Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gas Kiln Pottery first results

Too long since I did a blog post! Spending more time in the pottery studio since I got a gas kiln - the glaze results are unexpected usually, so I'm trying to go back to first principles and do lots of test tiles.  Which is pretty boring, but I'm throwing away fewer pieces.  Still just using Southern Ice Porcelain, but I'm down to my last bag now - I need to resist the lure of something new when I can't control what I do now! Here's some recent results -
1) Bowl with reactive slip which was always mud brown in the electric kiln is really dramatic with gas.
2) Glaze that was celedon green in oxidising electric kiln is red in reducing gas kiln - but only on one side!
3) Black stain in porcelain slip then carved and glazed in matt glaze has interesting foggy/fuzzy edges
4) Most of the underglaze oxides are predictable, e.g. cobalt blue, but chromium oxide just turns baby pooh brown instead of green - which I now have read is do to the ball clay in the matt glaze. Really ugly!
5) Billy's now finished my pottery studio extension to house the kiln but here it was before the building went up around it and full of test tiles.  Its a bit scary to light it, and I'm struggling to see the cones and know when to adjust the flue, but hopefully more experience will help.

1 Reactive Slip
2 Derek Emms Copper Glaze
3 Black stain porcelain slip  

4 Underglaze colours
5 Boring test tiles

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Spring cleaning

Its too cold to do much in the garden, so Billy and I are taking on sorting out cabinets and closets and trying to coral all the dust bunnies.  Nelly must think it is spring, even if it hasn't warmed up as she's shedding in clumps.  A garbage bag full of fur after brushing today! If was more crafty, I'd figure out how to spin it.... but can't quite get too excited about wearing Nelly socks?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Farewell Mom

Photo: Missy, hope you like them.
Sunday morning we scattered ashes off the pier at Juanita Beach in Kirkland,which hit Nick hard. For me, driving by her old condo pulled my heartstrings even more.

It was blustery and cold, but we tried to think of a word or phrase that made us think of her. Miller's "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" made us all smile - How many times we'd heard her say that growing up! And its pretty good advice for an adult in social situations too...

I said "sufficiently surrencified", which Mom said her Mom wanted them to say instead of "I''m stuffed!" after dinner. It never really caught on with us, but would make us laugh.

Her brother Lymie and sister Janie spoke at the funeral, describing her as the feisty and stubborn baby of the family. How odd to think of her in that way, when I saw her as the peacemaker and calm one.

 Billy made Mom a lovely urn and one little one for each of the 4 kids.  It was surprisingly heavy when filled, making it feel more substantial and somehow valuable.

Sorting through her things was really painful. Hard to give or throw anything away that felt personal, but we had to.  I wished I could have taken an antique chair, but how would I have gotten it to the UK? A brass lamp pushed my bag to the weight limit.

There was great comfort in spending time with Stormi, Miller, Linnie and Missi. We didn't want to go home, back to our normal lives. And the grandkids wanted to be together too.  When will we all meet again without Mom's birthday to celebrate? A wedding perhaps?

It struck me that for all the business, charity and church friends that Mom had, the ones that really mattered at the end were family.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

My Mom passed away last weekend

It was after a long decline, and a release as she had lost her grasp on reality.  But now I want to remember her as she was before, when she was the centre of my world as a baby, then the peacemaker between and comforter to four kids and all our pets.  I don't remember her complaining about all the hassle of running a home that was always open to friends, adapting to new towns, people and places following Dad's  career. She took it all in stride.
I'm thinking about what to say at the Memorial Service, after my uncle who will be an eloquent speaker, about her integrity, good works and religious life.

I'm Toni, the oldest, chief troublemaker (but not the only one!) and as kids do, I mostly I took her love, interest in me and support for granted.  It was only when I became a mother myself - and of only two little monsters, that I realised that what I had come to expect Mothers did was actually very difficult to do.  The mob of kids that descended on our house, trips to the emergency room, treaties negotiated between warring siblings, while entertaining Dad's business guests.  The weekend trips from Chicago to Michigan (8 hrs each way!) with extra kids and dogs, packing all the food and gear...

I count 12 different houses that we lived in, so many school and sports events.  She told me once that she felt bad after she'd left her post after dropping her pencil in the snow when the sun went behind the mountain when she was on gatekeeper duty while we were ski racing in Breckenridge. (And I thought a little rain while watching Nick play rugby made me a hero).

But its her foibles that I recognise most in myself.  She rear-ended a car while teaching me how to blow bubbles in chewing gum... (yep, I've had less of an excuse to run into a car).

And when she was my age she used to read what we called "lady and the castle books", you know the picture on the cover, gothic suspense fiction like Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt - where the virtuous governess had to work out the mystery for herself, using her intelligence and bravery. (OK the escapism I read now has a few vampires and werewolves, but Mom introduced me to fantasy).

Sometimes she messed up our names, calling me Linnie or Missi and then looking exasperated - struggling to bring the right name to mind.  I suspect you'll hear me call my son Nick - Miller, or Miller -Nick today.

Most of all, we knew she was always there for us kids and grandkids. Mom had an incredibly positive mental outlook and if there is anything I want to emulate it was her ability to make the best of what she had, welcome change and to truly be happy.




Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Wow, 2012 year flew by! Licence Round, talks at conferences and the resumption of fracking decision.


Christmas was incredibly wet and miserably cold, but I loved celebrating at home with the family and all the traditional stuff - wrapping packages, stockings, music boxes and making cookies.  We got in a walk on Boxing Day - the one break in the rain - classic pose, Ali texting as we walked.

So New Years Day is today and its resolution time:

1) The diet and gym thing, of course.  Stay on target until I visit Mom in Feb - no EXCUSES!

2) Put work aside. It's so easy to slip into answering work emails on the weekend and on leave days.  And hard to say no to more meetings, squeezing out potential leave. So I resolve to book out my annual leave this year in my calendar and PROTECT it - and actually take it.

3) Data management. I've been pretty good backing up personal stuff - music, audiobooks and photos, but I've got a huge backlog of work emails and files that need to be properly archived at work.... but not to do in my leave time (2!) again.

4)  Running... hmm, not much there but the couple of miles with the dog a few times a week. Really the dog and I would both benefit from more regular runs.  But it is a joy to be healthy - no plantar fasciatis or sore achilles. When I was running more I always had tweeks that threatened to be chronic. So once there's more light, I resolve to start running from the gym to work again - find the balance.

5) Enjoy my days, treasure confidences and snuggles with the kids, laughs and holding Billy.

Monday, January 02, 2012



2011 Christmas week in the Algarve, Portugal.

A great break from the dark and dreary rain in London. Despite the Easyjet ordeal, Ali, Billy and I we're happy to find that the RCI swap resort was a nice one, and our two-bedroom unit perched on a cliff overlooked the sea. With internet access (if you sat in one chair only?)!

On Christmas morning we found a church service ongoing in the Ilbuferia old town, but realised that it didn't mean much to us in Portuguese.  But the atmosphere and people-watching were great.  Billy and Ali enjoyed the Cataplana served in a copper lidded pod with clams and pork, while I revelled in the carb offerings ( a glorious week off my diet!)

By the time Nick arrived (after spending Christmas with Kat's family) we were ready to venture out in our tiny Panda car and Billy found us two great walks in the mountains.  The weather was perfect, cool and sunny and we couldn't understand why most of the holiday units were closed up - but appreciated the lack of crowds!  


 The only liability of walking in the mountains of Portugal is the dogs! We were barked at from every house, and the packs in the villages scared Ali who remembered the risk of rabies in India.  But we came to the rescue of a puppy that wanted to follow us, and had to re-enforce the owner's gate with plywood taken from a neighbour's shed... I wonder what they'll think?

And we made it home in time to hear the New Years Eve fireworks snug in our very own bed!


3 December 2011 - Santa Run

An incredibly patient and brave Clews family (and Billy) saw us off on a private Santa Run (the weekend before the official Lincoln Santa run) which ended up at Petra and Adam's house for fantastic blueberry scones.
It was great to catch up with Colin, Steve and Gary (definitely a pun as I stood little chance to catch up so they waited... and waited). THANKS Guys!  Inspiration to take this running thing more seriously, if only so I can hang out with such great people.