Archive for June, 2011

Busy Buggy Weekend…

June 26, 2011

I’ve been trying to not to feel guilty about my relative absence online lately but it does bug me. Aside from not having any burning issues that need to be elaborated, it may be the cycling that has filled the time hole. Although the rain has been incessant and has deeply cut into my cycling days, on the days I go, I can count on at least 2 hours out of the middle of the day and I extended to 40 miles the other day and that took me about 2 1/2+ hours so… something’s got to give. The bug and I have had a pretty eventful weekend though. Last night we went to an opening at Mount St. Francis for a textile person named Karen Schellinger. She makes lovely “hooked” rugs that are hung on the walls and have imagery like paintings do. Sofia was fascinated and at one point Karen was nice enough to give her a little session…

Here’s another pic that Jennifer took that’s just little miss photogenic…

The bug also spent some time in the library the other day and came home with this shield she made, what a nice sentiment on the shield (imagine how frightened the huns would have been seeing that message coming at them)…

Staying on the subject of the bug, I finally started throwing again on Friday and that meant that Sofia was itching to get into some clay too. I committed to working with her today to make some dolls. Here’s the little clayhound at her workbench…

Here’s today’s output, we had fun…

Last but not least, I unloaded my kiln early in the week. It had my test tiles in it and the new glaze test was largely a bust. The base glaze looks very good, I just didn’t have any colorant combos that really got me. One reason is that I wanted to stay away from hues I already had and another was I erred on the light side of percentages of colorants mostly because I usually go a little heavy in that direction. I mention in a previous post that I ran out of a certain ingredient while formulating the base glaze and modified the glaze on the fly. Well, this should be filed under “can’t get used to the fact that I’m as blind as a bat” but a 50 lb. bag of said missing ingredient was right by the door to the studio which I have been almost stepping over daily for about a year… dumbass. Anyway, I haven’t had time to examine the test results closely yet so I’ll have to get to that soon. The rest of the kilnload came out fine and here’s some (using the terra sig) that I’ve already posted on etsy (clicking the first pic goes to etsy, the rest enlarge)…

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The Mulberries Are Out…

June 18, 2011

Need I say more?…

I was rooting around the other day and found this drawing by the little mulberry hound…

I also came upon this old picture that proving that I once was young and wielded a paddle making things out of slabs…

Tuesday was a bust since I drove all day on Monday and I spent wed-fri getting a kiln load glazed and loaded. It’s firing now and I’m hoping that the rain that’s gonna be on and off all day doesn’t cause a lapse in the electrical current. I’ve got a bit of new stuff in the kiln but mostly I’m curious about the results of some glaze testing tiles. Here’s the lineup waiting to be loaded…

It’s a 55 tile test of a “matte” base glaze with 10 variations that are all combined with one another totaling 55. I will be happy if I get one keeper of the 55 but while measuring out ingredients, I ran out of an ingredient and had to make a substitution on the fly so who knows what will happen with that. I also managed to remix and sieve every glaze I have in the house to finally catalog what I’ve got as I’ve forgotten many of them.

Halt, Who Goes There?…

June 14, 2011

So what gives? After over a decade of residing in Florida, my Mom got a visit from us. Seeing her was the main reason for the trip but a close second was to give my daughter the fish a trip to a beach…

There are good reasons for not traveling down there to see my Mom. First it’s a very long drive and having the bug in the car for 2 days down and 2 days back was something that we were really not up for but we decided to bite the bullet (as it turns out, I went ahead and drove the 17 hour drive in one shot… down and back). Of course there are other reasons… my idea of Florida has never been very appealing, sure there is the ocean and the beaches which I love but it ends there. And Florida didn’t disappoint, or should I say it was just as I imagined it. In a way, it’s difficult to believe that I could like Kentucky so much more than Florida but maybe our little corner of Louisville has spoiled us just a bit. So what is it about the sunshine state? Well, there’s the post-apocalyptic architecture (every third building looks like it was the victim of a roadside bomb)…

I was quite partial to this example mostly because the sign heralds a future paradise…

Then there’s the heat, the flatness and the flora… the flowers are beautiful and most plants seems relatively exotic to a “northerner” but nothing is very tall (there’s no place to hide). So FLORIDA, what is it with the incessant tailgaters? I rarely notice a regional driving phenomenon (well, there’s the English always driving on the wrong side of the road and for some reason, people from Illinois have embraced the personalized license plate in numbers that are at least triple the next state down on that list) and it’s not like no one tailgates in KY or anywhere else but it was prevalent and consistent everywhere we went. When my dad was alive, he didn’t want to move down here from NY and I probably have some of his reasons as well. We grew up in the mostly deciduous woods in central NY and the flat, barren, arid landscape here with exotic succulent plants just kinda goes against some internal preference borne out of hunting squirrels in forests of maple, birch, beech and pine. So anyway, my Mom moved down here along with the millions of other “snowbirds” from NY and NJ and bought a place in a retirement community. The retirement community is the real story of the trip and it promises to be a lengthy one. First off, you have to be 55 to be a resident. Years ago this seemed to be sensible to me insofar as it should be a community of old people but now that I’m 53 (only 2 years off), I find myself a bit peeved about not making the “retirement” threshold a little higher (like 65, hell, I’m not going to be retired in 2 years… honestly I don’t see myself retiring at all, hopefully I’ll simply slump over the hump some day… but first I need to start throwing off the hump before that can happen). So we decided to drive straight through instead of a 2 day drive and arrived at 2 AM. My Mom had warned me that, because the community has a guard house with a guard and a barrier across the entrance that the guard controls, we would have to stop and state our intentions. In my mind I imagined the border guards I went through when traveling by car to Montreal… all business, no joking and armed. We drove up to the guard house in the wee hours after about 17 hours on the road and this ancient doddering gentleman limped out of the guard house (apparently no one had ever tried to enter this late/early before). I said, we’re here to visit Marion Gottuso. He said, “are you James Gottuso?” I said yes. I figured it was over at that point and was a bit antsy, fearing for the safety of my family and shaking in my boots. He says, “from Kentucky?”. I stuttered a bit as the sweat rolled down my cheek and neck but luckily stammered… yes. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had said, no, we’re from Ohio or Tennessee. There was a tense 5 seconds of silence (it seemed like an eternity) and the gate lifted. We slowly edged forward as I carefully watched the guard re-enter his post, elated that we had dodged a waterboarding session. Right after pulling away from the guard house we passed this sign…

As it turned out, this sign belies the actual hospitality and our close encounter with the SS at stalag 13 was merely the tip of the iceberg in the seeming endless rules and regulations of retirement community living. The list of prohibitions is so long that my Mom can’t even remember them. There’s no kids, no dogs, lots of speed bumps, etc. but way more fascinating to me are the caveats that accompany the rules. A child can visit for 3 weeks or less but has to leave after that and I’m not sure how much time has to pass before they can re-enter and, like all these rules, I wonder what authority oversees these comings and goings. You can have a cat, for instance but it has to be an indoor cat. There’s a lady that’s figured a way around this as she takes a walk every day past my Mom’s house with her cat zipped up inside a baby stroller… I’m extremely curious to see how fat this animal is. Then there’s the petition process. Apparently a woman who was not allowed to have a dog was able to petition an exception and the ruling was that she needed a certified “note” from her doctor (a prescription is more like it) stating that she needs to have the dog because it’s good for “her nerves”. I kept thinking of a scenario where the woman goes to the walgreens pharmacy and has them bring out a shih tzu or a weimeraner (or whatever breed is the one for “nerves”… I wonder what kind of dog they prescribe for chronic dandruff?) to take home. There was another woman resident who didn’t fare so well. She found out her daughter had leukemia when pregnant and died after giving birth and the child’s only living relative was her grandmother (a resident). She had to petition the community to allow her to have her granddaughter live with her and not become a ward of the state… they acquiesced but my Mom was astounded at how many residents voted against it. Also the residents only allowed her to live there to a certain age. As it turns out, Sofia met the girl and her grandmother at the pool and the woman told Alicia that the people have remained nasty and acrimonious about the child’s presence (even though now the kid’s only allowed to visit for 30 days at a time and the neighbors count the days and report her if she goes over). My Mom’s next door neighbor introduced himself and when he saw my bicycle said that he rode too. I was happy about this because I was curious about a route I could use. He said, “well, I usually go up to the guard house and back and that’s a good mile.” I had to remain polite and continue talking as though that was quite a ride. Of course, really I didn’t want to go anywhere near those hooligan guards if I didn’t have too. The community has 3 resident sandhill cranes that wander about (2 adults and their offspring)…

They’re beautiful birds and upon returning from the ocean one day, we stopped the car so Sofia could see them. They were in this woman’s yard and one of the adults had caught a mouse or a mole and was shaking it vigorously to try and get it to come apart to feed parts to the youngster. The woman who lived there saw them and us and came out to the car a bit distraught. She was not really interested at all about the cranes themselves but was really put out by the idea that there were critters living under her lawn. Of course we were the most obvious ears for her to complain to about the horror of an undesirable animal living within the confines of the community. Another woman told Alicia and Sofia that there were people living in the “woods” behind her house and apparently the whole community is on high alert for wild boars that also live in the thicket behind the patio homes… these boars are particularly interested in breaking flower pots (there natural food source). So trash day is friday but you can’t leave your trash out on thursday night. There is no recycling. And most importantly, Wednesday is the day the Viagra truck shows up and treats the water supply. This is much more efficient and less costly than the residents actually filling individual prescriptions. This viagrafication of the water reminds me of one scene from one of my all time favorite movies where Gen. Ripper schools Mandrake about flouridation of the water by the communists…

It also explains a lot about the retirement community lifestyle which I’ve been hearing about for years from my Mom. You see, in the pre-viagrafication of the water supply era, the human lifetime was divided into marked periods of time that, like the uruburos’ snake swallowing its own tail, started and ended in the same place. There was infancy (diapers), followed by childhoood (fun and lack of responsibility), adolescence (acne and the drama of matters of the heart), early adulthood (abusing your body with alcohol and drugs while still having an unformed frontal lobe), full on adulthood (family and career, i.e. stress), mid-life crisis (for some buying a motorcycle even though their upper body strength is insufficient to ride if for more than 4 miles at a time, for others it’s deciding that being a potter would be a good idea), early old age (moving to a retirement community, playing golf and eating benedictine sandwiches for lunch) and finally old age (diapers again). Now, what the viagrafication of the water has done is that the penultimate stage of moving to a retirement community, playing golf and eating benedictine sandwiches for lunch has been replaced with a stage almost identical to adolescence. The main difference is the lack of acne. The women outnumber the men 4 or 5 to 1 and this creates a crazy soap opera of 70 and 80 and 90 year olds sleeping with each other and cheating on each other. Of course the criteria for this activity is markedly different from adolescence. Teens might choose the drama partners because of cliques, who has a car, who has new boobs, or what music one is into where the old age version chooses their partners by a totally different rationale. For instance, “I like golf and square dancing and he likes tennis and round dancing”… obviously that’s never gonna work. Then there’s “I took care of raising 5 kids and he’s 86 years old and although he’s ok now, I don’t want someone else I have to take care of”. I remember years ago when my Mom just arrived, she had a thanksgiving date with a new beau. She was to arrive the night before thanksgiving and go have dinner. On Thanksgiving day, go golfing and have thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant. Soon after arriving, the dude rammed his toe (barefooted) into a piece of furniture and started bleeding profusely. He called his doctor and was told to elevate it for a couple days… no dinner, no golf and no holiday meal either. It shows how quickly things can go south with these matters but the viagra (not to mention the lipitor) keeps flowing and keeps feeding the drama drama drama. Then there’s the whole porch bench story which would take me longer to type out than what I’ve already written so maybe another day. All this aside, the bug had a great time swimming swimming swimming. Here’s she is on the beach…

And here’s the loves of my life both on the beach…

Then there was the swabbing because 6 years olds have a tendency to spill sticky stuff on Grandma’s floor…

Here’s another to round out the trio of flattering pictures of Grandma, at a Thai restaurant…

We had a great time visiting Aunt Susie too and I went golfing with her and Vince one day. It was the first time I have golfed in at least 15 years and I’ve lapsed on certain skills but it was great fun and I was astounded that we almost had the course to ourselves the entire day. I did manage to work in 2 30mile bike rides along the intercoastal waterway and we played many many games of Oh Hell. All fun aside, I won’t be moving to the sunshine state at any point. I’ve visited places before that have left me thinking… I should move there some day. Montreal, Acadia Island, Maine, Firenze, Italy but Florida… nah.