Archive for April, 2011

April Showers And Showers And Showers…

April 28, 2011

I have been remiss on my blogging duties. My excuse is the inevitable “special” occasions that arise week after week, year after year. It’s derby time here in Louisville, not to mention spring time, easter time, plumbing repair time, leaky kitchen window repair time, mother’s day time, spring break time, flooding and incessant rain time, just not blogging time or getting much accomplished in the studio time. First let me mention that we’re having a mother’s day sale at the Mount Saint Francis monastery this saturday and sunday, here’s the poster…

If you’re in the Louisville area and you get a hankerin’, hop on out and peruse the wares. If you’re in Louisville and have never been to the Mount, contrary to popular belief, it is not a 2 hour drive away, not a 1 hour drive, not a half hour drive, it’s close… one could get there in less than 15 minutes if they left from downtown. Take I-64 W to the Paoli exit, it’s exit ramp merges with highway 150, take a left at the 3rd light and you’re there. So first there was Sofia’s spring break, then mom’s birthday, then my sister came to visit (posted about that a little already), then easter. During this time it has rained nonstop. I’m happy that we have been fortunate not to have any of the tornadoes that have plagued the southeast during this time. My basement has flooded with more than an inch of standing water, the stump house sits covered in the back yard with a tarp over it exactly as it was over 2 weeks ago and my cycling has been nonexistent as it’s either too cold, rainy or both… not to mention that much of my route has been inundated. Here’s a shot of where my bike route passes by the downtown area…

Supposedly the rain will stop today, at least for a while which means the sale should have idyllic weather. Here’s a couple new bowls that I’ll have out his weekend…

Rode Hard And Put Up Wet…

April 19, 2011

My sister is visiting with her kids and significant other this week. In my mind, I thought that working or blogging or anything would be suspended until they had left to return home. Upon further reflection, when I considered that we’ve been up since 7 and there are still 4 showers to be taken, the bug’s in school and I’m sitting in front of the computer that… hell ya, I have time for a post. Yesterday we took a trip to Newport, which is on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River opposite Cincinnati. We went to the Aquarium there. It didn’t seem like that bad of an idea but after about 4 hours on my feet, I was seeking mercy for the poor dogs. Anyway, the Aquarium is a very good one (at least with my limited aquarium visits… I have been to the one in Boston though) and Sofia absolutely went bonkers she loved it so much. Of particular interest to her and her cousin, Kerri, was the 14 foot alligator. I couldn’t tear them away… no they hadn’t fallen into the alligator’s cage. Here’s the bug and her cousin hamming it up…

I took some pics but realized that the aquarium is not really conducive to good photos. The light is low almost everywhere so that the illumination of the tanks is brighter. Add the thick glass and the fact that the fish are moving and you get a lot of blurry underlit pictures. Here’s a ray and a shark ray, which is some kind of weird prehistoric-looking evolutionary anomaly…

They had lots of strange marine critters that looked like they had overcome impossible odds to have developed in the first place. Alas, I quit trying to get pics after the many failed attempts. I was particularly taken with the jellyfish room and could have spent all day watching the moon jellyfish which are white/clear and were illuminated from above. Here’s a different jellyfish species and the pics are better than the others…

So, aside from the menacing foot pain, it was a banner day especially for the kids. We got home late and made a big pasta dinner, drank some wine and played Oh Hell until bedtime. Here’s another piece from the last firing. It has a dark brown terra sig with etching and a bluegreen glaze over the top…

Fox Paw…

April 12, 2011

I guess I’m in the mood to tackle another story today and trying to stick with the ingredients of a good story, our protagonist (me) will be sufficiently self-deprecating, socially awkward and generally clueless. But first for anyone reading who’s not up to a mini-tome post, I opened the kiln Sunday and got some photography done yesterday. I’ll finish that photography stuff up today hopefully. I had a lot of experiments in this kiln so it was exciting to see what happened and although there were a couple flops, I had some interesting results that to me have a lot of potential. I particularly like this one…

Of course my favorite part is the surface texture which I’m hoping that I can remember what I did to achieve it. Here’s a closeup…

OK, so on to my tale of social misfititudiness. My ex-wife (oh oh here we go) had a friend, her “best” friend as it were, who was married to a fishmonger here in town. Let’s call them Barbie and Ken. They had a baby girl who, at the time, was still an infant. So one day my ex and Barbie had gone out for lunch or something and Barbie had confided in my ex that she was very disturbed by Ken’s parents who, when “babysitting” their daughter had given the child half of some kind of pill (I cannot remember what it was) to put the child asleep because apparently the child was too much for them to deal with. I guess Barbie and Ken had argued about it and the whole thing was weighing on her and she had spilled the whole thing for cathartic reasons. Of course, my ex told me about it when she got home. Now, I’m not the type to not listen… I listen, really, to everything that’s spoken to me. The problem is that when it comes to stories about people I generally have little connection to, I immediately forget. What’s left is a general feeling about what had happened and the names and times that it happened fade away (which to me always seemed like a good thing because it frees up memory space in the brain for other more important things… like, say the lyrics of the latest Brittany Sp3ars song). Of course to my ex and to Sofia’s Mom and any other “girlfriend” I may have had, I’m an easy target for the accusation… “you never listen”, which is patently untrue. Of course, my real defense of “I listened, I just don’t particularly care” is a bit raw and definitely not politically correct. But I digress. So every year for Barbie’s birthday, the fishmonger who knew all the best chefs in town, would arrange to take her to a different fancy restaurant with a special menu and sometimes the restaurant would be reserved just for the occasion. Part of the gift was that Barbie could invite a friend (and of course, their date/spouse/boyfriend) and she invited my ex and, by extension, me for 4 years in a row. So, we went out for this fancy dinner. Now this may seem like a real fun time but it never was for me. Ken was a stutterer (which I have deep sympathy for and would never ridicule in any way) and apparently when he got nervous he would stutter even more… and I made him nervous. At the core of it, it probably had more to do with an assumption shared by both of us that we were in different social classes. I’ll give one “for instance”. I played racquetball and he played squash. Although, at the time, I hadn’t played in a very long time, discussions of the two racquet sports were as close as we ever came to connecting. Inevitably, I would make it clear that I would love to try squash (even though it was at the local establishment notorious for racist policies) and Ken would say enthusiastically that he’d call and we’d play. He didn’t and it was no big deal but I always thought that the next time we got together he would leave it alone… but he’d end up inviting me again and then not following through again. So we’re having dinner on Barbie’s birthday and it’s been probably almost a year since Barbie had confided to my ex about her inlaws drugging the baby. We were at a small table against the wall with Barbie to my left, Ken across the table from her and my ex across the table from me. This night was no different insofar as the conversation… Barbie and my ex would talk up a blue streak and Ken and I would spend a lot of energy pretending to have fun. My particular M. O. in this situation was to look for crevices in the conversation that I could insert a quip or small story that was related somehow to what they were talking about. To me this served the purposes of not only appearing to have a good time but also to be actually interested in what was being said. So here goes, the conversation rolls around to kids and parenting (we didn’t have a child and had no experience parenting) and Barbie was talking about some people who she felt were not parenting well and I saw my entry into the conversation. Now, the problem was that I remembered the essence of what I had been told but I completely forgot that the story was about Barbie and Ken and also there was wine involved. So I studiously looked at my ex and said, “what was that story about the parents?, was it the parents or the inlaws?, and they were watching their granddaughter?”. My ex looked at me and had a slightly worried look on her face which I didn’t realize as the red flag that it was. I kept going… “I guess the baby was too much for them and they were cutting (x) (the drowsy pill I can’t remember the name of) in half and knocking the baby out and the Mom was really upset”. Now about the time I got to the “cutting the pill in half” part of the sentence, my ex has this look on her face of abject disbelief coupled with the realization that there’s no turning back. When I finally got the entire thing out, it hit me that, of course, the story was about them and everyone was mad. My ex was incensed with me and Barbie was mad at my ex for betraying her confidence and finally Ken was mad at Barbie for betraying his confidence… and everyone just thought I was an ass for telling the story and ruining the night. This was early on and the entrees weren’t even served yet. There was some excruciatingly feeble attempts at backpeddling but the cat was out of the bag. That was the last time Barbie invited us to her birthday dinners. In retrospect, it’s funny and makes for a good story but it really was and is insightful to me at how desperate I was to get along when the whole thing was simply not my cup of tea. Of course now that I have a child and am in my 50s, this type of thing would never have happened because I try a lot less to do anything that I don’t want to and I probably just would have sat there and listened… although I never listen.

Whitewashed…

April 10, 2011

Well, March 27, snow and now it’s April 10 and 88 degrees. I love it when it warms up but it takes about 2 weeks of it to adjust. Yesterday, before the powerful thunderstorm, Sofia and I decided that we needed to put a couple coats of primer on the back of her stumphouse. The reason for this and the reason that we’re not building it in place is because the back of said stumphouse is going to be about 3 inches from the fence and we wouldn’t be able to get a paintbrush in there, nevermind a hammer. So in a scene reminiscent of Tom Sawyer bilking Jim into whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence (his punishment), the bug did her share of the painting (not her punishment as she’s been game to help)…

I went to a closing up at the monastery last night where my buddy Steven Cheek teaches. It was for a potter named David Bolton and the pieces were really beautiful… woodfired porcelain with underglaze designs created on one of those stencil cutter machines I’ve been longing to purchase. David was very nice and helped me get more confidence about which cutter might be best and, more importantly what material sticks best to the clay. Anyway, it was a fun night at the monastery (Mount St. Francis) with good food, wine and pots. Here’s some of David’s pieces (the first two are a good 15/16 inches tall)…

Last but not least, another true story of intrigue, deception and ultimately infidelity. I promised myself that after this kilnload which, by the way, I’m unloading today that I would replace two water line cutoff valves that basically tore off in my hand years back when I incorrectly installed our water heater. Of course, I didn’t know until a couple days back that I did it incorrectly as I simply installed it the same as the one I took out. Anyway, while moving stuff around to ready the area, I noticed this…

Corrosion = BAD! After seeing this, I decided to call a plumber for the first time in my life. My neighbor Jamie (Sofia calls him JamieWamie) gave me a coupon that said this certain plumber would give me a free estimate so I called him. He was on time (which blew me away) and he seemed upstanding. He spent some time there letting me know that I might be in for a steep bill if the corroded part ruined the waterheater itself. He diligently wrote up a detailed bill and tried to get me to sign off. I begged off telling him that I wasn’t quite ready to schedule an entire day because I had a deadline, etc. etc. Later that day as I was getting ready to fire, I went to H0me Dep0t to get a dryer vent tube because the one on my kiln had corroded through. While at the store and before I picked up the dryer vent tube, I thought I’d go talk to the plumbing aisle dude (who, by the way, wasn’t 18 years old) about fittings for doing the water heater replacement myself if it came to that. So I’m standing there, empty-handed, talking to plumber dude, who has the exact attachments one would need to replace a water heater in his hands, and the actual plumber who had been at my house a mere 2 hours earlier walks up behind me and says, “hey, how’s it going?, what are you doing here?” Now, as I have said before on this blog, I have catlike reflexes but absolutely not when confronted with awkward social situations. I felt exactly like my girlfriend had caught me flirting with another woman… at least exactly how I imagine that would feel as I don’t have a girlfriend and have never had that experience. I felt an almost un-ignorable need to say something like, “oh, hey, I’m just here for a vent for my kiln, I just wandered into the wrong aisle and you know, one thing led to another.” Of course I didn’t say that but by the time I actually came up with something to say, my plumber (not the store’s plumber dude) graciously affirmed that I was looking at exactly what I would need to do it myself. He went about his way soon after and I was relieved until, while standing in line with my kiln vent tube, he approached me again to let me off the hook and say that he didn’t blame me for attempting to do it myself (in other words, like as if I had a girlfriend who had caught me but now came up and said that she understood we weren’t really exclusively dating and that she didn’t blame me). He offered more words of advice and I felt a tinge of guilt all the way home although I didn’t actually buy the fittings (read: ask the other woman to go on a date). When I got home I immediately confessed the whole lurid affair to Mom and when she laughed, I finally felt at ease. Unfortunately, the plumbing mess still looms as another home maintenance nightmare. OK, off to the kiln.

If I Were A Rich Man…

April 4, 2011

At the risk of having this become the “what’s wrong with kinGergarten blog”, I have to relay the latest because some things you just never see coming. Sofia’s been coming home from school lately and climbing up in the dogwood tree. I usually stop working for a bit and go out and chat with her. So a week and a half ago I go out on the porch and she’s in the tree again singing, “matchmaker matchmaker make me a match”. What? I asked, where did you hear that song? “We’re watching a movie at school.” At this point, I’m thinking why are they showing them movies at school and also, “The Fiddler On The Roof”? So I said, the fiddler on the roof? The bug says, “yeah, that’s it, how did you know?”, which she always says when she’s surprised that I didn’t just come in from New Jersey on a pickup truck. As it turns out, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the whole movie (never been big on musicals) but the selection seems random to me and all I can think of is that if I had to guess what movie they were airing to the kinGergarten class, I could have spent the rest of my life and never come up with the fiddler movie. Coincidentally, when I was at Murray State and still eating in the cafeteria, in a conversation about doppelgangers someone mentioned that so and so thought I looked like Billy J0el but that they thought that was wrong and that I looked like Zer0 M0stel… I guess it must have been a young Zer0. Regardless, Zer0’s not in the movie, Tevya is played by Topol. But I digress… so in addition to memorizing words, those kinGergarteners have learned about presidential assass1inations, MLK assass1nation, and now a movie that ties it all together. We were out in the back yard on Saturday and it was cool, breezy and glorious. Sofia climbed up on her little house and started fiddling and saying that she was Tevya…

You’ll notice behind the bug on the neighbor’s garage the “no smokeing” sign. To someone with a pet peeve about spelling, seeing this every time I go in the back yard is like a little man inside my head stabbing my brain with a needle. Interestingly, the horse’s asses that put it there no longer live there and the new neighbor is apparently not nearly as assaulted by the spelling as I am. It’s not as if they misspelled chrysanthemum or onomatopoeia… of course how would you work those into garage door signage? Anyway, here’s another of the fiddler but I took this for the sky, it was that deep blue all day with bright white clouds everywhere…

Before I forget, I have always wondered how people become fans of particular sports teams and how some fans are completely rabid yet have no apparent connection to the team. I mean they didn’t go to the school or live in the town the team is from, they don’t know anyone on the team, they don’t play that particular sport and in some cases they don’t even know the rules of the game being played. So Sofia’s been talking about UK (University of Kentucky) lately (another fine influence from kinGergarten no doubt) and when I pressed her about it, she said it was because her cousin Leelee goes there. More likely is that her grandfather is a dyed in the wool U of L cards fan and she likes to tease him about it. Anyway, last weekend the bug and I went to one of the pubs I frequent and we got there at halftime of the UK/UNC game (my condolences to the Carolinians). It was complete pandemonium. The TV’s were turned up very loud and drunk people were yelling and you could barely hear each other across the table. So the second half starts up and Sofia’s standing in the booth looking at a drunk women that’s talking to the TV and UK hits a couple 3 pointers and the bar goes nuts. Standing on the seat in the booth, Sofia glances at me with this look of revelation and says very loudly to me, “I can scream as loud as I want in a restaurant!” She turns to the TV again and just screams twice at the top of her lungs. Of course no one even notices and the screams simply blend with the rest of the cacophony. Pretty soon, during a timeout and a relatively quiet stretch, she sits down and says, “this is the best day of my life”. So there you have it, she’s probably a fan for life and she probably won’t remember why either.

I may have mentioned previously that I made the mistake of suggesting (out loud) (in front of Sofia) that we could make a “tree house” on the stump left from the cherry tree that got cut down. I guess it should be called a stump house. Yesterday it was sunny, beautiful and 70+ degrees so I decided to start tackling the tree house. Me and my big mouth. It’s promising though because the bug couldn’t even wait for me to finish to start using it, and it’s still on the ground too…

She’s on spring break and woke up this morning and was running around the house screaming, “I’m gonna eat my waffle in the tree house, I’m gonna eat my waffle in the tree house”.

Last but not least, the bisque firing is cooling as I type and probably will get to unload right after lunchtime. Here’s a couple more that are in this load…

So, Do You Have Fuzz Buildup?…

April 1, 2011

I just had to ask. I’ve done a couple posts with my personal yoga experience like this one and this one but I’ve never actually taken a yoga class or done yoga. My good friend Ig sent me this video (if you’re squeamish be prepared because it has cadavers) and it’s the most compelling reason I’ve ever heard for doing yoga (not that there aren’t already plenty of compelling reasons)…

So if you’ve watched it, what do you think? Is it fuzz buildup or are we just getting old… and injured. Speaking of old, we had the last meeting of club 53 last week… it was my birthday and next meeting will be the first of club 54. The years keep rolling on by. Anyway, I received this as a gift…

It’s a flower (with the pistil broken off) and it was from the original watertower that the bug and I are always visiting…

That’s the only picture I have that I took and I’m not sure how far up but I think it was around the part just above the columns. Anyway, this flower is from 1858 and that’s exactly 100 years before I was born. According to my friend Al (who gave it to me) when they refurbished the tower some years ago, they were throwing them away. It’s terracotta and I think I might bisque it to get the paint off and maybe I’ll even glaze fire it. Tuesday night was super scrabble night. It’s been quite some time since we’ve been able to get together… life keeps getting in the way…

It was a sad state of affairs for me and not so much for my buddy Terry. I jumped out to a 150+ point lead but in a moment of weakness played a not-defensive move and Terry slowly but surely whittled away my lead and beat me by twenty or so… I got stuck with a Z at the end which is a 20 point swing in itself. Oh well, que sera sera. I’m getting closer to a bisque every day…

And the obligatory “sunset” glamor shot…