Thursday, June 25, 2009

Taking Inventory

The little train kiln came through with some nice crockery for us to take back to Canada. This afternoon Robin brought it all home and laid it out for us to take stock of what to pack and what to pitch, and most of it made it's way into boxes that are now packed up and ready to make the trip north to the motherland. 

We're pretty much packed up otherwise as well. Minimal clothes, even fewer toys, a few toiletries and that's about all we'll have space for around the pottery boxes. It was a busy week of sorting and organizing. Getting the house ready to leave for a chunk of time, and arranging for the yardwork to be taken care of by a local kid down the street. I've spent a great deal of time as well pleading with our cherry tree which is ohhhh soooo close to being ready to go off, in fact I think by Monday it'll be lush with bright red plump cherries. Sniff! I've made sure to tell all our neighbors and friends to drop by and enjoy them, because we sadly won't be able to this year.  

There were lots of last minute errands to run today and a few visitors that popped by to say farewell. Robin made a trip down to the woodlot as well to check his wood supply for fall. He's expecting to hit the ground running once again when we return in August from our six week summer vacation in the Kootenays.  It'll hardly be a vacation, with all the things we have planned: a trip to Calgary to visit family, teaching at KSA, gardening at the Elders, a wedding in Fort St. John, working on the house, more gardening at the Elders, a studio tour and sale.....and hopefully a woodfiring in our own kiln at some point in there. 

We were hoping to leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning, but as no surprise we'll be unloading a gas kiln of porcelain ware first thing and packing hot pots into the mix of road snacks and carseats.  

It's been such a great month of June here in Logan, pretty relaxing and plenty of socializing. The weather didn't cooperate entirely, the first two weeks of the month were wet and cool. But this last week has been glorious. We've been enjoying the warm evenings and barbequing outside in the backyard with friends, we even made it to the local outdoor pool. 

In some ways it's sad to be leaving....our friends, our fruit trees ....but from what I've been told, we've picked the perfect time of year to skip town because it's going to get HOT down here any day now and not let up for the whole time we're gone. Besides, it'll all be here when we get back, except of course for the cherries...... 

Monday, June 22, 2009

I can deal with Lens Error.

My camera is working again. I took it into the only specialty camera store in town, where they informed me that all digital repairs are a minimum of $150, so you might as well just fork out for another one. So I persuaded the clerk to fiddle with it anyways to see if she could un-jam the lens, since that seemed to be the problem. I gave her permission to reef on it, figuring that if it was broken, what more harm could be done. And she fixed it! Well almost, now every time I turn it off it reads lens error.....but I can deal with that. 

Here is the photo that I took at the arts festival right before it went flying unexpectantly into the air and came crashing down onto the sidewalk. 

My weekend got a little brighter after I realized I wouldn't have to buy another camera just yet. I was able to get my editing work done thanks to my friend Kate who offered to have Isla over for a playdate, meanwhile Roscoe made a cooperating effort and slept for 3 solid hours on Saturday afternoon. AND the landlord dropped by with a new lawnmower. Bye bye stinkeye. 

We all gathered at the kiln for supper and had a cookout with the loading crew. The kids had a blast running around the compound, climbing in and out of the double wide kiln and ontop the wood piles. 
They finally finished loading the kiln around 7:30p.m. and Robin started out the night with the first shift. The next day I figured he'd appreciate a sleep in since he didn't get home until after 2 a.m., so I had the kids up and out of the house early. We hit the farmer's market under gloomy looking skies and came home to spend a rainy afternoon indoors. 

The potters ended up firing the kiln until 3 a.m. which made for a lazy Father's Day morning for Robin. Isla was bursting at the seams, anxious for him to wake up to give him his cupcake that she'd picked out for him at the market the day before. We did treat him to supper out as well at a local Mexican place.  But I did forget to get the annual Father's day photo with him and both the kids all together- can't blame that on lens error, just human. At least we're up and running again. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Stinkeye

That's what we refer to Roscoe's new look of disdain that he frequently throws out to the world these days, whether he wants something off the kitchen counter that he can't have, or has just been sideswiped by his older sister, or if he has just woken up and is not quite ready to face that big bad world - that's what we get - the stinkeye. 

It's basically a snarly frown. And tonight I have perma-stinkeye. I'm having a rotten evening. The first 2/3rds of my day had been quite enjoyable, the kids were great, we'd been out to a playdate and to run errands. Then returned home for lunch and they both went down for a long afternoon sleep - which gave me the opportunity to do some work on the computer. 

In my over enthusiastic manner, I have picked up some contract work doing some editing and writing for a couple of different people back home in Canada. I've actually really been enjoying it, a nice change of brain functioning from the everyday mommy-mode. I even sent out a call to a couple other contacts to see if they had any work for me, since I was enjoying it so much and managing to get it all done with time left to spare. But of course, it has bottlenecked on me, but only because Robin is doing a wood firing this weekend and has very little time until after the deadlines. Although he was able to help out today and he took the kids for an hour in the late afternoon so that I could get down to work. 

Supper time rolled around and he and the kids came home to tell me about a summerfest arts festival that was happening in the downtown green space. So rather than making supper we headed down the mountain to check out what greasy concession food they had. It was a fun evening, lots of booths and artwork to peruse, plus rows and rows of corndog, mini doughnuts, cotton candy and fried chicken vendors. We managed to find a Polynesian rice bowl and some pizza and picnicked on the grass for our evening meal. It was a lovely time, until that is I dropped my camera on the concrete sidewalk on the way back to the car and I am now afraid it might be beyond repair. So that incident put me in a foul mood and angry at myself for my own clumsiness. It also got me thinking about how we still need to deal with the broken lawnmower that is not repairable, adding another expense to our growing debtload. Urk!

Robin headed straight back to the studio to get to work, after his leisure evening with the family, he really did need to get wadding and glazing as they are planning to load the woodkiln tomorrow. The bedtime ritual seemed to drag on, which only furthered my bad mood. Isla continued to creep out of bed at least a hundred times, each time with a new excuse and soon saw her mother lose her patience. Her persistence kept up with some high pitched wails, only to wake Roscoe up to join the chorus. 

My intention had been to put them to bed early so that I could get a good start on editing this document that needs to be done before the weekend is up. It didn't quite happen that way.  And now here I am, sporting my own stinkeye look, glaring at the computer screen, too frustrated and tired to start any kind of editing work that I'm going to need to help to pay for my broken camera and lawnmower. AND I can't even take a photo of it!!!!!!

Coming and Going

Tonight we had a potluck at our place for all the ceramic folk and friends. It was a great night, with fantastic food, plenty of laughs and well behaved children. As is tradition in the ceramics world, potlucks and communal gatherings to eat and celebrate together is a common occurrence. We were happy to host and celebrate together for a variety of reasons. 

The usual crowd of 30 or so people was pared down to around 20, being that it is mid summer and some folks have left town, and some have yet to arrive. It got me thinking about the comings and goings of those that make up the clay community here at USU. Each year, new graduate and undergraduate students enroll and in turn there are those that complete their programs to move on to new opportunities and locations. But for a brief time in all of their lives, the USU clay department becomes their identity and their home. 

And thank god for the constants, John and Dan and their families, that are tasked with welcoming the incoming and encouraging the outgoing. I would think it might be difficult at times to foster and create a community with this revolving door type tendency, yet they make us all feel like family  - even us on the outskirts.  

This year we've already said goodbye to Tony, our fellow canuck that moved back to eastern Canada to make pots and be merry. Denny and Heidi are contemplating jobs and opportunities elsewhere, Trevor is possibly sticking around to do some tech work at the school, and Joe is off to Ohio to start a teaching position very near to where he grew up, and to be closer to family.  
We wish them all the best of luck and hope to stay connected. 

We'll be heading north for a six week stint in the Kootenays at the end of this month, and when we return we'll settle back in again with a slightly changed dynamic of people in the clay dept., and another two years of Logan living, and before we know it, we'll be the outgoing contingent. But I'm not quite ready to wish it all pass too soon, there is still much to do and for us to experience here in Utah with our Logan family.  

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rain, rain go away

We've had several days of rain this past week. Big dark luminous clouds accompanied by choruses of rolling thunder have been the norm each afternoon. Our lawn was jungle deep when we took the opportunity to take a mower to it during a clear break in the afternoon today. But we've also had company which has kept us busy and distracted from the crummy weather. 

Robin's brother Jai arrived on Thursday after a two day drive south from Calgary on his motorbike. All the neighborhood kids have dropped by at some point since the red hot motor machine found a parking spot on our driveway, inquiring about the bike and its ownership. We keep telling them that we bought it for Roscoe, that we're going to skip the tricycle stage. 
It's been great having Jai here. The kids are enamored with him (and the bike), and Robin and he have been getting lots of guy stuff done. Prepping wood for an upcoming wood firing, a trip to the man store (hardware, workwear, all things tool-like) in Smithfield, sampling the various mexican restaurants for the best burrito in town. We even all ventured out for a hike in the woods on friday, with mostly clear skies we headed south and found the trailhead to a hike with a waterfall that our friends had recommended. 

It was a great hike, well worth the fussing that Roscoe made about being in the backpack. He is definitely starting to exercise his will these days, and puts up a fight when he doesn't get his way. But he did finally submit to being carried and promptly fell asleep for the walk back down the mountain once we reached to 25 foot waterfall. 

Tomorrow we're hosting a barbeque for the ceramics department folks. So we're hoping for some sunnier skies for the party. It should be a fun night, a summer get together/birthday celebration for one of the grad students/ farewell to our friend Joe who is headed to Ohio for a new job and Jai will get a chance to meet the crowd down here and share a few beers together before he heads home on Tuesday morning. 

Isla is sure going to miss her uncle Jai! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spring in Logan

Part of the excitement of moving to a new place is discovering how the seasons vary, how they differ from home and what surprises each new month reveals. And although we've been here now 10 months, many things still seem new to us. 

Logan and the Kootenays share some similarities, but we have noticed enough differences to make note of them. They both are mountainous regions, yet are strikingly different in look and composition. Back home we live amongst the cedars in a near inland rainforest type climate, surrounded by rivers, lakes and spring runoff every which way you turn, whereas in Logan we are often reminded that we live on the edge of the desert. Here there are canyons and rattlesnakes.

There is of course the predominant religious culture here in Utah, way different from the more paganistic worship that goes on in the valley we come from. 

But in both places you will find those that worship the outdoors and all that it has to offer in terms of recreation. There is plenty of hiking, biking, paddling, skiing and climbing opportunities within minutes of your doorstep both here and in the Kootenays. But here they wear spandex not armor and they sport the REI label, rather than the MEC one. Subtle differences, but for the same pursuit and passion. 

Speaking of doorsteps, one major adjustment for us has been the move from a fairly remote mountainside home, where the nearest neighbors can't be seen or heard and you have to drive 10 minutes to get your mail, to an urban residential community with manicured lawns, mailboxes and curbside garbage pickup. Whereas back home, I rarely meddled with the forest floor and left it up to mother nature to decide plant species and spacing, here I am tasked with continuous lawn maintenance. 

I admit I hate dandelions now. And vow to never lay sod wherever we shall live out our days, so that I won't have to mow it. But I realize it is my neighborly duty here in Logan to keep my lawn and flower beds looking presentable, and there have been some wonderful parts to keeping up with the Joneses. 

Take the succession of flowers. First we had crocuses and daffodils, then hyacinths, then tulips. The lilac bushes have bloomed and scented the neighborhood, and we're now on to irises, peonies and roses. Each new species has been a surprise and delight to watch flourish. Someone at some point in time put a lot of love and time into planting bulbs and perennials in these beds.  I've felt that as repayment for all that hard work, the least I can do is pull the weeds to keep them from choking out the flowers. 
So despite all the weeding and mowing and trimming I've been doing this month, I am actually quite enjoying this late spring season here in Logan. Since Robin arrived home from his trip, life has been pretty sweet. There have been barbeques, beer making afternoons and birthday parties. The weather has been warm, the backyard inviting, and although he has been back in the studio, his pace has mellowed and we've all had lots of time together to smell the roses. 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

People can change

I have always attested that knitting is a cold weather sport, for me anyways. Usually in the late spring some time, once I've packed away our winter garb, stuffed a duffel full of mittens, scarves and toques and removed all the heavy footware from the front entrance, I also lay down my knitting needles. 

Spring flowers and warm daytime temperatures don't particularly inspire me to whip up some heavy woolen woolies in my spare time. Not that I haven't tried. In fact, a few summers ago I was determined to finish a baby blanket for my sister in law, who was expecting in September! That meant I needed to have incredible foresight and planning to finish such a project as a blanket well in advance of the onset of warmer weather. But I'm not really that organized of a person, and I did knit throughout that summer, but only after dark when it seemed more appropriate to do so. So after that project I resolved that I am a cool weather knitter. 

Until now, that is. While Robin was gone I started a 'market bag' project from a book my mom gifted me when she was here at Easter. I gave myself permission to bend the rules since it didn't involve heavy wool. Instead I bought some very cool brightly coloured bamboo yarn that was slick and smooth to work with. 

I finished the bag a few days ago and finally got to test it out at the real Saturday market this morning. I learned a new stitch in the process, the knotted mesh stitch, which makes the bag stretch to accommodate all that yummy produce you pick up at the market! I'm very pleased with how it turned out, so pleased that I picked up some more yarn, 100% cotton this time, to make another bag in lime green! 

Roscoe digs my new bag too!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sibling love

There is nothing sweeter than that first introduction of a new baby to an older sibling. 

All those months of anticipation, watching mommy's belly get bigger with each passing week, all the talk of a new little buddy to hang out with, all the preparations for a new role as the 'big kid' and mommy's 'helper'. 

We send out a big congratulations to our nephew Nolan who has just become a big brother and acquired his very own sidekick, Landon Joseph, born May 28th. Big hugs and congrats to the mom and dad too! 

Here's a flashback to when we introduced Isla Belle to her brother Roscoe. It's amazing to think how much they've changed and grown. 

Congratulations Mick and Erin! Enjoy these precious times, they really do go by so fast. We can't wait to see you all in a month.