Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Photo Essay


Way to go Gerry! Just a quick shout out to Gerry for a fantastic photo essay on the web today. If you look at online newspapers, you might have seen this. Gerry worked hard this summer on a special project with a local glass artist, Johnathan Davis and his efforts paid off. The package went out today and it looks like it got a tremendous response. He even made the AP Images blog today, so cool! Coincidentally, Jonathan was creating a sculpture for the NC Botanical Gardens sculpture exhibit, and he received an award for his creation. We went to see the exhibit today, strolling through through the gardens, looking at plants and sculptures, nice way to start my 54th year! When we got home, Wesley was here! She surprised me with a quick visit home, what an amazing family I have. Gifts you just can't buy!!!
Check out his photos here if ya wanna:

http://blog.apimages.com

Monday, September 22, 2014

In a perfect world


Budweiser, blue jeans, cowboy boots, the smell of hay, sitting in the backyard on a cool morning, driving through the country with the windows down and Waylon in the CD player, Gerry playing his guitar on the front porch, the sound of Wesley's car pulling in our gravel driveway, fried okra, tomato sandwiches, chickens clucking, the smell of tomato leaves, dark chocolate, popcorn, farmer asking me if I would like him to tote the 'maters to the car for me, another farmer asking me if I want some 'taters, watching five episodes of The Killing on Saturday afternoons with Gerry, rain, more rain, Gerry's mother saying "do you love me?", my mother saying, "don't I look pretty?", fields of green and wildflowers in the mountains, a picnic with Wes, a hike with Gerry, Bloody Marys with friends, beer with friends, lunch with friends, playing corn hole and pool and foozball with friends, saying hello to my skateboard, a small but productive garden, herbs growing- mint, basil, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, building a chicken coop, cleaning said chicken coop.......

These were the things of my summer, random things that come to mind as I type, my last two hours of my 53rd year of living. September 23, I will be 54......... summer gone, fall is here. 


I still want a red ford pickup with white lettering on the tailgate, like the one my daddy had. I used to sit on his lap behind the wheel when I was a little girl and he would let me drive up Hwy 501 between Myrtle Beach and Conway, SC. It was a two lane road that ran through a pine forest back then. Now it is a four lane road that runs through a factory outlet store forest. My dad always had a pickup. A truck is a useful thing, I wonder why I have never had one, since I pretty much grew up in one. He hauled furniture with it.... he upholstered furniture for interior designers and motels and local folks at night after his day job. He had a shop in an old tobacco barn on a farm in Conway that belonged to Miss Dunn. That's all I know. There were cows. He would come home from work, eat supper and then I would ride back over to Conway with him while he worked, late into the night. I went with him to pick up and deliver the work too. I used to hate having to carry those damn sleeper sofas. I weighed about 80 pounds and I was carrying these big mofo pieces of furniture. Sometimes we would show up at a  house where a classmate lived. I would be embarrassed. When I was a 13 year old brat, he drove me to school and I would make him drop me off a block away so no one would see me coming to school in a pick up truck, especially when he had the red one. Funny, now I would give anything to have that truck, sit beside him in it, I would be proud to be with him....... wish I knew then what I know now....... I hope he knows. Yesterday, I drove to Winston Salem to have lunch with Wesley. I have a 4 CD pack of Waylon Jennings music, played them all on my drive and it got me to missing my dad. He always had a tape in his 8 track tape player, even when he was passed out on the sofa at 3am. I would sneak in to the living room to take it out and it would wake him up. He would say, "put it back in hot shot". That's what he called me.
Hot shot.... ha:)

I don't know what got me started down this road, I was going to write about what a perfect world would be.....  Ahhhh....... birthdays, I bought a six pack of Bud to get me through another one.
I was raised in the South, what can I say......
xo

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The beginning.....




Can I just say....... I am beyond proud of my girl! Her professors are helping her apply for a Fulbright grant for her to continue documenting the monks of the Drepung monastery and travel to India next year. She asked the monastery for a reference letter and this came.... I cried......   Don't be surprised if you see a kickstarter here next year sometime:-) gotta get this girl reunited with our monks! Sorry, I am technologically challenged and couldn't make this better....  if you can't read it, basically its a letter from the head dude monk saying come on over and make your film, girl! We will help you any way we can, Whoop! This is her calling, if ever anyone had a calling, this is it!!








































Saturday, September 20, 2014

Abundance


God bless all the farmers out there! I got up early this morning and went to the Carrboro Farmers Market for some veggies. The air was crisp and cool, and apparently everyone slept in, because I got an easy parking spot and there were no lines at the stands. It pays to get up early. You get to experience the cool morning air and the quietness of the market. When I got there a couple of musicians had set up and were playing some really nice music, sort of Buena Vista Social Club.... congas and guitar, great way to start the day.

Our little garden space is in transition from summer to fall garden. Gerry absorbed so much information at the winter gardening workshop he took and we already have arugula, lettuces, white radishes, chard, kale and tatsoi coming up. We are so limited with our sun space, but Gerry worked hard to make it happen this year and we had a steady flow of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and even a tiny bit of okra. I grew a bunch of herbs and I have dried and ground some of them up and I'm using them in some soap balls.


Yesterday I made a bunch of these soap balls from trimmings. I had so much fun experimenting with ingredients. I threw in cinnamon, cardamon pods, poppy seed, thai basil, fennel seed, coriander seed, ground up black beans, nutmeg. Just grabbed things from the spice drawer and threw them in the chopper. My kitchen smelled amazing. The soap was already fragranced with lemon and rosemary and basil and the herbs and spice just added color, texture and aroma that was over the top. So fun!


I love the rustic look of these soap balls, soap rocks, what to call them. Dang, I struggle with naming things.....


This should be the week we get eggs from my girls. My birthday is this week so it would be lovely if they would gift me with their first eggs. They are in serious PMS mode, I'll tell ya that. Quite the little bitches this past couple of weeks!


The farmers market is just a feast for the senses. My senses have been on overload this week with fragrance and soap making anyway and the farm stands just added to it. A honey seller had some of his bees in his stall today. Work, work, work little bees! This honey making business is beyond understanding..... look at the perfect comb, how DO they DO that?!


This gentleman is one of my favorites. Every week he talks me into buying more than I intend to. If I pick up one pack of purple hull peas, he tells me how good they are and he offers me a dollar off if I buy two. Last week I just went ahead and picked up two because I knew what was coming, and what do you think? I ended up with THREE! He gives you this big ol' grin you can't resist, a pretty toothless grin I might add. Adorable.....


Last night I had one of my weekly insomnia nights and sometime around 3:30am I was thinking about my life and the waste of it right now. I'm doing next to nothing, inertia..... perhaps. I used to get on a plane every Monday and go somewhere, or get in a car and go somewhere. I did stuff. I went places. Now I do nothing. Its not that I'm unhappy, but I would still like to go places. I sure do lack motivation to do anything about it. Also lack funding. It was nice to travel and get paid for it.

Anyway, I was looking at this picture a moment ago, and thought about last night and my thinking about my lack of doing. Look at this dude. He is just there, tossing his roasting peppers about for his customers and he could not be more happy if he tried. So friendly and just enjoying the morning and the smell of those roasting peppers. So what if I'm not traveling all over the place anymore. Yes, I miss it, but I walk out in my backyard with a cup of fresh coffee in the morning, say hello to my chickens and check out the vegetables that are growing at my back door. I have good friends, an amazing family, and I don't really have a bunch of stress like I used to. I have abundance in my life....... its good.



We had good tomatoes this year, but they were for sandwiches and salads. I like to wait until late in the tomato season to buy a bunch of the ugly tomatoes in the boxes for canning. The prices are good and they don't have to really look good for canning. I found this one with a rather long nose at the bottom of the box. It just needs some eyeballs :)

I got 12 pints of tomatoes from a box this morning, so I canned some, ran out of jars, and froze the rest. The kitchen, once again smelled amazing. I'm gonna miss summer. It has been a rough one, but the fresh vegetables have been plentiful and we have eaten some good meals. Thinking now of cooler weather and the soups to come with these tomatoes.....

So that's my weekend, Gerry is shooting football at NC State, also working tomorrow. Wesley is at school but maybe coming home..... wishy washy child. I do have some exciting news to share about her but I'll save it for its very own post after I ask her if its ok. I like to ask.....

Have a great weekend
peace y'all

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Run before you walk

soap rocks: rosemary, lemon, peppermint, orange, poppy seed, flax seed, they look good enough to bite into!

Run before I walk....... I do this with everything new. Before I could pull up a one pound cylinder on the wheel, I was trying to center 10 pounds of clay. First cake I made from scratch was from Julia Child's French cooking book. Weaving- the same, sewing- the same, knitting- the same. Now soap making. I always move on to the most difficult way possible before I even master the basics. Then I learn this doesn't work, and I go back to the beginning, start all over. Then get it right. I never learn....

Success: top- lemon, basil, cedar with flaxseed,
 middle- rosemary, lemon and basil with sea clay and fennel seeds,  
bottom- peppermint, lemongrass and patchouli with rosemary powder. YUM! 

 I have been trying to make some soap. Miserable failures. Expensive experiments. Instead of being smart and making small test batches, I just jumped right in, thinking it was easy, made up a five pound recipe, and the scent didn't stick. I burned out the scent because I forgot about the flash point of essential oils. I also thought I would try being fancy and swirling some color around, really ugly. No idea what I was doing. It's not as easy as it looks, this soap making! I have four batches that were a complete waste of time and money. At least we will be clean. They work, they just look ugly.

Orange and grapefruit with thai basil infusion, lemon and lime zest

So, I slowed down, went back to the beginning, and got more basic. Baby steps. I made four batches of soap yesterday and they are wonderful. I love the scents, careful this time with the heat. Peppermint, basil, rosemary, grapefruit, lemon, orange, cedar. All citrus and herbal scents. I ground up some rosemary from my garden, added that. Infused some oil with thai basil, lovely. Scents from my garden. I used wonderful moisturizing and healing oils, hemp seed, shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil..... these are going to be so nice to use over the winter. A reminder of spring to come.


Here are some of the uglys. I tried to swirl some clay about, really a mess. Also, no fragrance. They will be fine for bathing, great oils, just not pretty to look at.


I am wanting to make soap dishes now. Clay is whispering ever so slightly in the back of my head. Come play with me..... make something.... I have been wanting to make something using the stains on this test tile for awhile now, and I think soap dishes will be just the thing. Just an oxide wash, no futzing around with glazes, which hate me, and I hate them back!


Maybe some raku meditation bowls for the soap rocks.  I love this one with the little thai basil flowers pressed in. Not practical, they will fall out first washing, but they are pretty to look at for a moment....

A blogger friend is asking for soap and dishes. Maybe..... just got to get it all worked out first. Not ready for prime time just yet. I really hesitate to jump into the soap making/selling business. There are more soap makers than there are potters, if that is even possible. But what about a soap/clay combo? I have been trying to find a way to set myself apart in the market if I decide to sell soap. And clearly if I continue to like making it, there has got to be some place for it all to go!  I think I would just keep it simple, maybe a couple of fragrances, maybe just a garden soap and a couple of different dishes. Still a ways off, but interesting to think about.  Gotta turn around and walk before I run though, haha!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Maybe you can live on the moon.....

 Last week I got a fortune cookie and the paper inside said, "Maybe you can live on the moon in the next century."

I tell you, the way this planet is going, we are going to have to find somewhere to live, we are rapidly depleting all chances of living here on Earth. Some days I feel utterly hopeless about what we are doing to this planet. I go to the recycling center and marvel at the trash we all bring to dump, and that is just from the ones of us who bother to recycle. I can't get my head around where all the unused crap in our lives is going to end up in the next century.

I can't get my head round this cell phone generation that never looks up. I despise sitting somewhere with cell phone people. I can't get my head around the drug companies pushing their drugs, the fracking, the terrorists beheading innocent people, but then reading that this could be a government staging, the chemtrails in our skies, the poison being put in the food we eat...... I could write pages of things we are doing to really ruin this precious place we all have to live. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but let's DO SOMETHING!!! WHAT?!?!?!

Remember my ranting a while back about the smart meter and the health issues we were all having? I fought the good fight and got it removed. All of our symptoms went away. Now, they have built a cell phone tower less than a 1/4 mile from my house. My headaches have returned, ringing in our ears, weird shifting of sound in our ears, Gerry is having spells of nausea, Wesley came home yesterday, said she had trouble sleeping last night and felt nauseous. I'm not sleeping again. These were all the things we were experiencing last time RF waves were pouring into our house, now they seem to be back with the start up of this tower..... ugh. Here we go again......

But then I go out and pick up my chickens and watch their silly minds try to work, or I go to the mountains and breath that air, and I hope that there will be a way to save us from ourselves.... please.... can someone do that?!



 Yesterday I made cheese out at Chapel Hill Creamery. A local shop, The Fifth Season, was hosting a cheese making workshop and I signed up for it. Today there is a winter gardening workshop and I signed Gerry up for that one. Somehow we are going to get off the grid and fend for ourselves. No one else out there is looking out for us, that's for sure!

The Chapel Hill Creamery is a beautiful little farm, with Jersey cows, happily eating and being well taken care of. Their cheese is soooo amazing, I buy some most Saturdays at the Farmers Market.

So, we made cheese. It was hot, there were a lot of people, it wasn't quite what I expected, I thought there would be more hands on making. We mostly watched and listened. That was ok though. It was interesting. Portia was great and fun to get to know.

I think I threw up a little in my mouth at the smell of the milk curdling in the citric acid. I'm not sure I'm cut out for the cheese making business, I might give it a try, but I do know I will not be  cheese maker and I totally respect those that do make cheese. It is a process of patience and understanding of chemistry. There is probably math involved too. I really wish I had not daydreamed so much in school.....
In the end, I brought home some ricotta that is probably the best I have ever tasted. But the best part of the whole thing:


Somehow they managed to have a cow give birth right in the middle of the workshop. There we were, stirring the curds, waiting, waiting, and we hear a loud mooooooooo come from the cow in the pen. We had been warned that the birth was eminent. We dropped what we were doing and got to the pen just in time to see the baby roll onto the ground.......... the cutest little black angus cow you would ever hope to see! Poor mama, she looked pretty ragged, any of us that have given birth could totally empathize with how that cow was feeling at that moment.




Everyone went back in the hot room to finish up the cheese, me and my A.D.D. slipped out for one more look, just as baby calf struggled to her feet.  See mama's nose there? She gave me a warning snort to not get too close. Good mama, protect your young.


Now, here is a little slice of southern redneck for you. Gerry and I are looking for land out in the county somewhere. We want a farm, we want animals, we want space and seclusion. So I found an adorable log cabin on realtor.com.  Price was great, it was on a river, 10 acres, there was a greenhouse.... perfect.
Only one small problem. Them that owned it (we are calling them Bubba)  divided the land they owned   and what do you reckon? Some dumbass has built this storage building right up next to the property we were looking at and they are living in this thing!  See where the grass is mowed? Yep, that is the property line. Unbelievable. You have this beautiful 10 acre farm and your neighbor builds an 8X10 storage building, puts it up on some blocks, as they love to do here in the south (so you can take it with you when you move, I guess? or just saving money not having to pour a foundation, or better yet, don't have to get a permit to build).  Even better, they paint the front blue..... why? I was standing on what would be my back porch when I shot this photo. Can't you just see yourself, sipping a nice cool iced tea after picking veggies from your garden and waving over to Bubba Junior sittin' on his steps? and what is up with that yucca plant?

So, I meet the realtor, she is adorable, I love her. We are all like WTF?!?! about this building, know this is not going to be the house I am going to buy, but we go in for a look, just for grins. Open the door, the smell of tobacco wafts out and slams us. The house is dirty, tacky, not kept up, not prepared for potential buyers....... and all I can think is, this is what is wrong with this country. We have embraced mediocrity as an acceptable way of life. We are the Walmart nation. There are not enough of us waking up and going, STOP THIS MADNESS, give us back our better way of life. You can still be poor and clean your damn house up!

Maybe the answer really is to go live on the moon..... it would be so quiet.

PS: thanks once again to all of you for the comments on my last post. I like to reply to each comment individually but sometimes it gets away from me. I do appreciate the readers and the comments, as we all do that blog. It was also great to hear from some lurkers, that's a rare treat!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Gifts


My blog has been a pitiful thing this past summer. I mean, just how many pictures can you post of nursing home rooms and doctor's offices before everyone runs screaming!  I realize that if you don't do anything interesting with your life, there isn't much to blog about.

I'm hoping to change all of that and start doing interesting things again so you have something to come here and read about. I used to read so many blogs about pottery that inspired me, taught me, encouraged me. Most of them have gone over to facebook, sadly, and I have gone in search of other interesting things to read about. Some have posted that people aren't blogging like they used to, but that isn't exactly true. Many are blogging, not a lot of potters. But there are great garden blogs, food blogs, craft blogs, soap blogs, political blogs, environmental blogs. I find lots of great reading out there, just go looking! Hopefully I can keep this blog interesting, not only for you but for me as well. It's evolving, as we all do......

The bowl above was gifted to me yesterday by my great friend and mentor, Barbara McKenzie. We had lunch together in Chapel Hill and she brought this to me. Yellow Salt over Shino. It's a beauty. I love the silkiness of yellow salt glaze. Barbara is a glaze master. Love this bowl!


I am trying to catch up with all of my friends, I have not been getting around to see them this summer, since all of the family issues. My friend Eve just got back from the monastery in India and look who she saw! Our monk group, just look at our boys! One of the greatest gifts I have ever received was to host these monks earlier this year. I still use the gifts they gave me. Compassion, understanding, meditation, quietness, enjoying the preparation of good food with family, so many other things they taught me..... all priceless gifts to have.

I have been going to the Shambahla Center for meditation. Over Labor Day weekend, Wesley and Lazarus came home and we went together. What a joy to go to a meditation center with your child. I am really enjoying this practice. Yoga every day this week and trying to continue to eat well. Got to take care of this aging body. I have seen what happens if you don't. It ain't pretty!


Eve brought me a teakwood rice paddle back from her trip along with a khata and a book from the monastery. I collect wooden spoons, so I am excited to have this one from a place I want to visit one of these days.


Our tiny garden continues to give us gifts of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and okra, as well as basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley and mint. I inherited my grandmothers gift of being able to stick a leaf in some dirt and clone a plant. I have been cloning basil and houseplants. I have a Christmas cactus that belonged to her, I have had it for about 30 years, rescued from my mom, who cannot grow a living thing. I have started trying to clone it, we shall see. The only thing I haven't been successful with growing, like she was, is african violets. She grew the most beautiful ones, but I can't keep them alive. It's a challenge I might try again.....

Gerry also has a green thumb and has mostly worked the vegetables this year. We only used neem oil for pests and were quite successful, even though we are sun challenged here. If we had a real piece of land we would have one kick ass garden! Gerry would make a really great farmer.

We are still waiting on our little gifts from the chickens. This is the month! They should start laying anytime now. They are walking around moaning and fussing. Either horney or feeling like something is stuck in their ass. I can't tell which, but I am ready for them to start earning their keep and bring on those eggs!


After lunch with my pals Laura and Barbara yesterday, Laura and I went over to a new tea house in town, Oasis. My other pal Susan told me about it so we checked it out. Very adorable place, great tea, great atmosphere. We snuggled up in comfy leather furniture and chatted awhile.



Now.... here is the most important gift of all!!!! My beautiful child..... happy.... with her friend, Lazarus. I adore these two, they are like peas in a pod. Just alike, and very good together. Its so wonderful to see my child happy and caring about someone.

I am very blessed and thankful each day for the many gifts I receive. I need to remember to give those gifts as often as I receive them. Reap what you sow, get what you give, Karma and all that.
I read on a blog the other day about filling your days with friends and people you care about and how doing for others can bring more happiness than doing for yourself. It's so true isn't it? When I spend time with my family and my friends, my life seems richer. You can see that from my blog. When I am hibernating or having to be places I don't want to be, my blog is stagnant and pathetic, but when I share time with friends, Gerry and Wesley, there are so many things to write about. I suppose my blog could sort of be a measure of how things are going. Good days=good blogs. Bad days= crazy blog or none at all.......

Anyway...... find some things to write about out there, you guys. You inspire me, make me laugh, make me cry and I miss many of the friendships that have grown here on my blog.

Buck up little campers!