Monday, January 21, 2013

Great balls "O" fire..........

Saturday arrived, the sun was up and we hit the ground the running as the weather station had predicted  storms were on the way!  By tomorrow the winds would be whipping us senseless and the snow would be flying.  But today it was glorious and warm and there was a laundry list a mile long.  

At 7:30 am with coffee cups in hand we made a wood run to Middlefield.  Home by 9:00 am for a refill and wood stacked.  
By 9:30 am Farm Supply store here I come for a water heater for the chickens.  This lugging water to the chickens two and three times a day was getting old.  I plunked down the $50 for a water heater and returned home.  Cleaned the coop and put in new bedding and straw for insulation.  Ran more extension cords to the Coop Med and fired up the heater.  The water slide will be going in next month!  It was 50 degrees outside, the heater worked!  I happy danced while the chickens made tea....

Ran back to the house and announced I was off to Home Depot to buy a screen door for the side of the house.  I have wanted this storm door for years and this was the perfect weather window to buy it and install it.  Butch announced he wanted to go along........ add another hour to the trip, nuts! 

We stopped at the doggie beach to sprinkle Zeus at his favorite place in the whole world.  A sunny day, warm day in January seemed a fitting good bye.  Thought I was over the loss but alas tears filled my eyes as we said our final good byes and he gently rolled away in the waves.  

We wiped our faces dry and headed to Home Depot.  Scored the door and drill bits.  Yes, I paid another $24 for a set of drill bits because I would have lost another two hours tracking down the bits needed to install the door.  Home by 4:30 p.m. and daylight was fading.  Also the wind started picking up.  
Nothing like unwrapping large sheets of metal from large flat cardboard boxes in a windstorm!  All tools assembled, directions gripped between my teeth, cordless drill tucked in my pants and pencil behind my ear, the door was going up before the snow hit, i missed the weather window on wind.  After an hour it was clear I could be in Boston if the wind caught me just right.  I would need help....... I would rather light my hair on fire than ask my beloved husband for help, it just never goes well.  But we were under the gun and the wind was blowing strong enough we couldn't hear each yelling.  I did hear one statement....... WE COULD HAVE PAID TO HAVE IT INSTALLED!   Well that is just stupid; I yelled back, isn't this fun?  I LOVE THIS STUFF!  It was great! 

The battery on the drill needed charging so I ran to the studio and grabbed the extra battery.  Ran back, handed over the battery and said;  I need to check the chickens as it's getting dark.  Half the girls had headed to the roost, the other half were lolly gagging around.  Fine.  I opened the egg gathering door to collect the daily eggs and smelled burning feathers.  
BATINA!  Your butts on fire!  I finally did it, I had managed to light a chicken on fire with the heat lamp!  With this wind she would be toast in 30 seconds!   I moved her away from the lamp and she jumped right back over to the heat lamp.  What to do..... the temperature was still in the 40's so I just unplugged the light made sure Batina's butt was out and ran back to the door with the man who was still drilling and cursing. 
By 8:30 p.m. I was gleefully running in and out and slamming of the storm door!  It worked, only had one big dent and scratch from Popeye over zealously driving screws into the door jam..... grrrr.... 

Sunday the temperature had dropped and the winds were still fierce but the snow had not arrived.  Sunday morning we hunted and gathered for the week.  Butch went up to Ashtabula to take his Mom's Christmas tree down (ours is still up and now needs a good dusting, I don't do trees in the house.)  staying home I made soup, baked bread, assembled the big bowl of salad greens for the week, made an applesauce cake and moved the heat lamp in the coop.  

This morning the storm arrived as predicted.  Temps in the teens and wind chill in negative territory, 
-14, really?  The chickens are making tea at 7:00 am, nobody was on fire and all seemed quite cozy.  

A walk around the yard to admire everyone's top hats.  

Dinner is made for the week and I am finally off to the studio....... saints be praised! 

new carved mugs...... 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Perry Park walk..........

After the last post I had to post pictures of beautiful walk at Perry Park in the middle of a very cold but sunny Tuesday.

These are large sculptures placed through out the park, mostly woods and a few open fields.  The stones warm in the winter sun and it is heaven to bask in the hollowed out stones for a few minutes.

and this is why I walk and take too many pictures and develop new glazes........ 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

10,000 steps ..... are you kidding me?

Jumped out of the shower the other morning and swore I saw a poster for the fertility goddess in the bathroom.  Crap....... it's the mirror.  I hate January.  After Christmas, no sun, too much food and drink and then one day it all catches up and there you are naked in front of the bathroom mirror asking yourself ...... who let her in here? 

Rachael got on the plane January 6th, Zeus passed January 7th and I strapped on my shoes January 8th.  The first day I made it 2 1/2 miles and felt pretty good about it.  The next day sick, sick, sick but walked anyway.  A day off drinking tea but back at it the next.  While I was lounging around I downloaded a new pedometer app on my iPod.  Headed out the next morning, plugged myself in and logged three laps around the cemetery.   Years ago I measured the lap around the cemetery with a very precise device used on construction sites.  I walked the perimeter and it logged 1.1 miles.  I have been walking that loop for 28 years.  I walked three laps, 3.3 miles but the app said it was only 2 miles and a few thousand steps.  That can't possibly be right so I logged 3.3 miles on the calendar and high five-ed myself.  

I got to thinking how many steps do I need to stay fit.  Google found several sites alerting me to 10,000 steps per day.  No problem!  What's a few more laps. 

Today I scheduled a hike with garden pal Maggie.  We hit Lake Shore Park in Perry at 12:30 p.m. and had a good walk.  Forgot the pedometer.  Home by 3:00 p.m. grabbed lunch and thought before I go to the studio I should go for a quick couple laps to hit 10,000 steps.  I left the house at 4:50 p.m.  Did a lap, checked my steps;  3246.  Crap..... keep walking! 

Thought I would head down the hill into town.  Down the hill and standing in front of me...... 13 deer.   I stood there, they looked back and chewed. Two more jumped across the road, that's 15.  I thought Wow that's a pretty good herd and kept walking.  1500 feet to the bridge and there stood another 9 deer.  They were standing knee deep in trash somebody had tossed.  They looked at me, waiting.  Did you bring us anything ..... like another lawn chair or sleeping bag?   Doesn't Buck look silly with that McDonald's cup stuck on his antler.  Well yes he does!  They took off down the river.  I started understanding who was pruning my arborvitae in the middle of the night.  More deer over the bridge next to the baseball fields..... I stopped counting.  This is sort of an urban area and we have this many deer? As I walked to town I started doing the math..... I saw one big buck, the rest does.  If I a still walking in the Spring I will be trampled by deer! 

Rounded the square and headed for home, it was getting dark.  I checked my steps...... 5335.  More than half way there but I had been walking along time at 3.0 miles per hour according to my super duper pedometer.  Down the hill, over the river, no deer.  Up the hill and hit my drive way just about the time the streetlights were going on.  6,476 steps.  Take one more lap.  It's dark!  Do it!  After 28 years walking that cemetery I could walk it blindfolded.  The back of the cemetery is pretty dark, I could barely see the road, the stars were out.  I could hear raccoons scurrying up and down the trees.  Here she comes again..... then in the dark of the night something glowed on the ground at the back road.  You see a lot of stuff walking and I have walked a lot over the years but never ever have I seen anything like this!  I walked closer, it kept glowing.  Do we have poison dart frogs or weird fungus in Ohio, what is that.  And then my brain kicked in...... avert your eyes, avert your eyes!!!  Surely my brain has lost all oxygen and I am seeing things, I have walked too long and I must go home..... is this really a glow in the dark condom?  Oh please let this be from the deer!  The raccoons fell out of the tree laughing.  
Disgusted, grossed out and gasping for air I headed for home.  I think I get extra steps for ranting about trash and stupid humans and thank God the deer are putting Pampers on their little ones because how many of those would I see in the park!  I made 8,600 steps.  Maybe my early walk with Maggie filled in the last thousand steps.  I'm thinking just the shock of seeing a glow in the dark condom added 3,000 steps.  I had walked all day and not made 10,000 steps!  Who has time to walk 10,000 steps?  I did nothing but walk today and into the night.  
I made a really healthy dinner and around 8:30 pm had a bowl of ice cream to quell my visions of glowing things in the cemetery.  

Tomorrow I am walking out to the studio..........

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12th and 65 F.......

A week of moving slow, long walks after too much Christmas cheer and just plain getting my bearings again.  Of course I have a sore throat and feel like I've been scraped off the bottom of my muck boots.  

A week of mild weather and today an all time high of 65 F.  The snow is gone!  Rivers are too swollen to go fishing so instead, head first into the dirt.  

I had covered my potato patch with straw pretty well and this was the day to dig the last of the reds and whites.  Weighed in right around 44#'s.  Tonight dinner, oven roasted redskin potatoes with rosemary and seasonings.  Yum!  We grilled outside too, grass fed burgers with homemade catsup and pickles.  Grated a stored head of cabbage into coleslaw and dinner felt like we should have been sitting at the picnic table in the middle of July.

The rest of the potatoes are drying on the studio floor.  I'll rub the dirt off in a couple days and store them in baskets on the dirt floor of our cold, dark basement.  It's a great root cellar, in this day and age when every body's basement is a Rec Room or Media Center I guess I will call it a designer root cellar and I could not be happier!  

Finally dug the Jerusalem Artichokes.  If it's still nice in the morning I will take the biggest corms and plant them in a sunny part of the garden for next year's crop.  I have waited three years for these sunchokes!  The deer eat them to the ground every year!  Finally!  and they are delicious! 

Finally back at the wheel too.  Been a long time coming but it is where I am happiest on a rainy day.  Good to start with porcelain mugs and round pots.  In a few weeks I will be bored and start fooling around with new forms but for now I am quite content making simple forms.  Simple everything on every level right now.  
The dust is settling and no big surprise I have lost my voice, for now it's just time; 
"To Be". 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

RIP..... one fine dog....

If you are lucky you get that one four legged beast that shows up on your door step and you know you have been blessed. We have been super lucky and had two of those beasts.  Zeus was one of those beasts.  He arrived homeless and in need of a new family as his old owner had died.  Zeus had guarded the mans body for three days before the fire dept. showed up; figured he didn't snack on the guy so he had to be a good dog...... little did I know.  He hated cats and ground hogs and loved the lake, end of story.  He came with more papers, pedigrees and certificates than my kids had....... we ruined him in a week.  Yes, we fed him from the table and let him get away with murder.  He was a dogs dog.  He stole all the toys at the doggie beach and didn't share.  If you tipped over a glass of water he was jubilant, it was H20 and it was on the floor so it was his.   I paddled my kayak out in the lake one Sunday morning as Butch and Zeus waved from the beach.  Past the break wall I heard what sounded like a tug boat chugging along...... it was Zeus.  Some how we both got back to shore and I remember Butch saying...... That dog would die for you.  And so it went for the next many years.  When I left for shows I would get the phone call...... he stopped eating.  Arriving home I would dash in the house and after a raucous greeting his food bowl was empty.  He laid under my throwing stool in the studio, he drank slip, and ate a toad throwing up on my bare feet, he lived large and unapologetically.  

Yesterday I helped him out the back door, towel under his backside to aid his arthritic hips that no longer worked.  It was icy and we both went down in the driveway.  There we lay on the icy driveway, me laughing and him face down in the snow.  He looked just looked at me ...... here we are again, we had been in these situations before.  I ran in the house and got another towel for his front legs as I became aware they were now worthless.  It took us 45 minutes to get back in the house, he had watered my boots, my jeans and sleeve.  We made it to his bed and he had a drink of cool water, both of us out of breath and panting.  It was time to make the call.  We had a good day, a bit of toast of eggs, another drink and the sun came out.  Butch came home at 3 p.m. to spend some time with him and  3:40 pm we loaded him in the backseat of the car.  I rolled the window down so he could feel the sun on his face and breeze on his face, I could not deny him this last joy.  I sat on the floor of the sterile office and held his head as I closed my eyes and breathed him out.  Behind the darkness of my eyes I saw the rainbow bridge and three old friends sitting perfectly waiting for him.  He crossed the bridge and was greeted by the Miller pack.  As they ran off into summer fields they turned to look....... I waved and smiled with the sun on us all.   He went peacefully and the pain was over.  Five of us stood in the vet's office weeping at the loss of one good dog.  

We got in our car, no blankets, no open windows, no dog.  We drove home in silence, as we pulled in the driveway neither Butch or I could bring ourselves to go in the house.  It would be the first time in 15 years we would not be greeted.  We stepped off the porch and went for a walk, steeling ourselves to the empty house.  I ran around gathering up toys, food, beds, bowls and meds.  All will be distributed in the morning to shelters, he had good stuff.  

We cracked the bottle of bourbon, poured two stiff drinks, grabbed a box of Kleenex and headed down to the lake.  We walked the beach.  The lake was so still, the birds soared, called and bobbed on the swells.  At 5:15 pm the sunset and on stillness of the beach, the Coast Guard Station played Taps to conclude another day.  We broke out the Kleenex and toasted to one fine dog.  

Today........ my first day without a dog in a very long time.  And yes, we will do it again just not right away. 

Run hard big dog....... you were loved. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Off like a herd of turtles in a snow storm.....

There are years I am happy beyond belief to start the new year, this year it sort of rolled in without fan fare or announcement.  We had great get togethers with our neighbors in the midst of snow storms and holiday wishes.  

The gallery is coming along nicely.  Still wall pieces to get made and up.  Shelves for for plates, mugs and bowls; but it is getting there.  There have been so many diversions, deviations and distractions.  Chicken roost collapse, children home, field trips to museums and parks, dog tending, and cooking, lots and lots of cooking.  

A few years ago I picked this little table off somebodies tree lawn on trash day.  After I stripped off the old coats of paint, sanded it down and new stain it's got a new life.  The perfect little table for the new space and cup of coffee. 

And roost collapse.  The old roost was a very nice tree fell from the old maple tree.  The girls have been well fed this winter and pretty happy in the Chicken Chalet, so happy they have been packing on the pounds.  
As the temps dropped the girls took to the roost.  One morning I heard loud complaining and after careful inspection found them on the floor of the coop. Arghhhh, Roost Collapse!  After a bit of research I built a nice roost out of left over lumber.  Very excited I put the two tiered roost in the coop and waited for the buxom hens to jump on.  Nuts!  Only half of the buxom babes fit and they looked like the church choir.  The other 4 hunkered down in the straw with their tail feathers out of sorts.  The next day I put in two perches in the peak of the coop.  The dominate girls hopped up to the skylights and the lowly straw sleepers were elevated to the choir loft.  Finally everybody is together and happy.  

Chickens have taken up a bit more time than I wanted this winter and in deed this year.  But then I am an newbie to this Mistress of the Flock detail.  I keep thinking it's going to get easier but with each month there seems to be a new challenge.  I now see why many Flock Mistresses choose not to over winter their birds and start again in the Spring.  Chicken and Dumplings might be the winter dish for February if they keep this up.  

Christmas and New Year's past I sat down to my desk tonight; hmmmm, seed catalogs, library books on gardens, bills, a few orders, fishing lures, earrings and taxes....... 

The joy of the holidays has been having family home.  Rachael was home for an extended stay and respite from graduation and an intense MBA program.  Time to sleep, visit, eat, drink and play.  Abby was home for Christmas dinner and a short visit to play at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  We ate too much, drank too much and talked until we ran out of words.  We watched British TV until we started eating lemon curd on biscuits for afternoon tea.  Hetty Wainthroupp, Rosemary and Thyme, Harry Potter....... all delicious!  We went through our daily rituals of coffee and food prep under the watchful eye of our faithful dog.  He has been failing but managed to make it through the holidays rallied by the kids coming home.  He tottled around the kitchen table until yesterday.  He body is just giving out.  Yesterday morning he was sleeping soundly when Rachael and I left to make a chicken feed, cheese and fire wood run.  Figured we would come home and make the final drive to the vet but he rallied...... again.  He was happy to be here, we cheered when he pee'd outside, we cheered when he ate toast and eggs.  This morning he was back in bed and tired.  Rachael flew out this afternoon and he isn't rallying.    Gonna be a quiet and perhaps very long week.  He has been my muse, my partner in the studio, my fishing buddy, hiking buddy, my protector, vacuum cleaner in the kitchen while cooking, always there, always present, always approving.  Slept on the floor by my side of the bed since he arrived so many years ago.  He isn't in pain but he is not happy in his container.  He has had a spectacular run.  Tonight I will light candle, call in the old dogs who have lived under this roof.  They will help him cross the rainbow bridge; where the rag tag pack of 2 golden retrievers, 1 yellow lab and a wayward corgi will run through summer fields, chase rabbits and rollick...... waiting for me.  

And so the New Year begins..........