Wednesday, September 29, 2010

getting wired...

I think I might fix old electric kilns, part-time, of course.

After changing both the bottom and middle elements and beginning the top... I noticed that the switch wires that connect to the terminal board are all frayed and need to be replaced.

Once again I am on the phone ordering new parts and wondering if I will ever get this old beat up thing working properly.

I really do not want to fix kilns... but I feel like when I am done making this kiln run that I will be able to at least offer some sound advice.

So hopefully Friday I will have the new parts and will be able to put the electrical puzzle pieces together.

Otherwise I am going to have a studio full of unfired work and no room to make more.

That will just not do.

Onto other things.

I had a strange bout of vertigo on Monday. I woke up, dizzy and nauseous and proceeded to throw up from it all. My wonderful kids took care of their breakfast and morning school duties while relishing in the fact that they would be going late to school. I certainly could not drive them.
Daddy had to come home from work and bring them in late.

I lay in bed most of the day. It took two or three hours for the nausea to go away but eventually I began to feel a bit better.

That afternoon was our first After school Drama Club for the Kindergarteners and 1st graders. I went fabulously. The next class is for the 2nd -5th... alternating Monday afternoons. Fun fun even with my dizziness tagging along.
(It has not gone away altogether just more manageable... I think it was from swimming too many laps on Friday and then swimming again on Sunday some water/ear thing.

 This week I have found that there are weird and wonderful connections everywhere.... you just have to be open to them. I love to feel connected.

Now if I could just get my kiln connected it would be awesome!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

throwing slabs

This morning I finished glazing some pots that had been 
sitting around for..... ahem... a while for sure.

When I was done I decided to reprocess some clay and  
break down some harder, sitting around clay, 
to be reprocessed soon.
I found a semi wet bag of clay and decided to make some slabs of clay. 

I was thinking about a class I took at Penland, summer of 1992,
with Charles Malin. 

An earthenware handbuilding tea pot class.
I am traditionally a thrower so this was a shift for me and
to top it off one of my favorite potters was teaching upstairs, Ron Meyers.

So here I was with slabs of clay, a lot of slips and even more beer.

I have to say I loved the class and made some funky and cool tea pots. Not even sure where they are right now but...

So I decided to throw some slabs this morning. I love old traditional methods of working with clay that do not involve too many machines and preciseness. I love things that are not too uniform.
(you should see how I dress)

To throw a slab of clay...
1. pound the clay down with fists until uniform thickness
2. find a clean, relatively flat surface
3. Pick up the clay and as you are throwing it down, you pull one part toward you or away from you to stretch the clay.
4. grab it from the other side and continue, changing directions and flipping the clay over until it is the thickness you desire.

It feel great when doing this... not sure how to describe it really.

The slabs are drying right now, waiting to become something.

I can't wait either, to see what they become.

Thanks rainy day Sunday for this calm.

We went swimming with friends this afternoon and on the way home, Rohan said, "This is a great day for the spirits, playing in the rain".

That kid sure is testing me with his confrontational approach to communicate right now.... BUT he always amazes me with his insights and depth.

Here's for the spirits playing in the rain. I just might join them.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

bits and pieces of time

It took me a while to come back. 
While I was away I have been running... longer distances, starting to swim laps again,
volunteering at school (Mondays), getting all the drama club ducks in a row,
working with my little 4 month old buddy, potting/painting/mixing/cleaning studio,
and all the other things that go along with living and making it flow, relatively, smoothly.
I am one fortunate and lucky woman/wife/mama!
Just wanted you to know that I appreciate it all.
A( gigantic) lot.

I found this table on the side of the road. It had several years of laminate tableclothes on it.
It also had potential. I wanted it and I wanted to make a festive porch table..... for meals,
games, quiet moments.
The boys and I primed it and I painted it. 
(The design in the middle was made with a bubble blowing stick. ;o))

(After connecting with a friend from over 20 years ago, I painted this table 
with her creative soul as my guide!)

I woke up to this scene this morning. I love how the figures tell a story, even if I read a different story then was intended by the story maker.
I love child spirit in action.

A good friend of mine inspires me with her positive parenting.
I tend to always have negative consequences and forget about building up the self-esteem 
with incentive and reward.
We have adopted her strategy of earning tickets for things that are challenging us...
like putting out dirty clothes in the hamper, cleaning out our lunch boxes,
putting all of our toys away before bed (with out reminders).
They receive the tickets to earn special things... 
play-dates (6), dinner out(10), a special dessert (4), dinner requests (3),
even a day off from school (30 tickets saved)

It is all new but they are motivated and have special places they keep their star wars tickets.
I love being inspired by others.

Rohan's clay heads 

Rohan's canoe and paddler

We had friends over for a play-date and made it a claydate (corny I know but....)

Some tall bowls that look like a chalice from hell.
(A whole bottle of wine could fit in the bowl)
I wanted to cut openings in the foot of the bowl but they dried out too soon. 
I will make more later.

I make mugs. A lot of mugs.

altered mugs.

So... my kiln has been taken apart, cleaned, inspected and tested only to find out the top
elements, I thought were working properly, need to be replaced. I ordered the parts
now I just have to wait, fix it and hope I do not have to call our local kiln repair person.

I have been in the studio this week and it feels great. I can't wait to have finished work to critique
and possibly sell!
(p.s. I have a new clay friend, her daughter is in Max's class and we have many connections. She is putting the fire under me... and that will put fire under my pots ;o)

These are my play mates during the week while my human companions are at work and school.
They make me feel all warm and fuzzy, very fuzzy and sometimes hairy.

pickles (the only other female companion around)

pepper (snuggle kitty)

Fooky our protector and friend

Pepper and Rabbit (my three legged small animal killer)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

my neighbors and alternate universes

I have neighbors like most other people.
We are friends, wave, say hi 
and enjoy having each other as

My neighbors remind me everyday the fragility of 
the mind.

We live next to two group homes
(and a lovely, older, alcoholic who likes
to listen to rock n roll, often loud)

"M" is a good friend who is bipolar and likes to write stories.

"D" is "M's" best buddy, they loves to crack each other up and you can hear their contagious laughter from blocks away.
 "D" has severe diabete's and not sure what else.
 He plays swords with the boys
and lets them jump all over him.

"M" has long conversations with the boys.
"Can we come up "M"" the boys yell up our small hill separating the houses.
"M" has been a good friend, feeding our cats when we are away, asking if I need help if he sees the need and just generally having thoughtful conversations.

There is also "C" who used to own a  successful bar and was found walking down the middle of the highway one night. She walks a lot and finds treasures on the side of the road. I helped her move into her own place last year. She did not make it there.
She returned about five months ago. She forgot to eat.

"P" is a recovering drup addict and wheelchair bound. He was doing well making lots of money in the tech field only to discover cocaine.
He is an intelligent, born again, guy who seems lonely and knocks on his housemates doors all night looking for companionship.

"J" talks with a slur. I understand some of what she says.
She told me she once owned a cabin in Wolf Laurel.
She loved living alone with her dogs. I gave her a hair cut last week. (I was not too confident in this but she really wanted it cut and no one else would help her)
She has a big space in the front of her mouth where her teeth used to be. It makes her smile better.
She always waves to me and asks how I am doing.

Another "J" can often be found at the top of the parking lot talking about something to himself, seeming amused and happy about  his conversations.
"How's it going Broomhilda?" He yells to me all the time. He makes me laugh.

There is a quiet "M" who I see walking a lot. Always in a down vest, winter or summer. Once or twice a year he forgets to take his meds and can be heard reciting proclamations about Jesus and the bible for hours at a time. I feel like I am at a revival ;o).

Rocking chairs aline the porches of each house. Cigarettes are plentiful and glowing at most hours of the days and evening until "lights out" at 10.

One gentleman, can't remember his name, sits in a rocking chair all day looking at himself in a mirror. He is grumpy and other residents stay away from him. Wonder why he is so grumpy? 
He came to my house last week with his social worker 
(she was quiet and a bit embarrassed) 
and asked how many cats I had and why he had to feed them.
I asked him please not to feed my cats because they are on special diets and that if he did not want cats coming to his window, he might not want to feed them.
(Was that too mean? I did take him to the bank once.)

I love my neighbors. They are the watch dogs of our little dead end street. They send me waves and smiles everyday and remind
always, that life is fragile and you never know when your mind
can deceive you and you are living in an alternate universe.

(By the way I have not fixed my kiln YET but have plans to do it this weekend!)
(I did work in my studio this week though!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

You don't know til' you try (firing an old kiln for the first time that is)

I can't say it was my most successful day.
I certainly began with the energy of an 18 year old and 
ended the day feeling much my age and a little older (almost 42).

The kiln progressed well until it did not.
It seemed to stall and would not move forward.
Granted I did take things very slowly... by 18 hours of firing I was spent.
I felt stressed most of the day any way and I was just not sure what to do.

I began firing gas kilns when I was 18 at UNC-G and moved to electric for 
a while during my stint of working with Ron Propst in Winston-Salem.
That was 20 years ago.
In between I have been a wood/gas/salt girl.
I know how to manipulate a gas kiln to get it to change.
I felt helpless with this electric kiln.

I had to take the leap, firing this old, but new to me kiln, and I am glad. Now I need to troubleshoot.
I have done a little online research. One thing I did notice last night
was that there is a significant gap between the floor and the first kiln section.
Maybe this was pulling too much hot air down and out?
Cone 5 went down on the bottom but nothing moved on the top.

I feel tired and discouraged today but not defeated. I am determined to conquer this thing and begin making pots again.

I have been considering a switch to earthenware... maybe this was my call from the kiln.

Here are a few images of my yesterday.
It was quite fun despite the frustrating ending.

I forgot to make a kiln god, a symbol of good luck and to watch over the firing,
so I found this on Rohan's clay work table and wah lah kiln god. 
Not sure what to name him, any ideas?

my only window in the basement but lovely.

mugs to be and serving bowls

Now I just need to find that excited energy, unload an under-fired kiln and fix it
to start all over again. Oh yeah, I can do this.... I think I can I think I can.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

well, well, well

I surprise myself:
good and bad.
But this week has been all good.
(Don't jinx it right)

Isaac Dickson Elementary finally has an after school Drama Club.
Jessica, the one with a drama background, and I, 
will begin the first annual Drama club on September 27.
We had so many people express interest that we were forced to divide the classes in to two parts. A K-1 program and a 2-5 program.
This fall we will concentrate on classes and then in the spring will put on a production.
I am excited and nervous. 
(I am really not experienced with teaching drama, 
only with refereeing my little actor at home.)

So.... just when I write that something is hard or challenging for me.
I some how feel inspired or pissed off enough by my walls,that I  want to tear them down.

I ran 4 1/2 miles yesterday. 

I made myself do it with mantra's like
"do not stop, think of all the people on biggest loser who run marathons" and "I think I can, I think I can" 
Next time I will be sure to have the theme music from Rocky and Chariot's of Fire to inspire me.

This morning I faced it down.
 That door to the basement, my studio with in it, 
has been plaguing me all summer.
How dare you keep me down!
Well I filled up my coffee mug, charge my ipod shuffle and made a mission for the day.
Glaze and load my kiln.
I did it and happily.
I have not fired it yet because I haven't ever fired it and want to have a full day (6 a.m. on) to be attentive to it and make sure everything is going to run smoothly.
High temperatures and a wood house tend to give me panic attack feelings.

So, in the next three days I will have fired pots out to gawk at.
They might not be to my liking. They might craze and crawl and crack... but I did something I have been putting off all summer.
And it feels good.

I feel like cheers-ing so who ever has a drink(any kind)out there while you are reading this.... cheers.

Here's to surprising ourselves daily.
I have always love the phrase: 
(I fell in love with in 
Dead Poet's Society)

Carpe Diem 

Seize the Day

Monday, September 6, 2010

the kitchen today, all day

I could not stay out of the kitchen today.

~First soaking and cooking garbanzo beans.
Making delicious hummus.

~Next I uprooted every last basil plant, plucked each leaf, washed them and proceeded to stock us with pesto for the winter, not to mention some just plain frozen basil.

~I baked the tofu I had marinated over night slowly and saved it away for sushi and sandwiches later this week.

~Then I quick cooked kidney beans to make chili for dinner.
It cooked most of the afternoon with sweet potatoes,sweet onions, garlic, and carrots. 
It will show up again in burritos later this week.

~I also made potato salad for my sweetie, although he informed me mine gives him heartburn. :(

I guess I need to make something sweet tomorrow to wash this savory smell out of the air.
Maybe lemon bread with blueberries I picked Friday.

This cool weather could ruin girlish figure. ;)
I need to go for a long walk
or even a run if I can muster it up.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

curry, blankets and the four seasons

Something happens every year, a metamorphosis of my mind and soul.
Am I part bear or turtle or a snake or a ground hog?

First I notice a slowing of my body. I feel like a slug in slow motion.
I notice my head feeling heavier with pressure
( i live with daily sinus pressure), 
my throat scratches (and hurts, sometimes)
 and I feel like I am on the verge of getting sick. 
This feeling can go on for months.

It is a main contributor to my seasonal, emotional, change to serious introvert.

It feels like I am preparing to hibernate.
What does it feel like to prepare to hibernate?

I know that during this seasonal transformation I want to cook.
Soup, bread, new recipes, old recipes, sharing food, eating more food,
warming the kitchen with deliciousness.
I struggle to cook all summer, to find inspiration and once the temperature drops,
 even 5 degrees

I wake up a cook again.
This week was India and Italy.
Curry lentil soup and Focaccia bread.

Another sign that I am am a hibernating animal 
(or possibly a human suffering from seasonal allergies):
I find it most difficult to be motivated to exercise.
A simple three mile summer run becomes a battle of body
and soul.

To add to that, I want to be alone more. I find it harder to make
elaborate plans with friends. I want to live moment to moment instead of 
planning too far ahead. 
Is this normal? 
It does not seem like it
 but it is normal to me-
 every year.
August the cycle begins again and again and again.

What do I like about this introverted state?
I enjoy the intro-spection.
An inspector of myself.
I am forced to get to know myself again and 
it often stirs a creative pool that has been laying stagnant 
all summer.

It is borderline depression but with an excited soul.
Windows welcome open.
Wind blowing my hair, my soul. 

Blankets bring comfort and joy and snuggle.
Bodies snuggling happily after the stick and sweat of 
previous months.

So here I am again faced with myself
and all these thoughts.
As I sort and organize and clean 
 I will remember that this is just part of my fall.
A shedding of old creating a space for new growth.

Maybe I am just a tree and not an animal at all. 

(a few photos of what the boys have been up to)

science buddies

Max worries about animals and people.
He saves money for 
a local organization that helps
people find homes:

Homeward Bound.

So for others who embody four seasons.
I understand.
I love them all, just in different ways.