The big news this past week was the delay in mounting the equipment boxes on the house for the fiber install...so we're pushing that fiber install right to the deadline...kicked the can down the road just a bit.
The good news is that boxes get installed on Monday morning...at 7 AM...SEVEN IN THE MORNING. Seriously! I want this stuff so badly if they had said 3 AM I would have agreed. Do you think they knew that when they scheduled me for SEVEN in the morning? What a way to start a week.
The week will be all about testing systems for our booth at FiberWorld2020 (.com). We have the new fiber to worry about of course, but we've been working on "Plan C" which is running the show over a hotspot (we have a dedicated one in addition to the our phones...and "Plan B" which is running the show over a Ethernet wired WIFI plugged into our current DSL service. The CAT6 wires for "Plan B" are currently running through the property between buildings (across paths and gardens and driveway).
The Plans are all put together and wires are laid to make them work. The technology works well without a load. Now the fun begins...testing by uploading a simple video stream...then the "full monty"...5 cameras in the same feed. Fingers and toes are all crossed that it works WITHOUT the fiber (just DSL or hotspot)...because we don't know exactly when the fiber will go live. We're hoping this week...but we are working on the other Plans just in case.
In any event...the show will go on.
Our workshop on making a notions dish has a materials deadline of Thursday the 13th...information on that workshop is found on the http://www.fiberworld2020.com website.
During the show we will have FIVE quests in the booth (all remote)...and SIX different FLASH sales...and demos...and tours...and doorprizes...and...give-a-ways...and knitnites...we open at 7 in the morning (come by and experience the pain with me)...and will be LIVE for some 11 hours each day.
All this planning and testing AND four kiln loads of glaze this week...seriously...
Somehow, The Far Side comic just seemed so appropriate this week. Gary Larson just makes me laugh.
Another crazy week has been put to bed. We did a bazillion little things to move the ball forward…setting ourselves up for a killer week coming up.
Our #1 raku kiln broke a hinge…I don’t weld…Geoff is coming over on Tuesday evening to repair the hinge. I told him I have a fun project to talk to him about while he’s here…we’ll see where that takes us.
AT&T sent a contractor to make sure we have a “clear path” for our new fiber to be laid. Check. The report was sent and…
…another contractor is scheduled for Tuesday to measure the amount of wire needed for the project…and he said that install folks normally follow him by 2 to 7 days. Could we be seeing (and using) fiber by the end of the week?! Fingers crossed.
One of our local farms, First Rain Farm (@firstrainfarms on Insta), runs goats on properties to knock down the hazardous underbrush. It's a fire prevention thing. Owner Tim stopped by on Saturday and the goat herd will be making its first appearance on our property in early September. It will be an annual event! My neighbors will be part of the project. Now if they were Angora or Pygora we’d be talking fiber but NubianX…nope…just weed eaters...unless you like milk, which First Rain does provide for customers.
Monday is a major photo shoot day. Well, maybe not so major, but a key photo shoot and shots will taken to fill in some of our booth for FiberWorld2020. Our booth “load in” is tomorrow and the next day and now that all the pictures are taken, cropped and labeled, we’re onto filling out forms (the bad part). We’ll have a run-through for FiberWorld this next weekend.
Most of our guests to be at our booth during FiberWorld are confirmed…still under wraps but we’re excited.
We’re firm on what our “Flash Sales” will have in them but the timing is still being decided…there will be SIX flash sales…two with items unavailable on our website!
…and our class time was assigned…Thursday at 7:00 PM (Eastern). “Let’s Make A Notions Dish” has a cutoff of the Wednesday before…so put that in your plans…last day would be 8-12-2020. Signup for classes and workshops is live now at https://fiberworld2020.com.
We also started a Give-A-Way on Instagram (@lickinflames) offering up a raku yarn bowl as the gift (picture in this blog). Easy to enter…FREE!...including the shipping. Just go over to our Instagram page and follow the directions. You can search on @lickinflames to find the give-a-way rules.
…and last, but certainly not the least of the events of this past week…I masked up and ventured into the hardware store. I needed a “union” for one of our bigger water lines and was procrastinating on getting it…and to my surprise…everyone at the store was masked…EVERYONE! The store doesn’t require them…but people were doing well (on Friday anyway).
So the craziness of last week has set this one up to be a wild ride…for some reason, “Buckle Up and Drive” comes to mind.
After a wrote and published last weeks blog post, a number of news groups had guests on that talked about the same approach...wear the mask or suffer not having access to services. Businesses that don't require masks are really hurting themselves and the owners will suffer in the longer game.
Wednesday's "Shenanigans of a Studio Potter" LIVE program is continuing for another month. We will probably shift the technology over sometime later in August...the fiber should be on site sooner than later, but at the least, the WIFI system we currently use will be upgraded and extended in advance of the fiber, giving us a better platform for both recording and LIVE events.
Coming up on August 19-23 (yes...five days of fiber fun) is FIBERWORLD2020... www.fiberworld2020.com...a virtual fiber festival replete with classes, runway shows (including one for pets), give-a-ways and door prizes and over 50 vendors of all types...including LickinFlames. I've done a number of virtual shows but this one is different...very cool technology, extremely thoughtful... over the top inclusive process...they really REALLY care about people and fiber.
We're going to have a ton of surprises during the event including live guests, NEW product introductions, FLASH sales (including OOAK exclusives), tours of the studio and care to guess who one of the presenters is? Yeah, I know, clay at a fiber event...thank goodness it's virtual... but LickinFlames is presenting one of the virtual workshops... we will be making adult mudpies together. Sign up for that one early, the seating is limited (sounds weird for a virtual class, but we limit our classes so I can put more attention to each student).
We'll be posting our schedule (and the event's schedule) as it gets closer to the event...but be warned...it's going to be a wild five days. FUN!
Apparently business folks in the United States are not serious about getting the economy back up and running.
I'm serious. I mean that. There are solutions.
And the best part is that the solutions do not have to be mandated by the government. The solution is not easy but it would work...expensive in the short term and brutal but it would work.
If ALL retailers...food, gas. and trinkets...if ALL services...realtors, hair, nails, deliveries, airlines, buses, truck drivers and repairs...if ALL factories including food processors and cars and baubles...if everyone would would just refuse service or entry to those without masks on...we'd be out of this thing in a month. No mask...no service. No mask...no work.
Don't for a minute think that going to the grocery store is a right...or buying gas is a right...or have a job is a right. We primarily live our lifestyles through privileges.
If you don't want to wear a mask and want to be independent of our complex society...THAT is a right and you can make that choice. You can grow your own food. You can walk to the work that you provide for yourself.
I told you it was brutal...and you will learn that carrots are not actually little blunt orange things that come in a plastic bag (spoiler alert: they are a root and come from the ground).
The reason we're still playing "wack-a-mole" with the virus is that not everyone is doing their part. Too many people are using that old thought process...well it's just this one time and it's just one person...nobody will notice...135000 dead folk noticed.
What I'm finding humorous is when folks talk about this virus thing being just like the flu...no...with the flu you feel sick, you stay at home and generally don't spread it because you know you're sick...COVID is contagious before you know you have it. Thus the power of the mask...you wear it because you might have it. You wear it because you should be caring for others.
Some people obviously don't care about others.
"My kids are driving me crazy...I need them to go back to school"...really?...a tad on the selfish side. If you think they're driving you crazy now...wait...it gets worse. Oh yeah...and what part of this excuse says that you care about their education?
"The mask is so uncomfortable"...really?...so is the tube down the throat and the diapers...oh wait, if you surviv (30% don't) you won't remember all that because of the sedation.
"The mandate from the government takes away my rights"...really?...I suppose the seat belt does too then. Or smoking in a restaurant. I'm just suggesting that "No shoes, No shirt, No services" be extended to include "No Mask."
But serious...if businesses would close up for just 30 days and stop trying to get away with letting others do the hand washing and mask wearing...if ALL business would shut the economy to all those without masks...we'd be out of this thing in just 30 days OR LESS.
Ninety percent compliance on the mask wearing for just 30 days and we will be in great shape...the virus will still be with us...but life will be so much more like is was and the economy will be on a rebound.
We can not keep cheating or people will keep dying...and so with your business.
The computer has been slower than normal lately. We are living in a "cloud" world more and more...and while that may be good for some people...in the DSL world...the cloud can suck. When you consider the number of people who are spending more time at home, that really puts a burden on the speed of the service.
When the governemtn yabbers at you about their bringing "broadband" to all of rural America...hmmm...technically they might be trying to do that, but the speed is 1.5 mbps up and a max of 3 downloading. The speed is not competitive. Apparently broadband can is fairly narrow.
By now, you might surmise that we have DSL...why yes we do...and the lowest speed available at that. There is no plan for anyone to upgrade that speed in the future. EVER...never ever. Sometimes it seems that the upload part of the equation gets all jumbled up and we have stuff move so slowly it's hard to get work done. The last few days has been like that.
So we took the bold step of speaking with AT&T about bringing fiber onto the property. We're negotiating...the contracts are on my desk. So before you jump and down in celebrating for us...fiber is not unlimited and is sold in levels of mbps. We're thinking 20 mbps. We should have it all installed in a few months.
It's a game changer in our rural foothill location.
...and about that picture of the sheep...it's here just because.
I finally took a risk and did a raku firing this past week...why was it risky? Well "up valley" in the Redding area they broke heat records and here?...a mere 93 or so. Not "too hot" to do raku (I'm a big boy and can handle it...sort of) but it's so dry, the pine needles crackle as you walk around the property. When ever it get that hot and that dry I try to avoid the open flames of raku. I should mention that I've never had a problem...but then maybe that's because I take these precautions.
But I really was up against the wall on this one. I had passed on raku the week before because I "thought" it was hot and dry...and then came this week and "hot and dry" took on a whole new meaning. Should have fired last week. 20/20 vision sucks.
I was up against it because I had student pots from a couple of workshops ready to be fired. I really needed to get the pots back to the students...so out came the hoses and I opened up the spigot and made the ground nice and moist. Luckily there was no wind...I would have not fired if there was a the slightest of wind...like yesterday. Wind and dry and hot is a recipe for something nasty here in the hills.
Note the new "Kids Edition" which takes the opportunity for a parent to work with a child in a support role while we focus on the young student...includes some extra clay for the parent to play along and keep out of trouble while the student works on their art.
We're really excited about new technology and equipment we're bringing into our studio. It's all about video and live broadcast. With some degree of luck we'll have the basics up and running towards the beginning of next week. More on the technology next week...hopefully.
This past week was a busy one...the rig needed to have it's battery jumped (COVID attacked my rig because of my lack of driving), fixed a major plumbing leak in our irrigation and fire suppression line, dried and fired student pots and then retrieve all of the materials from storage for a planned trip to Montana and to see Brenda's Dad in Twin Falls.
...well MT didn't happen for me. I was planning on publishing this week from the cabin in the middle of the forest. We live in a forest, but the cabin forest is different...and I should have been looking at the lake all day rather than clay.
But the COVID news is not favorable to my travel plans. I feel pretty confident when dealing with situations I can control and if everyone along the way was playing by the same rules, I'd stand a chance...but between our place and Montana ...masks?. ..hahaha...purely optional...wearing them? No. I just can't take the chance in areas where folks don't even try physical distancing or masks...and of course who wants to monitor their hand washing (pretty sure I don't want to know). So for now...MT will have to wait.
Then on Friday we got a call nobody wants to get...Brenda's Dad was admitted into the hospital at 2 AM Friday for the third time during the week and taken off medications about 5 PM later that day. We knew the next call would be THE call. The Doctor didn't think there was time to get to Twin from here. He was correct and Brenda's Dad passed away a little after 8 PM with his Pastor, Rev. Phil Price, by his side. Rev. Phil call us with the news shortly after.
So...it was a messed up week. We're thankful that COVID was not involved with Dad's condition and we're appreciative of the ICU staffs willingness to accommodate our visit if we could have made it.
We are extremely thankful for Rev. Phil being with Dad in his final moment, reading scripture to Dad as he has done so many times. They had a great relationship. Phil said Dad opened one eye when he started to read. He knew Phil was with him. I'm sure Phil was a great comfort to Dad.
Brenda and I are so lucky to have had two sets of parents who were so good to us and for us. I miss them all...hers and mine because as we got to know each other, each of us became blessed with four parents rather than just two. Pretty special people.
We celebrated the memories of our two Dad's on Sunday.
Highlight of the week? I'm pretty sure the 98 minute on hold time with our friends at Costco ranked up there..."tongue in cheek"...and if my tongue was in my cheek any further I'd be poking a hole through the cheek. Their phone jingle is 20 seconds long...listening to the same 20 second bit 294 times has to be a "highlight" right?!
But seriously the highlight had to have been being back in the exploratory mode in the studio. I'm working through a pretty significant new art bit...and if it works like I am envisioning it, the bit will become a series. So far, each of the new aspects of the piece has been worked through and each hurdle cleared beautifully (with some rethinking and reworking). But, because it is multi-media in the very truest sense of the phrase, there is a lot of new techniques and processes I need to learn and work on...and yes...more tools. Yea for me.
The bear was back...harvested berries from the "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" bush outside our front door. He/She damaged the bush but it can recover...but man does that animal stink...of course after the bear left a skunk walked through the yard and reminded us of what stink really means. Ah...the life living in the mountains.
We thought we were ending the week with the Virtu-Wool Fiber Festival...but the excitement of forest life brought us a new challenge.
Our magnetized shawl buttons/brooches got some love this week...pictures of them with this post...I really like working with this groups of pieces. When I'm trying new colorways I will frequently use these shapes first or early in the development process.
At dusk...when we're winding down everything and loosing light quickly...the neighbors finally found their indoor cat about 30 feet up one of our oak trees. "Rico" was trying to figure out how to get down but just didn't seem to be able to do that...so, many phone calls later, a tree guy came in and climbed up to get the cat...in the dark.
...oh and the Ford has sat in the driveway for the last month...any idea why it won't start? AAA is the next call.
The last week was started with riots and ended with peaceful demonstrations. I was saddened by the riots. They seemed to be so unnecessary...however...would we be have this type of discussion about changing policing and policing culture if we have only had peaceful demonstrations? I don't know the answer...but the question is interesting to ponder.
COVID needed to be put on a back burner by the media...don't put it on yours...it's still there and you need to be prepared for that "spike" the medical folks have been talking about. Preparedness is a good thing and hopefully being prepared will give us some peace of mind.
Huge week coming up around the studio. We finished last week with another one of our virtual pottery workshops...students in 3 time zones...1/2 had young potters in training with them...it was fun and very different for me. The next workshops are tentatively scheduled for the 17th of July...on my calendar...put it on yours.
Midweek we will have an open video (LIVE on Facebook) beginning at 4 PM Pacific. Unscripted...just a slice of studio pottery life. Ask questions or not. I'll talk or not. The mic will be on until 5(ish)....if my hands are in goop it may run over a tad.
We'll end the week with The Virtu-Wool Fiber Festival on FaceBook...two days of immersion into all things fiber...or is it subversion?. Our program is slotted for HIGH NOON (Eastern)...that's 9 AM Pacific. During the time slot, I'll be doing an obvara firing of a piece that will only be available during Virtu-Wool and limited to just 50 pieces...and availability ends at mid-night. Brenda will be running some specials and showing those during our hour. This should be totally insane...hilarity will ensue.
We're giving away a raku yarn bowl during the festival...the code word? Well you have to be online to hear that word and use the code...but it's a gorgeous bowl...and we'll be giving it away!
But wait...there's more...that piece I'll be firing?...it's new and has a fiber component that is stash friendly...Brenda will demo that too.
This was a tough bit to write over the past week...it started out with our being consumed by a pandemic and an economy in crisis...and then it went sideways. And again, we're having the conversation "Black Lives Matter." If I had a solution...you know...a concrete, step by step solution I would offer it, but I don't have one.
It's pretty apparent but shouldn't be a surprise, that legislation alone will not solve the problem. Laws and penalties and rules just don't seem to be solving the issues. It's too complex for the government. Ironic, right?
We have a government that willed us to the moon, put a space program together with astronauts flying back and forth until we lost track of who was where. We have private industries that have developed the computer industry to give us smart phones and digital whatnot's to solve just about everything imaginable. We have beaten Small Pox and Polio...measles...
...and yet...we can't apply all the intelligence to solving human issues surrounding functional equality, social justice, and respect...even at the most basic and elemental level. We continue to talk the talk, but the walk...well we stumble around like a primitive attempt to walk.
And while the COVID crisis and the trashed economy are important...so is Black Lives Matter. Let's not take our eyes off the ball...life is a juggling act while running a marathon. Multi-tasking at it's best.