Thursday, November 28, 2013

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Thanksgiving dinner, the dinner that keeps on giving....... 
I found my dinner menu from last year and thought how many actually came to dinner in 2012?  
Three, 3 whole adult people and there was enough food for thundering hoards of ravenous Huns.  
And again the Hungarian motto rears it's ugly head, 
Why Do When You Can Over Do?  

After perusing last years menu, paring down was in order!  For two days I called the other two feasters and declared there will be one potato this year, only one!  And no BREAD!  Do you hear me NO bread, that includes stuffing!  Three people do not need stuffing!  There will be greens this year, lots of greens!  
2013........ and we are off the rails again!  I do not know how this happens, I really don't.   Is it because I have been cooking these holiday dinners for over 30 years and I just have to re-learn?  Maybe!  
Everybody is getting a distribution bag this year!  
Neighbors prepare to be souped! 

Turkey, mashed potatoes and a tankards of gravy, huge bowl of slaw with loads of good green stuff, green peas saute'ed with mushrooms and onions, sweet potato casserole (second potato?) , pickles from the vault, a la or'ange cranberry sauce and bev-ies.  Oh wait, pies!  (yes, that is plural)  
Even better the handmade dishes, it's just makes dinner taste better :) 

Too many bubbling pots!  
So I ran away to the studio and fired a kiln before dinner. 

Of all the things I was thankful for today........ technology and indoor plumbing. 
Rachael, out in Fort Collins, face time'd in.  

We learned if you tape the iPhone to your head and slowly bring big spoonfuls of mashed potatoes or turkey up to your salivating taste buds, your loved one, far far away can experience the Thanksgiving dinner too.   

Yup, all chairs at the table were covered and Rachael was full!  
Way too much laughing! 
and now....... 

Don't get me wrong, I am thankful, very thankful.  Taking my morning walks make me realized every day what an incredible journey each year has been and how truly lucky we are to be here at this time. 
We must take time to laugh, eat wonderfully prepared food and just be with people we love.

One more finger of bourbon, the last scenes of Harry Potter in the Half Blood Prince and I am headed to the sheets, the flannel sheets because it's still snowing.  
Happy Thanksgiving all who wander to this blog..... 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sole Food anyone?

We make the dishes, we make the food, we are creative and we are getting older and we are becoming more aware! 

In the last few months I have become very aware of how hard it is to cook for one, especially if that person is elderly.  Hell, I lived alone for more than ten years and found myself staring into the fridge, in a dark kitchen and resigning to eat a raw hot dog.  It was just to hard to boil water after working the midnight to eight shift at the park.  Sometimes smoking a cigarette was breakfast...... oh yeah the glory days of youth! 
There are three old woman who have come into my radar over the last year.  Ages, 96, 93, and 80's (it's all I can get out of her!)   The 96 year old is my mother-in-law and lives an hour away, by herself and failing.  The other two live a couple doors down and are a hoot.  Both have dogs and both were avid gardeners in their day.  All three have trouble preparing meals and eating.  I see the 93 year old the most as she walks her dog a couple times a day.  
Tuesday, Lois ran into me on my nightly walk.  Hey, Lois what's for dinner tonight?  
Lois:  Oh my usual, two waffles, one of your girls eggs, a piece of cheese.  It's a sandwich.  (like I don't know what a sandwich is....)   
Me:  Soooooo would you like a bowl of homemade chicken soup and some bread?  I think I have few biscotti too.
Lois: no words, big smile and big hug...... I would love soup.  What's a biscotti.  
Me: It's a hard as rocks cookie you dunk in your coffee or tea and eat.  I'm gonna finish walking and I'll drop off a quart of soup. 

I finished up my walk and headed down to Lois's with a quart of chicken and dumpling soup, two slices of sourdough bread and a biscotti.  Sheesh, more hugs and tears.  LOIS!  It's just soup!   

Last week Joan tossed a bag of egg cartons in the back door and we had a very quick chat, she was off to get her hair done ........ with her dog, Teddy.   Yesterday, I needed egg cartons and opened Joan's bag.  A bag of trail mix, and in the egg cartons 4 clemetines with a note;  Thanks, my chickens lay orange eggs!  I laughed out loud!  I take produce and eggs down to her too.  She lives alone, next to Lois...... partners in crime!  

Butch came home from his Mom's last Friday, kind of upset and saying, she is just wasting away.  I called Meals on Wheels.  She has a woman who comes in to help her and makes her lunch or takes her shopping but the care giver has off days and I don't think MIL eats, tea yes, food no.

Sooooooo on my walk this morning all this stuff was running through my head.  Yup, no secret I do like to cook and bake and garden.  I always make too much and the freezer is filling!   
Here's the plan:  How many people live within walking distance of my house, on my block, a few doors either way.  Two, maybe three.  How hard would it be on my walk to drop off a plate of food on my walk?  Pretty easy judging by my fridge just from last night.  There is extra acorn squash, bread, a pork chop and a quart of oven roasted cauliflower.  

I can't drive an hour away everyday but I can walk to my neighbors.  I don't want to take everyday to go to Meals on Wheels.   If we all took notice and did this in our neighborhoods I think it would make a difference.  

I'm gonna give it go in my neighborhood and call it Sole Food :) 

Am I nuts?  again........ 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Today's Catch Up.......

It's baaaaack........ the hoary frost!  
I can't stop myself from taking pictures of this cool stuff.  For some reason I find it magical, especially in the new morning light.  

A carpet of gold still remains.......

Amazed the pond is still running as it's more leaves than water.  
It will be cleaned out today!
Most of the leaves are down and temps dip into the teens by the weekend.  I shutter at the thought of sticking my hands into that freezing water!  The pond will run all winter..... birdie hot tubbing! 

A week of pounding...... 
Finally the wall has come down!  Since 2006, the year of the great flood and the abandoned condos at the bottom of hill, this river front property has been tied up in court and abandoned.  Our city got million dollar grant to turn revert the land back to wetlands and educational park. 
 OMG!  At the bottom of the hill, out my front door!  
This week the bull dozers moved in, ripping up collapsed sewer lines, tearing down the retaining wall, removing water lines and disrupting the wildlife.  Will be done by Spring and I cannot wait!  

The studio is now in overdrive.......
The shelves are filling, the kilns are filling, the tables are filling.
Tis' the season!

After the special order, mentioned in the last post, birds have started showing up on my lids and rims. 
I love making them but feel they have been so over done!  Stick a bird on it, stick a bird on it..... well I guess it could have been a chicken.  Not sure how long I will make these but for now,  a nice change.  And I am a confessed birder!  Never felt the need to put them on pots as I could never do them justice.  I find birds to be a fascination and can watch a pack of juncos or chickadees forever!  And finches, can we talk finches.  Wrens anyone?  I love them all.......

Showed one to Butch last night and Tracey this is for you.........

Butch: Wow, these are nice. Where'd you get that bird?  
Me:  Um.... I made it out of clay.  
Butch: Really?  You're getting pretty good... 
Me:  Arghhhhhhh........ 
and returned to the studio, slamming the door.  
Not sure what I expected but that wasn't it...... need a dog!  

And bees.......
On a warm day this week I crawled into the attic of the studio and started poking around.  
Back in my wisteria days I really banged out production ware.  I found an old bag of stands, and other stuff.  Dragging it down and going through everything.  It's time for this stuff to go.  What to do?  Pass it to another potter?  It sat there for a day and since it was paid for it was time to get used.  
Enter the bee cups!  Think they will get candles or evergreen and holly berry arrangements to spruce up the booth in a few weeks.  The short guys could even go a table for jams, jellies or spreads.
We'll see how they are received.......

A couple weeks ago, these rusty, nasty cast iron pans languished on a shelf in a second hand store; paid  $10 for both.  Last night they had a facelift.  It was time to clean the oven anyway, the pans were popped in and the self clean button was pushed.  After the oven shut off the pans were scrubbed with steel wool and scrubbies.  Popped back in a 200 F. oven, back out for a coating of grease, back in a 350F. oven for 15 min. back out, wiped the excess grease off and back in a 400 F. oven for 2 hours.  Go to bed, up this morning, another thin coating of grease and back in a 400F. oven for 2 hours.  Yup, I'll be eating eggs by 9:00 a.m. after a quick walk in the rain.  

Now a thing of beauty....... seasoned cast iron will last the rest of my life and someone else's.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Still Standing........

What a storm last night!  One of those nights when you keep the flashlight tied around your neck.  
Howling winds, the lights wavered and flickered and poof!  What a great time to go to bed!  
This morning the winds are still howling but happy dance the hoop house is still standing!! 

Before the storms rolled in and as I was standing vertical Sunday morning we decided to run to the lake for quick hike.  Sort of blow the cobwebs and stink off from a sick day.  The wind sandblasted us from the south so not much wave action. 

Checked on a field of horsetail.  I have started drinking horsetail tea for my joints, apparently not enough as I am still creaky and now make deals with my body.  If you let me stand up without rolling around on the floor I will drink three cups of horsetail tea!  Swear! 

Just loved watching what I think are mergansers, but not sure.
Whatever they were they were gobbling a big breakfast of chubs and minnows in the shallow water.

In honor of the full beaver moon..... 
Angry beavers, they're everywhere! 

Baking day.....
Biscotti and Sourdough for the week.

My science experiment..... sourdough starter that's been nursed along for 7 days.
Smells tangy and delicious!
Tonight, sour dough bread to go with chicken soup..... comfort food if ever there was any! 

All raku pots were washed, polished and ready for weaving.
These pots were a special order for a young woman who lost her horse and dog this year. 
The day after her dog passed a robin came to her patio everyday and sat on the patio chair, they knew it was Jake, her dog. 
At a show she handed me a sandwich bag full of her horses hair and told me the story. Then asked if I could make a remembering bowl for her.  
There are paw prints around the outside of the bowl, leading up to the bird.
I can never say no to this kind of project...... it's an honor to be asked. 
Fingers crossed she likes her Remembering Bowl.....

RIP Val Cushing........ you will be missed.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Here at Paine Falls we are now at warp speed before the weather turns for good. 
Most of my days have been spent in the studio.  
Thursday I walked out of the studio around 4-ish and thought the weather was pretty great.  
Had put in 2 miles walking in the morning and still felt pretty good!  
Time to get that low tunnel up!  
Finished before dark and got another 2 miles in before I had to make dinner.  I love days when I feel like I have super powers! 
Thought I would get this post up because tomorrow afternoon we are supposed to get 60-65 mph. winds sweeping through.  This thing might be history....... 


Inside the lettuce is coming along nicely, chard has been transplanted, kale is getting almost big enough to eat and carrots are plugging along.  Radishes tanked again.  Think there might be a tad too much nitrogen in the soil as they just go to tops with little radish action below.  Time for a soil test.  

Yesterday morning the sun was out and time to fire up the raku kiln for one last firing of horsehair pots.  Ran out for propane and set up by 10:30 a.m.  By noon the sun was gone and a stiff north wind had started up.  I dropped back to firing one pot at a time because they were cooling too fast.  By 4:30 p.m. it was growing colder but the wind was dying.  Ran in to get a hat and more layers. 

This is the best set up!  Drawing off three tanks stops tank freeze up which was an issue when I was using one tank.  I fire at 6-8 pounds pressure and full oxygen.  

As the sun set the electric lights were brought out and time for shadow puppets! 
Sitting around kiln tending all day, it doesn't take much to entertain a tired potter.

Today, I am flat out sick.  
I guess I didn't adjust to hat wear and neck covering soon enough yesterday.  
Mov'n slow so I don't mind sitting here waxing pots and weaving..... 

Stay tuned to the tunnel house saga and air borne chickens...... 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

another week........

A week shot to hell....... well not completely!
After political recovery, garden recovery, and weather recovery, a full week has flown by. 
November skies turned to winter skies in hours. 

This picture was snapped at 6:50 a.m. dashing out the door to the chicken coop.

I believe we could have one more breakfast outside, I really do! 

Needing a break from the studio as the morning and midnight studio lights have been on waaay too much. 

Called my garden pal Maggie to make a food run.  I love shopping in Middlefield, no not because it's full of buggies and Amish families.  My favorite thing about Middlefield, the stores open at 7 a.m! 
I can be out the door by 6:30 a.m, groceries loaded from the butcher and cheese place and back in the studio by 10 a.m.  Maggie and I get a chance to catch up for an hour of face time, rather than email. 

Middlefield....... the go-to place for chicken feed, garden supplies, meat, cheese, sometimes hit the produce auction but not lately.  We had a relative visit who just had to go see the Amish, sort of like going to the zoo I guess.  I deferred to the Botanical Gardens or a good hike at the lake.  I just don't get it, never did. 
Then one of my pals revealed what she does with out of town guests. Load everyone up in her Prius, packing snacks and park in the Middlefield Walmart for a couple hours.  "We just love to watch the Amish shop at Walmart!"  I almost fell off my chair!  But wait, you're kind of jewish I said and my head almost exploded.  Maybe the Amish will drive their buggies to temple someday..... it's a conundrum for me.

When I pull in the butch shop or cheese shop I see the animals responsible for this long distance run.  I send them a thank you and blow a kiss.  
I do love the swine, the flyers and the swimmers, not so much the cow.  
Can life be lived so richly without bacon or lard, I think NOT! 

By-products from the grass fed fields, the cheese co-op. 

and to get through the long nights a lovely Rum cake served with chilled presecco! 

Hoping to light the outside kilns this week when our temps hit 50 degrees on Friday!  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hope Springs Eternal in Paine Falls.........

Whirlwind two days here in Paine Falls.  
Elections have come and gone, work has been inventoried and dropped off, lectures have been attended, bread has been baked, pots have been trimmed, a kid set the marsh on fire (again) and chickens continue to lay.  
Tracey Broome, pass the Red Bull! 

Yesterday I found myself standing on concrete pavement, hours on end to support a woman I believe will make a difference in our school system.  A woman who fights the fight and when she says, it's all about the kids, it really is.  Even better she won the election!  A joyous celebration of spaghetti and meatballs at her home, with a small group of supporters.  I love that she lives around the corner so we were able to walk in the light of the moon, crunchy leaves underfoot. 

And people ask; why do you do this?  Because I want the world to be a better place for everyone. Well wouldn't that be the perfect answer but in reality I show up at city council meetings and school board meetings and ask an awful lot of questions.  Sometimes I am not in agreement with the answers and become a royal pain the pa-toot.  And not to just be a pain in the pa-toot but because I really want to understand the reason for others beliefs so different than mine.  Sometimes I disagree aggressively with opinions and votes.  If you don't vote you must sit down and shut up.  Sometimes I must admit it is frustrating beyond comprehension with what goes on.  Oh and did I mention I am a letter writer?  
The evening prior to the election we attended a lecture by Nicole Foss.  A lecture not so much about the doom and gloom of the world economy but more about what you can do to get a handle on it.  Biggest message:  Get involved in your in community.  Remember that old saying: Think Global, Act Local.  Turns out it's really true!  Nicole suggested outrageous things, like take your money out of the stock market and invest it in your community.  Whoa!  What would happen if 10,000 people did this?  Shutter the thought!  Buy a mug from your local potter instead of the big box store?  Shutter the thought! 

On my walk this morning here was the shake out of the last 24 hours.  

Yup, this is what it's all about.  An awful lot of men and women have laid it down so we can continue to vote independently and for that I am deeply grateful.  Don't think I have missed an election since I was 18.

Yesterday I stood with the gentleman who set the clock on the courthouse for over 40 years. 
He said he was sorry he didn't hear the hourly bells anymore.  You know, I hadn't even notice the mute bells.  Never wearing a watch, I used to depend on the bells.  The bells let me know how many more pots I could get thrown before the school bus arrived on my door step.  The third bell closed the studio until after dinner.  
And did I mention he was working for a candidate I could not support.

This morning is warm and breezy.  
Nice to walk out into a canopy of gold.
The road levy passed, I guess our streets will be paved, or at least a few pot holes filled but alas not in gold.

Some politicians fell hard, other are standing tall this morning.

Some were a bit too flamboyant but I guess it's OK to get your red on once a year.
As these leaves will fade and blow away so too will the ones who lost.  
It is just an ending..... they might be back in the Spring.

Others, definitely stood out in the crowd.

Whatever happens, 
the river rolls on, calm today but can quickly become a raging torrent. 
Just like so many politicians...... 

As skies quicken with November wind I think we are wise to pay attention and keep watch.
Will campaign promises be fulfilled? 

Prepare for the coming weeks and months ahead...... 

Get involved with our local community ...... it's so important!

and know the buds are already set on the lilacs and azaleas for Spring blooms.... 
There were some new candidates I hope return to run again.

I guess it's true........ Hope Springs Eternal...... 

Congratulations to all who won.