Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Word About Nursing Homes and Medicaid

This is a cautionary tale. If you have elderly parents that you must assist in getting Medicaid as part of entering a nursing home for their care, follow along with my recent experience. It may help you out in the long run.

I recently had to high-tail it back to New York to help my mother with the Medicaid application for Dad's admittance into the nursing home we chose after his fall in August. Dad does not have full-blown Alzheimer's but he does suffer from some early-onset dementia. Meaning he's a bit loopy. And by loopy, I mean the conversation loops around and around and around. The subjects go in circles. He's also got COPD which is somewhere between having chronic asthma and having emphysema, roughly speaking. So he gets weaker, gets disoriented, he falls, breaks a hip. Falls again, this time, he heads into a nursing home because let's face it, Mom is 85 herself and cannot keep up with her own care, as lucid as she is, much less staying on top of his care, too. Add on top of that, 67 years of marriage and that also means that Dad doesn't listen to her anyway when she does try and help him. Or he's downright nasty in how he treats her. When he falls, she cannot pick him up. His 120lbs still outweigh her 95lbs. 

So he goes from the hospital to the nursing home. Let's call it Babbling Brook Manor. It's conveniently located a few minutes way from where Mom and her closest friends live so they can take her to see my dad frequently. Nice staff attending to Dad, nice atmosphere...until we get to the money part.

Medicaid is Federal program administered on the state level. Each state has it's own perimeters and guidelines to accommodate cost of living and other criteria. Finding out simple info about a Medicaid application is not an easy thing, even in the age of The Google [tm] because each state offers up its own page about how to do it. There is no one address to send items to, no one person to speak to with questions. What New York State has is a list of facilitators, people trained to assist you in filling out your Medicaid application. Most nursing homes have a person who functions as a facilitator on staff and is usually the liaison between you, the applicant, and Medicaid. Their job, supposedly, is to let you know what information and proof Medicaid requires, and assist you with actually filling out the form. The problem is one of consistency. Lack of consistency creates opportunities for fraud, corruption and unscrupulous practices. Not all people on staff at a nursing home who help with the Medicaid application may have gone through what is referred to as a deputization process, meaning they have been officially briefed on the particulars, the rules, the ins-and-outs of the medicaid application. Technically, the facilitator doesn't review your application but instead, they help you gather the items needed and then they pass the whole she-bang on to the people at Social Services actually reviewing the application. In this case, the people reviewing the application work in the Nursing Home Unit of the Department of Social Services in Westchester County in the State of New York.

This maze of bureaucracy is intimidating and confusing on a good day. When it is exacerbated by unfortunate and emotionally-trying circumstances such as admitting an elderly parent or spouse into a nursing home after a medical emergency, it can be downright bewildering and overwhelming. Particularly if you are elderly yourself. Vultures prey on people in these situations and my mother almost got taken in by some in this instance.

The scam goes like this: An elderly person is moved from a hospital (after a fall, for instance) to a nursing home for short-term rehabilitation. People past the age of 65 usually are on Medicare at this point and Medicare takes care of short-term rehabilitation costs. The rehab is to assist a person to regain strength and mobility so they can return home. If, after this rehab period, a person is assessed to not be able to return home due to health, strength, mobility and other issues related to their ability to take care of themselves, they can be recommended for long-term care. At this point, Medicaid can assist with the cost of nursing home care, if one cannot afford nursing home care privately. You cannot apply for long-term nursing home care unless you are already in a facility. It's a bit of a Catch-22 and stupid beyond belief in my book but that's how we do it in this here US of A at the moment. What happens frequently, the person from the business office at the nursing home contacts the applicant or family member responsible for care, &c, as soon as the person is admitted into the nursing home to start the process of gathering the items needed for the application. The application should be submitted as soon as possible because once accepted, Medicaid pays for treatment three months prior to the filing of the application, so the sooner, the better. 

Technically, the facilitator should simply give you a list of proof items needed for the application that you need to gather and they pass that, along with the actual application, filled-out and signed by the applicant onto DSS. Items include proof of birth, marriage, identity, citizenship, home ownership, assets, insurance and life insurance and most importantly, bank account information going back for 5 years prior to the date of admittance. The reason they do this is to make sure people aren't claiming to be needing financial assistance for nursing home care and asking taxpayers to foot their bill when a person can very well afford care for themselves. Sometimes unscrupulous, greedy people with plenty of money try to give away all their money and assets to family and friends and then claim they are poor and in need of Medicaid assistance as a purposeful way to avoid paying for their own care and get the taxpayer to do it for them. Now, there are two sides to every situation and many ways to protect assets that allow people to hang onto their money so that they may leave a legacy or inheritance to their family, friends, pet projects what have you. These are usually in the form of trusts. I could go on but peruse a search engine and you'll find oodles of information about this. Point is, check out this information from time to time and stay on top of your finances. Quite bluntly, poor people will qualify because they have no assets and the very wealthy will always be able to take care of themselves. It's the people in between that will find it worthwhile to look into this.

Medicaid is not totally heartless. They allow you to keep some of your money and assets depending on your situation. If you are single, you must spend your money on your care until you deplete your account to a balance of - in the case of NY State - $14,4000 and a monthly income of $1,500. If you have a community spouse, the amount is much higher because the assumptions is that the spouse not in a nursing home needs money to live on and plan for their elder care. 

A nursing home makes more money if someone must pay privately as opposed to being reimbursed by the state Medicaid fund. If the cost of long-term care per month is billed at $9,000 per resident, it's more profitable to have private-pay residents than Medicaid-eligible residents, which may only reimburse the nursing home at a lower rate, say closer to $6-7,000 a month. 

And so this is what happened to my mother and father. The facilitator at the nursing home never actually went through the deputization process. She was there for a short period of time. In fact, she was pregnant when I went back and due in several weeks so she would be gone, maybe by now, and her replacement was already being trained. Not by the DSS Nursing Home Unit, mind you, simply by the operators of the nursing home. So, she, and the operators who employed her can claim a certain degree of plausible deniability for any mistakes, mishaps and delays. And delay they did. About three weeks prior to the cut-off date for reimbursement, the woman at the nursing home, let's call her Janey, met with my mother in her office in the facility and explained that many items of proof - that we had already hand delivered to her 8 weeks earlier - were still needed. Gosh! Where did they go? She proceeded to try to scare my mother into believing that my father's application was in danger of being turned down. She then suggested that my mother hire a private service, a senior planning service, a service that handles money and estates and specializes in Medicaid applications,  to help fill out and expedite Dad's application. She got my mother on a speakerphone conference call with this group. The woman from this group explained that for only $5,000, yes, that's right, $5,000, they would submit the application for my father and "cut through the red tape" and "smooth out the process" to guarantee that Dad's application would be accepted. Mom said she would think about it. She called my sister and myself and next thing I know, I'm headed back to New York to find out what the holy hell is going on. Janey even had a conversation with me the Monday prior to my drive to New York. She kept insisting that Dad's application had many "red flags" and she claimed he would be "turned down" and then "he'd be considered private-pay and then the lawyers would come after you." At which point I asked her if she was threatening me. Oh heavens, no, she insisted. I kept asking her what these people that she claimed to have worked with many times before, just what could they specifically do that we hadn't already been doing? What red tape exactly? Either Medicaid was going to evaluate and accept Dad's financials or they wouldn't and they would tell him how much he would have to pay and how much they would cover. Mom and Dad don't own their apartment. They own nothing but a car and Dad's been senile enough to bang that up so it's now thousands of dollars off it's value. The money they have in the bank was well below the Medicaid guideline. What was the problem? "Red flags! Red Flags!" But you're not an official from Medicaid, I insisted. Let them make the call because, frankly, it's out of our hands. "But I'm missing documentation!" But we gave that to you weeks ago, and besides, we're on a deadline. Medicaid recommends submitting the application even if you don't have all the paper proof so you file within the three-month reimbursement period. Why are you sitting on this application? "Senior Planning Services! Senior Planning Services!" Fine, send me their contact info.

Do you know these people actually called little ol' me while I was still on my way home from doing errands not 15 minutes later?? And, get this, an attorney for Babbling Brook Manor also called me and left a voice mail wanting to speak with me about Dad's Medicaid application and eligibility! Unsolicited! Not only that, after emailing the Senior Planning Services people with a list of questions, they were kind enough to ignore replying to me in writing in lieu of a phone call/voice mail, because they "really like to have a conversation first." After I insisted in writing that they get back to me via email, they finally did. And provided no references and yes, it's costs $5,000 because they fill out the application "CORRECTLY and in the manner Medicaid prefers." All for $5,000. We turned their services down and informed Babbling Brook we would not be using their "Senior Planning Service" buddies.

I also received an additional email from the attorney for the nursing home reiterating that he tried to "reach out" to me via phone and would like me to contact him about Dad's application. How about that? Twice! Unsolicited contact from an attorney — twice! Without a lawsuit pending or anything! And I didn't even have to pay him anything. When have you ever known that to happen? I ask you.

My sister and I sat down at my kitchen table with 5 years of bank accounts and, after consulting with a close friend who recently had to admit her father in to a nursing home, split the statements up and began flagging transactions over a designated amount. This is the big pain-in-the-ass of a Medicaid Nursing Home application, explaining five years of transactions. But we did. We downloaded the entire actual NYS Medicaid Application [Access NY Health Care]. We scratch filled-out the application. And it wasn't worth $5,000 of anyone's money.

I made Mom get wi-fi for the apartment. I drove to NY. We purchased an iPad and a color Printer. I spoke with the wonderfully helpful people at the DSS Nursing Home Division in Yonkers who advised me that we actually didn't need to have the nursing home do the application for us. That Babbling Brook Manor was notorious for errors and delays. That in no way on earth, should my mother and father pay anyone $5,000 to fill out an application. We recreated the entire application and made new copies of all the proof that was needed. That included original documents that the nursing home business office had in their possession and insisted they did not, such as the Social Security annual awards letters for both my parents. That meant we had to take a trip to the Westchester Social Security office and spend about an hour in the culturally diverse waiting room, waiting to request duplicates (a shout-out to Ms. Bellini, a wonderfully helpful US Government worker who could not have been more on top of things and more helpful to us). We had Dad sign forms for the IRS, his WWII records, you name it. We made triplicates of everything. We bought three plastic folding files and labeled everything within an inch of its life, a copy for mom, a copy for me and the copy we were turing in. While I was working during the week in New York of gathering all this information, the business office at the nursing home was still trying to insist that items were missing. I didn't even bother telling poor Janey that we were by-passing her "help." Mom and I went in to visit Dad one afternoon and had him sign. As we were leaving, Janey actually ran out the door after us, 8-months pregnant, trying to get us to sign her form that she wanted to submit. I called back, "It's okay. We've got it taken care of. I'll email you." Thanks for nothing.

Mom and I hand-delivered the application to Ms. Jackson of DSS, who signed off on receiving it, in Yonkers on Friday morning, November 22. Unreal.

Don't get scammed. It sticks in my craw that there are people who get taken in by this kind of tactic. You know Babbling Brook has done this before and you know they'll try it with the next applicant. This whole set-up was done with enough plausible deniability that you can't prove intent to de-fraud but the whole procedure smells to high heaven. Janey routinely blamed my mother for making mistakes and not providing her with correct documentation (essentially calling my mother incompetent and a liar), even though Janey was in no capacity to determine whether the paperwork provided was correct because she was not the Medicaid authority. People like this depend on the applicant's (or the people assisting them such as my mother and myself) ignorance of the rules and regulations, emotional distress to muddle clear-thinking and prompt poor decision-making, and intimidation by authority figures such as lawyers, administrators, supervisors, government workers and the like. Don't be taken in. Ask questions. Be skeptical. Insist on things in writing. Make triplicates. Use copies only. Be pro-active about your situation. And never, ever pay anyone, least of all a "Senior Planning Service" $5,000 to fill-out an application. Shame on them. All of them.

(Additional kudos go out to the bank people who were enormously helpful in assisting us in tracking down all the transaction information. We couldn't have done it without them.)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Wait

I'm waiting. Waiting to work. Waiting because there is something "other" that I MUST do, that MUST be done before I can attend to what I do. I must listen in on a phone call with my mother, the bank and the nursing home about the Medicaid application. I live 700 miles away from my parents but I must stop what I am doing and assist this ridiculously complicated and stupid bureaucracy. I put off my work again. I love my parents and do wish to help but I am also conflicted about the use of my time. The baggage of others' needs coming before I can attend to mine. My need is to feed my art, to make my work, to indulge my creativity in all forms, from the frenzy to the reflective to the blank moments of incubation. Who makes sure I have this time? Who blocks out those moments for me and respects those fluctuations? Nobody but me.

I learned growing up that thinking for myself, doing for myself was selfish if it didn't serve others. Thank you, Catholic upbringing. I have spent decades awash in that perception of myself, awash in guilt at any action or thought that involved me then rejecting that point of view then deconstructing the whole mechanism and now, trying to come to terms with the conflicting emotions, messages and lessons learned from living for five decades. Yes, it can be tremendously fulfilling to serve others. It can bring great joy and happiness to those served and the server. But not at the expense of the fundamental needs of the individual. Meaning, if you set out to do something for others and you experience not joy and happiness or even a kind neutrality but instead a resentment and nagging feeling that you could be doing something else, then somewhere, you have a need that you are not addressing. It could be something as simple as not getting enough sleep or something as complicated as not understanding some deep-seated fears and anxiety.

Strangely, I had thought I had put much of this childhood baggage to rest but now, as my parents age and need assistance, I feel the tightening of the long, long tether connected from the wrist of a small girl within to the heaps of mental obligations and guilt that were my conclusions about myself when I processed the world around me years ago.

Simply, if I'm playing at my work and using my imagination, if I'm doing the non-linear dance of creativity, if I'm not taking care of someone else's well-being, emotional or otherwise, I am not doing something worthwhile and therefore, that creative activity, mental or physical, must be stopped or postponed, dropped down on the list of priorities.

How was this devaluing of my creative self accomplished? Was a I ridiculed and criticized? Well, not directly. What took place, I feel, I think, I believe, was that subtle rejection of all things creative. I do not come from an art appreciative background. My museum experience came from school and friends, not my family, not my parents. My obsession with drawing started with my love of horses and I drew them constantly. It was not discouraged but neither was it encouraged. Things I was proud of were received with a bland, "That's nice. Can't you draw something else?" Breaking away from traditional representational art as I matured in my teens and was exposed to modern art, abstract expressionism, mediums beyond graphite pencils, dimensions beyond flat canvas, pushed me further into a void at home. I had no one to talk to about the things I experienced so I kept my thoughts to myself, completely insecure about how I felt about the contemporary art I was fascinated by. That lack of confidence about my own perceptions is only now beginning to fall away like a papery snake's skin. But even as I feel more at home about my perceptions about art, creativity and craft, I still have trouble connecting my value as a participant. Particularly at times of crisis when I perceive that others may need me or desire my attention. I place their needs above my own. Awful. Must stop. Has started to stop. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Recent items
     My quest is learning patience. I think. I had plans for 2013 and that was my first mistake. Somewhere mid-summer, all hell broke loose and I'm heading back to New York for the third time this year to visit the folks and see how things are going. As a result, the usual PotteryPalooza held at the Irvinton House Museum is postponed until 2014. I'll be doing a sale with my buddies, Bruce and Kelley Hoefer of Turning Wheel Pottery in Berea, KY as a guest artist once again. Check back for details as Kelly and Bruce are getting the announcement info together.
     More items like the one below are up on Etsy until then. I am enjoying the new aesthetic of intersecting geometry and touch points. It's more intensive in the surface treatment and glazing as I stamp, carve and underglaze once before bisque firing and underglaze once after bisque firing with a clear liner glaze over top of everything. I'm still tweaking the glaze recipe but I may be on to something there, too. Everything takes small tiny steps. I'm just impatient for things to be resolved. I blame my hormones.
On Etsy, Stoneware Vase with Circles of Pinks
     Speaking of situations resolving, that's the one I wish for the most. Let's get out of the "peri" phase and get right to full-blown menopause. I have a friend who swears when you're about done with your period, you come to a time when you wish you could get it again. Um, no. Maybe for her, never for me. Ready when you are, Mother Nature!
     We have a new puppy. It is all kinds of cuteness. Sometimes I want to squeeze it so much because it's so cute that I'm afraid poop will come out the back. I think Maxx would have approved. Still miss my big bear. We'll see how large this boy gets. His paws have become frighteningly large in the last week and a half. Housebreaking continues. Most of the time he gets it but sometimes I can't get him outside early enough. He's only 9 weeks old. Soon enough he will be an outside dog and it won't matter anyway.
     And there is where things sit. Fall has arrived finally but the leaves have not turned very colorful this year, more like brown and dead and on the ground. We had a long spell of dryness in September and it was so hot even just last week. I think we hit 87°F one day. That's just all kinds of wrong in late September/early October. The great thing this year is that our apple trees have yielded the largest, juiciest, sweetest apples that I can remember in my 14 years that I've been on Sand Hill. Yummy!
    Back to another load for the kiln. I am working on plans this year and beginning next year to draw up designs and plans for a soda kiln that I want to build on our property. Lots of things on the list to check off but you have to start somewhere. For now, the electric kilns will help me put out some pots for the holidays. Cheers, y'all!
Still miss this old, smelly beast.

Monday, September 30, 2013


I struggle to work. So much of life right now is about watching and monitoring my dad's failing health. Because I'm back and forth to New York, things go in fits and starts. Focus and rhythm seem unattainable. But I've accepted that. So we'll make the best of things. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

(no title)

Headed back to the New York area to visit my parents and most likely, see my Dad for the last time. Sad, but not unexpected.

Knowing that he is ending his life journey has me thinking about all sorts of things. He is 89 and has had an amazing life. I am very proud to be his daughter and very lucky to have had him for 50 years. Right now, it's time to take the trek back and help my mother with the details.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Re-do the floor

      The floor was too damp due to the monsoonal rains the week previous. All the moisture is still seeping up. Any part of the floor related to a wall that tends to collect water has flaking paint. I will have to wait until it gets drier, maybe in September, traditionally less wet in these parts, and try a masonry sealer. In the mean time, back to carving, throwing, slabbing, bisqueing...
Downward Dog does downward dog.
     Getting ready for a Craft Fair/Chicken Swap. Chicken Swap!! I hear someone is bringing a pot-bellied pig. If you're local and in Bourbon County on August 3rd, come buy and check this out!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Plaster Disaster and Mental Confusion

Mold forms from gourds on my farm. I have used gourds as hump molds in the past but the clay tends to stick to the hard shell and it takes forever to dry and keep a form.
      I have uncovered the secret to commenting on my own blog posts. Turns out, there is a setting in my browser that allows/disallows third party cookies and data. I have that checked. I must uncheck it to comment. I dislike all the third party data collection so this will become another step in the process. Who needs to worry about the NSA when Google, the insurance companies, the phone companies and Facebook collect all your data anyway. Bottom line is if you want to be social digitally, you will leave a trail of bits and bytes unless you take extra steps to erase all of it. And even then. Be free in your boring ego.
Plaster added.
    My husband and I took a short jaunt to St. Louis for the Independence Day holiday. During that time, monsoonal rains soaked western, central and eastern Kentucky while we were gone. (The weather was gorgeous, if hot, in St. Louis) When we got back, I got onto scraping, mopping and vacuuming the studio floor to prepare for repainting. However, because of the damp floor, this is only partially successful. And because of the floor repair and the continued threat of severe rainy weather not to mention cloud cover, my photographing of new items for Etsy has been delayed. In fact, many things have been delayed this year. It's July and I'm still not getting the hang of chilling out and just letting go of my "schedule." Well, actually, I think I am but it's a constant tug-of-war. I have to keep reminding myself that the deadlines I have are self-imposed. My progress, my path may be slow but it's still moving forward.
One plastic bowl form wasn't stabilized enough and it tipped. Oh noooo! 
     Many menopausal symptoms have bombarded themselves on my mind and body recently. The most prominent has been the "mental confusion" symptom.
Mental Confusion.
It's been hard to keep a straight thought lately. No particular reason for it. Whenever I look at the weedy garden or the rampant growth on the forest floor when I take my walks in the morning and the total disarray of fungus, wood, leaves, vines, insects, spider webs that cross my path and cling to my lips and eyelids, the competing sounds of birds and dew dripping, the dog suddenly chasing a figment of his imagination, my cat, Possum, King Derp, running along behind me the entire way, the barn falling down, the fences that badly need repair, the fields that are barely fields any more, I am walking through my own metaphor of my mind. And what strikes me is that despite all the seeming chaos, there is some order and some direction. So I take a deep breath and relax. I'm no better off, no worse off than Mother Nature, really. That's not a bad thing.
Scraped up what I could, cleaned out the floor and got ready to repaint the surface.
     I have been following the blogs of two artists recently whose personal affinities and professional work I admire, Altoon Sultan and Ravenna Taylor. Both are painters, not ceramic artists or potters like myself but I like that. I look for some resonance with things outside my own little box. Both are fans of gardens, plants, the outdoors, nature and contemplative thought about those things. Eventually, those thoughts show up in their work.  My circle overlaps that. Both have a very graphical, modern, abstract quality to their paintings. Altoon Sultan also works in combining painting with fiber work from time to time. Ravenna Taylor quoted Robert Frost in her last entry and he's one of my favorites. They both have a solid sense of color and composition and a love of the abstract. I love it.
One coat of garage epoxy.
     The floors of the forest have exploded in toadstools after the rains. That's what I love about mushrooms, their hidden surprise. One day they aren't there and then one day they are and then gone again. Additionally, what you see with mushrooms is that they are only the flower of the giant fungus hidden in the dirt floor, potentially snaking out in all directions, hyphae underfoot or up the tree.  How cool is that? Great book about mushrooms, Mushroom by Nicholas P. Money. Worth a read. 

The forms of fungi work their way into my work over and over again, spores and hyphae. Mysterious entities that don't function like plants or animals. I believe they have more influence on the patterns of life than we realize.

We've had very humid, rainy weather in Kentucky and the floor of the garage gets damp when it rains for a long time or rains a lot. The plaster stuck on the floor retains this dampness and the first coat started peeling up. This will likely happen over and over again.

Dad is 89 today. Happy Birthday, Dad!
Second coat... for now. Because of the dampness and god knows what else, I will supplement the heavy traffic areas and damp areas with simple coats of paint. Hopefully, if we cease having monsoonal weather, things may dry out and I'll get a coat to dry quickly and not peel so much but I'm guessing this may be a constant battle due to the location of the studio at the bottom of the hill.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Peeking in the kiln

Top shelf.
     And later today, I will be filling the items below with plaster for molds. Yowzah.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How does this happen?

The chaos of time.
     I found this jpeg on my FB feed. Not sure of the original link since it was a while ago but it came up under "I Fucking Love Science's" FB page. (Great collection of information, science trivia and cool things to know under that FB page, btw.) I love it. The bottom drawing of the "cause/effect" relationship of time, how we perceive it, record it and comparing to how events actually unfold is both humorous and enlightening to me. I love the visual representation of the bottom image, the swirls, crossed points, circles collapsing on themselves into spirals and the take off points for new curves of time. It makes for a beautiful chaotic pattern. But it's also a bit of a tangled knot that can be a bit hard to untangle as to which goes where, what starts and what ends? Today that knot represents my mood.
Bowl, greenware, slip painting, to be continued...
     It's only 8-ish in the morning as I start writing this post and already I feel as if I got on in the middle of the roller coaster. I simply was looking forward to a productive week. I have some ideas and goals of things I'd like to accomplish and yet, just after breakfast, I'm already behind... behind what, I'm not sure and the fact that I'm living in rural Kentucky as opposed to the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple makes it even more perplexing. I stopped running for trains but now I feel as if I'm running for weeds. I'm being bested by my beans. This is a human flaw and I'm cultivating it. Or am I? Is this not how nature really works? Survival is a daily ritual. We live in constant tension. No living thing can fully rest until it is no more. We humans attempt to master the art of survival, making it easier and more convenient to the point where we get outraged when mother nature does not conform to our expectations. I don't know whether to laugh or cry at our collective delusion. Sometimes I do both.

Sugar Jar
   The geometric shapes and line carvings I have been doing on my functional work have touched on time-lines like the one drawn in the top part of the first image. We set down markers in our lives as if they are linear. However, it seems as if things really are more circular and about touch points. Some places intersect and we mark them, some don't. I've become intrigued with those points and it's made me think about the quest for balance in our lives or imbalance as the case may be. So now, a lot of the newer work (should I ever get it in the kiln to bisque) is predominantly circles that overlap and intersect, points, spirals and wavy, undulating lines. Still some pod/leaf forms as I find those very fundamental. Seeds, eggs, origins and the like, you know. Points hit intersections or float within circles looking for an intersection. Still adding the equine imagery as a kind of personal homage to prehistoric art.

    Still searching for balance. And the ironic thing, when I thought about it this past weekend, is that balance is not the absence of tension. Balance is tension. Balance is constant tension. Balance is perfect tension with the environment around us. You can notice this when you run into the extreme of unbalanced energy, a different kind of tension, an internal tension that does not connect with the reality of the outside environment.
      Anyway, it seems I'm off to the races with this idea on the pots. Still doing the pod/genitalia thing in the sculpture realm. And now the universe has intervened again and I jumped on an opportunity that will change my trajectory. Seems I will be making molds for the next month. How about that. Me and my silly expectations.
Pod people. Don't fall asleep...
A teacup diversion.

More wacky pottery blogs here.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Brown out of the ground

Local clay fired to cone 6 oxidation with clear glaze.
      Dug from the pasture. I finally found some clay that will hold shape and vitrify to Cone 6 – so far. Recent storms and wash-outs have uncovered a small seam so I'm hoping to dig a larger quantity to play with. For now, I'm just testing. This is basically the same clay body as Bybee's clay body as it comes from the same geologic layer laid down during the Denovian extinction.  If all goes well, it should fire to cone 10 and a little bit higher. At higher temps, other tests with some of my local potter friends have yielded a deep, dark chocolate body color.
Local slip clay fired to Cone 6.
     Most of the clay I have found along my stream beds has been the gray-blue variety which I've been using and testing as a slip. It won't hold a form but it fluxes on it's own as a slip/glaze. Bright orange at low fire (cone 010-cone 060, at least) but deepens it cone 6 and becomes shinier. This recent clay is yellow ochre in color. Happy that I found some. Now I have to get buckets and dig some up before the horses crap all over it.
I spy a teacup form.
     In the mean time, I have some carving of mugs to execute while I wait on the second glaze firing in the past few days. Night times are being devoted to researching kiln building. I plan to construct a kiln on the property next to the studio and future gallery. I've settled on a soda/reduction kiln using LP gas and wood. I have found a hybrid plan and hope to modify it to my needs. I want the flexibility of using wood, which I have in abundance on my property, with gas or just gas firing alone. I'm intrigued by soda, mostly because I find myself gravitating towards pots that are soda-fired again and again. I think the effects might work well with the type of primitive carving and graphic shapes I use. The other reason, quite frankly, is that no one else close by utilizes soda-firing, (mostly salt-firing) so a good part of this is curiosity and experimentation. Worse comes to worse, I'll just fire reduction firings.
     Slowly getting back to some regular production after the Great Gall Bladder Removal. Much to catch up on, the least of which is finally getting all the raised beds situated in the garden. My husband did most of the heavy work, the construction, the tilling and the filling of the beds. I tried to help but really shouldn't be doing so much just yet. Weeding and planting are my speed. It's late in the season, I had hoped to be so much further along but better late than never!
Courtesy Scott. Garden fence is next.
Miniature Irises still showing off...
Mmm... yummy.