Friday, January 10, 2020

Lunar Eclipses and Shifting Orbits

2020 is off with a bang!  School started up again, went in to load and fire the new kiln, happy to say it worked like a charm!  On the drive out to school I was conversing with my all knowing self about how this year might shape up compared to last year.  I had just balanced out my taxes and again it was just abysmal.  The ever quiet partner in this 38 year marriage piped up as I hit the gross yearly income button; "Wow, you work way too hard to make that."  and then he walked away.  No judgement, just shock and instant depression.  That was on January 2nd so I'd had this rolling around in my head well before my drive out to school.  I rarely say it but hells bells and buckets of guts;  he was right!  Special orders took me down last year and made me a wee bit crazy, to the point of cancelling a show.  The special orders; dinnerware sets, 300 bowls, skulls, all of it,  kept me out of the garden and knee deep in the studio.  I neglected over due house projects and spent a lot of time driving too.  

As I approached the snow covered driveway to school, I prepped for class and students hit with an unceremonious plop.  A couple were down right prickly, I repeated the mantra..... 2 hours, just 2 hours.  The glazes were pulled out, projects started and we tried to get back in the groove but Wow this was hard.  I demo-ed on the wheel and nobody watched, they sat staring into space or punching holes in freshly wedged clay.  I walked out of class ready to toss in the towel but the goats were standing there doing what goats do.  So ladies, what the hell am I doing here?  I love the goats, I love the chickens, the horses, the greenhouse, the gardens, the micro economics class, the staff, my paycheck....... I am not so much loving teaching middle age kids at 9 am.  Maybe I would herd the cats for one more session and call it a year.  I am very aware of how short life is becoming and need to have some fun this year! Last year one best day; standing in the Kenai River, Alaska, casting my brains out and catching nothing (maybe this year I should actually catch something) As I drove out of the snow covered drive, waving goodbye to the goats, and passing an Amish buggy going to town, I felt content with the decision to wind down my time at school.  And then a weird noise came from under the hood of my van.  

Popped the hood and no power steering fluid........ also mice had taken up residence in my air filter.  

I changed out the air filter but the dealership had changed out the power steering line last summer due to a factory recall.  Call the dealership and they can't get my van in for 9 days.  As I asked the head of service; "Is it safe to drive?"  Won't know until I look at it.  But it's my only vehicle and I kind of need it.  Can't help you, click.  No puddle in the driveway, after I filled the power steering reservoir with $30 a quart fluid and the noise ceased.  Yesterday at 7 am I took the van into the dealership for an oil change; ding, ding, ding, I have a coupon, $59.99....and please find out where the leak is and if it is the same as last summers leak and whine.  Call me when you find it and I went home.  Around 1 pm the phone rang, this is Head Service Guy, well the leak is not from the recall last year but it is another line to the power steering (there are 3!) and it's going to run around $800 plus tax, plus the 59.99 oil change plus tax and wow I just had $1,000 eclipsed right out of my bank account!  Don't fix it!!!  I will be right there to pick it up, is the oil changed?  No, not yet.  I need the van, please finish as I am on my way.  Got up to the Ram dealer and no van.  Three people in front of me and not one was a happy camper.  I thought teaching middle aged kids was hard!  My turn came and I tried to be patient and nice.  Just hand over the keys and let me pay for the oil change.  Oh well, we have a cashier now and he walks me over to the sliding glass window with bulletproof glass.  Three very coiffed, bespectacled, middle-aged woman with very long painted nails sat stabbing chicken nuggets and dunking in sauce before popping into ruby red lips said; That will be $211.63.  EXCUSE ME?  It was an oil change!  Nope it was diagnostics for the power steering leak.  WTF it was pulling a bottom panel with 8 bolts and looking for a leak.  The bee-hived, gold nailed cashier in gold lame scarf looked across the counter and said: they didn't discuss this with you?  No and I think I am done with your dealership! And that is why there is bullet proof glass, I handed over my credit card.  I drove home and racked my brain on the next step.  I downloaded the schematics of the power steering lines and thought it might be above my capability and I did not relish laying on a cold asphalt driveway in January with Rufus handing me tools 

Lesson on community....... I worked the election polls last year and we were talking about cars and mechanics and out of the blue I remembered a guy saying; "Only to go to Augie, he's the best!"  Augie lives around the corner and I can walk there.  I hunt down Augie's number and his lovely wife answers; "Oh I am really sorry but Augie had a heart attack yesterday."   I don't even know what to say other than OMG I am really really sorry!  In her quiet, unflappable voice she tells me she is headed to the hospital now but "Call this guy, Augie said he's the only honest mechanic in the county and he is covering Augie's jobs until Augie is back in the garage."  I am in stunned disbelief.  
Number 1: I finally call Augie and he is in the cardiac garage having stints put in.  Number 2:  his lovely unflappable wife recommends the only honest mechanic in my county.  I call the only honest mechanic and he has no idea Augie has taken a knee in the garage and now there is complete silence on the phone.....Hey, are you OK?  Only Honest Mechanic; "Ya I am just kind of stunned, I didn't know."  Just call me the Angel of Happiness and Good Tidings.  After an uncomfortable amount of silence he said; Ya, I can look at your van.  I drove up to meet the only honest mechanic in my county.  I found the shop, next to pornographic book store and across from the fairgrounds, a cement block building tucked next to the railroad tracks and was hit with the stench of hot metal, welding rods and diesel fumes.  I slipped on the oil soaked floor and saw a tiny grey haired woman standing behind an antique oozing radiator sludge tank.  He'll be out in a minute and then a huge, hulking, oil stained young guy walked out of the back wiping his hands on shop towel and said; leave the keys, I'll take a look.  I was having flashbacks to visiting my Dad at his second job, working nights on garbage trucks in a cement block building on Brookpark Road in Cleveland; pulling engines on giant trucks, stripping down breaks and welding anything that broke.  It felt kind of homey;  YES, MY PEOPLE!   I did not hesitate to leave my keys on the counter.  I went home and cleaned the studio.  An hour later he called; Yup, I jerked the panel and found it; the part is $339.00, really sorry about that and it should take me hour.  I can't get the part until Monday.  You can drive your van as it's not spurting fluid, I'll put it back together cuz you probably need it, if it makes that whiny noise just add some fluid.  And Augie called me from the hospital and he's doing good and made sure I could help you.  WAIT! Is there a diagnostics charge? WAIT! Augie called from the hospital?  Honest Mechanic Guy; " For what?"  Finding the leak.... um no I just pulled the panel, it took 5 minutes.  WOW WOW WOW!  I am baking this kid a pan of lasagna and sending Augie's wife flowers and a box of celery and carrots to Augie when I get this van back!  

Ok back to shifting orbits and a new year and lunar eclipses and and and.....  I have felt a shift in the studio for awhile and I am tired of doing shows with little to show for it.  I am applying to two shows this year!  No special orders, I just can't!  I am going to the garden with gusto again!  I want to be in a community that gardens and makes stuff and figures stuff out and then shares it!  I ordered a tripod that fits my iPad and started a youtube channel.  I am not moving and am quite tired of looking for a place.  Sooooo this is what I have; an iPad, a studio, a half acre, a ton of projects and a demented sense of humor...... what could go wrong?   I am tossing around the idea of Sunday morning live chats with real people as the dog and goats are somewhat lacking.  And if there is anything you would like me to cover or you would like to see on this half acre; let me know!  I have said it before; my life is so much bigger than pottery;  so many house projects, garden projects, kitchen recipes, well life stuff and it's exciting and fun
My first video was too long and too many tangents and I will get better, I think.  
So Happy New Year and onto the next adventure!  Oh and here is the link: 

Friday, January 3, 2020

Ya, wipe that slate and make up a new story!

The house is finally clean, really clean but still lived in. The desk was cleared, the taxes started and the monthly reports done.  Show entries for next year are piling up in my "IN" box and I ignore them all.  I find myself reading lists made by friends on facebook and feel compelled to join in.  My lists were made with so many resolutions my pen ran out of ink.  We are now 3 days into the new year and this morning as the wood stove flames flickered out, my list just went up in flames; I tossed it in the wood stove, I wanna lay on the couch and eat chips and watch Road Runner cartoons.  Every year I make lists and every year some of the list happens and most of the list gets recycled to the next year.  This year, no list.  I'm gonna free range my life, no fences this year!  

Christmas has come and gone and once again a true whirlwind.  We left on the Dec 21st, the longest night of the entire year.  We loaded in the dark and drove through the dark, the weather was great and the sun was out. 

two kitchen aid mixers, two pressure canners, a wheel of cheese, three baskets of canned goods, a turkey, a pork tenderloin, half a gallon of Ohio maple syrup, 30 pounds of dog food, large dog bed, large dog food dishes,  a 91 pound dog, 5 gallons of water, two loaves of bread, road snacks and too many clothes.   

Paine Falls to Gunnison  Colorado is supposed to be a 23 hour trip according to google maps but alas it took us a bit longer with dog walks, an excuse to stop the humans from seizing up.  I am not sure I ever truly appreciate how big this country is until I drive across the Midwest.  Kansas....... I just have no words and it's flat and it goes on forever and how many hawks can you fit on a fence post?  I lost count of hawks as I saw hawks ever single day on this trip. One bald eagle and two golden eagles and hawks.  The sun rose and set. 

Hey, wait did you drop a cookie? 

Finally, reaching the state of Colorado and I was almost delirious with happiness.  Across the landscape rising to the mountains I spied leaping Q-tips, hundreds of leaping Q-tips....... what are those?  Not Q-tips, the butt end of Pronghorn Antelopes springing along in unison and no music! 

64 degrees in Colorado Springs, we walked Kirby in shirt sleeves and called the mother ship in Gunnison.  Hey we are 4 hours out, how's the weather?  MOM, it's -13 in Gunnison.  NO!  How can that be?  Can we get across Monarch Pass?  Ya, no problem, see you soon!  Smooth driving all the way to Gunnison!  Woo Hoo!  This is our third trip and sometimes it's a white knuckle drive.  We cruised in around dinner time.   Found our hotel and found Abby!  Let the fun begin!  Rachael arrived the next day.   

Rachael flew out on Thursday and we departed early Friday morning as a storm was coming in and sure to close the mountain passes.  Kiss Kiss, Hug, Hug, see you this summer for fishing!  And off we drove on a bitter cold dark morning hoping to out run a storm.  Most of the weight was gone and we were going home light, we didn't even pack snacks!  The horror!  And then the ride of terror began..... 

Seriously Mom? 

I noticed SUV's, trucks, cars and snowmobiles streaming up the mountain just as we were descending.  I was yelling, GO BACK, SAVE YOURSELVES!  OH no they were headed up the mountain to go skiing.  Monarch Ski Resort must be huge as the parade of cars went on for miles, all the way to the bottom of the mountain.  Give me a hot toddy, find me a fireplace, a pair of warm slippers, a good dog and maybe a copy of Architectural Digest or a good cookbook with lots of pictures.  That is what I call a fun winter day. 

Notice the plow had opened the road for the skiers coming up.  Nothing for the escapee's.  It was nail biter for sure.  My Fitbit went off twice, alerting me to a great cardiac workout.  NO! IT'S STRESS CARDIO!  I waited for a shock from Fitbit to start my heart!  

Thought we would get off the mountain and hit the 65 degree weather in Colorado Springs.  Rain, ice, fog.  I checked the radar and it looked like we would come out of it by Limon, Colorado.  We didn't even stop for coffee.   And then the radar map turned pink and it stayed like that all the way to St Louis.  

We decided not to stop as they sometimes shut down Rte 70 if the weather turns truly bad and there is no place to go.  I had no desire to camp in a cornfield in Kansas....... argh Kansas again!  The bulk of the storm was behind us so we decided not to stop and keep going, we were being chased.  We finally came out of it 3 hours from home.   We pulled in the driveway at 5 pm and kissed the ground.  Sunday we unpacked and started cleaning the house for New Year's festivities. 
 Next Christmas, maybe Texas or even better the porch! 

No rest for the wicked!  Monday morning I backed out of the driveway at 6 am and headed due south for West Virginia to breakdown a show.  Kirby jumped in the van, I had to make myself get in the van.  Rain, 55 mph wind, darkness....  we arrived at Stifel Gallery around 9:30 am.   A quick walk for Kirby and then inside to breakdown by 10 am.   

Load and head back North, pulled down the street around 4:30 pm to carnage! 
I had missed the brunt of the tree falling.  The power had just been turned back on but no phone or internet and that was OK with me!

Unload the van, grab dinner and run to the store for tomorrow nights neighborhood crawl.  
We do it every year and this year we had 10 neighbors progressively crawling from house to house, noshing, and ringing in the New Year.   

New Years Day and I finally made it to the beach!  Time to reflect and see what the 2020 might hold. 

The walk was cold and stark, the lake explosive with power.  Only one solo seagull flew overhead.  
I came away knowing I need to strike out on a different path this year.  I am done driving all over this big blue marble, I am hoping to do two shows close to home and stay put.  Maybe this will be the year I finally get a studio show together.  I don't know but I do know it will be a very different year.  Free range, as I strap the Fitbit to my leg so I can record my activity today.  Is this like an ankle monitor and should I just make a run for it? 

Butch thought this would be the ideal Christmas gift for my oh so recumbent lifestyle.  I found myself jogging in place last night at 11:30 pm to get my last 150 steps in.  Ya, I'm not sure I'm a Fitbit kind of girl.  If I don't do paperwork I have no problem reaching the 10,000 steps by mid afternoon.  Guess I will buckle up for 2020  

I'm off to find some Kale....... or salad ...... or anything green and lo-cal.
Happy New Year!