Saturday, May 20, 2023

Wicked Busy!

Well some of us are wicked busy....... 

May is stupid busy.  It always has been and I think always will be; making me wicked stupid somedays.  Since my last post we have not had a drop rain, until last night.  Three weeks with no rain and the hose dragging began last week.  Rain barrels were about empty.  It wasn't August dry but it wasn't plant thriving wet either.  The sun was out non-stop and we had wind, transpiration is an issue.  

This is the first morning we have had good rain in a month!  The gardens look FAB!  


Big news I am opting out of the annual mountain of mulch (25 yards and lots of $$)  I didn't feel like it was adding to the soil in a beneficial way, even though I was told it was organic and yadda yadda yadda.  Just wasn't getting the results I wanted.  I bought a Troybilt chipper shredder that will take 3 inch sticks and as many leaves as you can feed it, it's a beast!. Facebook marketplace rocked last Fall!   I started saving and stockpiling all the downed branches and leaves I could find, including my neighbors.  We started chipping a few weeks ago.  All grass clippings went in the middle bin of the compost trilogy, mixed with shredded leaves.  That's it!  No chicken bedding or kitchen scraps, that went in the first bin of the compost trilogy and will age until next year.  

In the world of "landscaping 101" this is blasphemy!  In the world of gardening, the more I read the more I think this is a good thing.  It slowly releases nitrogen into the soil, breaks down adding organic material to the soil and keeps the moisture in the ground.  It should cut way back on watering too.  Another big experiment but my fingers are crossed.  The plants that were mulched did well the last week with no watering.  I think it keeps the ground cooler too for those cold weather loving brassicas.  

It has been a cold Spring here.  We had a hard frost last week.  The peach, plum and cherry had already set blossoms so not sure what if any stone fruit will appear this year.

Even with the garden in full swing I lacked a moment of clarity and sent in my booth fee for Boston Mills.  Honestly, I'd just stay in the garden and on the compound and be perfectly happy.  I swore I would not do another decal or transfer pattern but I quickly realized, you just cannot stop.  It's so abrupt!  I had piles of pots that were sitting waiting to be worked on.  I had hit a hard wall but every time I walked in the studio I couldn't face it and would find something else to do.  Pay an exorbitant booth fee and that will kick you in the pants to get moving.  $500 is great motivation!  I had to sit down and make a list to get my head back in the game.  I like ticking off tasks on a list so it worked.  The kiln got fired and I was off and happy to be in the studio again.  Phew! 

So bite the bullet, put on a good audiobook and get busy!  I couldn't get to anything until this was done and it was time to clear the decks!  I still have transfer paper I need to use too.  I hate wasting stuff.  So after much bitching and denial my feet are still firmly planted in both worlds.  At least the glaze table is clear so I can mix new tests and glazes and get back to the pots I really love.  Pots with color and presence. Pots with weaving.  But Boston Mills is in 6 weeks and time is ticking!  

One of the things that made the transfer ware so difficult was my lack of organizational skills.  Joann's Stores had a sale on their photo box organizers for $14 each.  I bought 6 and it was free shipping!  They landed on my doorstep a few days later. The joy of getting rid of the shoeboxes, baggies with clothes pins and just general chaos!  Two of the six went for seeds immediately; flowers in one and veggies in the other as I was using the same shoebox, clothespin method for those too. 

This has been a game changer!  For seeds and decal organization!  They line up on a shelf and I can grab what I need in minute.  I can also see when I'm low on anything.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner! 
Things like this make me way too happy. 

And the van is back!!  It came back clean, full tank of gas and a $500 check. 

Stuff is spinning in the kitchen too!  Need to clean out the freezer to get ready for this year.  So last years tomatoes and celery were transformed into Tomato cocktail juice.  The last of the dehydrated peppers went in, along with onions and the last of the garlic.  Felt good to clean stuff out and drag out the canning equipment and dehydration paraphernalia.  


The flour is flying too....... done for this month!  5 loaves sliced and tucked in the freezer.

and we are eating really well out of the garden again....... the salmon is still from the last Alaska trip.

Speaking of Alaska......... Rachael made it back last night!  Drove up the Canadian coast and started counting waking bears.  Break up has begun on the lakes and rivers but there is still snow.   Her sabbatical is just about over and we all agree she wandered with purpose!  We were glad she used us as home base for a few months.  Guess it's my turn to head up to Alaska this summer and do a bit of fishing, my sabbatical.  and will need a stop over in Oregon too..... West Coast kids :) 

This blog post is a quick catch to let everyone know we are still here during longer days but rarely inside. 

Be well, be kind and be happy....... signing out for this month 💖



Friday, April 28, 2023

I feel like I need a life jacket.......

It's been hot, it's been cold and it's Ohio in April.  There is no set schedule but it's always busy!  The earth is waking up and then decides to roll over and go back to sleep.  Just keep planting, just keep making pots, just keep starting seeds.  The days I put my blinders on and don't answer the phone or look at my email I get stuff done!  The days I do look or answer the phone, I get stuff done at 10:00 pm.  I am glad the days are longer, although I just don't have the energy to garden much past 8 pm or in the dark anymore.  

The warm days take me an extra hour at night for tick checks........ they are back, they are early and they are abundant!  

Time to release the chickens....... oh but that neighbor who fears for his life when they're out.  Me, I'd rather have a pack of rabid chickens with switchblades than a nest of ticks any day! 

The girls know Spring has sprung too as laying is in hyperdrive!  These three sweeties are giving us a dozen plus eggs a week.  Tractor Supply, now has a 6 chicken limit and I really don't want 6 more chickens!  I wouldn't mind three more but 6 is too many.  Chickens are like prunes for breakfast; how many are enough? When is it too many and when you realize it's too many, it's much too late.         

Garden is ON!  I am so excited that we have been eating out of the garden since mid March!  And there is so much more to come!  I spent a couple days flipping the compost pile and realized some of the chicken bedding from last Fall has not broken down yet.  I stopped myself from spreading it on the garden, way too hot and way too much nitrogen!  Making a few changes this year on the subject of mulch.  I will only be buying a few yards for the shrubs and perennial beds.  The vegetable and fruit gardens will be getting mulched with grass clippings mixed with composted leaves.  Should keep the moisture in and it will slowly decompose.  Again a lot of nitrogen!  Too counter all this nitrogen I stepped up my phosphorus.  So the mad scientist strikes again.  Every year is different but we are off to a good start.

Planted red chieftain and blue potatoes in grow bags, realized I had way too many potatoes for the amount of grow bags so I sprinkled potato chits all over this place, between the blueberry bushes, the gooseberry bushes, in the strawberry and asparagus patch. The spinach is on round 2, radishes just keep coming, loving the new kale varieties, and the best turnips ever!  New favorite radish is "Hailstone"! 

Still starting seeds (9 flats),  several dinners with this years asparagus, so much time hauling trays in and out of the back door twice a day.  It really is time for a hoop house. 

Planted 11 new blueberries around the gardens.  Trying several dwarf varieties this time.  All the branches that have been piling up were run through the shredder and used around the new blueberry bushes.  We have had so much wind and cold weather it's been more like March than April.  

The rain barrels are now over flowing, during the first planting cycle I drained them down by two thirds, it was that dry!  Now the rain won't stop.  The lettuce and radishes are so happy! Cool, wet weather, bring on the brassicas! 

There has been time for much needed R&R too, botanical gardens and museums. 

the kitchen is always busy.......

And then in the middle of blizzard, this winter,  I signed up for space in a community garden too.  I don't have enough sun to grow everything my heart desires so I rented an 8' x 12' raised bed in the local community garden.  I also realize I don't get off the compound much and thought this might be a good way for me to start interacting with the locals again.  Ran over and looked at the very small bed and realized the dirt is crap and will need amended before anything goes in the ground!  Then I got an email that we were having a work day; 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm on a Tuesday.  Cool!  It was chilly and the rain was on its way.  This garden is on the north end of town and I have no idea what the soil is like on the north end of town.  I assumed it would be a lot like I have here, sandy loam.  This is what I walked into.......

Muck, black stinking muck.  Last year someone had put huge sheets of black plastic over this area to kill the weeds.  Big mistake!  Weeds were sprouted and ready to emerge when we pulled all that black plastic off.  Why not sheet mulch?!  Cardboard, wood chips, straw, grass clippings; thick and deep.  There were thousands of dead drowned worms laying in pools of water on top of the black plastic.  8 of us slogged through the water, removed heavy pipe and rolls of chain link fence before we could even get to the plastic.  Then we had to cut the plastic from the spikes pounded in the ground that plotted out the area.  Under stern commands we were told; under no circumstances were we allowed to remove those spikes.  By this time I was just pissed.  There is no reason to ever ever prep a bed like this..... I probably should have walked away but did I? OH NO....... I stuck it out and sucked up stinky air.  Quickly realizing the rest of the world moves at a snails pace and I do not.  PEOPLE!  We have an hour and half to get this plastic off, rolled up, put away, and the beds staked out.  No one was really directing anyone and the rain clouds were looming large.  I suggested we work in quadrants in case we got rained out.  And one lovely woman came in ballerina flats and her office clothes..... no one had tools to dig the plastic out of the trenches, it was bull shit!  One guy, kept standing on the plastic while I was trying to roll it up.  Get off the fucking plastic stir or I will roll you up and they won't find you until next Fall when they unroll this holy mess again.  And YES let's roll the water into the middle so it's twice as heavy when we have to pick it up and carry it away.  WTF?  I was covered in mud, my pocket knife was covered in mud, my face had streaks of mud and I don't play well with others.  I went into survival mode, and I'm not even going to have a garden in this area as I have a small raised bed I can see from this mud hole.  Another tip people; do not leave any tools on the ground because you elevated us from "gardeners" to the Three Stooges! The shovel was worthless.  It sunk in the ground and made a sucking noise when you pulled it out.  Everything was heavy, everything was wet, everything was covered in mud and I was cranky.   I left my compound, never leave the compound.  I don't play well with others and I constantly run with scissors.  Why is this such a hard lesson for me? 

I retreated to the studio and the wheel is spinning again.  I have applied to several shows this year.  
Honestly I don't know how this year will shake out as keep hearing we are in or headed into a recession but I can't just stop making stuff.  

Ya, there is a lot going on here in Paine Falls but I picked out my new knitting pattern and I'm gonna look great!


Tuesday, April 4, 2023

I'm in Hell and my pants are on fire......

 What can possibly happen in a few weeks since my last post..... oh so much.  

I had to adult, I hate adulting and I suck at adulting. 

How did you start your day?  Here is my view: a seat the local social security office....... 

I tried to register for social security during covid when everything was closed and I was told: "It's so easy, do it online!"  I did...... for days I entered codes, information only to be kicked off or "please call the Social Security Office". I spent days on hold until I finally got a lovely woman who said: I'm not getting off this call until we have you signed up!  She was great and could not figure out why I could not log on either.  Then she said the magic words:  "We'll just go in the backdoor."  I didn't care I'd have taken a flaming door to Hell at that point.  However, she did it and I started having money appear in my account every month, it was magic.  Well after spending last week filing my annual taxes, I realized I didn't take any deductions out for taxes.  Sooooo I spent yesterday in Social Security purgatory.  I sat at my desk with my cell phone to one ear and a landline to my other ear.  One to the federal office and one to the local office.  The federal office had a 10 minute lead on the local office.  The local office won after 22 minutes on hold, a real person answered the phone!  I was told I had to physically go down to the office and someone had to set up the account.  Kill me now I thought.  I have been to this office before, it never goes well.  The rows of black chairs, the smell of sanitizer, the shiny floors, the very public bathroom, the armed guard with a revolver, mace, handcuffs a P38 and a belt just full of misbehaving toys. I walked up to an electronic greeter box and punched in my SSN#, my reason for being there and it spit out a number.  I am #40, the board states they are serving 936-A.  One window was open and two other windows were rolled down, hurricane armored shut. One woman behind a hermetically sealed, bulletproof glass, serving a room full of humanity; wheezing, sleeping, whispering in foreign languages.... humanity. Exactly, where does #40 fit into this number sequence?  It took me a minute but quickly realized 3 numbers and letter were for Hispanic customers only.  Sure enough, as I waited and waited, I realized the couple in front of me spoke not a word of English and the woman at the window spoke not a word of Spanish.  They were using google translator off the woman's phone to try and get something done.  They went back and forth and back and forth and questions were asked 3-5 times.  The woman behind the glass kept asking and smiling. I felt like I was in a game of bad charades; SOUNDS LIKE, 4 LETTERS, try again....  Then the man had to go back out to his retrieve even more papers while the room waited.  Yes, please kill me.  Hey!  I have my papers!! I can be outta here in two minutes, I swear!  We live in a community with a huge influx of migrant workers every Spring.  Every Spring the nurseries bring them into the Social Security office by the bus loads, 30 at a time, every Fall they return home and the city empties out.  It's like the cycle of lemmings or migrating wildebeests.  You cannot stop it, nor do I want to stop it; as the nurseries support this community, we have over 100 nurseries in Lake County, Ohio.  We ship stock all over the country.  It's hard work and doesn't pay very well, I know, I worked in the industry.  Not many want to work this hard for this little pay. 

I beat the buses but still had to watch this unfold.  I sat in a room with a man in a wheel chair who was very chatty, a woman on an oxygen tank who finally couldn't take it anymore and went out side for cig.  I almost followed her, we could have both gone up in a vapor if the oxygen tank leaked and the smiling security officer.  There were so many others; sleeping is good way to pass your time waiting but what if they call your number and your snoring away in the back of the room, drool running out the corner of your mouth.  Do I really need Social Security, can I live without it, is this all worth it, am I this fucking old...... maybe but that would be un-American. Right?   I endured......everyone lived but why I can't I get this on Amazon? 

A couple months ago a letter showed up in my mailbox from these folks: 

My 2017 Dodge Promaster City van is on the hit list for an emissions test IUVP (In-Use Verification Program, regulated by the Federal Clean Air Act through the Environmental Protection Agency and the Air Resources Board, which requires vehicle manufacturers to conduct emissions  tests on randomized, privately owned vehicles.  And they picked my van...... 40,483 were sold in the US and my van got picked, should I buy a lottery ticket? They called several times, I answered a bunch of questions and they made it sound like I won the lottery.  I did not but I care about the planet!  A guy drove to my house from Ann Arbor, MI this morning and picked up my van for 4-5 weeks of testing and left me with this.....

I get a full tank of gas, unlimited mileage and a $500 check for a the duration of time.  Kirby hates it!  It has seats, no spacious back area with his orthopedic bed but he has a window...... but wait, he can't see. The interior is black, really clean black, the blackest fabric that works like a magnet for a big yellow dog during shedding season.  Bless the person at the rental agency who has to clean this vehicle when it gets back to Ann Arbor.  I explained my van was a work vehicle (I work in white porcelain and stoneware) and a yellow dog transport vehicle.  This is what they bring.  My van has a key, this has button.  It took me fifteen minutes to adjust the seat, mirrors and figure out how to start it.  I drove it to the Social Security office, I almost backed over a little black Kia.  After Social Security I made my monthly trip for supplies; Sam's Club, Trader Joes and Aldi's.  I never figured out how to open the tail gate and it still remains a mystery.  I rode home with a rotisserie chicken in the front seat and groceries packed in the wheel wells.  Bells and alarms going off constantly.  

Then this happened.......

The washer and dryer we ordered Feb 20th and finally showed up.  On a rainy Saturday, the guys unloaded the truck in the driveway and I moved my van.  I walked up the driveway and noticed the dryer looked funny.  I asked the kid; You know this is a stackable set right?  He backed up and looked at it a couple times, snapped his fingers, pointed at me and said: Bingo, you have a good eye.  It's the wrong dryer.  Great.  So they hooked up the washer and I ran back to Lowe's trying to figure out where my dryer was sitting.   Nothing, crickets....... someone will call you tomorrow morning.  I waited and waited.  Finally the delivery company called me and said; the sales guy had ordered the wrong dryer.  How long will this one take to get here, I asked.  Oh, we have that one in stock all the time.  Wait, what?!  I had to wait 6 weeks because he said they had to get this dryer from the plant, where ever that might be!  Nope, we have these all the time.  So I could have had this a month ago?  Yes, ma'am and this one is $200.00 cheaper.  Great, I already paid for the other one.  The same guys came three days later with the correct dryer and set it up.  Back to Lowe's for a $200 refund and the extra parts.  I did not want a steam dryer but they charged us for all the hookups, $32.  Finally, home, read all the directions, load the washer and cannot get it to work for anything.  I called Lowe's to see if someone could walk me through all the read outs and prompts.  I called Maytag, they do not want talk to anybody, ever!  While I was on hold, I sat on my red stool and started punching buttons.  I actually got the door to lock and then nothing.  After I cursed it, cried a bit and kicked it, I finally figured out the the delivery guy never flipped the valve to turn the water on.  Fours hours of my life spent on a washing machine and don't even get me started on the dryer.  God, the rocks at the river are looking good!  Every thing has a delay and a button to hold and push for 3 seconds and don't forget the power button.  Lowe's wanted to charge us $40 for taking the old set away.  I asked if they could load it in my van?  They could!  I took it to the recycling center.  I pulled up on the scale, was directed to back into the yard and unload.  In muck and mud I opened the back doors of the van and pulled.  Nothing, I couldn't budge it.  I looked around for a "guy"....... yup there was a guy on a frontend loader.  Nope can't help.  So I wedged myself between the stacked set and my seats and pushed!  It moved a few inches, I pushed again, I took a deep breath and thought delivering my kids was easier than pushing this thing out of my van!  Finally it tipped out!  I stuck my tongue out at the frontend driver and drove back on the scale.  I had delivered a 260 pound baby!  I was handed $32.50 and I drove away feeling very good. 

It has been a crazy a month and now I am done.  
Back to gardens

Classes on wild edibles at Harbor Gardens in Ashtabula.

Walking out so many frustrations.....

washing stinking dogs......

mixed up my snacks.....

won't make that mistake again!  yuck! 😣

I might even make it back to the studio! 

Today, I drank coffee and walked....... I did a lot of adulting. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

March! Buckle up and kiss your asters goodbye.......

 Happy Pi Day! 

March 14th and it's a blizzard out so eat more pie! 

Snow is coming down at a pretty good clip and the wind is howling.  
Wind chill is 19 F.  Put those flip flops back in the closet.

The March shoe collection continues to grow by the back door.  
No Manolo Blahniks at the back door but we do have teal Sasquatch boots or yak trax that will get you to the van and keep you vertical also a pair of sandals just in case.

I am ready to garden!  I have plants ready to go in the ground with frost cloth and plastic protective layers.  If they don't go in soon we are just going to start eating them off the shelf. 

Those 70 degree temps in February had me fooled.  I thought we would get a winter blast here or there but not the extended "Arctic Clipper" we are currently enduring followed by a left hit "N'or Easter".  Tomorrow is supposed to be better but then I've been telling that to myself for a week.  If we do hit 44 tomorrow I am hoping it melts all the white stuff and warms a wee patch of ground so I can get the turnips, radishes, kale and lettuce under cover, along with the onions.  The onions have had their bangs trimmed three times, hoping to make stronger roots.  Thursday we hit 60 degrees and by the weekend we are back in the deep freeze.  Fingers crossed these will do OK. 
While I wait out Jack Frost I've had time for that annual festivity; 


You would think I could do this in my sleep by now ........ nope!  I manage to caulk my fingers together, my tools to the tub, the shower head to the wall and myself to the floor.  My family went off on holiday to Florida and left me, two dogs and three chickens to 10 glorious days of solitude.  They called and said; Mom, do you have cold?  You sound funny.  I haven't talked to anyone for 6 days, if you don't use your voice you loose it.  I had big reno plans but I needed to cut wood in the driveway and make big messes.  The weather did not cooperate so I pared down those grandiose ideas; cleaned out the house, cupboards and caulked the dreaded tub.  I have a deep and abiding hatred for this chore and put it off as long as possible.  The dogs slept peacefully along side the sink and toilet, I caulked them to the floor too, accidentally of course!  I freed one and now have a patch of hairy caulk.  I was so close to getting the sledgehammer and just demo-ing the whole mess but I stopped myself as I know what lies behind that plastic insert and it ain't pretty.  I'd be down to studs and no running water in no time while the dogs snored.  Perfect because the new washer and dryer still have not shown up so when I'm down at the river beating my clothes on a rock I can just jump in and take a cold bath.  I feel like I'm headed back in time and not forward; the house is winning....... again.   Just when I was hitting my stride the oldest called from Florida and requested a pick up at the airport.  She was bailing on the Florida trip and coming back to base camp.  Nooooooo......  so I finished up a few death cleaning projects and set my alarm to head to the airport at 11:30 pm 

But wait...... flight delayed it will be more like 12:30 am.  The night bus arrived at Platform 9 3/4 right on schedule at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Picking up the stranded witch or wizard for 11 sickles and returning her to the Leaky Cauldron.  There were angry muggles everywhere!  People, it's 12:30 am be nice or eat a donut!  Carnage...... Cleveland we can do better!  be nice! 

Then the other kid texted, Frontier had just up and cancelled her flight back to Fort Collins.  OK airlines WTF?  I don't fly.  I don't like going through security because I am a smart ass and say things like: don't forget to check for the bomb in my thong, asshole.  Nobody has a sense of humor anymore.  Honestly having your flight completely cancelled thousands of miles from home would have me postal and nobody would be laughing. Free flight points or trips to the lounge revoked and you ma'am are on the "Do Not Fly List".  and I would say thank you!  Drinking would be happening.  Hey and what about this guy Pete Buttigieg?  You know the director of transportation for the entire country, that guy?  I live in OHIO, he finally showed up for the February 3rd train derailment in Palestine on February 23rd, probably too many toxic chemicals.   

How would I fix all these broken systems?  What broken systems you might ask?   Pick one!  Transportation, Schools, Healthcare, Toxic Waste, THE FED, etc  Get a few Mom's on these boards who wrangle a couple kids on fixed income everyday! We are talking peanut butter sandwich and white bread Moms who work for a living.  Better have a coupon or a BOGO when you show up for the that board meeting.  Whaaaat, you left 152 people stranded in Arizona?  I revoke all your gold stars and flight hubs and give them to the neighbor kid until you get your ass back in the saddle and say you're sorry.  Hey and toss in a free drink or massage on your next flight ...... like if you're ever flying again.  I like the reward system.  If you screw over 100 people there should be ramifications!  If you sit in an airport or hospital emergency room more than an hour there should be penalties.  If you put trusting peoples money in junk bonds but give all your employees bonuses before your bank goes bust, your big ass bonus is revoked and given to the guy who couldn't make payroll, you know the people he employees, I think they are called the "little people" or collateral damage.  Ask Putin for tips on collateral damage and there is a vile human out of control who seriously needs a trip to the woodshed.  

The schools?  We are fucked if we can't fund education.  End of story, end of democracy.  Our democracy is looking more like democrazy these days.  

Yes, I'm on a rant but the lunatics are running the asylum again, it's happened before in history and it never turns out well. 
This month of March, show fees are due, the National Clay Conference is in full swing tomorrow, and I'm trying to work stuff out in the studio and life in general.  What does one make during these uncertain times?  I will barter fermenting jars for grass fed milk; goat, cow or other cloven hoofed animals.  I look at the headlines every morning and every morning it's another train wreck, stock crash, bank failure, climate change or mass shooting.  I go to the grocery store and have sticker shock.  I am trying to look at the big picture.  Are we feeling good about any of it?  And it's blizzard out and I have daylight savings time adjustment issues.  Crank up the violins I'm having a day here........  

I'm running down to Cinncinati in the morning for the opening at the Clay Conference and meet up with a few friends then back home by Wed. night.  My attention this year is more garden and food related.  I am sick of the grocery store madness and maybe just maybe, home cooked and grown food will be cheaper than government subsidized crap wrapped in plastic and then double wrapped again.  

A lot happens in 10 days ......... 

in other news the chickens are laying and apparently the 17% protein in the feed is working on the chipmunks, I think they finally started laying.

otherwise known as a fairy egg :) 

Saturday, March 4, 2023

CSA's and other community related things.......


So what's a CSA?  
Community Supported Agriculture...

We decided to sign up for a winter CSA, lasting for 9 weeks (2nd week of January - mid March)  The fee was $207 and seemed very fair, also supported a local farmer.  Will we do it again?  Probably not but glad we did it as it was a great lesson. 

I drove out to the farm every Wednesday by 11 am to pick up our weekly share.  There were times I got home and scratched my head or looked up recipes for unknown squash varieties.  I'm pretty much an acorn or butternut squash gal.  There were varieties we received I have pondered over growing and it took those things right off my "To-Grow" list.   The other, don't bother growing were sweet potatoes.  Sorry but I like the store bought organic ones better.  We received sweet potatoes 2 or 3 times and each time was a bit of a let down; although Kirby and chickens loved every tender morsel!  

I learned I'm a better gardener than I thought because we received a lot of carrots, onions and potatoes.  All, I had in abundance in the ground or basement.  Things going in that basement next year: cabbage and winter squash, maybe a few apples.  (my basement where we don't have a bar or theater or you can play ping pong but you can have a good game of whack a mole!)  We got small bags of parsley (also still picking in the garden), dill (my freezer is full of fresh dill), garlic shoots (I have so much garlic) and so it went.  

I was hoping for way more green stuff.  Like kale, lettuce and bok choi etc.  We would get a small plastic sleeve of one of those greens but it was not enough for even one salad.  We eat quite a few greens.  I know the farm has high tunnels and other winter growing setups and knowing the turn around time on greens is pretty fast I was surprised there were not more greens.  I was also surprised at the shelf life of the lettuce.  Yes, it's a tender green but if I didn't eat it in the van on the way home it was wilted.  Not even an ice cold water bath raised the dead.  The hydroponic lettuce I buy from another farmer in Oberlin will last two weeks (saving time & gas).  Not sure why but this is very curious.  

Also a surprise!

Items not grown and pre-packaged.  Mrs Millers cherry jam, ya not this Mrs Miller!  We don't eat sugar or use jams and jellies.  It's sitting in the fridge because I don't know what to do with it but cannot bring myself to chuck it.  Potatoes in those damn plastic netted bags!  In fact so much of what we received was in a plastic bag, and put in another plastic bag to get it home it's a biggest reason I will not participate again. Even the "Garlic Expressions" bottle is plastic and full of canola oil.  Ya, no canola oil in this house either as it is inflammatory.  I'm already inflamed daily just picking up all the plastic on the beach and in the parks.  Ya, what about that community mindfulness?  We also got a jar of salsa.  I am a home canner, I have salsa in the basement.  

Ok am I being a little harsh?  For us as a family trying to eat as close to the earth as possible; I don't think so. We did enjoy the pea shoots, swiss chard and other greens.  However if you're the "average" American buying food from the local Piggly Wiggly or Costco you probably think this is a great CSA and that is fine and I am truly happy for you and your support of a local farm family!  

The biggest goal for 2023 is to grow greens through the winter.  Whether that will be a hydroponic set up or grow tunnel I'm not sure yet.  But after 9 weeks that was the biggest take away; we want greens and no plastic. 

Meanwhile green is happening here! 

they won't go outside next week but the following week for sure!  The seedlings are strong!  I left them outside yesterday during a wind, snow and pelting rain day.  By the time I arrived back at happy acres I cringed to even see how much damage Mother Nature had inflicted on these little seedlings.  They had been subjected to high wind, rain and ice for over 4 hours.  The pictures above were taken this morning.  Everything looks great, indeed thriving.  So they will go out, covered with a frost cloth and stern talking to about bucking up to March gales, although on second thought maybe they should give me a stern lecture on bucking up. 

And here we go again........ caught red handed in the chicken coop.  
The trash bandit was young and immediately relocated to distant land. 
He didn't try to tear my hands or face off and was relatively docile compared to past masked marauders.

I have been watching the mother of all raccoons make a nightly raid in the coop.  If I caught this thing it would be like a hooking a marlin on worm. Forget the Old Man and the Sea, more like the Old Woman in the Coop.  I am not sure it even fits in the Hav-a Heart trap.  I have baited the trap with sardines and dog food, tuna fish and dog kibble, the smeller the better and nothing.  Thought I'd give it one more try and trapped Petunia.  I felt so bad!  I stay up all night checking the trap because I don't want anything traumatized more than me.   I apologized profusely, opened the door and she scurried away, grumbling.  I shook out the tuna and shrimp tails but they were still there in the morning.  The chickens were so happy for the leftovers. 

I walk around the garden making arm long lists of chores, it's daunting.  Then the wind blows I get a snowflake up my nose and retreat to the studio.  Argh the studio....... time for a change!  
I was sitting here cutting out decal after decal and decided to watch a documentary on Joe Humpherys, the god father of fly fishing.  If you don't know who he is you need to know!  The man is a legend.  He is still alive and still fishing the streams of Pennsylvania and or anywhere the trout are running at the age of 93.  I've watched the documentary on his life three times now.  It occurred to me, we all need be this happy living!  The documentary was not a movie about fly fishing but more a wonderful lesson on how to truly live and be joyful in what you do.  He moves constantly!  He doesn't garden but the man fishes.   I am sitting here cutting out these fucking decals and hating this.  I love throwing, gardening, fishing, paddling etc but this sitting on my ass cutting out decals and then sitting on my ass applying the stupid things is killing me.  It's gonna upset a whole bunch of people and I've already applied to a bunch of shows; paid the jury fees but thankfully not the booth fees.  Not sure where I'm headed but it's going to be very different.  I have given these pots the death stare.  I will finish out what I have and be done!  The financial part is still a quandary but I just cannot make these pots much longer.   Feeling a bit lost in the studio for the first in a very long time. 

Make a bowl of popcorn, put your feet up and treat yourself to a wonderful movie: 


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Chaos in motion.......

The calm.......

I am old, I have been around the sun more time than some and have moss growing on my north side and I don't care.  I am old enough to know there are cycles; up and down, droughts and floods, hurricanes and stillness. Usually the plunges aren't chaotic enough to make you sick but rather just a little woozy.  This month I'm a little green and it's not the moss on my backside!  

We had a wickedly delicious week, two weeks ago.  We had summited Mt Everest with no oxygen tanks.  It went like this:  Daughter #2 calls from Colorado; the child with a fresh masters degree. Who, upon graduating from Western University in Gunnison, Colorado💫to cheers from parents & big sister;  packed up lock, stock and barrel, one hot August day, loaded down with a dog & cat, all worldly possessions in her 2009 Ford Taurus with the bumper duct taped to the frame and front seat that reminds me of a Barcalounger from my Moms basement, crossed the Rocky Mountains and drove to Fort Collins in search of a fabulous job.  The dog, cat and daughter had stars in their eyes and joy in their hearts.   Found a cute apartment next to CSU campus and started applying for jobs, hundreds of jobs (not kidding), no jobs were offered and it has been has been a year of rejection.  She found a job tending bar and the Sundance Saloon, boots not included.  Since my kids were wee tots I said repeatedly and loudly:  IF GOD SENDS THE PEBBLE PAY ATTENTION BECAUSE THE BRICK IS COMING! After so many rejections it was more than a pebble.  From August to February anxious parents waited for an email, a text, fireworks, the BRICK....... anything and then it came.  
I AM EMPLOYED, I HAVE A JOB!   Be still my heart!  I called Butch and pulled him out of a very important meeting to tell him; You can retire now, she has a JOB!  Where?  University of Oregon in Eugene....... she's gonna be a Duck, a mighty Duck!  Woo Hoo!  We all celebrated, it's a family thing! 
Rinse and repeat: One dog, one cat, all worldly possessions and a 2009 Ford Taurus heading west to Eugene, Oregon and Mighty Duck country.
  Beyond Oregon, it's Japan and the Ford will never make it!  We are cracking open the Buffalo Trace tonight! Cheers!  Butch sent his letter of retirement last weekend. I am scared. 

Could life get any better?  Why YES it can!  I occasionally poke around auctions and estate sales.  I consider myself a saver of old pots, many forgotten with layers of dust and crud.  Over the years I have found some amazing pots but never the holy grail. The day after the JOB announcement I started bidding on a vase that looked a lot like a Hideaki Miyamura pot; The Man of 10,000 glazes.  I have loved his pots since I first laid eyes on them in the early 2000's.  In the past few years Pucker Gallery out of Boston picked him up and his prices skyrocketed into the thousands.  The starting bid was $22.00.  I bid $24.00.  The last day of the auction I was on pins and needles expecting this thing to skyrocket and it did ..... all the way to $40.00!  I bought a Hideaki Miyamura pot for $40.00.  I didn't sleep for two nights.  Saturday morning, we drove down to an estate and there it was and it was real and I loaded it in the car and drove away.  Nobody knew this was his pot, even though it is signed.  

As fast as we had ascended we were now descending.  Butch's car with 300,000 miles finally bit the dust.  He drives like a coast to coast truck driver for his job.  His job eats cars.  So on a cold morning he started hunting after we all refused to get in and drive to the airport to pick up daughter #1 from Alaska.  

If I saw this man walk in my showroom I would put the closed the sign in the window and run.  Many years ago we were in the same situation except we had one car, two kids and a beyond tight budget.  He was working across the street from a used car lot.  He was working in construction and wore flannel shirts and work boots and by noon he looked & smelled like a construction worker.  He had his eye on an Audi, a spiffy used Audi with a sun roof.  He walked over every day for a month and sat in the car on his lunch hour.  Some days he ate his lunch in the car.  Finally, after weeks of this, the salesman came out and said: Sir, I will sell this car to you at my cost, if you never walk on to my car lot again.  He drove home that night and we all went to the beach with sun roof open.  And so it has gone for the 40 years I have known him.  He drove home a used Nissan Rouge with 13K miles and more bells and whistles than I can figure out but I do love those heated seats!   He got a great deal but it's cash out lay we were not expecting and just ick.  I guess the sub-woofer in the trunk makes things more palatable.  I'll keep my sub-woofer in the backyard. 

As the week went on, the nightly load of laundry went in.  The first signs things were going awry.  Open the washer door and the plastic fins had their last trip on spin dry, one too many times.  Pulled out my jeans and the guts of the washer came with it.  But the motor was still good and it still washed so carry on.  I said a novena over it, lite a candle and carried on.  It seemed to help.  Saturday night, we threw the wet clothes in the dryer and went to bed.  Ten minutes, just about the time it takes get comfortable and get the sheets warm enough to fall asleep, the dryer made gasping groans.  So loud we jumped out of bed, tripped over two panicked dogs and ran down stairs before something really horrible happened.  We draped laundry around the house and said we'd deal with it in the morning.  This fine set was purchased 24 years ago and it had never stopped.  Not through my pottery rags (my clothes after a day in the studio), several dogs, 2 kids, gardening clothes, kitchen disasters and sailing adventures.  This set was a work horse for 24 years!  We went to Lowe's Presidential Sale and forked over $2200.00 for a damn washer and dryer. Made in America Maytag set. We were asked if I wanted the steam dry add on.  I laughed; NO!  I'll be down at the river beating my clothes on rock until March 23rd when they promised to deliver it.  They wanted $40 to take the old set away.  Will they load it in my van for free?  Why yes they will little lady.  Great I will take it to the recycling center center myself! 

Thank you old friend.........


At this point I felt like we were hemorrhaging money!  Yes, we plan for these things but when they happen it's a gut punch and I take it very personally.  Butch never gets upset about this stuff, I do!  I feel like I need to spring into action and do something to fill the bank account again.  I had a month of testing glazes and had just about figured out what to take forward and what to leave behind because it was time to put the pedal to the metal and spin clay to gold! 

I do enjoy testing!  Again, it starts out so orderly.  I spent hours on chemistry tables; food safe, not food safe.  After three days of glaze calculations my brain hurt and it was go time! 

How I start:

half way through and chaos wins..... 

and you're left with this........

Out of 48 tests I have 4 worth working on.  I still have a couple more I want to test but they might need to wait while I make pots.  

I did make one discovery.  I needed to pickup up porcelain in Cinncinati and stoneware in New York. 
Across the Ohio River lies Kentucky, home to some of the best bourbon in the world and I cannot get it in Ohio!  It was a 500 pound porcelain and 1 bottle of bourbon pick up.  When I drive to Avon, NY I pick up my favorite white stoneware and Butch just realized it's in the Finger Lakes region and wine country so we stopped at 4 wineries and picked up wine.  I don't drink so make the perfect designated driver :) 

Of course when he discovered all these clay places were close to his favorite places my trips now take twice as long and we need to take the dogs too.  

And realizing we might never eat again...... this happened. 
 Again, I start out completely in control and then chaos happens.  I am over come with seed-a-phobia. 
It's not too early to start brassicas and onions should be started in January along with leeks.  The weather is wild too.  This is unheard of!

It makes me think I should get cold loving plants started and ready to set out.  Everything I started doesn't mind a bit of snow and frost.  Plants that bolt in hot weather should be started now.   They are not on heating mats and as soon as they germinate I will move this batch to the porch.  I can use my fish fertilizer on the porch and not so much in the back room.  You only make that mistake once.  For three days we walked around the house commenting on the winter kill from Lake Erie smells really bad this year.  I finally fessed up and said; it's me, I'm using fish and kelp fertilizer.  I expect the raccoons to be breaking down the door any night now. 

For anyone interested, here is the list:
Lettuce:  Winter Destiny romaine, Butterhead, Red Velvet Leaf and Heirloom
Broccoli: Purple Sprouting
Cauliflower: Adona, Song, Robar, Purple.
Cabbage: Famosa, Mammoth Red, Intero, Tiara
Kohlrabi: Quickstar, Purple
Radishes: Watermelon, French Breakfast, Hailstone
Swiss Chard: Ford Hook and Mixed Rainbow
Kale: Casper, Black Magic
Tatsoi and Bok Choi
Purple Turnips
Beets: Detroit Red and Boldor
Onions: Patterson, Blush and Alisa Craig
Bunching Onions 
and micro greens..... 

Next big push for seeds will be the second week of April.

Here is hoping the chaos calms down, the days keep getting longer and I keep breathing!  

and to add to the calm I used my $9.99 in Amazon points and purchased bird and bunny wall decals.  
I LOVE these!  Yes, I watch the birds but these make me smile, a lot. 

c'mon March!!