Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Celebrations 2011

Christmas Eve gathering for our Yankee Swap

Rick had been going on all night about how he was going to get #1 for the Yankee Swap and sure enough he did! 

Jared opening a bottle of Gray Goose Vodka.  Unfortunately it wasn't long before someone else traded him for it.  

Jenika was very happy to get the batter bowl I made, along with some pancake mix and real maple syrup.  
Unfortunately for her it got scoffed up, first by Linda and then later by Sara who was the final owner.  


Lisa with Chelsea and Justin looking on

Sara, Chris, and Donnie



Anytime Rick makes anything resembling a lap, Karma makes himself comfortable.

Christmas morning breakfast.

Monkey bread and egg and sausage casserole

Christmas morning breakfast

Emma enjoying her bed by the fireplace

A visit from Mom the day before Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mid December 2011

I've been really busy with work and trying to get a few pieces of pottery made before Christmas.  I was surprised that the tall vase below came out so nicely.  I'd glazed this piece quite some time ago and but the red chun I'd used on it was turning out gray on every other piece I'd done so I decided to dip this piece into the celadon blue (the color of most of the other pieces in this photo) figuring it might come out some color in between but lo and behold, the red chun came through beautifully!  
My small bounty from the most recent firing.  The red chun actually came out nice this time.  
On Wednesday, December 14th, in response to our idiot Governor's effort to cut 65,000 people off our state's Medicaid program, we helped to organize a rally at the State House.  Reports said over 500 people attended, many of them staying to testify afterwards.  

It was a hectic week working with folks on their testimony and trying to close cases and getting things wrapped up so that I could be gone for two weeks.  Rick sent me a nice bouquet of flowers on Tuesday. Thursday evening we went to The Liberal Cup and listened to Back Woods Road.  Rick came down and sang a couple of songs with them.  Tammy Trask joined us as well.  

I had planned to go out shopping on Friday but ended up staying home and throwing a couple of pots.  Went to Eddie's Christmas party for a bit and then to The Mad Dog in Gardiner to listen to Rick Dosedlo and Logan.  On Saturday we went out and bought our Christmas tree and hit a couple of stores.  I got home by mid afternoon and then just puttered until about two a.m. decorating and cleaning.  

Emmy had been acting pretty sick and not eating so I gave her the bed I'd bought for her for Christmas early and she lied close to the fire and seemed to feel better after a few hours.  She even ate some canned food and was back on dry food this morning.  

Overall a very nice start to my vacation.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Summer Memory

The Bluegrass Festival

A weekend village has sprung up
Gulf Streams, Dutchman, Fleetwoods, tents
a bass drives out a beat
while the dobro weaves a path through it

guitars fill in the edges
as the fiddle springs to life,
and the banjo dances in and out
vocals weeping in the distance

the professor, pharmacist, salesman, and lawyer
this weekend are banjo, guitar, bass, and mandolin
the development director of a small charity
               is dancing Denise

teenagers appear at the edges of the compound
               instruments nervously in hand
only their timidity standing in their way

where else can you wander into somebody’s home
               quietly pull up an empty chair
and become part of their evening
               whether as an appreciative observer or participant
and leave later, never having exchanged names
               drunk off intimacy and community

This poem contributed to dVersePoets Open Link Night.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy Augusta November 19th

I love this photo - that's me holding two signs - both mine and Rick's, Keeley beside me and my oldest son Justin, on the far right.  Rick took the photo from the steps of the state house and you can see the tents of Occupy Augusta behind us.  We participated in a meeting there today that was quite interesting. They talked about legislative actions they would like to see happen; some made sense and others I can't say I'd subscribe to, but they were all treated with respect and allowed discussion.  There was discussion about legalizing the industrial use of hemp, which only makes sense and I've never been able to understand the blind objections to it.  Maybe it's not really as useful as folks in these settings expound. I'll need to do some internet research.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Test Glaze Firing

So I fired my test glaze pieces a couple of days ago.  I had numbered each piece on the bottom when I threw them so that I could track what I did to each one in terms of glaze thickness and placement on upper or lower shelves.  I wanted to test two different glazes:  the first, red chun, has always been a difficult glaze but when it works out well, it’s really beautiful and probably my favorite all round glaze.  However, instead of coming out red my pieces have been coming out rather gray and I couldn’t tell whether it was because the glaze was too thick, too thin, the kiln was too hot or too cold.  So I put one with thick glaze and one with thin glaze on each of the 3 shelves.  There’s about a whole cone’s difference in temperature between the top shelf in the kiln and the lower as you can see from the photo below.  

These are 5, 6, and 7 cone packs.  I'm trying to fire to cone 5.  I had to put a cone 7 in the kiln sitter and I think it still turned off the kiln a little too early. The single ones are cone 5 which I put right in the peep hole to be able to see it best while firing.  You can see that the cone 5 and cone 6 bent fairly nicely on the top shelf; just the cone 5 bent on the middle shelf; and the cone 5 on the bottom shelf only bent slightly.  
So . .

#1           red chun – thick glaze – bottom (cooler) shelf 
#3           red chun – thick glaze – top shelf
#4           red chun – thick glaze – middle shelf
#2           red chun – thin glaze – bottom shelf
#5           red chun – thin glaze – middle shelf
#7           red chun – thin glaze – top shelf
Starting from the left front they are numbered 1, 2, 4, and 3, 5 7 coming down from the back on the right.  The larger piece in the back is a red chun when behaving well - the color that I'm going for.  
There really seems to be almost no difference overall.  Each of them are fairly gray but each has a section that's got a little red tinge to it.  So I can't say that the test firing taught me anything.  Bummer.  It's still just red chun behaving badly.  Maybe it's just a bad batch.  I buy my glazes all mixed.  The glazes I'm accustomed to using are ones that my pottery teacher, Malley, mixed herself.  

The other glaze I wanted to test is the royal blue which has always been a really solid glaze, didn’t run much and showed off embellishments fairly well.  However, mine had been blistering and running and again, I didn’t know why. I think I did learn something from the royal blue test glazes.

It seems the thinner glaze on the cooler bottom shelf works best for the royal blue, though they all seem to have some blisters.  I really need to get this one right because I'm going to use it for a nice covered casserole dish and don't want to mess it up.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's my birthday . . .

Today's is my 58th birthday.  Hard to believe.  But life is good, I feel pretty healthy and I guess I don't look too bad for my age, at least most days.  I guess at midnight last night I was dancing at The Wharf with Betty, Melissa, and Dave Thibodeau, to music by Paul Thibeault and Alfred Lund.  Fun time!  I slept late this morning, (being a Friday) and took a leisurely shower and puttered a little around the house, spent some time on FB, and now need to pack for our overnight at The Second Street Bed & Breakfast in Hallowell.  Rick reserved us a room for the night so that we can indulge and not have to worry about driving.  School Street Band is playing at Higher Grounds tonight; they've got a killer guitar player and do some great dancing music.  We were out till 1:00 last Friday night celebrating with Regina and Lance but not sure we'll make it that late tonight.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Augusta

Thank you Paul Krugman for explaining so eloquently why the Occupy movement calls to me and so many others.
Our contingent of a small - maybe 100 as reported by the local paper - but dedicated  group outside the Capitol Building in Augusta on October 15th
"What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.
Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.
This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.
So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth."
Full op ed:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/opinion/panic-of-the-plutocrats.html

Tuesday, October 11, 2011



There is a hunger for connection
Deep down in one’s soul
Under all the layers
That moment when you cut 
Through all the bullshit that
Surrounds every relationship
And connect

There are no ex wives, old boyfriends, or needy children
The stress from work is immaterial
The unsold house, the bills, the mistrust
It’s not separating us in this instant
There is only the two of us
And the ping rate is minuscule

It’s there and then it’s gone
Back to daily life
One suffers the hum drum of routine in memory of that moment
As the power of two dance before them, drawing them in
And usually spitting them out
But for the rare moment
When defenses drop and we’re given another glimpse
Of what’s behind the great wall of ego and thought

This poem contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Night #13

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2011

We stopped at the "Historic Trolley Pizzeria" on our way into Lowell Friday afternoon and then drove straight to Jack's grave.  We found it pretty easy it being our 3rd trip there.   

Me bringing a rose for Jack's grave from a bouquet Rick had brought me last week.  

An assortment of offerings - the shots, harmonica, a couple of beers, my rose, Rick's book, and the single malt 16 year old whiskey we brought for our toast.
I read the 242nd Chorus from Mexico City Blues.     

After leaving the grave we checked into our hotel - not an easy feat.  It was so absurd I seriously thought we could be on candid camera or something, but it gave us a chance to talk to the other people in line and met a couple in town for the festival from Bordeaux, France and a professor from Quebec with several students.  We then walked over to Ricardo's, getting lost en route and finding the prof and his students wandering as well.  We all found it a few minutes later and had a beer, talked with Mike, listened to a NY street poet named Steve Dalachinsky whom I really liked.  Then this Jack impersonator told a little story about the first time he met Ken Kesey - not a pretty story.  :-)  

This is "Jack" hanging out at Ricardo's - the first pub on our tour.
We stopped at Cappy's Copper Kettle second where we met a pretty interesting local dude playing pool.  He told us he was a fighter - a kick boxer I think - and told Rick he looked like Kevin Nash who apparently is a wrestler.  It's very ironic that Rick is probably the only person in the bar other than this guy who would have a clue as to who Kevin Nash was.  After seeing a photo of Kevin Nash I must say I don't see the resemblance - 6 ft 7 - 300 pounds of solid muscle would be the first difference I notice.  

Next we went on to Major's Pub.  Rick had been posting on his Kerouac-obsessed blog all week that anyone who came up to him and said Rumplestiltskin would get a free book.  While Rick was outside taking photos I grabbed a table and invited some other folks to sit with us.  I got talking to Melissa, Todd and Nancy and then Rick came and joined us.  As we talked, Melissa said - hey, are you that guy with the blog?  I said, what's the magic word and she nailed it!  Rick  had been carrying a couple of books around so true to his pledge, gave her a signed copy.  It turns out she'd come across his blog when googling a Kerouac quote and saw his posts.  Her partner Todd was the Kerouac lecturer for Saturday which turned out to be very interesting.  

The last pub was The Worthen House - the same place we ended last year with all the antique belt driven fans.  As we were going in, the woman in front of us was telling the guy collecting $5 cover charge that she hadn't brought enough cash with her so I paid her way in.  We hung out and listened to Reverend JJ - a pretty good solo guitar and harmonica player and then a rather loud and unique band afterwards.  Walked back to our room about 11:30 I guess.

We had breakfast at the hotel and walked over to Kerouac Park for the bus tour just in time to hear more poetry by Dalachinsky and then a little talk and some flute tunes by Daivd Amram.  
Here's a photo of Steve Dalachinsky from Saturday at Kerouac Park.  
David Amram

People listening at Kerouac Park
We then boarded the bus and went to Jack's place of birth - 9 Lupine Street in Lowell.

Here's Roger Brunelle who grew up in Lowell at the same time that Kerouac lived there.  He never met Jack which he regrets - says Jack died before he was awakened.

We also went to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, stopped at the Merrimack River, a couple of schools where Jack attended, and the Lowell Library where they say Jack still holds a record for having checked out the most books, among other places.  We broke off the tour when they headed to some locations we'd toured last year and went to a little Mexican restaurant for a quick bite before heading to the Lowell Center for Todd's lecture.  

We had to leave right after he finished so that we could run back to the hotel and get poetry for the open mike back at The Worthen House.  Rick had brought a poem he'd written about being at City Light Bookstore in San Francisco.  I had my moleskine  but none of the poems I had in there were really speaking to me so I decided not to read.  I really wanted some of the more recent poems I'd posted to dVerse poetry.   
Rick reading at open mike upstairs at The Worthen House
We had planned to go the the Centralville Social Club and listen to music at 8 but we were pretty beat (so to speak) at this point and decided to go grab some dinner at a cool pub we'd walked by earlier called The Old Court.  After a nice dinner we knew the music was a no go and decided we'd be redeemed if we went back to the hotel and streamed Howl from Netflix.  Loved the movie - great dialogue.  

When we got up on Sunday we decided to go down to Concord, MA to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson are all buried.  
Entrance to Author's Ridge
Me in front of Louisa May Alcott's grave.
Here's Henry David Thoreau's tombstone - very simple, as it should be.  There's a much larger family marker next to his stone.
Rick at Thoreau's grave.  He read an excerpt from Civil Disobedience.  
Here's me at Nathaniel Hawthorne's grave.
And here's Rick at Ralph Waldo Emerson's grave.  I read the poem, The Apology.

The Apology

Think me not unkind and rude,
That I walk alone in grove and glen;
I go to the god of the wood
To fetch his word to men.

Tax not my sloth that I
Fold my arms beside the brook;
Each cloud that floated in the sky
Writes a letter in my book.

Chide me not, laborious band,
For the idle flowers I brought;
Every aster in my hand
Goes home loaded with a thought.

There was never mystery,
But 'tis figured in the flowers,
Was never secret history,
But birds tell it in the bowers.

One harvest from thy field
Homeward brought the oxen strong;
A second crop thine acres yield,
Which I gather in a song.

All in all, a fun and interesting weekend.  We had a nice drive home during which I stopped at Starbucks for a caffeinated mocha frapacinno, so here it is 2:00 a.m. and I'm still wide awake and putting my blog together.  I'll be glad tomorrow - and when I look back in 10 years - that I did.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Childhood Memory

Chaos reigns as it often does when he’s around
Yet flight is rejected
Only with complete presence can you detect the landmines before they explode

He crafts them carefully so you almost believe you put them there yourself
Complaints of a hard day of work and coming home to no dinner on the table
He bats the covered plate off the table and it crashes against the wall

The white of the eggs stick guiltily to the window
While the yoke breaks and makes a dramatic descent down the glass
Landing with silent thunder on top of the pink ham and scattered home fries

As my brothers and I run laughing hysterically from the room
Knowing our own peril, we can’t help but point out,
He is of course, right
                        Dinner is not on the table.

This poem contributed to dVersePoets Open Link Night Week 12

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

dVerse dSires

I was headed to my pottery wheel when I remembered it was dVerse poetry night
Oh no!  What am I to do? 
Poetry or Pottery?
I guess I could write an ode to my pottery
If I knew what an ode consisted of
A haiku perhaps
But I was already well beyond all syllabic limitation

I gaze at the glaze
The evil red chun creates
Havoc wherever it goes

Clay desires my hands
Oozing mud through my fingers
What shall I become

Pulling it upwards
Sensuous shaping into
A tulip vase p’haps? 

The best I can do in a pinch. 
Off to play with mud. 
Will check out some poetry postings in a bit. 
Love to all.

This poem written
for and contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Night  Week 11

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I love flowers

They greeted her with smiling faces
With all their prickly thorns and petals of love
She went about her evening chores
While the flowers sang their music

short and sweet
This poem contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Week #10

Monday, September 19, 2011

Test The Glaze Firing

The witness cones on the far left are from the top shelf.  They are Cones 4, 5, and 6 and the two single ones are Cones 5.  Cones in the middle are also 4, 5, and 6.  You can see the 4 bent completely and the 5 just a little.  The cones on the right are all from the bottom shelf - again 4, 5, and 6, and the single one is a 5. But as you can see none of them really bent.   

These two pieces are both done in Celadon Froth.  There was no blistering but I need to make sure I hold it in the glaze long enough to get it thick.  You can see the blue is where it was double dipped and the brown is just a single dip.

Again, Celadon Froth - this was on the bottom shelf which only got to about Cone 4 but it came out nicely.  Even the Celadon Froth pieces on the top shelf came out fine - no blisters.  A great glaze!

This is red chun but it came out mostly grayish.  When not layered with other glazes it did not blister.  These were on the top shelf so it got hot enough and the glaze was plenty thick enough.  So maybe it got too hot or maybe it was too thick.  Gotta try to figure this one out because I love red chun when it works!

This is cappucino with the rim dipped in red chun.  This was on the top shelf and apparently got too hot because it's all blistered.  I think it's the cappucino that blistered because the pieces that were just done in chun and were on the top shelf didn't blister.

Another blistered cappucino and red chun.