Thursday, July 28, 2011

Finished Pieces

Here's a few of the finished pieces from that kiln load in the last post. First, some dichroic glass goodies:

And, a couple with dangly beads:

And some of my signature "Toggle/Focal" pieces:

It will be awhile before I can get these listed in my Etsy Shop and the "Toggle/Focal" ones are destined for the Little Art Gallery in Raleigh. Apparently, Raleigh ladies love this design. In the meantime if you see another one above that peaks your interest just contact me and we'll make a deal!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Whining's Over, Let's Move On

I've been working on filling up this kiln shelf for almost a month. For some reason I like to have a full shelf before I fire the work, and maybe I'm being over efficient, but that's just how I roll.  And, it's so satisfying to not have any leftover clay in an opened package. It just all worked out perfect this time. Kind of like having just enough chips to finish the jar of salsa, you know? The firing is done now and it's time to tumble, patina, polish, assemble, price, inventory and photograph. All that should keep me busy for the next week or so. I haven't felt like working in my studio for a long time, so this feels kind of new to me. It's nice to feel productive again. It took me a month to fill the shelf because I still can't work for long periods at a  time.

I only have two packages of silver clay left. If my class that starts in September gets enough students enrolled to make I'll have to order more then and I'll get extra for myself. In the meantime I'll just keep my eye on spot prices and hope the government gets its act together before the metal speculators put me out of business. I was freaked out two years ago about $16 silver prices. I never imagined it would ever get over $40 like it was yesterday. Unfortunately, the price of my jewelry has to increase, too.

I've still got a lot of stash in my Etsy Shop. Pieces and parts and things I've made that I'll never use. Go see if there's something that will work in one of your designs. I've listed them for what I paid for the silver, so there are some incredible bargains.

Lola's showing off her jewelry today. See the gold cuff bracelet on her arm?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Can I Have a Minute to Whine, Please?

Sorry I've been a little quiet lately, but guess what? Hives. I'm so sick of them I could just scream. Again? No, Still.  Don't think I haven't been screaming almost every day. Good thing I live alone, but Lola is a little freaked out. I have so many better things to do than deal with this, and when I'm itchy that's all I can think about. And remember, I've had these things since FEBRUARY!

The last time I updated you about this frustrating condition was a little over a month ago, after a visit the Emergency Room. After that I was on steroids for the third time and also for the third time when they wore off the hives came back. Since then they've seemed to get a little worse each day. My Doctor just shakes her head - she doesn't have a clue what else to do. So, I went to see a Homeopath and she gave me two remedies that made me way worse, so I went back to see her again yesterday. Her husband, who is a Naturopath also tried to help this time - they said go off those two remedies and try a third one. This morning I thought I was better, but at about 4:00 this afternoon, this started on the inside of my left arm:

And thirty minutes later:

Now it's 7:45 and I also have a patch in my right armpit, one under my chin and one on the inside of my left thigh. And I feel a little sick. Time to take more antihistamines so my face and throat doesn't swell up again.

Later this week I'm seeing a Hypno-Therapist to see if there's an emotional reason for this that we can identify. This was recommended by my Chiropractor and Acupuncturist both. After that I suppose I should find a Witch to make me a potion and make an appointment with an Exorcist. Those are the last things I can think of to try.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Miscellaneous Stuff

  • I'm continuing to clean out the studio and list things at bargain prices in my Etsy Shop. I have so many things there now that I realize I should have opened a separate shop for this stuff. Oh well. If they don't sell by time to renew the listing I'll take them down. It will be obvious by then that no one wants them. I can always scrap the silver.
  • I had to do an emergency house cleaning yesterday morning. I had asked a friend of mine to give me an estimate on pressure washing my house and sealing all the wood and his wife called to say they were coming over so he could look at things. If it was just an ordinary contractor I wouldn't even let him inside the house. But these are friends and I couldn't let them see how I normally live! That's OK - my sister is coming to visit and I would have had to do it eventually anyway. It's not that I live in squalor or anything, but housecleaning is not at the top of my list of things to do. It's usually just me around here, so who cares?
  • I've actually spent a little time in my studio over the past week. (Gasp!) I've had a couple of ideas I want to try out and sales in the co-op galleries have finally started to pick up for the season. I realized that I have a "mini show" next month, then rather large ones in September and October. Better crack that whip and get back to work. 
  • My garden is getting ready to burst into all it's beautiful awesomeness. Too bad I haven't felt like keeping up with it this spring because the weeds are pretty impressive, too. There's so much that needs to be dug and divided and I just don't have the energy for it. We've had a rain storm nearly every day for the past month, so everything is lush and green and gorgeous. THIS is why I endure the harsh winters here!
  • My hives are still around for no reason. They get better, then they get worse. Today they're pretty bad and I feel a little sick. It may be time to check out a local homeopathic practitioner. It's about the only thing I haven't tried yet.
  • It seems like I've had to deal with a lot of idiots giving me the run around lately. It makes me feel like an old curmudgeon. I don't have a lot of patience, especially because this is an issue that's been hanging around for several years. Every time I think it's resolved it rears its ugly head again. So frustrating.
Well, that's about all the news from the lane. I hear thunder in the distance so I'd better get this posted and unplug the computer. What have you been up to?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Farmer Nan

Did I ever tell you that I used to be an amateur farmer? I spent every summer of my childhood with my grandparents on their farm and that was no vacation from school! We had to work, but Grandma and Grandpa managed to make the work a lot of fun and we learned a lot, too. We learned how to grow vegetables and flowers, how to control pests, we became expert weed pullers and harvesters. I remember one summer when we were planting a corn patch. Grandpa went along the row first and dug a small hole. I came behind him and put four corn seeds in the hole. My sister followed and put two pumpkin seeds in and Grandma covered the hole and watered it. We were complaining how long it was taking and Grandpa said "See that last hole over in the corner? Your lunch is in that hole." That meant that we couldn't break for lunch until we were finished and that made us go much, much faster. I think Grandpa helped put seeds in so we could catch up. Then we spent the end of the summers canning and freezing what was left after they sold some to make a living. Grandma also grew about a half acre of flowers that she sold to local florists.

When my ex-husband and I moved here to the mountains in 1991 we had a large garden every summer. I froze or canned all we grew, and in a house with no air conditioning it was a hot, sweaty job. I did most of it by myself, with some help from Fred when he wasn't traveling. After we divorced and I moved to this house I decided that a large vegetable patch was too much for one person so I just have a small raised bed that I put a few things in so I can have fresh veggies when I want them. Otherwise, there's a produce stand near the Post Office I can go to, or our county Farmer's Market on Saturdays is incredible. I believed that my food preservation days were over.

OK, so I have this friend, Nan. We've known each other for around forty years, so we have a lot of history and have shared some incredible adventures. You know? I'm sure you have a friend or two like that. We can almost finish each other's sentences. She lives in the eastern part of the state in a little community called White Level. Before she met and married Chris she was sort of a "city girl". Then they gutted and remodeled the house that was his mother's and they moved in and now she lives in the middle of nowhere.

They planted a large garden this year. In a recent phone conversation Nan was a little overwhelmed with all that was coming out of the garden and she didn't know how to freeze or can anything. She had a pressure cooker but was afraid to use it because she heard all the old horror stories about them blowing up and, at least, destroying a kitchen or, at worst, killing someone. She didn't realize that a lot of safety precautions have been built in to the newer models. Plus her little Virgo self was petrified of botulism. I explained on the phone how easy it was to freeze food, but she was still apprehensive. So, being the WONDERFUL friend that I am, I volunteered to go down there and show her how.

The big, scary pressure cooker

Before I got there she consulted with some neighbors and ventured out on her own and froze some yellow squash that couldn't wait for my visit. I think what she really wanted was a hands-on demonstration on how to use that scary pressure cooker.

I arrived on Friday afternoon and gifted her with my well-worn copy of "Stocking Up", the bible on how to preserve food in all kinds of ways. On Saturday morning we started canning tomatoes. First you sterlize the jars with boiling water, then blanch the tomatoes (again in boiling water), skin and core them, then pack them in the jars. Add sterlized lids and put the jars in the pressure cooker and cook according to directions. Easy peasy. We did twelve pints of tomatoes.



She also has these beautiful purple hull peas and figs coming in, but we didn't get around to doing anything with them.

Except eating the figs.. Nan made an appeizer with them on Friday night - she cut them in half, put a small dab of goat cheese in the center and added a little piece of proscutto ham on top and put them under the broiler until hot. Yum! Their fig bush wraps around two sides of their house so it wasn't like I was depriving them of any and I was able to leave with a large bag full. I stopped at my sister's house on the way home and traded several of them for some chicken parmesan that my BIL made. Good trade!

It was a lovely little trip and by leaving on Friday and returning on Sunday I missed most of the holiday traffic on the roads. I'm glad to be home. I'll be spending the next couple of days listing more of the things I found for the GREAT STUDIO CLEAN OUT AND STASH PURGE.  I still have lots of goodies that you might be interested in.