The book is here!

A while ago I wrote my good news about Craig’s book coming out. It is on Amazon in paperback and the expensive hardback edition. It really is a surprisingly readable book considering he wrote it as an adjunct text for his environmental law classes.

In his words, “I tried to avoid the non-committal, austere, academic prose that forces students to consume copious amounts of coffee to avoid text-induced narcolepsy. Also, I abandoned all pretense of being a detached, disinterested academic and wrote instead as an outraged citizen of planet Earth.”

He was trying to answer the 2 questions that always came up in his classes:
• How well are our major environmental laws working?
• What prevents them from achieving their stated goals?

Here is Amazon’s description:

“The EPA was established to enforce the environmental laws Congress enacted during the 1970s. Yet today lethal toxins still permeate our environment, causing widespread illness and even death. Toxic Loopholes investigates these laws, and the agency charged with their enforcement, to explain why they have failed to arrest the nation’s rising environmental crime wave and clean up the country’s land, air, and water. This book illustrates how weak laws, legal loopholes, and regulatory negligence harm everyday people struggling to clean up their communities. It demonstrates that our current system of environmental protection pacifies the public with a false sense of security, dampens environmental activism, and erects legal barricades and bureaucratic barriers to shield powerful polluters from the wrath of their victims. After examining the corrosive economic and political forces undermining environmental law making and enforcement, the final chapters assess the potential for real improvement and the possibility of building cooperative international agreements to confront the rising tide of ecological perils threatening the entire planet.”
Yep, I’m proud. He is also a surprisingly cheery person to live with.

Lilies and bunnies

Still playing around with the backgrounds on calla tiles. This one has majolica colors over the white flowers and a majolica wash over the layers of glazes on the background.

The skinny calla tile only has majolica glaze colors over the lily and the background is layers of glazes with no maj. over them. This tile might be my favorite so far, although it doesn’t seem to be other people’s. When it happens that something I really like is received lukewarmly by other people, I wonder if I am seeing the actual piece or my idea of the piece – if that makes sense. Maybe I am seeing it as I want it to be instead of how it really is. Usually it is me who is more critical of my stuff than other people. But my sample of people is small so far and maybe I should put this tile away for awhile and look at it in a couple of weeks and then see what I think.

We have been bunny sitting youngest daughter’s rabbit for the last several days. He is a very friendly bunny and reliably housebroken so I have been opening his cage so he can come out and run around and get some exercise. But he just sits in his cage. I took him out and he hopped back in. He wouldn’t even come out for a banana – otherwise known as bunny crack – so I started worrying a little about him. Was he sick or just too used to being in his cage to be comfortable out of it? Kyla is always really busy with school, work and everything else she does, so was the poor bunny never getting to come out of his cage?

Last night Kyla came over and after putting Gerti outside, opened the door to bunny’s cage and went off to see what she could find in the refrigerator. The bunny jumped out of his cage, ran through 2 rooms, bouncing 3 feet into the air doing 180 degree turns before landing, and in general acting like a wild thing freed from chains. When Kyla came into the room, bunny ran over to her and put his head down to be petted. He then went around the room, nudging at our ankles ‘asking’ for attention.

The next day, bunny still here, but not daughter, bunny again won’t come out of his security cage. I’ve heard of one person dogs but never would have guessed that rabbits were that discerning. He sure is a boring pet when she is not around.

I’ll do it at some point


Not really. I just wanted to type some exclamation points which I was NOT thinking of when I did this design. They just kind of happened. I put the “feathers” on and then the circles balanced them underneath. And so, exclamations.

It’s a beautiful day at least for the next few hours, and I what I would really should do is go out and start building the chicken coop I have been threatening to build for the last month. But it is supposed to rain again tonight and then everything will be soggy and muddy so I should wait. I may be using the weather as an excuse for laziness. But if I don’t get started I won’t have it ready for when the chicks come in.

One of the basic problems is that I keep changing the design for building it. It will certainly be very simple since my carpentry skills are rudimentary and I may also be hindered by wanting to use recycled materials mostly left over from our bathroom re-construction.

I have been noticing coops as I walk around town and getting new ideas and changing my original plans. It’s surprising how many people keep chickens in this city. Some of the coops are really fancy, with windows and carved gates. Unfortunately the fancy ones were behind enough vegetation that I couldn’t get any good pictures. Some are pretty simple – as mine will be. This one is pretty clever.

A mobile hen home.
It is home to 3 very healthy looking hens so it must be sturdy enough to keep the raccoons away, but it doesn’t really look like it is that strong.

I started thinking about keeping chickens again because 1. I miss seeing them strut around the yard in their silly way. 2.Pest control. 3. Fresh eggs. 4. The sound of chickens makes me happy. Hopefully, their sound will make my neighbors happy. We are really tucked in a pretty crowded area and I have a lot of close neighbors, many of whom have changed since I last kept chickens. The neighbor closest to where the coop will go – about 3 feet! – is happily awaiting them, so I think all will go well. He is hoping the chickens bring more wildlife around. He once watched a young redtail hawk sitting in a tree above my chickens, turning its head from side to side and licking its lips, or so he says.

Yep, all the city wildlife comes out in the hope of a chicken or egg meal. Mostly raccoons, but skunks, opposums, hawks, and cats, feral or otherwise will visit much more often. This might not be a good thing for the Gerti dog who, despite her experience, has seemingly never learned to connect that eye-searing pain and human bellows of anger and disgust, with the striped “kitties”.

and the small one for me

Gotta love underglazes. At the Steve Allen workshop where I learned about using a stencil made on the Thermofax machine, I was told to use dry mason stain, wear a face mask, and don’t touch the line even after the piece is bisqued because the stain will smear. That’s a lot of steps and restrictions so I tried using a black underglaze and slightly stiff brush on the stencil and it works fine – and without the mask – And there is no smearing which will make it easy to add color.

I only made a couple pages of images at the workshop and I have, um, misplaced one of those . To get more images I need a Thermofax machine which is hopelessly expensive, but when I went to get my tattoo last summer (which is a sweet or amusing or ridiculous story depending on your point of view- read on), I noticed that they have one, in fact all the tattoo places have one or something like that to make a stencil for transferring a design from paper to skin. I keep thinking that I will find a tattoo artist to make some screens for me, but I haven’t asked any yet so I don’t know if they would or what they would charge. It’s on my master “to do” list which is a start.

Anyway, I transferred this design and then turned the slab over onto a plaster hump mold so I could add a foot.

The tattoo story: When youngest daughter was about 5 she got her first henna tattoo. She was so dismayed when it wore off after a couple of days that I bought her a henna kit for her sixth birthday and drew a lotus blossom on the back of her hand. We were both delighted. Every few months I would squeeze out a flower onto the back of her hand when I had the time or inclination. Then she would dab it with lemon juice and keep her hand in one position till her skin turned a reddish-brown under the dried paste.

This went on for years. Almost always the same design but as time went on the designs got bigger and the vines would travel down her fingers or up her arm. Around middle school, she started drawing on herself, but always the lotus flower. And at the some point she started lobbying for a real tattoo. The answer was always – when you turn 18 it’s up to you if you can pay for it.

A year ago she was ready with the location (her foot), design (lotus and vines, of course), tattoo artist (well- researched), and cash (not cheap), but started lobbying for something else – that I get one with her. I was really touched by the sentiment, but I am too damn old for a tattoo. And besides, needles?? No thank you.

She is a patient and persistent girl and somehow, and I’m still surprised about this, after about 6 months, I said “OK” but just a tiny one. Hers is beautiful. Mine is simple and small, but every time I see it, I think of her and it is sweet.


When we took in our design, Rob, the chosen tattoo guy, had to shrink down the lotus picture and then make stencils to position them and I had just done the workshop and we talked thermo imaging machines to get my mind off the needle stabbing my ankle.

not B-ed

I’m working on more tiles like this one which has several layers of glazes on the background and then covered with white and then majolica.

I will have to re-draw these callas after I cover the tiles with white glaze, but I drew them so I can know where to not put the colored glazes. It seems partially like a wasted step. I wonder if there is pigment or something I don’t know about that would show through the white glaze so I don’t have to re-draw over the white. Any ideas?

2 weeks ago I couldn’t wait to have a stack of these tiles dried, and bisqued so I could draw the calla lilies on them and do more of the thick glaze layers on them. I could see the images in my head and was so impatient with how long the process was. Now that I unloaded the bisque, have several formed tiles and more drying, and it’s time to set brush to clay, I have to search around for that muse.

A few days ago, I started thinking again about image transfers on clay and did some experiments with printing on plaster and also started a few bowls like this one.

Would I be happier if I could stick to one thing for more than a week? Probably, but I’m not sure. I might like jumping around. It is a little frustrating, but I never get Bored. Not that I’m easily Bored, I’m more like easily intrigued by new things.

When I was a child I learned never to say the B word. Uttering “I’m Bored” in my house saddled you immediately with scrubbing the bathtub, folding clothes, raking leaves or whatever else popped into my mother’s agile mind. She saw no reason why a kid should be bored. She certainly didn’t feel responsible for her children’s entertainment and if you couldn’t figure out what to do with yourself, she would be in charge of it for you.

Every September, when I taught second grade, some kid would whine “I’m Bored” and I would stop everything and dramatically tell the story of all the things that my mother would make me do if I ever said that word. Maybe I embroidered a little but that’s what makes a story, right? Anyway, they got the point and I didn’t have to hear that irritating phrase (except occasionally when it was said with a grin or a giggle, hoping I would tell the story again). Even the kids who used the B word when they really meant “this is too hard for me,” usually figured out another way to express their difficulty.

Both the draw and the pitfall of clay for me is all the possibilities and even though I get a little frustrated with myself for flitting from one thing to the next I’m never B word.

Keepin’ goin’

There have been some pots made during the chaotic last couple of weeks. Many more are s-l-o-w-l-y drying. It has been raining so much you can wring out the air around here. But at least it is not snow. Last week on a sunny day, it was even raining plumblossom petals.

So back to the chaos (admittedly comparatively mild as real chaos goes, but no fun nevertheless) which in large part was caused by the news that funding for Craig’s job was cut along with hundreds of other university lecturers in the Golden State (which is kind of a funny name to call it when the gold is long gone, especially in the area of education). Sigh.

Hopefully, by next fall the budget will be healthy enough to give him some work. Ironically he got the news about his job at about the same time that the publisher told him his book will be out in a couple of weeks and is already listed on Amazon. Hey, maybe it will become a best seller and then get made into a big Hollywood blockbuster and . . . OK, that’s an unlikely scenario for a book about how and why the EPA can’t do it’s job but it’s a fun dream.

Yesterday during a dry spot and having some pent-up energy, I attacked the vines that are threatening to weigh down our fence. I realize the Before picture is much prettier, including that unseasonal nasturtium, but it had to be done and the fence will be covered again in a minute or two. This vine, a Thunbergia, is a close relative to the brooms in The Scorcer’s Apprentice that kept growing even when chopped to pieces.


Still looking for the exact little bowl to use as a mold for my little bowls to replace the one that was stolen with my car. I have tried other bowls and tried throwing them myself, but nothing is just right. I know that old-style cafeteria bowl is out there somewhere, so yesterday Craig and I went to one of my favorite places. You can find any kind of junk or treasure in their acres of warehouse and outside yards.

I imagine most cities have a place like this but the amount of STUFF that comes in and out of here amazes me. I can go here twice in one week and see completely different things.

Most of the material I used for my studioette comes from here, including lumber and especially windows and doors and the tables I work on. Some of the stuff is unusual and lots just looks like junk to me, but, hey, one woman’s junk is another’s etc.

When we moved from our big, old house with years of accumulation that I couldn’t deal with, I called Urban Ore and they filled up a truck with our old aquariums, chairs, window frames, rusty kid’s bikes, etc. The Salvation Army can get picky about what they take, but the Urban Ore guys didn’t think anything was junk. Their mission is to keep stuff out of the landfill.

With no idea how marine eco-systems worked, there were around 40 dumps around the SF Bay until the Eighties. Our local landfill is now a park, as many of them are, with tall vent chimneys in the middle and 17,000 feet of PVC piping underground to collect the decomposition gases into one area to burn before the emissions are then released into the air. When the park first opened, sometimes the flames would come up through the chimneys. Dramatic but gross.

Now garbage from this area is taken to a Transfer Station down near the freeway and then trucked about an hour away to another spot that used to be beautiful, but before that the Urban Ore people are on hand to pick through and save anything that they think might be reused.

A little of what we saw:

We took home some milk crates, light fixture covers, a small table and some wire for the chicken coop I am planning. I didn’t, however, find that perfect little dish.