Sunday, February 23, 2014

S.S.S...... Seed Saving Swap!

A day off!  After days and nights in the studio I took myself on a much needed field trip.  I had stayed up all night loading and firing a kiln so I could be out the door by 9:00 am Sat. morning.  I sort of made it, 9:30 am..... well I did get out the door at 9:00 am but forgot my potluck dish on the porch!  Like my Mom said:  What don't you don't have in your head, you will have in your feet!  Heard ya Mom! 

I belong to a group on the dreaded social media, Facebook called;  Food Not Lawns
As my yard has morphed into an edible landscape over the years I was pretty excited to find a group like this in my backyard.  They are group of like minded people, a tribe of seed gathers!  I attended a canning and "how to" save seeds last fall.  I'm not much of joiner but lurked along on FB.  Went to another lecture on world communities and really liked what I heard.  At each program I would hear;  "Oh this is pretty good but you have to come to the seed swap!"  I waited for the much anticipated seed swap in February only to be blasted by one of the winter vortexes.  The swap was cancelled and rescheduled.  I am crazy busy at the moment and normally would have not walked away from the studio for an entire day but I made myself go!  After all, I was a seed swap virgin...... 

Arriving half hour late but still a half hour earlier than the opening, the church gathering room was just waking up.  Gentle activity...... not chaos, we love that.  Coffee was perking, two women buzzing around the kitchen, stove preheating.  Another gal was setting up a free cycle table.  Charles was setting up the intro table and greeting gardeners.  


Mari, superb ring leader of this subversive group was laying out seeds by the billions.  I love this woman, she is a do-er, fellow schlepper, community leader, and above all, gardener who will stick anything in the ground.  Seriously, who plants lambs quarters? 
 She had loaded up her little Subaru and schlepped billions of seeds and "stuff" to exchange. 
I am now re-thinking the schlepping of heavy pottery.  She had kingdoms in that Subaru!

I set my potluck dish down and started looking around.  I don't see this many seeds at the garden center!  Tables were set up with fact sheets, shoe boxes of seeds and extra envelopes for labeling.  If a packet or grower had more seeds than you could use you could just take a couple.  Like red okra!  I really don't need 100 okra seeds, I took three, three seeds.  I am not a fan of okra but after a fun discussion on facebook I thought I would give it a try.  It will be tucked away in the sunny perennial beds.  

There were hybrid seeds, clearly labeled that had been donated by various companies.  Noses were not turned up but clearly labeled and offered up.  There is no whining in the garden so if you are a tried and true heirloom gardener.... move along, nothing to see on the hybrid table.  Me?  I'm still using a few hybrids sprinkled in the garden.  Each year, more and more heirlooms creep in but there are still a few hybrid tomatoes I love....... 

Why bother?  This is why! 

Gardeners drifted in on a rare warm sunny morning in Ohio. 
I watched them coming through the door with brief cases, suitcases, grocery bags, boxes, shoeboxes and glass jars filled with seeds.  There were tables filled with little plastic baggies of seeds..... our drug of choice.   Charles was hunting down an elusive collard green, I was hunting for scarlet runner beans and sheep nose peppers.  This was the best Trick or Treat, EVER! 
I asked about Russian Persimmon Tomatoes and heard from Judi Strauss, they were fantastic and worth planting.  But can I can them...... she retorted, rolling her eyes; You can can any tomato!  True enough! 
Everybody was talking seeds, sharing information and excited about what they were doing.
I stopped by and talked to Ellie from City Rising Farms
  I was so happy to hear she is talking with a Presbyterian church in Painesville to start a community garden.  It still won't get me to a church but glad to know somebody out here is thinking about community gardening. 

We heard from the librarian at Coventry Library who is organizing a borrowing seed catalog.  They are also offering a variety of growing workshops in March.  I love the idea of a seed borrowing library.  You "borrow" seeds in the Spring and hopefully replace them in the Fall, baring floods, locust invasion and a lunar eclipse.  The seed library will continue to grow as the local community supports it and expands.  Here is their link:  Coventry library gardening programs

At Susan Miller's table I learned to make seed pots out of old newspaper! 

Here is link to a youtube post if you would like to try a few:

I met the Snarky Gardener, who runs the Kent, Food Not Lawns group and pretty informative blog for those living in north east Ohio.  Check out Don's blog:

Arrived home, dumped my seeds on the floor, just like Halloween, made lists, got the garden blue print out and then had to go to the studio.  Unloaded a kiln, reloaded and rolled to bed around 2 a.m....... what day.  Thank you Mari, it blew my mind..... so much information!   

Now back to reading Oil and Honey......

Thursday, February 20, 2014

We're gonna live!!!!

(well, some of us......) 

It hit 40 degrees yesterday and it was downright tropical!    

Around dark thirty, laying in the pitch darkness of a warm bed and apparently wearing lead eye liner,  I heard dripping.  My first thought..... the leaky shower had finally landed in the dinning room.  No, as the space next to me was empty and there was no bellowing or slamming doors.  The dripping was massive amounts of water running off the roof!  
Grabbed my wool socks, lumbering down stairs.  Poked my nose out the side door and breathed moist air, my nose hairs did not ratchet my face to a contortion...... delightful! 

Smelled the coffee and stumbled to the pot in the inky darkness of the morning.  Bird blaster Butch left me a fourth of a cup of coffee.....  Seriously?  I set the pot up before I went to bed because it is the only reason to get out of bed in the morning!  With my luke warm, quarter cup of coffee I opened the fridge.  Reaching for the milk, I followed the light spilling out onto the floor......  illuminating a tail and little feet smashed in a trap.  No coffee and a dead mouse....... another day of an awe inspiring glimpse into my fabulous life ......  

Since the thaw is on and there are critters a foot I have to give rave reviews to the d-Con peek-a-boo mouse trap.  You never have to see anything if you don't want too, brilliant!  I usually put a little snack in the teeny little cup in the little black box.  If the snack is too big, the trap won't set as it has a hair trigger!  Once the snack is in place, pull the lever back (it used to have a  little red flag), it will click into place.  No worries about snapping your fingers!  This alone is worth the price of the trap.  It's like a little mail box.... if the flag is up, you've got mouse!   Trot out to the compost, tip the black box on end, pull the lever, cover eyes and retreat to the house for a tasty fourth cup of cold coffee........ 

Of course I googled; making a green mouse trap and found this ingenious video..... 
 perfect for your next wine and crafts class..... or after nap, kids project!  Imagine the delight!  And what could Martha Stewart do with this project?!  I see glitter!  Do we need one more kitchen magnet? Really?

Anyway....... after depositing the mouse I ran out the back door and hit a patch of ice bigger than the rink at Sochi!  The Russian judge gave me a 7.3 on my way back from the chicken coop!  

By 2:00 pm the paths were a swimming pool! 

The chickens spent the day gleefully roaming the paths.  

I opened the studio doors, mopped floors, cleaned the place up and waxed pots.

Today we glaze........ We going to 48 F. today!!!  Break'n out the Croc's!  
Croc's on ice...... stay tuned ..... :) 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

another day in paradise.........

The snow is grinding to a stop as I sit here watching the old man blast the birds off the feeder..... 
A man and a machine.... nothing else exists.   I experience this phenomenon in summer too;  he claims innocence each and every time. 

If he were a dog ....... 

 I swear there is a garden ....... in fact a hoop house.  

Picnic anyone?  
30 mph wind?  no problem!  
Temps still below zero?  no problem!  

I will spare you all chicken banter...... let's just say they are not happy, but then neither is the potter.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The countdown.........

Still cold, this morning -7, still snowing, still feeding chickens, still weaving, still throwing, still firing, and still getting ready to shove off for Massachusetts next Thursday morning.
Have stopped baking bread and dumped my sour dough starter.  I went through 100 pounds of flour this winter, proudly converting it to fat quite nicely!  My butt thanks you.....
The sourdough starter languishes in it's crock due to a cold house, as I was not prepared to wear it around my neck in a leather pouch, I dumped it.  Butter sitting on the counter is too hard to spread anyway. This also means no pancakes, back to whole grain granola.   
I will now be perfecting my fruit and salad skills.
Listening to foodie books in the studio; Diane Mott's food mysteries have been quite entertaining.  Above all Michael Pollan's; "Cooked" has been the best.  Tried to listen to; The Man Who Changed The Way We Eat, but alas another borrower smeared the discs with butter or potato chip residue.  Taking it back to the library to see if they can run it through their disc cleaner.  Back to murder mysteries ......

I need to change the security settings on the blog as the spam is just rolling in!  No, I am not interested in Viagra, Ambient or hosting a toy party and we are not talking Lego's!  Enough!  Sorry blog readers, I will take it off in a week or so....... 

My work table is piling high but the view is great. 
The hairy woodpecker stopped by the bird feeder this morning.  
So big and so bravado....... we love that!  
Not so much Johnny Weir fishing in a mink at the Sochi Olympics..... 

Somebody sent a box of Florida sunshine!  But alas, no card!  Don't know who sent it but we are forever grateful for this burst of sun in a very dark winter :) 

Spending quite a bit of time carving these days.  
Also changing the finials on my carved pots as I needed something more simple so as not to compete with weaving.  

 Veronica, these shots are for you :) 
These are the teapots left from the filling the Cleveland Museum of Art order.
And I'm carving more teapots and working on others...... 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

a busy week..........

Once again needing more hours in a day....... 
It's crunch week!  
Deadlines are piling up and now finding sleep impossible.
Thankfully the Olympics are on in the middle of the night :)

I'm not one for hand building and most times can't even think straight.
As an invited artist of the Handmade Ceramic Tile Exhibition next month in Cleveland, Ohio;
 I figured I had better get my flat on! 
Delivery is February 24th and as I depart for the east coast on the 26th it was today or never. 

Artists were allowed 5 tiles,  8" x 8"  ....... that's it.

I have been carving so much lately this is what I came up with.  
40" of tree...... 

It will look pretty good behind my wood stove when it's done and just the catalyst I needed to finish that project! 

The shelves are filling again! 
although carving is taking more time than I should be taking these days......

A carved tile I'm thinking might be turned into a hot pad with wood rim.

and always more weaving....... 

still cold here so it's been easy to stay in the studio....... 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What was I thinking?!

Jumping down the last few blogs I wrote down I would post everyday..... 
I cannot..... 
My life is just not that exciting, ever! 
As I sat at my spinning wheel contemplating things to update a homesick kid in Africa with and realizing the only thing I could come up with was;  
I found your underwear in the dryer; so what are you wearing?
  Thought about taking pictures but stopped myself.  

I searched the window next to my wheel and said..... Oh thank God, it's snowing again!  
It has snowed almost everyday since Nov. 22nd..... Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter so I believe I will take cousin Barney off the Christmas card list as he is still part of the inner circle up at Gobblers Knob.

Yesterday, I splashed olive oil all over myself while aggressively making salad.  Put on my same old work sweater this morning and thought a miracle had taken place while I slept as the oil stain had magically disappeared.  While brushing my teeth and almost choking myself to death realized my sweater was on backwards.... the true miracle, I didn't pass out or choke to death. 

Yesterday was Elinor and Ethel day.  Elinor, my Mom used pick up Ethel my Grandma, each and every Friday; go get their hair done, do lunch, stop at Eddy's Butcher shop, Hough Bakery and grocery shop at the A&P on Fulton Road with a fistful of coupons.  It went on for years until they both became intoxicated with Aqua Net Hairspray inhalation and ended up at the bowling alley, rolling strikes and scratching lottery tickets. (all true)  
Mom and Grams are both gone now but alas not wanting a family tradition to die I picked up Abby Saturday morning around 10 am and we were off for a day of Kent Farmers Market, The Geauga Butcher Shop (run by Dave, an Amish butcher who can rap about meat), the Cheese Co-op and finally ending at the Middlefield Flea Market.  It you get to the Middlefield Flea Market by 8 am they auction off chickens and rabbits for pennies.  As the girls are still laying I opted out of the livestock auction.  
However when we pulled in the parking lot the place was packed with Amish buggies and 4 wheel drive trucks with bumper stickers stating; If It's Fly'n, It's Dy'n  
We circled the lot and finally found a place for my tiny Japanese Import car, I fully expected to be keyed down both sides by the time I got out.  There are hundreds of booths at the flea market but the building was amazingly quiet.... We followed a guy out the back door just like lemmings.  Eureka, we found the red neck barn!!  We were stopped at the door and were asked;  Where is your wrist band?  You get three beers and food is on the side but I think they ran out, but we still got beer.  It's 10 am and I don't have a wrist band.  Also need camo underwear and a beard to get in this place.  The wristband checker gave us the event run down; fundraiser for Ducks Unlimited and there were 50 guns being raffled off.  Oh we sold 3,000 tickets so if you don't have a wristband you can't get in.  Well shoot, I said and we backed away.  

We darted off to the other shops in the complex.  We stepped in horse poop, fresh and frozen; the frozen poop will take out a grown man faster than he can down a beer at a gun raffle!  We started at the antique mall, rolling to the Penny Pincher furniture shop and rounding our visit at the Authentic Indian Jewelry store, complete with crystals, antler lamps and smudge sticks everything had a gold sticker stating it was made in China.  While looking for cool beads in the Authentic Indian Jewelry Shop we heard a woman say.... I won a shotgun down there at the raffle.  And the other 10 woman fondling the authentic jewelry said:  OMG.... YOU ARE SO LUCKY!  What kind?  A pump shotgun!  Approving giggles all around!  
I looked at Abby and we said; Gotta Go! 

We drove back to her Kent apartment, dividing up the days booty from hunting and gathering.  I showed her how to cook liver and onions.  She was more impressed with liver costing .99 a pound than the taste.  She pulled one of my jars of homemade catsup down from the shelf and slathered the whole liver steak, declaring it OK.  Neil was hiding under the futon in shear disgust. 

so as you can see I cannot possibly post everyday!  

I could not grab the camera and take one more snow picture or underwear picture. 
Instead I dug out last years garden pictures....... I really need a pop of color at the moment. 

and lettuce ........  

Friday, February 7, 2014

getting my groove back......

Sitting here looking out the window this morning ........
Just read Rachael's blog  
then off to read the business blog of why she is there.... Mama Carts.....

After reading both blog posts I am realizing daughter and mother are on a vision quest this year.  As January came and went, along with show dead lines and entry fees I have no idea where I will be selling pots this year.  I do know I need to change the way I do business.  So buckle up! 

having coffee with myself this morning....... 
this is such a plain jane mug but it's my go to comfort mug..

On my way out the door this morning I swore I wouldn't post anymore snow pictures as it's 90 degrees in Benin and your Chaco's are melting into the dusty red dirt streets........ 
but how could I pass this up?  
The snow is so deep you can sneak up on the nut monkeys, my new winter activity..... 
The other winter activity .... Walking out the door, usually pre-sun up, early morning and have my nose hairs freeze up!  Serious face contortions and weird noises!  This morning with the wind, -15.  but behind the barn, no wind, -3..... staying behind the barn!  

Morning drivel alert..... Betsy shared this little kitchen tip when she was here a week ago.  I believe I am the very last person to know this.  The little red dot on the side of the cling wrap...... PUSH IT IN, locking the roll of plastic wrap in the box.  This tip will make my life infinitely better! 

The potter has returned to the building...... 
although the building is 52 degrees, but the throwing water is warm, as is the sheep skin I sit on.

a good way to start....... 

the days are ticking down to DeCordova show and orders need to be filled.....

Yesterday I said out loud....... Adapt or Die.  
Off all the things that circled round my brain, including listening to Michael Pollan, that phrase really popped out.  It's true in life, garden and studio.  As my body is aging I am adapting the way I do things. As the weather is changing my garden is changing.  As some of our natural resources (mines filled with minerals etc), political policies, and technology change so goes the studio.  This will be a year...... 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

another post so soon?

Morning Rachael! 

Ahhhhhh..... daughter #1, the ever in control, stay the course, a-fish-inado of Colorado rivers, Alaskan guide and bear chaser, I'm outta here, never homesick, queen of the passports........ is homesick in Benin, Africa.  The last few days of trying to communicate have me convinced there is a wildebeest running the 3G network.  We have tried Skyp, Facetime, ichat, AOL, google chat, talkatone app, heytell app and now realize..... a tin can with string would have worked!  
But then in 2006, when she threw herself on Peace Corps doorstep, there was NO communication.  A package took 6 months to get to her.  I sent a lot of fuzzy cookies and hairy smokies those years, they ate them anyway.  This time around she has running water!!  
We had a brief facetime yesterday and I got the tour of her apartment.... posh!  Well except for the rats in the ceiling.  Her table and two chairs had arrived, custom but then everything is custom because there is no IKEA or Walmart in Parakou.  Do you hear that fellow craftsmen????  She had to wait for the local furniture maker to make and deliver a table and chairs.  And they were beautiful!  
As she sat on her concrete steps, outside her concrete block house, in 88 degree weather, she looked a little beat down and she was questioning what she was doing there.  Oh honey, you have taken yourself on a self imposed vision quest!  Honestly, as bad as she feels right now, I believe in my heart of hearts she will rock this trip.  Her partner on the ground, Ibraheim is the undimming light pushing her forward and focused.  They have a mission to get MAMACARTS off the ground with a Rockefeller grant.  One year to make it happen.  Do it now, run hard then come home and fish, drink beer and recover, you will never be sorry or look back..... I promise.

As our all too brief facetime ended I promised I would blog daily to keep her up on the home front. 
So Rachael here is the run down.......

I know you are sweating to death in your concrete apartment...... we are buried in snow and living large in 4 degree weather.  

there is a hoop house under that pile of white stuff...... OH and it's early morning here, 

on my way back from the chicken coop this morning.....

waiting to be glazed........ 

winter carving......

new forms, not sure I love these yet...... 

on my reading table..... currently listening to "Cooked" by Michael Pollan.  
It is blowing my mind and LOVE this book!! 

Watched this great video on Minnesota Potters, Sharing the Fire.  
If you watch you will recognize many of the studios and potter from our trip last May.

one chicken out this morning, the rest of the girls were complaining...... loudly! 

found them!  The days are getting longer as I collected 5 eggs yesterday!  
Two of the cuckoo marans are still  sporting bubble gum pink combs and molting but that should end soon. 

This morning, coffee with SARAH JAEGER and my keyboard.  
I will keep you posted daily on the homefront, I promise :) 

Love you always, you are rocking the world ....... Mom