Thursday, December 31, 2009

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Traditionally, New Year's Eve is spent preparing for the new year. HermitJim has had a lot of wonderful info on his blog lately about such matters but basically, and if possible, all unfinished business should be completed, all debts paid (especially if to an individual), affection extended to all you meet on this day and of course, hospitality offered in the form of dinners and parties.

This is also the night more correctly associated with serving eggnog, rather than Christmas Day, because of the symbolism of eggs to newness and birth.

I also read about a ritual which I thought was very interesting and would be an easy but thoughtful thing to do. Think of all the things in your life which you consider to be a blessing (things you are grateful for) and find a small object that would symbolize each of those blessings. If you still have your tree up, these objects are then placed under the tree on New Year's Eve and left until the new year to assure their continued presence in your life. I just think it's a neat thing to do to help us remember the really important components of our lives.

I know this is a crappy photo but maybe you can tell what I have here. Now, I did not put Grendal there but she obviously thought she was important and needed to be included! And she is! I'm very grateful for my furry companions. They're good company and give me much love. So, I started with a blanket, which would symbolize the security of my home and having a warm, dry place to sleep. My hammer, which is work and my ability to do for and take care of myself. Several gold and silver coins, which is of course, for financial security. The bigger rock there is for my land, something that I am immensely grateful for. I am very fortunate to have this beautiful property. The bundle of lavender is for the earth's gifts of food and the sweet things in life. The mug is one of mine and is there because I'm so grateful for my artistic ability because it enhances my life but also because I can create items that other's believe enhances theirs. Last, but not least, is the heart-shaped rock. Though I don't have a permanent mate, I do have a large group of loving friends and several of the items here were gifts from friends. I am also fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the company of a man, on various levels, when I need it.
So, what would your items be? Do you think I left anything out?

*this song has been done by countless artists; I like Diane Krall's version.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Maybe This Christmas

The window is getting very close to completion. All the glass has been cut and assembled so I just have to start soldering all the joints now. Rain is coming in this afternoon so I'll be working on it then.
Some of the traditions associated with a few of the later days of Christmas are a little sketchy. It all depends on where you are reading as to what you are supposed to observe but as the old year ends, the theme that prevails is that of taking care of unfinished business. Most societies take one day for getting in touch with old friends that you have not spoken to in some time. You know, everybody always has someone on their mind and they say, "oh, I need to call them, we need to catch up!" Well, today is the day. This day is often used to contact estranged loved ones and friends especially and try to make amends. Apologize to anyone you think you may have offended or hurt during the year.
This year was a little unusual for me in that I had many old friends contact me, often times from 20 years ago. It was wonderful to see most of them. As a matter of fact, I had a wonderful, long visit with a friend yesterday that I went through junior and high school with. We had talked some over the past couple of years but had not seen each other in person in about 22 years. The interesting thing was that, other than us both having some gray hair and several degrees behind our names now, it was just like when we were in school! I've always thought I have changed much since those years but he didn't seem to think so and he was still Dave. There is something comforting about having people in your life that have known you for so long. We laugh about the stupid things we did as kids. We sigh and wonder and are grateful that we've made it as far and as well as we have. They know a lot of our mistakes but they say, 'well, that's not near as bad as what I did that time.....' and it makes us feel better.
So, pick up that phone and call someone. I'm sure they'll be happy to hear from you.

*Leigh Nash

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Favorite Things

The fifth day of Christmas is known as the Feast Of Fools. Basically, it is just a day for having fun and being silly. Traditionally, it's a night for having parties with friends, playing games and just seeing how goofy you can act so, if you happen to have this week off from work, let loose baby!
Most of my partying friends are out of town right now so I'll have to see what I can come up with but in the meantime, for a little fun, I put together this little take-off on an old Christmas classic.
I trust you all know the tune.....

Maters on vines and kisses from loves
Just fired pots and new welding gloves
Brown leather aprons with metal hammer rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Grey colored kitties and chocolate galore
Backhoes and Bobcats and concrete to pour
A tall man with blue eyes that makes my heart sing
These are a few of my favorite things

Men in brown hardhats and bright safety shirt
Planting and digging and rolling in dirt
Warm winter jobs that last into spring
These are a few of my favorite things

When the knife slips
When the nail zings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad!

*Julie Andrews, of course

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mille Cherubini

The fourth day of Christmas is usually associated with children, especially orphaned or abandoned children. Not having any children myself, I really didn't know what to write about this day but I think that a good tradition would be just to spend a little extra quality time with your kids today, no gifts included. Perhaps spend the day doing something they get to choose, like going to the zoo or another favorite place. Maybe just build a fire in the backyard and roast marshmallows. If your kids are grown, take them out to lunch or write a letter telling how proud you are of them.
There are also many charities founded for the benefit of abandoned or terminally ill children, so if you have the means and no children, perhaps a donation there. St. Judes is a wonderful and longtime organization that does wonderful work for kids.
I think it is also a good idea for parents to get their children to gather up the toys and clothes they no can longer use and involve them in donating the items for needy kids. This way the kids can see, at an early age, that there are many out there less fortunate and hopefully will help them grow into grateful adults. From what I see, most kids really get into stuff like that and are happy to do it.

*Jose Carreras

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Don't Save It For Christmas

The third day of Christmas is associated with St. John, so it is customary to light a lot of candles today and also for the blessing of wine and a time of extra hospitality. As best I can tell, the first Sunday after Christmas Day is the Feast of the Holy Family also. So, today would be a good day to get together with family, or those you consider like family, perhaps even get in touch with one you haven't spoken to in some time.
I don't have a lot of family left and our getting together on Christmas is about the best we can organize, so I am going to take this day to remember those in my family that have passed on, the Christmases we did get to spend together and light a candle for each of them.
Perhaps we should also vow on this day to let our family members know how much they mean to us, before it's too late. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow and I can tell you from experience, way too many leave this world before their time. So, if you still have your family, cherish them and let them know it. Don't save it for Christmas.

For those of you who regularly read my blog, I want you to know how much I appreciate your friendship, even if you don't comment. But for those who do comment regularly, or even just rarely, you'll never know just how much you help me sometimes. Your sense of humor, understanding and encouragement do much to push me forward and keep me from feeling very alone sometimes. I can only hope that you get as much out of this blog as I get from you.
I also know there are a few of the guys that I work with that read and you guys are like family to me in a very real way. I know if I ever need anything there is always at least one of you I can call, who will be there to help. I can always depend on ya'll.

So! For today, "Wassail (good health)! I drink to you in the spirit of love!"

*Celine Dion

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Go Tell It On The Mountain

It may seem at first that this photo and the title of this post don't go together but I think they do if you look a little closer. In researching the origins of Santa, or St. Nick, the general consensus is that he got his start giving small gifts to poor children who lived in the villages surrounding his church. Now, I know there are multitudes of other cultural influences in Santa but that's the main historical basis.
Anyhoo, with December 26 being the second day of Christmas, I thought he was appropriate because this is the day to give to the poor and our public servants such as postal workers, utility workers, household help and such. In many parts of the world this is referred to as Boxing Day due to the tradition of giving Christmas "boxes" to these people. I always wondered about that term myself!
So, today I would encourage you to give to the charity of your choice and any of the others you feel you can. Even if you don't care to give to a religious organization there are many secular charities that do wonderful work, the only stipulation is that it must be to help the poor, not an environmental or other such cause (that comes later). I will not go into details about what I choose to do because I don't think we are supposed to boast in any way of our giving, but I will say that this organization is one of my favorites and I believe they do good work.
Today would also be a good day to clean out some of the rooms of our house and donate decent items to Goodwill or any similar groups. We know we all have way too much stuff we don't use that some one else could really profit from. We should also take this day to reflect on how blessed we are in this country and even those of smaller means among us have so much more than many people. Even though I'm out of work for so long, in many parts I would still be considered immensely wealthy, and I am.

*various artists

Friday, December 25, 2009

If Everyday Was Like Christmas

"Blessed is the season that engages the world in a conspiracy of love"

Both the song and the actual 12 Days of Christmas have their roots in Christian tradition of course, as a way to teach the church doctrine but I believe anyone can observe the days whether you choose to hold to the religious theme or not. Christian or atheist all have relationships or situations in our lives that sustain us and give our lives joy and the basic idea of the 12 days is to set aside a little time to appreciate our many blessings. The ritual that I am going to associate with each day is just my preference, based on a little of what I have read, but you can move the rituals around to whenever you like. And I do take a Christian slant to things so take of that what you wish.

Christmas Day is the first day of Christmas and is a day of being with loved ones and sharing love. Most consider it a day of quiet and reflection. This can be a challenge in my family and Christmas Eve has already proven to be somewhat trying but I am keeping in mind the true meaning of Christmas for me and enjoy my family in spite of some of them. Just as Joseph and Mary were resigned to staying the night in a barn stall, sometimes you have to endure a little crap around you but we can make the best of it, you know?
I wish you all a happy and peaceful day, filled with much laughter and love.

*Elvis Presley

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Soulful Christmas

Here's the monster tree in all it's glory! As I said before, I didn't think I was going to be able to afford a bought tree this year and had scouted my land for one I could cut but this area just doesn't offer us many native species that would I usually buy my tree from a little family owned, fruit and veggie stand here in our town but knew they were kinda pricey. On a whim I decided to stop in last week and just see what they wanted. "Any tree you want, $20!" Hey, I could afford that! I thanked the man and he helped me get it in my truck. I had to wrestle it around a bit to get it back out when I got home. I'm sure Lika thought I had finally snapped; Grendal is fairly used to the ritual by now.
You all that have read my blog for some time know, because of several issues, Christmas is often not the happiest time as it should be for me but this year I have done some research and am trying to focus on doing things a little differently. To try to make certain rituals more meaningful, like the tree itself. Without sounding pitiful, I know that the lack of presents under the tree is one thing that makes me sad. Not that I want to receive but I love to give my handmade gifts to people. I know I rant about the commercialism, which is correct, but if I had a mate or children I would love to heap gifts on them, as most people do.
So, in order to connect to the origins of our customs I don't bring the tree in until Solstice and I leave all the decorations up until Twelfth Night or the night before Epiphany. This is to celebrate the days now getting longer and our promise of Spring and warmth again. Of Life.
I especially like stars, birds and pinecones or other natural symbols for my tree. My sister brought me some birch bark back from one of those icy, foreign lands like Minnesota or somewhere, so I made these ornaments with it. You can't see but the edges have just a faint line of glitter on them.
Here is a little comparison shot, to see the size of the tree. I think this is the first tree I have ever had to decorate off of a 8 foot step ladder. But I'm a little short so I know others could have used a chair probably.
Now, I do get my Mom a present and we draw names amongst my siblings and their kids, so there is some gift giving. Mostly we just eat and goof off, which i guess is just as well. A few of my guys from work have also called to wish holiday greetings so I don't feel completely void of human contact! Ha! I'm just teasing!
So, this year I am making a real effort to celebrate the actual 12 days of Christmas which has all but been forgotten in our society and I'll be posting what this consist of in case maybe some of you might like to do so as well. Some of the traditions are very interesting and I think will be a good way to avoid the let down after Christmas day that so many people say they feel, especially if you are alone. I think a lot of people say they experience this because we have an innate feeling that there should be more to our celebrations than the orgy of shopping and consuming, and there should.
Let me just wish you all (if you celebrate) a very Merry Christmas and hope that your heart and hands are overflowing this year. May we all remember that Love is the greatest gift of all and continues to grow as we give it away.

*James Brown

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Warm This Winter

Okay, here is the stuff before I started the firing.

And here it is when I first opening the kiln. Some success but I did have a number of failures. Tricia, I'll email you; I'm going to have to remake your mugs. Since, I haven't been firing in such long time, I sometimes forget that some of the glazes are a little finicky and to fire with this in mind. So, when the kiln went to a hard cone 6 (which some of the glazes love) one of the glazes didn't like it and it did bad things.
A few successful pieces. The red glaze came out especially beautiful, which helps my feelings tremendously. It helps that these red pieces were the only ones that had to be done for Christmas, so they'll be wrapped up snug in their gift boxes by tomorrow night!
It also helps that, when I fire, the kiln actually assists in heating the house, which is a good secondary use of that heat because it's not particularly cheap to fire an electric kiln. It can get up around 80 degrees in the basement when it (kiln) is close to temperature and that warm air rises up through two vents in the floor and feels good!
These are some of the few sets that I really would like to keep for myself. I mean, I like all my stuff but these really came out well. The order was for only one set of bowls so, one of the other sets of 4 might be available if anybody out there might like them.

*Gabriella Cilmi

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ring Of Fire

I've been burning the candle at both ends lately, I tell ya. Getting back into the clay again gets me all fired up to do more stuff. Ha! all 'fired' up! I kill me. Anyway, I'm trying really hard to get the items to the people that would like to give them as Christmas gifts and I should make it. I recently bought new elements for my kiln and Mouse was sweet enough to put them in for me while I worked on other stuff. The kiln is firing much faster now. So, the top photo was taken when I opened the kiln after the bisque fire.
This is all the stuff that came out of the kiln, awaiting cleaning and waxing. The initial firing of pottery is referred to as the 'bisque'. It is done basically to drive all the water and certain chemicals out of the clay by firing the ware to around 1800 degrees F. The ware is put in dry, and while dry, can still be slaked in water and brought back to a workable state. After bisque, it is no longer able to be broken down by water because the clay has gone through a chemical transformation. Flower pots are similar to bisque ware.
Now, I prepare my ware a little differently than a lot of potters do. I trim a distinct foot on each piece and this allows me to wax a very neat circle which will resist the glaze and leave a bare, clean bottom which will not stick to the kiln shelf. And hopefully not scratch anybody's countertops or such. You don't have to wax your feet but it's pain in the butt to try to clean that glaze off if you don't. You can also use the wax for some decorative effects.
Oh, and in between all this I have reworked my window just a little bit. I wasn't happy with the way it was coming out, so I basically simplified the design. I replaced the clear, textured glass with all the same type instead of several different kinds I had before and took out that second curve and a few of the squigglies. I like it much better and am very close to finishing it. I know, ya'll are probably thinking, 'this woman is crazy; she can't make up her mind about anything!' Well, you'd be right, nutty as a fruitcake!

Well, I've got a very busy week ahead of me. I'll show ya'll the monster tree I ended up getting! It's huge! Thankfully, Mouse also helped me get it in the house and set up. It was almost to heavy for me to move around. Going to have to have a ladder to decorate it.

*Johnny Cash

Friday, December 18, 2009

I Love My Dog

A good buddy of mine has a crap load of oak firewood, already split, at his house that he said I should go get, seeing as how he is working out of state and wouldn't use it anyway. So, yesterday before the rain came, I went over and got this truckload. When I got home Lika was waiting there in the yard and watched me as I backed up to the bank, where I could unload the wood easily. We designed this parking spot in this cut to allow me to back my truck up, with the tailgate down, and easily load or unload clay or whatever. You just walk right into the bed of the truck. Anyway, I went a little too far and hit that rock you see sticking up there. (unfinished retaining wall) Well, after I hit the rock, Lika starts barking like crazy. I knew what I had done but I got out anyway, after pulling up just a little, to see. 'You damn dawg! (and I said it just like that too) you ain't worth a crap at flagging me! You're suppose to bark before I hit something. I know I've hit it by now.' He just sighed heavily and went to lay down.
Now, ya'll know I was just teasing him and so then he tries to work on my sympathies by being cute. Funny how a lot of males tend to use this technique. They just offer their underside up to you and think you'll just forget all about everything. What's bad, is it usually works on me.

*Cat Stevens

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Working On A Dream

Now the cards I've drawn's a rough hand, darling
I straighten my back and I'm working on a dream
I'm working on a dream

I'm working on a dream
Though sometimes it feels so far away
I'm working on a dream
I know it will be mine someday

Rain pourin' down, I swing my hammer
My hands are rough from working on a dream
From working on a dream

I'm working on a dream
Though trouble can feel like it's here to stay
I'm working on a dream

I'm working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I'm working on a dream

The sunrise come, I climb the ladder
The new day breaks and I'm working on a dream
I'm working on a dream
I'm working on a dream

*Bruce Springsteen

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Throw Down

Several of ya'll are always fussing about wanting to see more pottery so here is some of my recent stuff! Meg, Tricia and Page, your stuff is on it's way! Hopefully, nothing will blow up when I fire it. I was fairly pleased with the way this batch came out. I've been trying hard to experiment with new textures and designs. I feel that I'm a real tight-ass when it comes to throwing. Meaning that my work is technically pretty good but it lacks soul. I need to loosen up, get kinda jiggy wit' it, ya know.
I don't know that you can see the impressions and such on the pieces but I use a lot of found objects (shells and such) for designs and am trying to let the marks of my hands show more. I was especially pleased with the little square bowls but I will have to give them up I imagine.
Now, these pieces are still drying and with this rain lately, it's going slow. I am going to try to show the whole process of glazing and firing this time. I know I said that before and then got sidetracked and didn't show crap but I'll try harder this time. I think it's interesting to see how different a piece looks just glazed and then after it's fired, because the unfired glazes are often completely different colors than the finished product.

Ya'll feel free to continue to add your 2 cents worth to the last post! I enjoy reading about you too!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Something About You

Alright, enough about me....tell me something about ya'll! What do you all do for a living? Now, I know what several of my more vocal readers do (but you guys can still tell us), but what about the rest of ya'll? You can write in anonymously, I don't care. I'm just curious about the demographics; are my readers mostly blue-collar or white or about equal? God knows I've told ya'll all kinds of stuff about me, so c'mon, let's hear it!
And also, you may have noticed I changed a few colors and such; is the blog easy to read or do some of you have trouble? Is the font large enough? Do ya'll think I need to change anything to make it easier to read?

*Level 42 / this is an oldie but I love this song

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Boom Boom

I guess after this, I can't ever rag FloridaCracker about his crazy-ass ladder stunts. Now, it is secure. Everything is clamped and braced off but I don't recommend or advocate standing a ladder on anything but the ground or actual building structure, like a deck or so. I've just got a little painting to do up there and then I can take all this down and be done with all this really high stuff. I would like to finish this before Allen leaves on Tuesday, just in case I, in a fit of clumsiness, decide to fling myself off this structure.
I was woken late last night by some really strong lightning strikes (thus the Boom, Boom) and the first thought to hit my groggy mind was, 'oh Lord, don't let that lightning hit all that metal sticking up in the air, leaning against the outside of my bedroom wall.' Wouldn't that be a pisser?

I got to thinking about that last post and I hope no one got the idea that I just go around blasting animals. Now, I have no problem with hunting if done legally, responsibly and conservatively. In fact, in many situations, such as this area, the deer must be harvested or they will become over populated and suffer. Since we have screwed with the natural balance of things and removed so many natural predators, we must now manage these species.
The guys at work have encouraged me to hunt and my father often took me hunting when I was younger and taught me how to use a variety of guns but I have never really gotten into it myself. And yes, I keep a couple of guns and a recurve bow, which I really enjoy shooting but wouldn't use to hunt with.
I had been working outside all day, with Lika there with me, when he heard some other dogs in the distance and ran to see what was going on. They got really close and I heard Lika's bark, very urgent. I knew something was up and walked up the hill just a short distance to where Allen had cleared an area for a pole barn. There was a group of dogs on the hill, in the brush, and when they saw me they all took off. All except Lika who stood there looking at something and barking occasionally. He wanted me to come look. When I got there I saw a large 6-point buck on the ground and actually wedged between the forks of a small twin tree. It didn't' respond at all when I walked up and one of my buddies told me later this probably indicated that the deer was already in shock. I could see blood on the ground leading up to the deer and assumed someone had got a bad shot off and only wounded the deer, it having run over to my land. I told Lika to hush and stay with it, to which he laid down next to the deer and put his head on it's rump. It didn't respond to that either. So, I walked back to the house, got the .38 my daddy gave me and called Allen to ask him to come down and help me get the animal out of the brush and hung up. I wasn't going to waste the poor thing. Lika was still laying quietly next to the buck when I got back and I had to make him move away; I didn't want to risk him jumping in front of me or something like that. I only tried to think that the animal was suffering and to hurry so I just quickly placed one shot to the back of it's head and after a few seconds it laid it's head down and died. About that time Allen arrived and we drug it out and down to a clearing where we could hang it. I called Daddy Rabbit in a panic; this thing was Big and I had never dismantled an animal this large. He talked me through it though and Allen helped hold, so I guess in about an hour I had it quartered and ready to go in the fridge. I'm not going to go into details but I think I did very well; I didn't split any internal parts I wasn't supposed to and I didn't barf. I realized the deer had not been shot but the stump of a leg was where the blood was coming from as the deer had apparently fell numerous times on it. It showed no signs of infection or anything of the sort but I did discard most of that area anyway.
I washed everything really well and stored in the fridge until the next day when I packed the quarters in ice and salt for 5 days before cutting everything up the way I wanted it. Now, several guys told me that the state of the deer (of having been run by the dogs) could affect the taste of the meat but I couldn't bear the thought of wasting this animal so I was willing to try. It came out fine and the meat is wonderful; no gamey taste at all. So, I thanked the deer for his gift and tried to be efficient and careful with him. He will come in very handy to me since I'm out of work and things are looking really slim right now. As one of the older carpenters, I could ask that I be put back to work as soon as something is available but knowing that we have young men with children out of work, I told the personnel director to take them first. I can fend for myself until work picks up. And by the way, deer tacos are really good.

*Big Head Todd and The Monsters

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Funny The Way It Is

A little while back I went out to dinner with a man that was missing one leg. He had lost it to cancer back when a teenager.
Just a couple of days later, the neighbor's dogs chase and down a sizable deer on my property, not far from the house. Since it was clearly in a bad way, I relieved it of it's misery and upon further investigation, found that it too, was missing one leg. Isn't that kinda funny? What do you suppose the symbolism is in that!? ;D (a joke!)
Since I have been laid off for so long, having a freezer full of deer meat has been quite a blessing; sent just in time.
The man I have not seen since; he never called again. I have the oddest life sometimes.

*Dave Mathews Band

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

All Good Books

Well, let me just say that you people really know how to squash a girl's ego! More interested in a bunch of stupid books than when I'm trying to show ya'll I can get gussied up! Dang! Of course , the other realization hit me too...if ya'll are just trying to get a better look at the house, trim, siding or whatever in the photos just say, "hey! get your skank ass out of the way and show us a better picture of what you're working on!" Don't worry about hurting my feelings or anything. I've told ya'll several times, construction workers don't have feelings and mine were bludgeoned to death a long time ago. We don't have feelings and would never tease or pick on anybody or something to that effect.
Maybe ya'll are just curious if an ol' knuckle-dragger such as myself could possibly even read books. Hey, I got one of those college de-grees even! Ok, I'm just being a butt hole.
Since you all were wondering though, I'll show you what kind of books I do read. These are not all of them however. I have a stack of technical books down in my studio for glaze formulating and such. I have a few in the bedroom......and that's where they belong....and no, you don't get to see those. I always have a small stack of books on the coffee table that I am currently going through. I have another bookcase that has a small collection of cookbooks in it.
I don't covet many material possessions. I don't care a whole lot for jewelry, fancy clothes or knick-knack kinda crap but books and music are essential. Because I don't care a lot for material things, I keep a fairly sparse house but I hoard books. If I realize my ultimate goal of building the other half of the house, it will contain a small library.
So, let's see what we have here. That's not a snake Mya, it's a hand forged door knocker that I have yet to install on the front door! Anyway, these are some of my pottery books and various other craft and art books. Stained glass, soap-making, mosaics and on and on. Also, quite a few on restoration techniques. I don't read much fiction at all. The vast majority of these are technical or how-to books. What? Ya'll thought I just popped out knowing how to do all this crap? I do seem to have been born with the ability to replicate anything I see. So, if I see a craft done once, in person or in a book, I can usually turn around and do it. Because of that, I have always thought I would have made a great counterfeiter.
Yes, there are some books on spirituality, dreams, palmistry and such.
Here, we have a little fiction, natural health, gardening and various approaches to living naturally. And yes, I arrange my books to some degree, by subject. Oh, I enjoy Joseph Campbell's writings and some mystery books. Not so much murder mystery but like, unexplained or unsolved phenomenon. If you will notice up in the top right corner, there is the boxed set of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. They are all first edition and signed by her. They belonged to my late brother and I have no idea what to do with them. I kinda hate to part with them since they were his (and I don't have many things of his) but I'm not really interested in them otherwise and someone who collects Anne Rice things would probably like to have them.
Several of the bigger art books were gifts from former lovers in my younger days. Nowadays I rarely get a book as a gift. Hhhmm, that's kinda interesting. Hadn't really thought about that before.
So, there you have it....what kinds of books do ya'll like? Have any of these?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Made You Look

Most bloggers keep a site meter on their blog and I'm no exception. I find it somewhat fascinating especially because you can see some details of each person's visit. Now, let me say right here that I can't really tell who is who by each visit, so don't go changing the way you view my blog because I couldn't tell if that's you or not. One of the things I think is kinda funny though, is whenever I put up a picture of myself working on the house (like the one recently of me on the pick board) it gets clicked on like crazy. What are ya'll looking at? Well, now, when I put up the one of me back in the summer, leaning over Lika, I know what you were looking at. At least the guys anyway. lol!
I've always thought it is funny how some bloggers put up pictures of themselves and some you never see. I wonder is that always for privacy issues? Now, I have always had problems with my appearance so don't go thinking that I think I'm all that and that's why I plaster my photo all over this thing. I think I mainly put my photo up to show that I am actually a woman building this house and I'm just an average size person, so I'm not doing anything that most people could not do. I am often called an Amazon woman but I'm only 5'-6" and I weight about 150 lbs.
I guess I'm also somewhat used to being scrutinized on the jobs I go on, so showing my photo here is no biggie. I really have to laugh at some of the double-takes and odd looks I get when some men first see me at work. I actually do my best to blend in with the men by wearing my hair up and not wearing anything that is any way revealing but I guess it still shows some. Which is a good thing because I guess I'd hate to know I could actually pass for a guy!
What pisses me though, is that after the men have seen me work for a while, they often assume that I am a lesbian. Now, I have nothing against lesbians; I've had several friends (male) that were gay and that just is of no issue to me but I'm not gay. It irritates me because of the assumption that a straight, feminine woman cannot be competent in the field. They have to attribute some masculine quality to me in order to accept the fact that I can work. Years ago, I even heard a rumor, in the field, that I used to be a man. That would really piss me if it weren't so damn funny. I mean, I know I'm no beauty queen but I don't think I look anywhere near like a man either. But it's like the Romans coming up with the myths to explain lightning. These men just can't accept that I can swing a sledgehammer that well and then go home and put on that little black dress and make love to a man. I know I'm a little different than a lot of women but it is possible for a woman to be strong and feminine and there is nothing wrong with that. Right? I suspect that it is only men who feel threatened by capable women that make these assumptions but I'm not sure because several women have thought the same thing, or worse. What's up with that? Hey, aren't we supposed to be liberated?
I guess part of it may be also that I don't want to believe that I'm that different than other women. Because that might mean that I really will be alone the rest of my life.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Now Winter Comes Slowly

This is the last of my snow photos so ya'll won't have to endure anymore after this least until it snows again. I thought perhaps I could make my Christmas cards this year using one of these images. I think I may have some card stock already. Things are getting just a little tight financially, from being laid off so long, so I'm trying to conserve a bit but I bet I can come up with something.
The very observant amongst you may have realized that I've been using song titles from Sting's new album, If On A Winter's Night. It has a few Christmas songs on it but I wouldn't say it's a Christmas album really. I did splurge and order this album and was delighted that it arrived just in time for the snow. I recommend it, although if you listen closely to the words to some of the songs it can be somewhat depressing. I think it absolutely captures the feeling of deep winter though.
Cedar trees grow in abundance here. They are really pretty in the forest but most people don't consider them nice enough to use as Christmas trees because they are kinda thin and spindly. I know when I was very young, and before Christmas tree farms became prevalent, the cedar trees were all we had. Daddy would take us kids out and we would roam our farm or go over to one of the neighbors, who had a couple hundred acres, and we would cut a tree from there. When I was 12 or 13 we discovered the farms and insisted then on having 'bought' trees because only 'country' folks had 'corndog' trees as we called them. If I can find a decent enough specimen on my own land, I might just have a 'corndog' this year. Allen will laugh when he reads this because I've always ranted about cedar trees. That's okay though; at my age I've learned some pretty good recipes for crow.
With the ceilings in my house, I can have about the biggest cedar I could lug in there. They don't shed and I like the smell. Hhmm, now if I could find a man that I could say the same about....
I loved how that he stood out against the white. What an interesting year this has been. I guess this early snow was just one more thing to come along this year that I never thought I'd see. I can't help but wonder these past few days what the new year will bring.


Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Snow It Melts The Soonest

I woke up last night about 3:30, bleary-eyed, I shuffled through the house for a small drink of milk. A passive solar house means lots of windows and an unfamiliar whiteness shone in from the outside. The realization that it was actually snow startled me completely awake. It's not much but for us and this early in the year, quite unusual.
Grendal was eager to get outside this morning but not for the same reason I was. She always wants to run out onto the deck first thing to see what's new and sniff around. So, she charged out the door but her enthusiasm was quickly dampened by that cold, white stuff everywhere. What the crap!? Let me back in the house! I made her sit out on the deck while I went on a walkabout. Don't fuss; she had a good dry spot to sit by the door.
I love the way it makes the trees look and the pine trees especially. Makes me think of sugared fruit. It didn't even lay on the drive or roads but I am really surprised we got this much. I really can't remember a snow fall this early in the season.
Mountain mint with little snow hats!
Hydrangea skeletons highlighted. Now, don't you Yanks laugh too much. Snow has gotten to be such a rare occurrence here. I have a feeling we are going to be seeing a bit more of it now though.

Oh, never say me farewell here, no farewell I'll
And you shall set me to the stile and kiss and
take your leave;
I'll stay until the curlew calls and the martlet
takes his wing;
Oh, the snow it melts the soonest when the
winds begin to sing.

*Of Irish origin but not much else known.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Lonely At The Top

I'm almost there! I did get that piece of metal trim put up around the stove pipe where it passes through the eave and also got the painting done as far as I could reach. I hope to move the pick board up one more time and then I can paint the very top of the gable and be finished with this part!! I had a couple of spots to patch on the rafter tails and this and that, so I ended up working on this all day but looking back it doesn't seem like there was that much to do! Oh well.

Not much other news. Oh! some chance of snow for here tonight! Everybody is going nuts as usual. The state has screwed up my unemployment payments so looks like I might be doing a little yard work or something to get a little money. Maybe it won't take too much time from the house.
Well, maybe I'll have something a little more excited to post next time. Oh yeah, to those who subscribe to my blog: if i go back and edit any old posts, does your service send you a notification when I repost? I need to go back and label some old posts but don't want to drive everybody crazy with ya'll getting 50 posting notes in one day. I have no idea how those things work.

*Randy Newman

Thursday, December 03, 2009

An Unexpected Rain

Well, I guess I'm on a roll with odd encounters with cashiers and I just thought this was too unbelievable not to share. Ya'll know I don't care much for the big box home improvement places but even I find myself having to shop there sometimes for building materials and tools. Well, while I was in town today for another errand, I stopped in the store that is the least evil to me that I have been buying the stain for my house from. I had run out of the siding color and will probably need a couple or three gallons to finish but money is a little tight right now so I just had a gallon mixed. Anyway, I go to the checkout and there is an older man running the register. He rings it up and it comes up to $36 or so. Yes, that is kinda expensive but you get what you pay for, you know. Well, he remarks that he can't believe how expensive paint has become lately. I agreed and just casually joked that if I remembered correctly, that same paint used to be about $27/ gal. when I first started on the project. "Really?" he said. "Well, let me fix that for you!" And he proceeded to cancel the first sale and mark that gallon of paint down to $27! At first I thought he was just joking but he did it! I couldn't believe it. Well, I thanked him profusely and he said, "I guess you'll look for me every time you come in here now!" I said "yea!" and thanked him some more. It's funny, the difference in price was not a tremendous amount of money but when you've been laid off as long as I have, every little bit helps, so that man probably had no idea how much that meant. I was so flabbergasted at the time I didn't think to say anything but if i see him in there again I think I'll have to tell him.
A few years ago I was laid off and had a similar experience at that same store. I had been out of work for a while but needed some material for a small side job I was doing. I went in and purchased what I needed and was leaving when I spied the hot dog vendor that they let set up outside the store. I was hungry and knew I didn't have much money for lunch, but I could afford a hotdog so I went over and ordered one. The man fixed it and I held out some money to pay him. He just kinda brushed my hand aside and said, "Don't forget to get a drink", pointing to the cooler of canned drinks. I said "okay" and tried to pay him again. He looked me right in the eye and pushed my hand back towards me. "When somebody wants to give you something, you take it" and just smiled. I was flabbergasted again but thanked him very much, got my drink and went on to work.
Funny how things happen sometimes.

*Melissa Etheridge

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


So these photos are fairly crappy but I think you can get an idea of what I'm showing. That gap in the top of the louver is for it to fit around the ridge beam, as Ed correctly assumed. The whole louver is sitting on a horizontal 2x4 that was placed in the framing at the appropriate height. We set the louver back in enough for when the 3/4" trim is applied to the edges, it will be flush with that rafter, as you can see in the next photo. I don't think there is any standard way to do this, we just thought this looked best.
Here the trim is on and I have caulked some of the joints. This looks crappy I know but I'll get a better photo when it is completely painted and all. It was just about dark and I was in a hurry this afternoon when taking these photos. Rain is coming and I wanted to make sure I had everything put up. Anyway, just a couple of other details you can't see: I stapled screen to the back of the louver, completely covering the whole thing, to keep out insects and birds. It would probably be a good idea to cover it with a layer of hardware clothe too, to keep out squirrels and such, as they can chew through thin screening. Since the screen is on the back, critters can still get up between the louver planks but you wouldn't want to see the screen.
Obviously, the louver boards are slanted downward to shed water, although I think rain will only reach this one on rare occasions. Also, any exterior finish I put up is primed all over before installation. Any trim, siding, anything like that gets one good all-over coat of paint and so you may have noticed that this louver was primed all around, inside and out, even though the inside won't show. Some may consider this overkill but I think it's a good safe guard. Moisture problems are one of the major repairs done on houses and so I go the extra mile on trying to avoid this in the future.
I went with spruce on the trim for a couple of reasons, mainly I was afraid I would not have enough of the cypress that I am trimming out the rest of the house in, so I chose to conserve that material. I should have thought about this and made sure I had enough cypress but I made a mistake. I didn't want to use pressure treated, like the louver itself, because it has a tendency to shrink and I don't want the trim to develop cracks in the joints if I can help it. Spruce (or fir) is a good straight, clear wood and I think it will hold up fine, especially being painted.

*Annie Lennox