A year ago, Robert had his heart valve replacement surgery.
Here he is, about a month ago, at the local record store (owned by our pal Aaron).
A carefully placed album :)
Thank goodness all went well, and is well! I don't know what I would do without him. Thank goodness for ACA/Obamacare - if we didn't have it, he wouldn't have gone for a regular check-up (he had no real symptoms; but we had insurance and a low co-pay), and when his valve would have failed, it would have been catastrophic! We'll see what the powers-that-be replace ACA with - but I'm not feeling very hopeful. Thanks to everyone for being supportive, esp Denise who was with me all day long that very very long emotional stressful day.
And look! The crocuses are popping up in our front yard. It's been oddly warm for the past week.
And a pretty sunset last week at the old reservoir in town:
Hello everyone: I had to take a little break from some social media. And I'm back, with a few good things as of late:
Denise and I went to see Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks at the Cleveland Museum of Art two Sundays ago. It was absolutely fantastic. I never got to see his work in person back in the '80s. Gosh he was (we were) so young then!
I stopped by the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse on the way - what a serene and sweet place:
A few years ago, I promised myself that I would either use up a bunch of fabric I have sitting around, or donate it. So I started my first scrap quilt. I am going to make a few minor changes to the layout, and I am a bit nervous about sewing it - I am not at all precise so we'll see how it turns out. I also promised myself that I wouldn't buy any new fabric, and I did keep that promise. All I bought was spray basting and batting. Once it's done, I'll post the finished quilt. It's quite small - only 9 - 5" blocks by 10 - 5" blocks - it (will hopefully) fit on a piece of fabric I have had for years that I'm using as backing:
Another thing I have wanted to learn for a long time was fair isle/color work/stranded knitting. So I am knitting this hat - the pattern is here and yarn by Candice at The Farmers Daughter Fibers who I happen to follow on Instagram. It's quite fun and I'm happy how it's turning out! Since it's my first time, I am really twisting my yarn a lot so I'm knitting very slow. Between the quilt and the knitting, I am checking the news less often, which is good for my mental health. (I'm still making phone calls, writing letter, etc, though)
And last but not least!! Happy Valentine's Day (early) to us!! A darling new flock of chicks!!! It's so good to have chicks again - been too long (I think it's been over two years since we have had chickens Robert reminded me that it has been three and a half years since we have had chickens! Wow). We named them (and this is not in the order of the photo) Bettie, Hettie, Lettie, Nettie - and Myrtle! (I cannot stop laughing when I say "...and Myrtle!"). Beware that I'll be boring the pants off of you all by posting lots of photos of them in upcoming blog entries :)
EDIT: If you have never seen a baby chick fall over falling asleep - well, you have to!! When we first had chickens, and saw that happening, I thought the chick had died. Now I am laughing all the time when I see them do it. Ahhh good things :)
I celebrated the Winter Solstice with Denise and a bunch of her friends. Women only. It was fabulous. I got there early (hurrah for a reliable vehicle!) so I could spend some time with Denise, and we talked and talked while she was cooking, and then her friends started to show up around 6:30, with lots and lots of good food. We ate and talked. Made our head wreaths and then wrote our New Year's wishes on small pieces of paper, and then burned them as offerings in her wood stove.
A pottery student gave me a selfie stick on our last class (when we took that photo of us all with our Empty Bowls, I had joked that we needed one to take a good photo of all of us) so I was playing around with it, and finally got a good photo of us all!
That's better - but now I have to figure out how to take a good photo in low light on my phone.
Here's Sephora on Christmas Eve Eve:
Christmas morning, I picked up my Mom from Mass. She was staying with my Brother C and his wife for the weekend, and since they were at their church, I was able to pick Mom up and take her back to their home. Again, thank goodness for this reliable vehicle!
Before we painted our bedroom, there was a built-in cabinet on one wall. When we tore it out, we found some old wallpaper still on the back wall. So we saved the best square of it. For my holiday present this year, Robert found a frame, and without the glass, attached it to the wall. Then he mounted a cross-stitch portrait of Clara Bow that a friend had made years ago. I love it!
We keep our holiday decorations up until the Feast of the Magi. Today, I am doing laundry, putting away paperwork, and we watched the Liverpool/Stoke game on TV. Here's a view from my chair.
Wishing you all the best during this
Dried tangerines for stained-glass-ish decorations
Although it has only been a month since election day, it seems likes years. I try to post here, and when I'm about to hit 'publish' something else happens to talk about; I make changes/additions and then it all starts again, and I got so frustrated I just took my blog down because I was just, well, so frustrated!
He'll never be my president. He continues to be a disgrace, a danger, and an embarrassment.
But onto good things:
A few weeks ago, someone hit me from behind while I was driving to meet a friend for coffee in our little town. I was okay for the most part. The car was totaled.
Well that ended up a good thing, because one of the students I am currently teaching was selling her car, and with the insurance money from the guy who hit me, it nearly covered the cost of buying her car!! And it is in great shape so I can actually go visit Denise, and my sister M in Pittsburgh (M and I are doing to the protest in Washington DC the day after inauguration day) and other family and friends now!! I can drive out of our little town without worrying that the vehicle will break down! WHOOT!!!
Darn, I meant to take a photo of the cute little thing. It's a Ford Focus, and it reminds me of my beloved Honda Civic hatchback.
Other good things: Some former and current students of mine got together last Saturday and we made a bunch of bowls for the community services center here. The Empty Bowls project! This Saturday we'll glaze them all. We made a total of 22+!
Sara, Swapna, Becky, Mary, Kristi and me!
Oh and one last thing - please feel free to follow me on Instagram or on my art page on Facebook. I post there a lot more than on my blog. (Links are in the side column, I think)
Hope everyone is doing well. It's currently 22 degrees here! And I'm off to teach a pottery class - so I better get off the computer.
As many of you know, we haven't had a reliable vehicle in years. So on Friday, Denise scooped me up and took me to her place, so I could have a mini-vacation!
After a trip to a bookstore and a delightful dinner, we went to a nearby town where the Big Ships were docked, but we were too late for the tour so we just enjoyed the sunset and the beach. Yes, I actually enjoyed the beach (I have bitched about hating beaches for years and years, but made myself shut the hell up and enjoy it for a little while, until the sand flies starting biting).
Yeah, it's a moody photo of Lake Erie with the Perry Nuclear Plant in the distance. . I took a bunch of photos of the sunset but you all have seen lake sunsets so I figured I would post this photo instead.
Next morning, I got up early so I could take the yoga class Denise was teaching. I snapped this photo of her out in her garden, while she was picking berries.
We visited a salvage shop - the prices were quite steep for some things. For instance, there was a little baggie of sewing trims, so I picked it up thinking it would be a dollar or two, but it was $10.00 and I exclaimed "What?!!" outloud and I embarrassed myself. There was also a mason jar full of buttons and another full of pieces of ribbons and those were both $15.00 each. What!???! But there were a lot of cool things to look at.
Insulators / cool round metal display cart Catholic church metal candle stand / tin ceiling pieces Of course I wanted the round metal cart and the church candle stand
Driving through the countryside, we stopped at a nursery where Denise knew the owner, and picked up some things, and the owner gave us free flats of vegetable seedlings. More seedlings for the community garden! (Did I mention that I went to a crystal shop a few weeks back and the clerk there gave me a bunch of basil starts? Lots of generous folks around here!!) And then we went to another small town and had some chai and walked around their town square as there was a little music festival going on.
And then late Saturday afternoon, she brought me back home. Although I was only away for about 28 hours, I felt that I truly did have a real vacation - I felt quite refreshed and relaxed, and so very thankful to have such a dear friend.
Our home - it was raining while the sun was shining !
My students on their second day of learning how to throw on the wheel
I'm not sure that video above will work - but it is a short video of hollyhocks in the breeze at P and M's house (the gardeners - I'm taking care of their garden for a week), and you can hear the 17 year cicadas and birds! (Oddly, we really haven't seen any - we hear them, though. And in some parts of the town the sound is deafening! Just the other day, I finally saw one of those cicadas, but it had expired :( Robert thinks he saw two in our yard today.)
A honeysuckle we found in the garden! Denise came to visit!!! Me in P and M's garden Some flowers in our yard
It's been a weird a weird warm winter, but I'm not complaining - after the past two, this has been a nice reprieve.
Photos from Friday: Leaving the hospital/Nearly home/Home!
Robert is doing very well! I cannot believe a week ago I was waiting with Denise (she was with me for a big chunk of the nearly 12 hours I was there while Robert was having the surgery - thank you sweetest friend!) in the Ugliest Waiting Room Ever. Waiting for a loved one while they are in surgery is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. But I have to say, modern medicine is amazing. And he and I are both very very happy he is on the mend and home.
Denise waving - the cheeriest thing in this, the Ugliest Waiting Room Ever.
During the week, Mom and SisterM came to visit Robert at the hospital, then they took me to lunch! Then BrotherC brought over some home-made soup on Saturday! We have received soo many well wishes from family and friends and here on the blog and on FB! We also had an on-line fundraiser that our dear friend Mike did for us - what a help that has been and will be since Robert will be unable to work for 2-3 months. People are awesome.
Revving back up to go back to work at the non-profit tomorrow. Re: pottery teaching - I'm not teaching any full classes this month, so will try to get more private students and do a few evening open studios.
I love the way this un-bisqued piece looks - need to figure out how to get this look as a finished piece. I'm going to pop out to the community arts center to unload a kiln and glaze this piece in a few minutes as R is taking a nap.
I'm applying for a spot at the famous and most amazing Hessler Street Fair, which will be held in late May. I have been a vendor there years ago and wow were those times a blast. I'm applying because 1) well, it will be fun (especially if I can get a space next to Joan) and most importantly 2) having this scheduled will kick my butt in gear to get moving and do more art!
Guess what? We actually went to a party last weekend!! An annual gift exchange party (you know, where everyone brings a wrapped gift, and then we all pick a number, and you choose a gift and open it, then if someone else wants it they can take it from you and then you have to choose another gift - either a wrapped one or 'steal' from someone else ?) - we had been invited by Danyl and Louise for years and finally were able to attend, and we had such a good time! Denise and her husband Jonnie, and Joan were there too!! EVERYONE wanted Brandon's Coveted Cast Iron Rabbit that he picked - I got it once and had to commemorate the moment as I knew it would be 'stolen' from me. We left early as our drive back home was an hour, and Denise later told me that it was 'stolen' by a few more people before it ended up with Devlin.
Top Left: Devlin handing out numbers (Joan is in that photo - she's looking at Devlin's dad Danyl) Top Right: Jonnie making that face on purpose and Denise Bottom Left: Brandon seeing if anything else is in the box that held the Coveted Cast Iron Rabbit Bottom Right: Me and Robert with the Coveted Cast Iron Rabbit
Then Wednesday I met up with a very dear friend - Steve and I have known one another since our teens, and we have kept in touch since he moved to New Orleans thirty years or so and met his partner Warren, but we haven't seen one another in yikes, about 15 years? My only time visiting France was with him and other friends who were at college and I went along with them in the two weeks around NYE 1980. How times flies, doesn't it? We had SUCH a blast - lunch lasted three hours! Robert and I have got to go to NOLA to visit one of these days soon.
I'm wearing one of my ruffled cowls!
Pottery classes started this week. Oh I believe I figured out how to extend the firing times! WHOOT!!! I'm off to load a kiln now.
December already? How did that happen? The weather is so very odd - nearly 60 degrees and rainy. Not what you would think for the beginning of this month.
Tomorrow is my last class for awhile. I have mentioned that there are some issues with clay/glaze fitting. Lots of crazing and some pinholes, too. Spent a bunch of time over the Thanksgiving weekend researching and asking questions (also eating turkey, and watching sports - we were especially jazzed by the MLS/soccer conference finals which were, in our opinion, better than any of the Premier League games we watched)
Denise came by on Sunday and I was in the midst of a meltdown about all the glazing problems, but it was great to have her here, as she listened to me rant and rave and gave me comfort, and I felt a lot better after awhile. Robert makes me feel better, too, but it's nice to have other's sympathy! One good thing is that I haven't made and fired a ton of my own personal pieces- that would have shattered me (pun intended).
At class on Monday, I looked at some demos from the spring that I have sitting around the pottery room, and some of those had crazing, too. I had a discussion with the students about testing and living with your pieces (eating and drinking from them, washing them, etc) to make sure that the work will hold up, highlighting these problems we have been having. Thank goodness for this nearly year-long teaching gig I have had because we have been able to see what is happening over time.
Also, I called or emailed the glaze companies and asked a lot of questions and received some helpful suggestions - the first thing I'll try is to slow down the firings and see if that will help.
(Even on my simple pots, there are glaze issues...*deep calming breath* ... )
Not only did this outside glaze pit, but the inside is a white matte, and cutlery marks show....sigh
I will figure out these problems! I am determined to find a way to make my pieces work and look great. May take awhile, but I'll keep you posted on the results.
The Garden Tour was a success, even though it rained a lot and we got a slow start. (In fact our area has had a heck of a lot of rain - something like in June we had five inches more than usual and it's looking like July isn't far off!)
I think I mentioned that my boss at the nursery/garden center hosted this Garden Tour, and the money donated will go to help fund the community garden (which is a program of the non-profit where I also work).
Balloons and a hydrangea mark a garden tour destination - here, the community garden
I was stationed at the community garden yesterday - I took the first shift, selling tickets and handing out maps for the Tour. It was really really rainy the time I was there, so how very thoughtful and sweet that two other community gardeners popped by - one to spell me and the other drove me home so I could change clothes!
Me, smiling in the rain
The community garden - we are hoping to raise enough money for a deer fence, but in the meantime, individual gardeners are putting up their own deer fencing around raised beds
Denise and her husband, and two of their friends came to the Tour, too! It stopped raining after awhile, and I was able to meet with them and tour one garden with them, and then we all went to the Feve (Robert came along too) to have a bite to eat. While I was gone, other community gardeners took their turn selling tickets and handing out maps.
Denise and Jonnie looking at a some koi in a garden pond
Since I didn't have the chance to take photos of all the other gardens on the tour, here are some photos of my garden here at home:
So much rain, I need to feed the hanging baskets, and the succulents aren't too happy