Sunday, December 21, 2014

A perfect Winter Solstice……..

 Today is the day December 21st, winter solstice, shortest day of the year.  I try to do something every year, as from this day forward we move back into the light.  By this time of the year I am noticing flaps of thin skin growing under my upper arms and the desire to hang from the ceiling in my bat cave.  This is a day to celebrate if ever there was one.  Depending on the weather I will light a fire outside or inside, make soup, go for a walk and just be quiet.  

After a late start to my morning and too many cups of coffee I laced up my new hiking boots and decided to head for my favorite park.  Taking the camera and my bitter half who insisted on going, we hit the park.  

Damp, chilly and grey….. hello Ohio morning.

This park is at a higher elevation and away from the warmth of Lake Erie, surprised to see it frozen….. I had packed the rod and reel.   The lake was alarmingly quiet this morning.  Not a bird to be heard. 
No wind…… still, so very still.  No talking either…. just the crunch of frosty gravel under foot.

My idea of christmas trees….. (golden rod heads)

Suspended and thought of a perfect glaze…… 
so much of this year I felt suspended….. 

my favorite picture of the morning…. 

thoughts of throwing rings on the bottom of a platter or……
 topography maps

What a year….. even the old oaks were blown over this year.
This family certainly weathered a few storms.

it was a prickly year….. I was pretty prickly this year! 

luckily we were protected ……. 

The joys of summer past are but a memory…… 

but new growth…. God, I love nature; at the bleakest times I can always find
new growth, hope for what might come and desire to grow bigger and greener….

On the way home we detoured to my second favorite place…
Paine Falls….. yes, there really is a Paine Falls :) 

the power of water……. the sound, well it can't be explained only experienced. 
I always walk away feeling very good from this place. 

and the small community of hemlocks….. it's how they survive in this 
water and wind washed place. 

Seems there is always a drive through close by…… 

is there anything better then the first dirt on new hiking boots? 

and new inside shoes too…… it's good to have a job! 

Came home, made coffee, ate cookies leftover from the opening last weekend.  
It's the solstice and the weather for Dec. 21st was pretty nice, 32 and cloudy with no wind.  
I planted 85 garlic bulbs in fresh turned earth, it was heaven.  My knee was great!  Indeed, so great I dug the last few of potatoes…… almost 50 pounds!  I dug the last of the carrots and leeks too, so sweet after a good frost.  I cleaned all the leaves off the tree lawn….. and it was dark.  Today was a gift, pure and simple.  Hiking, gardening, planting and harvesting…… a grand day to move into the light of the year……. 

And now for the other lessons in my pottery life…… 
I can't remember what genius said; Location, Location, Location but I have once again……
learned the hard way.  
I love my gallery space; huge windows, north light, big space and the best part; I am only limited by my very own self.  It's all mine and I can do anything I have a vision to do…… 
The crappy part of this gallery…… location.  I am down a long dark winding hall on the second floor of the old American Greeting Card building.  
One friend stopped by last weekend and said;  Wow, this place is great for your ego!  Like I have an ego…… of course it was a male friend!  

Since moving in the space so many other artists warned of the show last weekend, Bizarre Bazaar and it was the 10th anniversary.  150 craftsmen would be setting up booths over the four floors of the building.  Somehow they forgot about the west wing of the second floor.  There might be 2,000 people wandering the building.  Don't worry they will find their way to your place.  
Well, I was stocked!  Every shelf was filled.  A few folks did find their way down the hall to my place but they had been over come with glitter dust and glue gun fumes.   I made pecan bars, toffee bars, coconut dream bars, scottish shortbread cookies and ginger snaps.  The cookies were a hit and one woman suggest I package the pecan bars in cellophane sleeves and sell them for $5 a bag.  She tasted all the cookies, had a glass of wine and left $5 on the wrap table.  The next opening I am putting a tip jar on the counter, writing a recipe book and putting pecan bars in cellophane sleeves.  Awesome! 

 In fact the Wednesday before the Saturday opening I built shelves!  Shelves that are 8 feet tall, 10 feet long and 16"wide.  They hold a lot of pots!  

and the big day came…… cars as far as the eye can see…… 

and two food trucks to feed the masses….. 

but alas…….

well it wasn't cancelled and by Sunday night I made my rent for the month but not enough for the electric bill…… do you have any idea how many times I said under my breath….. I am so thankful I have a job!  

I am supposed to be moving by the end of the month to a space more in the swim of building traffic but for now…… well it has been suggested I add lights in the hallway, more signage, a person wearing a sandwich board walking the halls, billboards on the outside of the building…… maybe dancing waters but then I am by the bathrooms and there are always those cookies….. 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night…… 
May Santa be good to all who read this blog……. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

mov'n slow and recap……

I found myself eating butter pecan ice cream for breakfast….. it's happened, the line of sanity has been crossed.  It happens every December.  I find myself in a chair on a dark morning, the darkest of dark that only cold wet December can deliver, shoveling something in my pie hole.  Today was the day.  We were out of eggs, damn those chickens, bread, oatmeal and everything except frozen peas and coffee. 
I don't even remember how I bent over to look in the freezer, I don't even remember what I was in the freezer for in the first place.  The line in the snow has been crossed and it's time to reel in, slog to the store and buy lettuce.  Do you know how badly I miss my hoop house this year?!  Even with knee surgery over and still sore I would get on my knees for a piece of fresh green anything.  But noooooo….. I found butter pecan ice cream at 6:30 a.m.  even the cat looked at me funny. 

The latest run down on the life of a potter is pretty nuts this time of the year.  It's like eating prunes, is one show enough or is three gonna send me into uncontrollable grippers or straight to the nut house?  I'm on my way to the nut house. 

I did a small show I have not done in years.  There were crafters there I have not seen in years so it was going to be fun.  Catch up on everybody's kids and what they have been up too.  The first day I sold out of $20 mugs….. don't get excited, I took 3. Visited with everybody and at the end of the day a woman bought a nice carved jar for $60.  The hours were short 10 am - 3 pm, unloading was a breeze and I had a few sales. Packed up and rolled to the ceramics lab to load two kilns and scrape shelves.  Long day but good.   The second day things kind of went to hell in a hand basket.  I had no sales and the Army Recruiters set up a table across from my booth.  One word, LOUD.  HELLO, HOW ARE YOU TODAY AND HERE IS FINE PEN WITH THE NUMBER OF OUR RECRUITING OFFICE.  AND BAGDAD IS THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH!  Yes, he really said that…. to me.  Why?  Honestly, I love these guys but nothing says buy pottery like an army recruiting team.  As their voices boomed through the facility I heard an ocarina in the background.  The artist directly across from my booth played an ocarina all day as a way to sell them.  I get it and she sold so many $10 ocarinas I stopped counting. I did a show back in my basket weaving days at the fairgrounds, they put me next to Laughing Sal, a life size rubber woman who maniacally laughed from morning to night… I had a flash back.  At one point I thought I was standing in a bus stop in Peru waiting for llamas to show up.  The guy next to me was just the nicest guy ever but he came for the cafeteria specials, the first day it was spaghetti and meatballs, the second day it was chili.  At least 80% of my booth was dinnerware, I thought I should offer him a dish.  Then the lady who sews shopping bags out of feed sacks came over and started to rearrange my table to "help" my sales.  I'm fine I muttered, stop touching my stuff.  Well, I think you'd sell more if you put this over here and that over there.  Oh look there is some one at your table trying to buy a sack.   There were the cutest screen printed tee shirts with googlie eyes on cats.  They made me laugh and as I sat there descending into craft mania I thought if my youngest kid had worn one of those darling shirts, she would have peeled the eyes off the cats and swallowed them before the cats saw anything.  And did I really want to see googlie eyes staring back at me in a diaper?   All in all Tracey Broome's  posts on shows kept circulating through my head and I bow down to the all knowing TB…. I can't do this anymore, I just can't.  If I want to see old friends maybe we should do lunch?   It's me, it's not you and I love you all but ……. 

First on my list;  Love my new job!  I worked two weeks and after Thursday we are on Christmas break until January 12, I love that!  

Second on the list;  so I have these new dishes that have taken about three months to take from concept to reality.  They are holding up pretty well in the kitchen on their maiden voyage.  I test all functional stuff on myself and family.  It has worked pretty well.  I used to make and sell a lot of honey pots.  I thought this new line would be perfect for honey pots.  I made 12.  I brought one in the house to use and darn if I didn't design the lid right.  Turns out they are a pain in the butt and they will hammered. 
Yup, they sure are cute though.  
Loving the sheep!  Especially dancing around a bowl of navy bean soup!  This was breakfast three days ago.  

And then I watched Nan Rothwell do a quick video on these cute little sushi dishes for Ceramics Arts Daily.  You can watch the video here at:   Nan's you tubes.
They could also be soap dishes, two or three after dinner chocolates served with port, ring holder or just about anything else.  Lose the bees and slap some bells on and you've got a Santa cookie plate.  Yup, I am in my pottery hooker mind….. it's the butter pecan ice cream for breakfast talking…

and about those bees and sheep, I'm slapping them on everything. 
I need chickens, cows and a pig….. my farm will be complete. 

 Ran a few new tests through too.  
What's the point of firing a kiln if you don't have few tests. 

My mind set this time of year is just make pots, make more pots, make many pots, just keep making pots, and I have.  The pots are now stacking up on the floor and they need to be displayed for this weeks show at the gallery.  I don't think buyers want to rifle through stacks of dishes sitting on the floor.  I need shelves.  I searched the internet for affordable wood shelves.  I found the perfect set for $29.99 at Walmart.  Thought I would order on line and pick them up at the store as it is Christmas. The order form asked me for some weird postal code over and over.  Read the fine print…. only available in Canada, not sold in the US.  After realizing I would need to assemble anything shipped I went to the lumber section of my favorite store, Home Depot.  Pulled enough lumber for 8' shelves, 5 deep.  
Pulled out the tools and used the spray booth for an exhaust fan, worked great.  

Finished up around 10 pm last night.  Headed down today to assemble and get ready for the mother of all shows… Bizarre Bazaar
Do you see the hours of this show?  I'm going to die!  I did not sign up for this show but it is in the building where the gallery is located.  Last year they had 3K people show up.  I will be in studio 225, clutching a table and babbling.  It's part of my lease that the gallery should be open during the event.  

The day I walked in the building other artists said:  Oh you're going to be here for the Bazaar, museum putty all your stuff down.  Ok, whatever….. now the time is here and the stories I am hearing are like the coming apocalypse.  I can hardly wait!  There are promises of hand sewn doggie duds, knitters, organic pet treats, a vast array of bead stringers and tinsel tossers.  Oh I am just a twitter with jingle delight.  

In the meantime, Sunday the temps hit 41 degrees and the sun made a rare appearance.  I did my fall pruning.  Pretty late and we will see what survives.  I heard a wonderful woman horticulturist lecture at an arboretum years ago.  Someone in the audience asked about the best time to prune hydrangea particulata.  She said;  Well if I were a man I would give you exact dates but since I am not, do it when you get the kids off to school, the dog vomit cleaned up on the carpet, the 20th load of laundry done and dinner on the table at a reasonable hour….. whenever you get to it!  Permission granted to prune whenever……. thank you! 

and what do you think, hand model for Dove skin care?  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I'm On A Bus……

Getting to my new job has been a amazing!  First day, the bus station was moved due to construction!  We have lived here 30 years and the bus stop has never moved, not once in 30 years.  The day I start taking the bus they move the stop.  Those are the times one should stop and say; Maybe you should rethink this decision.  BUT!  I vote for the LakeTran levies, made my kids use the bus and I would use it more but after hunting and gathering I doubt there is a seat big enough for me and all the stuff I bag on my outings, so I drive.  Finally, this seemed perfect!  A mile walk up and down a hill that could get you in shape for Mt. Shasta.  I'm not very good at estimating time so I leave 30 minutes early for a 10 minute walk and end up jogging up the hill convinced the bus is leaving.  The first day it worked to my advantage as the sign in the old bus stop said:  BUS STOP MOVED ACROSS THE STREET.   I looked across the street and there are three construction workers standing in the bus shelter, drinking coffee and eating donuts.  Hollering across the street; Hey are you waiting for the bus?  They holler back; Nope, we're working!  Well do you know where the bus stop moved?  Nope, we're working. 
Fine, I jogged to the library, no bus stop and it's 7:30 a.m. the library is closed.  While looking through the windows a reflection of the bus goes zooming by.  Turning I sprint for the bus, did I mention I am wearing a red backpack full of coffee, water, magazines and knitting!  Running down the block, observing my knee is holding up pretty well, I can see the brake lights on the bus. I wave my arms at the bus driver and throw myself off the curb.  Beat red and sweating, the bus slows down and it is my bus and the doors fly open.  Are you going to Lakeland, I pant and ask if I can please get on!  There is a young woman standing on the curb yelling into a cell phone at the Laketran office, apparently she had the same issue of finding the bus stop.  Carol Brown wedges in front me yelling at the bus driver, who is very nice guy by the way and then Carol Brown turns to me.  Oh God, here we go…..I am a magnet.

Oh you're going to Lakeland too, she asks.  Do you know Jan?  Jan hates me, do you know her because she hates me and she is very mean.  No, I reply and feed my quarters into the fare box, heading to the back of the bus. If the bus had a back door I would have kept going but I was trapped like cornered wildebeest at the edge of cliff.  She follows me, now telling me her boyfriend thinks she's fat and why don't boys like fat girls.  And I'm thinking, thank god there is no way two of us would fit on a Laketran seat as that would be way too much human as I'm not very svelte myself.  She sits across the aisle and then says, and I quote;  " I took myself off my meds and I think I'm loosing weight but I can't stop talking."  My inside voice says;  Go back on your meds, you're so thin….. but instead reach for my phone and make a fake phone call.  She quietly turns and talks in her cell phone to cancel Dr. appt's and talk to her attorney about her court date as she didn't think throwing a butter knife at her boyfriend, the one that called her fat was that bad.  
I just know Carol is going to take the bus everyday unless as she puts it; they take her to the big house.  
What does that mean….. the big house?  Who says that?  I say nothing, get out my Mother Earth News, try to read about slaughtering backyard chickens and watch people get on and off the bus.  I'm riding the bus and I love it…… the bus is full, standing room only by the time we get to the mall.  People eat, drink, groom and sleep on the bus!  At 7:30 am they drink Coke or Mountain Dew and eat food in cellophane.  Nothing fresh on this bus!  No one reads the paper anymore, everybody is plugged in.  I guess music?  There are college kids, immigrants, old people, crazy people, working people, little kids with strict Mothers and me; who can fit into any of these categories at anytime of the day.  Monday I might go as Gretchen the German noodle maker…… because I am on the bus and no one cares!  I am fascinated with all of it!  
I get to work in an hour and spend 3.5 hours unloading two oxidation kilns of bisqueware, scrape and kiln wash all the shelves, reload both kilns with greenware and program up.  Load the gas kiln, scraping all the shelves and rewashing.  I forgot how heavy student work can be and some of the work takes up an entire shelf.  It's the end of term and everybody needs their work out for critique next week.  It will be a race to the finish.   

Two hours on the bus, sprinting up the hill, chasing a bus and loading kilns, no lie when I walked in the back door at 2:30 p.m. I was kind of tired.  Monday done and Tuesday was delivery day.  Off to Oberlin, W78th St. and Brecksville.  178 miles logged, pots delivered.  Home for dinner and back on the bus Wednesday…… Carol Brown was waiting for me.  She never stops talking.  Back to Lakeland and another round of unloading, kiln shelf washing and loading.  Catch the bus home and a new cast of characters.  A very dapper older man in a suit boards the bus at the mall.  He talks to everyone on the bus and I do mean everyone!  Half way home, an old woman dressed in a fluorescent green vest, jeans, furry Ug Boots and cane gets on the bus very slowly.  She pays her fare, turns and apologizes loudly to the bus for being so slow and then says to the man in the suit;  Don't you look fine today sir!  He smiles and says Thank you and he was so tired of wearing jeans.  I'm wearing a gown on the bus next week!  She talks to everyone on the bus and asks; How are you doing?  Oh so you don't want to talk, that's OK, I'll talk to the next person.  She is a hoot! and turns out to the be the crossing guard for the grade school.   Home again, tired.  Yup, I can wash a kiln shelf like a professional!  Next week I will be tearing apart the pug mill to get ready for Christmas break, whohoo!  

This morning it's Thanksgiving and it's just two of us this year.  Rachael is in Benin, West Africa with Mamacarts and Abby is working in Crested Butte, CO.  Both are having a delightful Thanksgiving!  Us too, hiking in the morning and dinner late afternoon.
No turkey, instead baked soy/garlic/ginger marinaded salmon, boiled red potatoes tossed in butter and thyme, oven roasted cauliflower and carrots, cider beer and pumpkin custard for dessert.  

This mornings walk at the beach….. I love the beach this time of the year.

We Ohioans are a sturdy bunch as even high winds and snow will not keep us from the beach and beach combing.

New park at the bottom of the hill.  Where the flood of 2006 took out 
rows and rows of condos, now a pair of mallards is calling it home. 
Nature wins…… 

Even with the 16" snow melt the river is staying calming down.

Winter has come early this year, and the days are growing yet shorter. 
Soon the solstice will be here and we will be headed back to the light. 

For now I am happy to walk, go to a job that doesn't seem like a job, ride the bus and keep making pots :) 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

and now Rachael I would like a report from the bus in Parakou!   Miss you! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

ARGH! …. tomorrow…….

and those closings mentioned in the last post?   
Life as I know it is closing or at least changing.  

Tomorrow morning I will wake early, tend the chicklets, drink my coffee and walk a mile to the bus stop.  Hopefully, get on the correct bus and make the 50 minute ride to my new….. job.  

My outside self is so excited for this next adventure!  One of my dear children…. you know the fruit from my lady garden…. said;  MOM, you're 60 and you're going to have a student ID?  Ha!  Mom, you're in the system!  

I have spent years staying out of the system, living underground and now I have been fingerprinted, scanned and background checked.  Ha!  I am not the axe murder of Painesville!  I have willingly given out my bank account information for direct deposit and social security information.  My last 14 years have been spent guarding it with my life and practically living under ground…. identity theft will do that!  I have a brand new SSN and just don't give it out willy nilly, the old one ended up on every rap artists and casino bathroom from here to Los Angels and Windsor, Ontario.  In my spare time my other self was out stealing cars, paying for studio time at a rap studio and buying cell phones at an alarming rate.  No wonder I was so tired….   

I filled out 32 pages of paperwork!  One of the forms used 6 pages to explain exactly what the 2 page form was and if I lied I would be taken to jail and one more time in Spanish…...  I loved reading the bottom of page 9, stating this was part of the "reduction of paperwork act" passed by congress.  The last job I had, there was one question….. are you breathing.

Today I searched the bus routes, dumped the chairs for the $1.75 bus fare, cleaned out my backpack, looked at the weather report and checked my shoes for support, tread and cushion.  Today, my other self thought the world was ending and ate; eggs sunny side up with a side of toast, bloody mary's stirred with bacon sticks, a can of salt and vinegar Pringles, pizza and washed down with cold beer.  I am either going to die or be so swollen, the guy who hired me won't know it's me.  By morning I should look like the Michelin Tire guy waddling to the bus stop!  It's not the end of the world just me getting a J-O-B.   

The funny part of the entire story…… I got the job to pay the over head on the gallery.  I know when January hits, sales will come to a screeching halt, it's retail.  But your rent is still due and so is the electric bill, insurance and clay to buy.  So in my effort to be a self supporting potter I had to get a job.  I find that ridiculously funny!  I think it's just like that these days. We hear the big recession is over but the guy who lives behind me and runs a great little neighborhood greenhouse has taken a job driving a school bus to pay bills too.  The green house has been in his family at least two generations and supported the family. 

Hmmmm so 3 days a week out of the studio, a gallery to keep filled and open, loads of pots to weave, 4 galleries to keep stocked,  two or three shows to apply to and OH here's big news, teaching two sessions at Touch Stone Center for Craft .  And lets not forget that garden thing!  2015 is bucking up to be a busy year and if my other self can step in and lend a hand I bet it could use my old Social Security Number!  

Openings and Closings…...

Since the last post there have been two openings at the gallery and 4 kilns fired.  
Pots packed, gallery adjusted, little sleeping and lots of throwing. 
Wednesday night we had a very nice event for the Earth Day Coalition.  Sold two framed pieces and drove home at 11 p.m.  Long day……. 

Thursday was spent trimming, firing and thinking about Fridays opening. 
We got hit with another storm on Thursday so all the hunting and gathering was pitched back to Friday morning.  I managed to make a vat of hummus and smoked salmon dip, clean veggies, buy boxes of crackers and couple bottles of wine.  Slapped it on a table before opening and slam a few cups of coffee.  Drove home at 11 p.m.  Long day…… 
There seems to be a theme with this gallery thing.  Long day…… 
but I am paying my rent! 

Table for 6 please…..

I LOVE hosting a small portion of the "Directors Choice" show from Lakeland! 
Even sold one of Richard Aerni's lovely bowls!  As the woman bought the 
bowl, so many other potters standing around said:  Awwww, he's such a nice guy! 
Is that just the best thing ever?!   I love having other work in the gallery and thinking a visiting clay artist might be a great thing every month!

And Neil Patterson….. his work is just the bomb! 

And I have too many pots, the place is starting to look like a garage sale.  
There are three more shows in December and then have potters angst if I have enough…. 
It's just like ordering mulch, hmmm 20 yards but wait I should have ordered 22 yards. 
One never knows…. and whatever the buying public decides is the best thing you make, you only made one.  I know I need shelving, lots of shelving!  It will make a huge difference in display, but as this space is temporary and the big move to permanent space will begin in January I am reluctant to build a shelf unit.  For now making due!  Seriously, just the thought of moving all the stuff here is a bit daunting. 

and more pots…..

Working on sheep to go with the bees…… 

Here are the results from a day with a photographer in the studio.  
The photographer is taking classes on portraiture and wondered if I would be up
for a few pictures.  Sure!  I hope her critique goes well because we did have fun!