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.
I generally post to the blog on Monday...and once again this post will be about Amon and his frolics...mostly.
But...today is Memorial Day. Thank you for all the men and women who have served our country and are now resting for our freedoms. Thank you also for all the Mothers, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters who supported our brave for freedom.
More about Amon...geeeze does he have energy. We sat down at the piano on Tuesday thinking that maybe we could start on some basics...hahaha...he's no where in that ballpark yet...loves the music but the attention span is just not prepared...yet.
His big thing this week has been going out to look at the slugs...oh and the funder (corrected by G&G to THunder...slugs...well that's easy entertainment. He couldn't see a slug from the day before so he informed us that the slug must be "on a holiday."
When his older brother was 4 yo, he and I made tiles with a colorful hand print on the top...his Grandma's got them...his aunties and of course, his Mom. So Amon and I set out to do one with his hand. Mission accomplished! We did this in the studio (his favorite building).
He and I worked on his new dough project in the workshop (his favorite building). I thought it would be good to start to learn about measurements...see piano fail from above. But we had fun.
He helped gather pine cones for the winter fires. he marveled at the size of the silk moTH (see funder above)...he found cool rocks on the far side of the property with Grammie...and had fun racing his cars and trucks down the driveway.
Hot dogs are his favorite. Pizza is his favorite. Spaghetti is his favorite. Ice cream sandwiches are his favorite and while he used to be just fine with vanilla ones...but along came Neapolitan...and they are his favorites. Neapolitan is my favorite one to hear him say...can't really unwrap the thing but he can say it (and eat it) just fine.
Over the past few months I've been polishing out a new Irish tune (a polka) I wrote it for Amon. We talked about calling it The Big Slug. It's a fun tune and plays right into a set of polkas I like to play. The Big Slug...I now have an idea where the crazy tune names for Irish music come from.
He went home on Saturday. I miss him already. I play The Big Slug to remind me of the fun we have.
Well we're in the deep end of the Grandson visit...Amon is four and has the attention span of...well let's just say it keeps me hopping.
Last night (night #2) he informed us that he was thinking of going home...how soon? ...he talked about minutes...I didn't catch how many. We'll see. It's almost lunch time on day 3 and he's heavy into "Stinky and Dirty."
After lunch we'll go back out to the workshop...he says the workshop is his favorite. Can he leave the video for the workshop...we'll see about that too.
Yesterday he told me stories about Santa, The Grinch and Buddy (a character in a Christmas video he likes). His imagination is just crazy vivid. He refers to the dark blue in one of his games as "Indigo" and the lighter one is "Sky Blue." I asked him why it was sky blue and he told me because it was lighter. Oh to be four.
I suppose if I live long enough people will treat me like I'm four again. I'm okay with that...
I could do fine in a land of "Dirty and Stinky"...learning to eat cherries...finding silk moths...favorite foods like hot dogs, muffins, bananas, girl scout cookies and ice cream sandwiches...where wearing socks inside out was just fine and wearing a onesy all day was cool and where I carry enough bathtub toys to fill my backpack.
Absolutely bonkers around here the past few days. Crazyville.
I'm polishing out a new product for introduction during the IndieMe virtual trade show coming up June 3-9...and of course getting new pictures ready for that event.
Then Brenda had to tape her video address to the Cottey College graduating class of 2020...SILENCE on the set...and ACTION. I just stayed in the studio.
Finishing up the first firing from the last virtual pottery work...second firing should go down this week...hopefully...if all the pots arrive.
The other "maybe" is Brenda is heading down the hill to scoop up grandson Amon for a week or so at the camp (our house)...it will be an exciting week as it's his first solo away from home for any length of time.
This morning Brenda was in a virtual workshop with Tanis Gray...Fair Isle Knitting...and we did a giveaway...a BRAND NEW piece from a concept line...the pieces shown today are on line...and pictured in this post.
We have a couple of new virtual classes up on our website (https://www.lickinflames.com/the-pinch-pot.html )...the project management aspect of the classes had me ordering more "bits" that will be shipped to the students. And of course, while working on the details, ideas for new classes popped into my head.
Just when you think you have crazy under control the brain starts to churn and the cycle continues. COVID may have us staying at home, but it fertilized crazy.
Ooops...I forgot to load the blog post yesterday. The weather...it was the weather that made me do it (or not do it in this case).
Seems a weather change does have an effect on operations around the studio. It's wet this week and the forecast is wet for the week with one sunny day. Not lots of rain, just misty stuff (folks in OR and WA will understand the greyness). My Mom used to called it "Oregon Mist." But damp means pots don't dry the same...
Student pots from last week's workshops are here (mostly) and this week I will fire them and then return them to their makers. Some really nice pots came out. It will be fun to see this batch finished.
We have several workshops scheduled over the next couple weeks...all virtual of course. The signups are underway. Couple of twists have been added as these are public workshops so the value proposition is a bit enhanced.
What have I learned from doing these workshops? I shouldn't have let my hair and makeup team go. Bad decision...makeup was easy. When she made the comment about not enough plaster in the world to fill in my wrinkles...she had to do. But hair? Make note of the first picture in this post...and to be honest...everyday is a bad hair day in the studio. I have a comb...perhaps I should use it.
Doing a workshop in a virtual setting really forces me to think through process in a whole new way and at a whole different level of scrutiny...details...little tiny details.
The flip side of that level of minutia is that when I turn around and look at the "big picture" of pottery and look at my own work, that detailed thinking comes into play and improves my studio process and my work.
It's funny how it works like that.
Hey...back to the workshops coming up...if you're interested let me know. If the times don't suit you, let me know and I'll keep that in mind for the future dates. If you would like to put a group of friends together for a virtual reunion...we can do that...families that craft together...well we do family gigs too...multi-generational family groups spread across the country...no problem...do the workshop with a friend and do a gift exchange.
Have a great week...stay safe...it's not over yet.