Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Usual Suspects

1. A peek down into the bisque kiln just after we opened it.
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All the usual suspects. About 2/3 of them are finally finished enough that they won't go through any more firings. From now, I think I'll try different finishes on them, wax and such. I don't want them shiny the way a fired clear coat would make them, but I don't want them so matte and thirsty-surfaced either.

2. We woke up to a slight dusting of snow which burned off by 7:30. It was gray gray and rained on and off all day. It was also cold all day. The cats snuggled up in front of the heater and napped most of the day.

3. I spent most of my day cleaning and organizing things 'round the casita. My arm wasn't feeling great from all the activity yesterday, so I focused on smaller projects, dusting and rearranging bookshelves, decluttering and reorganizing the baskets on the bathroom shelves, dusting off the shoe rack near the front door and sweeping, and so on. Just little projects like that.

4. When Dave came home, I asked him to help me hang a bunch of things that I framed at the beginning of the summer and then put in a pile to be hung eventually. Now six months later, they're finally up on the walls! They're mostly a collection of prints and such because I'm not one for hanging family photographs. (I don't like the feeling of being watched all the time by people I know.) I also don't have any Dia de Los Muertos art either. Dave asked if I wanted to hang a calavera print up and I said no. Even though I work the calavera angle pretty hard in my own work, I don't like hanging calavera prints for the same reason I don't have family photographs up.

5. For dinner, we went out for pizza with my older brother and sat and chatted about movies. He just rented Guardians of the Galaxy (which I really liked), but hasn't watched it yet. That reminds me that I need to return his copy of Pacific Rim to him. I've only had that for about eight months. Ay yi yi.

6. When I got home, there was a message on my phone that a package for me had been delivered to the wrong address. (My phone number was on the label, so the woman down the street called to let me know her husband would drop it off while he was out walking the dog.) The package was from Sephora. Yay! Sephora sent me a gift card for being such a good customer, so I used it to pick up a lip brush and lip liner for my mother as well as a NARS lipstick for myself.

8. I am kind of a lipstick addict. I love blood red lipstick, the darker the better--but I almost never wear lipstick and I almost never--as in really, never--wear red lipstick. I was telling Dave this and he laughed because I buy a new red lipstick every few weeks probably. I have bought three in the past two weeks and I own at least a dozen right now. (I'm afraid to count them though; it's probably more than that.)  Anyway, the point of the story is that my frivolous New Year's resolution is to run myself out of red lipstick by wearing it all day, every day.

9. Here are five things that made me happy today:
  • My new NARS lipstick in "Scarlet Empress" (Sephora says it's "a semi-matte blue red")
  • Pizza for dinner with Dave and my brother.
  • Snow! And rain!
  • Reorganizing our bookshelves and realizing that there's five or six books that I want to read.
  • Art! Framed art! On the walls! Finally!

 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Them

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1. This little mask came out of the kiln yesterday. I want to go and work on some of the stuff that came out of the kiln, but today I am cleaning house. Sort of.

2. Yesterday I was supposed to wrap the presents for the giving tree kids, but I realized that we had no wrapping paper. I made do with some white tissue paper and ribbons that we had, but it was a pretty janky job at the end of the day.  After I finished, I realized that we have the extra car now and that I could have just gone to the store to pick up some wrapping paper. Silly me. I'm not used to having a car.

3. And today we went back to one car because the old girl is in the shop. She's been having some trouble with the clutch recently so we took her in to get looked at. I really like the mechanic we have now. They're painstakingly honest and do excellent work. I would recommend them to anyone for any reason--so long as that person has a German car, because our guys only work on German cars.  One of the great pleasures of taking our old car there (if there is any pleasure in taking a car to the mechanic) is parking our little scratched and dented and duct-taped baby VW next to the BMWs and Mercedes.

4. After we dropped off our gifts in the afternoon, we did a little shopping for dinner. We ended up having grilled cheese sandwiches yet again. I wanted some tomato soup, so we got a low-sodium version that turned out to be not very good. That was dinner.

5. Like I said, today I'm cleaning house. I scrubbed down the bathroom, counter, sink, and toilet. I replaced the shower curtain and swept and mopped the floors. I changed the kitty litter boxes, filled up the dish drain with washed dishes (only about half of what needs to be done!), scrubbed the stove, and wiped down the appliances on the counter. I've been decluttering as I go, getting rid of things that I know we haven't used in a long, long time. Now I'm taking a break from dusting the bookshelves and sweeping and mopping the front room. I skipped spring cleaning this year (and fall cleaning, too), so I'm way behind. Maybe by New Year's we'll have a pristine environment. Ha-ha-ha.

6. I made a dent in the New Year's cleaning and then took a shower and a nap. My reward for doing my chores was getting to watch several episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

7. Dinner was eggs and vegetarian sausages with red chard and tortillas. Dave cooked--I wanted to order a pizza--and did the dishes after.  Maybe we'll get a pizza tomorrow.

8. Here are five things that I was happy about today: Getting some cleaning done. An overcast day that smelled like snow (though there was no actual snow). Having a nap in the afternoon. Stopping for a coffee this morning on the way to dropping off the car at the mechanic. Little Saba sitting with her little face about four inches from the blasting heater. She refuses to move from that spot until she's good and ready.




Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekenders, We

A new sculpture, a collaboration between Dave and me:

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The skirt is a closed, hollow form that Dave threw about a week or so ago. It's probably about twelve inches tall.  On Saturday, I carved the bottom and began building the form on top. I adding the first skulls and flowers. That took most of the afternoon.

On the way home from the studio, we stopped at the Co-op to pick up something for dinner (which ended up being grilled cheese sandwiches, with sliced tomato and steamed broccoli on the side). They had a giving tree there so we grabbed a couple of ornaments from the tree; Dave selected one for an 11-year-old girl and I took one for a 16-year-old boy. The girl wanted a piano (which we took t mean a keyboard) and the boy wanted a Game Stop or Wal-Mart gift certificate (which I would guess is probably why his ornament was still on the tree, as the hippy-dippy co-op shoppers tend to be above that sort of thing).  We noted that--yikes--the gifts were due back in the store on Monday, which mean that Sunday was going to have to be devoted to shopping.

We were planning on firing a kiln on Sunday, and we like to be there to babysit the kiln pretty much throughout the entire firing. Dave programmed the kiln for a 200 degree, four-hour long pre-heat to begin at 6:00 a.m.  We planned on getting to the studio a bit after 8:00 a.m. to stop the pre-heat and start the kiln firing.

On the way in, we stopped for breakfast at Flying Star ("power hash" with kale, sweet potatoes, quinoa, mushrooms, and a basted egg, and decaf coffee) and then went and started the kiln.  While it was still in the very early stages, we went out to do our shopping.

The first place we went to was Target, where they had exactly zero things we needed. (We did pick up a box of candy for one of the kids and a trash can for Gray Car.)  From Target, we went to Toys R Us, where we found a keyboard for Dave's pick. We also picked up some candy for her.  After that we stopped at Game Stop and got a gift certificate for my pick. Then we stopped at Staples to look at office chairs since the one I use at the studio is not great and my back ends up killing me after sitting for too long. We didn't find an office chair, but we did pick up a printer for the studio and some paper for the printer.

Our shopping done, we headed back to the studio to do some work. (Well, I worked on studio stuff while Dave worked on his legit job works stuff.)

The following run of work took about seven hours total. I finished the flowers on the skirt and began painting. I added to the rest of the figure on top.
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The arms and head are covered to keep them from drying out while I worked on the rest of the figure.  

Dave went out to pick up lunch and we paused to eat (Panera: 1/2 Mediterranean veggie sandwich and creamy tomato soup for me and a 1/2 Mediterranean veggie sandwich and 1/2 grilled cheese sandwich for Dave).

Then I went back to work:

I added the flowers to the top of the bodice, front and back, and added the head.  I had originally intended to add either boning or seaming to the bodice of the dress, but I decided that the narrow waist was enough. (You can't really tell from this piece, but I fight against detailing work. To me, it seems very daunting or complicated to add a lot of detail, even though I like the look when other artists do it. I guess it's because I catastrophize a lot of things and each detail I add to a piece is another opportunity to do that. Each detail has the potential to wreck the piece rather than making it better. So I fight with that a lot in my head while I'm working.)
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The flowers are done primarily with five-petal punches. I have three of them in different sizes. I roll out the clay, punch out the flowers, flatten the petals with my fingers, shape the petals around various tools, put together two sizes to make one flower, carve into the petals to add some texture, then apply the flower to the piece. It's time consuming, but meditative.

In the afternoon, I added the sternum, clavicles, a few ribs and vertebrae.
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She's a happy creature, even without hair. (Which I am as of yet undecided about. I also made her a hat with a wide brim, decorated with more flowers, but I'm not sure about the hat either.)
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Looking at this photograph of the face, I think her teeth need a bit more definition and the eyebrows need to be taken down a bit so that they're more suggestion than actual brow. I also want to carve into her face, some flourishes and flowers and such.  Then I'll have to decide what to do with and how to build the rest of the arms and hands. Then I'll have to finish painting her. There's still a lot of work to be done, but I think she'll be finished enough for a first firing by the end of next weekend. (Of course, it will take another week or two beyond that to dry.)

In the evening, we took Crunch for his walk and then had pizza for dinner with Judi and Paul.  Dave stopped the kiln and buttoned it up. We headed home and started to bring back our stuff from Kelly and Kevin's where we've been house- and dog-sitting. Dave stayed next door to practice his clarinet for a bit, but my back was killing me from sitting and working for so long, so I changed into my pajamas and got into bed. I made it through half an episode of Weeds on Netflix before I was out like a light.

Tomorrow I'll wrap the gifts and we'll drop them off on the way to the studio to open the kiln.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

She's Ours Now

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We decided to call her Gray Car so as to distinguish her from Car (which is black and fourteen years old and a two door, but otherwise the same make and model).


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Head Dressed

Some new work, empty-eyed for now, head dressed.
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Trying something new and more stylized with the teeth, but I'm not sure I like it yet. They have something of a Mayan carved skull look to them, not intentionally.
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They're on their way to being painted, here with a few colors.  (I'm not very good with color and complexity involving color. It's my Achilles heel, art-wise, I'm afraid.)

Here is my work table at the studio:
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I love being surrounded by my tools and underglazes. They make me happy.

Do you know all the creation myths about God creating man out of earth or dirt or clay?  That's what I do: I create little beings out of clay. God was the OG potter, right?

Weekend

The weekend was a bit whirlwind. Friday both Dave and I had doctor's appointments. On Saturday, we got in a bit of studio time. On Sunday, we went to help my mother put up her Christmas lights and then we went out to see my aunt and have dinner with her. The weekend just flew by.

We've had some rain recently (last Wednesday and Saturday), but otherwise it's been relatively warm. I had the door open yesterday and the cats were lolling around out on the patio, enjoying the sunshine.

As the sun set, it did get cooler. I put on a sweatshirt. Dave came home and we made dinner (a cheese omelet for him, fried eggs for me, toast, tomatoes, sauteed swiss chard, veggie sausages, and baked sweet potatoes for both of us. Very vegelicious dinner, with things from our CSA box). We're both trying to limit our sugar intake--as well as salt and fat for me. (Ugh.)

We're dogsitting, too. Yesterday I went over to give the dogs their dinner to find they had chewed up a hundred dollar bill. So it goes.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Emotional Advent Day One (I Want to Be Who I Was)

Last night at dinner Judi brought up Ruth, a friend of ours who died four years ago. Two days ago I was thinking about Ruth as I drove home along Rio Grande Boulevard. I wondered why; I looked in my journal to see the last time we had all been together with Ruth and her partner Ellen (who died two years before Ruth, from cancer). We had last seen them in early December, at Ellen's very last birthday party in 2008.  Ellen had just turned 50, reaching her goal. She made it two months beyond that and died at home, in bed with Ruth.

Judi, her husband Paul, Dave, and I were in a Mexican restaurant last night. Judi and Paul are friendly with the owners and they sent out a plate of sweet tamales (which I don't like) for us to try before our dinners arrived. In the next room, forty-five Brazilians were having a pre-Christmas Christmas party. "Brazilians know how to party," the woman who owns the restaurant told us. "We could all learn something from them."

You know that thing where you can tell when someone is talking to a group but they don't like you, you specifically out of other people in the group? They don't direct their comments to you. They don't make eye contact with you. That woman did that thing to me. She was friendly enough on the surface, very likeable even, so much so that if I mentioned the thing I just told you to the other people I was with, they would tell me that I was imagining it.

Before dinner, Dave and I had taken Crunch for a walk around the neighborhood. He was very excited to be outside and wanted to walk for quite a while. In the middle of the walk, we sat on a bench in one of the parks and I fed him a handful of stale dog biscuits, just to thwart Judi's efforts to make him skinny.

Judi had gone in the afternoon to see a movie, the new one with Tommy Lee Jones and Hillary Swank. Over dinner, she told us about the movie. It sounded relentlessly depressing, a real Christmas season downer. In it, Hillary Swank's character hangs herself. When Judi was describing that, I had to turn off some part of myself, some listening part of myself. I have to do this now whenever people talk about suicide.

The demons like to hear about suicide, it's true, but I don't have any choice about whether or not to feed the demons. I can't afford to do it anymore.  It was fun in the beginning, kind of like buying a little baby crocodile, like being able to forget when you buy a little baby crocodile that with time and attention, cute little crocodiles grow up to be enormously dangerous adult crocodiles. Like crocodiles, demons never bond with you.  They're never so attached to you that they won't sacrifice you for the first, tiniest reason that comes along. After awhile you stop being able to keep them in a little tank next to the bed

That was how Ruth died, suicide. She couldn't face life without her partner Ellen, so on Ellen's birthday she swallowed a handful of pills and went to sleep and never woke up.

It just occurred to me: People are relentlessly delusional and it either saves them or it eats them alive. Sometimes it does both at once.

This is how I process grief. It takes a long time, decades sometimes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

La Tierra

I was putzing around the studio this past weekend and made a few more little masks to play around with in subsequent firings.

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1. Today is Wednesday and the day started out at the dentist, which I do not like. I'm not happy ever to be going to the dentist.

2. After the dentist I went to Target and wandered around a bit. I bought three packages of the disposable paper bowls that we use to feed the cats. I bought Neutrogena liquid face soap. I bought two large containers of Fage yogurt. I bought a bunch of bananas. I bought two packages of cheddar cheese because it's half the price at Target that we pay at our local hippy-dippy co-op for the same cheese. I bought three Amy's frozen dinners. I bought a package of crappy chocolate covered cherries. On the way out I bought a decaf soy latte at Starbucks.

3. I took the long way home, driving along Rio Grande Boulevard, just to see if there were any cranes in the fields. There were no cranes, but there were scads of Canada geese in two of the fields, and in the middle of a third field, a lone fox trotting along on some errand.  I've never seen a fox outside of a zoo.  I wish I had a tail like a fox.

4. I came home and unpacked everything. Then I drank a liter bottle of San Pellegrino and ate one of the frozen dinners, the pasta cheddar bowl.

5. I put a show on Netflix (Jim Gaffigan Mr. Universe) to distract The Brain and I took a 90 minute nap.

6. When I woke up, I took my meds and ate two chocolate covered cherries, which made me feel almost instantly terrible.

7. I tried for awhile to get back to sleep. I haven't been sleeping well. I don't know if it's the change in the weather or PMS or the full moon or what. I just haven't been able to stay asleep at night. I couldn't sleep, so I got up, ate a snack (cheese and tortilla chips), and got ready to go pick up Dave from work.

8. I drove along Rio Grande Boulevard again, not expecting to see and not seeing any foxes.

9. We stopped for BBQ take-out on the way home. We bought "moist" (ie, fatty) brisket, a baked potato, coleslaw, corn, bean salad, a bottle of sauce, and a rice krispy treat. The woman taking our order asked if we wanted bread and I said sure and she wrapped up a ridiculous amount of bread, about eighteen slices of bread. I'm not sure what that was about.

10. It's raining.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Progression II


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Building...
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...building...
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...underglazing...
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...bisque firing...then cone 3 firing...
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...more underglazing...

...still not finished...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Progression

1. Up at 8:30 a.m. after three hours of sleep. (I am not good anymore at no sleep.) Dave made coffee and I showered, did my hair and makeup, got dressed, ate half a banana (the unbruised half). (I am not good anymore at putting coffee on an empty stomach.)

2. Breakfast this morning at Nosh, the Jewish deli, with Dave, Paul and Judi. I had vegetable hash with eggs over easy, an onion bialy, and decaf coffee. I shared an order of latkes with Dave and then split a big hunk of noodle kugel with the table.  I felt like I had swallowed a bowling ball when we walked out of there.

3. Dave unloaded the kiln while I chatted with Judi and Paul. We had some success this time. (Pictures soon.)

4. After the kiln was unloaded, I took a mile-long walk with Dave, Judi, and Crunch. It was slightly easier this time.

5. After walking, Dave and I did some clean up at the studio and then came home to do some yardwork, tearing up the garden and raking leaves.

6. We ordered pizza (Dave) and wings (me) for dinner.

Progression (Two Months Work)

Two days worth of construction.

Corseted Calavera (WIP)

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Underglaze then bisque firing.

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More underglaze then a cone 3 firing.

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More underglaze.

Next up: A cone 06 firing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Long Weekend

Thanksgiving

We took macaroni and cheese, green beans, and ciabatta spread with garlic butter to my mother's house to add to the ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy that she made. My brother brought apple and pumpkin pies, fruit, and ice cream for dessert. My aunt, now able to be out and about a week and a half after surgery, came and brought my cousins. We sat down to a huge dinner and rolled out stuffed. No one had to say what they were thankful for, thank God, but I think we were all thinking the same thing.

Friday

We did not shop on Friday. We hunkered down at home in the morning, went to the studio in the afternoon, then went to a movie with Judi and Paul. We saw Interstellar. It was terrible. The best thing about the movie was the popcorn. Dave and I took Crunch for a walk after.

Saturday

We were up a bit early. I hadn't slept very well, was up most of the night, and when Dave woke me up at 8:30, my first words to him were, "I have a headache." The headache stayed with me more or less all day.

We had breakfast (burritos and sodas from Blake's) and went to the studio.

I worked more on the sculptures, not just this one but all of them. (The last firing was a great disappointment to me. Everything came out worse than it went in as far as I am concerned.)
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They change incrementally.

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Here on the face you can see some of those changes: The effects of a wash of black underglaze that adds a shadowy layer among the roses, deepens the eyes, makes the teeth stand out more distinctly. (None of that is a natural shadow. That's all deliberately applied underglaze.)  I also added a second layer of gray around the eyes, a bit of light green to the irises, and the slightest hint of a pink blush to the cheeks. After the next firing, I'll deepen the shadows beneath the cheekbones and decide whether or not to add a shiny, clear glaze to the roses, leaves, and eyes. (Once the clear glaze goes on, it's no longer possible to change what's underneath, so I've started to think of the clear glaze as a kind of "game over" for that part of the piece.)

It's tedious. I'm resisting the urge to get frustrated with them and with myself. Working in this new style, I've finished not a single piece since June. That's a long time to try to keep moving forward with failure nipping at my heels.

Dave threw some new things, bowls mostly. He also put handles on a pair of large stein-y mugs that he and Lu Ann talked about when we ran into them a couple of weeks ago.

We also fired a kiln today, a cone 6 (glaze) kiln. We're still testing out cone 6 glazes. We have about 30 or so glazes that we've bought in pints and we're running tests now to see how they look and whether or not we want to invest in any gallon or larger amounts of any of them.  The kiln finished firing around 5:30 p.m. and will cool overnight. Tomorrow we'll open it up and see our results.

In the afternoon while the kiln was firing, we went to the local clay supply store and bought a bunch of things, low-fire glazes and underglazes for me (they were having a sale, so I went a bit nuts), kiln furniture and witness cones for Dave.

On the way back to the studio, we stopped at Panera and had an adequate lunch. (It was that kind of day.)

Judi and I took Crunch out for his evening walk at 4:30 and it was dark before we got back to Judi's.

Dave and I came home via the pet store where we bought a shitload of cat food, cat litter, and a box of dog treats to surreptitiously give to Crunch when Judi's not looking. (She has that poor dog on a perpetual diet and I do everything possible to thwart it.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday

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1. The hives I experienced last night came back with a vengeance when the Benadryl wore off. I had hives all over my shoulders, and right arm. So I took more Benadryl and they went away. Then the Benadryl wore off and they came back, all over my shoulders, arms, and chest. So I took more Benadryl.

That's my day so far.

2. I have no idea what is causing them. But they itch like crazy unless I keep up with the Benadryl and deal instead with the drowsiness. Ugh. So I've hardly gotten out of bed today. I've just spent the whole day in a Benadryl-fueled haze.

3. We had pizza for lunch.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine


1. Dave and I got up very late today, around 11:00, and went to lunch at Nosh, the Jewish deli. I had a huge rare roast beef on rye sandwich and shared a knish with Dave. He had a vegetarian hash with eggs and rye toast, half the knish, and an order of cheese blintzes. I don't know what it is about Jewish comfort food. It's delicious, but after lunch I felt like I had swallowed a cannonball. It just sat in my stomach, weighing me down. We decided to take a walk to see if we could dislodge it.

2. We walked around the Nob Hill shopping center doing a bit of shopping. I went into Beeps and bought a new handbag, a gray Baggallini cross-body bag with a hot pink lining. I've been needing a new bag. My old one is getting very beat up.

3. After lunch we stopped by the studio and unloaded the cone 3 kiln. I was not happy with the results. More on that in a moment.

4. We had a lot of errands to run--trying to get everything done early so as to avoid the pre-Thanksgiving grocery store crush and the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday insanity. We are in the market for a new kitchen table, so we went by a couple of furniture stores and an import store to check out what they have and compare prices. We also went by K-mart and picked up some long-sleeved t-shirts for me. (I never shop at K-mart, but I happened to go with my mother one day and, on a whim, picked up a long-sleeved t-shirt. It turned out to be awesome, much better than the ones I've gotten from Target for 50% more, price-wise, so I went back today and bought five more.)

5. After running our errands, we went back to the studio to do a bit of work.

About that kiln: I was not pleased with the results for so many reasons. One of the reasons is illustrated in the picture below.
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You can see the difference in the whites between the small piece I'm holding and the larger piece in the back. That difference is, in part, because the underglazes I used burned out in the higher firing. If you're not a clay person, you're probably wondering what that means. It basically means that in the higher firing, some of the coloration--here, the white--disappeared, leaving bare spots that reveal the red clay.

My first thought was: All that work for nothing.

My second thought was: This sucks.


I set about repairing some of the damage, as you can see here, by adding yet another layer of white underglaze. (The white I used stuck around, but unfortunately I had mixed it with two other underglazes--antique ivory and flaxen--that burned out at the higher temperature.)
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Every single piece I've made was negatively affected by the firing.

6. Hold on. I've got more to say, but something I ate for dinner is giving me hives and I'm going to take an antihistamine. Ugh. Nasty.

7. After dinner we went by Whole Foods for some groceries to get us through the week. We bought the usual array of veggies as well as cheese and milk to make mac'n'cheese for a vegetarian Thanksgiving main dish. So many people were in WF, a thing that makes me nuts usually, but I did have a happy moment when I saw a little girl, maybe four or five years old, singing and dancing to the in-store music:
We-de-de-de
De-de-de-de-de
De-we-um-um-a-way
We-de-de-de
De-de-de-de-de
We-um-um-a-way

In the jungle
The mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle
The quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh
A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh
A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh...
She knew all the words, too.

8. I got some new things yesterday too, a handful of these dimensional liners and a new book. Here is my new favorite book:
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This amazing book is full of art and symbols and poetry. I opened it up and this quote is the first thing that caught my eye:
When the soul wants to experience something she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.  --Meister Eckhart
I looked at each of the 800 pages and made notes about the things that caught my eye. I was interested to see what snagged The Brain (clouds, rain, dusk, fruit, spider, butterflies, crow/ravens, bear, fox, bat, bone, brain, eye, tears, teeth, tongues, hand, breast, heart, blood,  boat, ax, knife, chain, net/web, scissors, veil, crown, city, niche, siren, mermaid, spiral, wound, crack, ghost, ancestor).

Some of the entries led to some new knowledge. (Did you know that bears gave rise to the word "berserker" (the Norse warriors who "fought in a wild frenzy")? Or that bears were sacred to Artemis and that a cult comprised of nine-year-old Athenian girls worshiped bears in her name, donning bear skins and masks and living in the wilderness?) Some entries led to sketches for future sculptures, helping me to focus and clarify where I want to go. I know one thing: I need more bears in there.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday & Saturday

Friday

1. I had PT today. I came away with pink Kinesio tape all up and down my hand and arm. I was self-conscious about the taping when I first started getting it, but now it's just, like, ho-hum. It actually helps my wrist feel better and brings down the swelling without my having to take any drugs. That's the biggest plus to me.

2. My physical therapist today was talking about her family in Louisiana. Her parents, now in their 80s, have a picture of Robert E. Lee, the famous confederate general, up in their living room(!) still. Her mother used to host a cooking show with Justin Wilson, the cajun cooking guy (who, it turns out, was a jerky, womanizing alcoholic.)

3. I had ice cream (Talenti Belgian milk chocolate) for lunch. That was not the greatest idea, putting all that sugar on an empty stomach, so I followed up my ice cream with cheddar and ricotta cheese rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla. I am not really a fully-functioning adult apparently, as I eat like an 8-year-old latchkey kid left to her own after-school devices.

4. For dinner I did have some vegetables though! David and I went to our favorite vegan Thai food restaurant and shared soy-chicken spring rolls, a red curry, and a dish called P.E.T (pumpkin, eggplant, tofu).

5. I made the mistake of drinking a diet Coke with dinner and the caffeine kept me up way, way past my bedtime. Bleh.

Saturday

1. Got up early after a long evening of fasting and went to get stuck for various medical tests that doctors have ordered. Ugh. I hate getting blood drawn. The techs always have a really hard time finding a suitable vein to tap. This morning the tech explained to me that it was because my veins are really close to my tendons (which is not the usual lay of the land apparently) and that makes it hard for them to feel for a vein. Who knew?

2.  The reward for an early morning of vampire victimization role play was a waffle breakfast at our favorite waffle place, La Waffleria. We shared a waffles rancheros (with the carne adobada on the side for me) and a blueberry blue corn waffle with lavender whipped cream. I had a latte and Dave had his usual London Fog. Both waffles happened to be gluten free, which: Why?! I don't like the gluten-free waffles as much as I like the gluten-laden waffles. More gluten, please!

3. It was still early, but we checked our phones to find that Artisans Santa Fe, a nearby art supply shop, was open. I wanted to look over their rubber-tipped brushes, so we went by. I picked up a smallish, pointy rubber-tipped brush, a water brush, a few small plastic palettes, and some conte crayons.

4. We headed up to the studio  after and I worked on glazing some pieces. Dave puttered around for a bit (basically killing time until he had to leave for his clarinet lesson). As he left, Judi came out to chat for a bit. We decided to go for a walk in the afternoon to get some exercise.  After a bit, she left and I had an hour or so to work solo.  I kindled an episode of The Bletchley Circle and watched it while I glazed. That show is just amazing. I'm more than a little bit in love with it.

5. Dave returned with coffee (a half-caf soy latte for me, a decaf latte for himself, and a regular latte for Judi). Paul and Judi came out and sat and chatted while we had coffee. Then it was time to go for a walk.

6. MY GOD, I AM OUT OF SHAPE. We did a poor mile and I was red-faced and tired after. Judi and I used to walk 3 miles a day--on top of the gym visits I did where I routinely followed up an hour-long weight-lifting session with 45 minutes on the treadmill. But now I am so far from that time! Ugh. Hard not to beat myself up about it. But whatever. We did it.

7. Dave and I did a bit of clean-up at the studio then headed out to the clay shop (for 100 pounds of clay, six new glazes, and three boxes of witness cones for the cone 3 firing) and for some lunch (Panera: chicken cobb salad for me and a veggie sandwich and mac'n'cheese for Dave). We also picked up some pastries to take to my aunt who is at home recovering.

8. We drove out to my aunt's house and visited for a little bit. My mother is staying with her and so while my aunt napped, we watched bits of a John Cusack movie and chatted. After a bit we slipped away, trying not to rouse my aunt who needs to rest and recuperate.

9. We came straight home and unloaded our clay and glazes (so it won't freeze overnight in the car) and unpacked our CSA box (which had arrived while we were out). We now have a fridge full of veggies (broccoli, dino kale, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, lemons and limes) as well as one of their dressings (Shiitake-ginger, yum!). For dinner (after naps for both of us), I threw together a salad (greens, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, cucumber and red onion) with loads of the yummy dressing.

10. It's late! (Well, 11:00 p.m.) I've been catching up on youtube videos (lots of cooking videos as Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching) and reading celebrity gossip on various sites. (Lots of Bill Cosby stuff, ugh.)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Oh, Right

1. The new broken-hearted calaverita looks a bit demented, a bit Sunset Boulevard-y, from this angle.
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I'm okay with that.

She's green, with a preliminary coat of underglaze (Amaco matte velvets in radiant red, white, velour black, and antique ivory). She'll go into the kiln this weekend for a cone 3 firing.

Oh, right--this is her from the back:
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She's going to have a small diorama back there, a couple of skeletons embracing one another, hearts scattered around.
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I wanted her to look a bit more dejected or downcast than demented.

2. Dave and I spent the last two evenings at the studio. He's been glazing and I've been working on this and on some Christmas ornaments. On Tuesday, I started underglazing this one. Last night I finished up and loaded a kiln that we can hopefully fire on Saturday or Sunday.

3. It is a beautiful day today. The sky is very blue and I've got the door open even though it's a bit cold. The cats are out basking on the patio.

4. Dinner tonight is a layered polenta, spinach, and ricotta bake. I imagine we'll have to have a salad with it. I've been craving sweets like crazy recently. Last night I wanted chocolate ice cream (had a bowl of raisin bran with persimmon and Greek yogurt instead).

5. I slept in this morning. I've been having the strangest dreams lately. Last night I had a dream that had my grandmother and younger brother (both dead) in it. In it, my brother was about 12 (the last time I lived with him) and my grandmother probably in her 40s (? or about the same age I am now). We were in a strange kind of hotel or hostel and I was going out and asked them if they wanted me to bring back anything for them to drink.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Just Four Things

1. Dinner at my mother's on Monday (a birthday dinner with pizza, salad, cake and ice cream) with my mom, aunt Char, brother, little cousin, Dave, and me. We played a game of Scrabble after dinner and my little eight-year-old cousin held his own, came in second place actually (with a minimum of very generous help even).

2. Tuesday morning, my aunt had surgery on her shoulder. My mother went with her and is staying while she recovers. The surgery, to repair a tendon, sounds awful. My relatively mild case of tendonitis is painful enough, I can't imagine having it be bad enough to require surgery.

3. Dave and I went up to the studio this evening for a little while.
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I'm still working on the calavera girls. My new one (not pictured here) is a bust with the back of the head cut out. I'm going to have a diorama arranged inside her head. 

Hopefully we can sneak in a cone 3 firing this weekend.

4. It's been cold here recently. So cold. It's been so cold that I've even been thinking of buying a winter coat, something I haven't owned in several years at least. I've been making do with a zip-up sweatshirt kind of thing. But it might be time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stoner

1. We got up early this morning to go have breakfast at the waffle place and there we ran into Chris and Lu Ann. They changed tables so that we could sit together and chat. (Chris has changed jobs and Lu Ann is almost done with her pre-requisites for her next degree.)

2. For breakfast, David and I shared a couple of waffles, one savory (topped with spinach, poached eggs, and green chile cream sauce) and one sweet (topped with macerated cherries and goat cheese, melted butter and syrup). We each had a London Fog to drink.

3. After breakfast, we parted ways with Chris and Lu Ann and Dave and I went to the studio.

This is one of the mini-masks out of last week's kiln. Looks like a stoner, no?
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The red cast to his eyes and teeth are from the Gerstley borate that I used. I had no idea it was going to do that, but (in this case anyway) I kind of like it.

I worked on some small Christmas ornaments and on my sculptures a tiny bit. Dave trimmed some pieces that he threw last week.

Judi came out with Crunch to chat and we decided to go to lunch after a bit.

3. For lunch, we (Judi, Paul, Dave and myself) went to a new-ish restaurant in Nob Hill called NOSH Jewish Deli & Bakery.  I've never really been exposed to Jewish food, but I'm familiar with the concept. I ordered matzo ball soup and a sweet noodle kugel, crisped up on the grill and served with maple syrup.

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(I was still pretty stuffed from breakfast, so Dave ended up eating most of my kugel.) Dave had a tempeh reuben and coleslaw. Judi's chopped liver looked really good, so I ordered some to bring home for dinner.  The place was a little too loud to linger, so we came back to the studio to work.

4. So, the work.
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I've been experimenting with this new style, something I learned when I took the Janis Mars Wonderlich workshop at Santa Fe Clay back in June/July, which was--what?--four and a half months ago? And these are the first finished pieces that I've gotten since then.
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I say they are finished, but are they?
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One of the things we experimented with during the workshop was multiple firings. I had long been used to the usual cone 06 bisque then cone 6 glaze firing, with a very occasional rebisquing for various purposes. But Janis fires to cone 3 first then does subsequent rounds of cone 04 or 06 firings to refine her surfaces. I've been toying with a similar firing schedule, but it's gotten to the point where I don't know how to tell when something is finished. I mean, it's finished when it feels finished. But does any of it yet feel finished?
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(All the above pieces are in the 2-4 inch range, by the way. They're intended as hanging pieces.)

I'm totally second guessing myself here. The uncertainty is maddening and exciting both (a new place to have to learn how to listen to myself).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Swear I Remember It That Way

1. Yesterday and today have been soup weather days. I made a big pot of vegetable soup yesterday and had it for lunch, dinner, then lunch again today. The vegetables came from our CSA harvest box (summer squash, carrots, broccoli stems, potatoes) and from our garden (tomatoes, eggplants, green peppers, and carrots), a last harvest since it froze last night. When we picked the tomatoes, I pulled all the green tomatoes off the plants and plan on making green tomato fritters (since most of them are too small to slice and bread) tonight along with some roasted turnips, cauliflower, carrots and Brussels sprouts. I also made mashed sweet potatoes. David will probably want gravy to go over everything, too.

Anyway, about the weather: It's getting cold. I say that, but right now I'm sitting with the front door open. The portable heater is pointed right at me, of course, but the door is open. The sun is just setting now, so the temperature is dropping rapidly.

2. We're expecting snow on Saturday, but we'll see if that pans out. (Dave reports that, no, the weather predictions have been updated and it's supposed to be in the low 60s on Saturday. Boo!)

3. We went to Costco last night with my older brother and came home with--yes!--more vegetables (cucumbers, mixed greens, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, haricot vert) and fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, bananas). It's a race to get through the produce now before it all goes bad.

We also picked up bread, yogurt and cheese (danger!) and I split a pack of two pot roasts with my brother. (We debated between pot roast and steak and went for the less expensive option.) My brother is doing fine. He's job hunting (long story) and put in an application at Costco.

4. Today is laundry day. I'm doing laundry and watching this week's episode of The Blacklist. The cats are napping. The dogs are napping. I want to be napping, but instead I'll make a cup of coffee and put in another load of laundry. I probably should shower at some point today. I got up, had breakfast, and started in on laundry. I'm still in my pajamas!

5. It's later and I'm out of my pajamas now. I just finished prepping dinner and am about to get started on the laundry again. As many times as I tell myself that I'm not going to let it pile up until it becomes a multi-day project, it always piles up and becomes a multi-day project. Laundry is such a drag to do! Sometimes I wish I were more domestically inclined, I really do. Although if a grateful genie granted me three wishes, "domestically inclined" would not make the cut.

6. I'm just stalling now. I don't want to go do laundry! I don't! I don't! I don't!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Can't Shake It Off

1. We went last night and unloaded the bisque kiln.

Judi, Paul and Crunch came out to keep us company. Crunch kept begging me for treats. I didn't have any to give him (I actually did, but I didn't want to raid my treat stash in front of Judi), but I did find a banana and we shared that. (He actually likes banana.)

Anyway, here's some of what came out of the kiln (bear in mind that this is just the first of many firings for some of this stuff):
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Here's my cool girl. I painted the dress with green underglazes that I've never used before and then dotted with Gerstley borate, which made some of the green go red. (Reduced copper? Hard to say.) Should be interesting to play with that.  She's far from finished; She'll get another coat of underglazes and then go back into the kiln.
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This is my flower brick with a bit of underglazing (using velvet underglazes in turquoise, black, white, red, yellow and orange. This is also its first firing. It will get more underglazes and a coat of glaze on the inside to make it somewhat waterproof, then it will go back into the kiln.
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This crowd of chiquititas also went through the firing, Blondie (at the back) for the first time. The one just in front of her with the shiny red heart on her forehead is probably finished except for maybe a bit of acrylic paint and some wax. I started her months ago, back in July. She's the first to near the finish line.

2. I think I may be getting sick. I've had a bit of sore throat for the last couple of days and have just felt very blah in general.

3. The day is very beautiful, though. Very fall in New Mexico. The sky is perfectly blue and it's warm (70F/21C). I have the door open and Saba and Gray Kitty are napping in the sunbeams. Gray Kitty is snoring. I love when they do that. They're the first cats we've had that snore, I think.

4. For dinner last night we didn't end up having stir fry as neither of us felt very much like cooking. Instead we went out for Indian food at a newish place (that's probably not going to last very long, sadly). We had aloo tikka chaat (sort of a strange dish that consists of a potato patty served with a kind of very chunky, curried, tamarind-y raita on the side) and samosas as appetizers. Then we shared channa masala (chickpeas),  aloo gobi masala (cauliflower and potatoes), rice, and naan. I ordered butter chicken (which I've never had) for myself as well. We ate very well and brought home tons of food besides. I had the leftover butter chicken and a piece of naan for breakfast and sent the rest of the vegetarian dishes with Dave for lunch.

But! Tonight we have to eat some vegetables from our CSA box, so I went ahead and spent part of the afternoon prepping for a stir fry (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celery, onion, and marinated tofu). We have no excuse to not cook.

5. I've been watching new episodes of Portlandia, which I find hilarious. There's one episode where a middle-aged couple considers trying drugs for the first time because friends of theirs have done so. They're discussing it and the woman says that she always thought that the window for trying drugs was high school/college and if you missed that window, then you missed it. The man comments that the only time he tried drugs was in high school when he had a pot cookie that turned out to have no pot in it. The woman replies, "So you had a cookie in high school?"

C'mon! That's funny!

6. Saba just woke up, started bathing herself, and realized that Gray Kitty is about five inches from her. He's got the prime sunbeam, so I'm waiting to see if she'll muscle her way into his spot. (She is very much the alpha cat and he's pretty scared of her, even though he outweighs her by about four pounds, a not insignificant amount in a cat.) She's thinking about it and he's positioned himself to run away.

She decided to return to her bath so he relaxed again and now they're both back to napping.

I hope that someday they'll become best friends, but that is a delusional thought on my part. It's been three years since they were first thrown together and at best they sometimes manage an uneasy truce that they can't sustain for too, too long. That's what's going on at the moment, but it won't be long I'm sure before they both turn up with new scratches on their faces from sparring.

7. I'm finished with my third cup of coffee today, one full- and two half-cafs. Can't shake this lethargic feeling!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Weekend, Fall

1. Saturday

On Saturday, we got up early and went to have breakfast at the waffle place. Then we went by Goodwill and dropped off our bins, filled with things we caught in the decluttering net. It was nice to get rid of it, and the only thing I clawed back was a small handbag I bought and have never used, but which still has the tags on it. I pulled it out of the bag it was in and sent everything else on its way.

After Goodwill, we went by Target to pick up some things we needed both at home and at the studio. Then we went to the studio to work for awhile. (Dave trimmed some work and put handles on his new mugs. I worked up a new small calavera bust to try out a new hairstyle on.)  We worked until lunchtime and then went to Panera. Lunch was a Cobb salad for me, a Mediterranean veggie sandwich for Dave, and a shared order of mac and cheese. (The actually have really good mac and cheese at Panera.)

I had not gotten any sleep the night before, so after lunch I was feeling a bit disconnected and out of sorts, so we came home and I got into my pajamas and went back to bed. Dave stayed up, of course, and practiced his clarinet for a few hours.

2. Sunday

On Sunday, we planned to fire the kiln. We got up early and stopped by Blake's for breakfast burritos and tea.

We got up to the studio just as Paul was heading out to take Crunch for a walk, so we took the leash from Paul and instead we took Crunch for a walk. (Crunch is very happy when it's cool out, so he likes to wander around and pee on everything in the universe.) We came back to the studio and loaded and started the kiln. I worked on my sculpture for awhile while Dave threw a new kind of clay on the wheel.

I had planned to see a movie with my mother, so she came by to pick me up at 12:45 or so and we went to see Lucy. Luckily, it was at the cheapie theater, so we only paid $2 each for our tickets. (It was worth about that much. I'm definitely glad we didn't pay full price.) After the movie, my mom and I went by Panera to pick up lunch for the two of us and Dave and then we went back to the studio. Paul and Judi and Crunch came out to keep us company while we ate.

My mother had an ad with a coupon for a sale at Michael's. She wanted to buy yarn and I wanted to buy brushes, so off we went to Michael's. I bought a bag full of brushes for about $30 and my mother bought a ton of yarn, about a dozen skeins, and we headed back to the studio. It was rush hour, but traffic was ridiculous. I pulled out my phone to check the traffic report and it turned out that there were two crazy events (someone threatening to jump off a freeway overpass, someone holed up in a hotel with a gun that required a SWAT team response) going on that were screwing up the part of the city we were in. It took us ages to get back to the studio by some crazy circuitous route.

The kiln was just finishing up and Dave and I finished up, too. (We usually spend part of our Sunday studio hours doing a small clean-up, cleaning the toilet and taking out the trash, sweeping if we haven't already, and so on.)

We had to stop by the co-op on the way home as we needed to buy toilet paper and things for Dave's work lunch. (I'm making a veggie and tofu stir-fry tonight with vegetables from our CSA box.)

I was exhausted again and went to bed very early without a proper dinner. (I had a small bowl of potato chips and a big glass of water.) Dave had cereal, did the dishes and laundry and probably a million other things.

3. Today

Today is a beautiful fall day. It's supposed to get up to 76 degrees today--then the forecast says to expect snow on Saturday. I'm sitting here with Gray Kitty. Saba's gone outside to enjoy sitting on the patio.  Breakfast was a salad and more potato chips. (I swear, I should not have those things in the house. I can't stop eating them.) Lunch was hummus and veggies (celery, carrots, cucumber, and tomato) and a bag of microwave popcorn. I think I could use a big cup of coffee right now, though.

4. Lynda Barry

I love Lynda Barry. Dave ordered her new book for me, Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor and I've been slowly making my way through it. I came to the end today and burst into tears! (It's not that kind of book though, actually.) I just felt some strange sadness that was probably a kind of compressed and unexpressed pellet of sadness that I used to feel at the end of every semester of college, that feeling of enormous pressure letting up so suddenly that you get the emotional bends. Lynda Barry's book just brought all that back.

5. Online shop

Since leaving the studio, I have no place to sell my work, so I'm considering opening an online studio. (Have I mentioned this before?) I'm having trouble really digging in my heels and actually doing it though. Got to stop procrastinating and get on it.