Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ticket to leave compound revoked…….

I have been in the studio nonstop, 'tis the season and every potter I know is in the studio with the pedal to the metal.  There are subtle signs that appear in the house this time of the year.   On the counter next to my dusty vitamins sits an open bag of chocolate chips. No time to bake just eat the chips.  Personal Grooming went out the window a few weeks ago, along with a balanced diet and regular exercise.  Last year my dear friend, who used to be potter, took a shower, combed her hair, put on a clean shirt, chap sticked her lips and dashed down to the post office to get a package in the mail.  The postal clerk told her how great she looked and did she get a new do? 
Nope, just cleaned up a bit, it's pottery season!   

Yesterday was my last follow up appointment with the knee Dr. at 8 a.m.  The guy is an hour away and in Cleveland rush hour traffic no less, I would need to be on the road by 6:50 am at the latest. 

 I worked in the studio until midnight the night prior to my appointment.  The next morning I made coffee, let the chickens out (they weren't even up yet!), uncovered the damp box in the dark morning hours, glanced at the weather and jumped in the shower.  Running a tad late, I only shaved one leg.  Horrors when they handed me the paper shorts!  I really thought I would roll up my pant leg and he would say; Looks great, have a nice day.  Instead, perched at the edge of the examine table, swinging my legs and looking for vine to swing on…. well with one leg.  My scarred and stitched leg was moisturized and shiny, the other one could have given King Kong a hard on.  
My dear Dr. smiled but bless him he never said a word when he compared my knees. 

This morning, the cat announced he just could not use his litter box anymore until I changed the litter.  So this litter box thing is new to me.  He is out all day and only sleeps in the house at night…. well I guess he's night pooper.  Yikes, Neil was ankle deep in tootsie rolls.  Ran to the local store for litter and thought I might as well pick up other groceries.  I was there at 8:00 am. it was great!  Nobody shops at 8:00 am. except really old people who wander the store and just stop, in the middle of the aisle because they can't remember what they were there for.  One poor guy was in his white sox, plaid shorts, just standing there scratching his head with his baseball cap tipped to the side.  Excuse me, can I just squeeze around.  SIR, EXCUSE ME … on the third try I backed up and went down another aisle.  The store was just filled with old people!  Have decided to shop at 2:30 pm during the week when harried mothers are dashing through the aisles like supermarket sweep!  My people! 

I ran to the cat aisle and found the only litter this cat will use.  His previous owner, Abby expressed openly how picky Neil is about his litter. Oh sure he will eat a mouse or blind mole but won't use any other brand of litter.  The mysteries of the universe!   The store only had a bag, I really wanted a plastic bucket because I could use it in the studio for glazing.  
Alas, I tossed the bag in the cart and made my way to check out.  

ARgh! checkout…… One aisle open and I am shopper #2.  I asked shopper #1 for a the red bar to put on the belt so our groceries would not mingle or touch.  I asked her twice but she must have been related to the guy still scratching his head in aisle #1.  I lunged across the belt and got the red bar, smiling at her.  She never said a word.  I hoisted a 12 pound frozen turkey onto the belt, whoa .69 a pound, thank you butterball!, two packages of hydroponic lettuce, organic celery and carrots, bananas, two organic apples, and a bag of kit kats for breakfast.   I brought my own bags and told the lovely check out lady, who speaks very little English to send it down the belt and I would bag it.  She has worked in this store for 25 years and she could pass for Mrs Swan, the very pretty nail lady.   She smiled and turned the belt on.  Bags packed, frozen turkey and cat litter tossed in the cart, I wrote out the check and handed her my drivers lic.  All done, grabbed the cart and the cart won't budge.  What is the problem?  I push harder and the cart feels like I'm pushing it up hill over a gravel parking lot.  I look down…… apparently when I tossed the 14# of cat litter in the cart, the bag ripped.  While I bagged my groceries, and wrote out my check, fourteen pounds of cat litter were draining onto the floor.  OMG!  I looked down and said to the non English speaking checkout woman….. do you have a broom?  I was mortified.  In all the years of buying dog food in 50# bags, not one had ever ripped open!  I tossed those over my shoulder, in the cart, in the trunk, no problem!  
It was like the cat followed me to the store.  
What does the check out woman say to me in her very loud broken English?  Oh NO! What you do?  You make big mess in my line.  OH God,  I was just shamed by the checkout lady?  I mouthed to the white haired woman behind me, I'm really sorry.  She just smiled and waved back.  A BROOM, DO YOU HAVE A BROOM, I will clean it up, so sorry.   
About this time I notice the clean up kid.  I love this kid, he has challenges, many challenges but he shows up every single day and he wears purple latex gloves everywhere!  He walks around the store, with a spray bottle of water, two rolls of paper towels, looking up, humming. He rocks jazz hands! I always look up too, every time, what is he looking at?  Absolutely nothing and I look every time.  I wave my hand at him and say;  Hi, DO …. YOU….. HAVE …. A …. BROOM?  
He hands me a roll of paper towels.  Thanks.  I want to crawl under my cart and go home.   
The store manager now shows up with a……. BROOM.  Please go get another bag of litter, I got this.  I want to kiss him.  

There is litter in everything from the lettuce to the netting on the frozen turkey.  I toss it all in the car and leave.  

Last stop, apples at the local orchard.  I love the local orchard.  Dashing in, I grab a small bag of apples with 8 apples, you know the paper bag with little paper handle and a picture of apples on the front.  I counted the apples when I got home because when I checked out with my paper bag of 8 apples the check out orchard woman said; That will be $11.00.  WHAT?  I was going to put them back and she said the peaches tanked this year.  So you doubled the price of apples?  But I felt guilty because it's a family farm and I bought the $11 apples.  And then she says to me…… do you want me to put them in a bag?  And I said, but they are in a bag.  And she says, No, a plastic bag.  And I say; you mean double bag?  And she says:  Oh, so you're a smart alec.  I left with my apples….. 

All this before 10 am this morning…… 

By 10:30 am I was in the studio, trimming, listening to a great book on tape, the cat was out killing things, I had hot coffee and I was happy.  
Do not leave the compound, ticket revoked! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

And now the studio……..

Fall is so busy in the studio!  
The Brownies have been here again and their pinch pots are cooling in the kiln.
Every one should be getting a badge! 

We've had another great opening down at W78th! 
Great to see everybody!! 

I have turned to traditional gift wares for the season.  
And No, I don't feel like I sold my soul to pay bills this year.  
It's actually a nice break from the usual work. 
Finding quirks with the new brown clay Standard 211, it does not like to be pushed into 
oval footed wares.  Cracks up the wa-zoo!  I have tossed an awful lot work in the past month.
Stuff looks great going in the bisque, coming out, I put the shard bin next to the kiln. 
Even taking as much as three weeks to dry under plastic is not helping so I will be making 
a load of round pots with this clay body.  Shame because it throws like a dream.  

Oh yes those are batter bowls and colanders…..

 Gett'n Sprigy With It… 
sorry I couldn't stop myself :) 

and coffee jars…… how long has it been?

 making models for fish molds…… 

and burnished large pots for horsehair.  
Lots of weaving this winter, but need to fire before the snow flies.

and the big kiln still needs rewiring………
oh to be a potter!

Garden catch up!

It's Fall and my blog posts have lagged sorely behind.  I can't possibly stay at the computer while there is this much color and "stuff" to do outside!  We all know what's coming!  
The camera has had a work out and realizing this morning I had snapped off over 100 images!
Here are the highlights of the last few weeks.

This one small area of the garden has over 15 varieties of plants.  Most are 
fading but the deciduous holly is loaded with berries!  
The cedar waxwings can't be far behind. 

Prince charming is still waiting for that magical kiss…… 
Keep waiting, although I do enjoy his company with my morning coffee.

Scarlet runner beans have found a permanent place in this garden! 
The hummingbirds and gardener found high garden satisfaction.

The garden path has grown thick with lavender,
nasturtiums, strawberry runners and greek oregano.
The bees are glad there is a lazy gardener afoot.

One of my favorites!  Digitalis, hope it seeds freely this year.

He still earns his keep.  Must be something good in the carrots.

The eggplant is just awful this year…… flea beetles had a banner year! 

Celery has been incredibly prolific and tasty.  
Soup has never tasted so good! 

There has been a bit of time to walk around this fall. 

A gray Lake Erie Sunday…… 

Even the woods is wet this fall.

Noticing bumper crops of wild grapes, rose hips and acorns.  
They are predicting a normal winter…….. if anyone knows 
what normal is anymore could you let me know….. I can't remember! 

Running the parks and doing a bit a fishing now that the river is up again. 

Monday, October 13, 2014


After my last blog post several people wrote to ask about Neil.  He is back, safe and unruffled.  Phew, it was touch and go there after Brownie-gate.

I am still wrapping my head around caring for a cat.  This is the beast who was left behind by his owner, daughter #2 when she decided to move to Colorado.  Did the state outlaw cat ownership?  Neil is not a cuddler and our encounters from day one, maybe day two have been a lesson in tolerance.  Neil is an outside cat and clearly always has been.  He is still here because he is one kick butt mouser and vole killer.  Crickets in the stonewalls can keep him entertained for hours, he's a killer.  He reminds me of this quite often, bringing chipmunks on the porch, leaving a pile of mushy voles on my path to the chicken coop just after knee surgery.  Devious! 
The day after Abby left I found myself drinking two fingers of bourbon at 11 am in the morning.  Why?  I raced in Abby's room to close windows during a rainstorm.  Looked down and saw jumping poppy seeds on my legs.  Ran to the shower screaming, hair on fire and hosed myself down.  Flea infestation!  Chased the yawning cat off the bed and out the door!  I slammed the door as the jumping poppy seeds had not made their way to the hall yet.  Duct taped a towel to the bottom of the door and ran to get flea spray and steam cleaner.  Moved the cat bed and all cat stuff outside, scanning each and every single cat thing with laser vision!  Moved furniture out after washing, bed napalmed.  
Wait!  Call the vet to scream into the phone I have a cat with fleas, what do I do?  And the voice on the end of the phone say without laughing….. Oh, I'm sorry, put him in a cat carrier and get him up here.  
Well I had just carried a cat, someone tossed out of a moving car in the cemetery, (and that's a whole other blogpost!) to our very kind neighbor up the road…. in Neils cat carrier.  The neighbor still had it and she was at work.  No options, I tossed Neil into the truck and told him to buckle up!  I opened the door to jump in and Neil jumped out, and so it went.  About an hour later Neil sauntered into the studio.  I took my clay towel and never looking at him, tossed the towel over him.  GOT'CHA!   Tossed him back in the truck and off we went.  The vet is 1.2 miles away.  It was like driving with the Tasmanian Devil.  He never went to the floor as I had been warned, he went for the windows and ceiling.  With windows sealed tight, the air conditioner blasted and I found myself in a tornado of cat hair.  Did I mention I am super allergic to cats?  As I sat at the stop light, my lunges closing, eyes swelling, turning red and blotchy,  Neil calmed down and seemed to be enjoying the ride.  Hind feet on the seat, front paws on the dash, surveying the driver next to us.  The driver next to us, a large woman in Marilyn Monroe sunglasses, big pink print blouse, driving a 4 door sedan with a bumper sticker that said: My Cat Walks All Over Me, little kitty paw prints were pasted all over her car. She waved at Neil and blew him kisses.  I yelled, it's cat!  She laughed and drove away……. we made her day, I guess. 

Arriving at the vets, I wrapped him in a towel and dashed in the door for a pill guaranteed to kill all the fleas on Neil in 24 hours.  The gal at the desk was well…….. cute.  Maybe 18 years old, blonde hair with pink and blue ends.  She jumped up and ran around the desk cooing baby talk …… and Neil almost took her bottom lip off when his claw hooked her lip ring.  She backed off and said Oooooo, let me give you the pill and you can give Neil Weil the little pill.  I looked at her like she was nuts!  Nope, I don't care what it costs I would like you to give Neil the pill, seriously, I don't care what it costs.   Then she said: "I'll go get help".  She brought back another young girl who reminded me of Mortica Adams.  Wearing black garb head to toe, hair dyed, suck the life out of the universe black, and goth eye make up….. but she had tattoos of cats so I thought great!  She never said a word during my entire time in the room with her.   Mortica loaded a small white pill in the end of the syringe, I held Neil in the towel with a death grip and pink blue and blonde girl grabbed Neil behind the neck to open his jaws of death.  Mortica shot that little white pill down his throat so fast I never saw it.  Had another syringe filled with water and shot that down his throat.  Neil tried to eat the syringe and Mortica.  I paid the vets office handsomely and we drove home, not sure who was traumatized more.  I pulled in the driveway, rolled my window down a crack, an orange fur streak crossed my line of vision and out the crack.  He ran back to the chicken coop and launched himself onto the woodpile.  He stayed there the rest of the day preening and I was tossing back two fingers of bourbon at 11 am in the morning.  As the sun set, I put him on the porch for the night.  24 hours later he let me touch him, I picked him up and looked him over, nothing crawling and he was allowed in the back room.  So Neil is flea free, the house is flea free for now but the life cycle of a flea is three months!  My relationship with Neil had begun.  I vacuum  daily…… first time in my life!  My eyes stay puffy if I watch TV in the back room and bourbon helps everything. 

I'm back in the studio.  Fall has set in and it's time to carve porcelain.

Got my tools out and now preparing to tear the DaVinci kiln apart. 
but then Mercury is retrograde……. what could possibly go wrong? 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October Days in the studio…….

October is turning into a bang up month as it should since Mercury went retrograde on the 4th and today we have full eclipse….. duck and cover as your front end, hind end and in between is out of alignment, no grand trine parties this month!  

Still riding my bike, still fishing, and still making pots.  I have fallen into a comfortable rhythm, finally.  Still hunting for part time work but have decided to just lay low this month, make pots, rewire the kiln and wallow in the joys of fall.  Still have a bucket of garlic to plant! 

Loving my Friday treks into the city……. this might change by January but for now, love it!  Hitting the door around 9:00 am, making the drive through the tail end of Cleveland rush hour.  First stop, the incredible Westside market, pick my veggies for the week and a loaf of artisan bread.  Stop by Civilizations coffee shop and get a hot cup of coffee before heading to the studio.  The space is finally coming together, weaving table took me a few trips, I just could not get it right.  For now it will work although I hate having my back to the door.  Feng Shui states I must put a mirror behind my table and so I will…… or I could just weave at the end of the table…. 

The view from my second floor window.  It's fun watching the busyness of over 40 artists who work in this building.  

The view inside my second floor window….. 
soup to nuts …..

After I closed on Friday I ran down and picked up my freezer pig.  Wow, so much pork!  
I love buying produce, meat and anything else I need this way.  For $325 I have meat that will last us for better than a year!  I handed the check to a young farmer who has kids, taxes, feed bills and probably the best meat we've eaten since the last pig.  I'm not sure what $325 would have bought me at the local chain store but honestly, I don't care.  Farm to table…… huge benefits for me, farmer and pig! 

And in a moment of weakness I said, yes to a Brownie Troop so they could get their pottery badges. 
Ha!  This was a first attempt for me with kids in the studio.  I love kids, my own ……. the rest I try to stay away from.  But as our local schools have pretty much dismantled the arts programs, except for drawing and a few crafts, usually made with toilet paper rolls,  I felt it my civic duty to educate young minds in the way of clay.  
But as Mercury was retrograde…..the hamster at the power plant had a heart attack and we had a power outage in the afternoon.  Sometimes power goes out for a long time and sometimes it comes right back on.  The studio was ready, they could get their pioneer badge and pottery badge in one night!  Alas, the power came back about an hour before the Brownies arrived, in a minivan caravan.  Doors flew open and it was game on!  Do I need pads and helmets….. ?

So much pink, so much glitter and so much chatter…… 10 girls and 4 Moms in my little studio.  
They sent me all the requirements for the badge and it took an hour and half to demo, make pinch pots, break out the Cheetos and Sunny Delight, wave goodbye and run around looking for Neil the cat on a rainy night.  He just couldn't take it, and will now be referred to as the orange streak.  Can't blame him as 10, high pitched Brownies screamed in unison…….. A CAT!   He hid under the truck in the pouring rain and when one Brownie got on her knees to see him, he bolted for parts unknown.  

Well here is a something shocking ……. I had a good time and so did the girls!  
There is talk of coming back for a garden badge.  How about a chicken badge?  
Do I get a badge?  

oh the things we squirrel away…… 

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Ride Back……..

Four days after surgery I had my bike tuned up.  My bike, my old pal, the thing I had been walking around the last 12 - 15 years.  Just the thing I need to get my knee working again.  I picked it up on Tuesday afternoon in rain storm.  The guy who worked on it did a fantastic job!  If you need your bike fixed here is the link to Old World Cyclery: 
Honestly, I didn't recognize it when I walked in.  Wednesday morning, dusted off the bike shoes, relocating spiders from the dark crevices and strapped them on.  Felt like I was in stiletto heels!  Opening the studio door, I strapped my feet to the pedals and hurled myself out onto the driveway, kind of like the bat cave.   Ok the first curb was a bit disturbing but the knee held up, the butt held up and no blow outs.  OMG! I have a long way to get back to where I was a few years ago.  Whose body is this?  Sitting in the studio for the last 8 months my lower half has just atrophied……. badly.  I glanced in the full length mirror at the Dr's office when they took the bandages off on Tuesday and it wasn't even Halloween yet!

Yesterday I took myself for a 10 mile loop and found myself smiling the entire time.  Smiling so much I caught I bugs in my teeth!  Oh yeah I remember this.  It's is true, your body has muscle memory and my muscles were waking up and not in a nice way.  At the half way point I had relaxed and leaned into the corners, awesome!  
Needed to raise the seat as my legs need more extension, I remembered how, shocking, the brain still has memory too.  Why had I walked around my bike for so long?  OH yeah….. I had a dog and kids and a studio and gardens and chickens…..  As badly as I see myself with another lab now I'm thinking Dorothy and her little dog Toto were spot on, go for a dog that fits in a handlebar basket, perfect!   I mean I could duct tape one of the chickens to the handlebars but then I'd a GoPro camera and I need to wire the kiln first.  

I grew up on a bike.  I rode with the Lake Erie Wheelmen back in the day.  I kept my patch jacket from so long ago.  I rode with AYH.  TOSRV, Tour of the Scioto River Valley, Columbus to Chillicothe and back in a two days.  The Marion Hilly 100…… that's 100 miles.   Those were my formative years.  All that riding got me out of church and sunday school and the rest is history!  A downward spiral for sure and then I found clay……. 

The thing I really like about riding or running or fishing, my brain kicks into creative overdrive.  As I have written in the past, this blog keeps my kids up on life in Paine Falls.  They have no idea the fun they're missing here on the homestead.  Crested Butte, Gunnison….. bah!  

So I got this brainy idea while riding…… Wouldn't it be funny if I took a picture of myself on my bike staged to look like I was speed demon riding.  You know, the person I see in my head.  Hmmm, my camera has a timer and I have a tripod.  I set the work fan on a table and turned it to high, that should make my hair fly in straight back like I'm going 70 mph.  Camera set, fan set…. glitch.  The camera only has a 10 second timer, swore it had 30 seconds, challenge accepted! 
This image is what happens when you press the button on the camera, race to the bike, throw yourself on and wedge that axe handle of seat up your butt.  I did this three times….. twice cutting off my head.  When my neighbor bought the house next door she should have paid an entertainment fee! 

After the 10 mile loop the weather was just stellar, checked the knee, legs were a bit wobbly so drank some water and ate a salad for lunch.  By 1:30 I was grabbing my rod and heading to the river.  
I fished until 6 pm.  Stood in the cold river, walked over stones, caught three small mouth bass and was supremely happy.  One last cast into the rapids and I caught my first steelhead of the year.  16" and full of fight…… my heart was pounding.  I had not been able to fish for over a year.   I know a gift when I see one and this was just the best.  I released it back into the river and hiked back to the truck to clean up for the clay show opening at Lakeland.  If you're in the area of Lakeland college, love clay and need an art day, go see it!!  Here's the info:  Clay show at Lakeland C.C Kirtland Ohio

What a day….. I'm still smiling today.  
Today is Friday and I am headed down to weave at the new place.  The weather has turned with stiff winds, rain and cold.  The thermos is filled and my pack is packed.  Spending the morning hunting and gathering at the Westside Market.  Weave until 4pm then saints be praised I am headed down to Brian Smetzers place to pick up my happy pig, wrapped and frozen.  If you need a happy pig for your freezer here is his website:

Tonight drinks on the patio with bacon swizzle sticks!  
Welcome October!  

On a note of balance, Mercury does go retrograde tomorrow……  awesome!  Honestly, these two days will get me through just about anything!