Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Back to Real Life

I hear the coffee brewing, and I am already showered and dressed for the day. In ten minutes I will take the J to school and then swing by the feed store to pick up a metric ton of chicken food. I don't actually know what a metric ton is (it wasn't a quantity with which I had to familiarize myself in the writing of the book) but, surely, the bags and bags and bags I am off to buy qualify.

It's good to back to a normal life (note that normal does not equal either quiet or restful). Orders to fill, a newsletter to write, glass to inventory... Oh yes, and a few more pesky book details to wrap up/projects to fire. The tjantings were fun yesterday, but the initial results were disappointing. Not surprisingly, if something is an advanced technique/breaking new ground it probably won't work out the first time (or everyone would be doing it).

Transitions back into normal life are hard, and I'm actually kind of glad mine is happening at an already chaotic time of the year as the transition has a bit less impact. The past year has been filled with new things--most of them in glass. It has left me with nightly vibrant, active dreams and a restless need to play (mad scientist) every day. But I'm not a mad scientist. Right now I'm a Mom and a chicken feeder--time for posting is up.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Mad Scientist Has Risen!

Got the hotplate heating a bowl of water for a little double-boiler action and melting beeswax this afternoon in the studio. Also got out my tjantings (shown right) to do some drawing on glass with them. It's really too bad the book is (mostly) done and in the hands of the copy editor as I have visions of creating batik in glass dancing in my head and wouldn't mind adding a section on it. I just know it's possible... In the meantime the tjantings and beeswax are useful for another technique that *does* show up in the book so I'm not frittering my day away on FUN (heaven forbid).

So, done. Wow. I want to revel on that idea for awhile before I have to add the caveat of the first draft is 98% done (I remember writing  finish later in a few places that I am pretty sure the copy editor is going to notice). The photography is also mostly done with just the beauty shots (finished project photos) and a couple of projects I am still futzing with (screen printing and the fused box) left to do. It seems like every time on those two I get to the "this is it, this is how I'm going to do it and write it up" stage, I tweak the process or the materials or SOMETHING a bit and have to work the changes into both the manuscript and the photos.

Today is mostly over in terms of studio work. Managed to ship orders today, and I'll fire another order that needs to ship asap. I think I'll put another glass clay vessel in the kiln (I'm still tweaking the firing schedule on that project, but the clay itself is incredible), go get chicken food, take the child to cello, and prepare for a night of putting photos with text and more editing.

Decided on Saturday to go ahead and do the artist studio show (the Siyeh Sleigh Ride) this year and spent yesterday putting together the email announcement and the web page for it. Tomorrow I will send out the end of the year newsletter and I am going to offer some sweet glass, kiln, and class deals.

Life is good. Off to (live every day as if my hair is on) fire.

Monday, October 15, 2012

One Week--And I Don't Mean the Barenaked Ladies Song

Huckleberry coffee (with Italian Sweet Cream creamer--of course) in the Alaska skyline mug. There is a poetic symmetry there that hums for me this morning. I'll say one thing for the book project--it's kept me too busy to miss fall in Montana! And today begins the countdown of the last week on the manuscript. There are no more time increments--other than days, hours and minutes... and aren't they scary!--into which to break my remaining work. (It's unfortunate when the correct grammatical construction sounds awkward. *sigh*)

As can be gleaned from the preceding almost-paragraph, my mind flits and flies in all different directions simultaneously these days--much more so than usual. I highly disrecommend writing a non-linear book for anyone with the slightest bit of ADD as the activity will just exacerbate the condition excruciatingly.

Today was supposed to be the day when I started organizing all of my my musings and dictations into a coherent manuscript. I was supposed to have all the techniques and projects finished and documented. Instead, I have about half a dozen of them in various states of doneness and a brain full of marbles. But, since whining about it never got anything done, I am going to ruck my big girl panties up, and Get On With It! Off to play with glass clay...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nine Days, Eight Chickens

Huckleberry coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, the hum of the studio fans and the traffic outside for my morning music. Today is the first of the single-digit days in the countdown to the deadline for the completion of my manuscript. I am exhausted. My mother (my scribe) is exhausted. Dee (the book minion and one of the studio elves) is exhausted. Exhaustion is rampant. And yet, I, at least, am also exhilarated. Barring unforeseen catastrophe, and with all requisite knocking on wood, I will finish on time. I have 191 pages of text out of 240, and we have been cranking out 6-12 pages a day for the past week or so.

But hubris is ever the nemesis. I no sooner wrote the above paragraph than I discovered Baxter had been left in the backyard. With the chickens. And then there were eight. We mourn Willow, and I dread telling Jessie when she gets home. It took time, a shovel and a pick-ax--and I still didn't get very deep--but Willow is laid to rest in the bamboo with a very large rock over her grave. And wasn't I the one who was contemplating eating our girls at some point when they grew old? Guess that's right out when I am this undone by the end of one. And Baxter. Now that he's killed one, he can never be let out into the yard with them again. I'll need to find time this weekend to fix the front yard gates so they both close easily and he can be let out there.

Now I need to gather myself back together and get on with work. Oh this is hard.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Soundtrack For a Book

Yesterday marked one month till the book is due. Nothing exists outside of it--even writing this post is an extension of book immersion. The focus of my world has narrowed to the temporary detriment of family, friends, business, and world. But not the chickens; I still have attention for my girls.

In true obsessive mode, there is a soundtrack for the book. A drumbeat moving me along, a heartbeat keeping me alive and writing. I start every day with it and every night ends with it. I wake up daily to the refrain of "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes as sung by Loreena McKennitt running through my head. Daily. Really.

So here's the soundtrack of my narrow world. Share. Enjoy. Favorites are highlighted:

The Absentee Crooked Still
Adagio From Fantasy For A Gentleman Patrick O'Hearn
Ah! Lovely night N. Polozkov/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band/Col. Boris Alexandrov
Ahi Wela / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
All Souls Night Loreena McKennitt
Allegria Gipsy Kings
Ami Wa Wa (Solo Por Ti) Gipsy Kings
Amor de Loca Juventud Buena Vista Social Club
Amor, Amor Gipsy Kings
Angeline James McMurtry
Annachie Gordon Loreena McKennitt
As I Roved Out Loreena McKennitt
Baby, What's Wrong With You? Crooked Still
Backlash Love Affair Richard Thompson
Baila Me Gipsy Kings
Balanco Carioca Mikael Mutti
Bamboleo Gipsy Kings
The Band Played Waltzing Matilda The Pogues
Bandura I. Savchuk/V. Fedorov/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band/Col. Boris Alexandrov
The Battle March Medley The Pogues
Bayou Tortous James McMurtry
Beeswing Richard Thompson
Before Gas and Tv Mark Knopfler
Bem, Bem, Maria Gipsy Kings
Beneath a Phrygian Sky (Gordian Version) Loreena McKennitt
Between the Shadows Loreena McKennitt
Billy's Bones The Pogues
A birch tree in a field did stand I. Didenko/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band/Col. Boris Alexandrov
The Body of an American The Pogues
Bolero Gipsy Rayes
Bonny Portmore Loreena McKennitt
The Bonny Swans Loreena McKennitt
Boom, Like That Mark Knopfler
Border Reiver Mark Knopfler
Bottle Of Smoke The Pogues
Breaking the Silence Loreena McKennitt
Brian Boru's March Loreena McKennitt
The Broad Majestic Shannon The Pogues
Buena Vista Social Club Buena Vista Social Club
Caminando Por la Calle Gipsy Kings
Candela Buena Vista Social Club
Captain, Captain Crooked Still
The Car Was the One Mark Knopfler
Cé Hé Mise le Ulaingt? (The Two Trees) Loreena McKennitt
Chaharmezrab, Mahur Matthew Moadel, Said Moadel & Yahya Moadel
Chan Chan Buena Vista Social Club
Choctaw Bingo James McMurtry & The Heartless Bastards
Courtyard Lullaby Loreena McKennitt
Cry Me a River Richard Thompson
Cymbeline Loreena McKennitt
Dante's Prayer Loreena McKennitt
Danza Mora Matthew Moadel, Said Moadel & Yahya Moadel
The Dark Night of the Soul Loreena McKennitt
De Camino a la Vereda Buena Vista Social Club
The Death of Queen Jane Loreena McKennitt
Dickens' Dublin (The Palace) Loreena McKennitt
Did You Sleep Well? Crooked Still
Dirty Old Town The Pogues
Djobi Djoba Gipsy Kings
Don't Crash the Ambulance Mark Knopfler
Don't Sit on My Jimmy Shands Richard Thompson
Dos Gardenias Buena Vista Social Club
Down By the Sally Gardens Loreena McKennitt
Duende Gipsy Kings
Dusty Pages James McMurtry
Easy There, Steady Now Richard Thompson
El Camino Gipsy Kings
El Carretero Buena Vista Social Club
El Cuarto de Tula Buena Vista Social Club
The Emigration Tunes Loreena McKennitt
The English Ladye and the Knight Loreena McKennitt
Escucha Me Gipsy Kings
Este Mundo Gipsy Kings
Faena Gipsy Kings
Fairytale Of New York The Pogues
Far Away Evgeny Belaiaev/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band/Col. Boris Alexandrov
Fast Food Richard Thompson
Fiesta The Pogues
Fire Line Road James McMurtry
Florence Crooked Still
For The Sake Of Mary Richard Thompson
Forro da Fruta (Bonus Track) Carlinhos Brown & Mikael Mutti
Freeway View James McMurtry
Full Circle Loreena McKennitt
The Gates of Istanbul Loreena McKennitt
The Gentleman Soldier The Pogues
Get Lucky Mark Knopfler
God Loves a Drunk Richard Thompson
Greensleeves Loreena McKennitt
Grey Walls Richard Thompson
Gwenlaise Scott Cossu with Eugene Friesen
Habla Me Gipsy Kings
Hands Like Rain James McMurtry
Hanohano Wale No Na Cowboy / Ka Huila Wai Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Henehene Kou 'Aka Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Hi'ilawe Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
The Highwayman Loreena McKennitt
Homayoun-Bidad, Soleares Matthew Moadel, Said Moadel & Yahya Moadel
Hotel California (Spanish Mix) Gipsy Kings
Huron 'Beltane' Fire Dance Loreena McKennitt
Hurricane Party James McMurtry
I Can't Wake Up To Save My Life Richard Thompson
I Feel So Good Richard Thompson
I Misunderstood Richard Thompson
I Ride In Your Slipstream Richard Thompson
I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day The Pogues
I've Got No Strings Gipsy Kings
If I Should Fall From Grace With God The Pogues
In This Life Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Incantation Loreena McKennitt
Inspiration Gipsy Kings
Iolanthe James McMurtry
Jaleandando Gipsy Flamenco Guitarras
Jesse James The Pogues
Just Us Kids James McMurtry
Kaleohano Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Kalinka Evgeny Belaiaev/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band/Col. Boris Alexandrov
Kecharitomene Loreena McKennitt
Keep Your Distance Richard Thompson
King Of Bohemia Richard Thompson
La 'Elima Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
La Bayamesa Buena Vista Social Club
La Dona Gipsy Kings
La Rumba de Nicolas Gipsy Kings
La Serenissima Loreena McKennitt
The Lady of Shalott Loreena McKennitt
Lights Of Cheyenne James McMurtry & The Heartless Bastards
London Girl The Pogues
Low Down and Dirty Crooked Still
Lullaby Of London The Pogues
Madame Geneva's Mark Knopfler
Mahur-Reng Matthew Moadel, Said Moadel & Yahya Moadel
Main Title Maurice Jarre
Malaguena, Isfahan Matthew Moadel, Said Moadel & Yahya Moadel
Malaguena, Isfahan, Janeh Marayam Matthew Moadel, Said Moadel & Yahya Moadel
Marco Polo Loreena McKennitt
Marrakesh Night Market Loreena McKennitt
Mas Que Nada (2011 Rio Version) Sergio Mendes
Mascara Tears Richard Thompson
Medley: The Recruiting Sergeant/The Rocky Road to Dublin/Galway Races The Pogues
Memorial Day James McMurtry
Metropolis The Pogues
MGB-GT Richard Thompson
Mi Corazon Gipsy Kings
A Mi Manera (My Way) Gipsy Kings
Mingus Eyes Richard Thompson
Mona Lisa Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Monteleone Mark Knopfler
Moon Cradle Loreena McKennitt
Moorea Gipsy Kings
Moorea Gipsy Rayes
Mother Knows Best Richard Thompson
Mujer Gipsy Kings
The Mummers' Dance Loreena McKennitt
Murmullo Buena Vista Social Club
Mystery Wind Richard Thompson
The Mystic's Dream Loreena McKennitt
Navigator The Pogues
Never Ending Road (Amhrán Duit) Loreena McKennitt
Night Ride Across The Caucasus Loreena McKennitt
No Vivere Gipsy Kings
No Volveré Gipsy Kings
Oh Eh Oh Eh Gipsy Kings
Oh, Agamemnon Crooked Still
The Old Main Drag The Pogues
The Old Ways Loreena McKennitt
On a Bright May Morning Loreena McKennitt
Oops!...I Did It Again Richard Thompson
'Opae E Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Orgullecida Buena Vista Social Club
Oy Gipsy Kings
A Pair of Brown Eyes The Pogues
Panini Puakea Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
The Parting Glass Loreena McKennitt
The Parting Glass The Pogues
Passion Gipsy Kings
Penelope’s Song Loreena McKennitt
Pharaoh Crooked Still
Pida Me La Gipsy Kings
A Pistol for Paddy Garcia The Pogues
Planxty Noel Hill The Pogues
Poor Ellen Smith Crooked Still
Prologue Loreena McKennitt
Prospero's Speech Loreena McKennitt
Psycho Street Richard Thompson
Pueblo Nuevo Buena Vista Social Club
Punish the Monkey Mark Knopfler
Quiero Saber Gipsy Kings
Racing To The Red Light James McMurtry
A Rainy Night In Soho The Pogues
Read About Love Richard Thompson
Red Dress James McMurtry
The Rocky Road to Dublin (Live) The Dubliners
Ruby and Carlos James McMurtry
Sacred Shabbat Loreena McKennitt
Sally MacLennane The Pogues
Samain Night Loreena McKennitt
Samba de Orly Bebel Gilberto
Santiago Loreena McKennitt
Sapo Cai Carlinhos Brown & Mikael Mutti
The Scaffolder's Wife Mark Knopfler
Shane And Dixie Richard Thompson
Shenandoah Richard Thompson
The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn The Pogues
Sin Ella Gipsy Kings
Sit Down By The Fire The Pogues
Skellig Loreena McKennitt
Snow flakes I. Didenko/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band/Col. Boris Alexandrov
So Far From the Clyde Mark Knopfler
Soldiers' Chorus (from The Decembrists) Col. Boris Alexandrov/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band
Somewhere Over the Rainbow Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Song For A Deck Hand's Daughter James McMurtry
Song of the Plains (Meadowland) Col. Boris Alexandrov/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band
Song of the Volga Boatmen Artur Eizen/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band/Col. Boris Alexandrov
South Australia The Pogues
Soy Gipsy Kings
Standing Stones Loreena McKennitt
The Star of the County Down Loreena McKennitt
Starting All Over Again Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Streets Of Sorrow/Birmingham Six The Pogues
Taking My Business Elsewhere Richard Thompson
Tango to Evora Loreena McKennitt
Tell Her To Come Back Home Crooked Still
Ternuras Gipsy Kings
Theme from "The Absentee" Crooked Still
Thousands Are Sailing The Pogues
A Ti a Ti Gipsy Kings
Too Long In The Wasteland James McMurtry & The Heartless Bastards
Trista Pena Gipsy Kings
True Love Will Never Fade Mark Knopfler
Tu Quieres Volver Gipsy Kings
A Tu Vera Gipsy Kings
Turkish Song Of The Damned The Pogues
Ukrainian Poem Aleksei Sergeiev/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band/Col. Boris Alexandrov
'Ulili E Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Un Amor Gipsy Kings
Undone In Sorrow Crooked Still
Valsa Carioca Sergio Mendes
Vamos a Bailar (Live) Gipsy Kings
Veinte Años Buena Vista Social Club
Viento del Arena Gipsy Kings
Volare Gipsy Kings
Wading Deep Waters Crooked Still
Walk Between The Raindrops James McMurtry
The Way That It Shows Richard Thompson
Where to Now Tristan Clarridge
Why Must I Plead Richard Thompson
Wild Cats of Kilkenny The Pogues
The Wind That Shakes the Barley Loreena McKennitt
Worms The Pogues
Y Tú Qué Has Hecho? Buena Vista Social Club
You are always beautiful Evgeny Belaiaev/Soviet Army Chorus/Soviet Army Band/Col. Boris Alexandrov
You Dream Too Much Richard Thompson
Zambra Matthew Moadel, Said Moadel & Yahya Moadel
1952 Vincent Black Lightning Richard Thompson

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Live

I can see the promise of fall from where I sit in the Sky chair on the front porch sipping a ginormous iced coffee (the ice is also coffee so it will not dilute--serendipity, not design). The morning is cool and sweet, and--like the promise of spring in Chicago in April--not to last. It will be hot again this summer, but for now, it's beautiful.

I have come up for air but briefly before being consumed by the book again. But I do not lament the coming plunge back into the deep. It may be taking more time than I ever thought possible to write, but it is also incredible. I cannot believe the joy and renewal I am finding in the techniques and projects. Even when I am exhausted (as I always am on Monday after staying up very late on Sunday to finish the weekly pages and send them to my editor) I dream both the creativity and science of glass so energetically and vividly that it is hard to stay asleep.

It's funny how when I look back on first dabbling in the alchemy that is kiln-forming glass I didn't really care about the how and the why; I just wanted what came at the end. But now when I look at a technique from a different discipline that I want to adapt to glass, I find myself wanting to know all about it--the history, the science of how and why it works, and how it is being used (or not) today. Only a tenth of that background will make it into the book, but that doesn't stop me from being Tom Petty: I Need To Know. (Side note: It's been so long since I've posted here that I forgot for a minute how to add a link to text... Brain full).

In spite of the book, or probably, becaue of it, I managed to do a piece yesterday to submit to the Niche Awards. It still needs a lot of coldworking... Actually it probably doesn't need much coldworking at all, but I need to (and am, indeed, looking forward to) coldwork it so coldworking it will get.

Enough of a break: There are lists to make and a few pesky life and studio tasks to get out of the way before I can submerge into the depths again for a few hours (days). Bliss.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Old Age, Not War, is Hell

Caribou Mahogany coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, the faint beeping of the construction vehicles backing up as they build a house next door for background music. Chan Chan by Buena Vista Social Club plays in my head. The book progresses (though slowly), the production work progresses (on schedule), and I spent the weekend learning to make paperweights in production. Making them in production is a lot harder than either making them for fun or making them for retail sale. Paperweights made for fun are always perfect, and if there is something you consider an imperfection in paperweights made for retail it doesn't matter as flaws are in the eye of the beholder so someone either buys it in spite of or because of the "flaw"--or doesn't see it as either--or doesn't buy it. But production paperweights (55 of them) made for the same client need to be perfect... and identical.

Tadashi made most of the paperweights while helping me hone my skills, and this week it's up to me to grind and polish the bottoms--not because we didn't firepolish finish the bottoms, but because I then have to sandblast the client's logo on the flat, polished bottom. It will be a full week. Oh yes--and writing, and projects to write about.

Right now I am sitting at the orthopedic (though they spell it orthopaedic) surgeon's office with my mom waiting for her to get in to see a doctor about removing the calcifications from the top of her foot that have grown into the tendon. Being old is hell. It's not so bad growing old, but I look around me at those who have arrived at old age (at least those dealing with orthopedic issues, which is probably all of them), and it doesn't look any fun at all. I want to live forever, but I don't want my body to wear out along the way (my mind either).

But growing old (heck, maybe even growing up) is for future Brenda. Present Brenda needs to get back to writing about gravity and glass.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Saddle Fits

I am back in the saddle again, so to speak. We returned from Montana a week ago now, J started school, and I filled my calendar with all the obligatory meetings, appointments, and stuff that comprise life in Atlanta. Even with a fuller schedule, the book goes well, and the orders for the studio are done and ready to ship as soon as I get stands from Bill...

In a sad bit of news, Tadashi and Corinna have decided that it's just not working for them for Tadashi to commute down to the studio from North Carolina every week or two for three days so he can teach classes and date nights. Domenick has stepped up to the plate to take over as many dates and lessons as he can for the short term, and I am looking at hiring another glass blower. I am also taking on some of the production responsibilities myself--as was the original plan when I got the equipment from Sara and David. Tadashi is coming down this weekend for one last time to work with me and to teach me how to do the production paperweights and flowers myself--and none to soon as I have an order for 55 paperweights.

Even though it's only been a week, Montana is a distant memory now. Life here is vibrant, color-saturated, full, and not unpleasant--though warm and moist it's also chicken-filled, and that's a plus. It's odd to have J back in school. I keep thinking that I hear her upstairs or that I need to take her to do something, but she's elsewhere.

The big news and project for the next couple of months is, of course, The Book. It's coming along well, but the deadline is now exactly two months from today, and I am going to meet it this time.

A book is an odd, living, thing. Like a child, it seems to come out with a mind and personality of its own. I certainly never expected to write so much (and still be writing it!) on the technical workings of a kiln, and yet today I am hoping to finish pyrometers, thermocouples and relays--after 20+ pages on insulation, elements, element placement and controllers I already wrote. The splitting headache I have from yesterday's dental ordeal is not helping, but I still plow on. Tomorrow, no later than Thursday, I need to have the tools and maintenance section finished and be on to the projects. Oh the fun I am having with the projects! I am doing things with glass that I had never seen or heard of anyone else doing before conceiving of them myself. I am messing around with ceramic powders, enamels, glass powders, and thin sheets this week--all things I do not usually incorporate into my own work. Research has, of course, turned up other people messing around with some of the same techniques, but I am studiously avoiding looking at their work or methodologies as I want to figure out how to do it on my own. These projects (and their write-ups) are the culmination of the work I started in Montana this summer, and just thinking about them gets me all enthused and excited in ways that hi-temp resistance wire properties and behavior just doesn't.

Now it's time to take the glass furnace lid up to Olympic to get it replaced and pick up the rebuilt furnace that they did over the summer. Then projects (and shipping), then writing, then sleep. Wash, rinse, and repeat the previous sentence (minus the shipping) for the next two months and, voila! book!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The End is Nigh...

Time for an uber quick post before heading to the lake for one last day. We're not starting back to Atlanta till Saturday, but tomorrow and Friday will be filled with writing and packing. Dave already flew to Austin yesterday morning--thus avoiding all the madness and chaos sure to ensue after six people spend two months in Montana and four of them prepare to drive back. I still haven't decided what of the studio I'm taking back. Definitely not the kiln. Maybe not the glass--though I brought a lot of powders out with me that I would need to replace.

Two months turns out to be the blink of an eye. I had many more projects scheduled than I was able to get to... but that is another post. Today is a look ahead to what little time remains. There will be one more lunch at the Smokehouse accompanied by girls romping with bunnies (and no bunnies making their way home with us--cute though they may be). I probably still won't get in the lake, but you never know--it's supposed to be pretty hot today and I may succumb.

Tomorrow my uncle and Susan are taking the girls into Missoula to the Missoula County Fair. They get to see all the 4-H exhibits, eat cotton candy, ride the rides--maybe even see some horse racing (though I don't know if it's still a part of the fair--it used to be when I was a kid). I envy them, and would like to go, but my editor is adamant I write instead. *sigh* crack that whip!

Kyla's parents arrive Friday night to scoop her up on their way further west to a wedding. I am supposed to be at a reunion for staff of my high school newspaper Friday night, but I'm not sure how I'm going to pull it off.

And now our friends are here and we're ready to head out! More later...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I am a Steel Magnolia

A perky sauvignon blanc accompanying a plate of Dee's chicken livers on some just-past-al-dente pappardelle with a lovely saute of mixed vegetables on the side for dinner. A perfectly appropriate southern meal on a perfect southern summer night as I watch the quintessential summer southern movie, Steel Magnolias, for the very first time. Wow. Watching Dolly Parton do Julia Roberts hair was an experience all in itself. I need my people around me now. Where's Stacy? I can't believe I am watching Steel Magnolias without Stacy! Or Todd! Where are my girlfriends?

The movie is over now, the tears are almost dried. Guess it wasn't the best movie to watch alone. Maybe I should have gone for Death Race 2 after all. *sniff*

More tomorrow. Maybe even about glass, and the book, and why I'm in Atlanta instead of Montana.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Alone In Atlanta

Upon scrounging, I found one, cold, Wild Blue and about six Blue Moons in the fridge (I only drank the Wild Blue and one of the Blue Moons). Also dug up an 1/8 of a bag of Doritos and a rice krispy treat in the pantry. Added them to the half roast beef sandwich, the banana, and the dregs of a bag of roasted almonds--all purchased at the airport in Salt Lake City this morning--and I had dinner! 

I meant to get right down to writing tonight, but instead I vegged in front of the tv and ate and drank watching Les Demoiselles de Rochefort and then The Decoy Bride. Now it's time for bed. The house is very quiet with not a living soul but me in it. I haven't been this alone at home in over 20 years! If not a person, there has always been at least a dog, a cat or a bird around (and I do have the chickens and bunnies here, but lonely though I am, I'm not inviting them in for the night). The dogs, Mom's bird, and all my peeps are cosied up in Montana tonight. I am in Atlanta to get a big commission and some other orders out, and to escort a couple of Jessie's friends back to Montana on the plane next week. I don't like it here alone, but maybe I'll get some good writing done.

Tomorrow night I'll order pizza and open a bottle of champagne. Saturday night there'll be chicken livers up at Dee's. But tonight, it's just me. Think I'll go borrow a stuffed animal from J's room to sleep with.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Breather

I come up for air today after several very intense weeks of writing, researching, experimenting, and hypothesizing. Who knew mucking about with hot glass was so much like science? A few weeks ago I was delving into physics with the study of thermodynamics and electricity. Recently it's been chemistry with a focus on what pigments are how they react with heat (temperature and time), each other, glass, air, etc. I've been trying to beat colored things of different natures into shape and make them do my bidding, but so far they just keep laughing in my face. Cadmium is especially annoying. (Yes, I am mucking about with cadmium, chromium, cobalt, selenium, and a bunch of other um's that could probably end my life spectacularly if I did not take sufficient safety precautions. I am taking such precautions.)

The reason for the post today after such a long hiatus is that I had another official slip in the book deadline and we are now looking at October 21. October seems simultaneously safely far away and terrifyingly near. It won't be easy to finish even with the extension, but at least I can envision finishing.

....I sat down to write this post over an hour ago and now after all the distractions and phone calls I can't remember what more I had that I wanted to say. Guess I'll just go back to writing my tome.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Let July Begin!

It's a coolish and rainy morning. I have been up for an hour writing, and the rest of the house slumbers on--even Dave. I'm glad the weather is inclement today as yesterday it was so beautiful I ended up playing hooky with the family and heading out to the Lake and then on to dinner at the East Shore Smokehouse.

Yesterday was a challenging day in the Atlanta studio as the crucible in the glass furnace finally gave up the ghost and cracked, spilling molten glass into the bottom of the furnace. The floor of the furnace is made from soft firebrick and it took the glass almost no time to eat right through it and start pouring out onto the cement floor of the hotshop. I have yet to see the gruesome photos of the carnage, but I did get a wake-up call first thing with a description of the damage. Tadashi has the weekend off which left Domenick on his own to deal with it (and Judy to deal with the people scheduled for dates). All dates in the hotshop for the weekend, of course, had to be rescheduled or refunded (at the participants' option). Fortunately the furnace was designed to handle this kind of failure as it has an inexpensive floor that is a separate piece from the rest of the furnace, attached with a couple of latches to the sides. Domenick even thinks he can replace the firebrick in the floor himself this evening and have the furnace up and running (with another crucible) by tomorrow. I hope he can as the timing--4th of July holiday coming up, Dee leaving for here, etc., couldn't be worse.

Now I need coffee. I had a hard time sleeping all night, and though I felt impelled to get up and write this morning, I can barely keep my eyes open.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tribulations and Trials

Yesterday was another incredible day from both work and personal perspectives. I didn't get as much writing done as I would have liked even though I worked on the book pretty much all day. But what I did accomplish--finally working out the logistics for one of the techniques I want to include but hadn't been able to work out exactly how to do it--was great. Then in the evening I had a couple of perfect parenting moments with Jessie and wife/partnering moments with Dave. I went to bed with a smile on my face and celebrated by getting up a little late this morning... whereupon everything went to shinola.

Understanding what's going with Jessie at mealtimes and helping her to communicate more effectively and less offensively about eating is child's play compared to trying to help her with her summer school work. I not not planned to spend time on it with her this morning, but it needed to be done. I had planned to write, but now I'm so frazzled from trying to explain counting in fractions that I can't even remember what color theory is and I could care less what tools I have added to my inventory since the last book.

Time for a couple of deep breaths and maybe a little medication, I mean meditation. On the plus side, I can make glass that floats!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Never Fear

For all those concerned with my current writing output never fear. I AM writing other than here (and now Stranded in the South), and I am writing A LOT. This morning my head is already bursting with book things I need to get on paper so I'm going to go do that NOW. No more posting. If you want more post, see last night's Stranded.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Caloo Calay!

The rest of the line from which comes the title of this post is "no work today, we're cabbages and kings!". Good thing I am neither a cabbage nor a king as I have PLENTY of work today. Notwithstanding the abundance of work, I will also be going to lake with Dave and the J today--I'll be writing up the projects I am doing this morning. As it's almost noon now, and we want to spend the afternoon at the lake, and I have at least an hour of work in the studio before we go, and we need to stop for walking shoes (for Dave) Keene sandals (for me) and a nerf gun (for J--and maybe a defensive one for me and Dave), I had better leave the long posting for another day. Wherever you are, I hope your weather might end up half as fine today as it is here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Seductiveness of Research

The delicate tinkle of wind chimes from the back deck, the gurgle of the coffee maker, and the hum of the refrigerator are my morning Montana music. The warm aroma of the coffee wafts across the cool air coming in from outside, twining with it until they both caress my nose. It's going to be a good day.

Dave is off on a walk, J, Mom and the dogs are still sleeping--Jig in with Jessie and Baxter in with Mom. Bailey, Mom's cockatiel, woken by my tapping on the keyboard as I sit next to his covered cage, has begun a drowsy morning song. I have been awake on and off since 4:24 (you know it's actually starting to get light here at 4:24 am, and it isn't dark till about 10:30--you gotta love summer in the far north) and I really need my coffee this morning.

Yesterday I didn't do much writing, but I did do a bunch of research reading and fact-checking for the section on color and color theory. I read the color theories described by Leon Battista Alberti in 1435, Leonardo Da Vinci in 1490, and Sir Isaac Newton in 1704. From there I explored "The Munsell Color System" by T. M. McCleland from 1935 and read Munsell's own articles from The Psychological Bulletin in 1909 and The American Journal of Psychology in 1912 on the relation of the intensity of chromatic stimulus to chromatic sensation and a pigment color system and notation.  Munsell led to ordering copies of "Josef Albers: Glass, Color, and Light" (Guggenheim Museum) by Fred Licht, Nicholas Fox Weber, and "Interaction of Color: Revised and Expanded Edition" by Josef Albers, Nicholas Fox Weber. Then Dave brought up color and linguisitics right before dinner and...

...I got lost in the scholarly literature surrounding the misnamed Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity and the effect of one's native language on color perception (and ordered a copy of "Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf"). From there I jumped to "Revisting Basic Color Terms" by Barbara Saunders, and began delving into Levinson's "Yeli Dnye and the Theory of Basic Color Terms". I decided that, as much as I enjoyed Chomsky's principles of generative syntax in graduate school, I am not at heart a universalist, and I don't subscribe to the theories proposed in Berlin and Kay's "Basic Color Terms"...

...and now today I have already spent three hours back lost in the research docs and on this post--and have written nothing in the book. I did add Zotero to my writing tools and integrated it with Scrivener, but I don't think that is enough of a win to justify the lack of productive word count. 

Think I should get writing for real? Me too!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 2

The alarm went off at 6:30, and both Dave and I groaned and said, "Let's sleep some more." We had already decided before setting the alarm last night that we wouldn't walk this morning. Instead, we'd save our energy to load the old garage-floor carpets into the minivan for the dump and set-up the studio equipment. So when we decided to sleep a bit more, I was prepared to reset the alarm for 7:00. But Dave was a rebel and recommended that we just wake naturally. Of course 15 minutes later I was wide awake and guilty as all get out for not getting up on Day 2 of the summer regime. So showered and dressed by 7:15, I commenced my writing day as the rest of the household slept.*

Yesterday no writing was done. I spent the morning ordering the last of the equipment I'll need for the studio here (a bench top blast cabinet) and starting Jessie on her summer homeschool program. The latter of those went surprisingly well. The afternoon began with a trip to the recycling center to empty out Mom's old minivan and make room in it for the carpet going to the dump (not only do you have to separate everything out here, but you also have to drive 15 miles a neighboring town to the recycling center as there's no pick-up). Then we came back to the house and switched vehicles for a trip to the lake property to unload everything stuffed into my minivan designated for storage there from it so we could stop at WalMart (the ONLY local version of the old-time mercantile store) on the way home to get J a new bookcase. I plan to take the metal storage shelving from her room today to use in the studio so she needed a replacement. And finally, we went to the post office to find out where, between Atlanta and here, our mail is. The only less-than-successful stop was the post office as they, unsurprisingly, have no clue where our mail is. The day ended with cello for J--and I'm going to have to rethink the cello timing a bit as doing it at the end of the day resulted in several meltdowns on J's part and a less-than-good practice. The carpenter also came to talk to me (again) about replacing the rotting deck here and adding a roof over a section of it in back. 

Today the electrician comes to put in the wiring for the kiln, and everything we bought last week gets delivered. It's going to be a chaotic day, and I am determined to write in spite of it! Now onward and penward.

*Dave slept in for about 10 minutes after I began this post. So much for a sleepy morning in.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A New Chapter

I've hemmed, and I've hawed. I've dillied and dallied. But now it's time for some metaphor that means let's get on with It. The first half of my year is over--with all its attendant requirements, obligations, responsibilities, and necessities. Now the next quarter begins, and I have been looking forward to it for months! This quarter is Montana and the book. That's it. I am setting up a small studio today in Polson for testing and experimental work--no production. The Atlanta studio continues to run without me thanks to the uber-capable Judy, Dee, Becky, Tadashi, Todd, Brian and Domenick. The house, chickens, bunnies and pond are being cared for by Stacy and my cousins Andrew and Rachel who just moved here from Tucson--as well as Judy and Dee (eggs ahoy!). I have shed my southern skin and settled into my northern roots--at least for awhile.

A lot has happened since I last posted--so much that I didn't even have time to write about it. Fast forward to the first week in June. While Dave went to Austin for his regular work trip in the beginning of June, I moved the rest of the family (sans the aforementioned chickens and bunnies) to my mom's house in Polson for a summer up at Flathead Lake. On the way, we stopped in Florence Kentucky for a weekend so I could take a two-day enameling workshop in nearby Newport at the WW Carpenter Enamel Foundation--part of Thompson Enamels. It was an intense, amazing experience, and I look forward to adding enameling and cloisonne to the studio's class offerings and my personal work in the fall. In the meantime, the workshop will provide material for The Book.

The Monday morning after the workshop we left Kentucky in the fully (and I mean to the ceiling fully) loaded minivan. In the way back was our luggage for the summer, everything I need to set up a small studio--including a medium-sized kiln on a stand. On top of the kiln and stretched across the rest of the boxes nestled up to the roof was Jessie's cello. It's going to be a summer for Jessie too--but more on that in a minute. In the middle if the car in the passenger seats were Jessie, her luggage, some more glass studio supplies, and the dogs with all their food and gear. Mom and I and her bird shared the front (the bird was in his travel cage between the front seats). The drive from Florence to Polson took two days and covered almost 2,000 miles, crossing three major rivers and winding through the massive mountain range that is the Rockies before finally traversing the continental divide into western Montana.

The next couple of days after our arrival were not spent resting up. Instead we cleaned out the big family room downstairs preparatory to making it our main living space for the summer. We hauled out trash, recycling, stuff for the second-hand store, and stuff to store at the lake (there's a big metal building on our property there for storage and workshop). Dave flew into Missoula from Austin on Thursday, and I went and got him and brought him up to Polson.

In the last couple of days we acquired the last things we need to make this house a complete home-away-from-home and put together Jessie's summer study schedule. Our acquisitions include a comfy couch, a big tv (we brought the Apple tv and all our movies on hard drives with us), an outdoor table and chair set, and a gas grill. I also upgraded the house wireless--turns out we still had a 256k pipe. As of tomorrow it will be 8Mb--and finally adequate for Dave to work form the house and us to rent movies on-line from Netflix.

Jessie's summer study packet is a magnum opus all on its own. She has math worksheets, flashcards, timed worksheets and quizzes. She has over 2400 pages to read in eight books, weekly spelling lists, cello review and new songs, eye exercises (to strengthen her eye muscles), daily journaling (for writing), a photography course, and a programming class with her father. All the materials--including worksheets for extra credit (points she can use to buy things or get special treats)--are in a binder with these pages for guidance/reference. I now have a sense what homeschooling would entail, and I know that if push came to shove, I could definitely do it.

This morning started at 6:30 with a four-mile walk with Dave. Now I'm posting, and in a few minutes I will roust Jessie to being her day, and I'll head into the new studio to set-up and begin working on the book again! Dave is off to the coffee shop for better bandwidth. This is truly the life.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Quickie!

Medium mocha with an extra shot of espresso in a Kavarna go-cup, no music... is the sound system broken? Already had a call with a client, getting ready to meet  with the housesitter before another meeting from 10-11 and then taking J to a developmental opthamologist (or optometrist--I can't remember which she is) at 12:20. That's all before I get to the studio! It's a full, full, full day. Just got another big order, and I have some research and supply-ordering to do for the book. Wheeeeeee!

The two days in Blue Ridge were amazing for my mind and the book. I naively thought I'd get a lot of writing done--and I was of course incorrect--but I didn't realize how much benefit I would get from uninterrupted research and notes time. I had hours on end at the computer with no one even talking to me unless I initiated the conversation. It was heaven!

And now my next meeting is about to start so I'll put this up, and get on with the day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Writing Again

It's been a long time since I've posted. It's been a long time since I've written. I'm a bit rusty. But today is all about writing so I am stretching my fingers and my brain by blogging--I call it writer's yoga. It limbers everything up and gets the juices flowing.

Outside the window next to me, just past the end of the deck, the trees rise through the early morning fog. The tops of the dogwoods, maples, oaks and pines are revealed in varying degrees of relief as they march down the mountain. I'd be outside on the deck soaking in the silence and the feel of the morning's still silence were the chairs and everything else out there not covered with the tangible, moist presence of the fog. Like the fog in my brain, the fog outside the window will burn off in a few hours, leaving me with the rolling vista of trees covering the Blue Ridge mountains for as far as I can see. With my mental fog gone, I will be in full writing mode and immersed in pounding out my book for the next two months. At last.

Of course I'm not in Atlanta. If you missed that, I'm a piss-poor writer and foggier than I thought. Yesterday after our silversmithing class, Becky brought Mom and me up to the Hinton cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains for a couple of days so I could forget the rest of the world and just write. The pic shown was actually taken here at the cabin, but by the security system and not during our visit. The first time I saw it I focused on the red table and chair set, but the real interest is the black object coming over the deck rail on the left...

Mom is reading and crocheting (not right now, right now she's sleeping) and Becky is working on her own projects so we are all quite content in the silence of our own endeavors. I, as I mentioned before, am limbering up and straining to see and write clearly. I left my Kindle at home and am shunning Plants vs. Zombies on my iPhone (except in the bathroom--there are limits to my self-restraint after all). I am also reading email sparingly and avoiding surfing the net unless it's for book research. Such restraint...

Though I have not been writing for the past several weeks, the studio has not been quiet. The dichroic glass from Sara has been processed into inventory (thank you Dee), one of the crucible kilns is being fitted with new lids of a modified design, and the latest Bullseye order will arrive today with Dee going down to direct the delivery and start unloading it. On a more somber note, Night Shadows, one of the studio hens, has gone to greener pastures/browner worms--or to a hawk, coyote or owl. Though we miss her, we are still getting 5-7 eggs a day so no one other than Jessie is even thinking of replacing her.

Okay, the fog outside has not burned off, but it's time for me to get on with the real writing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Feathering One's Nest

It looks like I didn't give away the last male baby bunny in time. When female bunnies are getting ready to give birth, they tear fur out of their bellies with which to line their nests for the babies. Jasmine did this the last time she gave birth and that is what alerted me to the fact that she was expecting--she didn't get very big and doesn't like anyone touching her belly so I didn't know by her tummy size. This time Jasmine apparently has decided she has a much better source of nesting material and treated me today to a gathering of it.

In order to properly present the story I must needs provide a bit of background. Every morning the chickens clamor to be let out of the coop into the yard where they scatter and do their free-ranging thing. They usually do this without going first into the play yard where their food and water are located so they can break their fast. So round about noon, they want to go in to the plentiful food and water in the bins. Today when I let the chickens into the play yard--which they share with the bunnies--so they could have their midday snack, I witnessed an odd sight: As the chickens clustered around the food bin, Jasmine (momma bunny) went around behind them and starting checking out their butts. I wondered what the heck she was doing until she reached up, grabbed a bunch of soft, downy butt feathers with her teeth, and yanked! The targeted chicken squawked and pulled away--leaving Jasmin with a mouthful of feathers. She took off with them, and upon her return, grabbed another chicken.  On one of her butt-grabs, the chicken to which she was attached swung around and Jasmine didn't let go. Instead, she went arcing around and flew off with a wad of downy grey tufting out of her mouth. I so wish I had thought to snap a picture!

When I told Dee about her activities, we went and looked out in the play yard/hutch for the nest, but I didn't see it. Then Dee pointed out where somebunny had dug a big burrow underneath the ramp and lined it with Timothy hay. Looks like this litter is going to be born in the natural and the wild. Maybe it's time to finally get the chicken and bunny cam.

After the chickens were all let back out into the yard, Jasmine enjoyed her own drink and a nibble at the now-communal feed and water stations (the bunnies have their own in their hutch, but they like to share with the chickens).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sometimes it's all about the presentation

For the past couple of weeks, I've been working on a commission for gifts for a delegation from China.  The pieces that we made are exquisite and meticulously crafted. After all, that's what we do at Siyeh Studio. But for this particular commission, the packaging matters as much as the object. So I find myself, on this beautiful Sunday morning, finishing gluing satin lining on the inside of boxes, and handmade Mulberry paper on the outside. The pieces themselves, glass paperweights in swirling shades of green with dichroic dragonflies and ginkgo leaves dancing above, were also sandblast etched with the logo of the hosting organization. The paperweights, carefully nested in their custom-made boxes, will be picked up today. The delegation arrives Tuesday.

The rest of this fine chilly Sunday is going to be spent gardening. Last night, in the midst of sandblasting logos and gluing boxes, I planted tomatoes, basil, marjoram, chives, and tarragon. Today I have all the flowers to put in in the pots in the front yard. Then it's time to put the child to use. After all, why have children, If not to use them as yard labor?


Sunday is over, and it was wonderful. Now it's Monday and, surprisingly, still wonderful! I didn't finish the post yesterday as I was writing it with Dragon Dictate to practice with it, and I was too self conscious to keep going while Dave was cooking breakfast--overhearing everything I was saying. Especially since he asked if I was paused because he wanted to play something for me. The something turned out to be the Georgia Satellite song "I Love You Period" (not surprising since one of the hardest parts of writing with Dragon is remembering to say the punctuation):

"I love you period
Do you love me question mark
Please, please exclamation point
I want to hold you in parentheses
I love you period
Do you love me question mark
Please, please exclamation point
I want to hold you in parentheses"

After finishing the boxes for the paperweights and doing the last quality control with Mom and Dee, I did, indeed, get to garden for the rest of the day. I had such a glow of accomplishment at the end of the day for completing not one but TWO projects that I am rip rarin' to start something new today! Guess I'll just have to be satisfied with putting together the new classroom chairs for the studio and getting a kiln load in. Maybe I'll end the day by getting the rest of the plants in pots--I ran out of dirt yesterday and had to get more this morning. And speaking of dirt, the chickens have decided that the absolute bestest place to indulge in a group dust bath is in the corner of my vegetable garden... Need to break them of that habit before they tear up all the new tomato plants I put in yesterday!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Breathing Room

A little Strongbow cider before bed and a quick update: I have an extension on the book till August 15. Cynthia, I may be heading to Portland... More tomorrow.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Always Darkest In Front Of an Empty Page

My husband just shared this lovely post with me from the blog of a Real writer (my words, not his). I'm a writer too, doncha know. I'm a writer who produced in the past week Not One Single Word of my manuscript which is due in 1107 hours. Hours? What's this hours nonsense? I put it out in hours as it looks farther away that way than it does in days (45, for the inquiring minds).

Monday through Saturday I was able to cope with Not Writing. Monday through Saturday I was a studio owner/studio artist/teacher, and I was swamped in those roles. I was even able to thoroughly enjoy some time carved out for my family over the weekend (dancing under the stars and sleeping on the trampoline). I was able to do all of those things because I held Sunday in front of me. Bright, shining, pure, empty Sunday--today, in other words--as the day I would finally conquer the structure of the book and the schedule of my time, and I would Begin To Write In Earnest. This epic Sunday would naturally prepare me for a stellar Monday and 90,000 words written in the next 45 days. (Do the math. Even without Real Life, it's not pretty, or, dare I say, even possible.)

I meant to get up at 6:00 am this morning, but I didn't set an alarm because I figured if my body was able to get up, it would. If it needed a little more sleep, I should let it have it. I got up at 8:30. Then I worked on tax papers until 3:00--from 12:00 - 3:00 with our accountant. Then I had a couple of loose ends at the studio--materials and firings--to clear up. Then I had the last two baby bunnies to deliver to their new home. Then the Apple TV needed reset, and dinner was consumed, and family time spent, and cello practiced with J, and J showered and into bed... And now it's 9:20. I have consumed a bit of wine, and I am not able to make heads or tales of the outline from which I am to write this book. Is this it? Do I throw in the towel and myself on the publisher's mercy and beg for an extension through the summer? A cynical little corner of my brain just piped up with, "Would it matter if they said yes?".

All I can do is think of the natural state of my business (and the theater business in Shakespeare in Love) and hope that it will all turn out ok (it's a mystery). Or I can beg.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Not a Damn Word

Yesterday was a hit-the-ground-running day that left no time for a post. Suffice it to say I played throw the knife, catch the knife all day, and somehow managed to get everything done... except any writing. It is a sad, bleak little note that were it not for the book, my work-life would pretty perfect and balanced right now. But there is The Book, and sooner rather than later I am going to have to face it. But not today. Today I teach a class this morning and a private birthday party this afternoon. The birthday party is for six girls and they are going to make wind chimes. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.

Yesterday the day started with my failing to change the blade on the tile saw. The screws to get into the assembly were rusted so badly that even after four applications of WD-40 I couldn't get them loose. I was ready to give up and finally invest in a good tile saw, but Tadashi gave it a try and now my little Workforce tile saw is back in business. Whew. I don't really have money to spend on a new upgraded tile saw right now.

In the middle of the day we had a visit from one of our gallery clients, Skip MacLaren of Reflections Kaleidoscopes. We got to show him everything but the chickens before he had to head back to the kaleidoscope convention.

Jessie also returned from her 20-mile hike last night. She was tired but exhilarated. We celebrated with homemade pizza (NOT baked in the kiln) and Steve Martin's "Roxanne". After the movie, we danced under the stars in the backyard and capped off the night by making a big family bed on the trampoline with the faux fur blankets under us and our big down comforter on top. Thanks to our mosquito system it was a BEAUTIFUL night (none of us got bitten once), and we will definitely do it again. Camping, Griffith style. If you look carefully you can see J's tousled head still nestled next to her grey rabbit Bun-Bun in the covers. I got to sleep in the middle and was warm and toasty all night. Dave and J had the outsides, but they both reported (when the chickens woke us at first light) having slept nicely toasty too even though it got down to 46 degrees. If I hadn't had to get up, I'd probably still be in sleeping with J!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tempus Fugit

Was a page written yesterday? No. Even a word in the book? No. The entire day was spent locating and ordering packaging materials for a special order we've been working on for the past couple of weeks, and dealing with normal orders and issue build-up after a week gone. The order is for a foreign delegation and everything in the presentation has to be just right so I find myself covering boxes with handmade mulberry paper and lining the insides with silk--or at least gathering all the materials so that I can do the actual covering and lining next week.

I am getting stressed enough about the lack of writing that I'm not sleeping well. At all. Today I am booked solid through noon, then I have kiln loads to get in, THEN I hope to have time to write. I'm not too optimistic, however, as I am already exhausted from two nights of little sleep and late afternoon is already a low energy time for me. All I can do is try.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dictation, Dictation, Dicatation

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug. My mother found the Bluetooth headset yesterday so I am practicing my dictation. So far it looks like it recognizes my voice pretty well. Dave is in Austin. Andrew and Rachel and mom are all still asleep, so the only sounds in the house by the ticking of the clock, and the snoring of the dogs.Jessie left for her class camping trip this morning with new hiking shoes, a Camelback water bladder, and a new pack that was fitted to her at REI. She weighs 71 lbs and--including shoes--is carrying 14 lbs of gear. Each child is supposed to carry 20% of his/her body weight so we nailed that one.

Today begins the major writing on the book. Finally. I still have hopes of making my deadline of June 1. But I must admit that I am nervous, as time really is getting tight. I think I'll do a warm-up   by fixing the sagging elements in the furnace, and checking for any burned-out elements that need replacement.  I'll also do a vacuum and clean out of all the killed. Finally, I'll finish with changing out of thermocouple, and replacing relays. That should just about get me through the kiln maintenance section of the book. This is the section that I really wanted the Bluetooth headset for.  I need to be able to have my hands free while working in the kiln. (Switching back and forth from dictation mode to command mode to spelling mode is going to take time to get used to. Using DragonDictate requires a whole new way of thinking about thinking, and thinking about writing.)

Today is also my 1st day back in the studio preparing for the new round of classes I have coming up.  Sign up for them so far has not been as good as I would like. I am considering whether or not to send out a mid-month newsletter with lists of the classes that still have space available in them, and the times they are offered. On the other hand, since I am teaching all but the Sunday classes  and one advanced class from now through the middle of June,  I need to think about how much time I really have to spend teaching while trying to get the book finished. And speaking of getting the book finished, it's time to get going for the day. Off to read the manual and go putter in the kiln guts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Oh Let's Post Again!

I charged my bluetooth microphone yesterday afternoon to use with the Dragon Dictate software today to work on the book. I managed to lose it within an hour of charging it. My current guess is it's buried somewhere n the couch. I'll go look there (again, really) after I finish lunch.

It's my third day home from Tucson and Morganica is tempting me to go out to see her in Portland and work on the casting section of the book. I am really tempted, but time is running out, and I just don't think I have it in me to do yet another road trip--even for Morganica and her encyclopedic knowledge of casting.  Alicia Lomne dangled the carrot of her coming down to hang out with us if I should visit, and I really, really want to... but I can't. *sigh* I can't wait till this book is done and I'm on to the next stage in life--which will be a quiet, slow one!

Time to get a quick piece in the kiln and Find The Bluetooth Microphone! More tomorrow, if I'm still alive.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Back to the World

Time to post for the first time in April. The year's scheduled events are ticking by and now the only one left before summer is The Book. The book looms, and I am sorry to say but I am a bit lost in the weeds. The cause for my flailing may be the travel and production schedule I've been subject to since February, but whatever it is, it's got to stop. TODAY. Writing output has been negligible--as exemplified by the lack of blogging. Instead, I just keep adding to the outline and organization in non-organizational and non-helpful ways.

There has, however, been one bright spot in my obsessive-compulsive ditzing around the book: I found Scrivener. It is helping me make sense of the tangle into which I have twisted my outline and topic ambitions. Today I finish the organization and Set In Stone. It's time to rise up, shake off the excess, the anxieties and the what-about-this-tools that are clinging to my skin (think golden retriever after a romp in the kiddie pool) and focus on what I already know and can do. In fact I think I remember how I did that for the first book: Every time I see some cool new tool or technique I have to say to myself, "Wow. That's neat. I need to make a note of it for Book 3." Of course there won't BE a Book 3 (though I think I said that about Book 2 at this point in the process on Book 1) but that's besides the point. I just need a way to Let Things Go.

The travel we just finished was a week in Arizona for a family wedding. First, Tucson for a couple of days (the wedding), then to Phoenix to stay with my favorite uncle for a few days. He has a front yard full of Gamble's quail, doves and a cottontail bunny (Jessie is all about the animal pics and she took all the pictures in this post). While there, we went to the Desert Botanical Gardens and J went nuts for the butterflies, lizards, roadrunner, grounds squirrels, and hummingbirds--oh yes, and the cacti too. Finally we had two days up north with a train ride to the Grand Canyon and a three-mile hike along the rim.

Now we're home, I'm charging the bluetooth headset to start dictating the book to Dragon tomorrow, and everything spins up again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, the sound of the fan in the kitchen clearing away the burned smell for music. I don't know what was burning--Mom swears it wasn't the potato she put in the microwave for breakfast.

Time continues to go by me at warp speed, but I hang on by my fingernails and avoid the wake. Since I last posted, I drove to Magdalena New Mexico for a business visit with Sara and David of Creekmore-Durham Glass. They are the friends from whom I bought all the hot-shop equipment a few years ago. This time around I got two large kilns, a watchmaker's cabinet, a Giberson (the first syllable rhymes with "give") head (and a good--though off-color--story to go with it), about 100 lbs of dichroic glass in sheet and scrap, a bunch of molds including another large sink mold, and various odds and sods.

They also shared with me a luster and glass powder technique they developed so I could include it in the book. I am amping up my skills in it by teaching it this spring in the studio. Dee went with me--ostensibly to help with the driving and take dictation for the book--but I like to drive, and we listened to all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy instead.

Since my return I got the new class write-ups on the website--and discovered flaws in my provider's infrastructure. I also wrote and sent out next quarter's newsletter--in the process uncovering if not flaws, at least serious weaknesses from my point of view--in my provider's sign-up process. Yesterday was an incredibly challenging day culminating in the Apple TV refusing to recognize the format (it's code for "I won't play for you") of any of the TV shows or movies in our home library. *sigh* I worked through that one too, but not till after we had already rented the new Three Musketeers.

The highlight of the day yesterday was discovering that all nine of our chickens are, indeed, laying eggs almost daily. We have never had more than eight eggs a day--or so we thought. Turns out one of the girls has been disdaining the nesting boxes in favor of a downy nest she made under the prickly holly bush. Jessie discovered the nest on accident and we recovered 32 eggs from it! None of them are obviously rotten (none of them float or smell), but I think they'll probably end up blown out and the insides discarded unless I can come up with a use for 60(!) eggs--the current quantity in the fridge before today's production. I would be giving them away, but I'm out of cartons (ahem, people, when you take home eggs, bring back the cartons). The carton problem will be going away soon as I finally broke down and ordered a batch on-line.

At the studio we finish the preparation for Judy's hip replacement surgery. Dee is stepping in to cover for her, my Mom deciding it was just more than she could take on--and rightly so, and Judy and Dee are reorganizing the studio, preparing for the bazillion classes I am teaching now through June, and generally making sure the baton is--temporarily--safely passed. I am confident that I can ignore them and everything will work out Just Fine.

Now for me, back to the book. Deadlines loom, gallery contributors need prodding (or initial notification--I am bad AND behind), and text needs, well, written! It's going to be an exciting spring at Siyeh Glass. If you're anywhere in the area, make sure you stop in for some madness (and check out the latest newsletter!).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Springing Ahead

I think I'll take a couple of minutes right now to post as I'm not sure when next I'll have time. The past week has passed in a blur. I can't even remember a time when I was not going full out from the second I got out of bed to the minute I fell back into it--and there is no immediate end in sight. I am in full-on author mode for the book right now and try to write for a couple of hours every morning, regardless of what else I have going on for the rest of the day. The only way to pull that off is to get up at 5:30 or 6:00 am--not my favorite time of day.

However, even with getting up that early every morning, I haven't had time to write for the past several days... What's up with that? Between the demo booth we have at the American Craft Council Show here in Atlanta, getting out the current batch of orders I have from the Buyer's Market Show, and Life (e.g., costumes for the giants and props for the dwarves for Jessie's upcoming class play, helping the 8th grade class create glass doors for the bookcase they're making for the school auction, and the silversmithing class I am taking at Spruill Center for the Arts), I have been SWAMPED! Further proof, if I needed it, that the adage "The time a task takes will expand to fill the time allotted for it" is true.

Add to everything else the same old same old of equipment maintenance, quarterly newsletter, class schedule for next quarter and payroll, and well, I'm not only in the swamp, I am also up to my ass in alligators. Friday the glass furnace went down to two working pairs of elements--just enough to keep it warm enough to blow--so yesterday morning in addition to two kiln loads before going up to the ACC Show, I had to get the relays and the repaired thermocouple back in the other furnace so Tadashi could replace the broken elements in it. Next step for me is to swap the two furnaces out Monday. However last night he texted me to let me know that two pairs of elements in the replacement furnace aren't firing even after the relays were tested and put back in and the elements were changed out. So this morning, while I wait for the kilns to cool enough from yesterday's loads to unload them, I need to see if I can figure out what's up with the furnace--loose wiring, incorrect wiring, or something completely new. If I can't get it working I'll have to run it up to Olympic tomorrow (in the copiuos free time I have left unscheduled) to have the guys there look at it so I can get it up before Tuesday.

Slipping back into marketing mode, I got all the new class descriptions written up with prices, now I have to get them scheduled on the calendar and more detailed write-ups on them done and posted to the website. People who visited us at the show are already clamoring for class times, and, as I would like to take their money (and make them happy new glass artists), I need to strike while I have their attention.

As it's the end of the quarter I have a newsletter to write--and email addresses of all the new people from the ACC who signed up to get the newsletter on our mailing list. Dee may be doing a bit more of the driving than I initially planned on the way to New Mexico so I can write. Too bad I don't have an anywhere satellite network adapter for my laptop.

New Mexico? What's this about New Mexico? Tuesday right after my metalsmithing class Dee and I are heading out to Sara and David's studio in Magdalena, just south of Albuquerque, so they can share their luster technique with me for the book and I can relieve them of more equipment--specifically big old kilns that I will use to equip the casting studio (second hotshop) that we built last year and have yet to equip. One of the kilns might also go to Montana this summer as the seed kiln for the studio there. Montana?!? I become quite the regular traveler.

Finally, in the list of oh-my-heavens-I-have-a-lot-to-do, I circle back to the Buyer's Market show. I not only have orders to produce, but I need to make follow-up calls to the people I didn't see, get the Siyeh Studio website back up, and create new 12" tiles for each colorway to photograph for said website. Yet another area wher people want access to my work and I need to give it to them.

Okay, brain (and plate) full. Think I'll end with some pics Dee took  of our booth at the ACC. I'll look at them as I sip my coffee, and I'll be happy in how much we've done without worrying about how much I have to do. Happy Spring Ahead Day, everyone!