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Large leaf we gathered on a walk our first day at the Lake. We each made an imprint and a dish, tray or bowl from the pressing.
Large leaf we gathered on a walk our first day at the Lake. We each made an imprint and a dish, tray or bowl from the pressing.

Like my other clay sisters I was absolutely dry creatively when we packed up and headed to the Whitlock's home on Lake Douglas. But our adventure changed that.  First, we had the  luxury of watching Fall blow across the lake. It began early in the afternoon with a few white wisps of cloud gathering behind the mountains. Over the hours the clouds grew, the wind blew. The sky darkened and the temperature dropped. With it came the energy infusion we all needed.

Leaf People Series. Gathering acorns
Leaf People Series. Gathering acorns

Home again it was time to think of Fall and the holidays following.   Already too late for much autumnal decor but  November and December closing fast on us. An artist friend once told us "November is just a  rumor." That would be almost true except for the fact that Susan Holmes and our clay bud Missy Whitlock share November birthdays. Missy gets a special sausage sandwich but Sue loves pumpkin pie. I try to make her one each year. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Makes November a bit more memorable like some rumors.

Back in the studio her truth is all too real. It's mid October and stores have put out every Christmas item they can fit on the shelves. Clay does not give us that option. We must dream, manufacture, go through all the steps to finished products.  Then come photography and posting. Wow!  So much for rumors.

Parliament of Owls                        I am hard at work finishing owls for a shop in Clayton. The owner loves owls and will give them great spots to display their "owlishness."  The challenge with owls is to make different types, with different poses and expressions. A lot of painterly work goes into glazing to make them ready to fly. Once the new owner lights a candle in the owl, it will come to life and add mystery or fun to a dark corner or a shelf where it can be enjoyed.

Peachglow Holly and Ivy Advent wreath                         Even as I assemble my Parliament of Owls my thoughts are focused on Christmas. This time of year I try to put a holly and Ivy Advent wreath in every firing. The Advent Wreath is a very old custom of lighting a candle each of the four weeks before Christmas. On Christmas Eve after church the Christ candle is lit along with all four of the weekly candles. This year I will be including the history of the Advent Wreath and some prayers used as wished in each order.

Gloria Angel                               My Clayton friend wants candle burner angels too. These are always fun because I can get very fancy and imaginative with their outfits, poses, even hair and  wings. Everyone loves angels. They make nice gifts because thy can be enjoyed year round.

 

 

Ribbon Gift Boxes

There are pottery gift boxes with crisp bows, trees made from a pattern of live holly leaves, candle holders of every sort and whatever else all-too-short November allows. Perhaps, November is just a rumor.

Please stop by and visit my shop at www.etsy.com/shop/runningrabbitpottery

 

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Jewelry by Pat Noell

Ok, this is Susan back at ya.  It's that time of year again when I seem to lose all motivation and creativity.  I'm not sure why this happens, because I've been sweating continually since May and have been looking so forward to the cooling weather of autumn.  But it does!  About the same time every year.  I'm not the only one in our group who suffers this same dilemma, so we got together and decided we needed a girl's road trip.  Now that's what I'M talking about.

We did a trip last year to Lake Douglas in Tennessee at our friend's daughter's half-finished lake house.  It had all the necessities we needed - bathrooms, bedrooms and a kitchen.  It wasn't fancy, but you're talking about a bunch of clay artists who work in dirt. How bad could it be?!?   We were even brave enough to take the pontoon boat out for a drive. There was a "situation" or two, but we muddled through and had some great laughs.

Billy Pig talking to ant.
Jaymi's Fners

So after saying that the house needed to be finished before we went back because it probably wasn't the safest place to stay, we decided this year - "Hey, it's free!  Let's go back!"  We're a very decisive group.

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Patti's Leaf People
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Susan's Wavy Bowl

We agreed that this year we would pack "light".   There were six of us, so we needed to take 2 cars.  As you can see, our version of "light" meant two totally packed cars headed to Lake Douglas .  We had it all.  We still had to shop once we got there!

Our version of "light" packing!

We agreed to leave early so we would have most of the day once we got there.  Ya well, not so much.  After a 40 minute stop at Star Bucks and visiting with some other friends that we ran into and picking up a "few essentials" for the trip, we were finally out of Clarkesville, Georgia, 30 minutes from home.  And traveling with six women in two cars in the Appalachian mountains has its own set of issues.  Between bathroom breaks and trying to maintain visuals on each other, we were ready for lunch after 90 minutes.

One of the drivers had gotten several speeding tickets on the road we were traveling and she was not anxious to get another one.  Plus she said she got indigestion if she drove too fast down the steep hills.  OK!  That was a new one for most of us, but we went with it and tried our best to break going down hill.  To make a long trip shorter, we finally got there, grocery shopped and had our cocktails in hand by 5:30 PM.  We sure were glad we left "early".

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My head is levitating!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention all the bedding we had to wash and then make up five beds, two being bunk beds and one air mattress.  Here we are!  Just how many clay artists does it take to make up a bed?!?   Apparently four!

In all the comings and goings that day, we all found our laughter and no one was exempt from being poked fun at.  We all agree we are a little bit quirky and never were we proven more correct than on a road trip,

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Hang on, Ethel! We're goin' swimming'.
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Patti working her fingers to the bone! 😉

We had four days to laugh, share, eat, drink and be merry.  There really weren't any "situations" like we had the trip before.  We did what we wanted, when we wanted.  Some of us went swimming and some of us knitted and napped and played cards.  We sat out on a screen porch and watched autumn blow in the last night we were there.  Now that was awesome!

We're back now and the holidays are quickly approaching.  Our studios are busy again and the creativity is hopefully back.  You'll find plenty of great pottery at our Etsy stores to give as gifts this year.  Look us up, if you will.  We'd love to have y'all come visit.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/SimplySusansPots?

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Runningrabbitpottery?ref=search_shop_redirect

https://www.etsy.com/shop/PotterybyNoell?ref=search_shop_redirect

https://www.etsy.com/shop/EastburnOriginals?ref=search_shop_redirect

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jaymi's experience with the Unusual presence of God

FNERs having fun
FNERs having fun

Times I know when God has had his hand in what I was creating.

As a clay artist, you know that God is with you because he has provided the earth that you are manipulating with your hands.  I have had several times where I know that God guided my hands.  There was also one piece that the spirit of the piece just was not happy.   I’ll tell that story first then tell you about my funky creatures.

I have made porcelain angels for ages and their wings have always been very beautiful and fragile. One day it was late, but I finished an angel and put it on the shelf to dry.  The next morning I came in the studio and the angel was on the floor.  The only thing that was broken was the wings.  So I picked her back up added wings and set her on the shelf making sure this time that she was not near the edge.

Painted angels
Painted angels

The next morning there she was on the floor again, and again only her wings were broken.  I set her on the shelf and I said “OK you don’t want to be an angel.  When you decide what you want to be just let me know?”  She is not on the shelf anymore so I don’t know where she went, but I hope she is finally happy.

I have always known that God is with me because he blessed me with talent to create art.  It is his talent that flows through my hands I do not take credit for it.

Mountain Laurel sculpture
Mountain Laurel sculpture

Fifteen years ago I had a large order of Mountain Laurel flower sculptures to make and I just was not in the mood.  I just set squeezing the clay between my fingers.  Pretty soon I started seeing these crazy creatures starting to evolve.  They made me laugh and I was no longer working I was having fun.  I named them “For No Reason” or Fners for short.  I put a pretty high price on them in the gallery I was then director of because I figured no one would buy them, so they were just there for the laughs.

Billy Pig talking to ant.
Billy Pig talking to ant.

Two weeks later 9/11 happened and a great sadness hung over all of us.  Within a month people started coming in the gallery and my Fners were walking out the door in great numbers.  I started asking people why are you purchasing them and the answer was, “I have been so depressed that I just need something in my life to make me smile again.”  Then I knew God had known what was going to happen and that people would need something to pick their spirits back up.  He provided it through my hands.

That was fifteen years ago and when I realized that I wanted to write a story about Fners that it has been years since I have made them.  Last week I started making them, again and again, my spirits just began to jump with joy.  That is when I realized that I had been down in spirit because arthritis in my hands is making it harder for me to sculpt.  Now I am back in the studio having a great time playing in the clay.  I'm already planning my next story about how my Spirit Homes came into being.

 

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We Are a Tribe

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No joking, we Lady Fingers Potters are a part of a larger tribe of potters.  As women potters working together we are unique. More importantly, Just as we make up our tribe - so our tribe makes us who we are.

iusa_75x75.30919796_p0bpClay is a hard master. It demands care, timing, patience, willingness to fail, willingness to start again. As we each came to clay, often through a friend, we learned our craft and found our voice.  Jaymi was first, and a first friend.  Jaymi   encourages us. She is always lifting us up, and promoting us as individuals as well as a group. Her strength is in her whimsical turn of thought and incredible craftsmanship.

Crab dish & spoonrestWhile Jaymi encourages us, she is also a dreamer. Her dreams are all piled up around her in her studio, in her computer room, on our lunch table. But dreamers make us step out maybe more than we would on our own. Her dreams and accomplishments as an artist challenges us.

Sue discovered clay in my studio when she came to do an interview. She has taken every bit of information and technique I Susanhave been able to give her and then developed a style we all admire and often envy. We jokingly call her our "Glaze Queen." But no challenge is too big for her and she makes awesome pieces.

Sue is tender-hearted and caring but is also something of a realist.She is generous beyond measuring.  She is firm enough to keep us on the ground.

iusa_400x400.31227167_2n36Pat is our baby potter. She is Sue's "Clay child." We watched her skills grow from her first pieces in our old Georgia Heritage Arts and Crafts Gallery. She learned quickly - so quickly that she often piled on too much information, leaving us confused while trying to sort things out for her. Her work matured rapidly. Her great eye and sense of design has made her work selling well in this slow market. In her jewelry she has found her unique voice. With her sense of style she is making beautiful pieces we all covet.

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Pat is a solid friend, wise and compassionate, incredibly well read and a joy to just talk with. Her fearlessness challenges us.

 

 

 

As for me. I guess I am a kind of tribe Mother - since mothering is part of my Buddha nature. I love these friends. We have shared so much good and sad. We have played together, traveled together and created together. That is a unique bond for any group. It is fun to be able to share knowledge and watch these wonderful women pull up the answers from their own well of experience. Their skill and artistic sense amaze me. Their unselfish devotion to one another humbles me.

IMG_3633When we set out on this clay journey we hoped that together we might reach the right people who understand why and how we do what we do. We naturally want to pull you into our market places where you can meet each of us as individuals and artists.

The wonder of pottery is that when you touch a piece you touch the artist' heart and when you hold a piece of our work you are touching our hand. Please visit our etsy stores. We love to converse, answer questions, create to fulfill needs and wishes. Who knows you might find your tribe after meeting ours. My owls will be on my www.etsy.com/shop/Runningrabbitpottery site this week.

Look for www.Etsy.com/shop/EastburnOriginals

               www.etsy.com/shop/SImplySusansPot

               www.etsy.com/shop/PotterybyNoell

 

Siblings III
Sisters on the Left and Brothers on the Right

We all know that summer is the favorite time for family reunions and this year was the year for our family's reunion.  This all started about 35 years ago when my brothers and sisters decided it would be good to all get together every other year.  I am from a family of six - 2 brothers and 3 sisters.  However, I sorta lagged behind a bit.  My oldest sister is 22 years older than me and my closest sibling is 9 years older than I am.  As you can calculate, there was a long dry spell in this family dynamics.  I really never quite fit in. My oldest sister was even married and divorced before I was ever born!

Dick and Sue
My Brother Richard

Yes, I was the youngest, and my sisters (two in particular) have never let me forget how "spoiled" I was.  Now I ask you - Who spoiled me?  It sure wasn't my fault!  But before long they all flew the coup and I was raised pretty much like an only child, which also made me like the oldest child.  When I left home to spread my wings, they were all married and having babies.  Which, I might add, are much more my age than my siblings are.  Many of my nieces and nephews are more like brothers and sisters to me.  And when I got married and started a family, the siblings were having grandkids.  I just never could catch up.  Now, I still don't have grandkids, much to my dismay, but guess what?  My nieces and nephews are grandparents and some of them many times over!!

Well, anyway back to the family reunion.  I must add that I am now 63, so this makes my siblings 85, 81, 80, 79 and 72 years respectively.  I seriously do not need to miss any reunions, not that I ever have.  I probably would have been thrown out with the bath water if I had.  I no longer can keep up with all the names.  I now have great (or is it grand?) nieces and nephews and even a couple of great/great nieces and nephews.  There is well over a hundred when all is said and done.

Schellinger Family Reunion 2016
Me with Several of my Nieces

Now, you can only imagine all the different characters and personalities thrown into this mix.  My parents, who started this whole shindig, are long gone.  Each of the siblings took turns sponsoring the reunion so as not to be a burden on any one family.  I, being the only one living outside the state of Wisconsin, only sponsored it one time.  It was great fun to have all the mid-westerners down in the deep south.  They got to meet Duane's cousins who were married to each other!?!?  Oh yeah!  Great fun was had by all.

This year, my oldest brother's family sponsored the party.  They have passed this chore on to their children now and life continues on.  So imagine if you will, all walks of life commencing for one day and catching up with the old and the new.  New in-laws are added to the out-laws and every year more children add to the fun.  There's always the one uncle everyone makes fun of because he changes his shirt 3 times over the course of the day. Or the in-law who who looks like a model for Vogue Magazine and the rest of us are green with envy.   And then there's the one outsider who we all just cannot figure out how in the world he arrived in our family.  (Of course no names will be mentioned!)

This year I threw a monkey wrench into the crowd.  I have to go back to my arrival into the family.  It's always been the story that no one knew my mother was pregnant with me - for NINE months!  Now come on!  Supposedly my two sisters who were juniors and seniors in high school didn't know Mom was pregnant till diapers arrived in the mail.  Seriously??  I mean, even our family priest didn't know, and I thought he knew everything.  So, consequently, when I got old enough, I thought something was just a little suspicious about this story.  Being an avid reader, I conjured up a story that my oldest sister was really my mother.  Which, really didn't matter much to me, seeing as I didn't really like her till I grew up anyway.  But then I realized as I got older, I looked more like my dad.  Oh well!  It made for an interesting story.  So, with tongue in cheek, I shared this with my siblings.  They were totally shocked that I could come up with this crazy idea.

Ahhhh!  But then the plot thickens.  One of them said, "Well you know, Dad's brother, Uncle Ed, was living with us during that time."  Guess who Uncle Ed looked like?  Yup, my Dad.  Now Uncle Ed left shortly before I was born and moved to California, never to return to Wisconsin. Hmmmm!  I never met him, but all the remaining years that he was alive, he would send me gifts and letters regularly.  My mom always made me write to him as a child.  He even left me money in his will.  I always thought this strange but never was aware of this little fact about him living with the family.  Rote-Rowe, Roy!!

But enough on that mystery.  I'm just happy to be a part of this large, crazy, lovely family.  One way or another, they gave me life, and I love ALL of them and look forward to many more reunions.

BLT PASTA SALAD from my nephew Carey

12 Oz. Cork Screw Shaped Pasta

1/2 C. Milk

12 OZ. Lean Bacon

3 Med. Ripe Tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 T. Italian Seasoning

1 Clove Garlic, Minced

Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

1/2 C. Mayo

1/4 C. Sour Cream

4 T. Chopped Chives or Scallion Greens

1 Head of Lettuce - chopped

Cook pasta.  Drain and toss with the milk.  Set Aside

Cook bacon to crispy.  Discard all but 3 T. of grease.  Add the tomatoes, seasoning, and garlic to a pan and heat to warm and season with salt and pepper.  Crumble the bacon and toss with the tomatoes into the pasta.

Mix mayo and sour cream and 3 T. chives into the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.

Mix in lettuce and garnish with the remaining chives.  IMG_3095

Serve at room temperature.

NOTE:  This salad is yummy, but I personally did not like the lettuce in it.  Something about lettuce and pasta mixed together just didn't seem right.  So I leave the lettuce out of it.  Hope y'all enjoy it!
Maple Leaf PlateYou can find serving plates and bowls for your pasta salad at the following Etsy Shops:

www.etsy.com/shop/simplysusanspots

www.etsy.com/shop/potterybynoell

www.etsy.com/shop/eastburnoriginals

www.etsy.com/shop/runningrabbitpottery

 

 

 

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Jaymi's Continuing Stories

One of the funny things I have observed over the years is when I am invited to a pot luck dinner no one takes any of the goodies I have contributed.  Then someone will finally take a bite and start asking, "who made this can I have the recipe."  Anyone who knows me will start to laugh.  I think after you read this recipe you will understand.

In 1969 I attended a cookie exchange in San Jose California.  This lady baked these bars and, oh boy, they were delicious.  So ten years later in Boca Raton Florida I was invited to a cookie exchange.  I decided to make these cookies.  I was pretty sure everyone would love them, after all they had won first prize at a cookie exchange in California.

Maraschino Cherry Bars 

¾ c. brown sugar

Susan's Platter

3 Tbs. butter                                                                          

 

½ c. flour

1 ½ tsp. Pumpkin pie spice

¼ tsp. soda

1 egg

1 c. chopped walnuts

Blend above ingredients adding walnuts last.  Spread in greased 9” square pan.

Combine 1/3 c. granulated sugar

¼ c. chopped maraschino cherries

2T.grated orange peel

Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes.              

Cool and cut into finger bars.                                               

                                                                                On Sunday afternoon Dec. 9, 1979--------                                

 Patti's Leaf Plate
Patti's Leaf Plate

Here is how I made the cookies:

1 ¼ c. brown sugar

4 Tbs. margarine-cheap I am!

My mixture seemed dry so I added

2 eggs

¾ c. orange marmalade, since I do not have any orange peel.

1 ½ c. flour

Heavens, I don’t have any pumpkin pie spice so I’ll substitute with:

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cloves                                                       

Pat's Leaf Plate
Pat's Leaf Plate

¾ tsp. ginger

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. soda                                                                       

1 c. or so of pecans

1/3 c. granulated sugar                                                    

1 c. chopped maraschino cherries

Spread and sprinkle in 13x etc. pan

Bake 45 minutes; 350 degrees

Good grief a failure!  I can’t imagine what I did wrong.

Scoop bars back into bowl and stir into blobs.  Roll teaspoons of dough in powdered sugar---and pray.

Take them to a cookie exchange and win first prize and have everyone asking for your recipe.  

In 1992 we were in the process of moving from Boca to our new home in the mountains of Northeast Georgia.  My friend Janice came over to tell me good bye and she said "Jaymi I have something I think you will want."  She gave me back the hand written recipe that I had given to her, because she insisted on having the recipe.  I thanked her with great appreciation for her thoughtfulness, because I had completely forgotten about it.  I said someday I will write a story.  Well here it is 2016 and I have finally written the story.

Jaymi's Serving platter
Jaymi's Serving platter

All of the serving dishes are available on Etsy.

 

 

 

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It's been such a hot summer!  So I've been spending most of my time in my cramped (but air conditioned) studio space which at least gives me some comfort while working on my clay projects.  My latest efforts have been focused on trying to recreate a small container that I made recently.  The first piece cracked along a seam after a glaze firing.  I was so disappointed because I enjoyed making it and the glaze turned out lovely.  Since I had already drawn out templates for thIMG_3252IMG_3340e first one, it was easy to duplicate. See the image on the far left  of the first one....bummer, and then the green ware on the right before first kiln firing.  Hopefully this one will work out.

I also enjoy making small ceramic pendant necklaces.  A friend who was visiting recently was wearing one.   It looked lovely and she suggested that I give it a try.  So I began experimenting with different shapes and textures.  After the kiln firing, I have to decide what glazes or combination of glazes would look pretty.  Then once I have the glazed piece in my hand, I select the color for the leather cord--to give it a more "bohemian" look.  I purchase the beads from a local bead shop which has a rich selection of gemstones, bone, hand painted beads and lamp-work beads that would complement the style.  I've been pleased with the results so far.  You can check out my pendants at www.etsy.com/shop/PotterybyNoell

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Another ongoing project which nags at me is a summer knitted top that I was hoping to finish before the end of summer. That's never going to happen.  It's a beautiful yarn which changes in texture and size, so it's tricky to knit.  You really have to pay attention and not be distracted, because it's easy to drop a stitch.  Here's a picture of the pattern below left and what I have completed so far on the right.  As you caIMG_3348n see, I have a long way to go.

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My potter friends are also knitters--sometimes we take a break from the clay and spend the afternoon knitting.  It's less messy.  There was a time (years ago), if someone had asked me if I was a knitter, I would reply "No way, it looks boring and I don't have the patience to sit and knit"  Well, I've had a change of heart since then.  I find it to be relaxing (most of the time) and rewarding. I guess pottery and knitting has somehow mellowed my former corporate Type A behavior.

 

 

 

AutumnwreathwebPotters live in a different time zone from other artists and craftspersons. The very elements of our craft demand we allow good time windows to meet creative deadlines. Right now many of us are past thinking about Fall. We have already made pieces that will meet the desires of the Fall Market.
So what goes into this process? Let me share with you.
Dreaming in color - autumn colors - all the yellows, red and oranges plus generous splashes of various browns.
Looking at themes - Autumn fruits and vegetables - pumpkins, squash, apples, grapes. A whole bounty of harvest awaits our bidding
Autumn leaves - here on my mountain I have a whole forest to glean. DId you know that by Fall most leaves are damaged by wind, weather and insects? Jaymi Hampton and Susan Holmes keep an eye out for perfect leaves for my Leaf People.

Red oak
Seasonal party pieces - serving pieces trays and bowls.
Seasonal decor - door decorations, candle burners, lanterns.
Gathering Materials - Leaves, acorns, Possible mold making items.
Making Patterns
Finally Making- coil, handbuilding, slump mold, drape molds. All are at work in the studio.
Drying forms and figures - One to two weeks depending on the weight of the pieces
Clean up the pieces
Bisque firing - Any additional cleanup
Glazing - can be tedious with many colors involved in a piece. Usually at least two and often three coats of each color are required.
Glaze firing - Usually this is a  two day process. Day one loading and firing the piece; day two cooling and unloading the kiln.  This is like Christmas morning or finding your Easter basket. Then we inspect for drips, cracks or damage. And careful - don't get cut. Glaze shards can be dangerous.
But now it's August - Time to get ready for Christmas.

The autumn pieces are dropping in on my Etsy site runningrabbitpottery.etsy.com. Watch for the Leaf People, coming soon.

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Stories from Jaymi's childhood:

Toes for Catfish Bait

 There was an undercurrent of excitement radiating throughout my Grandmother’s living room.  The dirt farmer’s son was marrying the banker’s daughter.  That just was not done.  Neva Jordan was a determined young woman and she wanted my Uncle Johnny as her own.

Eight years later I felt that same undercurrent of excitement in the pit of my stomach.  Every year the Jordan family spent a week at their fish camp on the Sabine River and this year they had invited me to come along.

As Uncle Johnny maneuvered the car down the dusty dirt road of the ranch, it seemed to me that we would drive forever, before we arrived at the camp.  Finally the building came in sight.  From a distance it looked like a big long screened in porch.  In fact you could say that was exactly what it was; only it was screened in on all four sides with no house attached.  The width of the building was two double beds end to end with a three foot walk way in between.  At each end of the building there were six beds lined up opposite each other.  In the middle of the building there was a cooking and eating area.  In my young years of around nine it was the most marvelous place I had ever been.

My cousins and I couldn’t wait to change into our bathing suits and get to the river.  I stood and just inhaled a deep breath it was so beautiful.  The riverbed was wide and shallow.   It was a mixture of rounded boulders and soft white sand.  The water ran crystal clear as it slowly moved down stream, sometimes making rivulets of little waterfalls where it went between the boulders.  Occasionally there was an area that would be called a deep hole.  As I remember they were never any deeper than my waistline.  The deep holes were where the fish were, according to my cousins. The second day the men folk called to us.  “Come on kids we are going fishing.”

“But Uncle Johnny we don’t have any fishing poles?”  I was puzzled by the fact that he only had a metal hook about five inches long in his hand.  “We are going to gig for catfish under the boulders in the deep spots.”  He explained as he led us to the river.  When we came to one of the deep holes that had a large flat boulder in the middle of it he told us to gather around the rock.  “Push your toes in as far as you can.  We have to block all the escape routes if there is a fish under there.  Watch out Jamie, you don’t want the fish to eat your toes.”    All the cousins wiggled and squirmed until we were sure every escape route had been filled with our toes.  When we giggled too much Uncle Werner put his finger to his lips to get us to quiet down.

Uncle Johnny’s voice was a harsh whisper, “Werner was that Sheriff Donough’s car that just went over the bridge down there?  Duck down kids, and hope he didn’t see us.  It’s illegal to gig for fish.”

I wanted to cut and run.  My Mother would be mad if she knew I was doing something illegal.  I didn’t though because just then Uncle Johnny reached under the rock and came up with a big catfish in his hand.

“Quick run up and tell the ladies to get out the scale we are bringing home a really big fish for supper.”

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Handpainted Fish Tile

 

 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/386829850/hand-painted-fish-tile-fish-ceramic-tile?

 

We kids ran excitedly up the bank trying to be the first to tell the adventure to the ladies.  While the men worked together to carry the fish up the incline to the cabin and lift it up so they could hook it on the scale that hung from the tree limb.  In awe we kids watched as the needle on the scale sped past five pounds, ten pounds, and fifteen pounds.  Our eyes, big as saucers, we watched as it finally settled on seventeen pounds.  “Wow” was all you heard.

Aunt Neva exclaimed  “They sure grow’um big in Texas.  There is enough fish here to feed the Texas Rangers.  You kids better be hungry.”

“We are, we are.”  We shouted in unison.

            There was only one problem as the women began to clean the fish.  They had to remove about ten pounds of river rock the men had stuffed down the fish’s throat.

 Now looking back on that great adventure I think the whole thing was a set up from beginning to end.  I don’t care though., it was a wonderful summer, and it was the absolute only way to eat catfish.  About twenty years later one of my cousins opened the first restaurant in that part of Texas that served only fried catfish and beer.  People came from all over Texas and he made a small fortune off catfish.  His father put in a catfish farm to raise the catfish for the restaurant.  The only problem was he made friends with the catfish and couldn’t bring himself to kill them.  So they grew nice and big and recognized my uncle and would come to the surface when ever he appeared.  One day he went to feed them and no fish came to the surface.  He looked around the edge of the ponds and sure nuf there were shoe and tire tracks.  Someone had come in during the night and seined the fish out of the ponds.  About the same time  my cousin sold the business at a great profit and went into the dance hall business where he could make more money selling liquor instead of catfish. 

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Jaymi's Orange Fish Recipe

Heat oven 400 degrees, fish will cook for about 15 minutes, depends on the thickness of the fish.

Any white fish, the amount that will feed your family

Oranges peeled and segments cut out figure at least ½ orange per fish.  I actually like more oranges, but I love oranges.

Onion chopped about ¼ cup per fish.  You can decide how much to add according to your family liking onion.

Purchase in the Oriental section of the grocery store a bottle of orange sauce. One bottle is enough for 4 to 6 people.  I hate to say it but the more expensive ones taste better.

Mix the oranges, onion and sauce together.

Lay fish in a foil lined pan (easy clean up)

Pour the sauce over the fish

If the sauce runs over I will scrunch up the foil to make a boat for the fish to swim in.

Bake in oven until fish is flaky about 15 minutes.  You can also broil this but I prefer to bake it at a high temp.  When I have done thick fish I will remove the orange segments from the top of the fish at 15 minutes and then broil the fish to get it done without ruining the sauce.

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I usually serve this with rice and cucumber salad.

Cucumber salad I add chopped garlic, white balsamic vinegar and just a touch of hot sauce.  If I have chili paste I use that.  I already have the onion on the fish, but if I am fixing it and I do not have onion in another dish I also add chopped onion to the cucumber.  Let set in refrigerator for several hours for the best taste.

We are four women, all from different parts of the country, different backgrounds, different talents and personalities.  There are two things, however, that link us together.  One, we all like to stick our hands in the clay and get dirty together.  Down and dirty and create!  Second, and I believe the most important thing, is that we not only love each other, but we all like each other. Now and then I  tell a family member "I love you but I don't like you right now."  You know, love and like don't always go hand in hand.  These three women, however, are my friends and I love them as well as like them.

Learning social media. UGH!
Learning social media. UGH!

Friends!  This subject is very near and dear to my heart this week.  On a loose schedule that was made for us by our social media advisor, I was assigned to write something about "friends".  Well, as it turns out, I need to write about friends.  On Sunday evening of this week a very close and dear family friend suddenly left us when he had a massive heart attack.  I have lost friends and family before, but never so suddenly.  My husband and I have been wanting to get with this couple now for several months, but the busy summer kept us pushing that time further into the future.

Now he is gone!  He had a very close relationship with my husband, Duane.  He called Jerry his "bare-naked buddy".  No, Jerry wasn't an exhibitionist.  But Duane could share anything with Jerry and Jerry would listen, relate and never judge.  Jerry and I had a different relationship all together.  I could get mad at him and he would never hold it against me.  He'd just grin and I knew he'd be thinking "Get over yourself, little sister!"  I loved that man.  There never was a time he couldn't make me laugh, even at myself.  We had a kindred spirit, I think.  Both stubborn and hard headed - opinionated and judgemental.  But both of us fiercely love our family and friends and God forbid if anyone ever messes with any of them.

Party-Time!!!
Party-Time!!!
IMG_3236
We even clean-up pretty well.

So now, here I am with one less wonderful friend.  I am thankful he was in my life and I look forward to the day he welcomes me home.  This sudden loss has made me so much more sensitive to all those I am able to still call "friend".  I am so glad that the Lady Fingers have started this blog.  It enables me to put into writing how much I care for each of them; how much I admire them as strong women of substance; how much I enjoy laughing and crying with them; and what an honor it is to be associated with each of them.

So, for those of you who read this, please take some quiet time and contemplate your relationship with your friends.  They are a very important part of you and you to them.  Value them, respect them, and above all take frequent friend-breaks and LOVE them.

~ Susan