Archive for February, 2011

Splitting And Twisting…

February 23, 2011

Well, I guess I was a bit premature when I posted the planters. I was so excited about the flipped down edge that I thought I’d take it one step further and make some bowls with a double flip…

And the bottom…

Well, these split along the seam and I was really disappointed and then later I went and re-checked the planters only to find out that some of those split too and the ones that didn’t probably will in the bisque. I should have known because they were going together a little too easily. I haven’t given up as I think the double flip ones look cool but I think that because the bottoms are thick so I can have a tall foot, that by time the bottom is dry enough to trim, the walls of the bowls are a touch too dry… so on to modified drying. Anyway, that was a normal trial and error fail. My buddy Steven Cheek bisqued a couple terra sig tests for me to see if the sheen held up. It did OK but I think my percentages of colorants were too low. I went ahead and doubled the stain in the black and coated several pieces with it…

I have to admit that they look so yummy when they’re wet/damp. Here’s a few rubbed to a slight polish…

And of course, I learned a little lesson on how hard I can rub on a thin piece of greenware…

In bug news, something has changed at our favorite tavern. We used to simply go and she would play or draw and I would drink a beer or two. This was a regular event throughout the winter and was usually on Sunday. Well, the tavern has hired a balloon twister/sculptor dude. At first I thought he wouldn’t last but I think he went to balloon twisting school and he has all the accoutrement and paraphernalia including a mechanical pump, special pins and scissors, balloons colored with the colors throughout the visual spectrum and even balloons already shaped like things (like a heart). The shaped balloons strike me as a bit of a cop out considering that the whole idea is to make things out of hot dog shaped balloons… but what do I know? The problem is the whole tipping/not tipping/how much tipping thing. I don’t really mind tipping him but he’s got a bit of a scam going insofar as he doesn’t ask parents if they’d like their kid to have a balloon, he simply comes up to the table and asks the kids if they like him to make them something… like any kid is going to say, no I’m ok this week. The result is that every time I go in, it’s like someone has added to my bill. Anyway, the first time Sofia got butterfly wings but I didn’t get a picture. The second time, a tiara and wand (gag me with a spoon)…

And this last weekend, she got a dog that’s also a hat (she was quick to point out that it’s a dog with no legs)…

So maybe I need a new tavern.

February Is The New April…

February 20, 2011

No doubt May will be the new August. The temps have been balmy for a week now and it seems they’re holding for now… supposed to be mid-50’s for the next week or so and last week was 60’s and even went past 70 on one day. I road my bike 3 days in a row… nothing like holidays, cold weather, sitting on your ass and a 17 day flu to get you out of shape. It was pretty rough going but unless you work out somehow during the winter, it’s inevitable. Yesterday was Dad and Sofia day and we had a great day. Tommy’s for java, Vietnam Kitchen for soup, home and long walk with the demon dog, grocery for apples and grapes and off to the river for a picnic. The bug loves to sit on a blanket and have me peel her an apple. Here’s the bug when we arrived…

Here’s our view… across the river where under that railroad bridge is the falls which is the reason Louisville was a settlement here in the first place…

After our little picnic, I wanted to take the bug to the locks on the river but I couldn’t figure out how to get to it. I ride by it on my bicycle but I couldn’t navigate to it in the car. I guess I’ll have to get a map or something. Instead we went to the waterfront where there’s a “great” lawn where they have outdoor concerts etc. We were checking out the water fountains next to the lawn and I found this…

This is the largest denomination of currency I’ve ever found. I used to have dreams where I would find money and greedily put it in my pockets until I couldn’t fit any more in, I wonder what that was all about. Anyway, a 10 spot is a 10 spot. Here’s the bug getting ready to run on the lawn…

When we got back to the car, I realized that we had parked near my friend Ray’s bike rack. The city had artists make bicycle racks and placed them around the downtown area a couple years back and Ray’s was down by the river and I hadn’t seen it installed before. It has a polished fish on it. Here’s Sofia hamming it up with the fish…

Here’s a shot of her making a kind of fish face…

The excitement this morning was that Mom went downstairs first and the dog had thrown up in the foyer. Sofia was right behind her but when she saw the vomit, she came running back upstairs shouting that the the dog “threwed upped” that she was never going downstairs again and that we would have to bring food and water upstairs for her. I said, don’t hold your breathe and she said, what does that mean? I gave it my best shot but I don’t think she really understood the sarcasm… oh well, she will in time. In other news, I made a few planters and I have to point out that it is spelled planter and not the dreaded plantar, as in the fasciitis. I altered the water reservoir section to have the rim flip down…

From the side they look a bit flying saucer-ey…

Nazi Pesto…

February 17, 2011

There’s been a lot a talk about Nazi’s in the past couple years (actually there’s been a lot of talk about them ever since WWII) but I never made any connection to my work. It’s always a treat when someone sends you a picture of the piece they purchased in action and I got this one the other day…

I knew that those brown shirts had a connection to Italy (and by extention pesto) because of B. Mussolini (his team was the very original black shirts). When I was growing up my grandpa, in a rare politic statement, would say… “Mussolini wasn’t all that bad until he got mixed up with that H1tler fella.” In retrospect I thought he was pretty nice about the whole thing especially referring to Adolf as “that H1tler fella”. One more Naz1 tangent before getting back to the bowl. While I was sick, I watched about half of a documentary about crystal meth on Netflix. In true documentary form, the beginning of the movie talks about the history of meth and how it was invented in the early 20th century and given to pilots during the war to keep them from dozing off on long and continued bombing missions. I was astounded by a little known fact that they mentioned during this segment. It was that H1tler took meth injections every day for the last 2 1/2 years of his life. How could this be left out of everything one hears about this dude? OK, so back to the bowl… the Naz1 thing is a bit of an inside joke with me and bowl’s new owner as she had left a message on etsy saying that she was trying to find this soldier toy for her 14 year old at the same time she was deciding to get the bowl around xmas. I mentioned to her after I had mailed it that I hoped the whole Naz1 shopping had worked out and she promised me a picture of the two. Another email from Thia, the bowl’s new owner, is a wonderful glowing review of my work and I quote it here… “Your bowls arrived yesterday and they are bloody gorgeous!! That blue bowl is just mesmerizing! It is currently my favorite. I was at work when they arrived, and my 14 year old called me from home to tell me how much he liked the blue bowl. His interest in visual culture is pretty much limited to tattoos. The more garish the better. Anyway, he said that he wished that you had etched the same pattern on the outside of the bowl as well. This from a boy who dreams of turning 18 so he can have a dragon tattooed on his back, its head reaching over his shoulder to his chest.” I think it’s fantastic to get this kind of feedback, thank you Thia for taking the time to send it.

In other news, the weather broke and my 18 day illness has passed. I think the weather is spectacular and enjoyed a bike ride yesterday but the fact that we are not supposed to have this kind of weather for another month and 1/2 is subtly disturbing to me. That being said this past Sunday, the bug and I went on a little picnic to the Watertower again. She loves that place. We brought a blanket, an apple, and orange and some pecans and enjoyed the 55 degrees. Here’s my favorite pic of the day as she had get some running in…

Here’s some shots of her on the other tower over by the watertower. She asked me a bunch of questions about it and one was what it was made out of and I said, limestone. She said, grindstone? and I said, no, limestone. She said, Dad, you’re not foolin’ me because I’ve tasted a lime and that tower doesn’t taste like limes. It’s made of grindstone. I tried to clear up the whole thing but she wasn’t buying it. Such is the situation when you’re always foolin’ your child…

While we were there we got some thistles from last year and gave them a haircut with my swiss army knife and then “planted” them in the grass. I tried to get a shot with the moon in the background but you can barely see it…

Under the heading of “can’t leave well enough alone”, I started making these bowls and severing the outsides…

I like what it does to the contour but I like what it does to the inside of the bowl more…

Smellentine’s Smellingtimes Schmellentine’s…

February 14, 2011

Well, another greeting-card-manufactured-shmoliday is upon us. I’m not so put out by it because all the cards we’re passing amongst ourselves have not been purchased and when it’s all said and done, it’s difficult to argue with acknowledging love for one another… especially the little bug who was really looking forward to giving Mom and I the cards she made. Here’s the one she made for me at her friend’s house…

The longer I maintain this blog, the more I keep trying to think of silos (categories) of things to write about because, you know, you run out of things. Some categories I’ve been pondering are “medical stories” (the geriatric crowd would seem to be all over that, hey, am I in the geriatric crowd?, what’s the cutoff?), “being raised catholic stories”, “crazy ex-girlfriend stories”, “college stories” and “juvenile delinquency stories”. So you take L1pitor? Those 4 simple words can magically cut through a lifetime of not being able to generate small talk at a party or get-together. It works even better than “I just installed Wind0ws 95″ used to work back in the… what was it?, oh yeah, late 90s. Anyway, as an acknowledgment of the smellings that are upon us, I thought to tackle a perverse tale of the heart, or maybe just forlorn pining. For any short post lovers… stop here.

In high school, I was not the most self-confident young man when it came to the girls. Most of the “hot” girls in the senior class were dating boys that had already graduated or more accurately, boys that would have graduated if they hadn’t dropped out of school. Their unavailability proved incredibly frustrating to us nerdy boys’ fantasy world where we conjured scenarios that would never happen regardless of their availability. So there was this beautiful girl in my class, let’s call her Robin. I longed for her for years but, constantly realizing that she was simply out of my league, kept my longing compartmentalized enough where it wasn’t really a problem. Of course I was a senior in 1976 and although, if you look back at pictures from 1976, you may think to yourself that it’s hard to believe anyone was ever attracted to anyone else because of the clothes and haircuts, but I can assure you that the way the girls looked combined with the adolescent flood of hormones was an attractiveness cocktail that has yet to be matched. Anyway, the most carnally disturbing trend of the time was the miniskirt. There was no dress code in my school and it really is amazing that I ever learned anything at all. I used to sit in the back of the room and ponder Robin’s black and white checked miniskirt (hey, maybe that’s why I’m always painting squares on my pots!) and of course everything that I imagined it barely concealing. There was a boy, however, who had moved to our small town not long before I was a senior. He was a fabulous pitcher named T0m Br0wning who played for our local Amer1can Leg1on post. He went on to play for the C1nncinati Reds and I believe in his rookie year, he won 20+games. Anyway, Robin’s boy was Tom… he was exotic and a nice guy. Well, apparently as high schoolers do, they broke with one another for reasons I’m not privy to and somehow she let it be known that she was interested in me. Honestly, I was in disbelief. So, to make an incredibly long story just long, I seized the opportunity without realizing that I was, more than likely, a pawn in the Robin/Tom romance. After our first encounter where it could no longer be considered a fantasy, I dropped her at her home and walked home myself. To this day, I vividly remember literally jumping for joy. I was beside myself wanting to scream and sing and dance. Robin had a best friend and I did too. The girls decided that it would be appropriate for her friend to get together with mine and I didn’t care because I was living a dream. In retrospect, there were probably many reasons for the demise of this situation, not the least was my over-analysis of how to keep it from ending but one night after drinking too much beer we stopped at her house and both girls were there and they decided both to end it. We were shocked, obviously, and we were drunk too. What ensued was a spate of small time/small town vandalism that got us both in a bunch of trouble (maybe I’ll tackle that story some other time) and most likely reaffirmed for both the girls’ mothers that we were unfit for their daughters. Later Tom and Robin reunited and I was distraught. Why the long story? I know, this is high school drivel right? Well, I tell it only as a premise for what happened afterward. I left home at 19 to go to school in KY and led a fairly healthy existence as far as matters of the heart til now. In my current state of over-analysis, I’ve come to the conclusion that the fact that I got to go out with this “unattainable” girl combined with the fact that the union was never consummated (how’s that for a euphemism?) created a subconscious pining that went on for many many years. In fact right up until 1999, I dreamt of Robin all the time, at least weekly for many many years and then a bit less for many more until 1999 (I realize that this sounds like a kind of obsession but in reality, I rarely thought of her in my waking life). Of course, in the dreams she was still 17 or 18 because, even though I had visited home, I never saw her for all those years. Occasionally, in my younger days, I would drive by the house where she grew up thinking I might “bump” into her and see what she was like but it never happened.

So, what happened in 1999? Well, my high school was tiny and by tiny I mean graduating class was 24. K-12 was all in the same building and all my siblings went to this school as well as my aunts and uncles and my parents. It’s a strange thing to be taught by the same teachers that taught your parents 25 years earlier but it’s true. Anyway, sometime after my youngest sister graduated, the school closed and now the school building has been purchased and is inhabited by a cult (but that’s another story). Every couple years the school has a reunion and since the class of ’76, say, only had 24 students… a class reunion would not yield much of a turnout. Their solution was that these class reunions would include anyone who had ever graduated and I went to the one in 1999, which was my 23rd year reunion. My aunt had gone and she was like the class of ’24 or ’28 or somewhere around there. So I showed up with Sofia’s Mom, who was 25 and I was 41 and I’m sure I was considered the stereotypical divorcee hanging out with the young babes. I was hoping that Robin would be there mostly because I imagined a scenario where we would have a private chat and I could tell her that she still invaded my dreams and of course she would reciprocate in some similar way and my subconscious would attain closure. That didn’t happen but I did get the closure. I half hoped that she would look like a battered old lady but to my surprise she had aged particularly well. We didn’t talk privately but I went to get a drink and she and the same girl that was her best friend in high school were both in the line with me. I asked how she was doing in my incredibly smooth small talk way that I’m so good at… we were still too young for me to ask if she was on L1pitor. It was very strange because she (and everyone else at the reunion) acted toward each other the same way they did back in 1976 and it bothered me that there seemed to be no acknowledgment that we had all lived lives where the amount of time we had lived after 76 was longer than the time before it. Anyway, our stilted conversation was pretty benign until I asked, you have any kids? Then BAM!, “yes, I have nine.” Nine! Jebus, really? (I didn’t say that). Suddenly, my subconscious alternate fantastic dreamworld collapsed. What if we had not split? I would have, no doubt, become a slave worker in service of an ever increasing brood. I can’t even imagine how different things would have been. Nine! After the reunion, I have yet to have another dream with her in it.

So, this all leads to my current belief about the contingency of life (actually, life is contingency) and the absence of regret. I’ve attempted to voice this idea before and been ridiculed but what the hell, it’s my blog. By contingency, I mean do I turn right or left… left?, well if it’s left, you never will know what right would yield. If one considers the actual event of conception, the fertilization of the egg and the millions of little swimmers vying to be the one, one has to conclude that conception the day before or the day after or even 5 minutes before or even 5 seconds before or after, although may still result in fertilization, the fertilization would be with a different swimmer… hence, maybe the child would be a boy and not a girl but regardless, the only thing for sure is that it would not be the same as the child that I actually have. I firmly believe that any choice during my whole life, large or small and no matter how seemingly insignificant would have altered everything after it and that however I might evaluate how different my life would be, I would certainly not have the love of my life, Sofia. This means in all honesty and reality, that if the bug is the best thing that ever happened to me (and it is), from when I was born to the second she was conceived… I did exactly the right thing, I made the perfect choice and in a real way, in each of the thousands and thousands of contingencies, I chose correctly up to that point. This means that it is impossible to have a regret because that regret, if I was magically able to alter it, would result in her not being born. Happy Smellentine’s.

7 Stylish Things…

February 11, 2011

There’s this award that’s been going around that Connie Norman was gracious enough to give to me called the Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you Connie for thinking of me. Here’s where the curmudge kicks in… the award suggest that you nominate 15 more people and list 7 things about yourself previously unrevealed on the blog. There’s something provocative about the latter part but as I’ve made the rounds, I think most of the potter blogs have already been nominated for the award so I’m skipping that part. As far as the 7 stylish things, it’s gonna be difficult because I don’t think I’m all that stylish in the sense of the word most people understand. But here goes… think stylish Jim:

#1. I can and do pee and drink beer simultaneously (mostly outdoors because it’s more fun that way)

#2. When I was a boy, raised Catholic, I would lie to the priest in confession and make up sins that I hadn’t really done to appease their insatiable need for child sins. I did then and do to this day think that I didn’t do anything as a child that could even remotely be considered evil or sinful… I was a kid.

#3. I have not struggled with gluttony for most of my life… I just go ahead and pig out, no struggle whatsoever.

#4. As I’ve aged, my nose hairs have become stiff and grow rapidly. If I don’t stay on top of this, at night when I’m trying to sleep and I’m lying on my side, the long stiff hairs get pushed against the opposite side of the inside of my nose and it tickles so much that I cannot go to sleep.

#5. My dad instilled in my an abject aversion to lying. I’m still very bad at it and rarely do it (this doesn’t include lies of omission). This has caused me a great deal of grief over the years and made me the social misfit who has trouble with small talk. It has also contributed to a characterization of me as truculent, cynical (although skeptical is the word they’re looking for) and defiant.

#6. The character trait that I revere most in others is irreverence, hands down… especially an irreverent sense of humor.

#7. I guess many would and do derisively call me a health nut. I haven’t EVER in my whole life had a b1g mac, wh0pper, or whatever the correlative names are for the burgers at the other chains. In fact the only time in the last 25 years I’ve even been in a McDon’talds is to use the rest room when I’m traveling and there’s no gas station around (I haven’t peed and drunk a beer simultaneously in a McDolts but that has more to do with the fact that I’m not drinking beer on long trips). I haven’t eaten a hamburger since 1986. I haven’t had a carbonated soda beverage since 1986 (except a couple times I’ve had a ginger ale when I’ve gotten sick and nauseous). I haven’t dipped snuff or chewed tobacco since 1986.

So there you have it… pretty stylish, no?

I hate to have a post without a picture so here’s the bug jammin’ ala Sonny Terry…

Those Crazy Brits…

February 9, 2011

Is that correct?… Brits? Or is it those crazy Great British or British or UKers or English? I have to be honest, I’m so very happy to have met blogging buddies from the British Isles or from England or from the UK or whatever, but man, your country’s almost as screwed up as ours. First off, as a relatively new father, I’m utterly amazed how pervasive the monarchy is to our children’s literature. We broke from said monarchy over 225 years ago and of all the things that our kids could possibly soak up, it’s kings and queens and princes and princesses. I have to insert here that despite their and our obsession with the now, in my opinion, relatively meaningless monarchy across the sea, I couldn’t work up an inkling of interest about Prince so and so and Queen so and so. Why do we care?… I know, celebrity. Obviously, there are still other monarchies in the world but nothing like it used to be. So I was sent this video and it kinda blew me away in a way…

I’ve watched it 3 times already and still couldn’t recite it back to someone.

OK, this is day 17 of this plague from hell and it’s the first day that I don’t feel like ripping my throat out ever minute of the day… I only feel like ripping it out about half the time. It’s cold and it’s been snowing…

So much for that mild winter the forecasters said we’d have back in the autumn. It’s difficult to blog when you haven’t done anything except wait to be able to do something. I’d like to say I’d read a good book but no. I think I’m gonna throw this afternoon and see how I feel after a couple bowls. The bug is off at school and I miss her during the day. Here she is all packed up and ready to leave this morning…

In a previous post, I pondered our propensity for round base 10 numbers and why… maybe because we have 10 fingers and 10 toes. Well, Monday was Sofia’s 100th day of school and she told me it would be but I thought, yeah, ok, maybe they can make a math lesson out of it. Well she was beside herself that evening as they devoted the whole day to 100 and, in her words, didn’t do any “schoolwork”. What they did do is give all the kids a pretzel for 1 and 2 donuts for the zeroes (thank you for helping me have my child eat well!) Later that day, I asked her if she was excited about the 101st day and she said glumly, no, it’s just gonna be a school day where we do our work. Then she perked up and said, but anyway, 100 is not my favorite number anyway. Before I could ask what was, she said, my favorite number is really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really… and on and on til I was starting to wonder how long she would go and then she stopped the reallys and said, as many reallys as it would take me to say them for my whole life with big number at the end. Then she said, it’s that big because I’m little. I said, you’re not little to an ant. She immediately said, I know… to an ant, I’m a giant ant stomper. Such is the nature of our discourse. What reminded me of the round number thing originally was that I noticed that Michael Kline posted his 4 year anniversary of his blog the other day, congrats Michael. I thought wow, that’s 2 years more than my blog and then thought, hey… I started my blog in February, what day was that exactly? It was Feb. 2nd and it slipped by me while I was ill. So I’m over 2 years at this blogging thing. Here’s a shot of the cold dog…

As I put the blanket over her, I thought… I bet you wish you had opposable thumbs Dingus.

Born Inventor…

February 4, 2011

Well, it’s day 12 and I’m still sick and I was really pissed off about it 4 or 5 days ago… now, they don’t even have a word for what I am. Mom couldn’t take it and went to the doctor and he told her all the things it wasn’t but did concede to bronchitis which is like saying, “you’re sick and you’re coughing”… oh, the expertise. Anyway, he gave a prescription for some cough medicine which I was desperate enough to take, thinking it may even allow me to get to sleep. I took a tsp. and sat in my chair and thought, hmmm, I feel kind of comfortable and lo and behold, I did sleep… until about 4 in the morning but I’ll take what I can get. The next day, Mom told me that the cough syrup had oxycodone or hrdrocodone or cobaltcodone carbonate or something in it. I took some more and it allowed me to sleep a bit better but now I realize why Rush L1mbaugh says such idiotic things constantly. After a day and a half, I stopped taking it as I really didn’t like the world I was existing in. So, I’m clean and sober now and if I were at an oxycodone cough syrup anonymous (OCSA) meeting I guess I would have to say, somewhat sheepishly, that I haven’t had a tsp. (or as the great bluesmen would say… spoonfuh, obviously not talking about cough syrup) for 1 day and counting. Thank you jebus. OK, that’s enough of that. Here’s one of the yunomis I made for the yunomi show this year…

Sadly, after 4 consecutive years being invited to the yunomi show, I was not invited this year and this is the only year that I actually prepared way in advance. What to do? I’ve already sent this piece to the Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. OK OK, that’s not my yunomi, it’s actually from Iran and it’s old and it’s not a yunomi. I found it at this great new website called G00gle Art Project. It’s really a great idea and maybe it will become something magnificent if it becomes more populated with new museums and more pieces from the museums represented. The navigation is a bit obtuse but after a short struggle, you’ll get the hang of it. The best part is that the pieces have been entered in pretty high resolution and zooming in allows to see details in a way similar to if you were there in person and walked closer to the piece. Look at this beauty from the Uffizi in Firenze…

You know, I’ve always loved this painting but after years of art history, you become inured to these famous images and unfortunately, you don’t become inured to the actual painting but the countless, not always very good, reproductions. The result of this is a phenomenon I experienced in Italy when I saw certain pieces that I was not all that interested in seeing because, hey, I’ve seen those images thousands of times… Mr. Sandro’s “Birth Of Venus” being one and Michaelangelo’s “David” another. Well, duh, there’s a reason they’re famous. This painting knocked me out, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it is and how big it is… over 9 feet wide. Mr. Sandro’s “Primavera” is very near this one in the museum and the two are really unbelievable works to see. Here’s some more beauties from the Freer…

An unrelated event occurred the other night as Mom and I were watching the stupid box. In a moment of clarity, having had enough of the tube, I picked up my NYT Sunday Crosswords and was going to switch from my “watch-TV-from-across-the-room” reading glasses to my “do-something-that-requires-reading-something-I’m-holding-in-my-hands” reading glasses. That’s when I had my Ben Franklin moment and decided this might save me some time…

I’m hear to tell you that they worked like a dream. Now Mom was entertained a bit at my expense but it’s a small price to pay. I soon got to the point where I didn’t even have to move my neck… I simply looked up a bit to see the TV and down to concentrate on my puzzle. I know, I know, these types of devices are already manufactured but as we all know, once a low-tech, completely useful idea is co-opted by the evil money changers, slight “improvements” are added at the expense of the overall experience… otherwise known as throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I actually got roped into buying a pair of those gradated lenses at no small price and couldn’t for the life of me get used to them. My set, pictured above, worked perfectly from the first second onward… now I couldn’t play basketball with them on but I wouldn’t need to either. The expensive pair I bought came with all kinds of caveats from the optician… the strongest lens on the bottom could only go to this magnification and that magnification could only be so far off from the long distance magnification and if I wanted them to do this or that the lens are had to be larger (which made them look ridiculous and my pair already has that feature). So I’m sticking with it. If people think the toothbrush needs to be electrified or the can opener or their potato peeler, have at it. What?, people don’t peel potatoes anymore?


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