Archives for the month of: August, 2008

Three of the fancy show bantam eggs we brought home from the Ohio State Fair have hatched under my broody little mama hen, Jennecita. Four more are still eggs, but morning will maybe bring more. That’s happy stuff.

And the pigeons are in their new eight sided dovecote, roosting on the perches Connor built, using the little pigeon trap door, and sailing off during the day to return home at night. Mom and dad were here tonight, on the swing in the back yard, watching for them… it wasn’t until dinnertime (fajitas with jeff’s fresh garden salsa) that we saw them soaring in, bright and formal looking with their white-feathered bloomers, to put themselves to bed.

Yesterday we went to the Levis Common art fair, combining the trip with a bed swap (Tyler’s loft bed for another kid’s “Gregg Brady” twin bed). It was really hot, and Molly passed out while waiting to get her face painted at the children’s tent . Her big brother caught her as she fell, and once she was on the ground, called Jeff’s cell phone. By the time we came running, the EMTs had her on the gurney and were rolling her to the ambulance. She had lost her lunch, and looked a bit pale and embarrassed.

She said she was next in line to get her face done, and suddenly it looked like a grey cloud was closing in around her vision. The next thing she remembered, she was on the ground, with one lady holding an umbrella over her for shade, and another pouring a water bottle across her forehead. (Whoever you are, ladies, thank you so much!) I sat in the ambulance with her while she got her rosy cheeks back, chatted up the EMTs, and they used cold packs to cool her down.

We headed home to the air conditioned house (the car thermometer said 99F) and stayed in with the AC the rest of the day! She’s fine now.. she’d had a water bottle in the car on the way to the fair but in the future we’ll need to make sure she has one on hand, too, on hot days. Preferably chilled!

I managed to make a headboard for our bed this weekend out of weathered, silvery pickets from my last garden fence, and have plans to paint the bedroom this week. I planted fall and winter hardy greens in the space where my hoop house will be erected when first frost comes — corn salad, peppergrass, lettuces, beets for greens, mache, chickories, arugula. There are already leeks, chard and kale growing there, with more room for hardy translplants when I take out the yellow squash currently in the cold frame’s spot. In a cold frame under a hoop house, I can keep salad greens until Christmas with just solar rays for heat.

Other projects and adventures this weekend included a trip to IKEA, a lovely dinner at Rouge Bistro with mom and dad & brother and his wife, and some time spent on my pugmill and the kids’ back-to-school preparations.

Right now I am heading over to my website to take down my MFA show pots. They are all but gone, by now, and my new work is very different from my academic work, which in retrospect seemed somehow collaborative — as much about the expectations of others as about making work that inspired and excited me.

Time to move forward.


The abandoned kitten that Jeff brought home from work when Molly was brand new, the cat who slept on her or beside her for the last ten years like her appointed guardian, is gone tonight.

Last night we watched old 1998 videos of little Spooky chasing a clothespin on a string, behind giggling three year old Connor… or napping under a kid’s chin… or sprawled across baby Molly’s back (It’s a wonder she ever learned to crawl, as she was perpetual cat furniture.) We all sobbed, and laughed, and wiped tears.

This morning, the kids and I put her into a pet carrier, on the thick wooly lambskin we used for babies, and drove her to the vet. She had gone (in a month’s time) from a healthy cat to a painfully thin, anemic, feverish and weak one. X rays and ultrasounds showed tumors in her liver, and spreading through her lymph nodes.

The kids insisted that they wanted to be there while the vet put her to sleep. We were not brave… I cried long and hard. But when it was time, the kids and I put all our love into the palms of our hands and rested them on her head, her sides, her paws, thanking her for being our friend. She was the creature who came to live with our family during the “little kid” years, and seemed to love the little ones as much as we did, forgiving them their noise and chaos. (Our more sedate, older cat avoided the little shriekers with their whisker-pulling baby hands and unpredictable ways, preferring the company of adults.)

The vet gave her one shot to sedate her, and she put her chin on her paw like always, and looked comfortable and at peace. I made sure the kids wanted to stay for the final step (Molly opted to go visit a kitten in the next room) and then the vet gave her the second shot to end her life.

Before she took two big breaths and then stopped breathing, I felt an unmistakable purr in her chest. I know the vet could probably explain it as a muscular response to the drugs, but I didn’t ask. I’d prefer to think that she felt herself headed toward the light, free from the cancer and the failed body, born into whatever’s next.

It was a sad midwifing for us, though, and I’m sobbing again to write this down. The right thing to do, a kindness, I know. Only a cat, I know. But it has been a tearful day for us all, and I will miss her in all the places she used to be, in the days to come.

Spooky, we were lucky to have you in our family. You will be missed, and remembered fondly.

I borrowed a friend’s big truck today and made the run to Ann Arbor again, to use my newly built arch form to take down the inner kiln arch. My mom and three kids rode along again to help (Jeff was at work this time). Warm day, but many hands make light work. The boxed bricks rode another hour to the lake and the kids had an impromptu swim before we headed home — a three hour triangle of driving, in all. Not too grueling. Soft brick is not terribly heavy.

I plan to hire a couple of muscular college guys for the hard bricks and cinder blocks in the final trip.

She was studying this little critter while camping at the lake with the girl scouts last week, and it hopped up to take a closer look at her.

Here’s Jeff coming up to inspect my impressively engineered pigeon door. It can be set to allow the birds to come in, but not be able to leave again.. or it can be set wide open to allow them to go out in the morning. It is strong enough to be cat and ‘coon and possum proof… and it opens onto a landing platform outside, now, with the flap that’s raised becoming its own little dormer roof.

More pix tomorrow.

This was the dovecote before the roof and final touches went on. I’m inordinately proud of it. It is made of four trash picked wooden shutters. lined with hardware cloth from our shed… four salvaged slabs of particle board from a construction project… sheets of pegboard I brought home from a fabric store that was remodeling… a bucket of paint and a bunch of hinges.

It’s on what used to be the kids’ play platform (thus the slide) and inside it has perches with poop guards hand built by Connor, nest boxes and all the pigeon luxuries. They seem quite happy there. Connor says we should wait a week before letting them out, so they don’t get confused and return to the rabbit hutch where they were living before.

I’ll take a picture tomorrow of the way it looks now, with the roofing on. We still need some windows in the sides so we can spy on them better.

So I bought a kiln on ebay.

Which is kind of like buying an in-ground pool… first you dig the hole, pour the cement, etc. etc.

In other words, what I really bought was a large pile of bricks, which need to be boxed up, hauled to my folks’ property at Wolf Lake, and then assembled into a kiln.

We went last week (Jeff and I and the kids, and my mom) and boxed and hauled the somewhat mossy soft bricks of the outer layer, and some of the chimney bricks. Before we go back for the rest, though (and I am hiring some college boys to help with those cinderblocks) I have to build an arch form to slide in there. Once the top/keystone brick is removed, the whole thing will collapse… not a good plan, unless there’s an arch in place.

I spent Saturday and Sunday selling pots at the Monroe Jazz Festival Art Fair (lovely weather, and a pocket full of cash) and then we went Monday to haul bricks. Tuesday I headed for the lake with Molly’s girl scout troop for a tent camping night and some merit badge work (small craft, stargazing, outdoor art). Tomorrow is catch-up-at-home day, and then I begin canning peaches.

And building the arch form.

And finishing the dovecote.

Summer’s burning down fast…

Grand Champion ribbons for our Junior Girl Scout Troop 407 project (front and center)

This is the cigar box Molly decorated for her part of the Troop 407 Ohio State Fair project.

I haven’t posted in a long time. I’m going over to my webpage to post our family vacation photos in the photo album, but I thought I would put a few here as well.

This year, like most, we stayed closer to home: Hocking Hills, in Southern Ohio. A trail ride at a horse camp on the way, a tour of the gorgeous Ohio Caverns, and then backpackign and camping at Hocking Hills State Park.

The first day we hiked Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls — eight miles, in all, with light packs. The kids did great, espcailly Molly, whose short legs had to do double time.

The second day, we hiked Conkle’s Hollow, which was an exercise for mom in trying to look calm as the kids traversed rocky ledges above the treetops… I kept picturing that scene in “Last of the Mohicans”. But it was lovely, my kids were surefooted, and the whole experience was well worthwhile. (It probably burned a few calories, too! I got my second “five pounds lost” gold star at weightwatchers.)