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.