Friday, December 31, 2010
As I said though, New Year's Eve is traditionally the day to clean house. All bed linens, towels and other such stuff should be changed to fresh items before the end of the day. If you have time, all broken items mended and even torn clothes repaired. I got a jump on things yesterday by washing the quilts and comforter on the bed and a few more items. Tradition also stipulates that you repay all debts (if possible), return all borrowed items and even apologize to anyone you may have offended over the year. The idea is to have a completely fresh start come the new year. New Years is also the more correct time to serve eggnog, rather than Christmas, as the eggs symbolize new beginnings.
I'll try to post again tomorrow and then Jack and I will be going on a short vacation. Just a few days to restock on my clay supplies and generally see some sights.
I wish each of you a very Happy New Year!! I hope that this new year is an improvement over the last one, even if the last one was pretty good for you! I wish you all peace, good health, love and contentment in whatever you do in life.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Okay, here is the recipe for the cinnamon rolls I showed ya'll the other day. I am going to publish the original version but like I did, I think you could substitute a variety of fruits or nuts. I think dried apricots, blueberries or such would work well.
Cinnamon-Date-Pecan Rolls with Maple Glaze
1 tsp. sugar
1 package dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. grated orange rind
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
3/4 cup chopped pitted dates
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. maple syrup (I just used pancake syrup)
1 Tbsp. milk (I used 2%)
Dissolve yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in 3/4 cup warm water; let stand 5 minutes. Combine 1/3 cup sugar, butter, salt and egg in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended.
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level with knife. Gradually add flour to yeast mixture, beating mixture on low until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm area (85 degrees), free from drafts for 1 hour or until dough is about double. Punch dough down and turnout onto a lightly floured surface.
To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange rind in a small bowl. Roll dough into a 10x15 inch rectangle; brush with melted butter. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over dough leaving a 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle date and pecan mixture over sugar. Beginning on the long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion and pinch seam to seal. Cut roll into 18 1/2" slices. Place slices in a 13x9 inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until rolls have doubled in size. *I did not have a rectangular pan so I just baked mine in one of my pie plates; worked fine.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Uncover rolls and bake at this temperature for 20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.
To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, syrup and milk in a small bowl and stir with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls. Serve immediately.
Hope ya'll enjoy these if you make them. I certainly did!
*The Allman Brothers
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
shame and scorn;
The fuel justice layeth on and mercy blows the
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my
The book I have on the 12 Days says 'we should reflect on our own childhood and honor it, remembering the good times as well as the bad. What we are as adults come from what we were as children, so it is worthwhile to remember on this.' And we should definitely remember this when interacting with children. Adults can affect children in so many ways for the rest of their lives and not always in a good way.
I have a lot of nice memories of Christmas when I was a child. All of my family was alive then, including my Aunt Corinne, who made Christmas a lot of fun. I guess part of the reason Christmas has become sad for me is because so much of my family is gone. But in that case you just have to start new memories and traditions, which I am trying to do.
As such, today is a day for giving to children's charities. I think this is a big part of the Christmas ritual. Of course, it's good to give all year long but I like to make it part of my celebration. So, if you are inclined please remember any of the wonderful organizations such as St. Jude's, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, the Christian Appalachian Project or just the Red Cross.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Besides the snow, I had a very different Christmas Day, and I tell you, I really enjoyed it. See, I live on a mountain and all my family lives north of here, where the snow was worse. Getting off this mountain with the ice and snow was tricky so my Mom said not to try it, she was staying home too. Like a lot of families, Christmas Eve used to be a big thing with my family but over the past few years it seems to have just fizzled out. Everyone just eats and then sits around staring at the TV. Not exactly an enjoyable evening in my opinion. I don't know if it's that everybody's lives have gone in such different directions or what but it's not a lot of fun. I did take Mama to my brother's house in Huntsville on Christmas Eve and we had a pretty good time though. My sister and her family didn't show. We had a hard time getting in touch with my sis; she won't return any phone calls, but my brother finally talked to her and she said she had hurt her back and didn't feel like getting out. So, I was actually happy that it snowed for several reasons. I enjoyed seeing my brother and his family but we were to go to my sister's on Christmas Day and honestly, I'd rather drink kerosene. I did miss seeing my niece and nephew though. I know lots of people out there don't really enjoy the obligations of holidays anymore and feel guilty because of it. But is it right to continue to do some of these things when it seems obvious nobody is enjoying it? I'm not much of one to keep doing something just because that's what's always been done. However, I don't want my family to think I don't love them. I do of course, but some people are so critical of others, they make it very uncomfortable for everybody.
But I spent a lovely Christmas morning with Jack. It was so peaceful and fun. He then went to visit his son and family, who live south of here, about lunch time, so I had the whole afternoon to relax and do whatever I wanted. I baked, I walked out in the snow and fed the animals. Then Jack came back and we had a nice dinner and enjoyed the rest of the evening together. A great Christmas Day to me.
So, today is St. John's Day and Mother's Night. It is the custom associated with John, to light a lot of candles today and have wine blessed. Now, I don't know where to get any wine blessed but I think just having a little with dinner will be a good substitute. Today is also the day to honor all mothers. If the roads are clear I may try to visit my Mom, as I did not get to on Christmas Day. I can call at the very least anyway.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Today is also a day reserved for animals since it is associated with St. Stephen. Stephen is considered the first Christian martyr and also the patron saint of horses. Therefore, today is the day for honoring all animals, especially those that serve us in some way. But also the wild animals as well, which actually serve us too.
I spent about an hour in the snow putting out lots of birdseed and small bread loaves. Of course, the little birds that help so much on insect control love this, but I figure a few squirrels are going to get in on it too. I put out some peanuts for them also. The deer got an extra helping of corn and some sliced apples. They gobble those up. And naturally Grendal got extra treats this morning. Santa was really good to her! I hope I did not forget any critters that I could have put something out for. The birds also got suet cakes and some fruit.
It has been much colder today and snowing most of the morning. Such a pretty day. Jack and I went for a walk earlier and then he spent some time splitting wood. After treating the animals we came in and enjoyed some hot soup that I had simmering for a while. Snowy days are just made for hot soup! The roads are fairly icy here so I don't think many people are getting out. I know I'm not. Keep warm!!
Saturday, December 25, 2010
As I grew up I abandoned my thoughts of such things, too busy with surviving the real world. Work got in the way anyway. Most of the time I had to work on Christmas Eve and I was too tired to put much thought into anything besides pouring concrete and how much overtime I could work. In the last few years though, I noticed those old thoughts creeping back into my mind. Of course, spending the last three years in my new house, always alone on Christmas, might do that for you. You know, you often question yourself in life, did I make the right decision here or there? Should I have done this or that differently? And I found myself wishing for snow again. What a stupid thing! To think the universe would use it's powers to shower me with this magical process on a particular day. It didn't owe me anything. But the little kid's voice kept whispering....if it would snow on Christmas maybe it would be a sign that I was where I was supposed to be. The peace that the snow would bring would simply be a reflection of my home here. If it would snow on Christmas, then maybe, God had been listening to me all this time after all.
I woke up a few times Christmas Eve night. That happens you know, when you get older. As I tiptoed through the bedroom I would sneak a look outside. The moon was still full enough to cast a good light over the land and I could see that the yard was still barren. In fact, the moon even being able to shed that much light told me that there were few clouds in the sky. Ah well, maybe next year. I snuggled back in beside Jack. At least there was a warm man beside me this night that I actually enjoyed being with. We woke up a little late, maybe around 7:00, the ground still bare, so I promptly set about to make coffee and fix our Christmas breakfast while Jack stoked the fire back up. It was sort of a funny thing then. I looked up through the kitchen windows and suddenly some of the largest snowflakes I've ever seen came tumbling down, blotting out the trees in the distance. I remarked to Jack that it seemed as though it was simply waiting on us to wake up. He agreed. And, even though the air did not feel anywhere cold enough, the snow began to lay. Not just on the deck and the tree limbs, but on the ground and in the garden. It waned on and off after a while but it always came back, harder than before and with those same huge snowflakes. Now, we didn't get near what some of ya'll up north would consider a decent snowfall. I wasn't going to lose my way walking to the wood pile or anything. But it covered the ground and that peace and wonderful quietness descended over my valley and it wrapped me up in it's arms. I had seen a white Christmas.
I believe I wrote a post a couple of Christmas's ago that said I hoped to one day wake up on Christmas morning next to a warm man and receive a gift of a sparkling thing that was not a toilet accessory or a tool of some type. As I sit and type this, I wear a sparkling item around my neck. Something I have rarely ever received. A gift from the warm man I woke up with this morning.
I hope you all had a wonderful day and don't forget; we have eleven more days of Christmas to celebrate! I'll be back tomorrow with the Second Day of Christmas.
Friday, December 24, 2010
And the mistress also,
And all the little children
That round your table grow;
The cattle in your stable,
The dogs at your front door,
And all that dwell within your gates
I wish you ten times more.
And yes, that snowflake is my hopes of the actual possibility of a white Christmas this year, as the forecasters are saying might happen. It's amazing. In my 42 years I have never seen snow on Christmas Day.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Churchill House Cottage Cheese Pancakes
1 cup small-curd cottage cheese ( I use the low-fat)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 or 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
now, the original recipe calls for 6 tablespoons but I cut it to 2 or so with no problem. You could probably cut it more or maybe substitute a couple of tablespoons of a light cooking oil.
Beat eggs in a bowl; stir in cottage cheese. Add flour and mix until just blended but still lumpy. And melted butter (or oil) and blend gently to combine.
Melt a pat of butter or add a little oil to a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto the skillet. Cook until edges are golden brown and bubbles form. Turn and cook until light golden brown.
You can serve these with syrup but I like to add a little fruit too. What you see in the photo is sliced bananas that I quickly sauteed in a little butter. I top the pancakes with the bananas and then pour a little syrup over it all. Yuuuuuuummmm!
Well, I meant to get a post up yesterday for Solstice but things have been a bit busy around here. I did get my tree up and decorated and I have still had a few people coming by to purchase some pottery for Christmas gifts. In fact, Rurality and a couple of other local friends all met here this morning to peruse crafts and purchase stuff. I scored some of the great soap for gifts and they got some pottery to give! And we got to visit and talk for a while. I haven't even had a lot of time to visit my blogs I like to read; but I will catch up to ya'll!
I will try to post again soon and let ya'll in on some of the goings-on around here, complete with pics of decorations and all that sort of stuff.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I have dutifully taken note of the things ya'll said you would like to read about and will do my best to post on those things. Thanks again, truly, and welcome to the new readers.
In fact, these photos are what one of my sweetest readers, Floridacracker, asked me about a little while back. He wanted to see the stone retaining wall I had been building around the parking area. I thought I had shown a full scale shot but I must not have. Anyway, here it is. It is not completely finished at the areas next to the steps but it's getting closer.
I don't lack a whole lot finishing but sometimes so many other things distract me. There is just so much to do here. Cleaning up the yard helped so much though, to give me some incentive to finish things like this.
Some of you may remember my plan to weave various little curious objects into the wall. How many can you see? I have not put everything in that I intend to, as this is just one small section of the wall. This stone is just dry stacked for now but I do intend to go back and mortar in a few pieces of the loose stone, concealing the mortar as best I can.
Here is the broccoli. Yesterday was warm enough that I pulled back the plastic over the tunnel to let the crops get some good sunshine, which I do if the temps are going to get above 50 degrees. These plants are about a foot tall. I will be so excited if I actually get some broccoli off these plants. At least you don't have to worry about too many pests at this time of year, although I know there is still the possibility of some.
The cabbages, which are about 14-16 inches across, are trying to form heads. Everything seems healthy and robust so far. In the worst cold they are a little wilty looking but then as it warms up they spring back up. I have read that cabbages can easily take 20 (F.) degrees, so these seem to be doing okay. However, I put the light, with a 100-watt bulb, under the tunnel on nights that are going to be in the low 20's or lower. I am trying to come up with some other form of heat that could safely be put under there and would not require much or any electricity. Any ideas? I do not believe it is weather proof enough for a small ceramic heater and those things use a good bit of power anyway.
Friday, December 17, 2010
So, now to what the title refers to. I have noticed over the past year that many of the blogs I started out reading, or have read for some time anyway, have stopped posting. Seems like I can count on 2 hands the regulars that are no more. I've also noticed that a good many of my once regular commenters are gone. But my readership has gone up considerable and I have noticed a lot of new hits. Kind of an odd thing. I know that people's lives cycle around and many don't have time for certain things anymore. And I guess some people just lose interest. I'm wondering if the economic downturn has influenced any of this. Are people having to work more to make ends meet? At least, those who have jobs?
Things are changing in my own life but I do want to keep writing and providing some source for some information to those who might want it. I know lately the info has been a little stale but I am working on some new projects. I guess what I'm wondering is if many people are still getting any benefit from this blog. I guess some of you are or you wouldn't keep coming back.
Do I have some new readers out here who have not commented yet? Feel free to; I welcome all questions and comments.
I plan to do a couple more posts soon on pouring concrete and a few on the coldframe and winter gardening. Any longtime readers know I don't start my Christmas celebrations until Solstice and continue for the traditional 12 days. I will just include some short notes on that this year, instead of the in-depth stuff of last year. You can go back to last year's posts to read the history of the 12 days if you like. It's just what I do to encourage people to reject the abuse of consumerism during this holiday and to try to establish some rituals that actually mean something.
I will probably post at least one of my traditional holiday rants. lol!
I am going to try to start posting more on food and recipes and how I get the most out of my groceries and grow all I can. I have never posted a lot on cooking but I actually cook quite a bit, especially now that Jack is here. Due to the way I have always worked, I have come up with a number of time-saving recipes and ways to stretch my food and budget.
So, does any of this sound like things that would be interesting or are there just too many other blogs out there who already do a better job on those subjects? Or, does anybody simply have any other questions or comments?
Monday, December 13, 2010
I also transferred my finish elevation to the back wall and installed a wood strip (which you can see here) at that height to serve as a screeding line. It stays in and will be covered by the backsplash. Then I simply mixed the concrete and shoveled it onto the counter form, making sure to pull the wire up to about the middle of the concrete. The countertop is about 2 inches thick.
Now, if you look closely in that last photo, you can see my mix was just a little wet, so when I poured out that water started to rise to the surface, as it should. Now, you don't want to keep working that water back into the surface of the concrete, as it will weaken it, so I opted to place pieces of clothe on the surface to expedite it's removal. Normally, a little water is always going to come up and you just float the concrete down once and leave it alone. It will evaporate on it's on. This had a good bit of water coming up, so soaking it up did help but it caused me to have to float (or smooth) the concrete down several times, which in turn, worked some of that water back into the surface. So, today I noticed a few places in the counter where the cement is getting powdery and flaking off, exposing the sand and lower surface of the counter. I believe there are several things I can do to remedy this but it's a pain.
This is the counter right after I floated it off and got it on grade. I had to mix the whole thing in two batches so the right hand half of the counter is very hard, because I got the water right.
As I said, once the concrete is floated down just leave it and check on it every once in a while. You can tell when the water starts to evaporate and the surface will start to look slightly dry. After this point you can run afloat over it a couple of times and then you switch to a trowel.
What I have in my hand here is a trowel; a float has a much thicker blade. They are NOT interchangeable if you want a truly slick finish. With the trowel you are in effect, burnishing a slick finish on the concrete. A fair amount of pressure must be applied as you do your sweeps. And, if you look closely, you can see one edge of the trowel is held up, so that only the back, or trailing edge touches the concrete. You use this technique with the float also. If you let either lay flat as you make your pass it will 'grab' the concrete and simply gouge trenches in the surface. As the concrete hardens you can see the trowel begin to burnish it and the pinholes close up. However, don't work it too much at one time. Make one pass and stop. Come back 30 minutes later and do another. I started pouring this counter at about 10:00 a.m and probably made my last pass about 9:00 p.m. so it is not a quick process unless you are in a very hot environment. But then, I did get mine a little wet.
Other than the few small spots I mentioned it came out real nice I think. I will show ya'll finish pictures soon and I even installed the hardware on the cabinet. Now, I just need to pour the backsplash and install that.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I didn't mean to go so long between posting but I have just been working long hours getting ready and Jack has worked himself to a frazzle, cleaning up the yard and hauling gravel on the drive etc. It looks great around here now though! 'Frazzle' is a southern term btw, in case ya'll are wondering!
Crow Valley is not going to be the official name of my business but just one I threw out there for time being. It is pretty accurate though and the resident crows were out in force for our visitors yesterday.
Fred brought down all kinds of great knitted scarves and such he has made. They were popular. I have a scarf he made for me last year and I love to wear it. It's the fuzzy kind and very snuggly.
Rurality was here with her fabulous Natural Impulse handmade soaps! She has a website (Google Natural Impulse) where you can go and get some great holiday gifts.
I had a pretty good selection of pottery and people seemed pleased with it. And, I still have a fair selection if anybody is needing some gifts still. I may put up a few pics later.
And we had food and hot drinks; it was fun. Some old friends came that had not seen the house and Allen gave a little tour. People were very complimentary and that made me feel good.
And since the place is so well cleaned now, it gives me a lot of enthusiasm to start finishing some stuff on the house. I may finish and paint that blank wall in the kitchen next!
So, today I have been a slug. And I have enjoyed my slugness. It has turned off quite cold and I have lolled about in bed, watching a light snow fall outside all day. I did cook a nice breakfast of homemade biscuits and sausage but for the most part Jack and I have just been enjoying the warmth of hugs and a good fire in the stove. I am about to bundle up and check on things in the garden. Perhaps walk down the drive and check out the creek.
This past week I did manage to pour the countertop in the pantry, so I'll put that post up soon. I think it came out well and looks great with the cabinet I had made.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
I've talked to a few of the guys from work lately but things are still horribly slow. I don't really look for that work to pick up any time soon.
This is some of what I did this evening. Some freshly thrown bowls and a couple of mugs on the left there. There is a real trick to sliding the pots off the wheel right after they are thrown and onto a board. I do that to save space and not take up so many bats. For years I have always done fine, rarely messing a piece up, but the other night I dropped 3 mugs in a row. I said, the hell with it and called it a night. I was tired I guess.
This is one of my recent casserole dishes. I think they are starting to come out well. I don't know if I have ever put a picture of one of these up before. It has taken me a long time to develop a design that I like with these. I will show this one glazed and finished.
I have not forgotten about the video ya'll wanted to see of me throwing. It's just a matter of getting Jack to help, which is not really a problem, and having a day when I don't look like I just fell off a manure wagon.
As a matter of fact, Jack has been a great help lately, cleaning up the place for the Open House. I certainly don't want it to look like the rednecks from hell live here. He also installed a new light fixture over my wheel so I can better see what I'm doing. And he has kept us in split firewood so I don't have to worry about that.
Well, I hope that soon I will have some new progress on the house to show ya'll. I have several projects that are right on the verge of being finished but I still don't have time for that last final step. Maybe soon!
Oh! and WAR EAGLE baby!!!
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
I have been going like crazy to get orders done and also to prepare for the Open House I decided to have next weekend. I am enjoying it though. Between throwing and firing and such I have had to go out in the late afternoon to cover the crops as the temps are dropping into the 20's pretty regularly at night. I fashioned this hoop tunnel and have been leaving it in place until the daytime temps get into the upper 40's, if it is sunny. I'm afraid I will bake them on a sunny day here. I guess maybe I could put a thermometer under there to see what it is getting up to.
My precious little cabbages and broccoli! Jack has questioned me several times on whether all this work is worth it to protect these few crops. This from somebody that keeps spouting self-sufficiency! I think he would think it was worth it when he's scarfing down my sauteed cabbage with onions! Yumm!!! I think I have about 18 heads of cabbage and 9 broccoli plants so that is a fair investment to me. At any rate, I don't mind spending a few minutes a day on them. Especially since I have my days to spend on all my own work anyway.
So, the Open House is Dec. 11th from 10:00 a.m to 4 p.m. if there are any locals reading this and want to stop by. If you would, email me and I'll give you directions. Rurality will have her fantastic handmade soaps here also and I'll make some cookies and snacks with some hot cider! Should be fun and maybe I can keep Jack out of the food long enough for any visitors to be able to get some.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
As I have been busy in the studio these past few days, I've thought a lot of what I wrote about last time. I wonder why things are so different than when I was a child. Now, I never have considered that I had an idyllic childhood, although it wasn't bad, but we always made a point to get together with family back then and we seemed to enjoy it. Honestly, I think. Or maybe that is just how I remember it but we had large gatherings with all our cousins and aunts and uncles. We had the holidays in the winter and family reunions for the summer. Huge affairs so much so that we constructed tables outside under the enormous, ancient canopy of oaks that stand between Mama's house and my grandmother's old house. It offered some relief from our heat. Or, if it wasn't that, we had Sunday afternoon. That was the day for visiting friends or them visiting us. We would all pile in the car and just take off and this was a common practise for everybody. Generally if you rode by someone's house you'd see them outside if they were home (and not out visiting someone else) because back then, people went outside and did stuff. Or they'd just be sittin' on the the porch drinking ice tea and relaxing. We'd stay and talk for a while, usually the kids playing in the yard and everybody enjoyed it. I remember I always enjoyed visiting my Aunt Minnie and Uncle Leonard from my Dad's side of the family. Leonard was Daddy's stepbrother. They had a very neat little farm house with a crystal clear, albeit shallow, creek that ran right alongside the driveway. I thought it was wonderful. Usually, if we went on Sunday, their son Sonny and his wife Sharon would be there too. They were two of those immensely irritating people that just smiled and laughed all time. They never seemed down. And Minnie and Leonard were kind people who would share the fruit from the trees in their back yard and anything else they had if you needed it. They've been gone for some time now and the last time I saw Sonny and Sharon was at my Daddy's funeral seven years ago. They were still smiling.
Of course, much of the reason that these things have faded into the past is simply logistics. Most of my family is dead. I have two uncles left and one aunt. The cousins are mostly all still there but they are spread all over. I have had several 'friend' me on Facebook but then they won't speak to me unless I ask them. I guess they just wanted to see if I was in prison yet. It seems to me that it is more than just not having stuff in common. It seems people's whole attitude has changed. I thought for a while that maybe my family began unraveling after my oldest brother decided to punch his own ticket but I'm not sure that's it. I don't believe we blame each other for that. Maybe our family just wasn't as close as we would have liked to believe. And actually, I do have several things in common with my siblings. My sister and I agree wholeheartedly on natural living and all that. They have chickens and raise a big garden and she makes lots of their stuff. In fact, Rosemary usually gives me several quarts of tomatoes she has canned each year because I haven't gotten that far yet. My brother and I both enjoy art and writing. He has published several books. Yet, they scoff at my refusal to take prescription drugs. They can't for the life of them seem to understand why I won't throw myself into a boatload of debt to finish this house all at once. When my BIL found out I don't shop at Wal-Mart he actually became incensed. I had never seen him get so mad. And of course, Rosemary is pissed that I am seeing Jack. Now, that is no indication of anything wrong with Jack. Rosemary generally despises anyone I date. She finds some flaw in virtually everyone so I just brush it off.
But all of that aside, it just seems that there is a pervading shadow of inconvenience when we get together. It's just all going through the motions and when everybody feels they have done the family thing for long enough we all take off for our respective houses. I wonder is it like that for others? Has technology and our society's attitude changed so much? You know, they have these stupid Wii things now where people can play tennis on TV, inside, instead of actually going outside and actually playing tennis. For real. We substitute a fake game for something that would be fairly easy to do for real. Has all our life become the same way? We email or text or post on Facebook and convince ourselves that we are 'keeping in touch', maintaining a real relationship with our loved ones but find it near to impossible to actually make time to go see them in the flesh. Has a plastic, simulated online persona become preferable to actually standing in front of the person? We peep at each other through the computer screen but shy away from actually seeing the person in the flesh. And people say, oh, we are so busy. I use that excuse myself. Busy doing what? When I was a child and in my region, people often had to raise a garden and animals to get by. It wasn't a fashionable thing or a social statement. Hell, they needed to eat and there is not much that is more important than feeding your family. And yet, we made time to go see people and we seemed to enjoy it.
Now, I enjoy the Internet as much as the next person and I will readily admit to working too much at times and the good ol' days weren't always good as I heard Billy Joel sing once. But I can't help but wonder why, in this time when we have so many technological advantages at our disposal, designed to get and keep us in contact with other people, that we seem to fall further and further out of real contact. Have we swallowed the bilge that advertisers and corporate America has been feeding us for so long, that we actually believe that we need their cellphones, their Ipads, their whatever, in order to have a life? Or is it just me?
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I hope everyone out there had a great holiday and got to enjoy it with those of your choosing. Of course, I went up to visit family. That went about like normal. Not really much interaction with anybody but Mama. I wonder sometimes why we really get together but I guess everybody feels obligated. I did get to visit with my niece Katie and her boyfriend, who just recently graduated from firefighter school.
Since we were at Mama's house I took a lot of my tools and did some remodeling on her back porch and installed a new screen door. Jack came over and reworked her raised bed that she grows veggies in and installed new edging along the back walkway. He was a great help and we got a lot done. I just find that I have fewer and fewer things in common lately with my family. And they seem to find my lifestyle completely bizarre and unnecessary. Oh well, whatcha going to do? I just go on about my business and have a good time. And it makes me even more grateful I have such a nice place to come home to and to have found someone who sees things the way I do for the most part.
*Allison Kraus and Union Station
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
So, anyway, Jack finished the cold frame and got it in place and on it's foundation. He had the idea to put it up on block or stone in order to save the wood from having a lot of contact with the ground. I just happen to have all these bluestone curbs that came off an old job and they worked out perfect. I had been trying to find some use for them for about 3 years now. Now, I know there are gaps between the stones and those will be filled with concrete. I wasn't so lucky that they worked out to the same dimension as the frame and I didn't want to cut any of them, but it won't take much to dry pack some mortar in the holes and seal it up.
This is a shot of the inside and as you can see, I haven't filled it with soil yet. Hope to do that soon. The soil level will come up just above the stone. That will give me about 6 inches of fresh dirt and we also tilled the ground before we set the frame, so it will be good and loose down to around 12 inches. After the dirt is in I think I will have a bout 12 inches of head space in the back. The frame is 8 feet by about 2 feet. I couldn't find any suitable old storm doors or windows to make the top out of, so I just broke down and bought this piece of clear polycarbonate. It seems sturdy. That was the only thing that cost me a little money. All of the lumber, hinges etc. I or Jack had already. Well, he did also go buy these little metal plates you hammer onto joints. He felt it needed some reinforcement so, since it was his project, I let him go to it and make it the way he wanted. As a result, I think I could also use the coldframe as a bomb shelter. lol! But at least it is sturdy.
I hope everyone here in the States has a great Thanksgiving and that we all truly see all we have to be thankful for. I hope you are able to thoroughly enjoy the bounty brought forth by the earth in your area.
Across the gathering stillness
simply this: "For all that we have received,
dear God, make us truly grateful."
~ Lynn Ungar ~
Monday, November 22, 2010
So, the prices are as follows, although what I have shown here is not all of the pieces that I produce. For example, I don't have any current photos of my casserole dishes.
Starting at the top left and going clockwise are; pie plates, dinnerware set w/ plates and bowls, vase, dessert bowls, serving (left) and mixing (right) bowls, mugs and small condiment bowls.
dinner plate (9.5” dia.) $24. ea.
lunch plate (7.5” dia.) 12.
soup bowl (2.5” x 5.5”) 12.
salad bowl (1.75” x 8.5”) 14.
dessert bowl (2.5”x 4.5”) 9.
mug (10 oz.) 12.
large mug (14 oz.) 15.
sm. condiment bowl (2-3” dia.) 3.
serving or mixing bowls / 3 sizes
1 qt., 1.75 qt. & 2.5 qt. $16., 24. & 40.
casserole with lid / 3 sizes
1 qt., 1.75 qt. & 2.5 qt. $30., 45. & 70.
pie plate (10” dia. @ top rim) $27.
I have included a couple of close-ups so you can see some of the little impressions and details I put in the pieces. You can request certain impressions (like this shell) but please allow for some variations in placement and size.
All dimensions given in the list are approximate but I do tend to follow them rather closely. All work is dishwasher, microwave and oven safe, although you must be aware that stoneware will become very hot in a microwave, so handle with care. Do NOT, however, place any piece on the eye of a stove or place frozen food in it and then put the piece in a hot oven.
These are some of the colors available, starting from the top left and going clockwise, Earth Red, Robin's Egg Blue, Oatmeal and Slate Blue. The Slate is a satin finish and the Robin's Egg is a gloss. I do also have a dark brown and black.
This is an example of the seashell detail and oatmeal splashed on the interior of the Earth Red. I will add to this list as I get photos of the other stuff I make.
Thanks for all the interest. I also usually offer two-fer deals and or a small discount for sets of things: like if you wanted a set of 6 dessert bowls. And I will ship according to what you tell me, either Parcel Post or Priority. Usually the Priority Flat Rate is the best deal.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
But the rest came out very nice and so I am encouraged and looking forward to creating more work.
Beatrice (one of my readers) had mentioned having great difficulty finding handmade mugs with good handles and I find I must brag on my handles just a little. I am constantly amazed at some of the god-awful, uncomfortable, awkward mugs and handles some potter produce and some even seem to think the more elaborate the handle, the better it is. I find that to be just the opposite. A mug must feel right, be comfortable in the hand and not harbor any more weight than is necessary in order to be a really good mug. I think most potters just don't want to take the time to learn how to pull a good handle basically, and so create these monstrosities that end up being way too big to fit right. The handle must fit close to the body in order for the mug to be balanced correctly. And I really hate these stupid handles sculpted to look like tree limbs or some asinine crap like that. If you can't pull a decent handle just leave the damn thing off and don't try to cover up that fact with some artsy-fartsy tentacle sticking out there.
Okay, so I'm off my soap box for now. So, ya'll tell me what ya'll think of this glaze. It is a new one I have mixed up but I think it is a little too much on it's own. I used a tan, ash glaze on the exterior and I think the two colors go well together; I guess. I think a slightly darker brown on the outside would look better. Oh, I realize the picture here does not really show the outside well but you can see a little of the color on the rim.
Now I just need to throw like hell and try to produce a good bit of stuff for Christmas. I believe I may try to have a Studio Open House for Christmas and invite some of my former customers and all.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Do any of you sprout seeds and if so, which are your favorites??
The cabbage and broccoli are doing good. This is cabbage in the front, broccoli in the background. If all my cabbage plants do well I may try my hand at some homemade kraut this year.
I finally got around to planting my garlic today but it's still regularly in the 60's and 70's here, so I think they will be fine. I believe I planted somewhere around 50-60 cloves. These are planted on about 4-6 inch centers, which some might say is a little close, but hey, what the heck. I need to pack stuff in where I can. I added some bone meal and more compost to the area so I'm hoping these really do well. I go through a good bit of garlic with cooking and pickling, especially with Jack here now.
We also discovered a bit of a surprise in the garden today. We were out there prepping the area for the cold frame and Jack asked me why I had not picked all the fruit before the last cold spell. I said what??? There wasn't any fruit growing in the garden. Oh, yes there was too. He went over to this one overgrown little spot, which I thought was the remnants of a cucumber vine. He pulled back the dead grass and low and behold, there were scads of these things on the ground!
I had to laugh in amazement. Back in the summer I had bought an African Horned Melon from the grocery store and upon getting it home, discovered it really wasn't that good. So, I ditched the remains in the garden for compost. I never thought about it seeding itself. But wow, did it ever! There were probably a dozen or more of these bizarre and very prickly fruits. Unfortunately, they really are not very good. Mostly seed and a rather bland taste. They are cool to look at though. However, they do turn bright yellow when ripe and I thought they would be good for self defense. You sock somebody in the head with one of these babies and it would probably get their attention. The thorns on them are very sharp.
So, tomorrow morning I get to open the kiln on a glaze firing, so ya'll keep your fingers crossed for me. It would really be nice to have a great firing.
Friday, November 19, 2010
I have also been throwing as regularly as I can, in between all the other stuff I've been doing. This is the bisque load that came out this morning. I spent most all day today glazing and getting ready to fire again tomorrow. I felt like I was really making some progress but as I was cleaning up this evening and putting the glazes away, I came to a very discouraging realization. I have two glazes, a slate blue and an oatmeal, that look almost identical in their liquid states and.....yes, I had mixed them up, thinking that I had glazed certain pieces in one color when in fact, it was the other color. Now, had these only been glazed in that one color, it wouldn't be much of a big deal. But no, I like to mix colors and double dip some stuff for effect. So, the secondary colors I used, that go well with one glaze, don't necessarily go with the other glaze. And it goes on and on. One glaze must be applied thinly etc. Blah, blah, blah. Bottom line, I get to wash all that glaze off the pieces in question and start over. Damn.
So, anyway, other things are going well. Jack is experimenting with sprouting seeds for eating and I'll show that soon. He is also building the coldframe for me. He kinda fusses about actually building anything for me because I think, he thinks, I'm going to criticize his work, seeing that I am a carpenter, but as long as it holds together and looks halfway reasonable, I am okay with it.
And I think he came up with a good idea for the foundation of the coldframe.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I read today that one of Birmingham's oldest and best known art galleries, that specialized in Alabama artists, is going out of business citing the worsening economy. This will be the second one this year as another well-known and long time gallery went out months ago. Several artists I know personally that used to be able to support themselves solely on their art, have had to pick up other jobs this year. And these are really talented people, not half-ass 'artists' painting ducks with ribbons around their necks or some crap. Helluva time to be launching a new art business. Of course, mine isn't all new. I still have something of a clientele. And the Internet lets artists reach many, many more people. But....things are still very shaky and all reports I read indicate things may get worse with food costs going way up. I went grocery shopping today and was shocked to see what coffee is now going for.
I guess I'm still going to give it a try though. If I can get my garden in full production mode that will help a lot, to produce much of my own food. Heck, I might could grow enough of some things to sell a little and getting some chickens will help a great deal also. Jack cut down a couple of damaged trees for me to make way for a chicken coop and yard and even cleaned up the area, taking the wood to the splitting area and hauling off the limbs. For a city boy not used to such work, he sure is working awfully hard. He's taken to the chainsaw and axe very well, even though he loves to complain that I'm a slave driver. We've been looking over some coop designs lately and now I need to go through my accumulated materials and just see what I've got that could be used for the chickens. Let me just say their coop is probably going to be quite 'eclectic'. But fun!
Well, off to bed now. It's rainy and cool here tonight, so perfect snugly sleeping weather.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I know many people despise the ol' dillers but I don't mind them; same with the moles that lots of people drive themselves crazy trying to run off. They do make little holes or mounds here and there but I've never had them destroy many plants like a lot of people claim they do. An occasional veggie victim here and there but to me, the pests they eat are worth a few uprooted plants on a rare occasion. Most everyone else around me has horrible problems with Japanese beetles and such but I rarely see more than a handful around my house and I can pick them off by hand and squash them. And now that I know the 'dillers eat yellowjacket nests, well, they are greatly welcome to root around a little. I had a heckuva time trying to eradicate one nest last year the the bees had dug right in the middle of a trail I frequent to the spring. I tried several bombs and sprays and don't know that I really succeeded but these ol' possums on a half shell made short work of them it seems! Saves me money and aggravation. The only thing better would be if they would eat fire ants too! I think Nature itself will often provide for it's own control and management if we would just let it, no chemicals needed.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I also got 3 perennial flowers (the yellow ones, upper right) for $2.00 each and 6" mums for $.25. Yes, twenty-five cents each. Now, yes, these look kinda ragged and the flowers are faded but I plant them and mulch them good for the winter and next year they come up fine. The red one in the front is one I got on special last year. It grew well over the summer and bloomed like crazy this fall. Now, I know you can't eat mums and a lot of people prefer to focus on food-producing crops right now but I think we all need some pretty things to look at too.
The rest of this is just a few more gratuitous fall foliage shots. Some of the maples around here are so beautiful this year. This is one right off from the deck and I can't wait until it's bigger.
I'm still throwing and trying to be productive around here and hopefully I will have more to show ya'll lately. It seems like I have 20 million projects going on and just need to finish one! Well, time to get going. Hope the weather is as great for you all as it is here.