Friday, February 20, 2009

Looking for a home

I'm beginning to realize that we won't be here a whole lot longer and it makes me feel sad that we'll only be here a few more weeks. The time has gone quickly. Part of me feels ready to get somewhere and become more settled in. I'm anxious to find permanent living arrangements. But another part of me is definitely going to miss this area, the new friends I've made, and all the pottery opportunities available here.

Oh yeah, and the food!! For a town that only boasts 80,000 permanent residents, there sure is a LOT of food! I'm sure that the tourist industry and semi-permanent residents play a huge role in that fact.

From a health standpoint, it's probably a good thing we're NOT staying! This week I found a great BBQ place. Even better than Fiddlin' Pig! (Well, they don't have live music like the Pig, but the food is better - and cheaper!) It's called 12 Bones Smokehouse and it's located about 1 block away from where I do my pottery!! How convenient! The only INconvenience is that they only serve lunch, they're open 11-4 Mon - Fri. And I believe that there's a line out the door no matter what time of day or day of the week you stop in. That's cuz it's gooooooood!! and reasonably priced as I mentioned....a pulled pork sandwich with 2 sides is 6 bucks. Delicious sides too, I might add. I opted for the jalepeno grits and mashed sweet potatoes. They must've had 20 people working behind the counter! It's definitely not a fancy joint. I noticed the thermostat said it was only 59 degrees inside. I guess it keeps the help from over-heating. Anyways, if you're ever in Asheville, you need to visit 12 Bones. I stood in line 20 minutes to get my food and it was definitely worth the wait!!

We think we may have found a campgrounds to stay at in Indiana while we're waiting for the grand-son to arrive (and looking for our new home.) It's called Hidden Paradise and it's located in St. Paul, Indiana. It's about 50 minutes SW of Dustin and Megan's place. I actually came across them when I was on the geocaching website. I think our friends from Cincinnati found a cache there. What really caught my eye was that I saw there was a cache hidden there that you have to scuba dive in order to find! That intrigued me!

The campgrounds has a 15 acre spring fed rock quarry thats average depth is 25 feet. They claim that visibility is usually 10-15 feet. There are also some sunken "treasures" like a sai
l boat and a mini-bus. Additionally they introduced paddle fish in 2001 and claim that they're now 3-4 feet long. It gives scuba divers something to look at I s'pose. During the late summer they say you might encounter rare, fresh-water jelly-fish. They're not very large, the size of a quarter, and non-venomous. Steve and I don't scuba dive ourselves, but his brother and our neices are certified and would probably enjoy paddling around. Maybe we can talk them into finding the cache!!

Of course they also allow swimming in the quarry and have what they refer to as a "water-park" which basically consists of inflatable slides, rafts, etc. I think it sounds like a fun place for the family to come and visit and won't be too far of a drive for our Ohio clan and our Indiana clan. Oh yeah, and the Kentucky clan.

It's a fairly large campgrounds with over 160 sites, plus a few cabins. Some of the sites are on a river that runs through the campgrounds. I think it sounds nice and I think we'll enjoy staying there more than at the Indy KOA which, of course, is right next to the highway. It's probably near the area that we'll be looking to settle in so that will be convenient for house-hunting.

Now I better sign off, it sounds like Twiggy wants to go for a walk.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time for more pottery pix and talk

I've been immersing myself in pottery activities this week. Just a disclaimer about the content of this post. I'll be talking about cones and reduction and carbon trapping and stuff that won't make sense. It may not even make sense to my fellow potters because I don't know enough about it yet to talk intelligently. (Some may argue that talking intelligently is a past-time I've never engaged in!!)

Hold on, need a coffee refill......Ah! That's better! I'm going to have to find a coffee shop that roasts their beans daily when we get up to Indiana. I dunno if Hoosiers allow
such high-falutin' behavior, I'll have to ask my son-in-law.

I've made a couple friends at the Odyssey Center. They're 2 ladies about my age (when you're my age, that can mean a decade in either direction, so I apologize if either of them is a lot younger than me!!) Anyways, 2 ladies who work as studio assistants at the center have befriended me. They know that I'm interested in learning all I can about kilns and firing so they offered to let me help them load the gas kiln on Monday and hang out while they fired it Tues. The center has them keep pretty meticulous firing logs, and they're making me copies of several of their logs so I'll have them to refer to when I start learning to fire my own gas kiln. Even tho it's a completely different type of kiln, any experience I can get should be beneficial.

It also offered me the opportunity to hang out at the center all day Tuesday when it's normally not ope
n for students to work independently because there are classes going on. (It's not what you know, but who you know!!) So I finished up some pieces that have been taking forever!

I went in at 6 am to get the ball rolling and didn't get home until 10 pm; it was a long day and I was pretty pooped yesterday! Today we're unloading once it's cool enough.

Since it was still firing Tues. evening I got to sit in on a class that was being taught by a very talented potter from the area, Leah Leitson. She does beautiful work in porcelain and besides being a skilled
potter, she's also an excellent instructor (as I've discovered, that doesn't always go hand in hand.) She was also not afraid to demonstrate her methods. Happily, this is the case with most potters, but I've come across a few who seem to be worried that a student will "steal" their methods. I think that the potters who worry about that have a pretty low self-esteem. I agree that there is a fine line between being "inspired" by other potters and actually "stealing" their methods, but most of the potters I know who are still learning (which some would say is all of us) incorporate methods and styles of many other potters into their work.

Let me digress for one moment about taking inspiration from others. Several well-known potters actually encourage others to "steal" ideas. Dick Lehman explains it this way, "
If you are going to take someone else's idea or be influenced by another's inspiration, steal it - make it your own. If you take inspiration from another, have the integrity, courage and courtesy to develop the idea, to invest in it, to reinvent it, to make it more than it was.
" I think he's absolutely right! And ironically, he admits to "stealing" this idea from another potter, Marvin Bartel, who stole the concept from a poet, Nick Linsey!!! Who said, "There's nothing new under the sun?" (I suppose we could argue the source of that quote!!)

Getting back to the Leah Leitson demo, I can't wait to try incorporating some of her methods into my pieces!! And I'll happily give her credit for being my inspiration. She attributed some of her methods to other potters. That's the beauty of it! I wish I had been able to take more pictures while she was working, but I didn't think about it until too late. Here's a fabulous little teapot, I love the pouty spout and the feet on it!!

So to add even more exciting pottery activity going on all around me, we unloaded the salt-kiln Tuesday!! We got some really juicy pots (that's a good thing!) Here's a link to pictures of my work from this firing. As I look closer at some of the pieces, I see some problems, but over all I was pleased with the firing. It's the first time I can remember opening the kiln and actually liking what I saw right off the bat.

Many times potters have pre-conceived ideas about what a piece should look like when it comes out of the kiln, but after you judge it for its own merits, not what you think its merits should be, you learn to at least live with it, if not like it better than you would've if it came out the way you had envisioned it. (I'm sensing that this could be some sort of deep analogy for a life experience, something to do with relationships, but I'm still too tired from my busy week to explore it further and this blog's already too long!)

So I will end this blog with a few pictures from the salt-kiln..............

This is the kiln-opening...if you want to see it larger, click on it.

This is one of my favorite tumblers. I'm doing lotsa leaves, influeced by Suze Lindsay, among others!!

And now I had better sign off so I can go help unload the gas kiln!!! I guess I never did get to cones, reduction, and carb0n trapping. We'll save that for a future post!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Foggy Morning and pitty pat of little feet

The other morning there was a blanket of fog over the river valley. It looked as though you could walk across the fog. It was quite beautiful.

We have several campers here for Valentine's week-end and most of the rentals are occupied. We would be full, but we had 2 early check-outs due to a slight rodent infestation in the Cliffhouse and one of the Yurts. Now Steve and I checked the Cliffhouse yesterday because we knew we had arrivals and we found a mouse in one trap which Steve disposed of. We had been noticing evidence of them for awhile now and Ande has had the exterminator in several times to put out traps. Last time we cleaned it we noticed that "something" had unrolled almost the whole roll of toilet paper, and some of it was shredded. I assume it was looking for nesting material. The house is in the woods and unfortunately offers many opportunities for small woodland creatures to come and go as they please. Steve put the trap (it was a sticky pad) up in the laundry room in a spot that he thought was "out of the way." Unfortunately he didn't realize that mice are quite acrobatic, so apparently a mouse got stuck on it right before the family checked in and was there to greet them when they arrived!

We had some concerns about this family when they first called to make reservations. First the husband called looking for a cabin for his family which included a young son and a set of 18 month old twins (who were screaming bloody murder the whole time he was on the phone, I heard them because Ande put them on speakerphone.) She explained to him that we had a small cabin and a large one, but that they were not extremely "toddler-friendly."He said he'd "get back with us." Then his wife called to confirm the reservation (with twins screaming in the background during her call also.) In the course of the conversation, she mentioned that they live in a 10,000 sq. ft. house.

Ande suggested they rent the Cliffhouse thinking they would be accustomed to having lots of room. They proceeded to tell Ande they would be arriving late, they weren't sure when and they wanted to pay for with cash, rather than putting it on their credit card. We all had a funny feeling they would be "high maintenance" and they were! The Cliffhouse is unique and it's one of those places people either love or hate. Luckily for Ande, most people love it, but every so often you get some people who just don't quite understand its quirks. (Like rodents, and cobwebs.)

So, they spent one evening and left early this morning. Later in the day, a young couple who were checking into yurt 1 found a dead mouse in one of the sticky traps. Matt had turned the heat on in the yurt but didn't think to check the rodent traps.

Unfortunately, I think we could check on things minutes before people arrive, and still manage to have a rodent running through at some inopportune time. I guess I would be creeped out if I were going to rent a place as a romantic hide away and then have to worry about listening to the pitty pat of mousey feet all night.

And the real bummer s that we will have to clean everything - 3 yurts, 2 cabins and the Cliffhouse! That will keep us busy for the next few days.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mountain air causing strange happenings!

Aside frome the usual bear, Bigfoot and UFO sightings that occur down here on a regular basis, the clean, mountain air seems to have had a rather strange affect on Twiggy, causing her to grow............but only in length! I submit to you the New Improved Twiggy!! Now With 20% More!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Age Defying Breakthrough!!!

Ok, this press release made my day!! I got it from Yahoo! News so it must be true!!

Under the title, How Not to Look Old, the story reports that
"a forthcoming study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery offers one surprising idea: as you age, don't be afraid to put on a few pounds. Fat, it turns out, can significantly smooth out wrinkles and give you a younger-looking face." (I'll be doggoned!)

The authors of the study call it "volume replacement." (A politically correct term for "fat filling in wrinkles.") Unfortunately, it only appears to work for those of us over 40 (so I guess I was a little ahead of my time!) The study was conducted on pairs of twins. The article reports that
"many of the twin pairs were of similar weight, but differences in how old they looked began to appear when one had a body mass index (BMI) at least four points higher than her sister. For twin pairs under 40, the heavier one looked significantly older. But surprisingly, after 40, that same four-point difference in BMI made the heavier twin look significantly younger."

So if you're like me, a member of the "after 40" crowd, go ahead and scarf that crispy creme!! It's less invasive than botox!

There IS a God!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Flight of the Honey Bee

I'm going to attempt to upload a video I took of Steve flying his R/C helicoptor. He and Matt ordered a pair of "Ready to Fly Honey Bees" a couple weeks ago and have been diligently doing their "flight school training." They've been practicing in the office and the garage of the cliffhouse because the weather has been too cold and windy for very much outdoor flying. Finally the last couple days have been mild enough, so Friday morning he wanted to show me his skills. He was a bit puffed up from his successful flight the day before. As is often the case with hobbies, he was brought back "down to earth" shall we say, when I was video taping. And of course, the very best flight he had, when I THOUGHT I was videotaping, I actually wasn't. And it also happened to be the flight where he attempted to use the top of my head as a heliport!! I wish I had gotten it on tape but something tells me that there will be more "near-misses" to come!

Instead, I will post this rather uneventful Fight of the Honey Bee......

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Frigid French Broad

When we talked about the possibility of spending the winter in Asheville (in our camper) we assumed that the weather would be a little milder down here than a typical winter in Ohio. Of course we didn't realize that we had picked a somewhat non-typical winter when the jet stream, global warming, El Nina, George Bush, or some combination of the above has caused '08/'09 to be a doggone cold winter all over!

I'm assuming again (even though it gets usually me into trouble) that the winter we've been having is unusual for this area. Yesterday I went into town to work on some pottery and when I got to the bottom of the mountain and onto the road, there were about half a dozen cars "parked" at various angles in the ditch for about half a mile until I got to a state route. It looked like the drivers had gotten fed up with the slick roads, pulled off to the side and apparently taken off on foot for their various destinations! I even saw an abandoned bicycle!! Crazy hippies ride 'em all over the place down here, no matter what the weather is like, but it finally must have gotten too cold for at least one of 'em. Maybe his dreadlocks had become caked with ice and snow!!

Asheville is definitely not equipped for this weather because they never spread salt on any of the side
roads, let alone plow! Luckily my Ohio upbringing (and my subaru) have equipped me for navigation in such a climate!!

I certainly am not complaining about what we're experiencing down here when I hear about what's been going on up north in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana! And I guess they've got it good compared to Chicago and Minnesota!

This morning, our co-worker Matt, asked me to take a picture of the French Broad river because he could see that a section of it was frozen. He seemed to think that was a rather unusual phenomenon for this area. So, I took a couple pictures and will post them here. I remember the Miami River freezing over a couple winters up in Ohio. It was always impressive when it thawed and hundreds of huge chunks of ice would get jammed up along the bridges.

So without further adieu, here's a picture of a very frigid French Broad.........................

(if you click on the photo, you'll see a larger image)

- posted by Loretta

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Info-mercials and what-not

Please allow me a few moments to engage in a rant against infomercials............

Who hasn't been tempted to "call in the next 10 minutes" by Vince, the impish, make that freakish, spokesperson for the amazing ShamWow?? I wonder who made the decision to hire this psychopath to sell their product? Is there anything about him that viewers might find appealing? Doesn't there need to be some type of appeal in order to dupe unwary consumers into buying worthless products? Apparently he did something right because now he's hawking a new product, the SlapChop You need to watch this commercial, the guy actually says, (and I quote) "You're gonna love my nuts." He then proceeds to chop almonds, walnuts, etc.

To be honest, I bought a very similar product a few years ago and I use it all the time. (FYI, my gadget "opens like a butterfly for easy cleaning" so it m
ust be high quality!) Ok, I admit I probably paid more money for it than I should have, definitely more than "$24.95, but wait if you order in the next 10 minutes (and you know we can't do this all day) you'll also receive the Graty Chees Grater as a free bonus!! Just pay separate shipping and handling" which, when combined will surpass the total cost of the original product!!! If my chopper ever breaks, as God as my witness, I shall NEVER buy a SlapChop!!!

The main question I have about Vince's commercials is, what's the purpose of the cordless microp
hone he's wearing?? I just don't get it.

On to the next pitchman.....................

He doesn't have the disturbing evil eyebrow that Vince does, but almost as annoying is his predecessor, Billy Mays, the yell-talking salesman who began his descent, I mean ascent to stardom selling OxiClean. Hmmm, now that I'm actually wasting my time doing some research, I have discovered that ShamWow is in fact, an imitation of ZorbEEZ, a product that Billy Mays advertised several years ago. I remember that product now and I'm sure that a lawsuit is under way.

I've stumbled upon a funny website where the owner is offering to sell Billy Mays the domain registration to his own name!!! For only $149.95 he's offering to sell the domain for 3 easy payments, but wait, he'll throw in if you call in the next three minutes!! That's pretty amusing.

I can't rant and rave about annoying commercials without mentioning the Headon Commercials. It's a commercial that actually points out its own annoyance factor. "Headon, I hate the commercial but I love the product." Be honest, has anyone actually bought this snake oil??

And speaking of snakes, my last annoying commercial for this evening (or this morning as the case may be) would have to be the one featuring Smilin' Bob, the pitchman for that "once daily tablet for male enhancement." Do you, like me, get that stupid, whistling theme song stuck in your head?? I really just wanna slap that smile off his geeky face, he creeps me out almost as much as Vince does!!

I'm afraid that I may have to continue this discussion on another day, there are so many annoying commercials and spokespeople out there that I could go on and on, but alas, I need to get some sleep. I hope I've gotten it out of my system. Goodnight! Operators are standing by.....