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.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Still The One

1. This happens at physical therapy:
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That is Kinesio tape, applied by Kate, my physical therapist. It actually helps to reduce the swelling in my wrist, so even though it looks strange, I wear it for as long as it stays on (36-72 hours, usually). It can withstand handwashing and showering, so that's good. 

My arm is about 90% better--the pain in my elbow is gone, my forearm feels less painful, my wrist still swells when I overuse it.

2. My mother and online bud Helen have started their own decluttering challenges. Yay for decluttering! It's a useful, strange, stressful, freeing thing to do, declutter.

3. We skipped a couple of days, Dave and I, and started back in on day 24. Today we went through and halved our big bowl collection, some of which we never use, some of which are beautiful but not food safe (!), some of which we were just bored with. We got rid of an electric skillet we bought and used once in five years. I got rid of a pair of jeans that no longer fit. We cleared out the first aid kit, tossing expired and unused things. We cleared out 24 things each today. Our combined total after today is 600. It just goes on and on!

4. After days of eating crappy Halloween chocolate, I'm craving sugar like mad. Last night I had a pastry from the bakery and this morning I ate three chocolate biscochitos from there. I could easily plow through a pint of chocolate ice cream right now.

My physical therapist told me that when she was a little girl, she lived in Switzerland near a chocolate factory that gave tours. At the end of the tour, they gave out boxes of chocolate. She went so many times that the tour guides finally told her she couldn't come back anymore.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Still November

1. It occurs to me that most people won't know what this is or what it does:

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But there are still a fair number of people who will recognize that yesterday was My Mammogram Monday, a now annual November event added to my personal calendar. It marks the one time every year that I wish I had microscopic boobs because it seems that once you climb up into the rare air of my cup size, the number of times each breast has to be squashed between those plates doubles. Those machines are built to easily built to handle things up to about a C-cup, so in my range, at least two pictures have to be taken at each angle instead of one. I was there for 30 minutes. That is a long time to spend with your tits in a vise.

2. Here is a picture I took at the museum:
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3. Decluttering continues! Dave and I took a day off on Sunday, but last night resumed with day 23. Forty-six things gone. (That's 576 things combined total in 23 days!) Last night Dave went through his box of sentimental things and got rid of some stuff, while I continued to mine the small things in the casita and closet, where I am always able to find something that is stained or doesn't fit. (Old, stained t-shirts are usually suitable for wearing to the studio since they're going to get dirty anyway and further stained with iron oxide and the like. As for stuff that doesn't fit, I am just like every woman on the planet; I maintain an entire second wardrobe of things that I don't currently fit into but that I'm one day going to fit into again.)

(Ay yi yi.)

But by now we've gone through many of the small things so we're going to have to start taking a look at the larger things: appliances we so-rarely-as-to-be-akin-to-never use (but which take up lots of our limited cabinet space), large pottery bowls of which we have so so so very many, and so on. Things that we own more or less jointly are also problematic as there has to be some discussion about them as well as respect for the veto process and people's feelings (neither of which I am particularly good at).

Last night, for example, we got rid of a casserole dish that Dave threw and I glazed. The lid never sat very securely on the piece (the gallery was a bit shallow) and it developed a small crack in the final firing. The piece was still usable--though how often are two people going to use a large casserole dish?--but not salable, so we kept it even though it was a relatively large piece and hard to store with the lid on. We've probably used it twice in four years. Long story short: It went, but it ended up in the donation bin on Dave's suggestion. (I would rather smash up a piece that we made than donate it, to be honest.)

Tonight we tackle 24. Yikes.

3. Five things that have made me happy in the last 24 hours: New episodes of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix. Green chile, cheese Lotaburger and shared fries and onion rings for dinner last night. Gray Kitty learning to communicate by scratching at the door. Getting through to day 23 of the decluttering challenge. The tiny house spider, complete with web, who has taken up residence at the head of my bed.

4. Daylight savings is messing with my head, man. It's only 5:00 now and getting dark. In a couple of weeks, it'll be dark at 4 in the afternoon. That sucks.

5. It may freeze tonight, so this afternoon I went out and picked all the tomatoes that were ripe. For dinner tonight, we're having a kind of last huzzah of summer caprese salad with the tomatoes and some basil from the garden, fresh mozzarella, and red onion. Why not?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Already?!

1. Lunch today with my mom, aunt Char, Rudy and Dave. We went to a restaurant called Vinaigrette which serves mainly salads and a couple of sandwiches. I had a reuben sandwich with a greek salad and a cup of miso-based mushroom stew. I also had a couple of bites of Dave's macaroni and cheese. Not bad.

2. After lunch, we stopped by the museum. There are some really lovely 16th century paintings and sculptures that are part of a traveling exhibit from Paris, I think. I'll go back to see them when I have some time to sit and look without dodging tourists and disdainful locals.

3. After looking at the exhibits, we looked through the museum shop then sat and had coffee in the cafe. The coffee was terrible, but it was nice to sit and chat.

5. We parted ways then and Dave and I went to the studio. He had to trim the things he threw yesterday and I loaded the mugs he made last week into the kiln and then worked on two things, a bowl I'm glazing and a calavera I'm painting. Judi and Paul weren't home, so I sneaked into their house (not really sneaking since I have a key, garage door opener, and the alarm code) and fed Crunch a couple of dog biscuits.

6. Rain! It's been raining on and off all day. I love the rain, even when I have to be out in it. It's cold now, though it's not supposed to freeze until mid-week maybe. Goodbye, garden!

7. In the parking lot at the Co-op, we ran into Chris. She had her three dogs in the car, Henry, Buddy, and Zuni. We talked a bit and pet the dogs before going in to do our shopping.

8. Despite going to the grocery store, dinner so far has consisted of a handful of left-over Halloween candy, white chocolate Kit-Kats mainly. Ugh. So sickening and yet so irresistible. I'm a candy-loving child at heart, with a mouthful of fillings to prove it.

9. I rented and watched Inglourious Basterds a couple of nights ago. I didn't really like it, although there were some parts that I really liked. I only decided to watch it because I was impressed by Christoph Waltz's performance in Django Unchained. I liked him in this, too; I can see how he finagled a Academy Awards for this and the other. I also liked Brad Pitt in this. My favorite line in the whole film went to him, at the very end, when he shoots one of the men he's supposed to be taking prisoner  and the other man tells him that he himself will be shot. Pitt's character Aldo says, "Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before."  I laughed, at the line and at the way Pitt delivers it. I found it so funny that I rewound and re-watched it probably six times.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Eight Little Things

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1. Halloween! The jack-o-lanterns we carved outnumbered the trick-or-treaters. (We had three jack-o-lanterns and zero trick-or-treaters.) That means that I've been eating fun-size, white chocolate Kit Kats all evening. Ugh, my stomach hurts!

2. Rain! Then it started to rain. It's raining as I write this.

3. 21! We reached day 21 of our 30 day decluttering challenge. Today we went into one of the kitchen cabinets and came up with handfuls of things to get rid of. We got rid of 4 large pieces of pottery, a bottle of terrible wine, unused water bottles, coffee cup lids, extra plastic measuring cups, and on and on.

I've also, in the last several days, ridded myself of two travel sewing kits. We had five--one I purchased, one I made, three picked up from hotels--but who needs five travel sewing kits? I realistically don't need more than one even. I think the last time I used a travel sewing kit was about nine years ago, when I lent it to someone whose cuff button had come off.

Anyway, forty-two more things gone today! That brings us to 462 things (231 each) gone.

Here are some impromtu rules that we're following in our decluttering challenge:

Actually, there are no rules really, but we made some up!
  • We can't count anything that we'd be throwing out anyway. Like, I can't toss a tissue I just blew my nose in or a piece of junk mail that we just received and count it. 
  • Multiples count as a single item. Like, I threw away a bunch of owner's manuals for appliances that we no longer own, but they counted as a single thing. Likewise, I donated a bunch of measuring spoons and they only counted as one thing.
  • If it's something we own together, we each get to count it. Like, if we were to donate a piece of pottery that we bought together, we'd each count it. (This has been the least-used rule so far. Each of us has plenty of things to get rid of.)
  • We each can "give" the other person something of our own to count in their total. It can be hard to find twenty things to get rid of, so if I have twenty-two things and Dave has eighteen things, I can "give" him two of my things to count. Win-win!
  • Nothing over the day's total counts. Like, it's day 21, but if I find 23 things to throw away, I only count 21 of them.
We have yet to decide how we're going to reward ourselves for completing the challenge--if we do complete it. (I'm sure we will.)

4. BBQ!! Since I knew I was going to hit the candy pretty hard so I wanted to lay in a good base of fat and protein underneath all that sugar. We stopped at Rudy's BBQ and I got "moist" brisket and ribs and Dave picked up coleslaw, potato salad, and bean salad to have with his Quorn chick'n nuggets.

5. PT!! I had an appointment with my physical therapist today. She Kinesio taped up my hand and arm with hot pink tape. The science behind the Kinesio taping is sketchy, but last time she did it, it actually worked to make the swelling in my wrist go down. I ordered a roll of tape on Amazon so I can try taping myself when my wrist starts to act up.

6. Pumpkin carving!! We carved our pumpkins before dinner. I went old school, like this guy here:

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Dave (in the header photo) went free-style and made the guy with the round nose. You can't really see the true jack-o-lantern-ness of the thing while it's still light out, but trust me, these guys are spooooky! (Ha! Not really. They're kind of cute and goofy.)

The smell of pumpkin guts getting toasted by candles is Halloween to me.

7. Netflix! I've been Netflixing some movies recently. A few nights ago I finally got around to watching Django Unchained and: Meh. (I've gone off Quentin Tarantino's bullshit blaxsploitation rip-offs--years ago, actually--though I would watch something else with Christoph Waltz in it. He's amazing.) I watched Broadcast News last night. I haven't seen it in decades and I really enjoyed it. (Whatever happened to Holly Hunter anyway?)  I'm watching an English film right now, Black Orchid set in the 50s. English dramas intrigue me.

8. Mark Twain! (Half twain! Quarter twain!) The Mark Twain autobiography arrived today just as I was leaving for PT. It is a brick of a book, and only volume one. I had time to open it up an read two paragraphs; I laughed half a dozen times. I am looking forward to this one.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Seven Things

1. We have a mouse! (Well we have mouse turds, and I'm assuming they came from a mouse or more than one mouse.) It is--or they are--on the patio--that's where the evidence was left anyway. Where are our garden snakes when you need them? Or our cats for that matter? Two fat, happy cats are no match for a single mouse. I imagine we'll have to stop feeding our little chubbos until we stop finding evidence of mice.

2. Pumpkin Pie ice cream! Dave and I went to Baskin Robbins for ice cream after dinner tonight. He got German chocolate cake and I tried pumpkin pie ice cream. It was good. Tasted like pumpkin pie.

3. Day 19 of the 30 day decluttering challenge complete. We tossed CDs, expired sunscreen, unused samples from Sephora, old magazines, the hummingbird feeder that leaks more than it feeds, clay plant stakes that didn't work out, and on and on.  Thirty-eight more things gone from the casita. I thought that it would get tougher as it went on, and it is, but only a bit. It's not nearly hard enough to find things to toss.

4. But: $150!! That's the amount of cash we've found so far during our decluttering project. Insane. Let's go buy things!!

5. Two new books, for example. Books came today from Amazon, a copy of The Art of The Book of Life (design elements from the movie) and a book by Ivan Brunetti called Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice.

6. But is it ever enough? I also ordered Mark Twain's autobiography--which was published in 2010, 100 years after his death--per his request. Can't wait. I love Mark Twain.

7. It's cold tonight. I need to bust out the down quilts!

Happy Things

A list of things that I was happy about today:

1. This afternoon, Saba napped contentedly in a beam of sunlight that fell across the foot of my unmade bed.

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2. David and I each threw away 18 things today, a combined 36. Our total for all 18 days is 342 (171 each). Three hundred and forty-two things gone from the casita.

It's starting to feel less like a warehouse and more like a casita. We've only 12 more days until we finish our decuttering exercise, but from this point on, it only gets rougher. By day 30, we'll have tossed, recycled, or donated 465 things each, a combined 930 things gone.  We have 588 thing to go.  Our trump card is the closet, where we've been warehousing things for years.

We started out documenting the things we're purging, but that became somewhat onerous right around day 4, so we stopped. Now things just get sorted and tossed.

3. One of our larger house spiders caught a bit of prey early this morning on the wall above the wine rack. She wrapped up her prey and carried down to hide behind the cereal boxes to feed on it. (I discovered her when I took down the box of raisin bran to have a bowl for lunch.)

4. Oh, and this didn't happen today, but a few days ago: I happened upon a very large black jumping spider outside, patrolling the trunk of one of our potted cottonwood trees on the patio. It was enormous for a jumping spider and had vivid blue palps or fangs. It's the third large black jumping spider that I've seen on the patio. I love jumping spiders and hope they're finding lots of things to feed on and lots of other jumping spiders to mate with on our patio.

Jumping Spider
This is not that jumping spider, obviously.

5. We had pizza for dinner, homemade with pizza dough we got in our CSA box. It had mozzarella, kalamata olives, red onions, green chile, and Italian sausage-style seitan on it. There was enough dough to make 2 medium pizzas, which means that there is enough pizza for lunch tomorrow.

6. I read a short speech given by Mark Twain in 1879 called Some Thoughts on the Science of Onanism. Hilarious!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Painted Lady

We spent a small amount of time at the studio today and I spent a bit of that time painting this lady.

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She's not even remotely done, but the first layer is on and I'm excited to try out some new green underglazes.

We got a bit of rain while at the studio, just enough to wet everything down. Crunch came out to visit, then his owner followed. I sorted through tools and reorganized a bit. Our move from the old studio was hurried and many things were left in disarray. Moving Dave's wheel into the studio forced us to re-arrange some things and we're still mulling over placement of shelving and so on. It will all work out in the end, but for now it's a a bit chaotic in spots.

My next step is to get an online sales site up and running, probably through etsy to begin with. I'll have to take pictures of some old work to get the ball rolling, as none of the sculptures are even remotely finished.  I'll have some calavera christmas ornaments to put up soon, maybe make a few sales that way.

Let's see what else has been going on.

This week I'm scheduled for more PT for my tennis elbow. It's mostly better, but I have a few questions for the therapist.

We've just completed day 16 of our 30 day decluttering exercise. We've now tossed, recycled, or donated 136 things each, 272 things total. We've gone through the junk drawer and travel kits and under the kitchen sink (twice!). We've culled books, shoes, and some clothes (though there is still more to be done there). We've ditched dishes that we've been using for years, but that were cracked or chipped or that neither of us ever really liked. We've gone through the kitchen cabinets and the freezer. We still have a long, long way to go though.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

New Baby, Brick, Hair

There it is, Dave's new baby, a Lockerbie Model EK motorized kickwheel.
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Brand-spanking new, just out of the crate it was shipped in.  Beautiful, isn't it?

Dave actually threw today for the first time in a few months. Not only does he have a new wheel, but he's throwing new clay, Laguna's ochre. We'll see how things go with that. New wheel, new clay, new glazes, new kiln, new studio. We're on a big curve, learning-wise.

This was today's quick piece, inspired by the new movie Book of Life that I went to see with my mother on Thursday. It is a gorgeous movie, full of amazing images. Many of the characters have carved faces and I saw that and remembered that I know how to carve! So I made this guy:

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He's not actually carved, simply because the coil-building method I use to make these figures means that they are actually very thin-walled and hollow, and that doesn't lend itself to my heavy handed carving style.  Instead I used a stylus to engrave the design. We'll see how it plays out over the underglaze and glazing processes.

First I made him, then I made him into a flower brick.
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The holes need to be cleaned up--I'll do that when the clay his harder and there is no danger of deforming it further.

And this little calaverita finally got some hair, such as it is. I was also going to do a bit of engraving on her face, but she was too dry and the clay was crumbling a bit too much.

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She still looks nervous about the whole thing. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bad Hair Life

I have this little personal fantasy that I am good at everything. This is obviously not remotely true. The long but partial list of things that I am not good at include sports and sportsmanlike behavior, compromise, and being patient with myself and others.  I am also not good at girly-girl things like makeup, nail stuff, and hair things.

See, for example, this:

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This is a not-good-at-hair and not-good-at-sculpting-hair combo in action.

I made this bust precisely for that reason. I know I need to figure out this hair thing, if not for my own sake, at least for the sake of the calaveritas, who I imagine want these insane, complicated beehives and victory rolls and bobbed flapper cuts.

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She even looks a bit nervous about the whole thing, don't you think?

I thought I would try a garland of roses, so I started to sculpt a few, but I'm not happy with them. She doesn't want flowers, she wants hair--or, more accurately, a hairstyle.
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We'll see.

So the big excitement for today is reaching day 10 of our 30 day decluttering challenge. On day 1, Dave and I each tossed out one thing. Easy. On day 2, we each tossed out two things. On day 3, three things, and so on. Today we each tossed out 10 things. So we've each tossed out 55 things, a combined 110 things gone from our lives. (Note that when I say "tossed" I really mean that we have thrown away, recycled, or donated as is called for by each item.)

The big excitement for tomorrow is that Dave's wheel is going to be delivered to the new studio! Yay! The thing is apparently crated and weighs 300 pounds, so we'll see how this goes. But it's finally going to be here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Last Laugh

There's nothing that I love more than the look of red clay. The redder the better, so much so that a lot of my old stuff was expanses of bare clay with iron oxide rubbed in to make it even redder.

So to go from this:
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To this:
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Is a departure for me. This is stage one of the painting process for this piece, a process I learned during the workshop I took with Janis Mars Wonderlich. I'm trying something new, in other words, but it is definitely a learning process in progress. I love the color which will only intensify as more layers are added. The face will become whiter as the cheekbones are emphasized with a wash of black. The snake's tongue will become redder, shinier, and its eyes glitterier and darker both. And so on.

But what to do with the expanse of skin, arms, breasts, and belly? Leave them dark red, full of life? Paint them a paler brown, or darker? I'm not sure yet. Luckily this is only stage one. The piece isn't even fully dry yet and won't be for weeks.

The upturned eyes make me laugh. They were meant to be upturned for the same reason that saints have upturned eyes, but with the hands clutching the belly, they add some element of mirth, don't you think? I like that.
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Someone--who?--will have the last laugh.

Mercury is in retrograde this week. Make of that what you will.