Monday, December 3, 2018

My butterball timer has popped, DONE!

Stick a fork in me!  The last show was so stellar I decided to do it again and add 2 more days.   I need a shock collar!  
When ever someone says; oh you're an artist you must have a fantastic life.  This the blog post I will remember. 

Two days before I packed up I decided I needed a new booth.  This is when a shock collar would have been useful!  

Old booth shot:

new booth shot
Oh ya, that was worth two days of ironing, sewing, painting, wood sawing and all around panic booth disarray.  There's that Hungarian motto again:  Why Do When You Can Over Do? 

Tried to get out of town by 10 am Thursday morning but alas the dog needed a good long walk, I took one last walk around the studio, made a loaf of bread because Butch might starve while I was gone and by 11:30 am I was on the road.  Stop by the hardware store to get a locking trailer hitch for the new cargo carrier.  After 4 unsuccessful tries and the hardware guy trying valiantly to solve my problem, it started getting expensive as his solution was to replace all the pins and add a new lock for the tidy sum of over $50.  Thanks I only need to get to Columbus and went to Harbor Fright.  Score $4.99 and thank goodness 2 keys.  Off to retrieve road money from the bank in a box.  Rolled up, insert card, key in #1 for English, key in pin, ask what my first pets mothers maiden name is and THEN I pushed the desired cash needed.  The machine flashed blue lights and ate my card.  No amount of expletives can tell you my state of mind at this point.  JUST TURN THE POD AROUND AND GO BACK TO THE MOTHER SHIP, ABORT!  I had to go into the bank and talk to a real guy to get my card back and money needed for the weekend.  I had my drivers license, but alas my receipt was somewhere in the van, return to van find crumbled receipt and return to the bank.  Someone set off the shock collar please!  By noon I was rolling down I-71 blasting WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE; thank you Guns and Roses!  3 hours later I hit the Fairgrounds filled with serious artists, crafters and the food tribe of roasted nuts and kettle corn-ers that follows us around. 

Checked in, found my booth in the maze of 450 artists.  The rows went up to 1,000 ...... amid the dizzying awry dancing snowflakes and Christmas tress I lost my concentration to the get the best possible parking place needed to off load in a horse paddock.  Why yes, let me off load boxes of pottery and a booth in ankle deep powdered sawdust and did I mention it was an uphill push to the door.  And our old friend with the handicapped hang tag had wedged his giant RV right up to the fence so you had to push your cart all the way around the titan of RV's.  Huffing and puffing I wrestled my cart into the building and looked for a guy with an oxygen tank because I had a hose to pinch.  Nope no hose, a service dog.  I little fluffy dog with an orange vest, seriously?  On my third red faced trip around the RV, he walked out.  He and his little dog needed a cigarette and I'd of taken a hit on that oxygen tank if he had one. "Hey if ya moved back 3 feet, the rest of us could get past your honk'n RV and not have a black out.  He scratched his head, surveyed the situation, snubbed out his cig, tossed the service mutt in the side door and moved the monumental land yacht, back just enough to squeeze through.  My last trip was much easier.   Set up went pretty well.  Neighbors were showing up, a jovial crowd all in anticipation of throngs of shoppers with purses flush for the exchange of goods.   
Then another neighbor showed up and started off loading next to me with his girlfriend.  I had my head down assembling pedestals and started coughing which made me look up.  A white fog that smelled of baby power descended over my booth.  (I have black pedestals)  So I yelled, Hey what's up.  I heard a few expletives and she said; Oh sorry I accidentally set off our fire extinguisher and it hit me in the face, OMG look at me.  I looked around the corner and found the pillsbury dough girl standing there........ and yes she was blonde.  I returned to wiping down pedestals and coughing. 
And remember that final studio walk through back at the mother ship....... well I forgot the track for my lighting system.  In a bit of a quandary the pillsbury dough girl said she had never forgot their track because they leave everything packed in one place by the door. HEY! have ya looked in the mirror?  No problem I can run to Lowe's right up the road and get one.  That is where I bought the light fixtures and the entire system I currently own.  Find Mark the very helpful lighting guy who said: Oh we don't carry that brand anymore, now we have this far superior brand.  I just stared at him.  Why?  I dunno, company decision, we just started switching over and only got half our order.  They had a track that would work but none of the connectors for the new system.  Put your thumb on that shock collar because I thought I could rig something together with what they had and what I already had for a lighting system.  I got the duct tape out and pieces and parts, flipped the switch and stood back.  Lights were on, the booth wasn't burning down and my hair wasn't on fire.  WINNING!  

Everything was up, priced and displayed.  Exit to crash in a hotel somewhere 14 miles away.  Got into my room around 8:30 pm, called the mother ship where an excited Butch remarked; I was so happy when I pulled in the driveway and your van was really gone, I thought for sure you'd bale on this one.  He had no idea ........  
I ripped the packages open on all the little coffee pods, jammed them in the teeny little coffee machine and drank them all, set my alarm, and crashed hard.  This hotel had exercise equipment and I actually packed my jogging shoes and gym clothes.  Oh my god I couldn't even remember my name at this point.  

Up the next morning and out the door, hit the Starbucks drive thru. (my only guilty pleasure on the road)  I would like the biggest cup of coffee, the deepest darkest roast with 2 shots of espresso please and do not make me say the word Venti or any other Starbucks speak.  And what is up with barrista?  anybody remember soda jerks?  You sir are a coffee jerk in a very good way.  Heaven in a cup thank you!  The doors opened at 10 am and we were off to the races. I was slammed the first day.  As I rang up sales on my iPad I kept getting messages and alerts.  Finally at 2:30 pm I had a chance to see what all the alerts were about.  First text: I don't want to alarm you but just to let you know Rachael is ok.  I don't want to alarm you but her dog Lizzie is ok and Travis is ok too.... and on and on it went.  I finally went to Rachael's facebook page and saw the pictures of the earthquake in Anchorage.  Rachael lives in Anchorage.  By 2:35 pm I was reading everything I could about the earthquake to find out which areas were affected in relationship to where Rachael's house, college and farm are located. Show, what show?  As luck would have it, the jeweler down the my aisle was from Girdwood, Alaska and she explained the layout of the pictures on her facebook page.   

What a day.....  everybody was OK, I made a little money and wander out to find my van.  I drank a quart of water, a quart of coffee and stood on concrete floors for 10 hours.  The show closed, I had lost my voice I had talked to so many people and I needed to eat something besides my little bag of raw walnuts and an apple.  Out in the parking lot was a maze of angry artists as somebody forgot to unlock the exit gate.  Only one way out and we had to play dodge 'ems with the incoming cars on their way to the Dragon Lights of Columbus.  We waited over an hour to get out of the parking lot.  450 artists and nobody has bolt cutters?  Lemmings we are all just lemmings headed to the cliff. 

I stopped at the only thing I could find open, an Aldi's.  The fruit and veg section was pretty awful.  Mold is not one of my food groups.  I opted for a bag of multigrain chips and apples.  Destination hotel!  Stopped at the front desk and got 2 more coffee pods, went to my room, locking the door.  I Face-timed Butch as I sat on the couch tearing open a bag of chips with my teeth and sucking down coffee.  He was his jovial self; Wow you look great!  How is your day, I bet it was awesome, the dog really misses you!  By this time I was eating chip crumbs off my sweater and looking down my bra for crumbs.  Love you, cyber air kiss, talk tomorrow.  Lights out........ yup lights out but the walls were paper thin and then in the twinkling darkness I heard in the hall, a pack of curtain climbing, ankle biting, candy thiev'n rug sprites wielding sticks and screaming...... hockey kids.  I sprang from bed, flung opened the door and yelled where is your father?  They looked in horror as my t shirt barely covered my nether regions and yes I will take that puck!   They vacated immediately and I returned to bed.  No sleep for the wicked.  I hate hotels I really really do.  Saturday I got up and did it again.  This time I managed to grab what I thought would be a yummy taco salad from Chipotle.  Alas it was the $2.50 one which is not a salad but one bite and I was back to coffee, apples and mulit-grain chips.  Called home and once again YOU LOOK GREAT, you're dog really misses you, one more day and you get to come home!  By Saturday night after days and hours of standing on concrete I had legs cramps that would have seized up an AK47.  One more day........ pack up and roll home.  

Three hours driving home in the rain and wind after dark through the cornfields of Ohio during rutting season is a lot like playing the lottery.   If you get home unscathed you win! 

Pulling in the driveway after 10 pm and raining I had to off load the cargo carrier before I went in the house.  Wet and tired I sank to the floor and was smothered with doggie kisses and I was home.  After our love fest he dutifully went over and ate his dinner.  He had waited all this time to eat....... me too. 
This morning I woke up in my bed, with my coffee, my dog and it was good.  I took a shower and turned into a boneless chicken, the water washed off Winterfair 2018.  

Was it worth it?  yup......... probably going for the gold next year too.

I did a lot of horse trading and met so many great artists and people.  OMG I met Roger Tory Peterson's son (his wife is a jeweler and so is he).  Roger Tory Peterson is the Paul McCartney of the birder world!  

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Let's Discuss Fine Art Shows.........

Reporting in on the craft fair from Hell....... this is fair warning and your chance to exit the door on your left.  Yes, this is a rant blog.  

It has been quite a month here at Paine Falls.  A kiln failed, wrong elements sent, right elements arrived, two shows scheduled and the dog was busy making crap circles in the backyard.  The realization I am not 30 anymore and now pay dearly for those all nighters because Kirby and I were both making crap circles in the backyard.  The Tuesday before ground zero I had two kiln loads of pots fail.  It was the perfect storm and I have a paternal gene that says; WORK FASTER YOU WILL MAKE IT!  

I didn't make it and cancelled the West Virginia show.  Decided to go with Christkindl Markt at the Canton Museum of Art.  It's a $300 show and $25 jury fee and I had already spent $100 building a new light stand as the booths are 8' x 10' (not the universal 10x10, so no canopy frames with light bars, don't even ask as it's stated in the contract, top of page 2) but it's a museum promoting fine art and craft. It was closer to home too;  an hour and half drive instead of 3 hours.  No brainer right?  I was physically ill cancelling the West Virginia show, I have not cancelled a show in 35 years, never.   I still blush red while typing that I cancelled.  If only I had had a crystal ball and a wand, yes a wand would have been great too.  

Enter set up day, Thursday morning.  I was ready!  Drive down, sunny, no problems.  The first red flag and as I look back I should have just kept driving away but I didn't.  I pulled to the loading dock and was directed to park on a hill.  But excuse me sir, I have pottery and this hill could pose a problem.  A run away cart with pottery careening out of control, wiping out a case of plastic angels.  As he was mouthing the words, NO!  What appeared to be a young homeless man came running across the green yelling; CALL THE POOOOLICE, HE HAS A KNIFE AND A GUN.  I looked over his shoulder and sure enough there was another guy coming on fast over the green and the security guard was on his cell phone calling the police.  He kept running to the next block with his adversary in hot pursuit,  I kept unloading with my foot wedged under the wheels and praying for the case of angels.  

As I unloaded the next thing I noticed; everyone unloading was old; like really old.  One guy made telephone pole Santas.  He wrestled an army of Santas out of his horse trailer onto a two wheeled dolly.  Huffing and puffing he rolled the first Santa to the cab of his truck and loaded his green oxygen tank right next to the giant red Santa.  Very festive but hope Santa doesn't pinch his hose or it could be lights out!  Is this what people do for retirement income now?  What happened to fishing or Florida or shuffleboard or bridge or bowling or canasta? 

Everything made it in and I was set up.  Just in time to drive home during rush hour.  


A very nice woman working the check-in gave me a map, parking pass, name badge, strict instructions on booth sitters, donuts only on Thursday, and bread crumbs so I could find my way back to the entrance.  In a dark dark room, down a distant hallway, past the alpaca knitters, past the Santa Sweet Shoppe, past the snow globe candle ornament artist and YES, next to the ......... MARBLE MAN!   He had a little cart he wheeled in and he makes little wooden trees on a tray.  You get a big bag of marbles and drop them down over the tree made of little wooden paddles, some make it to the tray, some hit the concrete floor laying in wait for little old people with canes and walkers.   He started tossing marbles Friday morning before the doors opened.  Marble man was in the cavernous hall right outside our door, the sound of cascading glass marbles bouncing off little wooden paddles and the polished concrete floor reverberated through out the grand hall.  Three days with this man and he had a demonic smile every time he dropped a bag a marbles over the little tree; he couldn't stop himself.  By Sunday the jewelry lady cracked.  She picked some stray marbles off the floor and stormed the committee office.  Wherein they sent a little old lady gray haired lady with a four pronged cane, dressed in a candy cane apron and red Hane's light up sweatshirt flashing Jingle Bells, down to "talk" to the marble man.  We all secretly hoped she open up a can of whoop ass on this guy.  After Ms Jingle Bells left, he leaned around the corner, glaring at the jewelry lady and said; If you fall, sue me.  

I had great neighbors!  There were three of us in little room and we all watched each others booths for breaks, offered up treats and shot the breeze while we waited for customers who could not; for love, nor money, nor marbles find us.  We all realized by Saturday afternoon we were screwed.  

We would exit our little room and look up and down the cavernous hall for warm bodies.  On Friday we noticed a booth right outside our door who seemed to be competing with the Marble Man.  It was 
Princesta Magic Baskets!  (not kidding)  Turn up your speakers folks, watch the video and remember this is in the Canton Museum of Art.

And the judges awarded this guy 

and a check for $150 and the promise he will be back next year!  

By Saturday noon the other artists had brought it to the attention of the women's committee that the judges had made a wee bit of a mistake as these magic baskets were mass produced with CNC machines and there were 10 guys working in garage somewhere, maybe in America, maybe not, banging this crap out at lightening pace.  Phillippe was the minion sent out to dump magic baskets on art patrons everywhere.  I do not begrudge this man making a living but an advertised, juried fine craft/art fair in a museum is probably not where I expected him to show up.  And he worked a crowd like it was the county fair or a Vegas flea market.  Customers headed to the real wood artist with beautiful inlaid cutting boards were accosted with; "Hey friend, let me show you what I make, it's amazing and you will love it. We have a patent pending on our art!"  It was impressive to watch BUT IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE A FINE CRAFT/ART SHOW IN A MUSEUM!   When the real wood artist asked the committee ladies if he was really going to be asked back and they said; "YES, we love him!"  Real wood artist said; I don't think I can come back and the committee ladies said; "That's Fine" .....and then my hair caught fire.  And then the other jewelry guy said; This is an outrage and started packing up at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon.  Stu is a nice guy, married to a very nice woman, he has a cool display and he had a double booth so this was gonna leave a hole!  Stu is a large man who wears a wrinkled lab coat, shooters earmuffs, has lots of cats and he could be the jeweler for Dr. Demento. The co-chair came down to talk Stu off the ledge but Stu did a great job getting the co-chair on the ledge with him and she started crying.  Stu had a good platform and was very eloquent explaining why he could no longer stay. I love Stu!  And now I was pretty sure we were in the Twilight Zone of all craft fairs!  I was ready for a candy cane fight to break out and somebody was going to loose an eye!  Nope no candy cane fight.  Strolling down the hall headed straight for us to find out what the dust up was all about the local drunken potter.  Drinking from a goblet bigger than his head he asked; What's up?  Dear God if he walked past the candle lady we would all go up in a puff of smoke! Nothing says fine art show like a drunk potter.  The only sad part, it wasn't me!   The show was so bad I started packing up at 5:30 pm and decided to head over to the real art opening across town in a college gallery with friends and real artists who like each other and are happy to see each other.  (which was such a breath of fresh air) 
I went home and slept on it...... hard.  And we had our first snow event of the year, my hour and half drive turned into two hours with detours and accidents, a knuckle buster for sure.  

Sunday was pretty much like Saturday, except the 90 year old crafter down the way came down and gave me the biggest bear hug ever announcing it was her birthday today.  Her husband made embossed framed work that was beautiful but he can't drive so she is his chauffeur.  She said Jesus loved me and I shouldn't let that SOB with the baskets take one more minute of my precious time.   Thanks Hon and happy birthday.... 90, she's 90 and she drove up from West Virginia everyday to do this show.  If I'm 90 and still doing shows somebody pinch my hose! 

Did not make booth fee, first time in a very long time.  Four days out of the studio,  710 miles logged over 4 days and shell shocked from Christkindl Markt.  Monday morning I unloaded the van, licked my wounds, ran in to Cleveland to breakdown a gallery show.  I had people taking pictures in my booth, never asked just snapping away, when I questioned why they were taking pictures in my best jovial tone.  The person snapped if I wanted to copy it I would buy it.  What the Hell is going on in the world of craft - art - the world everywhere?  Today I wandered around my studio wrapping my brain around the next show in three weeks.  
Now where did I put my bulletproof underwear?  Happy Holidays...... I think! 


Monday, October 29, 2018

Dancing in the crazy........

It is that time of the year; gardens closing down, chores piling up, show deadlines piling up, desk piling up with invoices and tax crap, studio in full swing, kitchen rock'n and wait for it........ time for home repair!  And I won't even broach the midterm election insanity because I just can't.  Facebook is but a distant memory for me.  I tried so hard to pull the reins in on this runaway horse that seems to slip in the backdoor every year.  This year that horse is the size of a clydesdale on steroids.  

My grand plan has somehow gone off the rails, anybody shocked?  Well that would be me because I did everything to keep this horse on tranquilizers this year!  I hit September and I had signed up for two show and just figured that would be enough but then another show called and it's a show I had looked at for the last few years.  Pondered on that one hard and thought oh why not it's on down time, how hard can it be to toss up a booth for three days?  And then found out the booth is 8x10 and no canopy frames are allowed, be prepared to set your booth up around columns and benches in a museum and we won't tell you where your booth is until you show up for set up on Nov. 8th.  My entire lighting system is built on my canopy frame which happens to be 10 x 10.  Then, no complaints here, the October show all but sold out. Undeterred the wheel got bumped to warp speed, Butch was put on notice not to ask for anything and expect nothing and I contemplated a new lighting frame.  November 8, 9, 10 and 11th seems so far away......   

The end of September I noticed a show I had been interested in, more as a family event than anything else; THE OGLEBAY FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS, Wheeling WV.  Mostly because they had Santa's Reindeer Training Camp and Breakfast with Santa and thought Butch would probably wet himself if I got in.   Sent the images in, plunked down the jury fee and thought, snowballs chance in hell.  Trumpets sounded Oct 20th...... Congratulations!  Set up is the exact same time as the other show.  Rolled all this around for a day or two and my gut told to me to cancel one of the shows but my head said; Go for it, just do it!  (Nike, there are times your slogan sucks!).  So I'm going to JUST DO IT.  I will set up at Canton and work the three day show.  I am setting up the booth in my studio and taking copious pictures, numbering everything, loading the van on Saturday morning, Nov. 10th and sending Butch down to Wheeling, WV with a blind dog to help to set up the booth.  Chances are Kirby will come back with a red glowing nose and Butch will be driving a sleigh.  

Oh and I failed to mention I juried into a small competition on for a local advertising company to have images published in their annual calendar.  I've done it before and it's a cool local event.  This was back in May.  Sound those damn trumpets again...... this year they are hosting a gallery show of work accepted into the calendar and the opening night is (somebody hose down the trumpets!)  Nov. 9th!  Sooooo the Canton show closes at 6 pm and gallery show opens at 7 pm.  Anybody want to buy a lottery ticket it snows on Nov. 9, 10 and 11?  

As I rolled all this around in my head and I reached for a bag of clay coming up empty handed.  I called for 500 pounds of Tucker clay.  Normally I run to Avon, NY to pick this stuff up, I love it that much!  Tucker truck was stuck at the Canadian border, standby.  Crap on cracker!  Call Standard Clay in Pittsburgh as my local supplier doesn't stock the clay I use and is trying to train us to order two weeks in advance..... BaHaaaaa, keep dreaming on that one!   Load the Kirby in the van and off to Pittsburgh on a fine Fall morning to pick up 600 pounds of clay.  And can I just say how much I miss Carla at Standard!  Back in time to unload and wedge out two boxes of clay for a morning throwing session.  
Everybody needs a pupperchino on a long ride.......

and then this happened........ 
and the company sent the wrong elements ...... just no words at this point.  (and I am so grateful for email because I went back and pulled up my correspondence and really wasn't me this time!! Phew!) 

and about this time things were spinning out of control so I went to the kitchen and baked bread, lots of bread..... I have fallen down the crevasse' of sour dough.  While I waited for the bread to bake I managed to wade through a mountain of paper work, getting my desk cleaned off, taxes paid and bookkeeping done. 

While in complete denial about deadlines, impending doom and the going gets really tough, the tough go on craigslist!  I am loving that people buy appliances and then become afraid of them.  The Cadillac of canners is the All American canner and here it was; used once by a woman who freaked herself out so badly she vowed never to can again and tossed in jars, lids, and everything else you would ever need to put up a jar of peaches.  $125.... this is a $300 canner and I had canning lust deep in my heart and I am a kitchen sinner! 

The 6 qt. professional, 525 watt Kitchenaid mixer I have also lusted after for a couple years but they run around $600.  Cue the trumpets, there it was, on craigslist but alas it was the other side of Erie PA but wait I am going to Avon, NY to pick up clay if the truck ever get across the border!  Asking price; $200.  Too big and she was afraid of it...... I mentioned I had a smaller 4 qt. Kitchenaid.  So I gave her $100 and my old Kitchenaid mixer and peeled out of her driveway with a new mixer and 500 pounds of clay because indeed the truck has crossed the border. 

and then we had a hail storm and wind storm and neighbors lost porches and roofs and the street was closed due to down power lines and we were really really lucky

and then the drywall guy we talked to in June said he could finally start ........ 

and that leads down the road to new paint and replacing old old old carpet..... old houses are just so damn needy!  I rolled into Home Depot on Sunday morning and in an hour picked out paint and carpet!  Stress can work wonders on decision making..... 

and then this happened and you know it's gonna be OK...... 
The Aconitum survived the hail storm so buck up and get busy!

For all my friends who have checked in because I checked out, thank you!  I will surface soon if this next week doesn't kill me....... Kirby will post an update if it does. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Show Time!

and it's good to be home........ (mug by Lorna Meaden)

My mind is reeling from a weekend of rain, mud and pottery patrons.  The rain, humidity, freezing temps and then heat seemed relentless this year and yet there were wonderful pockets of sunshine.  Set up on Wednesday went pretty well weather wise and other wise too.  Thursday morning the only thing left to do was pricing.  

The show, Ohio Mart at Stan Hywet Hall in Akron is normally an hour drive.  Thursday morning turned into a two and half hour nightmare drive and I wondered if I would make the opening to get the lights turned on.  If we have the technology for driverless cars we should have the technology to disengage a cell phone when your car door shuts!  911 would be the only number you could dial.  I do not own a cell phone as I have squirrel syndrome.  I would also break limbs as I would be looking down all the time and I prefer to look up these days.  I encountered not one but two accidents on the way down.  I was also unaware that the berm is a passing lane if someone is in a hurry.  WTF people!  Also we are just not nice to each other anymore!  Need to do a bit of pondering on that one.  The ride home was not much better.  Friday morning only one accident.  

My brain is playing havoc with me this morning.  I sold well.  What did I sell?  Mostly mugs with gingko designs or bunnies and carrots.   I was sold out by Saturday morning.  I price mugs at $32.00.  I had carved porcelain tea bowls that I personally love and only sold one.  Iron reds just sat there, celadons just sat there.  The end of the show and right side of my booth was pitiful.  The left side looked like the day I set up.

The drive home was great as the load was considerably lighter, my bank account had a reprieve and it was Sunday. 

Soooo here is the dilemma.  I spent 6 weeks weaving pots for gallery shows.  I have sold two pots at the gallery shows for a total of $234.50.  Are pots that are fussy, high end better made by artists working at universities collecting a regular pay check and getting hospitalization?  I don't know and I am not being snarky it is just a reality.  I don't get retirement and I am only as good as my last firing, not so much my last gallery show.   I am now thinking of how many mugs and bowls I could have made in those 6 weeks and had a bit more in my bank account.  Seriously this is driving me bonkers.  I have another show in 4 weeks and will be in the studio with the pedal to the metal trying to catch up on what was sold.  Mother Hubbards cupboard is bare.  I have woven pots coming out my ears but the functional stuff is gone.  I also heard several patrons say ....... "thank you for getting your pottery out of the 70's".  I heard it on Saturday and I heard it again on Sunday.   Over the last 35 years of pots and all things pottery I have learned to be flexible and change up glazes and clay bodies but who knew people would that, out loud.  I always felt hand thrown or handmade pottery was kind of timeless unlike the mass produced stuff which does go out of vogue. 

Ohio Mart is an awesome show in every respect; from the organizers to the patrons to my whacky neighbors.   Peggy sporting a new purse from the vintage tent :)  

We have become friends over the last three years and it is always fun to "catch up".   

I'm not saying I will never make another woven pot by any stretch but I think I will become more judicious about shows I commit to and at what time of the year.  Curious to see if I get my Etsy store updated, will it become active as I do a few more shows?  

I can't even believe I am still vacillating on these issues.  I started with wisteria back in the day and it paid for my studio, kilns and trips to far off places while dragging my kids behind me.  
I need to add a kiln room to the studio in the near future and I wouldn't mind a cover over the exposed outdoor work area.  

Today I will unload a van full of muddy fixtures and wet canopy; hose down the rug and pedestals but first there is time for coffee on the patio and catch up time with a very much missed buddy, Kirby. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

It's Over.........

Yesterday I stood on the patio, a bright sunny Fall day and realized I had just run out of propane.  Hooking up a spare raku tank, my igniter was out of butane too.  I was also out of jars and vinegar, all signs it was time to stop canning, walk away, get out of the kitchen, save yourself!  I had given myself one too many vinegar facials.  Pictured above is  the final list of everything that has been packed away.  I did the final inventory this morning and fell to my knees when I realized I had not put up one jar of pasta sauce!  I checked this morning and they are still picking tomatoes out at the local farm but I talked myself off the ledge and double counted the jars of chopped tomatoes and thought just use those!  Do 2 people really need another half bushel of tomatoes..... NO! 

Here are the final pictures of very full shelves. (converted pottery shelves as this was my very first studio some 30 years ago).  

Soooo many people have pointed out how much work this is.  OK, it's NOT!  I prepped in the evening and canned the next morning.  Usually finished by 10 am or noon depending on what was being processed.  
I have memories of my great grandma's basement canning parties, butchering parties, lekvar parties (prune butter) being kind of fun for the old ladies. I am using the term "party" very loosely here, as these were short, wide woman rocking hairnets and sweating over bubbling pots or as memory serves me..... cauldrons, yup they must have been cauldrons and the Hungarian flew off their tongues.  As a little kid, ducking the under arms of these large woman washing jars, stirring pots and yelling, my only thought;  they had just had us kids to run stuff up and down the stairs a million times.  We ran dead, beheaded chickens from behind the garage, through the back screen door, down a flight of steps where a gaggle of women waited with open arms and scalding pots.  I can still remember the smells vividly.  It was a family affair and I was not super happy with any of it.  But at the end of the day, the food was pretty good, everybody was tired and the shelves or freezer was full.  Today it's a solitary adventure and I'm still running the stairs and counting jars on shelves and freezer.  Whatever happened to community canning centers or kitchens?  

The amount of food three woman could put up on a Friday or weekend, if it was high holy canning season, was staggering.  My great grandmother was still leery of the Kroger that had just come to town.  I remember riding in a big old Dodge every Thursday morning with the same woman now clutching coupons and comparing notes on what was on sale, while Great grandpa Frank got behind the wheel.  He could barely see over the wheel and after a couple blocks has to take a Nitro pill because there was no power steering.   I think back and can't believe how big that Dodge had to be, 3 large woman, one small man and two kids, who sometimes had to sit in floor wells behind the front seat.  It held all the groceries and got us back home.  We were not really squished.  Oh and they worn good clothes to go grocery shopping, sometimes rocking a hat........  Have you been to the store lately and looked around?   
Speaking of the store....... I spent $170.00 TOTAL.  The woman checking out in front of me spent $283.00 on food.  Because I am that creeper in the check out line, I had to ask;  How long will that last you?  She was feeding 5 and it would get her through about a week.  Catch me, I had the vapors!   I had been doing a quick inventory as her groceries rolled down the belt.  She did have a lot of processed food, frozen pizzas, pop tarts, some cereal with a gorilla on the label,  frozen pouches of doughy goodness, large Styrofoam trays of meat, lots of soft drinks, chips, large loaves of white bread and those things called Lunchables I didn't know they still made those.  Not being judgy, just observant..... ok maybe a little judgy.   I GET IT!  She works, is raising three kids, and and and .... I really do get it!!!  My Mom worked full time from the time I was five and it was nuts and thank god for the grandmas or we would have never eaten a real canned tomato.  And besides the woman dug a credit card out of her Michael Korrs hand bag and kept her credit card in Kate Spade wallet.  She smelled good and her nails were "done".  I looked like homeless person paying with change dug out of my garden jeans with holy knees and I probably smelled like a goat who sprayed down with barnyard pheromones .  So I guess it is about what makes you happy and what you want.  I want comfortable shoes, a shelf full of garden fun and I will work on smelling good .  

I have not done this for three years due to the gallery and show obligations.  I ran pottery pretty hard these last three years and didn't have a lot to show for it.  This year I realized my life is bigger than just pottery.  I have loved my yard and outside stuff this year.  Finding bugs, figuring out if they were good bugs or bad bugs and then blasting there little butts in a jar of soapy water.  I lost a few battles and won a few battles, like cucumbers and terra stigillata (studio stuff).  I learned hydrogen peroxide works on all plants and a bit of Epsom salts works wonders on the tomatoes and roses; not just as a flocculant for glazes!  I heard the birds again and left the spent echinacea heads up in the garden for the gold finches, now wearing there Sunday best colors.  I guess my worlds are starting to merge a bit and I'm kind of liking it.  

As I tucked the last jar on the shelf this chilly Sunday morning and climbed back up the steps to sunlight my brain boarded the pottery train.  Yes, just that fast!  I set up for a four day show on Wednesday!  Again, out of business cards and it's time to climb the pull down stairs in the studio and start bringing down all the booth stuff and empty boxes.  I have way too much inventory as I did manage to make pots all summer.  But the thought of digging all the crap out for a booth is a little dizzying, especially with the reoccurring theme of stairs in my life. 
I'm kind of over the woven pots.  Ya they are nice and the gallery's love them but they just don't sell that often.  I look at my shelves right now and I see fermenting jars, soup bowls, tea pots and for the most part.....  functional work.   I did sell one woven piece at the Lakeland opening and that was great!  But as I look over the past few months I've sold nice decorative stuff in the $45-$85 price range with no weaving, mugs, and a few bowls.  The woven stuff takes an incredible amount of time to make and I found myself weaving on the patio wishing I was anywhere else doing anything else.  I have an attic full of woven pots but the galleries want "new" work; something that hasn't been seen before.  These are all sure signs to move on to other things.  

I guess I'm getting there although I'm not sure where ........ peace out for now blogosphere :) 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Balance.......... nope!

Over my short life I've strived for balance, great good balance.  I've OHMMMMMMM-ed myself some years to deafness, especially when my kids were little.  I OHMMMM-ed in the bathroom while one kid blew her recorder under the bathroom door and yelled; "MOM! CAN YA HEAR ME?"  After a summer of insane heat and garden madness I suddenly piffed;  an epiphany, as in giving myself a psychic noogie.  Wandering around the big blue marble for 60 plus years, always thinking; Why can't I get this balance thing?  I had a girl friend in grade school who could wear white tights on the playground and eat catsup on her bologna sandwich and went home in really white tights.  She jumped rope and never broke a sweat.  I was not that kid but was very aware that a person who could wear white anything on the playground, eat catsup at lunch and get on the bus looking like she did at 8 am upon arriving to Parkview elementary was pretty awe inspiring.  I was a walker and by the time I tripped out the side door, swinging my plastic lunchbox at my brothers head and missing,  I had ripped my tights and blood was usually streaming down both knees into my rubber boots that left big red marks on my calves as I chased him to school yelling really bad things...... I was THAT kid.  By 6 years of age I was pretty sure balance was going to be very elusive.

As I stood in the backyard with my headlamp beam pointed at the jalapeño pepper plants on the dark side of the moon, I had an out of body experience.  I love my little backyard grocery store and what the hell are you doing out here in the inky darkness with scurrying critters?  WHERE'S THE BALANCE?  I was making salsa at 10:30 pm and forgot to pick the peppers.   And the garden said; You idiot, there is no balance!  We had the explosion of growing in the Spring, a bit of lull during the middle of July letting you rest up for ALL THIS! The explosion of plants reproducing through seeds;  which we humans like to eat in the form of fruits, nuts, roots and other nutritious stuff and they do it better than anything we can even come close to reproducing in the lab, like fake meat! No, not everything sits on a Ritz!  And when it's on it's really ON!  So I have made peace with this thing called balance and I'm probably never going get it because I plant seeds.  In fact every year I plant seeds, can't remember a year I didn't plant seeds.  So I guess I'm just going to be a lunchbox swinger until I no longer plant seeds ....... like never!

I really wanted to complete a blog post each Sunday but it's nuts right now and I'm in the middle of this big grand experiment called my backyard.  How much will this place produce?  And it has not been a very good year!  We have had more than 20 days with 90F degrees (33C)  and above and not much rain.  Pests abound this year but my little jar of dawn dish liquid with hot water have made my reflexes very quick and fingers quite nimble picking little pests off delicate buds and leaves.
But here is where I am thus far.

I spent about $5 on seeds this year and $25 on starter plants like peppers, tomatoes, cukes.   I don't have a very good place to start seeds but I am working on that.

Master Canning List 9-1-18

7-18.     Dilly Beans                22 jars.       $0  garden produce
             Peach Butter.                3 jars        $4
             Pickle Relish                9 jars        $0 garden produce
             Mixed Veg. Pickles     12 jars       $4 for corn, the rest garden produce
            Caponata                      13 jars       $0 garden produce

8-18.    Plum butter                    2 jars       $3 Italian prune plums on sale $1.29 #
            Tomatoes chopped       10 qts.      
            Tomatoes chopped       14 pints     $20 for a bushel of tomatoes
            Kidney beans                 9 pints     $1.78  2-1# bags
            Black beans                   9 pints     $1.78. 2-1# bags
            Salsa I.                           7 pints.     $0. my tomatoes
            Tomato Soup                 10 pints 
            Chili Sauce                    18 pints
            Salsa II                          15 pints 
                                                   2 quarts
           Veg. Soup                       4 quarts     from Tomato Soup to Salsa II are from the second 
                                                                    bushel of tomatoes for $20
           Elderberry jelly              3 half pints  $0.  my elderberries

9-18.   Peaches                          6 quarts
                                                11.5 pints      $28 for one bushel
           Cowboy Candy              9 half pints  $0. my jalapeños 
           Lekvar Plum butter        9 half pints    4 pounds @ $1.29 #  $5.16

still needed corn relish and applesauce and more tomato soup, and catsup...... for my white tights :) 

Master Freezer List

7-18.   Chicken Stock           20 quarts       $0 my chickens, celery, carrots, onions and parsley
           Blueberry curd            3 pints          $0 my blueberries
           Rhubarb Cordial         3 pints          $0 my rhubarb
           Strawberries              30 pounds      10#'s purchased at a you pick farm for $22.50
                                                                    the rest are from my garden.
           Blueberries                20 pounds      $35 picked from local farms
           Roasted tomatoes       1 quart          $0. my garden 
           Squash Soup              3 quarts         $0. my garden
           Roasted bean & corn 3 bags            $4
           Cherry tomato jam     3.5 pints        $0 my garden

also 2 pints of boozy cherries and 2 pints of boozy peaches.   
Ok, I'm a bit gobsmacked, in a good way, after seeing it on paper.

the clip board is hanging on the basement door and this inventory sheet is fastened tight.  

I am out of pint jars and half pint jars and not sure if I really need anymore jars.  I still have quart jars but realized some of the quart jars which I have been using are from my Mom and Grandma so must be quite old!  Should probably think about upgrading a few those.  My pressure canner I bought in 1978 and it still works great.  My water bath canner was purchased at garage sale for $5.  Ball Blue book could use an upgrade so I borrowed one from the library to make sure I am current and up to date on my times, pressures, acidity levels etc.  

So why am I doing this?  I keep reading articles on stuff in my food I don't want!  Two weeks ago I lost my mind when I read the new report out on oats.  I've eaten Quaker Old Fashioned Oats forever and Bob's Mill oat bran for a very long time.  Figured they had't screwed around with Oats too much as far as GMO etc.  Never really thought I was getting my RDA of Round Up or otherwise known as Glyphosate with my morning breakfast.  There I was sitting in front of my computer early one morning unconsciously shoveling oatmeal with raisins and oat bran in my face while reading this.......... my Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal dribbled down my chin.   But not to worry because they are telling us no problem it's safe to eat, go for it, it's fine.  IT'S NOT FINE AND I DON'T WANT IT!   I always believed if you can't pronounce it don't eat it but they don't even need to list this on the package.  We are doomed!  Isn't some government agency supposed be looking out for us?  Oh  wait they are way out of balance at the moment, even more so than myself!  Scary huh?  

The only label with not one PPB of Glyphosate was Whole Foods 365.  

The next week I had just started switching out my recipes to use coconut oil because it's sooooo damn good for you.  I posted the recipe on this blog.  Then news flash a Harvard Professor declares coconut oil is poison..... ya here is the article coconut-oil-is-pure-poison-  back to pig fat! 

So eat your vegetables, without a healthy dose of Glyphosate and dig out the olive oil again.  

Here are few pictures from kitchen or frontline ........ 

Elderberry tip; freeze first and the berries come right off! 

I inherited the Squez-O from my Mom :) 

first batch of peaches

Jalapeños for cowboy candy

Lekvar (Hungarian plum butter) 

and I'm weaving too as my pots are due on Friday!! 

and just want to say, 
I'm never going here...... 
nope not even on a handmade plate or bowl but thanks Edible Cleveland.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sundays, posting from the frontlines.......

Another week and I am just ticking down those August days.  I gotta say this is not my favorite month.  February gets a little brutal around here but August is the waiting month.  Waiting for northern breezes to start blowing, humidity to drop, rain to start falling, seeds to sprout, shows to start up and the wait sometimes seems eternal.  
The late summer gardens are pretty, especially in the evenings.  

Hydrangea Unique

Nicoctiana for the moths and make the yard smell of vanilla.

Lobelia and Fairy Roses

The bean screen is working remarkably well this year. 
My van is behind that green wall. 

The full blown garden bounty is coming in and I am pretty careful about what happens on which weather day.  I could never punch a time clock!  Yesterday my list was pretty full but then mid-afternoon the humidity dropped, the wind shifted, I stopped weaving and ran out to get garden chores done.  The back 40 got my attention.  Seeds once again were tossed in the ground.  Carrots, Swiss chard, red Russian Kale, Toscano Kale, Romaine and Butter crunch lettuces.  Still to toss are radishes and beets.  Might be late for beans but will give it shot as I have the seeds.

This has been a learning year.  There were so many things that got crossed off the master list and then seeds and plants were unceremoniously slammed in the ground.  I said the garden prayer over the whole lot; GROW DAMMIT!  and moved onto other stuff on the list.  In past years I spent hours pouring over companion planting charts, moon planting charts, researching what seeds were resilient to pests, wilts and blights, heirloom or hybrid but not this year.  And a HUGE mistake was made!

I let volunteer potato sprouts grow where they wanted, ala Ruth Stout no till, no work gardening method.  
If you don't know Ruth Stout check her out here:  Ruth Stout video

One big problem, tomato blight winters over on potato tubers left in the ground.  Guess who got tomato blight for the first time ever!  So many lessons...... not from Ruth Stout this time!

My blighted tomatoes but the nasturtiums are doing great!  

As luck would have it there is a terrific farmer up the road and I can get tomatoes for $20 a bushel.  I am using the tomatoes I have for eating and soups and buying a bushel or two from my local farmer who thankfully, is pretty pesticide and herbicide free.  And can I just rant for a minute?  I am so over the boutique farm stands!  I have been going to a local farm stand for 35 years.  This year I had sticker shock!  5 peaches were $7.00.  A watermelon was $9.00.  I can't even remember what the "heirloom tomatoes" were going for as I stumbled around wondering where my old farm stand went.  There were custom jams, pickles, jellies. Custom paring knives. Honey was crazy expensive!  I am so grateful for my honey lady who lives a stones throw away.  I bought a dozen ears of corn for $6.00, which I thought was very fair.  As I walked out I noticed the cars in the parking lot; an Audi SUV, a Mercedes, a huge Suburban and my cute little work van.  Yikes, when did this happen?  and why did this happen?  My favorite orchard where I got Molly Red apples is closed this year.  Are farm markets being gentrified like everything else?  Ok I got the boutique corn home and half of ears were not filled out so I only got half an ear of corn or 6 ears.  I get you have to put your kids through college, and need equipment and and and ...... we are all in this together.  I guess this gets shelved with the $100 mug dilemma and I sure need time to ponder all this!  Phew February is coming!

My few tomatoes have been roasted and turned into soup.  I wish you could smell my house right now!  Almost better than Christmas!!

This is the easiest and best tomato soup recipe ever!  No need to skin or seed the tomatoes just core, cut and roast.  Toss in a head of garlic, some fresh basil, thyme, onions and roast at 375F until slightly charred.  Blend in blender or food processor adding stock as needed.  At this point I can put it in the freezer or add a bit of almond milk or half and half and make a nice bisque for dinner.  If you choose not to add stock it makes a super fab spread for crusty bread or crackers.

This works for squash too!  In the hollow put sage and garlic, roasting upside down to seal in the flavors. 

Let it cool, peel, toss squash, garlic and sage in a big heavy bottomed pot and start adding stock or water to thin out.  I use my stick blender.  This freezes super duper too!  

The birds won on the elderberries this year....

The white raspberries are doing OK this year.  These were a pass along from neighbor Joan H. and best gift ever! 
Last year they were stupendous.  This year between the Japanese beetles and drought not as well. The gardener fell down in her duties. 

The studio is humming along too.  Those raku pots from last Sunday have been polished up or hammered.  Weaving is taking way too much time but still love weaving!  

I'm also on the learning curve for terra stigillata.  Just when you think you've nailed it you open the kiln to find it peeled right off the bottom half of the pot.  Not sure if the pots can be fixed or worth the effort of fixing so I will sit and look at them for a week and then decide.  Nothing to loose at this point so time to play!! 

When all else fails back to pots you know and love :) 

So I must say just about the time you plod along through the week opening less then stellar kiln loads and trimming blighted leaves of tomato plants or spending a morning killing bean beetles, squash beetles, potato beetles, cucumber beetles.  

Then out of the blue this pops up. 

And you can't believe it and it makes you a bit teary because you realize you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing.  Planting seeds, making pots, plodding along through life and then one day you pop that sun warmed cherry tomato in your mouth and the explosion happens.  For a moment in time all is right in my little world on this tiny half acre and you can't stop smiling and you know you will always be planting those seeds.  

Hoping everyone a sun warmed cherry tomato week!