Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hooray it is grey

Woke up to grey sky. I am happy, now I am actually hearing occasional rain on my window awnings. And yesterday I pulled all the garlic from the dry dry ground, so it could cure for winter storage, just in time.

I need more embroidery floss, as the caps of maintenance project needs black embroidery; I am right out of all colors in the black-to -indigo range. A bus trip up to Hayden Island is next up, as there is nowhere nearby to buy floss. I can probably get some labels for the re-package the enamel project while I'm up there also...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday snippets

look for the tiny me ~ I was downtown last weekend, and saw this independent design sale being set up; apparently it was all being documented, since I later found this image online while skimming through blogland....

In amongst all the working, I've also made a new little collage, inspired by shadows I see when walking Smokey at night. This is the image I will be using for the on-line print swap that I've signed up for. (send away ten copies of one thing and get back ten different artist works. Should be interesting...

Speaking of Smokey, her own darling self has is blowing her summer coat already! In less than twenty minutes I combed out enough fur to make a pug, and that was nowhere even anywhere near the fur-to-come, just the first little bits from her haunches... understand why I want to get the carpet out of Acorn Cottage...even if I had a super-duper HEPA-filter carpet vacuum, which I don't, I can't keep up with her donations to the "insulation" of my floor. I'm really tempted to use my miniscule "economic stimulation" checque to put Ikea laminate flooring into my bedroom. (I'd love something more environmentally sustainable, but I haven't been stimulated anywhere near that much, in fact I'd call it more of an economic "tease"... Cork flooring would be over $1000 just for my bedroom, uninstalled, Marmoleum would be around $600 uninstalled) Anybody out there installed any of the Ikea flooring and want to comment/advise?
I'd been invited to the block party on the next street over; I brought some coleslaw to the potluck. I only know a few folk from that street, but met a few more... It was quite the party, with a beer garden area, a grilling station, and several tables of potluck to choose from. They'd strung big tarps across the street for shade, and moved many tables and chairs outside...

There was sidewalk chalk, a visit from the fire truck, and a pinata for the children, and live music for the adults, actually two different bands played, apparently there are quite a few musicians in the neighborhood

Sold enough books to Powells to get this poster for the studio,
I like the sentiment as well as the retro-propaganda-style graphic.
Though my backyard garden is still pretty feeble this year, I was watering the three little lemon cucumbers this morning, and what to my wondering eyes did appear , but the first cucumber of the year. Whoot! and the garlic is ready to harvest, which I will get to in the next day or so, since there is a possibility of RAIN in the middle of next week.
I had been worried about my front door lockset, key wasn't wanting to go in the lock easily, lockset was grabbing at the key, and it wasn't turning without great effort. After researching replacements, I decided to first try the keep-it-simple remedy: lubrication! Couldn't find any graphite powder in my toolchest, so decided that sewing machine oil was the next best thing, and now, I'm happy to relate, the locks of Acorn Cottage are back to what they should be.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

somewhat productive

I'm currently recycling another wooden drawer into some more shelves for enamel powder. (I made the other shelf months ago) I am not a woodworker, by any stretch of the imagination, but am unafraid to take my little Japanese handsaw to wood scraps. The idea is to transfer all the enamel that is in random jars into the nice tidy jars (that all have lids that open and close easily, and are all the same size) which arrived on my doorstep last week, and send the old babyfood jars to recyclingland. If the lids on the jars worked properly, I'd keep them, but I want the things in my workroom functional not frustrating. I will hang both the little shelves on the studio wall next to my sitting-workbench, having the enamels visible and organised will make it easier for both self and students. At least that is the plan.

I want to get moving on the chalkboard project. Need to arrange something with someone with a truck, as the chalkboard-masonite comes as a 4 x 8 sheet. And I need someone with better woodworking tools than I, to cut it to the size I need. The nice folk at Mr Plywood are not set up to cut stock this thin. But just imagine a nice big chalkboard in the workroom...

I'm thinking real seriously about coming to 12th night. Just checked with the hotel and they allow dogs. I'd need to sign a special waiver, taking responsibility for her being there, but there is no extra charge. If I can find roomshare folks so I can afford "hotel-ing" it, and a ride for me and the Smokester, I'm in...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hot summer day, carrying me along...

and what do I end up doing, when the temperature is over 90...why taking the afternoon off to go to the CraftPDX block party. Actually I think I was a little bit mad to go out, but the promise of paint-yr-own raku pottery had me in its spell. (Actually I did this last year and it was too much fun; I brought home two little cups with acorns) Well, this year I painted four little cups. My friend Rafny found me busy painting, I'm not sure that I was very sociable, I get pretty focused... Copper oxide and cobalt blue; some of my painted designs were a little smeared, like old "flow blue" china. The painted bands around the outside are about two inches deep, the cups themselves are not quite three inches tall.

"F" is for fox, and foliage, and feeding birds...
the glaze on this one came out a bit blurry

Inside the cups, more small painted designs...

I'm trying to make the best of the needing to stay pretty close to home this summer, by taking myself off on little mini-adventures around Portland. Last Sunday I rambled overland to the Lents International Farmers Market, and found a market that, while tiny, seemed to be a bit more what I expect in a farmers market. I brought home some baby zucchini, and a box of raspberries. (Well, some of the berries didn't make it all the way home... ) Overall, I am still looking for a good farmers market here...the one in my neighborhood has NO organic produce at all, and the big downtown market, while showcasing an amazing variety of products, is waay more expensive than even the upscale supermarkets. Sigh. The one thing I miss about Olympia is the access to food. I knew that I'd miss the Olympia Food Coop, but didn't realise I'd miss the farmers market, where it was possible to get cases of organic fruit "seconds" for canning, not to mention affordable organic produce. Heck, I can't even find organic u-pick fruit around here, though without a running car that isn't much of an option anyway... I guess I just need to get better at growing my own.
Last week I went to visit my marvelously creative friend Rois. (Her home is an inspiration to me, for the "style" I'm trying to achieve for my own home, the colours in each room, the mixture of contemporary and vintage furniture and artifacts, and the way they incorporate family artwork into the melange of their decor) We went off to see what the "bins" (Goodwill by-the-pound outlet store, for those of you not in Portland) had to offer. I came home with a big ring of skeleton keys, two board books for my young friend Heather's baby girl, and an almost new pair of black Birkinstock clogs. No picture frames though... I've been gradually collecting black picture frames, and moving my wall art into frames. We talked about having another winter holiday gift sale this year, (with better publicity).
On the way to the library, I saw a front yard all in iris, with a few other large flowers scattered throughout. I was amused; as iris blossom time is past, it gave the effect of an exceedingly large flowering meadow, with iris leaves as giant grass. I'm always looking around for non-lawn front yards, life is too short to spend it mowing the lawn, and one of my stated goals is to convert the Acorn Cottage "acreage", bit by bit, to food and flowers and fruit.
Is anyone else out there startled to see at the top of the weekend forecast on weather.com, a link to "Tournament Forecasts"? The images that came to my mind had nothing to do with what that actually signifies....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I love the internet

Summer is here really and true, yesterday I saw a tiger swallowtail fluttering over the lavender hedge in Carla's parking strip...Smokey doesn't like fireworks, and my neighbors do. She is now curled up under the computer desk by my feet, a most un-characteristic spot for her to hang out...too bad the Fourth of July isn't in the winter, when 95 pounds of warm Akita would feel nice on my feet...
Last night, in conversation while riding home from Tuesday Family Potluck, Aelfflaed reminded me that there is music on the internet... I mean, I knew that, in theory, but hadn't considered what that Meant... now as well as the reference library that is never closed, I can have a soundtrack that I actually like...cool!

A search for "Pentangle", a click on one listing, and I am transported back in time. It is April 19th 1970, Sunday night, I am fifteen, and my friend Zen and I are at the first live concert I've been to without parents. I remember that her mom drove us downtown to the Boston Tea Party, and I remember my heart lift with delight at the amazing music, and I remember that we noticed older kids smoking grass at the back of the club...

Somehow I thought that YouTube was a place for silly videos, not time-travel. I've now found Pandora, thanks again to Beth (cool, I now have my own online radio channel), and will also hunt about when times allow for possible "downloadable" music. I've already found some Richard Thompson, including my favorite "Vincent Black Lightning 1952". I'd like some kind of music player for the studio/workroom, although Acorn Cottage is so small that the computer in the living room works pretty well for tunes...
Now that she has seen it, here is my sample piece from the workshop last weekend, my interpretation of Ælfflæd's Saxon Rabbit... It made a good demo piece, (I like the Anglo-Saxon aesthetic, and cloisonne was one of their jewelry techniques) complicated enough to be interesting and show various wirebending options. I think we've decided that it will become a small brooch.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Heading into July... currant events

This weekend, Introduction to Cloisonne was the first creative workshop at Acorn Cottage; I hope using the workroom as a teaching space will become an ongoing activity... The weekend went by very quickly, and Khalja was a delight to work with, her lampworking knowledge had some overlap with the skill set needed for enameling. For a picture of her first cloisonne piece, and her review of the class, you can look on her LJ page The only real difficulty for me was that on Saturday, the high temperature was 101, not the best weather for working in front of a 1500F oven. I tried to make sure that we took plenty of "stretch and sip" breaks, and had a pitcher of iced lemon water in the kitchen, and the heat was not unbearable. Look for more workshops in the future...

Overall, I've been dealing with the weather by trying to sleep through the worst of the midday heat; of course, this is only possible on the days I'm not working. I think that "siesta" time is quite sensible. Acorn Cottage has neither air conditioning or massive amounts of insulation; I have put up the canvas canopy over the big front window, and have deployed the mylar bubblepack, which helps moderate the worst of the heat, keeping the interior about 10 - 15 degrees cooler than outside. In the next year or so, I'll need to replace the canvas canopy, formerly my SCA merchanting dayshade, it is looking quite shabby and mildewed, but does still serve to keep the sun away. I'd like to have an actual roof over the little front deck someday.

Sad I will be not to see my faraway friends...I'm going to be staying at home for the rest of the summer, pretty much ... having decided that AnTir/West, and Country Fair, both require more physical resources than I currently have. Acorn Cottage is showing signs of deferred maintenance, both indoors and outside, that my being ill since mid April has caused. While I am finally healthy (cross fingers, knock wood) I feel that putting energy towards strengthening both myself and my home, not to mention my businesses, is what is needed now.

The currant bushes that I planted a couple of years ago have their first respectable little crop of red and white (berries?) (fruits?) I'm thinking about finding a recipie for currant jelly, it looks like there is probably enough for one little jar full...

Red Currants
& White Currants