My New Art Medium – from Novice to Advanced Student!

For the past year, I ‘ve been pottering around – literally.  I started with an Intro Ceramics class at DeAnza College in Cupertino last year.  Under the tutelage of Rocky Lewycky from Santa Cruz, I learned about pinch pots, coil building, slab constructing, wheel throwing, stains, slips, glazes, bisque-firing, and glaze firing.  In subsequent classes, I was tickled to be considered an “Advance Student!”  I learned even more techniques for throwing pottery on the wheel, where the most difficult and yet most important aspect is centering the blob of clay.

Whole grain fortune cookies - burnout technique in Recycled clay

Whole grain fortune cookies – burnout technique in Recycled clay

We used clays of Bravo Buff, Smooth Sculpture, Recycled (from the mishmash leftovers of ceramics classes!), 8-11, B Mix, and later, Black Mountain, and Cinnamon.  I even now have a bag / brick of some type of porcelain – which I’m a bit intimidated to open and throw with just yet!  Just this quarter, I’ve wedged in feldspar and molochite (bisqued, ground up clay) to make a “groggier” mix with much texture and expression, and used this rough clay in a “dry throwing” technique – no water!

Rocky has challenged me to increase my clay I throw from the usual 3 pounds to 6 pounds, and now 12-15 pounds!  3 pounds of clay is about a small softball, and is held easily in one hand.  6 pounds requires 2 hands to hold, and 12+ pounds require ab workouts to wedge and carry as a ball to the wheel!  Must do sit-ups more often …

My favorite firing technique is Raku – IMG_5064being so unpredictable, depending on the amount of raku glaze, wax, and regular glaze!  I guess from the glass blowing days, I’m used to working with the intense heat, and I don’t panic.  I’m just a closet pyromaniac?!?!?

Cuerda Seca fish plate

Small Fish Platter, Cuerda Seca method of resist btwn the glazes

The Low-Fire clays and glazes with the intense colors have been fun to work with, and I do love how they’ve come out, but it’s better for more detailed and smaller work.  I like to challenge myself, too, with how I can make something 3D in an unusual form, like making the base with 3 shaped feet, or wrapping a textured slab around a cup for a raised effect.

The wonder of clay is how it allows and takes on so many textures.  Each clay body allows a different effect, too, and the finishing with stains or glazes changes the total outcome of the piece!  So much to work, experiment and have fun with!

At the Blind Center.  Meredith is in the red apron.  Her grandson is in black.

At the Blind Center. Meredith is in the red apron. Her grandson is in black.

Selfie with Meredith Odom, Nov 2014

Selfie with Meredith Odom, Nov 2014

During the Spring onward, I’ve had some Pot-throwing Parties, which culminated in late October with a Gumbo Gathering (ala Stone Soup method of potluck)!  Meredith Odom came with her guide dog, Mars, and taught her grandson to throw a simple cup.

Meredith is legally blind.  She was in my Intro ceramics class, and had invited me to do a demo with her blind center students a couple of weeks ago.  Being blind has not held her back from throwing, and in fact, probably makes her more aware of what’s going on with the clay than those of us with sight!  In fact, Meredith suggested to Rocky to have us tie blindfolds, de-focusing us (so to speak) on visualizing the centering.  It worked pretty well!

Here are a few of my humble beginnings in ceramics.  I’ve a lot still to learn about glazes – which I thought were just colors to slap on the surfaces and fire up.  Ha!

"Whole Grain" fortune cookies

Ceramics - Burn out projects

First “Burnout” thrown vessel – glaze test

Ceramics - Burn out projects

Burnout slab of burlap weave and leaves, drying

Ceramics - Burn out projects

A living slab!

Ceramics - slab works

Eucalyptus leaves and pods – curved slab project

Burnout vessel

Burnout of buckwheat grains on a thrown oval vessel, bisque-fired only


Back of Triptych – cleats for hanging on wall


Triptych – front view – “Fish Pond” bisque-fired only

Burnout test tiles

Burnout test tiles

Ceramics - slab works (4)

Detail of Eucalyptus burnout leaves and pods


Carving of a large bowl, smooth sculpture clay

Carved bowl

Back of carved bowl

Carved bowl

Detail of carved bowl

Poppy Bowl

Carved slab built California Poppy Bowl

Poppy Bowl

Carved slab built California Poppy Bowl

Poppy Bowl

Bottom View of Carved slab built California Poppy Bowl

Poppy Bowl

Detail of Poppy Bowl


Greenware – Galaxy Platter – Bottom


Galaxy Platter – edge detail

Fortune cookies

Fortune Cookies – decal-ed with butterflies – BEFORE

Fortune cookies

Fortune Cookies – decal-ed with butterflies – AFTER

Fortune cookies

Fortune Cookies – decal-ed with butterflies – AFTER

Ceramics & Glass - Iridescence (2)

Raku glazed and fired trivet – with reduce heated glass cup

Ceramics - Soda firing kiln (2)

Soda Firing in kiln

Ceramics - Nerikomi attempts - black mountain & recycled (4)

Nerikomi flower

Ceramics - Nerikomi attempts - black mountain & recycled (5)

Nerikomi saucer

Ceramics - Nerikomi attempts - black mountain & recycled (7)

Nerikomi – detail of the gradation of clay colors

Ceramics - Cutting sides of thick cylinder (2)

Facet cutting thrown bowl – BEFORE

Ceramics - Cutting sides of thick cylinder (1)

Facet cutting thrown bowl – AFTER

Ceramics - cuerda seca glazed piece

Cuerda Seca glazing – fish plate – BEFORE


Cuerda Seca glazing – fish plate – AFTER firing


Raku tests

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (8)

Low-fire testing – BEFORE

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (9)

Low-fire testing – BEFORE

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (10)

Low-fire testing – BEFORE

Ceramics - Burnout project - next class (2)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (2)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout project - next class (3)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (4)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (3)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth – Detail

Ceramics - Burnout projects (22)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (42)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout projects (27)

Burnout – BEFORE firing, after throwing and mold growth

Ceramics - Burnout triptych (3)

Triptych – “Fish Pond” before Bisque-firing. Lovely mold growth from gains wedged into clay

Ceramics - Burnout Triptych - Part 2 (3)

Triptych – 1 panel

Ceramics - Burnout Triptych - Part 2 (6)

Triptych – detail of a panel – note growing sprout

Ceramics - Burnout triptych (15)

Triptych with back detail of cleats and spacer

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl - AFTER glazing and firing - Low Fired clay

TripFysh Bowl – AFTER glazing and firing – Low Fired clay – Top View

Ceramics - Decorations class (3)

Sgraffito and carved tile – BEFORE

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (13)

Sgraffito and carved tile – AFTER – BACK side

Amy's brain

Amy’s brain


“Peek-A-Boo” Cup – wheel thrown, sculpted


Sgraffito and carved tile – AFTER 1st color firing

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (3)

Glaze firing setup in my kiln – AFTER firing

Ceramics - 1st Glaze fire (12)

Pieces from firing at home


Tile painting – maiorica (Spanish)

Penguins - North and South Pole Varieties

Penguins – North and South Pole Varieties

Burnout - AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth

Burnout – AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth

Burnout - AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth (detail)

Burnout – AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth (detail)


Burnout – AFTER bisque firing, after throwing and mold growth

Tornado Cup and Triangular Cup

Tornado Cup and Triangular Cup – B Mix Red Clay, bisqued

IMG_5785 IMG_5794 IMG_5797 IMG_8598 IMG_8897 IMG_8898 IMG_9212 IMG_9213

Posted in Back at the Ranch, Ceramics, Photos, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gumbo Recipes – from an authentic Gal in Louisiana

Carolyn really infuses the warm, homey Southern hospitality and cookin’ in her website, with some marvelous pictures of her fixin’s.

So, I borrowed her recipe for Hen, Tasso and Sausage Gumbo.

Hen and Tasso Gumbo – Lousiana Style

Hen & Tasso Sausage Gumbo - the finished dish w riceFrom – the site has pictures of what each ingredient is, as well as the finished product – Check it out!

This past week, I watched the weather like a child waiting for Christmas morning! A cold front was on the way – finally! There is a local saying, “You wouldn’t want to be a chicken in South Louisiana when the first cold front of the season finally comes through”! When the wind turns north and the temperatures drop below 50 degrees for the first time, there is a run on chickens at the local markets! You can be sure, if you look in anyone’s basket, you will see some sort of makings for a gumbo…and for that first front, usually a chicken or hen and sausage.

Gumbo season always stirs up old debates on ingredients for gumbos – Chicken or Hen? Sausage or Andouille? Roux or Orkra…do you combine the two? Roasted or Smoked Duck? And like any good Cajun lady, surely I have my opinions – all based on “family history”, of course…

Chicken or Hen – Use a chicken, if you are in a rush; on all other occasions, use a hen (yes, a tough old fat hen!) Just plan on cooking the thing for hours and hours, but you can’t beat the flavor.

Sausage or Andouille – I like them both, but if you are cooking a duck gumbo –always use andouille! Straight from my son’s mouth…

Roux or Okra…combine the two? Never in my house! I was brought up to believe that it was just about sacrilegious to mix roux and okra in a gumbo – generations of Arnauds and Millers (my mother’s family) have engrained this into my soul! Now, I love Okra Gumbo as much as I love Roux Gumbo, just never add one to the other! PERIOD. (of course, that is in my house! A lot of great cooks do combine both, I am just not one of them)

Roasted or Smoked Duck – I like both, just depends on time and what you are in the mood for! Smoked is fantastic, but sometimes you just want the roasted flavor and to taste the wonderful gaminess of the duck.

Now, about that “Marathon”? For the next week, I will be blogging about different types of gumbos – seven to be exact! Yes, seven different gumbos in seven days…

Hen, Sausage and Tasso Gumbo
1 hen, cut into pieces

3 lbs of smoked sausage, cut into bite size pieces (try to always use smoked sausage from South Louisiana – others just do not taste the same and tend to give the gumbo an “odd” flavor)

1 lb of Tasso, cut into very small pieces

1/4 cup canola oil

4 medium onions, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

2 cups celery, chopped

1 cup of dark roux – You can make your own using 1 cup canola oil and 1 cup of flour: Blend in a large heavy pot and cook on medium high fire – stirring constantly (and I mean “constantly” because it gets very hot and can scorch easily!) Continue stirring until it is deep dark copper-colored – takes about 45 minutes; Let cool slightly before using (make sure that you keep stirring occasionally while it is cooling down, because it will keep cooking) OR use any jar of prepared cajun roux

3 quarts of chicken stock
1. Heat oil in stock pot or other large heavy pot
2. Brown hen on medium high heat until all side are deep brown, turning often

3. Stir in smoked sausage and tasso and continue to brown for about another 30 minutes, stirring and scraping bottom of pot
4. Remove all meat onto a clean platter or tray
5. Add chopped vegetables to pot (with all drippings from meat remaining), scraping bottom often; cook for 15 minutes until onions are transparent

6. Add chicken stock and roux; Bring to a boil, stirring, making sure that the roux has dissolved completely in stock
7. Return chicken, sausage and tasso to pot

8. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a medium, low heat.
9. Cook until the big ole hen in tender! (At least 2-4 hours) Adding additional water as the gumbo cooks down – depends on how thick or soupy you want it to be…
10. Degrease the gumbo in the end – Very Important, because you will end up with a lot of fat floating on the top. Remove as much as you can!
11. Serve with white rice, chopped green onions and crispy fresh bread…

Last night, I was asked by a close friend, “what would your last meal would be?”
At the time, I thought of so many things that I love and couldn’t pick just one dish. But after cooking tonight, it’s easy…for sure – good old hen, sausage and tasso gumbo! Last meal? Would take my sweet time and do it up right….

— Recipe by Carolyn Wright



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Only in America — well, …

Sometimes it pays off to grow old!  Here are some places that will give you a discount when you ASK for it, and are over 55-years-old.  I received this email from a retired friend: 

Maxine Sayings (6) Maxine 2 

“Finally an advantage to getting old! 

As I was waiting in line behind an older gentleman at Wendy’s recently, I heard him ask for his senior discount. The girl at the register apologized and charged him less. When I asked the man what the discount was, he told me that seniors over age 55 gets 10% off everything on the menu, every day.

This list may not only be useful for you, but for your friends and family, too.
Dunkin Don uts gives free coffee to people over 55. If you’re paying for a cup every day, you might want to start getting it for free.
YOU must ASK for your discount!

Fontana's dinners (2)

Applebee’s: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
Arby’s: 10% off (55+)
Ben & Jerry’s: 10% off (60+)
Bennigan’s: discount varies by location (60+)
Bob’s Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
Burger King: 10% off (60+)
Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee (55+)
Chili’s: 10% off (55+)
CiCi’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Denny’s: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members (55+)
Dunkin’ Don uts: 10% off or free coffee (55+)
Einstein’s Bagels: 10% off baker’s dozen of bagels (60+)
Fuddrucker’s: 10% off any senior platter (55+)
Gatti’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
Hardee’s: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
IHOP: 10% off (55+)
Jack in the Box: up to 20% off (55+)
KFC: free small drink with any meal (55+)
Krispy Kreme: 10% off (50+) Cousin Cathy, How’s that?
Long John Silver’s: various discounts at locations (55+)
Mc Donald’s: discounts on coffee everyday (55+)
Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
Shoney’s: 10% off Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
Steak ‘n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday (50+)
Subway: 10% off (60+)
Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
Taco Bell : 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
TCBY: 10% off (55+)
Tea Room Cafe: 10% off (50+)
Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
Wendy’s: 10% off (55+)
White Castle : 10% off (62+) This is for me … if I ever see one again.

Wooden vessel

Banana Republic: 10% off (50+)
Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month (50+)
Belk’s: 15% off first Tuesday of every month (55+)
Big Lots: 10% off
Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days (55+)
C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
Clarks : 10% off (62+)
Dress Barn: 10% off (55+)
Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kmart: 20% off (50+)
Kohl’s: 15% off (60+)
Modell’s Sporting Goods: 10% off
Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions
Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday (55+)
The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off (55+)
Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month (55+)

Fruit plate (6)

Albertson’s: 10% off first Wednesday of each month (55+)
American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday (50+)
Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)
Food Lion: 6% off every Monday (60+)
Fry’s Supermarket: free Fry’s VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday (55+)
Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)
Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday (50+)
Publix: 5% off every Wednesday (55+)
Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
Uncle Guiseppe’s Marketplace: 5% off (62+)

Chiang Mai - Butterfly Hotel & our rooms (130)

Alaska Airlines: 10% off (65+)
American Airlines: various discounts for 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations
Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
Amtrak: 15% off (62+)
Greyhound: 5% off (62+)
Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50+
Car Rental:
Alamo Car Rental: up to 25% off for AARP members
Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members Best Western: 10% off (55+)
Budget Rental Cars: 10% off; up to 20% off for AARP members (50+)
Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off (50+)
Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members
Hertz: up to 25% off for AARP members Holiday Inn: 10%-30% off depending on location (62+)
National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members

Over Night Accommodations:
Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Clarion Motels: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Econo Lodge: 20%-30% off (60+)
Hampton Inns & Suites: 10% off when booked 72 hours in advance
Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler’s Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)
Marriott Hotels: 15% off (62+)
Motel 6: 10% off (60+)
Myrtle Beach Resort: 10% off (55+)
Quality Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Sleep Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)


AMC Theaters: up to 30% off (55+)
Bally Total Fitness: up to $100 off memberships (62+)
Busch Gardens Tampa, FL: $3 off one-day tickets (50+)
Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)
Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off
U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)
Regal Cinemas: 30% off Ripley’s Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket (55+)
SeaWorld Orlando , FL : $3 off one-day tickets (50+)

AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $29.99/month (65+)
Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service (50+)
Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+).

Senior Hair cut menSenior Hair cut

Great Clips: $3 off hair cuts (60+)
Super Cuts: $2 off haircuts (60+)

NOW, go out there and claim your discounts – – – and remember —

YOU must ASK for your discount — no ask, no discount”

Posted in Round the World Trip | 1 Comment

Vases, Bowls, and Magic–yes, they’re for sale, too!

Bowls, $25 – $75

Vases, $25 – $125

Goblets, $55 – $95

Glass Pebbles, $15-25 (can be sand etched with customized lettering)

Plates, $25 – $45

Linked Hearts, $35 (set of 2)

Glass, $25 – $35

Bottle, large, $75 (can be sand etched with customized lettering)

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It’s too quiet! What I’ve been up to lately …

OK, so I’ve been a bit mute on the world front – BUT busy!  Here are some of the “projects,” though I’m skipping the boring stuff – like paperwork, phone calls, meetings, long distance driving …  Hover over the picture for the captions. 

Enjoy this little diversion from your own busy day!

Trying on the Angry Bird blanket for sizeJamil - one of our couchsurfers - making dinnerJuly 4th - Watching fireworks from the RWC harbor in the dragon boat!Moffett Field's blimp hangar being disassembled for hazard cleaningCamping at San Luis ReservoirBuying our house in Palo AltoFremont Dragon Boat Race 2012 - the line up in an early morning raceGlass Pumpkin making at PALY for the Fall saleDuck Tape project - flip flop repair after Pepper's Chewing ProjectAmy's stash of Duck TapeGlass pour of a cog - prototype for Eric JacobsonReunion with Ying Chen, Jialiang (John)!!!  12 years since we last saw each other!Reunion with Ying Chen & John - Amy and Angelina with Ying Chen's & John's grandkidsMy kids in the back of Yaris - That's what they look like when all squished into the back!LightWave Karaoke NightPainting by Amy and Jeannie at Greg'sCamping at Los Oso by Santa Barbara - enroute to our campsite ... we had to cross this.  We let the bicyclist go firstRoasting dinner over the campfire - what a life!Pepper taking a peep.  She took to camping instantly.Horseback riding on the trails in the hills of Santa Barbara - what views!  What dust!  What expense!The bandit we met along the wayLast campfire dinner before Gymnastics camp at Woodward!  Dessert of Blueberry Muffin in OrangesPepper AFTER a swim in the shallow muddy river - she went in unprompted all by herself.  Swims like an otter!The cabin-mates at Woodward!View of Boron - where the temperature hit 107F as I went through, NOT stopping, even for Pepper to pee!The temp at Boron while passing through at 5:45 pmSD Gaslamp Hostel - my private room.  Bunk by Ikea.  Really friendly staff, and musically talented, too!SD Gaslamp Hostel back patioGaslamp Museum park - Pepper posing by a bronze statue of Bum, the SD adopted dog in the 1800s.  Pepper thought it was real, and barked at it before settling down.Chocolat restaurant in Hillcrest - some Moo tables as their mascot is a Hereford cow!Sleeping Angry Bird Geoff! (with green hair)My wood project - ready for oiling - shelf for hand blown glasses!Sand Cast Hot Glass - "Undersea flotsam"Sand Cast Hot Glass - "Algae flower"Sand Cast Hot Glass - "Fossilized DNA"

Posted in Round the World Trip | Leave a comment

Hodi 2!

Amy w Hodi, first found - about 4 weeks oldHodi first found - about 4 weeks oldHodi at about 8-months-old

It must be our Puppy Karma to help abandoned puppies… A month ago, a stray dog was found and the armload was carried inside by Joan, the Executive Director at BAGI (Bay Area Glass Institute).  I was blowing glass and couldn’t address her question of whether we’d lost a dog or not.  When I was finished with my slot, I went over to look at what was found.  Joan said that she’d bring the dog home but her cat was bigger than the dog!  Now, what I’d seen was about a medium-size dog, so I asked her what kind of cat she has! 

She showed me the dog, and the terrified little guy (oops, it’s a gal, we learned later) cowered and preferred to be UNDERNEATH things – like bushes, desks, etc. and was very scared of people.  Due to its coloring – black, grey, and white underneath, I thought it was an older dog, already greying.  Its actions spoke of neglect, possible abuse, and constant surveillance of predators or danger.  It was so small, and I understood how Joan’s cat COULD be bigger than the dog! 

Joan and Karyn at BAGI took the dog to the shelter to see if it had a microchip, find out it’s age, and type of dog.  The San Jose Shelter said no microchip, no calls for a lost or missing dog, the dog was 6-months-old (based on the teeth), an unspayed female, and a Wire-Haired Dachshund mix.  We guessed Terrier was most likely part of the mix based on the spring of the pup (man, can she JUMP!), ears, nose and face.  That same evening, Joan passed the pup to me to take home after wood shop class.  It was just after Amy’s 12th birthday (March 16), so Amy considered it a birthday gift!  Ha ha!Puppy Pix (82)Puppy Pix (68)

Anyway, the first thing we did was give the pup a bath!  With great delight, we discovered that she’s black and WHITE underneath, not tan or brown!  The sink water attested to this discovery.  Poor thing had to have at least one paw on the sink edge during the bath. 

Now for the naming of the pup!  “Lucky,” of course came up and was promptly dismissed, though it WAS close to St. Paddy’s Day!  “Monet,” “Van Gosh,” “Renoir,” were considered due to the white at the tip of the tail that looked like paint.  The pup absolutely did not respond to any of these.  “Pepper” came about because of her fur color, and stuck pretty well, though “Shadow” came close because the pup STUCK close to us wherever we went! 

At the dog run in the park next door, she is usually the smallest dog there, and keeps herself up with the Big Dogs!  She can even outrun several of them on those stubby little feet of her’s.  For the first two days we had her, she made no sound, not even a whimper.  Then some dog across the apartment complex barked, and she barked back!  We were shocked to hear her!  She weighed just under 7 pounds then, and at the first vet check up weighed 7.6 pounds a week later.  Now she weighs about 8.1 pounds – an each and every .1 pounds is immense for her!  (Can you imagine if we were as concerned about our weight down to the .1 pound?)  Rabies was the first immediate shot, and just recently she got her Parvo-distemper vaccine. 

It’s been over a month since Pepper’s moved in with us, and now we can officially adopt her.  She has an appointment to be spayed this Thursday.  She’ll be microchipped and registered then, too.  So, … now we can say, …

“We have a DOG!”

Posted in Glass, Kids, People, Photos, Puppy, Sri Lanka & India | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Curse of the Fast Thinker

– thoughts during the course of a day

Feb 25, 2012

It’s a Saturday night, and I have only myself to entertain. In the prison cell of my apartment, I sit in isolation, buffered by the empty air around the building, the distance of friends who are themselves too busy to be with me, and the realization that there is no one who cares enough about me to want to do something with me – whether spiritually, physically, or emotionally.  It takes an enormous amount of momentum to move me outside and go see a movie.  I’m glad I did, but returned back to the inertia of the apartment cell, eventually opening my 513-piece jigsaw puzzle and getting the edges done before going to bed.  Well, at least I’m not boring myself!

TinTin and Snowy  BTW – The movie Adventures of Tintin is pretty good!

March 1, 2012

I have so many projects and ideas that are fantastic, but I just don’t have the time, resources, or team-building abilities to make them all happen! I wish there were more of me. I don’t want to be one who just “watches what happened.” I want to be one to MAKES things happen!

I face mundane as well as Atlas-heavy burdens, and my thoughts return to my trip around the world. It seems so long ago, and yet, the feeling I had while traveling lingers within me, keeping me wondering… what would happen if I just left? And didn’t return to here?

What is it that is weighing me down while staying in one place? Is it a mental prison that chains me to here? Is it the routine-ness, the predictability, the carpooling, the rush-rush of daily tasks, the irritability of the predictable, or the results that haven’t gone my way in this routine environment? Is it the thought – or knowledge – that there IS more “out there?”

What a luxury to say, “I lost half a million dollars!” I grew it from a good but not grand amount of inheritance to over a million, and in about as many years, bits and parts grew wings and began taking off in surprising directions, but not back to me. Is it because I’m not very good at tending to what I have? Is it from my view of money as a game that makes it seem unreal? And yet, my stomach swoops with joy when I “win,” and churns in agony when I “lose.” My heart is weighed down when I know the next step is the loss of more money. 

What happens once I lose all that I had grown? Ironically, it seems a huge Atlas-sized world is lifted, and I can see Anything is possible in front of me! Odd. One would think I would be more despondent.  But I look at those who came to the States with nothing, and have been brave, diligent, and living every minute in growing something they didn’t have when they started. But, even odder, once grown, it eventually becomes a burden to control, tend, continue! It reminds me of an example a monk we met in Taos, NM, Casey (or KC) told us.

Gold Cup saucer filligree

He picked up a gold tea cup that someone left as an offering in front of the Buddha we stood before.

“This teacup brings me enjoyment because it is beautiful. When someone gives it to me, I am happy to have such a beautiful and precious thing. Every day, I admire it and am happy. Then someone else gives me ANOTHER gold teacup. Marvelous! I am doubly happy now, and every day am able to admire and enjoy the teacups. I can share the enjoyment now. Then later, someone else gives me ANOTHER gold teacup! Wow, what luck! I can have MORE people share the enjoyment. Then I receive MORE gold teacups, and clear a space to store so many. Eventually I can have a party with so many teacups!

Gold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligreeGold Cup saucer filligree

“But, after the party, I must still clean, dry, and put away so many teacups. I need more space because I have so many. It becomes a chore owning the teacups, and I begin to worry that maybe someone will TAKE one of my precious teacups! I become possessive, and wary of people who come visit me. I guard the teacups as they are desirable, and I don’t want to lose even one! After a while, my life is not as carefree and happy as I was BEFORE I received the first teacup, because I am so busy tending to the many I have, being careful not to chip or break any, keeping them safe, and not using them so often in case I lose, chip or break any.

“My life has changed – but though I am in possession of such beauty, am I truly richer? Happier?

Instead of KEEPING all my possessions, What if I SHARED them instead, and everyone can be as “rich” as I am?  Those who hoard can keep all those damn teacups!  (It’s tough to release, isn’t it?)

JKL's suitcase BEFORE (1) IMG_5727 

As for the question:  “How much do we really need?” during our travels, we lived out of a rolling suitcase and backpack of clothes, medicines, books, electronics. Chris was able to jettison even more than what we carried, and pared himself down to just a large backpack – and NOT a traveling framed backpack either. Just a large regular backpack. Of course, we didn’t carry a sleeping bag, pots or pans, single cooking grill, dishes and utensils for camping, and truly living like a vagabond.  We slept in hostels, a much cheaper way to go than hotels by two- to more-fold. Plus, the hostels’ best feature was the chance to meet OTHER travelers, which hotels do not offer.

Our life most certainly was simple, since we had no schedule, just occasional home schooling for Amy, updating our blog site, and what the current location had to explore. If we ran out of money, our plan was to find a temporary “under the table” kind of job like restaurant work (me), fix bicycles / juggling / entertaining (Chris), or gymnastics (Amy). 

We met some travelers who did just that and went from place to place, working enough to live, and then move on. That brings up the question: “Why move on?”

What draws a traveler to … travel? Explore someplace outside of where they normally live? Keep moving? I can give the “witty” flip answer, “Because,” or the usual answer, “To get away,” but those would answer the first two questions, but not the third necessarily. For the consummate traveler, I believe it’s Curiosity. The wonder of meeting and understanding new and different cultures, situations, peoples, customs, foods, society…

What’s the gain someone traveling would receive?

An open mind, flexibility, knowledge of various solutions to the same problems, excitement, adventure, exploration of the “unknown,” problem solving, quick reflexes, dealing with a variety of people and their temperaments , economic levels, and cultural personalities.

What am I giving up without staying in one place and calling it “Home?”  (It’s OK to make comments here …)

A friend, Naima Shea, sent me a link to a fellow traveler, Jodi of Legal Nomads, who’s been on the road since April 2008 when she quit her position as a Canadian attorney working for 5+ years in NYC, and took off to do what her heart had planned for her since childhood.  What better time than the present!  When IS a good time to take off from the comforts and routine of our world – NOW.  Why wait?  Many had asked her why she quit and took off.  She has a few blogs that answer that question and comments – and many comments were centered around how courageous she was to simply quit without a concern about money to keep her going. 

Isn’t it an interesting correlation – Money = Security? 

Security = Comfort, Safety, Home?

Well, maybe for most that would be the Equation of Life.  Of course, there are so many other aspects of Life that influence how we choose what we do.  

What action that is you would do that is on the “edge” or outside your comfort zone – something that you wouldn’t NORMALLY do?  What’s on that Bucket List of your’s?

[NOTE:  Don’t go and give me “I’d clean my house,” “Prepare my finances so my family is secure,” “Do my taxes” kind of answer!  We’re working OUTSIDE of the BOX of Comfort here … ‘C)]

Happy Mind Traveling

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