Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out With The Old And In With The New


 As you may have guessed, I just have not had a huge amount of things to write about lately.  The holidays were nice but nothing spectacular happened.  Mainly we were just relaxing after my last minute push to get some pottery done.  I said I wouldn't throw again until after the new year and that looks to be true.  The post tonight is mainly just a bunch of random photos and random ramblings.  If the color looks wonky in the one above I'm not really sure what is going on there.


It seems the winter rains have started early this year because we have gotten several inches over the past couple of weeks.  One of the reasons that there has been a lack of photos on here lately.  Today was a beautiful, sunny day though and everyone was out enjoying it.  It was just a touch cool but the girls didn't mind.  I went on several walks and cleaned up one of my flower beds a little.  It was nice to have some sun finally because it seems the winter blahs have come early also.  I don't know if it's still my system trying to right itself after those steroids or just a larger symptom of something else but the last 2 years have sucked, to put it mildly.  Some days I feel pretty good but most days I have just had the life beaten out of me.


I am honestly trying to improve things for myself.  Trying to get working again and I'm going to the gym pretty regularly too.  Jack and I have made a point to take some time just for us the last few weeks.  We went to a movie one day and had a real nice time, a couple of other day trips and last night we had a fabulous time out at a real swanky restaurant in Birmigham, via a gift certificate from a part of Jack's family.  I had done a little restoration work for them and so it was a thank-you gift.  Very nice indeed.  We had a great time and the food was incredibly delicious.  Thank you so much Diane.


 So, the trick is to find beauty anywhere you can.  In the ordinary and the unusual.  Try to minimize the pain.


The creek has finally cleared and dropped back to a more normal level.  It's very soothing to sit here and just ponder things.  I need to build a more comfortable sitting area though.  A bench or something.  Tomorrow should be nice but the rains come back over the weekend so I better enjoy this while I can!



 A few of the girls have started laying again and Pumpkin finally started.  Her eggs are a little small of course, but they are gaining size quickly.


Jack keeps us mightily supplied with wood.  I'm so glad I don't have to deal with this anymore.  Splitting wood is kinda soothing in a way but I'm more than happy to let him take it over.  He is all very organized with it and has a winter's worth split at any given time, whereas I was always scratching and clawing to have enough.


I think the girls were so happy to have a nice day.  They stayed out grazing for quite a while.  There is still a little greenery to be found but it probably won't last much longer.  Unless we have a mild winter, which could happen. 


Big T (or Tillis) has become a fine rooster.  The girls are not scared of him and I think he's doing a good job.  He tries to keep an eye out for trouble and stays right with the girls all the time.  They sort of ignore him a little but he doesn't seem to mind.  It's sure a long way from the scrawny little, half-naked chick I used to let sleep on my shoulder to keep warm.  Maybe he remembers my comforting him and tries to be a more gentle roo.


So, as we look towards the new year I sincerely hope things improve over the last couple.  Not just for me but for all of you as well.  I think probably it will.  So, here's to the warm, sunny days.  A warm bed on the rainy ones.  Loving arms to hold you on either day and a fire in your heart.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Welcome Christmas


Merry Christmas to you all who celebrate this season.  Merry Christmas and Peace on your earth.  May we all be blessed in the coming year and greet one another with more love, compassion and fellowship than ever before. 
            "He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."

Peace, Love and Goodwill to you all, my dear readers.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Love Roller Coaster

 The past few days have been a little bit of a hectic rush to get one last load of pottery delivered to my stores before Christmas and the last couple of weeks have been a wild ride of virtually every emotion available, hence the title of this post.  Plus, it's one of my all-time favorite songs, whether by the original artists (I think the Ohio Players) or the Red Hot Chili Peppers version. 
Anyway, we have all survived so far.  Well, I take that back.  Sweet little Scooter did not.  She died Wednesday night.  I did everything I could think of but it was just not enough.  I think she may have had cancer or some other internal disease because about a year ago I saw where she had passed some....erm...odd-looking things while she was on the roost one night.  Might have been "lash eggs", I have no idea, but she never laid another egg after that and she got fairly sick over the summer but I managed to doctor her through that.  Not so this time.  Some of ya'll may remember she was one of the first little chicks ever hatched here and when she was abut 10 days old one of the older hens managed to get to her, although we had them separated, and rip her head up pretty awful.  I doctored her through that too and she was a little fighter.  We didn't think she would live but she did and did great.  But, sometimes it's just their time.  I like to think she had a happy life here.  I had my hands on her when she hatched and I had my hand on her as she passed.  I hope she knew she was loved.


In much better news though, our former head rooster Mr. George, who was sold to the daughter of a feller I went through school with, won 1st place at the APA show this month!!  Way to go George!!!  I knew he was a handsome fellow and the girl who has him now just loves him.  I'm sure he has a good home and is literally the Cock of the Walk there.

I'm still struggling a little with the anxiety caused by those damn steroids but for the most part I'm doing much better.  My back is healed up and I've been able to go back to the gym for some great workouts.  I think I may also be allergic to milk because after 3 weeks of going without any milk products I'm feeling much less tired these days and less problems with headaches.  I suspect I have bad seasonal allergies too and am going to go back in a few weeks to let them test me for specific allergies.

My arthritic butt joint is still giving me hell but standing up to throw is a life saver.  It really works great and I should be able to produce just as much, or more, as I used to.  Jack and I had a fun day in town yesterday delivering pottery, grocery shopping and finally wrangling a Christmas tree.  And yeah, yeah, I usually cut a cedar here and lug it down the ridge but with my back and butt and everything else I admit I took the easy way this year!  Hey, my family got a wild hair and have decided they want to come here for Christmas Eve dinner, so I need all the breaks I can get now!

I think that is all the latest news, good and bad.  Mostly good though.  So, I'm off to clean and decorate now.  I'll try to be back during Christmas but just in case I hope all of you out there that celebrate this season have a wonderful, happy and loving Christmas or a very happy ending to Hanukkah.  Happy Yule!  Merry Solstice and that good stuff!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Got My Mojo Working


Happily there has been a good bit of improvement in most things around here.  My back is waaay better and I am even able to go back to the gym.  Now, I'm not doing any power-lifting sets or anything like that but I am getting a good workout on the elliptical machines and a few light weights.  This is especially good because exercise is one of the best things I've found to counteract the anxiety caused by those damned steroids.  My bum is still hurting a little but it seems to have improved a little bit since I am not sitting down as much.  Now, when I say a little, that's just what I mean....and I haven't gone on any significant car rides either to see how quickly I start hurting.  But I think it's helping some.
Jack did some more modifications to my wheel that has helped greatly on throwing.  for one, he moved the foot pedal for the motor up to where I operate it with my hand.  This type pedal does not require constant pressure to keep it going; you just press down until you reach the speed you want and then you take your hand (or foot) off and it maintains that speed.  Obviously that is a must when you are throwing.  I thought it might be harder to get used to but, once again, it was much easier than I expected.


So I have been throwing more, much to the delight of the stores, but I am still woefully behind for the season.  This stuff pictured is a pitifully small amount but it's a great improvement over what I have been doing and I plan to add to it significantly today.
I did want to put up a quick post though to let ya'll know that I am doing better.  Things are improving but you just have to keep working at it.  Just never give up.


Unfortunately, Scooter is not doing so well though.  I'm about 100% certain she has had an impacted crop but I think is working through it with my help.  I hope anyway.  I noticed she was keeping to herself and after observing her over a night and morning I saw that her crop was not emptying at all.  It was not hugely inflated but it was really doughy feeling and not moving on through her system.  So, I flushed her crop really good with water and a little olive oil and massaged it several times a day.  This helped quite a lot and I could actually feel the mass breaking up.  This morning it was much, much smaller and loose, not doughy at all.  I also noticed yesterday, while massaging her, that there was this very hard "thing" in her crop.  It honestly felt like a rock.  It was maybe 3/8".  There was some other gritty feeling things in there too but they were much smaller.  Well, this morning I could not feel the big thing anymore and I mushed around quite a lot to make sure.  I'm hoping whatever that was will pass on to her gizzard were it can be ground down and passed.  She is pooping (I know ya'll are thrilled to know that!) and eating a little but not much.  She got a bit more water today with a little food and is staying in the little apartment by herself so the others won't bother her.  I really wonder if she maybe ate a lizard or something and it having trouble passing the bones.  I saw her once eat an entire baby snake, whole, so I know she likes such things.  She's also fairly alert but just likes to sit quietly right now.  I really hope she gets better.  Scooter is one of my favorites 'cause she's kinda had a rough start but has persevered through a lot of adversity.

So, I'll be back when time allows.  I haven't even started decorating or anything for Christmas but it getting real close to time for that!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

.....And The World Laughs With You

... Or something along those lines.  Actually, with me I think it's more like, when I laugh everybody starts backing away slowly and easing on down the walk.  So, in case anybody was wondering, yes, that last post was meant to be funny.  I'm to the point now where you just have to laugh and make fun of things to keep from crying...or pulling your hair out. 
But in good news, I did manage to complete that firing and it all came out fairly well.  I was also pleased with a couple of new glazes that I had tested before but until now had not used on a whole piece.  My lower back is still not letting up on the pain so I had to get Jack to go with me into Birmingham to make the deliveries but he is always willing to help.  I can drive okay but could not pick up the crates that I haul my pottery in once they are packed.


So, we delivered a fair size load to Alabama Goods (one of my retail stores) and they were excited to get the stuff.  I could see why too because I really had very little inventory left there.  I didn't realize I had gotten that low.  I'm really going to try to get out another good size firing before Christmas for them.


I thought this goldish glaze went right nicely with the red and black.


Lots and lots of new mugs.  They are very popular for Christmas gifts.


This is a honey pot in case you were wondering why it has that notch in the lid.  That's where the honey dipper rests and the handle can stick out.

So, due to circumstances there is not a lot for me to write about, as far as things going on around here.  I had a number of things planned to start on but until my lower back improves I will not be starting any new projects.  Right now I think I flop back and forth between defiance and joking to almost despair and depression.  But I know it's just the pain talking.  It does wear on you.  Makes you silly sometimes and pissy as hell the next.  But whatdya do??  You have to just keep going and trying.  Something has to give eventually. 
Some of you that have followed the house building part for some time may know I don't have a bath tub in this house yet.  Only have a shower right now.  So Jack fixed me a make-due tub in the basement so that I could soak my back, which usually helps.  It's not exactly a jacuzzi by the fireplace, more like a horse trough by the wood-burning stove.... but it sure feels good.  Doesn't seem to help any....but it does feel good.  Chigger seems to think I may have lost it but we have fun soaking and listening to Christmas music.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Rather Be

My plan was to have this great new post about what all I've done since the last one (since it's been a while) and how incredibly well things are working out now!  Instead, I've had some rather interesting side effects from all the steroids, threw my back out in addition to my "butt joint" and topped it off by getting bit by a spider today!!  Yay me!
Have I mentioned how sick I am of all this?  And all that crap about 'what doesn't kill you will make you stronger..'  Mmm yeah.  I'm plenty strong enough now, m'kay.  Thanks.
I was actually sort of enjoying the initial steroid side effects; the great mood I was telling ya'll about a few days back.  Yeah!  That was great!  Had a little hyper hyper going on there...which, considering what a slug I have been the past year or so, was great.  I could deal with that.  Then I realized my blood pressure was running like 160/105.  Oooh, not good.  It has come down a fair amount but unfortunately, so did my mood!!  What fun!!  Insomnia!  Panic, anxiety and best of all....paranoia!!  I finally had a lightning bolt of clarity during one 3:00 a.m attack and realized all this lined up with the steroid shots, meds and inhaler.  I knew steroids had some bad side effects but didn't realized it could do that, so I looked up some research in various medical journals....what d'ya know!??  80% of people given steroids in large doses have psychological repercussions.  Holy shit Batman!  Cancel the pelvic injection.  No way in HELL I am going to get that now.  Poor Jack is still sleeping with the covers pulled way up around his neck.

So, now I'm back to just mechanically trying to ease the pain.  In other words, I don't sit down unless I have to.  I showed ya'll how Jack helped me fix my wheel so I could throw standing up and that works great.  He also fixed my computer desk so I can use my 'puter standing up if I like.  Even got me some anti-fatigue floor mats so my feets don't get too sore.  So, I threw enough to do a firing but had to change out one element in the kiln before I could do that.  We partially dissembled the kiln so I wouldn't have to bend over very much to replace the element.  And guess what?...I still threw my lower back out!!  God I love the excitement of my life!  With Jack's help I actually managed to get the kiln fixed, put back together, loaded and fired.  All while shuffling around like a pissed off Quasimodo.  Now I can't sit down and can't stand up straight!!  And, I'm out of muscle relaxers!!  All I can say is thank God for Benedryl and Xanax.  Now, ya'll know I hate to take prescription drugs but sometimes you just have to say, fuck it.  I break the Xanax down into forths but I've been carving those things up with pharmacological precision.

Now then.  We get to today and I managed to get the bisque fire unloaded and was working on wiping down the pieces in preparation for waxing the feet and all for glazing.  Oh, and all this weekend my one big store has called every. day. to let me know they are really needed stuff.  No pressure or anything though.  So, I'm wiping pots and have some tunes going on the radio that, once again, Jack fixed for me, when something grabbed my finger when I grabbed up the next mug to clean!  I don't know what is it but it hurts and it was just a thousand wonders I did not sling the mug and everything else across the room as I screamed and, of course, jerked upright and caused my back to commence killing me again.  I looked down on the floor and it was a damn spider!!  That little shit had grabbed my finger with all he was worth and proceeded to bite the living hell out of it.  Believe it or not I did not squish it's little body into oblivion.  I trapped his sorry ass in a glass and proceeded to scare the shit out of it!  Nah, just kidding.  I did capture it so we could look it up and make sure it was not poisonous and that my whole left arm was not going to rot off.  And yes, it was my left hand and I am left-handed.  So, after applying some sting medicine, and it did feel just like a bee sting, we determined that it was just a wolf spider and I took it out to a stump near the edge of the woods.  It turned to look up at me and raised it's 2 front legs in a defiant salute.  I saluted back with a double one finger and warned it to stay away from the house from now on.
And now, I sit.  Well, sort of.  Actually, I kind of list to port.  Sore all over with a stinging, hurting thumb.  Until tomorrow, when I get to go have my annual pelvic exam...better known as the Pap smear.  That's right...after all this shit, I have an appointment tomorrow to let another doctor scrape cells out of my hoohaa and mash my boobs in a machine.

So, I know this is Life's twisted way of testing me....or punishing me....however you want to look at it.  It is not lost on me.  I spit my disdain.  I fart in it's general direction.  I will endeavor to persevere.   But there better be a damn golden egg waiting out there for me or some shit.  Sack of money... lottery win.  I'm not choosy.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Better Than Nothing


Well, there's not a whole lot of anything going on around here right now.  I believe I have truly begun to hate winter.  And yes, I know it's not actually winter yet.  The damp coldness here has become relentless to me.  Like a lot of things.  I am so thankful for the occasional warm and sunny day though and we have had a few lately.  In fact, this whole week is supposed to be warm, although it may be a little rainy at times.  However,  rain is easier to take when it's warm, to me anyway.  And there have been a few new things surprise me this fall.  For one, my little witch hazel tree bloomed for the first time.  I was beginning to wonder if it really was a witch hazel but a couple of weeks back it burst forth in it's little yellow explosions.


The tea plants are not new but they have made considerable progress this past year.  The 3 red blooming bushes did die but the white blooming variety has done well.  One bush is up to about 3 feet tall.


As an experiment I planted 2 on the north-facing hillside behind the house.  It has pretty rich, humousy soil with great drainage.  I planted one other at the bottom of the hollar.  The lowest spot of my valley for ya'll not familiar with the local vernacular.  It also has good dark soil but stays a bit damper than the others.  What the two groups have in common is that they both are in part to mostly shade and they are both doing very well.  I really hope to be able to harvest enough leaves this spring to at least make a little tea.  Or attempt to make tea anyway.


In other news I finally go to the point of desperation and raised my pottery wheel high enough to throw standing up.  I had been able to throw a few things lately but the pain was just getting nerve wrecking.  After Jack helped me get the wheel set up I threw a number of things and I have to say it worked out pretty well.  I wish I had not been so stubborn and had tried this well before now.  It's easier not only because I'm not sitting down and putting pressure on my butt joint but it's just easier to move around.  I can come and go from the wheel with ease, moving finished products or if I forgot a tool and such.  No standing up and down and up and down.  There are a few little things to work out over time but I'd say this is working well enough to let me get a couple of loads of work to the stores before Christmas.

So, that's about it for now.  Hopefully things will brighten up over the next few days and relieve some of this misery.