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Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Yes, it may be a couple days late, but I certainly hope you have started this year off on the right foot!  This is the part where I normally would go back and review the happenings of 2010, but I covered most of that back in November when I reappeared after my extended hiatus.  So it's mostly just on with pottery as usual here.  But first...

Rather than spend Christmas in the beautiful, snow-covered midwest (where Christmas ought to be celebrated, right?), dreadfully balmy week in Phoenix, Arizona, where Krystal's folks have relocated.  It was pretty rough, actually, getting on the plain in sub-zero temps to arrive in a 70 degree desert environment.  The worst part was when we ate our Christmas turkey out on the patio under the garish light of the sun.  I mean, isn't it, like, sacrilegious to be running around in shorts on the eve of our Savior's birth?  But I digress.  Here are a few things that happened down southwest way:
Paid a visit to Taliesin West, the "summer camp," studio, and school of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  It was pretty nifty.  Although, this time of year, paying a visit to the original Taliesin in Wisconsin would have been much more agreeable.  You know - with all the snow and ice and stuff.
Met up with friend Katie, who lives in Tucson, to visit Casa Grande National Monument ruins.  They were looking pretty ruinous.  Did you know they were the first federally protected archaeological site?  I didn't, but I do now!
Casa Grande's museum featured some jars grande that have been dug up, too.  That's one jar grande!
We got all dressed up for Christmas Eve church, and took our family photo.  Aren't we lovely?
Here you can see how effectively the temperate climate incapacitated my Krystal.  Unbelievable.
We went to the zoo and met a tiger.  Somebody hid his dinner in the tree.
We also got to hang out at the Desert Botanical Gardens for their Holiday Lights celebration with live music and lights and cacti and other assorted succulents.  The DBG informed me, via interpretive sign, that a cactus can be defined most accurately as "a plant that is a member of the cactus family."  You can't make that up. 
Anyway, that was my Christmas break.  Our plane landed in South Dakota to a much more reasonable 35-degrees and sunny climate.  By the time we made it home from the airport the temps had dropped at least another 15 degrees and I found myself back in the appropriate holiday spirit.  On a related note, I shoveled and/or chiseled ice from our drive way for five consecutive days, as we apparently had yet to use up our quota of snow for 2010 - hand leave any flake undropped at the turn of the year, you know.  So we started the New Year with a veritable white washing, the proverbial "snow-covered clean slate," tabula rasa, mi casa su casa, cabasa y cabana, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...
Blizzard above.  I know it doesn't look that impressive, but I'd like you to note that there is a four foot tall retaining wall hiding somewhere underneath those drifts.  The heap at the foot of our driveway is now taller than me.  And I'm not particularly short.  So there.
Needless to say, when I wasn't shoveling, chiseling, and salting, and could cease for nursing my poor shoulders (my kingdom for an ergonomic shovel!), all that snow sure made it easy to stay hunkered down in my studio.  However, I actually had a lot of waking hours committed to the above activities, and of course it was hard not to just snuggle up on the couch with my darling and finish Netflixing Season 4 of Psych (awesome!), not to mention starting a new job last week.  But I did do some pottery work.  But only some. 

Here's two of those vases from last week.  Got a little creative with them.  Not so sure if that's a good thing or not.  They're drying upside down because the bottoms have a harder time drying than the lips.  Kind of like babies. 
Again, I've got the lip covered to keep it from drying out significantly faster than the rest.  The reason you want them to dry evenly (or as evenly as possible) is that as the clay dries, shrinkage occurs.  And uneven shrinkage can like to warping and, more catastrophically, cracking.  Horrible!
Look, it's a big bowl with blue slip in the middle!  Quelle surprise!
Time to get back into this shape - I call it an Arizona, due to its resemblance to the traditional southwestern shapes - see jar grande above.

And another Arizona in progress.
So that's the news this week.  Those vases are the first pieces dated 2011, so hurrah!  I've been listening to a lot of new music in the studio this week, because that's what happens after Christmas: any new music that made it onto our Christmas lists is either gifted, or we get it for ourselves post-mas.  Because you can't safely buy anything for yourself after Labor Day.  Or is that wearing white?  Either way, being unemployed wasn't helping me out there either!  In any case, 2010 was certainly a year for looking into new artists, or at least just new to me.  And expanding our horizons as well.  While it's still too early to get my critical verdict to stick too tightly to anything, I've really been enjoying new albums from The NationalBeach House, and Sleigh BellsMaroon 5 also delivered a delightfully irreverent album (I've never heard anyone write so many bouncy happy songs about being miserable!), and I'm not too proud to admit that Kylie Minogue hit a home run with Aphrodite.  I have no idea why she doesn't dominate the charts in this country.  Also, all of these are on Amazon for download for $8 or less, for the time being.  So go check them out.
High VioletTeen DreamTreatsHands All OverAphrodite
    
Happy New Year - there's plenty of more pottery to come in 2011 - thanks for coming along for the ride!

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