there is probably a chip in my van following me around and my not so smart, smart phone died yesterday.  Spent an hour on the phone with Raj in distant land far far away and still no phone and right now I am soooooo OK with that!  In a couple months I will be a full fledged hermit with hair growing out of my ears, dandelion puff hair and gnarly bare feet.

AND........ I stumbled back on Craigslist.  My 2006 computer died a while back and after much angst and research decided I could get by with a MacBook Air.  Then I ordered business cards, shooting up a red flag (the colors were way off) and then the show rejection hit list started rolling in and I scratched my head and loaded a bunch of images on my Smart TV (which took me an entire day due to several trips to the  geek store to get compatible pigtails to merge laptop and smart TV as the TV is much smarter than the potter and kept telling how not smart I really am) and I was stunned at how bad my images were!  I started looking around for desk tops and really just can't plunk down well over $1,000 on a desktop computer at the moment..... WAIT!  maybe if I made $100 mugs..........

I spent weeks looking for a computer and then a few days ago I found a fairly new Apple desktop for sale, good price and right up the road.  So in an Ohio, Spring blizzard I drove up the road, kicked the tires and bought it.  Then I downloaded new software to get a new website up and running.  Free fall down the rabbit hole of shopping cart software...... two days of research only to head back to Etsy.  After a day and half I have the "Welcome to S. Miller Pottery" complete.  It might be Christmas before I get this done! 

The learning curve.... new/old  desktop computer, laptop to watch tutorials.... iPad (used to take the picture) and cross watch even more tutorials.  

Then I ran out to the studio and set up the light cube, lights and tripod; taking 188 images of various pots I thought I might want on the website.  If you don't use your camera for a couple years you need to get out the manuals and once again watch a bunch of youtube's on what all those little buttons mean.  My house looks like Michael Cohen's apartment after it was flipped.  And if YouTube is tracking me, it's all about Labrador puppies, gardens, pottery, software, Sony camera functions and cats are jerks.

And I have red lettered on my calendar my first ever home studio sale set for Friday, June 15th and Saturday June 16th.  But as I am no longer on Facebook, not sure if anybody will show up so I will be here drinking iced tea and eating cookies with a dog and not my cat Rufus....... and the chickens will be here by then!

And I had a lovely art day at the Akron Museum of Art seeing the Jun Kaneko show!


Stay tuned.............

Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Big Phat Phab Life........

Not sure I have anything to blame this on except two full moons in March, a blue moon, mercury hit my garage, Kirby gave me the stink eye, post Olympic depression, Chaos rising? 

My latest text to kids.....

"Hey, I'm sitting in a random parking lot waiting for a guy named Brian to show up with his ex-wife's brand spank'n new Kitchen Aid food processor.  If your Dad texts looking for me just tell him I'm on a secret mission.  I have my blind attack dog, so no worries ..... oh and I'm sitting under a street light."

So many questions from this text...... like WHY?

The down hill slide started early last week when two show applications showed up as "rejected".  
I read it 10 or maybe 20 times because my master plan was; close the gallery, buy a van, trick it out for shows and turn the radio up on the headbangers ball channel while making a shit ton of pots.  So now I have a van and no shows..... kind of gobsmacked by this shift in the paradigm of my business plan; still got the headbangers ball channel on loud though.  

Then I realized I had all this time on my hands and I really didn't need to go to the studio and what does every body in a state of panic do.... stock the pantry Ethel!!  We're not gonna starve!  

I started cooking down those chickens in the freezer and made 20 quarts of stock! 
So those chickens paid off in spades!  9 chickens produced 20 quarts of stock, endless piles of eggs for three years, compost I'm still spreading, a liter of golden schmaltz and hours of entertainment. 
The chickens kind of paid for themselves as the eggs were sold for $3 a dozen.  Oh and did I mention they also work as a garbage disposal and bug eradicator.  And helped Rufus, the neighborhood badass cat, kill countless voles and moles around the garden.  So the chickens are clearly winning...... no wait they are in the pot, maybe not so much for them.

and then I made pasta in the food processor...... 
I have had a Cuisinart for 30 years; gone through two now.  The motors are fine but the plastic bowls fall apart and you can't engage the motor without the locking bowl and lid.  Replacing those parts run around $60-$80 depending on the model.  Argh, not now!  I pried the lid off with screwdriver to release my trapped pasta dough and realized it had just whizzed it's last batch of pasta dough.  
So while the noodles dried, I jumped on Craigslist...... 

and I made pasta and then started wondering if Cuisinart was still a good product because I was noticing a lot of grumbling on food processor chat panels.  Food processor users were in full on revolt with everything from customer service to exploding blades.  Yikes! 


and by Tuesday morning I was pretty sure I was going for something other than a new Cuisinart and found a listing for a Kitchen Aid 12 cup for $80.00; touting BRAND NEW, still in box.  
So I went for it. 
Brian emailed back right away and I called him and heard the wayward story about how his ex-wife had just left it behind.  OK after 2 minutes on the phone with Brian I was kind of thinking I would probably like Brians ex-wife .  
But I really needed a food processor and this was pretty nice so I proceeded onward.  OK if you read the last blog about my wood stove guy I cannot believe one of you blog readers didn't run up here and clobber me with the kraut mallet! 


read his thought bubble.....  

Soooooo off we went to a busy parking lot, with the plan to meet at 6:30 - 6:45 pm.  Brian had texted me to contact him around 2 or 3 pm to make sure I was still in.  I emailed Brian at 2:20 pm.  See you there I am in an empty white box van with my killer dog.  Brian emailed back, Kewl.  (red flag the kewl) 

Sitting under the light; I caught up on emails, talked to the dog and sang along to Carol King.... loudly!  6:45 pm; no Brian, no food processor.  Call Brian..... no answer, leave message.  Two seconds later he calls back; Are you there?  Ummm, you were supposed to call me. BRIAN!  This is food processor, I emailed you, are you secret squirrel?  And Brian says, I live 20 minutes away, can you wait?  YES BRIAN I CAN WAIT!  and my inside voice is like...... Brian you're an idiot and this is why you have an ex-wife.  And then thinking this was kind of a weird interaction I started wondering if he was just selling this out from under his real wife and she would show up and kill all of us.  Gawd, I hate Craigslist!  Maybe I can sell a couple more mugs and buy one from a real store.... with a coupon of course! 

By now Butch had called numerous times and offered to go to Bed Bath and Beyond with his 20% coupon (he gets me)  and buy a new food processor because he really likes homemade pasta and chopped veggies and pie.  I will call you the minute I have the contraband in my van and headed home, over and out!  

7:42 pm Brian plowed into the parking lot, alone thank you soooo much.  As suspected Brian was different.  He rolled out of his low rider (not really, just a car with no shocks) and said; Wow, nice van!  Whadda ya do with a van like that, oh wait I bet you work for Amazon or something.  Ok Brian made me laugh!  No Brian I'm a potter.  Whoa, what's that?  OMG BRIAN DO YOU HAVE A FOOD PROCESSOR?  Ummmm, yes I do.  And thank the food prep gods on high he pulled a shiny new food processor out of his car complete with accessories!  
While he handed it over he kept asking me if I ate a lot of healthy food and healthy food is really good for you.  So asked him why he didn't keep it?  Nope too scary for him..... kind of like me in this parking lot with Killer snoring in the van?  Here's $80.00, gotta go!  Thanks.  

Home and TA-DA! 

and it works like a charm and it still had the styrofoam between the blades! 
It really is brand new, although older.  The bowl is significantly heavier than the Cuisinart and it has a great little inner bowl for small stuff!  With my Cuisinart I had to buy yet another appliance and I did, I bought a $10 slap chopper that I love! 

During all this food processing I've had time to peruse Craigslist and have found all kinds of stuff I really need!
On Saturday I am meeting a woman in yet another parking lot and picking up a ramp for my van!  No more picking up a 91 pound usually wet dog to go for a ride.  He will be able to walk in the van! 
 $25 is one third the price of visit to the chiropractor!  This purchase is a 2-pher; Kirby and me! 
Found a guy named Bob who made a couple chairs for his daughter and seems he couldn't stop so now he sells a few on Craigslist.  He lives out in the middle of no mans land and he's retired.  So I bought two chairs for my fire pit and this time I'm taking Butch and Kirby with me on Saturday. 
Oh and I don't think Bob is making any money as they are $60 which is more than the wood and screws would have cost me!  And it keeps an old guy busy with power tools and off the streets! 

I have time to perfect my moscow mules and sit in one of these chairs,
drink a Moscow Mule and watch a few chickens this year!  


sometimes stuff like craigslist works and sometimes it's scary ..... just like my business plan.

And as to the politics in the country at the moment

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Another project at happy acres.......

While watching the US Women's hockey team beat the Russian Women's hockey team at O-dark-thirty this morning; I flipped to the local weather report during the second period.   Sun this morning and temperatures rising to 55F.   
I tripped over the dog running to the door!  We have a window!!  Rain would be moving in by 4 pm and stay until Thursday night, and then turning to snow.  YES, YES, YES, to the heavens above, and all the weather gods; Jack Frost, Old Man Winter, Auril the frost maiden, all who have rained down ice, snow and wind for the last two months THANK YOU for taking a coffee break today! 

Shower, slap on the new tennies, grab the leash and head out with the Kirbs for a warm up lap.... HA!  NO hat today!  We walked down the driveway and the sun was shining! 
I walked home and this has greeted me since last August; see that pipe?

Time to fix one of my bigger mistakes last year.  Uninstalling the studio wood stove!  
I bought a wood stove over three years ago and moved it around the studio more times than I can count.  It's a small studio and it was a small stove but when you need 36" clearance on all four sides it suddenly takes up a lot of room.  I had lofty illusions of me curled in my chair, in front of a crackling toasty fire and weaving or carving all winter; my partner in crime snoring on his bed next to the fire. 

  I had these illusions for three years and they are delusions as Kirby doesn't even know how to bed.

I bought the "Through the Roof" kit from Home Depot last July and promptly realized this would be a PROJECT and I was super busy.   So I did something I rarely do.....  I hired a guy off Thumbtack.  He had great reviews and his shop was called Dave's Wood Stoves; what could go wrong?   I contacted him and he agreed to do it for $450.  On a hot August Saturday morning Dave showed up with a helper and no tools.  Let's just cut to the chase and say the helper knew more than Dave and had more tools than Dave.   In hindsight I should have clobbered Dave after the second hour and before he cut a hole in the roof but I'd been delusional for three years.  
Besides it's August and there is lots of time before the snow flies.  Right after Dave declared the project complete and I paid him and we had a drought.  Weeks went by with no rain.  I would walk in the studio each morning and couldn't wait to fire up that little stove.  By the end of September the monsoon season hit and roof leaked like an open window on the Titanic.  Now I was tripping over a wood stove and 4 buckets and kitty litter pan (unused).  I called Dave immediately and he came out the next sunny day and spent 4 hours on the roof, declaring it fixed.  A week later the storms rolled through and the buckets came out again.  How could it be leaking worse than before Dave got on the roof for the second time?  I thought; fine I'll fix it myself!  I crawled up on the roof and could not find the leak.  Hauled Mr. Madpotter up on the roof........ why?  I don't know, shear desperation.   "Looks fine to me" he said.  
I really just couldn't face Dave one more time and I pulled the pipe down inside the studio and water poured in from the four corners of the box.  Dammit@!  The cold winds blew Winter came and stayed, so did the buckets and the heat poured through pipe to the outside world.  The gallery got dumped in the studio and I couldn't even see the hole. 

By this time all illusions of me ever weaving or carving a pot in front of the freak'n stove had gone right up the chimney with all the warm air in the studio!  I was so over the stove and sold it on craigslist for what I paid for it.  The last month I had been staring at a hole in the roof on the coldest days in January and February and cursing the wood stove. 

Today was the day!  I pulled all the tools out, wrestled the pipe from the jaws of putty, caulk, silicon, roofing nails, metal collars and tar paper while teetering on the roof at what felt like a death defying angle but it's really not.  It was a glorious day to be on the roof!  Sunny and 55F. for 4 whole hours!  
I cut the plywood in the driveway, sanded outside and played the radio.  There was sawdust flying for miles!  
Spent enough time on the roof to get foot cramps using my toes as grippers.  And after 4 hours of ladder running I had a good case of shaky leg and then there was Henry's black tar caulk.  We have all read my tales of tub caulking but roof caulking is tub caulking to the tenth power!  I caulked my own butt to roof, and one foot.  My gloves got sticky so I tossed those aside and then realized my sticky black hands are attached to my wrists.  I couldn't put the hammer down.  My pants pockets were loaded down with a pry bar, a putty knife, a box cutter, a screw driver, a pair of fiskar scissors and a pair of pliers.  I had the proverbial pencil stuck behind my ear and a box of roofing nail precariously kept sliding down the roof but I ever so nimbly caught the box with a foot, knee or the hammer.  I got so frustrated I caulked the box to the roof.  Perfect until I had to get the box off the roof.   Thus my favorite sweatshirt now had a fresh coat of Henry's black roof caulk....... I only realized this while eating dinner and my elbow became stuck to the table.  
But it's done!!!  

by 5 pm the window closed as the wind shifted, the rain started and the sun was gone but the roof is fixed. 

I will probably never use Thumbtack again or Daves Wood Stoves and I'm not feeling too warm and fuzzy about men in general right now because as we know........
Chicks with Tools Rule and guys drool! 

Cheers ladies and Happy Valentine's Day!  
Buy yourself a few flowers and new caulk gun!! 

Monday, February 12, 2018

The joys of winter..........

We are now into deep February and cabin fever is taking hold.  I am in the grippers of cabin fever, some years seem better than others but this year has me on full on winter wedgie!  So much snow, ice and wind it's been a bit of a challenge walking, hiking or just taking the trash out.  10 minutes to bundle your nether regions and 10 minutes to unbundle those nether regions.  If you take the dog out 4 times a day that is 80 minutes or an hour and 20 minutes of protecting nether regions I never really give much thought to, until a brisk wind curls more than your nose hair!  Sheesh!  

I do live for the little glimpses into life that would otherwise breeze past while I was watching the grass grow and yelling at that pesky house wren to shut up.  The silence of winter is like no other time of the year.  The insulation of snow, the depth of the darkness, the intensity of the cold; even through the bundling there is nothing like it.  Spring, Summer and Fall, nature is pretty raucous!  Sirens from police and fire seem to float on the luminous silence.  The roaring Arctic Clippers barreling across Lake Erie like a freight train are all to frequent and yet in the interim it's amazingly placid and serene.  Standing under a twinkling starlight sky in subzero temperatures, staring at Orion's belt, one never hears the coyotes sneaking up behind you..... in the unflinching stillness of the night I feel the dog bump my leg and start whining.  "STOP IT!"; I whisper as I look down.... we both break the steely silence with a blood curdling scream "HOLY SHIT" and the coyotes run away while we trip over each other trying to get to a streetlight. Yup, time to go.......... everybody is hungry and we are not lunch! 

I watch Mr Madpotter pickup the last copy of Architectural Digest. Hoping he will see something inspiring to start a new project in our house, that needs a bit of an overhaul.   Slowly, painstakingly he turns each page as I study his face to see which mansion floats his boat as I make dinner across the counter and then, YES, here it comes........ "Did you know Ricky Martin was gay?"  News Flash? .......  Also overheard last week while talking to Daughter #1;  Wow, they made a movie on the Black Panthers, they were pretty revolutionary...... and I'm thinking I bet she's going to the movie.  He hangs up and says;  That was kind of a weird conversation.  Later in the day I email the movie trailer to his phone...... I see his brain explode in the car in the driveway.  These are things I totally miss in the summer.  

And I am thankful for driving in my bubble; windows rolled up tight so no one can hear my corrective suggestions for their driving habits during winter months!  I feel it is my job, my duty from the comfort and safety of my sound proof vehicle to point out the deficiencies of drivers around me; also a few pedestrians who are so bundled they don't realize they stepped off the curb.  Summer,  I manage to contain myself most of the time. 

Each year I completely forget how much static electricity is in the air.  Kirby is never far away, never. 

Watching the dog hair; jump, fly and migrate from yellow dog, across space to anything made of black micro-fleece.  I have taken to pinning dryer sheets to my knees, hips and middle.... winter fashion you won't see on Project Runway! 

AND sadly, I have time to watch our country erode into ........ well I don't even have words anymore.  Every time I think I have become comfortably numb I get a slap upside the head by BREAKING NEWS...  I mean really, how much breaking news can there be and while there is twid-iot in the White House creating chaos and division?  Shouldn't we all be coming together and figuring out how to get an oxygen tank to the planet that is gasping for breath. Or feed the 7,632,819,325 currently living on the planet?  And that national debt isn't going to amount to hill of beans unless we can actually do math and learn from science.  New storybook problem:  If guns magazine holds 500 bullets and box of bullets from Walmart contains 32 bullets how many immigrants do we need to deport to build a damn wall........ really people?  Excuse me for a moment, I need to go punch my wife in the face.  It's like watching the flash bang across the street while the termites ate your house.  But thankfully we have the Olympics ......... go USA Women's Hockey team!!  And who doesn't love a Dutch speed skater or an Austrian luger....... OMG just hold onto those nether regions! 

Deep winter and it's fermenting time!

Temperatures are supposed to rise midweek and I can't wait!  My pruners are sharpened and I'm ready to roll....... 
Hang in there winter dwellers........