Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hawk Cam!

Violet has been dutifully sitting on three eggs while Bob visits.
Have found their hawk life quite enjoyabe!

Hawk Cam added!!

I have been watching Violet sit on her eggs daily! 
I know it's not about pottery or even my backyard but this is really fun!! 

Gotta love Spring!

Friday, April 15, 2011

just one of those days.........

We all have them and today it was my turn for a doooozy!   The taxes were done but I choose to wait to write the big fat check to the government.  I am expecting a thank you, flowers and a bottle of the finest wine because I had been doing my finest whine since hearing the 2010 outcome.

(This blog is taking so long because the keyboard is sticky as I do not want to put the ice cream spoon down to type....... self medication is huge! )

As I was running out the door to the post office I heard my email alert me and since I am one genetic code away from Pavlov's dogs  I ran to see who would be sending ME an email!  OH BOY, look it's my big fat rejection notice to the American Craft Expo, which by the way I rocked last summer.  That can't be right so I went to the juried art services website....... yup there it was a big old red "X".  I don't get it?  I sold pots to just about every board member and their mother last year, in fact I almost sold out.  Didn't I hear the director say:  "We love you"?  Pimped out again!  and it only cost $40.

Walked out the door where the storm clouds and wind had moved in.  Nasty deed done I returned home, made coffee and walked out to the studio with the dog.  Dashing in the door a putrid smell hit us in the face.  The dog stood in the rain, backing away from the door.  I beckoned him in and he moonwalked backwards into the rain.

Sheesh what in the world could it be?  I followed my nose to the old fridge I keep seed potatoes there.  Gently opened the door and was met with dancing sprouts.  Just wait I said;  another week and you'll be in the ground.  Closed the door and moved on.  The smell was getting stronger.  Clearly something had died in the studio as it had that sweet smell of decay.  As I looked at the GFI receptacle I noticed the light was off.
Fireworks to brain....... the freezer!   I cracked the lid.  The dog yelped and I thought I killed him.

The power had failed when I was in Boston and it kicked off the GFI outlet.  Three weeks, three organic chickens, a brisket, a beef heart, 6 pkgs. of liver,  4 halibut steaks and a 10# bag, yes bag of rolled oats had been steeping in the warm freezer. Science project anyone?  Primordial ooze anyone?  Wow where is that artist from the NOC lecture?
I slammed the lid shut and looked at the dog.  What should we do?  He got one whiff and wagged his tail......  NO! we are not rolling in the freezer!   After realizing nobody was here to bail me out of this one I found my rubber gloves and body bags.

Actually this is Rachael preparing for fishing season in Alaska.  

I'm going in I said to the dog.  He said; Wait me first!  He was ordered to lay down and he did, right next to my feet.   My bucket was filled with ammonia and hot water, I thought it would kill the smell.  NOPE!  Did I mention it's a chest freezer?

Scooping out chunky pieces and parts mixed with slimmy oats I gaged and started talking like Tony Soprano........ "Franky you been swimm'n with the fishes"  If only I had a cigar!
By the fifth bucket of water the dog was snoring and the neighbors cats were dancing at the window.  Bagged, tagged and deposited in the big green toter on wheels the Monday morning trash guy was gonna die.  I will leave him 6 pack and note on the toter.  RED ALERT: drink all the beer before you open this toter!  Then again the raccoons were already dancing on the roof of the house and they didn't need a six pack!
Bucket after bucket of clean water was hauled out to the studio.
After an hour and half of scrubbing and gaging I was done.  I mixed a concoction of crushed charcoal briquettes, kitty litter and a pallet of baking soda in a bucket and placed it in the freezer.  I turned on the freezer and walked out of the studio.
I burned my clothes, lit my hair on fire, showered and still gaged.
C'mon I said; We're going for a walk to clear my head.  I couldn't even smell the bag of poop from the dog.
Hurry Spring I need to smell the flowers!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

joining the circus and ............

After months of searching craigslist and finally finding a lovely really used 5' x 8' trailer in Pittsburgh for $1200. 
Thought I'd make one last ditch effort to........ "call around".   I drove, I looked, I asked for coupons and maybe a BOGO special, no luck.  I talked to Pat, Bucky and Loopy.  The best I could deal on was a lovely little 5 x 8, right down the road for $1800.  Add tax and plates and it was a big old;  Thanks but no thanks, over budget! 

Then on my way over the river and through the woods to Mother In Laws house, on the south side of the road was a trailer suspended high in the air with a sign;  We Sell Trailers!  Stop in Today! 

So I did.  Walked to the little 5 x 8 trailer sitting on top the open bed landscape trailer and asked;  How much?  "Well Ma'am that would be $1200.  My interest was peaked!  I had been renting UHauls for the last several months was lusting after little trailer of my own.  If pottery bombs it would be great for my gardening business. 
Looked it over, saw the dome light and plunked the cash down, saying I'd be back on Saturday by noon.  Happy Dance in the parking lot! 
This was the last piece of the puzzle for my dog and pony show!  Everything was paid for and I had big plans.

Saturday arrived and I was off to the license bureau.  Sales slip in hand, 10 am in the morning and I stood in line with a ba-zillion other folks who did not want to talk to the ladies who license.  We all stood with papers in one hand; cash, check and pint of blood in the other while we shuffled from one foot to the other glaring at the guy who forgot his SSN card and just couldn't leave the counter without his plates.  There has to be a better way I thought.  And no matter what line you were in it was the wrong line and you were sent to the other line to start the trip over.  Cattle lead to slaughter have better days. 
The woman with 5 kids in sesame street slippers, doling cookies out of her purse and a camel pack of juicey juice, cooing in a language I didn't know.  What a great idea, juicy juicy and vodka.... in a camel pack, couple pieces of beef jerky and qualudes!  License Bureau Survival Kit!  The people watching is huge at the bureau on Sat. mornings and JACKPOT it was driver's testing day!!  The Trooper came through the door a bit disheveled, hair pasted to her head, clipboard shoved under her arm and sunglasses a tilt.  Following close behind a young freckle faced lad crying and bellowing;  Wait, please I can do it this time.... PaLeeezzzzeee Ma'am.  For me it was like a war time flash back to my kids.  The disheveled Trooper slamming her clipboard down on the counter snapped me right back to the never ending line.  I hadn't moved an inch,  more juice please.......

By 11:30 am I had plates in hand, an idea to become the next millionaire and on my way to pick up my TRAILER!  Pulling into the parking lot there it was and it sat waiting.  I hooked up before the owner of the shop could get to the truck.  We shook hands and I was ready to be off.  As I slammed the door I said;  Hey check my lights!  Left turn, no problem, brakes, check, right turn ......... nothing.  Jump out pull the harness apart, spit on it, shove it back together and nothing.  Nuts!  Mr Owner disappears and sends out Paul the master mechanic.  Paul, a sinewy fellow of 104 walked out flipping his zippo lighter and puffing on a ciggy, pulls the harness apart, spits on it and shoves it back together...... nothing.  Goes into the shop brings out electric testers and tool box.  Everything beeps and lights up as it should and Paul scratches his head and starts tearing the light off the trailer.  He runs back and gets a new light; nothing.  He gets another light, nothing.  He rips the other side apart to see if the working light would work, nothing.  I unhook the trailer after an hour and half of trying everything and tell the guys;  call me when you figure this out.  I have stuff to do, like stare at my compost pile heating up. 

2;30 P.M. the phone rang.  Well we got it figured out and I hooked the trailer to my truck and it works great, when can you come out.  How about now!  Off I drove, another 45 minute one way trip.  Pull in, hook it up and test everything, now the right turn signal.......... nothing.  And the owner and Paul explain; Well ain't that the dangest thing ever.  Owner to Paul...... Now what genius?  Paul runs back to the garage and gets that little roller cart to slide under my truck.  Note to self, do not try this on a gravel driveway in deep puddles.  Paul hit a pot hole while on his back and took a header into the brown hole of yuk.  He came up spitting and laughed.  Love this guy!  Got under the truck and pulled out the one month old harness I had just paid big bucks for and put a new one on.  BINGO!  It was after 5 p.m.  For my trouble, which I must point out was my harness and not his trailer, he threw in a spare tire for the trailer.  Love this guy and he will get my business in the future and I will recommend my friends to this guy! 

Pulled into the driveway victorious!  With three hours of daylight left I tore into the yard.  Cleaned the gardens out and prepped the beds for seeds.

It was a good day.  I had stalks of brussel sprouts left and it killed me to put them in the compost pile.
The dog nimbly picked the sprouts off the stalks and gulped them down in one swallow. Wow, did had gas.  Sitting around the fire late into the night watching the stars, he laid behind my lawn chain as I sipped a pint and I thought we might both go up in a puff.  This is the stuff terrorists can only dream about!

I put my sprouts in a bowl and carried them in the house, where they were cleaned, tossed in olive oil, sprinkled with coarse salt crystals, baked in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes.  YUM!  Caramelized Brussel Sprouts! 
I will be growing these again!

Today it was 84 degrees F. 
33 F. to 84 F. in less than 24 hours. 
My little peas are probably broasted in the ground.  Tonight rain and tomorrow cooler temps......... I eagerly await tiny little sprouts of beets, swiss chard, peas and lettuce. 
Welcome Spring!  You have been missed..........

Saturday, April 9, 2011

could it be me? nahhhhh.......

maybe I'm just getting a bit long in tooth,  nahhhhh..... 
maybe I have just figured out I am a potter and not so much a ceramic artist...... hmmmm getting closer.

I attended an NOC lecture tonight and I left in a foul mood.  Abby went with me and the best thing that came out of the lecture;  a mother - daughter bonding of....... whoa what the heck was that?  And did she really say she tries to achieve a glaze called....... wait for it...... "cadaver green"?  And ...... wait for it.... the lecturer actually told us how she worked diligently to achieve "cadaver green".  Nope, didn't write it down and nope not passing it on.

We entered to see the artists work arranged on a white table, all work under glass domes sitting on a wooden base..... next to the refreshment table.  Clearly some folks were taken with the work, clearly I was not.  I put my "up close and personal" glasses on and was pleased to see the workmanship was of the finest quality; if not exquisitely crafted. 
Back that bus up and focus again, what am I really looking at.  At this point I had quite a visceral reaction and took off my "up close and personal" glasses;  choosing the blurry, out of focus view. 
I could still make out a bulge of what looked to be skin and hair sticking out. Skin stitched and split over a backbone....... sheesh without my glasses  Abby offered me another cookie, no thanks I said as I moved away from the display and into the other room with friendly faces. 

 I was perplexed when the lecture started with an electron microscopic slide of a fly butt and protozoaas,  There was talk of science and art colliding.
I too had seen these images, almost 28 years ago, before I ever took a clay class.  Our good friend was one of two scientists in the country who could repair and use one of these incredible instruments. 
My Mom, forever known as the Bug Lady and worked for USDA came home with bottles of bugs from time to time in my little life. She held the vials up for us to look at and she would squeal with glee; LOOK at this kids!  Maybe if I had been a baby robin I would have been really excited.  We were a hit on Show and Tell day and secretly I wished she baked cookies and wore an apron.  I look back now and know how lucky I was, bugs were cool and so was my Mom.
I had looked at the same images and found such beauty in a world unseen by human eyes.  I have a book that has been sitting on my shelf I bought in the 80's filled with electron microscopic images that I still look at occasionally and never once did I think to make "specimans" or "oddities" from the pictures.  I saw rhythm in the repeating patterns and honeycomb in pollen granules.....  ahhhhh but then I don't have that MFA.  I guess I have the OMG degree.

 You know and I am NOT knocking the MFA degree here!  I have a few friends who got their MFA's and came out darn good artists; ceramic artists.  I know their work and I respect their work. 
I respect their struggle to get through the MFA programs and saw their work grow in leaps and bounds.

What leaves me in a quandary..........  I found so many parallels between the artist and myself.  Our interests, the way we approach work, execute work,  the minutiae of the work and yet this work left me cold, irritated and asking why?   Is this what good art is supposed to do?  The other thing I walked away with; a firm knowledge knowing what I love to produce in my studio.  I did not like this work on any level, the only word I can up with is visceral;  I cannot imagine being surrounded by this work day in day out. 

To get the crisp visual images out of our heads we blasted The Rolling Stones and tried to sing along.  When that didn't work we belted out other songs and then we stopped, turned the radio off and just had to discuss what we had just seen and heard, we felt assaulted.  So I guess something good did come out of the lecture, conversation between Mother and Daughter.

Abby, an art ed. major at Kent said:  "You know Mom I hate contemporary art." 
Well back that bus up, I can't go that far and there really is some it I "get" and like. 
We both agreed the craftsmanship was stupendous but sheesh why the composition of cadaver green bulges of skin with hair infiltrated here and there and HEY! what about that encaustic pig intestine?  The only place I want to see pig intestine is stuffed and between a bun!  The artist made up latin names to go along with the "specimans".  The artist explained at length where she got her ideas and what she was trying to achieve.  Her love of the "oddities" from the turn of the century excentric collections of the wealthy.  The horn of hair sprouting from the head of some poor soul or the largest colon in the world or the many fetal skeletons....... Do you see where I am going with this?  I wondered if she might be a vegan....... ever?  I wondered if she had been deformed or her child or sister or mother or father had been born with an "oddity"  would she have picked this particular subject matter.  This was the oddity to me........  The carnival side shows (and I remember them from the county fairs I attended as a kid)  went out of vogue long ago and for good reason.  It is in the past and for me I think it's Okey Dokey to leave it in the past. 

At the beginning of her lecture she expressed her thanks at being invited by NOC as she had just had 7 rejection notices in a row, on some level I thought maybe ceramics is not lost. 

I remember being so excited about clay and all the work I saw.  I attended workshops here and there and loved them all.  NCECA was the bomb and we sat around tables sharing what we did.  We gushed, I gushed and it was grand.
These days I have grown comfortable with my work and the less I want to venture out into the world and fritter about talking.  Be still, observe and convey.

Tomorrow, back to round pots, lots of weaving and the silence of the studio.....ahhhhhh.
Round is good....... tomorrow. 
for some, round just sucks.......
Is it art or the emperors new clothes...... I don't know.....

Monday, April 4, 2011

Settling in and taxes......... ho hum..

Slowly tallying up from Boston and then tore in to get the taxes done.  Yup, it's that time of the year folks, kill me.  You know I've had a good show when my splurge is Brita water filters and underwear.  Woo Hoo!

It's a monumental task as I track every gram of chemicals, every bead, every mile logged and the pounds of clay that crosses the threshold of my studio.
After printing out the month by month results they are studied closely.  Is there more black ink than red ink?  Usually it's so tight I just close my eyes, hold my breath and hit the big button;  ANNUAL TOTALS..... this results in me belting down a stiff shot of something to ease the pain and it really helps to wash the eraser down I chewed off  the nub of a pencil trying to get column "A" to match column "ZZ".   Stacks of receipts from Bailey Ceramic Supply to Starbuck's clutter the floor and desk.  Everything in tidy little piles and bundled together with Post-it Notes stuck to everything ..........

It occurs to me after reviewing receipts, ledgers, 365 daily calendar and blog entries, there is upward career movement but alas, still treading the financial waters of murkiness and yet still below the poverty level of Zanzibar.  My eyes roll back in my head and I want to know if I qualify to be a third world country?  In fact I may write my congressman and ask if Paine Falls might be below third world status.  Can we please have a bomber Mr. Brown or perhaps a rocket launcher to let people know we are still here in Ohio!  That said I have NO complaints and life really is pretty good.
After all I was standing in the farmers markets most of last summer and I managed to eek out a months wages gardening.

Once again I vow to work smarter and not harder........ I give myself the yearly, buck up suck it up and tighten that belt a little tighter ......... yup, stay tuned for that one!   By July I'll be buying that $1 a pound porcelain and mixing zinc glazes like I have no budget ...... and there will be holes in my underwear and the Brita water will be cloudy. 

This year I have all but emptied my pitiful little savings account and entered the "big" shows.  And after having two of the "big" shows under my belt I realize it's truly a crap shoot.  They can love you in Philly and leave you high and dry in Seattle.  So the lessons I am taking away from this journey....... never get cocky and watch you pennies, every single one!  I have taken a solomon oath to do be a better business woman.  Out of town shows are expensive so pack a lunch!  

On that note I would like to pass on a tip for anyone doing shows in Boston.  There several hotels recommended by the super Craft Boston team but all were a bit out of my budget.  I got out my Lonely Planet Boston guide and found a write up on little place called the Inn at Crystal Cove.  I googled and found the website and several reviews.  It was $68 a night compared to the $225 at the hotel recommended.  I needed to stay 5 nights........hmmmm 7.5 miles away and a winter rate of $68 OR across the street from the World Trade Center and $225 ........ or $1125 to $340.  After booking my room I found out it was across from Logan Airport and other tales of .... "Sandy, OMG, lock your doors and use the bolt in your room."  I packed earplugs and had Abby, nuff said!   
Here is the link:

GREAT PLACE!  The people who run the Inn are lovely.  AND we were in a gated area.  
I imagine the place gets rocking in the summer. We were on the water and the bus stops in front of the Inn so one really does not need to drive into Boston thus alleviating $12 a day parking.  We never heard a plane and they have a community kitchen which cut down our meal budget to $81.00 for the entire time we were gone!  (and I had Abby who swears a rotisserie chicken is a snack!)
Here are pictures of our stay..........

The community kitchen

Viking appliances, better than home! 

The community room

the other side of the community room 

view from the front porch

and chairs to watch the sailboats sail into the harbor ....... 

so peaceful and rested...........