Covered Butter Dishes

Cream Rust and Oribe Canister
Recent Special Order Request

I am visiting my daughter and her family in Southern California this week. My grandson’s 2nd birthday was on the 7th and  I certainly did not want to miss the celebration. My daughter had requested a covered butter dish for her kitchen, so I made her 2; one in the neutral tones to match her kitchen tile and one in porcelain with clear glaze to go with her all white dishes. They were fun to make and definitely a unique design. Photos to follow!

Found New Studio Space!

Leaman Pottery has been revived! I rented my first month of studio space at the “Little Pottery Shop” on Shab Row. We had a potter friend of mine, Doug, come to the house Wednesday to help us determine what we need in the way of out bulidings  and how to situate them on the property. Doug is a drafsman in real life and throws at the Frederick Pottery School. The end result of his visit was a whole new double-car-garage sized, free standing building that would need heat and cooling year round. The cost of such a structure is prohibitive for our current budget and does not make good sense at this age and stage to me. The other issue with a full studio at home is that it is so isolating. I want to make friends and talk pots with the pottery community here in Frederick, which is really turning out to be much larger than I thought. I talked to Tammy, the owner of the the expanded facility, yesterday after work and everything is kind-of fluid right now for the folks wanting to rent studio space. I am moving  one of my spare wheels in on Monday after work. Once I get settled in, I may ask her if I can “store” my slab roller there. The raku kiln I can run at home, but the little Olympic Torchbearer might be able to be “stored” there as well for small batches of cone 10 reduction firing. But I am way out in the future and that might not be feasible. Tammy has some very pretty cone 6 glazes and offered to let me mix up whatever I wanted. She plans on charging for glaze firing by the shelf or the kiln load. I can buy clay there as well – a buff and the same red that The Frederick Pottery School has. She also has recycled clay. She is still working on the space with shelving and sinks and moving her office into the upper floor. I think I will still want to set-up my little electric kiln at home so that I can throw and bisque and then transport ware down to Frederick for glazing and firing. She seemed really nice and pretty excited about the facility. There are already quit a few other instructors there and a retired potter-engineer that is also teaching and helping with glazes, firing etc. Tammy invited me to a free seminar he is presenting later on – I think the end of next month – that is 3 hours on glaze problems. What a wonderful resource to have readily available. I am so excited about the prospect that I am having trouble concentrating on much else.

Jim is in Utah this weekend for Jon’s graduation from college and I have been invited to Ryan’s house for a combined Birthday Celebration for Alex and Easter fun. I am looking forward to day tomorrow as well as Sunday. I think that I will try to paint the loft on Sunday unless the weather is just so nice that I will want to be outside. I will decide once the day gets here. Now to figure out how to send these posts to an e-mail list!

March 2011 in Summary

March is gone but it was a fun month even though it was colder than normal. Since we haven’t been here for that many years, we still are gathering data on what is normal and what isn’t. The biggest news of the month was Bob and Chalice’s visit et al. We have a grand time, loved being with everyone and enjoyed the grandkids. We had many more things planned than we could accomplish but the things we did do were fun and filled the week to overflowing.

Everybody got to take a ride

I turned 58 this month and we are mentioning retirement more often in our conversations. I worry that my ability to throw pots will decline significantly in the next decade and I am not sure how I am going to reconcile that eventuality with my dream of a fully functional studio. Pottery making is fairly expensive as a hobby and with the economy the way it is, we need to watch our expeditures closer than we would like. Unfortunately, the longer we wait to set up the studio, the less time to throw – it is an age-old problem for sure. I just hope my health holds out longer rather than shorter.

I purchased Jim a new-to-him 4-wheeler ATV with wench and trailer this month as his 60th Birthday gift from me. It doesn’t have a plow, but with our snowblower, we don’t need one really. We had a mild winter this year compared to the 3 blizzards of last year, and the snowblower was more than adequate to handle our long driveway and parking area near the house.  He took the grandkids and their parents for rides on it and everyone really enjoyed the fun.

My hip has healed enough to paint again and I finished the kichen walls and ceiling. I also hung the rest of the “tile” (wall paper) and Jim ended up replacing the water hose to the refrigerator because the copper tubing that was installed was too short and develped a very small split in the process of moving it out so I could paint and hang wall paper. We have a few things left to finish in the kitchen: sink replacement parts and the trash/recycle recepticle. We found a brand new oak base cabinet that matches our kitchen cabinets exactly at a building material auction in Baltimore for $50 that we are going to covert into the recepticle for the trash and recycle. All it needs is a top with the holes routed out of the top to drop the trash/recyclables into. That may be more of a project than the cabinet turned out to be.

Summer’s End

The end of summer has arrived as quickly as it started. Night time temps have dropped to the mid sixties and day time temperatures only get to the mid 80s and then start right back down again. Everything is still green from the recent rains and the late summer flowers are still in bloom. The only thing that reminds us that fall color is on the way is the length of the shadows, the shortening day light hours and the displays in the stores.


We are going to have an exciting fall and early winter with visitors. Norma’s visit is coming to an end. She will be returning to Gig Harbor on the 1st of September in the morning. In the evening, Jim will return to BWI to pick up Joel for a seven day stay. He will return to Provo on the 7th, the day after Labor Day. Bob arrives on the 11th and will stay with us a day or so before he attends a Conference in the DC area. On the 17th, Lacey arrives and then on the 22nd Mom and Dad arrive for a 2 month visit through the fall and Thanksgiving Holidays. They will head home ahead of the winter weather and Christmas. Additionally, Jim will be making the second visit this year to the Philippines and India sometime in October and may also be attending a class related to work in S. Carolina for a week sometime in September. I have a 2 day course I am attending in Baltimore at the end of September in addition. These are very busy times!


I just returned from an audit in Raleigh, NC and enjoyed seeing the places I travelled when I was working there for Bayer. The flight was an hour from Dulles rather the 10 hours it took from San Diego. The trip was pleasant and I really enjoyed travelling with Donna. She is an easy travelling companion and kept us from rushing to and from the airport. I was able to spend an evening with Gail Kenyon the day before we flew home and had a wonderful visit learning about Kenyon history and talking about Personality Type. I hope to see them again soon and perhaps spend a weekend at Sea Grove together when Sea Grove has one of their kiln openings.


We have enjoyed all of the news on Facebook regarding our grandchildren returning to school. I signed Norma up and she has also enjoyed the news, although trying to respond to postings is too challenging to manage day to day.


I taught my first class at Hood last night and believe that it went well. I will do better once I am able to use Blackboard and post assignments and information. I wasn’t sure if I was going to just teach this one course or if I would be teaching it for as long as they offered the class. I found out yesterday that I can teach it as long as I want or am able. On top of that, the GLP work that George Mason University wants me to do has been approved and next week I am meeting with the head of the Laboratory to plan out timelines for implementing their GLP program. I knew that I had traded my free time for income rather than time to throw clay. I hope that the horrible economy doesn’t allow me to use the extra income for the things I had in mind for it. I also hope that I am able to fit in my hip replacement surgery so that I can exercise and walk again.


That is the news for now – off the next project.



More Summer News

The hot weather has arrived and is probably here to stay. Last night when I check the potted plants everything had grown inches since the night before. The purple clematis vine has bloomed and the purple blossoms are beautiful. The peony finally is starting to bloom, but there is not scent! Pretty pink flowers but the smell is the best part of this plant for me. I am hoping it is just too soon yet. The Irises are done. Next summer I am going to put stalk stands on the flowers to keep them from flopping over.

We are staying up late in the evening because the days are so long and not getting enough sleep at night. But we are getting lots done and I think we will be almost in maintenance mode by the end of summer. The equipment shed will be the next hurdle now that the garage is organized. I am looking forward to making better use of the “attic” storage in the equipment shed and having the studio portion set up. Jim bought me an air conditioner for my end and I am thankful for that. I had forgotten how hot it gets in the summer. The trees provide extensive shade so the AC won’t have to work as hard as if it would if the building had a full sun exposure.

Our weed whacker died and we need to get it repaired to do the trimming around the lawn areas and to keep the steeper banks behind the house trimmed. Seems like there is always something to be repaired anymore. We also need to get the water dispenser for the refrigerator replaced and also get the fabric softener dispenser for the washing machine. When Wes was at the house last weekend he helped me get the door off of the oven so that we could take it apart and clean the glass inside the door so that I can see in the oven now. Apparently something had dripped in-between the doors and caught on fire when the oven was put through the self-cleaning cycle. It was an easy fix and now I can inside as needed during baking and roasting.

I am going to try and stay motivated to sew this weekend. I would like to have the basement ready for Bob and Chalice way before they arrive so that I can enjoy the anticipation of the visit. I have the fabric for the valences downstairs and the new hardware – just need to sew them together and hang them.

The toads have grown tremendously as well as the garden snakes and with the birds and butterflies there will be lots for the kids to look at. The deer should be out too along with the squirrels and chipmunks. I am hoping to take everyone blueberry picking while they are here so that we can bake with the berries that we picked ourselves.

We are going to Donna and Rob’s after work tonight in order to try out their new deck furniture. Donna went whole-hog and got furniture for an outdoor living room which is so popular right now. I am anxious to see how it looks. She got the furnishings from Pier I which is one of my favorite stores so it should be fun to see everything put together.

The weather report keeps saying thunder storms, but I don’t see them coming yet. I like the thunder showers and get disappointed when they are predicted but don’t materialize.

The new paint is totally wonderful still and I am starting to be impatient to get the master bedroom and bath done. The lavender is really starting to grate on my nerves. Not that I am in the master bedroom that much. But still. The floral paper boarder and puffy valences is not my cup of tea. I went through my shoes and jewelry over the weekend in an effort to find a pair of glasses that I have “lost”. Never did find the glasses but now have more room in my closet and plenty of space to put the shoes I actually do wear. Almost all of my summer clothes are hanging in the closet now and the winter stuff is packed away. Thanks to the liberal dress policy here, in the summer the line blurs between work in play clothes. Everyone wears clam diggers and summer tops with sandals which is pretty much what I wear at home except for days when shorts are preferred.

Shannon took Grant to the doctor yesterday and he, like his brother, is exhibiting eczema and is off of all baby products that have the wonderful baby smells attached to them. I suspect that he will struggle with the allergies and asthma too. Let’s hope he escapes the neutropenia. Shannon has been struggling with placing Torsten in the right school for kindergarten as she has been told (just last weekend) that the school across from their complex is so Hispanic that kindergarten will consist mainly of learning English. A district transfer would have been necessary while she was recovering from delivering Grant in order to have him placed in a different school. At that time, just getting everyone healthy and at home was the only thing that would fit on the agenda and rightfully so. I’m concerned about her getting Torsten to and from another school every day for just 4 hours while Grant is still so little. And while it may not be the absolute optimal situation, for kindergarten, I don’t think that the language issues will prevent Torsten from being ready for the 1st grade which I would think is the major goal of kindergarten.

I am still working on my picture walls in the loft. I want to reframe the 11 month rocking chair pictures and keep thinking that separate 5X7 frames with the oval mats would be best. I still haven’t really decided. I do know that the long frames just don’t work for the space and we still have an unknown number of babies to come. I have also been working on our Italy pictures to use on the walls, but it sure is difficult to determine which to print, and which to combine with each other.

I have started doing research on retirement communities in Frederick and find that there are more choices than I thought there would be. I will be continuing that work this weekend and putting together information packets for my parents to consider. Not that I really have any hope left that they will relocate. I suppose I will understand why they want to remain in their current situation when I get to be that age as every generation I have seen in our family has chosen to be obstinate about moving to a living situation that seems to other members of the family to be a safer, more optimal choice. But, since this seems to be a common issue with 80-something year olds, I suppose I will be there someday too and understand.


Memorial Day Weekend

It has been awhile since I have sat down to log recent events. Much has happened since I returned from Shannon and Nathan’s house and I am not even sure where to start. Summer has finally arrived to the mountain and the warmer temperatures have started everything growing. Thank goodness. The few potted plants are filling in and the peony is about to open. Everyone else’s peonies are in full bloom right now, I guess mine is just shaded enough to be a couple of weeks late. I am learning to enjoy a long blooming season rather than be impatient because my flowers are not blooming. Frederick is first, then Blue Ridge Summit where it gets sun and then our house. In all a 2 week blooming season turns into 6 weeks of enjoyment due to our location.


We continue to enjoy the birds and have had a new visitor the last couple of days. It is an Indigo Bunting and a beautiful color of blue. I have enjoyed the Goldfinches, Chickadees and Cardinal pair as well as the hummingbirds when I am in the kitchen at the right time for them. The squirrels have had their share of bird seed which is okay as they are fun to watch too.


We are moving along on the house thanks to Wes. We have hired him to paint the interior and work on the other construction projects as needed. We hope to have the interior finished by the end of summer. He does a great job of repairing minor issues with the walls before painting and is very meticulous with his work. So far the results are stunning. We decided to rent scaffolding for the 2 story ceilings and I would recommend the same for anyone with that problem. The scaffolding was less than $70 for the week and the time savings was considerable compared to using a ladder. We have replaced all of the ceiling lights since we could reach them easily and cleaned the ceiling fan in addition. The lights look great now that they all match and are much brighter compared to the mishmash of different types and wattages of the flood lamps we replaced. We got the new coiled bulbs so maybe we might see a slight decrease in the electric bill this winter when the lights are on longer during the week.


Jim’s first business trip to India was a success and he made good contacts and got to see some sights there in addition. I still haven’t seen his pictures. We just haven’t had the time yet. There is so much to do on the house now that we are more unpacked. We briefly thought that Shannon and the boys were going to spend some time with us which started me working on the basement again. Turns out they won’t be coming, but Chalice and Bob are still planning a visit and I want the family to be comfortable with the accommodations here. The basement really could be rented as an apartment if we wanted to do that. But having a place for family visits is nice to have. I am hoping that Trevor and family might be able to visit once Harley isn’t nursing anymore. With their job situation, it is unlikely that they will be able to visit anytime soon all together.


Jim brought back a variety of spices, exotic teas and a yak yarn rug. The rug is beautiful and I hope to talk him into letting it be used on the floor in the living room in front of the couch. Right now he doesn’t want any wear on it at all. It is an unusual piece and I would like to use it.


We are doing very little with getting the studio set up. I’m not sure why it seems to be such a stumbling block for us. Perhaps it is like sewing for me. I have to be in the mood to sew and perhaps so far Jim just hasn’t been in the mood to re-run the electrical in the studs. Once in the mood I suppose that the project will go faster. Since he just got back from India, he probably still needs time to settle in and get back into a routine. I know it took me quite awhile when I came back from Shannon’s and Nathan’s to get my energy and optimism back. I am just now able to do get to putting clean clothes away and continuing to organize and unpack.


We have become the proud owners of a used riding lawn mower, thanks to Marie and Allen, and it has beat out the cars for garage space. Jim continues to look for an ATV so that he is a smart used vehicle shopper. He has determined what type and size trailer that he wants; now just finding one second hand will be the next thing. We are hoping that our income tax return will be here soon so that we can continue to work on the housing and farming items. But in the mean time we are getting smart about what we want and what is a good deal and what isn’t.


I unpacked the last 3 boxes in the garage – found my Christmas hexagon dishes which I hope we will use this coming Christmas for dessert. I wish that Mom and Dad would come for the holidays again this year. But I am not sure that they would want to drive if the weather is bad and I am not sure that they would want to stay with us the whole time. So I will settle for a fall visit instead while the weather is still nice and the leaves are turning. It is a fun time too.

Finding the dishes cascaded into a pantry re-organization and I am really happy with the result. We got some spice racks and moved all of that small stuff to the doors leaving one side for pots and pans and the other for food. We were able to move cooking dishes in from the garage and do more organizing there too. We are very close to being finished in the garage once the scaffolding is picked up tomorrow.


Wes saw the first fireflies of the season last night. I hope to see some tonight before we go to bed. The 4 days off has been wonderful and I am feeling more settled than I have for a long time.


That is it for now. More to follow soon as so much I haven’t talked about.

Spring is Here

The weekend was busy and we are almost ready for summer.  We went and visited Julie for a couple of hours yesterday and were amazed at the flowering trees along the drive to Centreville. The Dogwoods are in full bloom in Frederick and Virginia along with the cherry’s, pears and apple trees. We are about another week behind Frederick up in the mountains. In our yard the daffodils are still nice and the pink tulips are finished opening up. I am not sure how long the blooms will last. Probably depends on how much hot weather we get in the next couple of weeks. The ring of tulips around the hummingbird tree are still in the budding stage. Looks like one color is about ready to open but there is another color where the buds are still hiding in the leaves. I trimmed all of the berry vines and other undergrowth bushes in my Tea Garden area to keep it manageable until I can get Wes to help me level it later this summer. I would love to have it finished so that we can enjoy ice-tea and snacks there before Mom and Dad leave in May. I would love to put in a small concrete table but leave space for padded or webbed chairs with backs (for my old rear-end and disintegrating body). I may have to settle for a heavy metal table that we can put inside or cover during the winter. I just know that a table like that will need painting every once in a while where the concrete would be maintenance free. It depends on what I find on Craigslist. The "floor" of the area is full of Johnny Pop Ups and May Apples right now. Marie thinks that it will be a great place for moral mushrooms but Donna doesn’t think that the weather is good for mushrooms this year. It got to hot too fast and then really cold again which is not a good sequence for mushrooms. We purchased a garden cart yesterday and I am really excited about it. It is like a wheelbarrow except that it has two bicycle tires on either side of the tub instead of the one wheel in the front. It is really stable and light with a padded handle-bar in the back that you can either push or use to pull.
I have transplanted the hostas to the north side of the equipment shed and I think they are going to be fine. I left space to add some of the variegated varieties when someone is splitting theirs and is going to just throw away extras from the clump. I am learning a lot about the native plants and trees. I refuse to pay $10 each for nursery hostas when they are almost indestructible and need thinning every 3 or so years anyway. I understand that the deer love them but I don’t think that they will come that close to the house because they have plenty of browse that isn’t so close to humans or a dog run.
Marie took us on a ride of some of the back roads on Sunday morning including a trip to Catoctin Lake. I wish we had access to an aluminum fishing boat. The lake is stocked with bass and trout and fairly small. I think Daddy would enjoy fishing on it while he is here except that Jim will be gone and the canoe is not stable enough for Daddy to feel comfortable in it. He could go bank fishing though. Maybe I can talk Wes into taking him one weekend early in the morning on both Saturday and Sunday.
We got the vinyl flooring for the studio but will have to wait for Wes to return so that he can help Jim install it. The space is really too small for all of my equipment and green ware and I will no doubt be "leaking" into the rest of the area. Once we can afford an ATV that will cause some storage problems. Right now that expenditure is pretty far out in the future so I think that the space will be adequate for quite a few years.  
The peony that I found on sale last year is sprouting (I thought it was a misplaced hosta!) They look funny coming up. I need to put a grid over it to hold the flowers and stems up later in the summer. I am so excited that that everything is coming up, but we are so far away from the summer produce. It seems like the corn, tomatoes, squash etc should all be here like in San Diego, but the seeds were just planted and still under plastic here!
I am still committed to the Italian Challenge and made 2 recies out of our Italian Cookbook this week: Fresh Pear Tart and Florentine Pork Roast. Both were delicous. The roast called for fresh fennel and I hope that the Farmers Market that we frequent has planted that particular Italian ingredient this year. I did not realize how prevelent fresh fennel is in Italian recipes. It equals basil as a vegetable and seasoning. I never look for it at the market. It may be everywhere and readily available and I just don’t know it. 
We are still trying to unpack and finding we are down to the really hard stuff now. Emotional attachements are getting in the way and more shuffling is going on than ever before. It is funny what we think we want to hold onto just because of the memories, circumstances or the person attached to certain items.  I supose it is a process.