Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Okay lemme first defend myself by saying that I didn't have any string, just ribbon. No wait, that wasn't what I wanted to defend. Oh yeah. The whole do or don't feed the wild birds thing. Well, for a long time I bought into the whole anti side. "If you feed them they will forget how to forage for themselves" and, "then if you STOP feeding them they will DIE!!!!!!" But I started thinking that if birds have, say, a favorite berry bush that dies... well, they find another one. And I just can't believe that mother nature would be that dumb to make critters that can survive thousands of years (generation wise) that would die just from one food source drying up. And if that REALLY is the case... well, it's going to sound awful but.... more food for the next critter in the chain o' life. I really, really doubt that my feeding the birds can extinct a species. There. I said it.
So I did what I have always wanted to do, and made these feeders. I tucked peanut butter in all the nooks and crannies of these pinecones and then coated them with seeds. Then I hung 'em up and within a day there were these cute little black gray and white birds all chirping and fluttering right out side my window. In just a few days they had cleaned them 'cones better n' a dishwasher. (I wish I had a dishwasher) So I have been re-coating the cones maybe once a week- they stand empty for a few days SO THERE the birds still have to forage! LOL But man those lil birds make me smile with their acrobatics. And I swear I can tell they're getting fatter. They make me happy and I think it's mutual.

P.S. I am totally Martha Stewart for birds.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Raku Pit Fire Pt. 6

Oooops, sorry 'bout the hold up peeps. Mom and I went on a five day road trip (well 2 of the days were on the road) visting friends in Colorado.
Oh, and apparently this is not a Raku firing, it's just a pit fire. Some poor art student out there totally failed their class. I'm too lazy to go change all the titles, so let's just get to the final product, shall we?

Nikita sees something in there. Why, it's Potterman! The coals must be dying. Or maybe he's going for a quick sauna. just kidding! Look at that!!!! The pots have emerged!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After Potterman carefully pulled them out with gloves and tongs, we brushed them off. There was much oohing and aahing. There were squeals of excitement. There may have been some hopping up and down and hand clapping.

There was definitely fly catching mouth action. Unearthing treasure from an ancient Egyptian tomb literally would not have been as amazing, because we were THERE. We witnessed the creation of the most beautiful pieces of art I have ever seen.

I think at the time I said "yowza". There just aren't adequate words for these pots- I'll have to stick with the usual suspects; amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, and so on.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Raku Pit Fire Pt. 5


Responsible watering.

Testing the oven.

Dem some sweet coals, baby.

I have no idea why I thought these pics were important. See, this is what happens when you get ahead of yourself and plan a six part blog lol. I guess, though, if you didn't know what raku was it's nice to see all the steps. Yeah, that's it, I'm helping some unknown art student research their term paper. Uh huh. Yessir. Pretty amazing that there are delicate ceramic pots and stuff under that crush of fiery coals though, isn't it?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Raku Pit Fire Pt. 4

Ah, where was I? Pheonix, having overseen the activities the night before, was quite professionally ready to continue his duties. That's his beer bottle from then, I swear. Luckily zombies don't prowl in the daylight, so he got to keep his full attention on the fire.

Oops, which I didn't. That darn sunrise distracted me for a sec there. Holy moly that went up quick!

Whaoh. Look out, Mom. Oh, and there was NO lighter fluid involved. NONE, I tells ya. It was a totally boy scout legit fire. Really.

Oooooh heh heh. Fiiiiire. Fire is pretty. It is mesmirizing. (AARRGGGH I can't spell that word and I even tried googling it grrrrrrr)

Oooh. Fire is hot. Stepping back now....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Frugal Frannie's Friday Fun! pt. 2

Pardon the intermission in my tale of flames and treasure, but I've been meaning to do a little F.F.F.F. for awhile now. More raku tomorrow!

About 35 miles from here is a super WallyWorld. It has, literally, everything that you could ever need to purchase, but also everything you didn't know you needed. Or wanted. And it's all cheap. Two dollar bottles of wine. Prescription drugs that are 40 bucks a month- for 3 dollars a month. Clothes. Goldfish. Remote controlled mice toys for your pets. Live plants (!!!! no morning glory seeds!!!!! :O GAsp!!!) canning jars, swimsuits, office supplies, microwaves, etc. You get the picture.

Well, Mom and her friend went there, and I opted to wait in the car, because:

IMPORTANT FRUGAL TIP: If you don't go shopping you won't spend money!!!!!!

Sounds stupidly obvious, right? But I challenge anyone to put it to the test. After a half hour in the car, I was getting pretty bored. I thought, maybe I should just go buy a magazine or something to read. Then I thought, a magazine is only a one time piece of entertainment, and at least 3 dollars. I checked my purse. I had several pens. I decided a notebook would be much more productive, and cheaper.

I could have waited in the car for the entire hour and a half, twidling my thumbs and trying to keep my brain from melting out my ears from non use. I could have saved that 97 cents. But I went in. I grabbed the first, cheapest spiral bound, 70 page, college ruled notebook I saw. Actually I pulled the black one out of the stack. Then I all but ran for the check out lines.

Halfway there I considered my flimsy little purchase. Obviously there's no desk in the back seat of a honda. Maybe I should get something sturdier? I went back. I perused the stacks of four dollar, five divider, sturdy notebooks. Just as I reached for one, my little Frannie voice yelled, "NO!!!! You said you would JUST buy the cheapest one, GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!". And I listened. It was tough, and I spent money, but a dollar for not just an hour and a half of entertainment but also mind exersizes and creativity was worth it. And I still have 67 pages left. So....

IMPORTANT FRUGAL TIP #2: For the glove of lod, do not make impulse buys!!! Have a list and resist!! hmmm good chant. Have a list, and resist! Have a list, and resist! Have a list and resist! DO NOT DEVIATE FROM LIST!!

Kay that's all. Good luck.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Raku Pit Fire Pt. 3

Ah, is there anything better than being up at 5am to light a gigantic fire? How 'bout getting up at 4:30? Which I did. I wasn't sure if Potterman and Mom were up yet, so I went and weeded the garden for awhile, and admired the sunrise. Then I heard Potterman knocking on my door to see if I was awake heehee! So I called up from the garden that I was indeed.

Now, being very responsible adults about to light a huge fire, first we hosed down the surrounding ground and trees. We re-doused the ground as it dried from the heat of the blaze as well.

Yowza. Did I mention how beautiful the sunrise was? You know, I've been catching a lot more of 'em than I thought I would when I quit my job. I honestly doubted I would ever see one again. But sleepy as I am when witnessing them, I am very glad I get to.

But now for the real fun. LIGHTING THE FIRE WOOHOOO!

Oooh, P.S., I forgot to mention an important step in the pre lighting process: Haiku. Or a prayer, or positive words. Do not skip this step! Mom, Potterman and I each wrote something on a piece of paper and tucked them down into the wood. A kind of blessing, or maybe letters to the pottery gods. Anyhoo, soon you shall see how it worked!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Raku Pit Fire Pt. 2

Pheonix keeps an eye out for coyotes and bears and brain eating zombies, because by this time it was dark and we couldn't wait another day because the faire wasn't going to wait. So we soldiered on. It was a lot of work, standing there with the camera. Cause you know, yiu don't just GET the right shot. Okay I'm so kidding. I was so stoked I was the chronicler and basically all I had to do was watch. See, look at Potterman putting all sorts of chemicals and metals on the pots, for color. I think he even used steel wool, like the kind u wash dishes with. But then again, don't take my word for it. I was just an observer. I think there was some copper wire, too, OH yeah, and I do know that there were mothballs. I think they make blue-green.

Then it was time to bury it all, for people 2,000 years in the future to excavate. Haha.

First some more gentle sawdust to cushion the pots. Then wood. Lots of it. In fact, we ended up piling several feet of wood on. I threw a piece on, and Potterman inhaled sharply. Hey, uh, Hermitgrrl, we gotta PLACE the wood on GENTLY because we are loading pounds of trees onto POTS. OH, heh heh. Duh. My bad. LOL if I was him I woulda been mad, but he just treated it as my learning experience. He kicks ass.

By know we needed light, and I suggested grabbing some outdoor lights we have. Um, but we didn't have a long enough extension cord. So I got my car. I love using 4-wheel drive!!!!!! It's like I'm doing my car justice. Letting it do what it was made to. There's a word for it, kinda. Funktionslust- not sure how you spell it- looks german (sis? you know?) but I read about it in this book called When Elephants Weep which argues for animals actually having feelings and not being just bio machines. Most scientists call it anthropomorphism- giving animals and (lumped in the same category) inanimate objects feelings- but this book was showing how animals get sheer joy from expressing their physical capabilities to the fullest. Like a gazelle leaping across the african plains is apt to be a lot bouncier than one hanging it's head in a cold cement cell in a zoo.

My car is totally expressing funktionslust. And if you have any doubts left on where I stand on the whole debate: Her name is Edie.
Raku updates tomorrow!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Raku Pit Fire Pt. 1

These pots are beautiful already, right? (Pheonix is here offering more of his all encompassing supervision). So what business do we have throwing them in a pit and burying them with all kinds of junk and then lighting the whole shebang on fire?

Well, I didn't know what raku was, k? I mean, I knew you "fired" ceramics, but in an oven, right? With heat, sure, but real flames? Really? Cooool. (I have a wee touch of the pyromania. Omg don't tell my dad. LOL jk) So apparently you dig a big ol' pit. And then you throw (see, another word that just doesn't seem right) some awesome pots. Then you put some kinda "sidge" or something on them to shine 'em up. I'm just the documentarian here, I didn't do research, peeps. Then you line the big ol' pit with paper. Don't ask me why, I'm reporting what happened, not why. Heh. So nice to let myself off the hook like that.

Then you pour a buncha sawdust over the paper, like 6 garbage bags full, I know, 'cause I hauled 'em. And it's gotta be from hardwood, k, not pine shavings or hamster cage lining.

Then, when you have a nice, deep, soft bed for the pots, you lay them in. Mom and Potterman demonstrate. Did I mention that I'm just the chronicler? Maybe not in those words.

There they lay, like goods entombed for the after life. You know, like the Egyptians did an stuff? And then Blogger doesn't let you put more than 5 photos on a post so you have to stop. I took over 200 photos of this process- don't worry, I only picked out the best for this tale. But there's still a lot more than 5. So I will continue on a "new" post.


It's all been cleared up- except for the part where I have to learn html code so my pics still can't be copied.... Aarrrrrrrgh for someone who spends so much time on the computer you would think I'd understand them better... when in reality I kinda hate computers. At least, when they don't do what I want. LOL. Anyway, I guess I will go ahead and continue posting- I don't exactly get enough random traffic to worry about it, I guess. Like not locking your door in a small town... the risk is still there, but it's a lot smaller.
Anyway, it's still a happy ending. Yay.


Having just gotten back into the habit of blogging (and with three finished posts ready to go, dangit) I must put my blog on standby until I can protect my work better than having a copyright statement in the margin. A picture was copied without my permission and put on a website with someone else's name. I've already emailed the site but have yet to get a response. I hope it is resolved soon, but at this point I am almost ready to delete my entire blog rather than have my photos stolen. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 14, 2008

live video game action

Does this look like a sky that's about to spew forth lightning to you? Well, it didn't to me. In California not only did it never thunder and lightning- well, ok, maybe once every 5 years- it DEFINITELY didn't rain in the SUMMER. The SUMMER, fer cryin out loud. Summer has always meant dry yellow hills and heat with no humidity, to me anyway. NEVER would I don a sweatshirt, as I have occasionally this summer. So, the occasional sprinkle and storm has taken some getting used to. And I thought it was done for the day, and I really needed my hike. I've been trying to exercise (man I HATE spelling that word) everyday, you know, only because the camera is making me LOOK fat.

Slight digression, a shout out to my Dad: I fixed my bike up, patched tires and greased moving parts and dusted out and de-cobwebbed my helmet, and have been riding the hills and neighborhood. Sometimes even- GASP- at 7 in the durn morning! That's when I really think about my Dad- and my 4 miles to his 90. Not exaggerating here, either, y'all know he's a bike ninja.

ANYHOO, this hike was pre fixed bike, and, as usual, I took Nikita. In case of bear or mountain lion attack, I plan to throw her to them and run like crazy. KIDDING!!! About a mile out it started to sprinkle, so I put my camera in it's bag. Then, of course, wouldn't you know it, a fricken HERD of deer runs across the path RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I whupped out my cam but, as you can see, was too late. If you look REEEEEEEAL close you can see two of them.

Ah well. Onward I continued. What's a little rain when it's 70 degrees out AND you're working up a sweat. Niki doesn't like the rain at all, though, so she was alternately crowding against me, nearly tripping me, and tugging the leash towards home. Then it REALLY started dumping, and ka-boom BLAM thundering. As the path headed towards a stand of trees I had my first thoughts of turning back. Because under trees is the last place you want to be in a thunderstorm, right? At least I think that's it. Hey, like I said, I don't have a lot of experience with lightning.

I also don't know if the whole "counting seconds between bolts and thunder= miles" thing is true, but if it is, then I figured it was a good 5 miles away. I might have pressed on, but poor Niki was so miserable and we were both getting soaked, so I called off the excursion. As I headed back down the trail, I noticed the seconds between flash and bang were getting less and less, not to mention there were trees AHEAD as well as behind, so I took a visual on home (great views up here) and made a bee line. I was about a mile out still, and I realized that as the crow flies- in fact, ANY way I chose, there were trees. I had avoided the taller live ones and was now cutting through a dead forest left standing after the fires several years ago.

I started jogging. Nikita liked this plan. I dodged fallen logs, whipped through weeds, soaking my legs, tried to keep as much distance as possible between me and trees- which sometimes was less than 20 feet. Maybe even less than 10. Not only was my adrenaline RAGING, I was laughing out loud. I couldn't help it, it was exhilarating and exciting and I felt wholy alive. I paused to catch my breath and check my bearings, yup there was home on the next hill and lightning streaked right over it. I didn't even have time to think WOW when the thunder cracked less than a second later, booming in my chest, hurting my ears.

I may have yelled an expletive. I know I jumped, it felt like 3 feet, straight in the air. The lightning had been a horizontal streak, not a vertical one or I might have been fried. I RAN the entire rest of the way home, laughing and terrified. I made it, soaking. I stripped down and got some warm clothes on, put Niki in her house, and got a hot meal started. Then Mom and Potterman drove up. Apparently they had been out four-bying, scouring the hills for me, honking and yelling, an arsenal of towels and a bathrobe tucked in the car.

Boy am I loved. And boy were they relieved! Apparently I am not allowed to go off hiking without a cell phone EVER AGAIN. At least it all worked out in the end.

Even the sunset.

I did NOT enhance the color in these photos.

Aren't happy endings the best???

Sunday, July 13, 2008

garden power

September '07

April '08

July '08
For breakfast this morning we had our first zucchini from the garden, fried up with onions from the garden, and eggs and cheese, mmm mmm all bundled into fried tortillas. ( Gotta get me some chickens so we can have eggs from home 2.) As we were eating Mom said, "AHEM, you should BLOG about our first zucchini". So this one's for you, Mom. Yeah, it's been awhile- I went to get some garden photo's and when I hooked my camera up to my computer there were 371 pics to load!! As I sorted through them I thought of all the stories I haven't been sharing, but boy have I been busy! The art faire especially was time consuming, mostly all the work leading up to it. I spent 10 hours one day matting photos, and it was more exhausting then a two hour hike! But I digress- this here post is about our fantastic super garden!

It's a gray day, sprinkles here and there and a perfect 70 degrees. We have a bunch of spinach and peas we'll be picking later, for dinner- fresh as can be! I think the best thing about our garden isn't even the fact that it's actually producing- well, maybe it's a tie. I just love how eclectic it is. There's nasturtiums in the tomatoes and onions, morning glories in the peas, and four o' clocks and cosmos in with the carrots, beets, and brussel sprouts (eeeeeeeeeeew, Mom's on her own with eating those).

Even the potatoes are flowering!!! They have gotten easily 3 feet high and we're starting to bury them so they will put out more roots (and taters). The corn is also hitting 3 feet, with huge deep green leaves. There's even a tiny jalapeno pepper ready to go!! Oh my goodness, and the cilantro!!! Tastes so fabulous, and the basil is getting going too. Amazing how delicious homegrown fresh picked food is. We're hoping to can some salsa when we get more tomatoes. Oh, that's Sebastian's grave in that ring by the brussels- don't worry, we only planted flowers on her.

All in all I'm durn proud of the garden, and you know what's even cooler? Yeah, there's some weeds- but the bugs seem to like those best! So we leave a few around as decoys and the rest we lay down as mulch. Can't wait to see it all in another month- I hope the fridge n' cupboards will be a gettin' stocked!

And no... my language does NOT indicate a slow slide into hick-dom, and neither does my sunburned red neck or the fact that I used a piece of wild grass for a tooth pick yesterday, ya hear? Just makin' sure y'all are clear as a jar o' moonshine on that.