Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Madness

March wouldn't be my choice of month for most optimal time to visit the Kootenays. The weather is well, unpredictable, people are typically restless and eager for spring to arrive, it's tax time which means everybody is cranky - and now an election? Sheesh!

But this month has been pleasantly full of good times and fabulous visits, which of course means great food too. This last week in particular we've been feasting particularly well since our friend Cam Fisher arrived. Not to be confused with Cam Stewart who, just to add to the confusion, came through for an overnight visit as well.

Cam Fisher is out visiting us for a three week period as part of a grant he received from the Ontario Craft Council to come out and work in the studio with Robin and talk pots.
Cam visited us last year about this time down in Utah where the idea was initiated to come out to our place here in B.C.
Since he arrived last week Cam's been cooking up an Indian storm in our kitchen and we've been Vij'in' out almost every night.

Earlier in the week some of my relatives from the far north came through our way. My cousin Rod and his wife Donna and their three kids were down for a little ski vacation and made us part of their Kootenay spring break vacation. It was terrific to be able to host them at our place as Rod is a log home builder and their place outside of Fort St. John's was a big inspiration for us.

Another great friend and potter came through last night, Bob Reimer, on his way out to the the island. Bob is a surrogate grandpa to our kids, a fantastic friend and mentor to Robin and another superstar in the kitchen. We woke up to Bob's pancakes on the griddle this morning.

We've also been lucky enough to have Nana and cousin Ryleigh visiting just down the road too at Grandpa's place! This has meant plenty of Nana time with the kids. And Ryleigh even helped out with making bread for the masses this week. With all these people cooking for me and helping out with the kids, I even had time to get my taxes done!

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Moment - Dance 'till you drop

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. ~ Amanda Soule

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here comes the sun

And I say, it's alright! Spring is surely in the air this week. Our rubber boots are getting more wear than our snow boots even, with plenty of mud puddles in the driveway and broken branches on the forest floor for poking around in them with.

The snowpack here on our mountainside is still significant enough, and this winter (although we only lived through a few short months of it) seemed to accumulate a fair more than years past, as I remember. Even just a week ago, we woke up to big, fat flakes in the air.
But our little creek is at full tilt, even under the snowpack and it is breaking through in patches, making an earnest effort to wash away the dregs of winter with it.

I'm looking forward to the shift in season and pace. We have been home just two months now and although there are still plenty of unknowns ahead, I am feeling more settled in our home and days. I had a couple weeks of feeling nervous and uncertain about what life is going to look like for us, perhaps feeling the fragility of our planet right now has been part of it. But as I have been following some of the people that experienced the earthquake and devastating damage to their homes and lives in Japan through their blogs, I am overwhelmed with their courage and acceptance that life truly does, go on.

Our little darlings have been exploring the property more and more as the snow has begun moving back. And with each discovery they make, I am more certain that we are right where we should be.

Monday, March 21, 2011

'Tis Muddy season

Happy Spring! Tis' the muddiest of seasons, so what better time to get that drywall up in the studio and start mudding. It's a messy job, but somebody has to do it. I am just thanking my stars that it is not me!

I can't believe though how the space feels different already. It could be that the studio - tucked away under our house (and unbeknownst to the casual onlooker as it makes up the walkout basement of our place and faces downhill), has never been quite this empty before. So that alone makes it feel eerily strange.

Only now the endless buckets, the wedging table, the pugmill, the mixer, the slab roller, the ware racks, the wheel, the photo booth, the boxes upon boxes of saleable pots, the bisqueware, the random bags of this and that, the broken bits of potentially useful tools and equipment, the shards and cracked pieces (often referred to as reference pieces)....It all sits outside the studio waiting patiently for its residence to take on a finished appearance at long last.

No more poly stapled insulated walls, no more random wires hanging out from behind stark looking two by fours. I wonder how long it'll take for all those tubes of ceramics posters to get unearthed.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Plenty o' projects

Neither green, nor a true shamrock, but our intention was well meaning when Isla and I whipped up a batch of soft ginger cookies this week and decorated them in honour of St. Paddy's Day. I had entirely forgotten about this little ceramic decorating tool that I had stowed away in a tin box with some other treasures from my own youth.

It was Isla that discovered it and easily enough persuaded her mother to whip up a batch of cookies. It would likely have been another cake, to celebrate cousin Fraser's birthday, but the cake will have to wait until they return from their spring break vacation on the coast. We've been busy doing a lot of baking these days besides other activities since Isla has been on Spring Break, including trips to the pool and the rink.

Not to mention the studio is now boarded and ready for mudding!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


This little coffee pot is sitting idle these days, in contrast to Robin and I. It has been 15 days since I had a cup of coffee, and on days like today my need feels way bigger than my want. Don't be alarmed, I haven't given up coffee for ever, or for want of a healthier lifestyle or anything like that. It is more of an exercise in self control, to see if I can go without, for whatever reason.

Coffee is one of our most cherished rituals at home, from preparation to enjoyment. Robin has even added another step by drying and preserving the used
grounds to use as an ingredient in some of his clay bodies. Seriously! I have mostly missed the ritual aspect of sitting down to enjoy a cup, but as a substitute these pots are getting a little more use these days.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My plate is full

These days it feels like I have very little time to do anything other than, get through the day. Trying to figure out this so-called real life is tough, I tell ya! I think we've moved on from the ecstatic homecoming and blissful reentry into the motherland stage, to the next stage....ummmm?

Robin and I have been dancing around one another's schedules, juggling work commitments, job applications, grant proposals, childcare, meal prep and more. And on top of that, we've decidedly taken on some home improvement projects!

This past week held a very full and busy schedule of events, beginning and ending with a tile backsplash feature that our dear friend Cam (who we are so grateful to for taking care of our home the last two and a half years) offered up some tile and his masonry expertise. Cam made our home his home while we were away, and invested time and love into many projects around the place. He is now headed to the coast on a new life adventure and we wish him the very best of luck, and we'll be forever reminded of his caretaker presence in some of the projects he initiated while living here, backsplash included.

This week's project....drywalling the studio.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Winter drag

OK, every blog I seem to read these days is complaining about the weather. And what's in the forecast - more snow, more snow, more snow and then.........a cool spring! So I thought I'd take my mind and readers to a place that is a little warmer these days. Australia.

Yesterday we had a surprise phone call from some very dear friends from down unda'. A couple, whose lives seem to mirror ours in the most intriguing way. Zak Chalmers is a potter living and operating a home based studio just north of Wilson's Promontory in the southeast corner of Victoria, Australia. He and his wife Tanya run a pottery and growing family on their gorgeous property called Valley Plains Pottery.

Robin first met Zak over 10 years ago while he was traveling and researching kilns in Australia. In 2003 we made a return trip to visit Zak and Tanya at their home and spent a month together firing Zak's anagama and drinking coffee on the deck overlooking their pond - dreaming about the future. Our futures turned out to follow very similar paths, with building homes and kilns and little people popping up into the mixture.

The 'Gumnuts' as we refer to them as, made a trip across the world to visit us in 2004, just as we were breaking ground on our strawbale home and studio project. We hope they'll come back and visit us one day again and bring their three wee gumnuts with them.

If you happen to be touring outside Melbourne, Valley Plains Pottery is must see and worth the trip, especially if you are lucky to see the sunset from their kilnpad. And if you make it there, have a look around, there might even be a few Robin pots around in the grass.