Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The winds of change........

I had high hopes of blogging once a week but alas that thing called life keeps getting in the way.  Today is rainy, blustery and an extra cup of coffee is in order along with a bowl of oatmeal topped off with last summers blueberries.  Maybe a quick blog before I head out to the studio.  (good god, oatmeal is hard to get off a keyboard!)  I really could use a few more hours in the day.  But as the days grow shorter and temperatures cooler I feel myself falling into hibernation. 

Every time I fill the canner, I say out loud; "This is the last batch!!"  Step away from the jars, Sandy!  Then I hit the farmers market and see all the pretty colors and the prices because the gardens are doing their last explosion before the snow flies!  Decanting the hot coffee at O-dark:30 on a cold Saturday morning; I think what can possibly be left to sell at the market?  I pull on my boots, grab my bags and push off to one of the last farmers markets.  Fewer stalls for sure but the abundance is still there!  Squash, peppers of all varieties, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, kale, garlic, onions, shallots, herbs; be still my heart.  This week I have company, Butch!   I ask him what he is looking for this week and he gets excited; "Hope the meat girl is there!!"  Insert eyeroll.......

I spent a little over $26.00 and I love when the farmers throw in extra stuff because it's the end of the season and you chat with them every week!  

Last stop, "meat girl".  Butch usually indulges in sausage or one pork chop ( I'm just not much of a meat eater)  and if you're gonna eat meat I would buy it from this gal who loves her herds and does it the way I wish all animals were raised and harvested.  Plus she drives over from Pennsylvania lugging a freezer.  This is what he pick out:  

it's $18 a pound and worth every penny but he is the only one eating this pork tenderloin.  I try to steer him to his one pork chop or maybe some sausage in a cute little bag but I see him drooling as he hands her a $20 and she says; it's $38.  I am standing by with another $20 and I see the shock on his face.  Clueless just clueless. This is the guy who refers to cucumbers as zucchini and garden herbs as smelly green things.   Walking to the car he keeps asking why is this so expensive?  Ahhhhhh the lessons of good farming practices.  Meat is a luxury and in this house eaten very sparingly, if at all.  Chicken stock is about as far as I go in the fur and feather category.  And always fish ....... from anchovies to halibut.   We have decided to keep it, the tenderloin, frozen and haul it out to Colorado for family Christmas festivities.

And my garden is still producing too.  A few tomatoes, loads of peppers, potatoes, swiss chard, cucumbers, dill, parsley, well loads of herbs and of course KALE.  We are finally getting badly needed rain so the garlic will go in tomorrow along with a few flower bulbs.  

Yard clean up is upon us too....... the cucumbers are gone!~!  happy dance!  I just could not look at one more cuke.  There is a major side out rotate coming to the garden too and it needs to be happening now!   Speaking of cleaning out..... they are still coming; cucumbers and groundhogs, what a year! 

the parade to the basement continues.....and bread season :) 

Scarlet runner beans.  I love these beans!  I took these out to my middle school pottery class last week.  The brown dried pods are not so attractive but when cracked open an incredible surprise!  I gave each kid a bean and watched their faces.  This is what I want to see in your creations, the element of surprise.  Something that makes you smile!!  Life is too short for boring pottery :) 

The pottery is busy too.  Although I cancelled one of my biggest shows I have been busy with orders and holiday shoppers already! 

My little gallery is cleaned and open for business and I have enjoyed people stopping by. 

 I did my books last week and was surprised at the amount of work that had sold.  My little nest egg was growing but knowing how my life seems to go I said to Butch;  the universe is filling my bank account because I'm gonna take a hit.  I never seem to have abundance of cash or fat bank account but I almost never come up short and get my bills paid.  But the cushion is such a luxury!  I used to marvel at how things worked out but now I just think it's a balance.  I always seem to have what I need when I need it ....... my definition of a miracle.  

Thursday morning I woke up to this face:  

Panic at the disco!!  Call the vet...... "well it's worrisome but since he is already blind, not an emergency."   Excuse me?  In my humble opinion sir: THIS IS A FUCKING EMERGENCY!  Yesterday we were off to the canine ophthalmologist.... again.  Ya, last time it cost me $350 to let me know he was blind.  But I love and trust this guy and he is really good, scary good!  We sat in a dark room, they stained his eye, puffed his eye and found out the cataracts are so bad the lens of his eye had detached and was now laying on the floor of his eye.  The pressure in his eye had tripled too.  
Next Tuesday he will have his eye removed, silicon implant put in, the other eye accessed and hopefully stabilized and my little nest egg/cushion will cease to exist.  But I had it and it's enough to pay for his surgery and all the vet bills.  And why didn't I go into animal care instead of pottery?  Hey Bernie Sanders does medical for all include my dog?  Can I put glasses on him and pass him off as my kid?  When it's all said and done it will be over $3,000.  I drove home asking myself so many questions..... and here are some of the answers.  I spend more time with Kirby than anybody else on the planet,  he has never left my side in 3 years, he has had some pretty shitty humans in his short life and I need to be the good human, I shop on craigslist and at Goodwill, work way too many hours and am quite frugal.  I don't have closets full of clothes or shoes and my underwear is pretty holy so I feel pretty good about the choice I have made.  He will just be a somewhat expensive alarm clock and the alternative sucks. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019


Fall has arrived, finally!  Two days ago the air conditioner was blasting.  Firing kilns and throwing pots on a 92 degree day is my idea of being plunged into the 7th portal of Hell.  How can you look at the Fall sunsets, hear the geese honking goodbye and know you are sweating in your socks? 

So much going on here at Happy Acres it's hard to keep up!  The current theme seems to be about filling shelves. 


And speaking of the 7th portal into Hell, also known as my basement, also known as the vault for all things squirreled away yummy and in a jar.  I was making my morning run to the basement last week to stack jars on shelves.  One of my rituals is emptying the bucket on the dehumidifier.  I jerked the bucket out and trotted over to the sink and noticed a small bit of "dirt" in the sink.  This is where my mind just spaces out, not dealing with what is really in the sink and proceeds as usual.  Dump bucket, put jars on shelves and scramble out of the basement as quickly as possible.  I can't believe I used to crawl down here to do laundry!  Up the rickety stairs, slam the door shut and sprint to the kitchen or studio.  Next day, repeat.... only to find the pile the "dirt" even bigger and stinkier.  Yup, override the few brain cells I have functioning at 5:30 am and say out loud; "Holy Crap"!  Because it is a rather large pile of poo.  What the is living in the 7th portal of hell and pooping in my wash tub?  As it is a substantial pile of poo that I cannot wash down the drain. My brain went into stutter short circuit.  Is it here now, how did get in and wow these jars of goodness are so good I have wild animals tunneling into my basement!  I better call for back up!!

 All jars were secure but in the darkest corner of the retaining wall another pile of poo.  I do the unthinkable......... I turn out all the lights, stand in the pitch black darkness and listen for scurrying or snorting or even snickering; nothing.  Next step, look for light and sure enough the little bastards have excavated the fieldstone foundation in the front corner of the house and I can see just enough daylight for some critter to wriggle his fat little butt into my own personal portal to Hell.  Game on! 
I turn the lights back on and stare at the pile in the wash tub...... what is it?  Who left this?  OMG I have a mug for that!!  I make poop mugs!  They are field tested by the Lane Bryant Lumberjack and Ginger is Fly up in Alaska!  I have one for myself out in the studio, I sprint to the studio and stand with my mug, matching up poo illustrations on my mug, determining it's a freak'n groundhog!  Set the trap in the basement....... ok who sets traps IN THE HOUSE?  Run to the hardware store for mortar to repair the foundation and pray I am sealing the critter out and not in the basement!

It's been a week now and the trap sits empty.  I have moved it to the outside because I have made the furry bastard so mad he is now pooping all over my porch and front walk.  Nothing says; Welcome like steaming piles of poo on the porch! 

Ok enough poo talk ........ in other news I have taken a job.  Who takes a job when they are 65 years old?  Who decides it's a good idea to revamp a ceramic studio at school that has been abandoned for 2 years?  I took a week to think about this while I was trapping varmints in the basement.  Wrote down lists of pros and cons...... the pros won.   I will be working one day a week at a Montessori School with middle and upper school kids.  It's a farm school and on the day I interviewed we walked in the kitchen and the kids were learning to can garden produce.  They had just butchered 50 chickens....... these are my people!!!  Then we walked to the chicken coop, past the milk goats and up to the "ceramic studio".   Thought I was in Nirvana until we reached the "ceramics studio".  I walked around and then looked at the 40 year old kiln.  Sometimes there are just no words or understanding as to why a place hasn't burned down.  The kiln had a cloth cord!!!  When you use it, you had to plug into the wall.  I opened the kiln and looked at the imbedded clay in the elements and elements hanging to the floor of the kiln.  The kiln was also butt up against a wooden wall.  Why hadn't this place gone up like a tinder box is beyond my comprehension.  Told the art dept. head they really did not have ceramics program as they did not have a kiln.  Not taking the job until I could figure out what was there in the piles of "stuff".   On a lovely hot Friday I went in to start poking around, seeing if anything was salvageable.  Low fire clay, purchased through Walmart and about 100 jars of dried up, low fire glaze.  I start on Wednesday......... wish me luck!  or maybe they just need a good gardener?   It would be easier than pulling a ceramic studio together.  I'm hunting for a kiln if anybody has one laying around! 

The craftsmanship at this place is beyond amazing...... kind of like Amish Hogwarts.

So yup things are kind of nuts and all the balls are spinning, the bread dough is over achieving but hey that is just how we roll around here!