fingerling potatoes


fingerling potatoes
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Clearly, I'm a bit nuts to begin a 97 degree day by digging up part of my potato crop, but I was outside looking at the garden and noticed that two of my potato plants had yellowed and fallen over, which means it is time to harvest. The other four or five plants are still looking good, so I left them in the ground. These are Russian Banana Fingerling potatoes (if I remember correctly) that I bought from Whole Foods in the winter. A few of them started to sprout, so I left them on the counter and cut them into pieces once the eyes began to grow. I didn't plant them until mid-March (usually we plant potatoes here in February), didn't hill them up properly, but this was a nice sized crop from just two little plants. I spread some of the dirt and composted leaves over the remaining plants so they'll grow a bit more, and in a few weeks I'll harvest them, too.

There are only 10% of the original 130K+ residents left without power- they're estimating that we will join the ranks of the powered today. Last night we bailed and went to a friend's house to sleep in the AC. It was bliss.

I had planned to finish the last of the May 27 berry bowl orders this week, but obviously, that didn't happen. The good news is that the enforced rest means that my arms are healed! Hopefully next week when little boy is at a day camp I'll crank the rest out and get them out to my most patient friends and customers.

Happy Wednesday! And keep your fingers crossed for us!

bee on wild grape


wild grape
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I took this photo this morning. I saw movement in the wild grape vine growing on my back fence from my kitchen window and ran out with the camera. This big bumble (or carpenter, 'cause his abdomen is shiny rather than fuzzy) bee was not happy with me. He buzzed me until I backed away, but he was so intent on getting to these luscious flowers that he forgot about me and I snuck in to get this shot. I love it, it just says summer to me. So I'm sharing it with you.

This is the first year I've noticed this vine, but there's been so much activity around it that I'm hopeful that we may have some wild grapes this fall. Regardless of its production, it is pretty right now, and it makes the bees happy, which makes me happy.

invitation shot


invitation shot
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I'm up early this morning, taking pictures of home-grown (though not by me) radishes in my berry bowl for the postcard invitation for my summer sale. I love the early morning light peeking over the roofline of my house, illuminating the potager (fancy french for kitchen garden. No, I don't speak french, I just like to *think* that I do. he he). This bowl is cracked, so it's staying with me, but I knew that it would look wonderful with these white-tipped breakfast radishes and the traditional red globe ones.

The radishes came from Keith and Jill Forrester, owners of the Whitton Flower and Produce Company. They sell at the market I frequent, as well as the Memphis Botanic Garden mid-week market in East Memphis. They just started a CSA service, which I'm signing up for in the fall. Beautiful produce, flowers, and service. And I can't wait to eat these radishes with salt and butter*!


*I did. DELICIOUS!

lavender honey


lavender honey
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Now you know this makes me happy. Or maybe you don't. This combines some of my favorite things. Bees. Lavender. My little potager (fancy french for kitchen garden- see the onions and chard?). What a blissful spring day. I even got the kiln all loaded up to fire tonight! Walked home from school with little boy, found a tiny four-leafed clover and itty bitty blue jay feather, stopped and chatted with a friend on the way home. This happy uneventful day's been a long time coming, so I'm relishing it.


*Thursday morning edit- we ended the day with a drive down to the Mississippi River banks to watch the sunset after dinner. Perfect and lovely and beautiful day, all round.

preschool ecology



Little boy had lots to do when he went back to school on Thursday. Evergreen Playschool is a 6mo-kindergarten play-based preschool that mixes the best parts of montessori, reggio-emilio, and play-based education. I've been pretty astounded at what they've done, but this time, it was his turn to surprise them. This week his class had made a large garden and posted it up on the wall. Each child was to draw a flower, or several flowers, to add to the garden. My boy has been listening to my "greenie mama" ramblings about pollination, bees, and ecological diversity. The first thing he drew was the "garden fly." This is an entirely different thing from a house fly*. Those are yucky. Then he drew the grass, because a garden is not just flowers. There is lots of grass in the garden. Lastly, he drew the tiny blue flower, because blue is almost always our favorite color- mine and the boy's, so we have a fairly large collection of blue-flowering plants in our garden.

His teachers were surprised at both the detail he put into his work and at the overall picture he presented of the garden, that it's not just the flowers that make up the garden, but that it is an entire system. I am always surprised at how he internalizes (in the good way!) what I say, even when it seems like he's not listening at all. I'm delighted that the things that are important to me- the good green earth, our responsibility to preserve it as best we can, and, of course, creative expression- are sticking!

*We have a trap we got from here so that they don't swarm the house. The falling figs in the summer attract swarms of flies, plus, well, they are attracted to dogs.
The other day we were in the car and he said, "look, mama, there's a giant blue flytrap!" It was a small screened-in trampoline in someone's backyard. The fly trap that we use is recommended by the World Health Organization for disease prevention.

Photoshop credits go to Gary Bridgman. He does things with a computer I could only ever dream of accomplishing. Thanks, Honey!

Bee Project


pollinators!
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
As my regular readers know by now, I love, love, love bees. One of my acquaintances and readers, Beth Ann, an early childhood educator who also makes pottery, just turned me on to a new project that seems to be modeled on the Audubon Society's annual bird count. She specifically mentioned that this would be a great project to work on with little boy- I can see great homeschool or Montessori project potential here, for those of you who are on that track.

You plant native sunflowers (they send the seeds to you for free!) in your yard, garden, or even in a largeish pot for patio gardeners. After the sunflowers are planted and blooming, you go out to your garden, have a little sit, and time how long it takes for 5 bees to visit your sunflowers. You can report the data online or send it in, snail-mail. The website, greatsunflower.org , has tips on gardening for bees, what to do about bee stings, where to visit public gardens, forums, a guide to identifying bees, and additional resources on bees and their importance to our ecology and food systems.

Thanks, Beth Ann, for turning me on to this project. I've already signed up and will dedicate a patch of my front garden to blessing and counting the bees! The little honeybees in my neighborhood are already buzzing around the muscari, the last of the flowering quince, and the new blossoms of the hollies. Buzz, buzz!

drippy ginkgo teacup


drippy ginkgo teacup
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Last summer I made a series of leaf teacups for my boy's mother's day out teachers, as well as the librarian who we saw every week for 2 years at the toddler story hour at the main library. I think I made 6-8 of them, let them sit around for a while, then finally put them up on etsy in the last week or so. You've already seen a couple of my favorites- one with a big beautiful fern (that I broke and may try to fix for my own use), and one with a Japanese Climbing fern.

I had serious reservations about putting this one up because I was so unhappy with how the glaze slid off the leaf and pooled at the foot of the cup. Ruined, I thought. A waste of a ginkgo, I thought. I LOVE the ginkgo tree. The tall stately sculptural shape of the tree itself, the fan-shaped leaves, its ancient history, and the fabulous golden fall coat it puts on every year*. My neighbor transplanted a small ginkgo from her backyard to her front yard shortly after we moved to this house in 2004. It thrives in the east-facing yard, and serves as a handy-dandy source for leaves for my pottery. Her neighbor also has a tree, so I may never be without!

I called in sick with a stomach bug this morning and went back to bed after dropping little boy off to school. When I awoke, in a sleepy queasy fog, I turned on the old mac and was shocked to see that this piece had sold. Thank you, Dane, for giving my poor drippy child a home. I am always surprised when the things that I perceive as sub-par are among the first to leave my "nest."

*Before I had my son, we lived way out in the country and I would drive into the city to teach clay residencies in the city schools through what was then the Center for Arts Education, an arm of the Greater Memphis Arts Council. Sadly, this program folded in 2003. I remember driving into midtown to reach a specific school just before Thanksgiving to drop off the children's pieces. I stopped the car in front of a huge ginkgo that was beginning to lose its leaves, a golden tree with a golden carpet. On impulse, I filled the entire back floorboard of my car with ginkgo leaves. Half of those leaves made it into pottery, a quarter stayed in the floor just to make me smile that winter.

rare sight in these parts


This is the result of an hour's snowfall in my garden- it is beginning to pile up on the bushes, birdhouses (this is an old raku bird-shaped birdhouse I made in 2002- I stopped doing Raku when I was pregnant with my boy), roofs, and fences. Beautiful fluffy white snow. We already went out for a snow walk, because it hasn't snowed like this in 2 years, and we haven't gotten 4+ inches like we expect since 2000. Amazing to see snow covering a forsythia in full bloom!



This photo was taken a mere 30 minutes later! I imagine that everyone in town not already cozy at home is at the grocery buying up all of the milk, bread, cornmeal, and kerosene in sight. Folks in the mid-to-deep south get a little crazy when we see white stuff falling from the sky.

flowers

I love to have flowers around. Just a blossom or two. Roses, a single pansy or viola, any little bit of color and scent. G's favorite is the simple happy daisy. When we moved into our house, I was blown away by two things- the swimming-pool-sized fig tree in the backyard and the two enormous Perle d'Or roses in the garden. They bloom from early March clear through November- even at Christmas, this year. I always have a few clusters of these sweetly-scented (appley?) roses in the bedroom and bathroom while they're in bloom. Often, they are in tiny little bud vases like this one. I have at least a dozen glass, silver, and ceramic bud vases, all under 4" tall, around the house. Three or four are of my own design, two are my friend Katherine's work, and I bought two of Julie Thomas's from her etsy shop that I just LOVE. My own ceramic bud vases are canvases for my love of surface decoration: fluting or slip trailing. This one, glazed in deep celadon, is hand-carved with a dozen straight lines from mouth to base.

This time of year garden flowers are in shorter supply, but the early narcissus and daffodils are coming up, the camellias are still strong, and the lovely twiggy flowering quince and forsythia are in full swing. Yesterday I was given a cluster of lilies, liatris, and my favorite spider mums by a dear friend who provided altar flowers in memory of his family. The taller stems are in a vase together on our table, but I am especially pleased to have the smaller "filler" blossoms for my bud vases this week. During the winter, when the days are as likely to be grey as not, those spots of color can really make my day.

seconds in my garden


seconds in my garden
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Saturday afternoon, when I was having my blissful alone time, I took some pictures of the winter garden and all of my pottery scattered around in it. I don't know about most potters, but I have a hard time pitching a platter, plate, birdhouse, whatever that looks nice except for, say, the small glaze crack the middle of it. I still like the design, I love the leaves that I used in the piece, but it is not functional, not food safe, not really nice enough to use as a display-only piece. This catalpa leaf platter is one of these pieces, so I wired it to my fence. It sits behind a wild, rangy flowering quince, next to a japanese maple bowl, next to a broken sea urchin, next to a porcelain bird's nest, next to a warped and cracked St. Francis. They are all more or less lined up on the upper portion of the fence, wired tight to the lattice, peeking out from behind twiggy bushes and wisps of Carolina Jessamine hanging down from the trees. I'm not sure if they look junky or creative, but they mostly make me happy.

I've planted oxalis and other tiny bulbs in cracked cafe au lait bowls, half-buried in flower beds, and I keep a couple of smallish bowls on my potting bench for scooping potting soil or collecting currant tomatoes in the summer. I remember when my mother was visiting at our old house she rescued some of these bowls from the yard (one in particular was turned over to provide a resting place for the toads), incredulous that I'd put them out in the dirt or filled them with birdseed. Recently, at her house, I spied one of these imperfect old bowls in her cupboard. It is her favorite guacamole bowl, she said.

Today is my desk-day. I'm working on taxes, so this post is as close as I will get to pottery until tomorrow. I hope you all have a beautiful week!

getting ready for spring


It is the last day of January, my Jan term is over, and I believe that I've met my goals. Blogging regularly-check. Etsy store open-check. A good jump start on making pottery for spring shows- check.
I have been making pottery almost every day this month- my standard goal is 5 pieces per throwing session. I also learned how to replace the elements in my kiln with the help of my co-worker, Dierdre. I've even sold a few pieces this month, which was encouraging after a slow holiday season.
These herb markers are my festival bread-and-butter. Last year I sold 500 on a single day. Gary was freelancing, and I was teaching a lot, but these little gems paid our mortgage that month. I have several hundred on hand, but it is time to break out the slabroller and make several hundred more before planting season begins.