Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chicken Stew

Thanks for the input on the sign shop. I'm not going to rush out and blow it all at once so if those light bulbs come on, keep sending ideas.

OK, I know when I started this blog I promised not to bore people by reporting what I had for breakfast but this was lunch. Serve it thick as a stew, thinner like a soup, cook it down, bake, and serve as a casserole, or thicken as a pot pie filling. Remember, I'm no food stylist. You can make it as pretty as you want.

Season some chicken thighs with salt and pepper and brown in a little oil. I had skinless boneless and they worked fine.(If you use regular thighs, you will want to remove bones and skin when you shred the chicken.)

Remove chicken, drain fat. Saute' a chopped onion, a carrot, and a couple of stalks of celery in the same pan. Put chicken back in the pan and add a can of stewed tomatoes. Braise covered for an hour or so until the chicken is falling apart. Remove chicken and shred with a fork. If you want more broth, add another can of tomatoes. Return to pan with a diced potato.Simmer all til potato is done. Salt and pepper to taste. Finally, stir in a couple of handfuls of fresh baby spinach. As soon as the spinach wilts it's ready to serve.
Yum, Yum, Yum and pretty healthy too. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ideas Wanted

OK kids, today I am going to share a problem with you and it's the kind of problem you wish you had. Do you know about those wonderful gifts that you didn't know you wanted and would not have gotten for yourself but someone knew you wanted before you knew? My wife Tina gave me a very generous gift certificate to a sign shop for Christmas. They claim to be able to put a sign on anything. A banner to emblazon the name of Whistle Creek across the booth, vinyl logos to stick on the van,magnetic signs for the van, embroidered logos on hats, shirts, etc. Sort of a one stop brand shop.I have some ideas but I wanted to poll all of you on what kinds of things you think might pay off. They say two heads are better than one and most are better than mine. I do not want to hang a shingle in front of the house but other than that, I'm open to suggestions.

In case you didn't get the riddle from last time.....

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Here I go waxing philosophic when I should be waxing the Chevy. Every Christmas we are flooded with expectations of sugar plums dancing in our heads, wonderful family gatherings where everyone gets along,
peace, joy, and love for all mankind. It has come to my attention that this is not the case for everyone. For years we would go to a holiday gathering where the lady of the house set a high and arbitrary standard for everyone else. Everyone had to follow her protracted agenda and utter oohs and ahhs at the appointed time. The gathering was not about the family but about her.  After a drink or five, you never knew what she would say or who she would insult but you knew it was coming. It was one person's weight, another's job, someone's housekeeping, etc. Eventually, everyone got a turn and the evening generally ended with her being pissed that everyone did not want to be trotted down to her church and picking a fight with her husband. Many a feeling was hurt and holiday ruined. One year Tina and I decided that we had a foolproof solution. We realized that we no longer loved this woman enough to let her bother us. It was a Christmas miracle. They say forgiveness is a gift you give yourself and this worked the same way. An insult not responded to dies pretty quickly. Just let it roll off like water on a duck.Thanks for your input. I'll take that under advisement. The only power she had to hurt us was power we had given her. Lord knows she had her own demons to deal with and they drove much of her behavior. She had the makings of a nice life but spent a lot of it being miserable and freely sharing her misery with others. There are happy people in this world. Some have everything, some have nothing. Some are young and healthy, some old and feeble, some have had their bodies shattered by war.What I believe they have in common is that they are as happy as they have decided to be. Living well is the best revenge. Smile, it will make your friends glad and drive your enemies crazy. Decide to be happy. Here is one of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems. Merry Christmas.

It's All the Same to the Clam - Shel Silverstein

You may leave the clam on the ocean's floor,

It's all the same to the clam.

For a hundred thousand years or more,

It's all the same to the clam.

You may bury him deep in mud and muck

Or carry him 'round to bring you luck,

Or use him for a hockey puck,

It's all the same to the clam.

You may call him Jim or Frank or Nell,

It's all the same to the clam.

Or make an ashtray from his shell,

It's all the same to the clam.

You may take him riding on the train

Or leave him sitting in the rain.

You'll never hear the clam complain,

It's all the same to the clam.

Yes, the world may stop or the world may spin,

It's all the same to the clam.

And the sky may come a'fallin' in,

It's all the same to the clam.

And man may sing his endless songs

Of wronging rights and righting wrongs.

The clam just sets -- and gets along,

It's all the same to the clam.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


The big news for the month is that the new roof is finished on the old barn. This gives me a dry space to store things like the lawn tractor, the Tractor Tractor, and the UTV. I still have more shelving to build and cleaning left to do but everything fits and the door closes. This means none of this stuff is in the studio any more! Again, there is more reorganizing but getting the tractor out of the studio increased my space by 1/3. And that is space I was already paying to heat so it is a big big plus. Other news is the results of a little sale at the Art Center. Just compare the before and after pictures. Thank you all for reading this year and Merry Chrismakwanaka!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Just a Few Words

This is not the post I was planning. That will come in a couple of days. As we struggle to absorb the horror of Sandy Hook, we need to remember the many heroes who make us proud to be Americans. The teachers and staff of that school gave all they could to protect the students.Several of them ran into the gunfire in futile attempts to stop it. The first responders went straight into the building not knowing what they would find or if they would come out again. We could not ask for a greater sacrifice from anyone. We need to also remember that for the last couple of years, there has been an organized effort to demonize teachers and public employees as a tactic to push forward union busting legislation and privatize their jobs. I spent 10 years working in civil service and 20 more teaching kids with multiple handicaps. Naturally, some things could have been done better but people I worked with were generally hard working and dedicated to doing a good job. I have seen many of them risk their own safety to protect others. It's all in a days work. Next time your state starts blaming their ills on teachers and public employees, remember Sandy Hook.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finally, Some Fame, Where's the Fortune?:

Hello everyone. I can now say that I am an award winning blogger. Ok, it's the Liebster Award which is kind of like the chain letter of awards but it looks good on the resume.
I need to answer a bunch of questions then pass it on to other bloggers.This is going to involve a lot of back and forth or clip and paste so I'm just going to tell you a bunch of personal info and it may not all be warranted to be true.Then I'll show a few new pots.

I was born in 1950. That makes me 35 years old, 6ft 6in tall and 175 lbs.

I have been married to my wife Tina for 37 years.

I have a full head of hair and an IQ of 182.

We have 2 kids. Our son Ben is in NYC where he runs a Global Brand Strategy company.The kid's a branding guru and old Dad is just stumbling through trying to peddle his pots.Our daughter Kate teaches art in Charlotte and makes jewelry. She has been awarded a paid semester at the McColl Center for the Arts to pursue her own work. And she is featured in a show opening there this weekend.

I am a retired teacher of multi handicapped children. I worked with older teens and young adults and taught a lot of daily living and transition to work skills. I was also dept. chair at a large high school.

I don't know what you all are complaining about, I sell out at every show I do.

Most of the potters that I try to emulate (see I did go to college) have been influenced by English country pottery.

When I read Ceramics Monthly I feel like I'm the only one who knows the emperor has no clothes.

Politically I am to John Boehner's left and Nancy Pelosi's right but try to get along with everyone.

One of my favorite workshops was the Carolina Clay Matters winter workshop with Mark Hewitt a few years ago and if Judy will comment with this years offering, I may come down again.

Most of the music I like was written before 1940 and played by string bands, fiddlers, and banjo pickers in the mountains of Appalachia.

I think that is 11 facts. I will pass this on to other deserving bloggers soon. Here are some pots including Mitt Romney's piggy bank.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Wednesday, my brother Norris and I headed to Tennessee to do some exploring and try to find a route to our ancestral land near Elk Valley on the line between Campbell and Scott counties. We took my UTV which was a swell idea because the roads are mostly washed out or just imaginary. We also took my smart phone with the GPS and topo map app. (another swell idea). We arrived around noon Wednesday, found a wide spot in the road, parked, unloaded, and headed back Lamb mountain from the north side. We went back in the bush 3 miles or so, met a hunter, found out we were required by law to wear blaze orange hats and vests because it was deer season, and got close to our land but were not able to climb up to it. The day was crisp unless you were zipping down the road in an open vehicle, them it was just plain cold. We hiked and found some beautiful open woods but it was not our woods.We tried several more trails, met a guy doing maintenance on one of the small gas wells in the area, heard the UTV making a funny noise and headed back to the van. A Cracker Barrel dinner, a trip to Walmart for blaze orange hats and vests, and checking in at the Super 8 rounded out the day.

Thursday dawned cold again. We drove into Lafollette had breakfast, and spent an hour at the historical society were we were able to find a picture of our great grandfather William Allen. He had been a Union spy for Burnside, wounded, captured and exchanged several times.After the Civil war he was elected clerk of courts then judge and served Campbell county for 60 years. We had known his story but had never had a picture of him. Now we do. He had also held high office in the Masons and it turns out the head of the historical society is a Mason. He is going to go through their archives and see what he can find for us.

As the day warmed we went to Elk Valley and tried to get up the mountain that way.We had been up there last spring but were unable to find a route to our property. This time we had the gps and it really helped. The road (trail, path) is in awful shape but we did not have any trouble getting up there with the UTV. We made it up to Big Wheel Gap at the top of the mountain then checked the gps and headed north along the ridge.I kept checking and we kept getting closer. After a couple of miles of dirt road and swimming through mud holes in the ute we made it to our property. It was good to see that no one had hauled it away in the two years since we had been there. There were some survey tapes going across some of our land so someone has been up there but there has been a misunderstanding of the boundaries by some neighboring property holders so it really wasn't too alarming. It was a beautiful afternoon. There were deer tracks all over the place and you could see for miles with the leaves down. We did start smelling a belt burning and found a loose belt on the alternator. After seeing the shape the belt was in, we tightened it up and slowly headed down out of the wilderness.

But wait!!! That's not all!!! Thursday night is Jam Session at Raccoon Valley Campground. I had brought a guitar so we drove down after dinner and had a very nice evening of old songs by old men ( and Carol ) I generally played along but found enough nerve to do "Waterbound" and "Hello Stranger" without anyone throwing anything at me. It is always a nice time and this was no exception. After a day on the mountain and a night in the valley the beds at the motel felt awfully good.

Friday took us to the Courthouse in Scott County for a little deed research that might help firm up our northern boundary. Finally we headed for home. It was an outstanding trip with great weather and a lot of very nice and helpful people.The folks at the motel, the historical society , the courthouse, the principal who let us park the rig in a secure spot at the school while we were up the mountain, and the fellas we met on the mountain were all as helpful as they could be. Once we told people who we were and that we were doing family research everyone seemed to want to help. Well, I'm off to help Mike and Karen Baum with their big Christmas sale so here are some pictures from the mountain including one of my brother walking down what is officially a county road through our land.It's just that no one is sure which county. Thanks for stopping.

PS I have been given a liebster award for the blog by several people. Thank you. I will respond soon.