Monday, April 28, 2014

What a great weekend!

This past weekend turned out to be a great one. We had a fantastic day with Wesley, celebrating her 21st birthday. The weather sucked, I knew it would and made plans for ignoring it. The director I am working with on Gem of the Ocean signs off his emails with the phrase adapt and overcome. That's pretty much what we did on Friday. Gerry took the day off, I packed up a really nice picnic from the farmers market and we picked up Wesley at her house before noon. We decided to drive up to Pilot Mountain because we knew there was a good shelter with tables there and its one of our favorite places to go when we visit Wes at school. By the time we got there, it was socked in with fog, the temperature had dropped from 75 to 58 degrees f, and a light rain was falling. We were basically in a cloud. It was really kind of nice, we were prepared.

We ate, gave her presents, including a banjo, the only thing she had really asked for, and took lots of photos, like good parents do on their kid's birthday. We hung around for awhile and then headed back to Winston Salem. My initial plan was to have a picnic at Reynolda in the gardens. But best laid plans and all that..... as it turns out, Reynolda doesn't allow picnics in their garden and the rain came anyway. We did go to Reynolda, the sun came out just long enough for us to walk around and enjoy the place. We spent some time walking around and then the clouds came back, it rained hard. We took Wes out to her favorite mexican place so she could legally order a margarita and show her ID. Her request. Now, I have been one of those parents that has not approved of parents that take their kids out for alcohol and watch as they get drunk on their 21st birthday. I know a few that have done this, I scoffed. But Wesley wanted to go out to eat with us and get a margarita, she did it responsibly and so we toasted her and had a nice dinner with just a tiny buzz from the tequila. Then later, she went out with friends for the evening. Beats my style when I was 21.... puking up tequila in a trash can!

Gerry and I drove back through Greensboro to visit Corky, then stopped by Country Park, where we used to take Wesley when she was a little girl. Lord, the hours we spent in that park, it hasn't changed a bit. Still a beautiful park for the community.

I am truly blessed to have this child. She wanted to be with us on her birthday, she drinks responsibly, she is smart and talented and basically a really kind person. I love this girl! Now, she is all grown up..... sigh.

Hop you enjoy the video, yep that's her singing, nice isn't it?!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Mother Ship

The Mother Ship landed in Liberty NC this weekend, and yes I was there! The first time I attended The Liberty Antiques Festival, I was past my due date with Wesley and I had to sit down at the end of every row and recover from the pain in my lower abdomen. (how is that for desperation to shop for junk!)
That was 21 years ago. Last year, she came along with me for the first time. This year she is shooting a film, and I was shopping for props, so I went alone. And I blissfully walked every aisle until I thought I might be having a heat stroke. Acres of antiques....... heaven. Here are just a few shots for you to make you feel like you were right there with me.

The dumbest comment award went to the couple standing next to me when I shot this photo.

"Them ain't antiques, they're just potteries."  There seemed to be a lot of ugly face jugs this year. I don't remember this many last year. Last year was the year of the wooden bucket.

This was the lunch menu offered. I passed so that I wouldn't be up all night throwing up or doing the thing at the other end:)  flounder sandwich sounded tasty though, or maybe those pinto beans and cornbread.... this menu would have pissed my daughter off so bad. My poor little lifelong vegetarian.

 Pretty wooden bucket. I love some wooden buckets, bought one last year for a play. We have used it for every show since. Lots of floor scrubbing in the plays I do

 Yes, it's the south, you are gonna have the obligatory rebel flags. I like red, white and blue though, so I shot this. I actually sort of like the design of the confederate flag, damn all those that made it such a nasty symbol.
 I swear, you would not believe some of the conversations I overheard. It's amazing, when people are outside, they really use their outside voices and you can hear every racist comment that comes out of their cotton picking mouths. I heard conversations about KKK memorabilia that "was hid under that table yonder", conversations about what some of the men folk "like to sell to the blacks", a debate over whether they ought to send all them mexicans back where they came from and why do they even let convicts out of prison, and where was meemaw anyway, somebody go find her before her grandchild comes unglued!

I swany, ya'll, there are some dumbshit people in the south!

Oh yeah, there were too wooden buckets, I like them

This jar was probably the most beautiful thing I saw all day. I didn't look at the price, knew it would never be mine, and I would be tempted to pull out that credit card Wells Fargo sent me with a $17,000 limit, (even though I told them I was unemployed!) and use it, if it were even in a vague realm of possibility. Keep walking..... there was nothing in this booth I could afford. Swoon.

Chicken feeders are now decorative objects d'art when you hang them with dried herbs, who knew?
Everyone was buying one. The miracles of merchandising!

This was a beautifully merchandised booth. This woman also loved her treasures very much and had them priced so that no one would buy them and take them away from her.... just in case....

Look potters! Get your dang shards and put them in a jar!!!! Then you can sell them as a decorative accessory!! This jar of broken shards was $20 I think. Gonna get me some jars, I got plenty of shards!

Pretty, pretty pottery, the glazes were 100 times better in person. That Libby Carrots can was a puzzle though. One of these things is not like the other, haha!

So after I heard the comments mentioned above, and also because I am working on two plays right now about racism and slavery and I have two African American directors, I started noticing how very "white" this show was. There were maybe three African American vendors, and I kid you not I counted only two African American women shopping and I saw one Asian man with his little girl. I live in Chapel Hill where I don't even notice the ethnicity of people, because it is so mixed up with so many countries of origin. But here on this farm, listening to southern white people talkin' and eatin' their barbeque, I was astounded at what a bubble I really live in. I forget this is still the way much of the South is. I love my southern heritage, and I have some really redneck cousins. I can cuss and spit with the best of them, but I do not tolerate racism and the white good old boys (and their women) around here. I basically don't tolerate ignorance, which is all that it is when you get right down to it. Can't we all just get along and celebrate our differences?!?!

The last comment of the day just made me smile:

"You reckon would Deddy like it?"
"He might would".

God bless us all, vive la difference! God Bless Antiques too!
I'll tell ya'll about our day with Wesley later, it was fun :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mrs. Duke's Pound Cake

Tomorrow is Wesley's 21st birthday and we are going to Winston to have lunch with her. I have a picnic planned, but Mother Nature has a thunder storm planned, so we will see who wins. We'll figure something out, it seems like it has rained on Wesley's birthday more years than it has been sunny, we adjust.....

I baked her a cake..... not just any cake..... I baked, for the first time, Mrs. Duke's Pound Cake.

I have had this recipe for years but was too intimidated to bake it. Let me explain:
Evelyn Dukes was my mothers best friend and lived behind us in Myrtle Beach. She was a hard core, born in Maine, transplanted to the south,  church going woman. Her accent was a melding of Maine and Monks Corner South Carolina, and I loved to hear her talk. Her daughter was a babysitter for me when I was young, then I was a babysitter for her kids years later.

Every year for my birthday, Mrs. Dukes baked me a pound cake. Some years it was plain, some years it was lemon, some years there was an icing and this magical square that covered up the bundt pan hole.
I don't know why, but for some odd reason it was years and years before I ever figured all that out about the hole.... I just remembered this square that I would pull out of the cake and there would be a hole..... its complicated:)  don't you all have weird childhood memories that are distorted and odd?

Anyway, I loved this cake, it was the highlight of my birthday most years. My mom said no one could ever make one like it. So I never tried. Well, guess what, yes they can! I did today!  The other day, I looked at the recipe, and wondered what could be so complicated about it. So I gave it a try.

I believe the trick is, you have to make this cake with love. I got eggs yesterday from the farmer's market, the pretty ones that have shades of blue and cream and brown.

 I got whole milk, and it has to be Blue Bonnet margarine, which I didn't even know still existed. Sifted the flour in my grandmother's old sifter, used old yellow ware bowls, and handmade Whynot Pottery bowls and put on my grandmother's apron. And off I went. This is not in the Weight Watchers program, trust me. But, I really don't care! It's worth it.

I have made the same cake for Wesley for all the years of her birthday, the only cake she will ever eat. Hershey's Chocolate Bar cake. Do you know this cake? It's decadent and delicious, but I just wasn't into making that cake again. So pound cake it is, and I made a lemon glaze icing with buttermilk. I also added a little lemon and zest to the cake itself. It is divine!

Shopped the farmers market yesterday for picnic food. I picked up some camembert cheese from the Chapel Hill Creamery, beautiful purple radishes, some bread from Chicken Bridge Bakery and I made some strawberry preserves from the berries one farmer had to go with the bread. Got Wesley a cute little house plant for her room, memento from the Reynolda greenhouse visit. I would love for the weather to cooperate, but I have a feeling we might be seeking indoor shelter somewhere for our picnic.
Oh well....... we will be together, that's the most important thing! But seriously, do I really have a 21 year old child?!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pat your head, rub your tummy

I like the way this bowl looks at this stage. It's burnished and waiting on a coat or two of terra sig. It took me years to learn to turn a foot on a bowl, I cut through nearly every bowl I made. You would think I would hate making bowls, as hard as it was for me to learn. The turning point for me was the day someone suggested I throw in the opposite direction since I was left handed. DUH! Why was I never told about this? Why does the world base everything on the right handed person?! As soon as I switched my wheel in the opposite direction, I could throw like a mofo.

Speaking of mofo (haha) I heard that word used quite a bit this evening. We are in rehearsal for Gem of the Ocean, quite the intense play, and it got rather heated tonight, lots of drama amongst us, keeps things interesting I think. Brilliant cast, crew, all good things, the play is fantastic.

I am multi-tasking, to say the least. Going in all sorts of different directions. I have bowls on my mind and want to make more. Today I went and picked up a load of sawdust from a fellow artist/woodworker for more naked raku. He builds beautiful crafts from old barns that are torn down, so I will be using a bit of history to fire my bowls, I like the idea of that. Then I stopped and picked up a corncob pipe and some cigars from a local tobacco shop and looked for an enamel coffee pot and a bunch of other props I need. Found some large buckets for our garden for 10 cents a piece at the Habitat store. Then I  picked up more soil for some houseplants, did I mention I have a renewed interest in houseplants? I used to grow them all over my room when I was in high school. I had a schefflera that lived with me from college until Wesley was in sixth grade. About 25 years?! Since we visited the greenhouse at Reynolda I have been obsessing about them. The air inside the greenhouse felt like breathing pure oxygen, I want pure oxygen in my house!

Oh and Gerry mentioned that my blog post about his mother was mean towards my mom, so let me re-phrase. Yes his mom was like a mother to me, not saying more of a mother than my mother in a mean way, just she did things differently, things my mom didn't do, and I appreciated the things she did for me. I meant no harm, but obviously it appeared that way, so does that clear things up???

I've been digging through warehouses looking for early 1900's period pieces. I need an old cook stove, kitchen hutch, sofa, chair, table, blah blah..... think I found it all at Playmakers, what treasures they have!
This is my wheelhouse, where my soul is fed. Amongst the tired and old and dirty antiques. Wonder what that says about me in a psycho analytical kind of way?

I'm pretty jacked up on caffeine right now, no telling when or even if I will sleep tonight. But I will say goodnight to you and go find something else to do. Maybe play some skyrim!
Gerry left me down here alone and went to bed, because as annoying as it is, he falls asleep as soon as his head is on the pillow..... grrrrr. What I wouldn't give.......

Isn't that the coolest chair?!


I finally got around to making momos. We had a quiet Easter here, Wesley was shooting a film for school, we did family day on Saturday and then just stayed home and got some gardening done on Sunday. The weather was beautiful and we had a nice day at home doing much of nothing.

There are many resources for making momos online and they are really simple. I used this page for a guide, but mostly made it up as I went along.
The mixture above is a sauce recipe I found at the same website, called sepen. It is a Tibetan hot sauce, but I swear it is spawned from the devil! I have never had a sauce this hot, go easy..... next time I will cut way way back on the chiles so I can eat more than a molecule of it.

Having a clay/handbuilding background really comes in handy when you are working with dough. Good hand dexterity is important for making these little pouches. I do think next time I will just make the half moon shape and be done with it though, much easier.  I changed the filling a bit to fit what I had available in the frig. I used green onion, bok choy, mushrooms, cabbage, celery and cilantro, but there are endless ingredients you could use.
It's pretty much a dim sum dumpling, but I like saying momo better than dim sum :)

This week my little girl will turn 21 and she is growing into that age quite nicely. Looking forward to celebrating her birthday on Friday! Hope you all have a great Spring week!!!

PS: can't get any typepad blogs to load this morning, wtf?
also I tried leaving comments on several blogs yesterday and they wouldn't post, so if I am not commenting on your blog, I might have tried..... ugh, technology!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


My mother in law is in the early stages of dementia. She is one of the most remarkable people I have ever known and has been more like a mom to me than my own mom. It is really difficult to watch her slowly slip away, living in a world in her mind that none of us really understand. She was the strong one in the family, the glue,the preacher's wife, the grandmother. She was the one that never forgot a birthday card, or a special day, or a grand child's achievement. She made every one of us Christmas stockings, remembering something special that each one of us liked. And every Easter, we all got little Easter baskets that she made for us. She has taught me how to be a better mother, I first learned to cook from her, I learned how to understand her son that I married, and hopefully, one day I will be a grandmother just like the grandmother she has been to my child. 
We spent the day with Gerry's family today. As we were looking at old family slides, although she joined in the laughter and the fun, I know there were times she was looking at photos of her mother and her children and wondering who they were. This growing older business is not for the faint of heart.
May all of you share some joy this Easter holiday with those you love,
Peace ya'll

Friday, April 18, 2014

Follow your bliss

First of all, thanks to all of you for your encouraging cheers for my bowls, and thanks for the emails enquiring about purchasing one. This one went to the CORA food bank auction in Pittsboro and the other two are gone, but I will make more. Seems I might need to fill my etsy shop with some bowls.
The weather has turned cold again, so I'm just waiting on the warm days to return next week so I can get in my studio.

I have enjoyed this past week of finishing up the bowls I made and thinking about making more. It's been a very meditative and informative exercise and has given me time for thought and contemplation about my work. The barns were really starting to stress me out, and I have needed a break from them. The bowl making has been a very blissful change of direction.

Yesterday I went to Winston Salem to visit Wesley for the day. More bliss, a day with my girl!
We are beginning the process of moving her back home for the summer, I brought home winter clothes and some of her many many books. We had a lovely day together at Reynolda Village. Check out the link for more information. If you haven't been there, it is definitely worth a day trip to visit the house, gallery and gardens. The gardens weren't quite in bloom yet, since most of it is made up of rose bushes, but I imagine when those roses come in, it will be spectacular.

The greenhouse was open though, and as we walked in we were slammed with the intoxicating aroma of orchids, gardenia, and green growing plants. There is an amazing variety of plants in this greenhouse and we wondered if some of them dated back to the days when the Reynolds family lived there. Probably so, they seemed ancient and other worldly. Now I dream of a greenhouse and growing exotic houseplants!

We had lunch at one of the cafes on the grounds, The Silo. Delicious lunch, I had a sandwich of green apple, fig chutney and brie on grain bread, OMG! We celebrated Wesley's fellowship award, had a great lunch and walked around the gardens, spent some time packing her stuff, then went to eat again. I feel so very very lucky to have a child that wants to spend time with me, we had a wonderful day together. I am very blessed!

Today, I have to go pick up some props, Easter weekend with family, so I am hoping for great weather next week and more bowl making!

Happy Easter, ya'll

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

She's a Fellow

Ya'll know I love this child, right? So bear with me, here comes some mom bragging! I also love this photo, from a trip we took to Topsail Island a few years ago with my art pals. What a great time we had. I love that smile on her face. That smile has been a fleeting thing these past three years!

This girl has had a long three years in film school. First year was adjusting to dorm life with a room mate and being home sick and all that comes with your first year of college. Truth be known, it was pretty rough for her dad and me too! Second year, she had a single dorm room, she was lonely, there were some crazy people showing up in her life and the teachers were tough. They were going with the weed out the weaklings program, and Wesley had to fight hard to survive in a very male dominated arena. She almost quit, applied for another school, didn't get in. The Universe knew where she belonged.

This year has probably been the hardest of all though. She lives in a house with two boys, and I do mean BOYS. That has been hard. She has had to learn to prepare her own meals, shop for groceries, manage house issues and deal with a really hard school program. School has been the hardest yet, it seems to me that she is writing a screenplay 24/7 and her professors picked her out to apply for everything that came up. She applied for a Sundance workshop, she was turned down, applied for a rather large scholarship, turned down, pitched her monk film last week at River Run Film Festival, didn't win. She made the first cut for teams competing for the Kenan Cirque de Soule program, but her team didn't make the final cut. A big year of rejections, but with the rejections came other opportunities and lessons learned and growth, so all was not wasted.

BUT! TODAY! She got a call. The faculty encouraged her to apply for the Kenan Fellowship, and she GOT IT!!!!

I am sooooo proud, can you tell?! So my baby girl will be going to Boston this summer to work with WGBH Boston public television and document the Cirkus program she didn't make the cut for.  She has lived in a world of journalism all her life, and if it made sense she would probably try for a job at a newspaper, but alas, the newspaper business is all but dead. Her dad has strongly advised against that path, knowing all to well where it is leading. He encourages her to look to the future of journalism whatever that may be, and I believe documentary journalism could very well be in her future. The skills she is getting at UNCSA are amazing and will serve her well whatever path she chooses. Money well spent on a college education, I would say!

CONGRATS WESLEY, We love you!!!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Naked Raku..... just jump right in

ME: "I have no idea what I'm doing...."
Gerry: "Aren't those the really nice big bowls you just made?"
ME: "Yep"
Gerry: "Are you crazy?"

There's nothing like throwing caution to the wind and just jumping right in. That's what I love about Raku. I have no expectations for results so I am never really disappointed like I am with cone 6 or cone 10 firings. How many times have I gone downstairs early in the morning after a ^6 or ^10 firing, eager to see the results, and found exploded kiln posts, overcooked pots, bubbles, pitting, crawling, fuck that.  With Raku, I just take what the kiln gods give me and sometimes it's a really nice gift.

Yesterday was a really beautiful day, perfect for a firing. So I experimented with naked raku for the first time. I had no idea how to do it. We tried it at Penland years ago when I took Steven Forbes deSoule's workshop, but it was a miserable failure. The morning after that firing, it was my turn to come in early to clean and prepare the studio for the day's class. Someone had cleaned their naked raku pots in the sink and left all of the broken shards everywhere, it was a mess. Most of the participants mixed the resist wrong and it wouldn't come off the pots. It didn't look like something I wanted to try, so I stayed away from it.

Recently, I found a new curiosity about it, and so I thought I would give it a try. I went online and got out my raku books and read all I could find about the process, I found several people that clearly don't know much more than me but write as if they are authorities, beware. It took some digging, but I found a few bits and pieces that I could put together for something that I thought would work for me. There are several different recipes for the clay slip and I went with the easiest one I could find and had the chemicals for. Why complicate things, right?

I think I might have a new obsession. Bowls and raku seem to fit with me right now, look for more to come. It seems to me that the thing I love most about pottery is the learning. I have just about bored myself to tears with these barns I have been making, I could do it in my sleep. But experimenting with raku glazes and techniques is endlessly intriguing, there are so many possibilities and results, and almost always a surprise.

I had some pretty good results considering I had no clue. Gerry even pitched in and helped me chip off the clay resist. It's a really cool process, laborious and the possibilities for loss great, not for the faint of heart, but I accept pottery loss easily since I have experienced it so often, it really doesn't bother me all that much anymore.

Here are some quick pics of the bowls I fired. They are a bit blurry, I shot them on the table by the window this morning, and as is the case every Monday since I don't know when, the sky is cloudy.
I'll try for better shots after coffee, but you get the idea. I really love the way these turned out. Very pleased indeed! Just wait till I figure it out and really know what I'm doing!

I was exhausted at the end of the day and Gerry wanted noodle soup. Not really feeling like cooking, but noodle soup sure sounded good, so a quick shower and a helper in the kitchen, and we had noodle soup after a successful day of naked raku.

Whoop! Happy week everyone!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Simple....... Bowl.

I'm obsessed with making bowls right now. Bowls are so satisfying to make. I love the inner curve, I love to carve a foot ring. I took me forever and ever to make a bowl. First my friend Barbara McKenzie taught me how to make one,then Susan Wells, then Deborah Harris taught me how, the Ronan Peterson, then Susan Filley. They all have a different technique, all different in their approach, and trying to put all the things together that I learned from each of them was difficult.

I once commented to a very gossipy woman in a community studio that after taking one of Susan Filley's classes on making bowls, I couldn't make a bowl to save my life. It was misinterpreted and that comment was shared with Susan as me saying Susan couldn't teach bowl making very well. I was mortified and contacted her immediately to explain what I meant. Susan Filley makes one of the most technically correct bowls I have ever seen. My other teachers made great bowls too, but their techniques were easier to reproduce. Susan was way beyond my skill level at the time, and try as I might, I could not do what she showed us.

I kept at it though, determined to make a bowl, and now my bowls have a little of each of the teachers I studied with in them. I remember bits and pieces from them as I make each bowl, and I can make a pretty fine bowl now. It's not a Susan Filley bowl, but it''l do.

No artist statement required here. No metaphorical meaning, no explanation of why I made this, what was in my subconscious. It's just a bowl...... pure and simple. Perhaps maybe one metaphor, the way I want my life right now.... simple, filled with good and honest things.

Thanks to my friend Trish Welsh for getting me back on track with bowls and raku. She had asked me to make a bowl for the food bank's empty bowl fundraiser, suggesting that since I didn't make functional ware, I could make a raku bowl for the auction. Well, now, that sounded perfect and gave me a little kick start I needed to get back to clay.

 Obligatory pet photos: Jasper, Wesley's beta fish that I am babysitting right now. Crazy fish!

Callie, glad to finally have naps in the sunshine.

Kiln is firing a bisque today, hope to raku some bowls next week! and Laura, if you are reading this, I am testing some glazes, we will raku together sooon!