"The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father's work of creation." (CCC2205)

Monday, May 30, 2011


The firing went really well! Nothing ruined, although it looks like I have a *green things* obsession, truly, I'm a little low on some glazes and I got a new one that mixes great with some others making neat shades of green -- so I went a little nuts. This was my *plan* last time too, but all those pieces got stuck to the kiln shelf. So I'm much happier today!

Here are some Octomugs, an Octopitcher and an Octoplatter

The entire kiln load, that's how big my kiln is -- it can hold *exactly* this much stuff. 

THIS is the formerly 8" tall vase -- it's now 7" tall, but good!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Firing the glaze kiln ...

... haven't been this nervous about it since the first time I turned the beast on, Ugh. 

Last time it was a disaster, almost nothing survived -- and then then month of recovery from my ill-fated kiln scraping session -- FINALLY I can make things, FINALLY I have a kiln worth of things -- which means FINALLY I can go back to the farmer's market and try to get back into the swing of things. 

It won't be opened until tomorrow evening -- but I'll let you know how it goes! EEK!

Friday, May 27, 2011

7 Quick Takes for Friday (Vol. 11)

I think I missed last week due to extreme over-extension -- but today I am HERE!

1. So today the little girls and I cleaned up one of the bedrooms -- they have a tendency to take out a lot of toys, randomly put them away in the wrong bins, and then hide the bits they don't feel like putting away in the closet or under their beds. This is something that ONLY my kids do, right? HA! A while ago I decided to stop getting so shocked and upset about it, and rather to just go in there once a month or so and re-sort all the bins. It's a pain, but I kinda have to do it. 

2. I thought I was going to run a bisque kiln today, instead I spent so much of my morning cleaning the room that I have waited too long. Alas. It will have to wait until Monday -- or Tuesday ... afternoon. 

3. I was super excited about Memorial Day because we always go to the Memorial Day parade put on by our county, it's all very *home town hero* ish and I love that! We do the annual Christmas parade in the city -- but that's very BIG and busy and highschool bands (and other groups) from all over the state come. Well -- that's GREAT, but not very home town. Unfortunately -- it looks like the county didn't PLAN a parade this year! I'm totally bummed!

4. This means I will likely spend the day at my mother's house with my sister and her kids, playing in the pool. Oh -- Oh how we suffer :p

5. Big E is on an adventure with my mother and her DH this weekend, she's going to Buffalo, NY to see her grandmother (by marriage, but who cares?) she's VERY excited and we miss her tons -- I'm glad, though, that she can take these trips -- This is another of the myriad of reasons that I'm glad we can homeschool. 

6. Saved by the bell! Patrick just called and suggested we take the van (my car) to get her inspection at lunch time instead of waiting until the end of the work day -- I know it will have to stay overnight (at least) because we have very honest and popular mechanics -- this is a price I'm willing to deal with to get good service -- but it meant I wasn't going to be able to fire the kiln -- and now I think I can! WOOT!

7. Speaking of WOOT! a couple of days ago WOOT! had a Kindle up for a reasonable price -- so Patrick bought me one. I'm entirely too spoiled by that man -- and now I have a lot more books on my reading list. I'm about 1/4 of the way through the first Hunger Games book and I just started it last night. ::HAPPY!::

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Green Shelf pic of the day ...

I love green shelf pictures -- nothing is ruined, all the parts fit together as they should -- no glaze errors have befallen us -- So today's green shelf (at least another day of drying needed before we can bisque fire) -- there are 4 octomugs, an octo pitcher, 3 butter bells, an octo plate for a friend, 5 piggy banks and three vases of various size (and a couple of other things) -- the tall vase in the back is *almost* 8" tall, which is pretty good for me! 

For the tall vase, I went with my pottery teacher's recommendation of pulling up in sections -- so -- you begin with a bigger than avg. centered piece of clay and make your big fat cylinder, then as you pull it up to full height you imagine it as three sections -- pull up the top section first (leaving it a little thick) -- then the middle into the top section (still thick) then the lowest section over the previous two -- THEN you can pull through all three sections and try to get a little more height and do some shaping -- 

This is my basic plan to get my taller pieces, but the ideas in that new book (Throwing Large) are different -- some I've already heard of and tried, but some are new ideas -- so we'll see if I can manage! I anticipate a lot of clay landing in the reclaim bucket.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Monday!

After one of the worst sale days followed by a mediocre sale day followed by a bad sale day -- I am tired and glad it's nice normal Monday again. I almost never participate in back to back craft sales, and I think I'm learning my lesson that *office parks* and *beer fests* are not my niche -- Ugh. 

(the *office park* sale was not well attended and the *beer fest* was a free vendor kick back because the office park felt bad that they didn't get much traffic)

I think I need to stick with my farmer's markets!

On that note, though, my hand is finally well enough that I can get back to work in the studio -- so I will wash away the lack of success this weekend with globs of clay. I'm going to try to use some of the techniques I learned in this new book Patrick got me called Throwing Large ... I need to rebuild my range of use in my right arm a bit still, but once I'm back to normal -- I hope for some big pottery! WOOT!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Garden pics part II

Well since I'm still 8 days out from being able to get my hand muddy (stitches out, but still wounded -- and all open and weird looking at the cut -- ewww) -- I'm concentrating on the garden. This is good, because I often flake out on weeding -- but found today that if I *scrape* the spaces between the rows I can get up all the little grasses and weeds without taking out too much soil or hurting the plants -- I'm tossing it in spots in the yard that need some grass. We count anything green that's not in the vegetable garden as grass. 

Maybe it'll take! HA!

Anyhow -- the girls and I went to the plant nursery the other day and got some seedlings to fill in where things hadn't taken. The only thing I DON'T have growing that I wish I had room for -- is pumpkins. Oh and maybe butternut squash. But I'm just so out of space. ::sad::

If you remember last time I posted about the garden ... which wasn't quite a month ago -- we had a lot of dirt and a lot of seeds -- plus a few seedlings that were kinda wimpy. 
Garden I with potatoes and peppers and onions

Garden Plot II with beans, peas, tomatoes, radishes and carrots
Garden Plot III -- it was going to be a corn field, but that didn't work -- so in between the corn that DID come up -- it's now odds and ends we got at the plant nursery! Eggplant, cukes, tomatoes, peppers, melons, etc. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

They did it!!

My beautiful little ladies have received their first Eucharist -- they were SO good -- only a little silly when M corrected Fr. Dan on the pronunciation of her name -- She is all about the facts. 

Right now she's looking at her favorite present -- well maybe second favorite -- I think the favorite present is the 100+ Pokemon cards she and her sister will be trading, losing and learning how to play with -- BUT the Praying Mantis Pagoda is holding her attention right now. She is hoping to keep some until they mate so she can see the females eat the males. That's my girl. 

I'm so proud of my little ladies -- I hope that the party didn't overshadow the Sacrament, but BOY were they uncharacteristically good in mass! WOOT!

Friday, May 13, 2011

7 Quick Takes for Friday (Vol. 10)

Ahh -- Blogger is working again. 

1. Kids whimpering -- I think they need an early bedtime. Also that 11 year old I have needs to get on her math book or she's not going to the library later. 

2. I've been cleaning, cleaning, cleaning in preparation for the post-First Eucharist party for M & R -- we are very messy people. The funny thing is, I will seriously work all week -- but to people who aren't here often -- it will probably still seem cluttered and messy. Oh well. I can only do my best!

3. Sometimes when people criticize my cleaning abilities (most people aren't so rude, but it has happened) I get to say, "Oh let me get my cleaning lady right on that problem" like -- yeah -- no don't have a cleaning lady.  I AM the cleaning lady -- and I have a lot more important and time consuming jobs than making sure the baseboards are sparkly clean. 

4. Stitches out, stitches out -- TODAY!!! But I'll still have a scabby sore finger -- so no pottery yet -- but this is much closer to the light at the end of the tunnel. I'll take it. 

5. This evening Patrick and I get to go see the Picasso exhibit SANS kids! WOW!! Thank you to my sister-in-law who is coming to sit with the girls -- we took them to see the exhibit when it was brand new, but they were not all that impressed -- so Patrick and I had to move faster than we'd have liked -- TODAY we get to go and walk, sit and look -- talk to each other instead of trying to explain to the kids why it looks the way it looks. **glee!**

6. I'm kinda grouchy and tired today -- hence #1 and #3 getting on my nerves more than usual. I'm and thusly grouchy and tired because I've been staying up late to watch this Craft in America show on PBS. I think that further confirms my nerd status. I should probably find a way to watch it online so I can get more rest. Donna sleepy. 

7. HA! Figured it out. Ahh -- now I can make the kids watch it too -- Evil crafty mother that I am. BWA HAHAHA. 

Not a very deep quick takes this week. But soon -- First Eucharist pictures!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Eucharist party prep ...

We're back from a series of stores -- 

Craft store? well I ended up just buying clay ... 
Target? Cake mixes and paper plates ...
Trader Joes? tomatoes and veggies and dips
Costco? Fruit and water and juice boxes


I'm exhausted. BUT we are gearing up for two little girls to have a big, fun First Eucharist party -- although I think they're starting to be more excited for the party than the sacrament. Need to work on that. I'm glad we're done shopping this early in the week, that means I can make them clean things and focus on the importance of their day ... less on the party after. 

I hope. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pottery Epiphany!!

One of those 5am wake up in a start kinda things, this is the level of nerd that I am ... I *figured out* what I did wrong the other day with the kiln -- Even though my glazes are all rated for a cone 4-6 firing (my kiln goes to a cone 8, but I don't want to challenge it or wear it out). I put a 5 cone in the kiln sitter as well as a 4, 5 and 6 set of self supporting cones where I can see them -- BUT -- and this is key -- it usually fires to about a 5.5 with a 5 cone in the kiln sitter (please ignore if you find all this alien talk) ... 

I figure that because when I open it, the self supporting cone 5 is like ::pbbbth:: and cone 6 is bending a bit ... but not all at a 90 degree angle or anything ... so just a little ... 


I put a little cone 6 in the kiln sitter instead of a ^5 ... so it fired to a ^6.5 instead of a ^5.5 -- and I got glaze melt everywhere, two messed up kiln shelves -- scrape, scrape, scrape, slice hand, stitches, Franken-fingers. 

There ya go. Epiphany, Donna style. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

7 Quick Takes for Friday (Vol. 9)

WOO Almost missed it! How can I keep forgetting it's Friday?

1. Today was the girls' last day of Girl Scouts for the year (officially) there will be summer activities, camping, parties -- a bridging banquet as my two Brownies become Juniors -- I'm glad they are enjoying themselves -- I do still wish there were a homeschooling troop (just one that meets during the day, I mean, public school kids could join, but they'd have to skip class to make meetings) Is that mean of me?

2. Patrick took M to see that Disney African Cats movie -- she LOVES big cats, and when she had her *special day* like -- 6 weeks ago -- she just bought the two birds and came home. She needed a little something extra -- So Patrick took off early today and took M to her movie -- they were the ONLY people in the theater, but it was just so so her. Good daddy. 

3. It's almost Mother's Day ... I'm being rather inconclusive on what I want for Mother's Day, luckily Patrick is so wonderful and attentive I'm sure I'll love whatever there is -- I'm rather a spoiled woman. 

4. We MIGHT, though -- go to see the Flying Squirrels play baseball -- or we might renew our passes to the Botanical Gardens and go there -- which would you do?

5. On the pottery injury front, we've affectionately named my two injured fingers the Zombie-finger and the Franken-finger -- Franken-finger is the one with stitches, Zombie-finger is the one with just a nice swoopy cut in it. This is way more fun than saying 'be careful of my stitches' -- I get to say 'be careful of my Franken-finger!' har har. I will take any opportunity to lighten the mood man.

6. We are just a little over a week away from M&Rs first Eucharist and subsequent party -- BUT I cannot scrub floors or carpets, I am no kind of leftie and my pottery injury means I can't get my right hand wet, or move two of my favorite digits in any kind of normal floor scrubbing kind of way -- ugh. I'm getting the girls to help a lot, but it's going to be a pinch. I'm supposed to get the stitches out on Friday. So ... maybe -- maybe I can clean it ALL on Saturday -- yeah right. 

7. Today I was talking Bible study with some friends and got to use this awesome new Catholic Study Bible with footnotes by some wonderful Catholic scholars -- it was SO helpful -- SO much more informative than the Catholic Bible I usually use (just a basic St. Joseph's edition) and the footnotes, I knew, would be in line with church teaching -- they're only done with the New Testament -- I guess when they make the Old Testament they'll have to reprint them together in one volume on that tissue paper so it won't be so thick -- Great resource! I highly highly recommend it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pottery Injury --

Ahh -- bad kiln day made loads worse -- 

So my new plan for my glazes failed miserably, and I had two shelves of things that stuck to the kiln shelves when they were fired. "But, Donna," you say, "didn't you put down kiln wash?" yes, yes I did -- but these ran BIG and snappy -- ugh. Through the kiln wash and onto the shelves at points. 

Determined to not let it get the better of me, I got out my safety goggles and gas mask and set myself up outside of my little studio, safety first ya know! Don't want to get that stuff in your lungs or eyes!

And I proceeded to scrape, scrape, scrape the shelves -- lots of tools -- none the right one -- trying to figure out it I could dremel off the last bits on shelf one, and moving onto even more unattractive shelf two ... and .. in one vigorous scrape, ran the top side of my fingers across a broken shard of stuck on glaze -- *frick* (not what I yelled) -- to the sink, safety gear apparently should also include gloves!! -- 

On the bright side it's not that bad, it's only across two fingers, one is in a place where it won't break open easily, so no stitches, the other is across a knuckle, so three stitches to hold it closed -- in 10 days, I can get these things out of my hand and hopefully work again. I am more than annoyed. BUT I'm glad it wasn't worse. Also I need to buy gloves. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This sums it up nicely for me


(copy and paste of article)

As someone who worked at Ground Zero in the days and weeks following 9/11 I rejoiced to hear that Osama Bin Laden's long reign of terror, which had dealt death, destruction and untold misery to millions across the world, had finally come to an end. As a Christian, though, I cannot rejoice at the death of a human being, no matter how monstrous he was.
On the morning of Sept. 11 2001, I was working at my desk at America magazine in Manhattan. My mother, who lives in Philadelphia, called me to tell me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. When I ran out of my office and looked down Sixth Avenue, I could see the towers smoldering, inky black smoke pouring out of their tops. Already sirens were blaring, and men and women were running through the streets weeping, frantically trying to make calls on cell phones to loved ones.
The next few days were a horrible blur for me, and for all New Yorkers. For all Americans. On the night of Sept. 11, I worked at Chelsea Piers in New York, along with firefighters, rescue workers and chaplains. We awaited survivors who never came. On the morning and afternoon of Sept. 12, I sat with numbed family members in a large room at the New School in downtown Manhattan, poring through hospital lists of survivors, of whom there were almost none. Then, on Sept. 13, while working at Chelsea Piers, a police officer offered me a ride to Ground Zero, then called simply "the site." There I spent the next few days and weeks, in between my assignments at work, and along with other Jesuits, ministering to rescue workers amid the smoldering and stinking wreckage, in some places still in flames, before the mass grave. We walked over the awful detritus of the attacks; we prayed with firefighters who had lost friends; we counseled EMTs who had seen horrible things; we celebrated Mass in the rubble; and we emerged covered in the gray dust of Ground Zero every day.
So I am not blind to the death and destruction caused by Osama bin Laden.
Yet Christians are in the midst of the Easter Season, when Jesus, the innocent one, not only triumphantly rose from the dead but, in his earthly life, forgave his executioners from the cross, in the midst of excruciating pain. Forgiveness is the hardest of all Christian acts. (Love, by comparison, is easier.) It is also, according to Jesus, something that is meant to have no limit. No boundaries. Peter once asked him how often he was supposed to forgive. Seven times? "Not seven times," answered Jesus, "but, I tell you, seventy-seven times." In other words, times without number. "Forgive your brother or sister from your heart," he said. This is not to negate the place of judgment and justice in God's eyes, for denying these things would mean that we believe in a God who cares not for human affairs. But judgment and punishment, says Jesus, is up to God.
So the question is whether the Christian can forgive a murderer, a mass murderer, even -- as in the case of Osama bin Laden -- a coordinator of mass murder across the globe. I'm not sure I would be able to do this, particularly if I had lost a loved one. But as with other "life" issues, we cannot overlook what Jesus asks of us, hard as it is to comprehend. Or to do.
For this is a "life" issue as surely as any other. The Christian is not simply in favor of life for the unborn, for the innocent, for those we care for, for our families and friends, for our fellow citizens, for our fellow church members or even for those whom we consider good, but for all. All life is sacred because God created all life. This is what lies behind Jesus's most difficult command: "I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
It is also what lies behind the Vatican's statement today, which balances the desire for an end to terror with the sanctity of life, no matter how odious the person: "Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions for this purpose. In the face of a man's death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred."
And it is what was behind the most Christian of acts by Pope John Paul II, beatified on the same day that Osama bin Laden was killed. Perhaps the confluence of events is providential. As someone who lived under Nazism and Communism, John Paul was no stranger to terror or murder. But he also was a Christian who knew the centrality of forgiveness, even for the most grievous of crimes. In 1980, he was the victim of an assassination attempt, by Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish ultra-nationalist. One of Blessed John Paul's first acts after his recovery was to journey to Agca's jail cell and offer him the costly grace of forgiveness.
Osama bin Laden was responsible for the murder thousands of men and women in the United States, for the deaths and misery of millions across the world, and for the death of many servicemen and women, who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives. I am glad he has left the world. And I pray that his departure may lead to peace.
But as a Christian, I am asked to pray for him and, at some point, forgive him. And that command comes to us from Jesus, a man who was beaten, tortured and killed. That command comes from a man who knows a great deal about suffering. It also comes from God.
James Martin is a Jesuit priest and the author of 'Searching for God at Ground Zero'.
This blog post was first published on the website of America Magazine.