Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Raining Again!

Continuous rain for several days have made the grass green.
The silvery stuff at the top of the hill is hail and probably snow.

It is raining again, a thin, cold, misty rain that is swirled and stirred by eddies of a strong Southerly wind. A lazy wind, the sort that can't be bothered to step around you, but goes straight through. A cold and lazy wind, for to the South of us is the vast Continent of Antarctica. A land of ice.

Everything is grey outside and the greyness seeps inside too. We rise in darkness, and put our shoulder to our work under the thick cover of cloud.

The news says that Oamaru, a town to the North of us where my parents live, has been cut off by flooding (my parents are not in any danger, by-the-way, the main road was simply blocked by flooding North and South of the town). Inland some roads are impassible due to snow. The army deliver milk and bread to those who cannot leave their homes. Thanks to coal and electricity, we are warm enough, but everything feels damp.

The Ginger cat seems not to mind the rain. He goes out several times in the day, and in the night, and arrives back with coat matted and darkened by water. His coat is thick, like the wool of a sheep, and sometimes I wonder if he has been sitting out with the sheep in the paddock behind us, his coat is so wet! The black kitten, that is almost a cat, hates the rain, and does not like her feet getting wet. She blames us for her wet feet. Her coat is sleek and thin, she feels the cold, and does not want to go out at all! We have to encourage her to venture outside. She is happy to find the car shed, and stays there on our out of doors walks!

Clay is cold, and hands unwilling. Warm water helps, but a ray of sunshine would be even better!

Earlier in the month, I lifted the lid of my elderly electric kiln, and found that one of the four ceramic buttons that holds the fibre in place, had fallen out, bringing with it a lot of mess and debris. I carefully touched another of the buttons, and it came away in my hands. The kiln is more than 2 decades old, maybe nearly three, and the fibre in the lid has been badly cracked and deteriorating for the 6 years that I have owned it. So...., time to give it a treat!

I decided to take the lid up to the Cobcraft factory where my Cobcraft kiln was made, and to get it refurbished there. A slightly more costly process than for me to do it, but not very much more. I found taking the lid off, was nearly impossible, as the nuts and bolts that secured the lid hinges to the kiln, were badly corroded, and it were very difficult to hold onto with what tools I had. I had to smash off the head of the very last bolt with a cold chisel!

The following day, I drove up to Ashburton, and stayed with friends that have appeared as visiting angels in an earlier post of this blog. Bevin and Lorraine looked after the weary (and I was) traveler with great kindness, and insisted on taking me through to Rangiora (25 km North of Christchurch) the next day to deliver the lid to the factory, and making a day out of it.

We had a delightful time on our day out. The “factory” turned out to be a large shed on a farm, way out in the country. It was fun finding it, as we first had to rendezvous with someone at the Rangiora Shell Garage, and then follow him out to the farm. It was very cloak and dagger, and not without some humour, as I remembered something that I had forgotten as we neared the Garage, I hadn't arranged a way of identifying myself..., and I didn't really know what John, the man I was supposed to be meeting looked like, although I have spoken to John and his wife Joan many times over the years on the telephone, as I get most of my pottery materials from them! As it transpired, there was no difficulty. Evidently I look like a potter!

Main Street Rangiora.

Lorraine is very keen on what I think is called “Stamping”, and makes lovely cards and boxes out of paper and card. It so happens that there is a shop at Rangiora that is full of all the wonderful things that keen “Stampers” need! Card and paper. Paper with patterns and designs, buttons, beads, threads of all colours, glittery things.

A card in the stamping supplies shop at Rangiora.

It was lovely actually, and we had a happy visit there!

After sampling the culinary delights of Rangiora, we picked up the beautifully refurbished kiln lid from the “factory”, and headed off to Christchurch.

We visited the Arts Centre at Christchurch, which is in the old university buildings in the heart of the city.

The Christchurch Arts Center Buildings reflected in water.

An observatory in the old university buildings at the Arts Center.

It was interesting looking at pots in the various galleries that are in the arts centre, and thinking about how they were displayed.

Cantaclay Pottery Studio at the Arts Center.

Always something to learn when visiting galleries, I was interested at the use of glass shelving and the grouping by colour of pots at Cantaclay Pottery Studio.

We had a pleasant walk back to where the car was parked through the Christchurch City Gardens, Hagley Park.

I do like this rather sculptural looking hedge at the Christchurch Gardens.

Lovely large trees there, and other delights.

Looking high into a gum tree is like glimpsing another world.

Here is the gum tree again, this time most of it!

I enjoyed staying with Lorraine and Bevin. It was more like being with family.

Bevin made these lovely pots years ago and fired them in an Anagama kiln.

Bevin is a potter, and there were lots of his pots around the place, and out in the garden, and there were various kilns, wood fired and gas fired, for me to look at too!

I am getting a bit behind with work at the moment. I have been throwing more pots, and larger ones too, but progress has been slower than usual for me, and the bad weather of the last few days has held up what was to be a week of glazing.

My health wasn't great after the exhibition, and things were not helped last week by a bizarre incident, which I still don't quite understand. I was leaning over the freezer trying to find something for a meal one evening, when I was bitten on the neck by something. It was almost a similar intensity of pain as being stung by a wasp, but I couldn't see the perpetrator of the crime, or the puncture mark, but my neck swelled up with a large lump forming next to my wind pipe, and I was quite unwell that night and all the next day with lump continuing to grow and the redness spreading from jaw to collar bone with a great deal of tingling and itching, and my old head addled and aching. I am all right now of course..., but I am wondering what on earth did it. Could it have been a spider?? We did find a rather unusual looking one that we didn't recognise in the area not far from where I had been, but it was very dopey and died not long afterwards (maybe I poisoned it!!). In theory we only have to be concerned about white tailed spiders and Katipo spiders in New Zealand, and I didn't think that the one we found wasn't either of them, but, I've just been having another look at Wikipedia and, there is just a faint chance that it may have been a white tailed spider?? It did look something like the photo at the top of the wiki page about white tailed spiders, but was not very big, and would have to have been a male one, or something else.

The cats are co-existing quite well now. I have to declare that the battle to prevent the incursion by a black kitten/cat into our household has been lost. She really took a liking to Ginger, and likes our company too. All attempts to return her home have failed miserably (her real mum is out most of the time) and now we are four!

Ginger and ????, happy together on a lovely rug that my mother made.

Various names for the young lady have been thought up and used. If frequency of use was adjudged the best way of determining what her name is, is should be “Stop It!”, said loudly and repeatedly.., but the usual, “Puss, puss, puss” and “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty”, bellowed in high and excited tones, does bring her running. She is Very playful, especially after meals. Your suggestions for a name for one black, cheeky, female cat could be helpful, or at least entertaining for me in this cold and gray season!

Sorry I've been slow to post yet again!


cookingwithgas said...

What a way to beat the cold gray with some time out.
Looks like a delightful trip away.
Spider would be my guess! Just when you think you are safe!
Black cat- temmoku would go great with your Ginger Cat.

PS- your writing style is lovely

Judy Shreve said...

Peter -glad to see your post.
It's hard to think about your cold gray winter & rain when we are so warm & sunny. Your day out sounds wonderful & the photos are lovely.
Cats do seem to love you & Laura - or maybe Ginger encouraged the new lady to move in - lol. You could call her 'Velvet."
PS - I like your writing too!

Tracey Broome said...

Peter I do love to read your posts, you have such a poetic writing style, you must post more often!!! I feel your pain with the cold and rain, we have had much of the same, except for yesterday deciding to be 92 degrees f.
Very hot, crazy weather! Sorry for your bite incident, I would guess spider too, those bites have come to me and they can be painful and last a while. Stay warm, drink lots of tea, make soup, wish for summer!!

Arkansas Patti said...

Love the pictures Peter, that reflections one could hang in the very building it represents.
I just knew when you mentioned that black cat a while back that she was on the way to being a new family member. Word has spread about the great accomadaions at Peter and Laura's house.
So sorry you were set upon by an nasty insect. Hope you properly poisoned him in return.

Linda Starr said...

Good morning Peter, or evening as the case may be. Your posts are well worth waiting for. Sounds like a spider bite to me, with itching and swelling, hope all is well now. How about Inky for the cat? Or Slinky, or Hyku, or Spice, or Cardamom. I'm on a liquid fast and I have way too much energy now in the second day. Wishing a warm spell comes your way. Take it easy and don't work too hard. Hugs to you and Laura and Ginger and Blacky.

Peter said...

Hi Meredith,
Thanks regarding the writing, I do enjoy it when I actually get around to doing it!
I'm enjoying the cat names that are coming in, thank you for Temmoku, it's a good name for a potter's cat. We'll be trialing the names over the next few days, and will see if any will "stick".

Hi Judy, nice to hear from you. "Velvet" could be a really good name for the cat, one thing that is amazing about her, is just how soft and velvet like her fir is, especially the ears.
I think that the young Lady rather fancied Ginger, but I suspect that his hormone levels aren't the best after a little operation that he had sometime in his distant youth, and he has been a tough one to conquer! But..., she remains optimistic!

Hi Tracey,
I had a feeling that someone out there would know something about spider bites!
I think that this one was only the second that I have ever had. The rain has been really bad overnight, and doesn't look to be stopping any time soon. There are lakes where any flat farmland used to be, and the hills are running with water. I think that this is now day 6 of almost continuous rain, which is unusual in our part of NZ.
If it carries on like this, I could well be spending more time in front of the glowing screen... so another post may not be far away!!

Hi Patti,
I love the old university buildings in Christchurch, where the arts center is now. I think that all their cloisters, funny shaped rooms, and eccentricities would have made them a wonderful place to get a degree. Scientist, Ernest Rutherford was a student there.

Hi Linda (Good Evening!), Hey, that is a torrent of great names for the cat, and one right at the end of your message too! Inky and Slinky, are both very appropriate, Cardamom has a nice sense of the exotic and mysterious about it, which she can be. I will trial them all, and see what happens!

No food and "too much energy"! The weather here makes me feel like having a large roast dinner, Christmas pudding with some brandy on top, and having a good sleep!

Hugs to you too!

ang said...

far out peter thats the first culprit i thought of those white tails are sneaky, hope you got it all checked out and are fine now...and what a great rip fixing the kiln lid turned out to be..stay well and keep warm..cheers ang

ang said...

heheh that should read trip!

Peter said...

Hi Ang,
Good to hear from you. Of course I should have thought of it before, but you have white tails on your side of the Tasman, and will probably know all about them. Still don't know if the strange spider found near the scene of the crime afterwards was the culprit, or if he was a fellow victim of the menace that attacked me! I made an attempt to getting things checked out the day after the bite, but couldn't find anyone at our Doctor's rooms at the time, and decided, as I hadn't actually died overnight, I would probably get better again and could save myself the cost of a non essential trip to the doc! Anyway, the kiln lid sorter trip (rip) was really great little break thanks to the kindness of friends, and a good chance to see some pots by other people.

Angie said...

I dont think I could cope living some where that had dangerous spiders ...thankfully you are recovering now.
You seem to have had a wonderful time away sorting your kiln out ....I do a little stamping on my layouts and cards too.
Love that reflection photo.
Now ...whats in a name? Why not just call her Kitty? ...or how about Prudence? we have ....Buffy Willow Felix Mika Rosie Honey Nahla Misty Sayba Sid Madison China Bilbo Wanda Pheobie Lucky Smudge and Marvella ...quite a mix ....feel free to use any if you feel they might fit.xx

Armelle said...

Hi................. Peter,
I hope you are better now, despite the spider bite, as Angie, I will not be able to live in such a dangerous place.
And as Patty, I love the reflection photo, and the gum tree also, of course I enjoy Bevin's pots. The shape is beautiful and the (wood-fired skin ?) too. Even if I am not able to speak a good english, I enjoy your poetic way of writing and if you dont go to another trip, I wait for another post soon.
Think about light therapy lamp, it would be fine for people and cats !!! She looks like Miko, my cat, with these white-footed, so you could call her Mika ???

Wish you the SUN

Peter said...

Hello Angie,
Lovely to hear from you. Goodness, that is a splendid effort with cat names! I think that should keep us going for a few years! Funny enough, "Kitty" is a name that is already used a lot for her, especially by Laura, it is one that is easy to say quickly and repeatedly.
Fear not, it is rare to meet up with a dangerous spider down here, which is partly why it was a puzzle for me to have fallen victim to one. xx

Hi Armelle,
Very little danger here really from things that bite. We have no snakes, and no scorpions, and are cats are domestic ones!

I was wondering about a light therapy lamp, I know they are popular in places that have long, dark winters. The good news is that the sun has shown his face today which helps a great deal!

I do like the name Mika very much, and it would be fun to think of your Miko too.

I'll let Bevin know that you enjoyed his pots.

As to cat names, we will have to see. We will keep trying them out, and see which of them stays!

Happy Potting on that Beautiful Island in the Sea! P.

cindy shake said...

LOVELY images! I feel like an armchair (or office chair in today's situation!) traveler when I read your wonderful posts! I especially like the clay works on the glass shelves at the Gallery! the post card in the upper right hand corner is great too! hard to believe we are on opposite seasons isn't it?! Same with Ang too :o)

Peter said...

Hi Cindy,
Nice to hear from you, sorry to be slow to reply. I've had my day at the Potter's Co-op in town this week, and have been getting work glazed to put in the kiln.

One of the nice things about blogs is being able to visit all sides of the world in an instant without jet lag! I do wish that it was possible to channel some warmth and sunlight down the wires as well from some of you who are heading into summer!

The glass shelves do seem like a useful idea for displaying pottery, (and I am always thinking about how to display it better). It is nice being able to see the underside of the pot, and there is less of a problem of the colour of the shelf distracting from the pot. As always, there are downsides to be weighed up, such as cost, and the possibility of breakage (we recently learned of a Gallery in Dunedin that had a glass shelf break, with damage to the work that was on it).

Jewels said...

Hello Peter! It was good to hear from you! I am glad you have recovered from the spider bite. Rather rotten of the spider to bite you when you were innocently minding your own business. Glad to see Ginger has a new friend. Have you decided on a name for her yet? Maybe another spice name like Nigella or Pepper? Sending you warm thoughts and sunshine!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Only after checking the date of your post did I realize how long it's been since I last visited. I've fallen far behind in my blog reading.

I very much enjoyed your recounting of your trip to have the kiln lid repaired; what a lovely day! Your photos are wonderful -- my favorite being the reflection of the Christchurch Arts Center buildings.

I am so sorry for your 'bug bite,' but very happy that you lived to tell the tale. We have several poisonous spiders here, along with many that are not. I apply the same principle (the only good spider is a dead spider)to all varieties, except one. My exception is the relatively large Orb Spider (the Charlotte of "Charlotte's Web".) I find them, and their webs fascinating and leave them in peace.

I think it's lovely for Ginger to have a feline companion, and I look forward to learning about the name you choose for her.

Best wishes for some cheering rays of sunlight.

Peter said...

Hello Jewels,
Lovely to hear from you too!

There have been some really great suggestions of names for the cat, and it would be lovely to be able to use them and think kind thoughts about the nice people that suggested them, but... we have tried most of them and they don't quite seem to fit for one reason or another, however, I think that you might have come up with the name that does! Nigella, I have a feeling that this will do the trick nicely. Just ran the name past Laura, and we both had that "Ahhhhhh" moment! We will trial it for a little while and see what the cat thinks!

Thanks for the warm thoughts and sunshine, we need them at the moment. It has started to rain again..., with a cold,cold rain that looks like it will turn to snow in a day or two!

Hello Pat,
Lovely to hear from you. I'm going to have to do some "Googling" to get a picture of the Orb Spider after reading what you say about it. Mostly..., spiders don't worry me that much (I have less tolerance of wiggly things like maggots and caterpillars). Certainly the one that got me must have been having a very bad day poor thing!
Ginger has moments when he thinks it is almost acceptable having a feline companion. He still has times when the attentions of Nigella???? seem to be more than he can stand and he will run out of the house in a hurry with wild eyes and his ears back! She has a huge amount of self confidence, out of all proportion to her size, and certainly knows how to keep him in his place!

Well, I must dash now and find out about Orb Spiders! All the Best, P xx