Saturday, March 29, 2014

Four Days Left!

Just four days left to support a small business and craft brewery getting its start! Here's the video, plus below, I'll include details of the goodies you can get at different levels of support. (I really want them to change their tag line to: "Oak Park Brewing Company: Because life's too short to drink cheap, domestic swill!" But no word back, so far...)
"We started brewing at home in Oak Park. Our commitment to the Oak Park neighborhood and its redevelopment has earned us some great press. All of our fans are excited to see us open.  We believe that our brewery will be a significant contribution to the revitalization of Oak Park, and your contribution helps make that happen."
Brewer Tom Karvonen meeting Sacramento Mayor
Kevin Johnson
We also have a Beer Connoisseur reward package.  You will get special Oak Park Brewing Company Connoisseur t-shirts, access to VIP events,  - including release parties for our limited-release barrel-aged ales and sours, but most important of all... you'll be served in a special Connoisseur Glass when you're at the brewery so people will know you're part of an awesome group of Oak Park Brewing Company Supporters.
We will also have a VIP Grand Opening Gala at our brewpub.  Contributing at this level gets you into the event, where you will mingle with other supporters, get the chance to taste all of Oak Park Brewing Company's initial releases AND be the first to try our gastropub specialties.
More rewards are listed under each donation level.
 Thanks for supporting these folks! It's great to see these craft brewers raising the bar!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Speaking of Walken...

Click on the pic...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Because, Walken

Because you really can't get enough cowbell, or Walken! Click on the pic for a dance-a-thon of epic proportions.
In other news, please remember the Oak Park Brewing Company's Kickstarter campaign still needs you! They're opening their doors in June, and they're going to share some amazing craft beer with everyone! Please throw them a few bucks if you can, as they're giving away some swag for those who donate at certain levels.
I'm really excited for them. Mr. ShellHawk and I went to see the space they've leased for the brewery, and it's such a great building! Built in 1925, brick, and it's going to have an industrial feel to it. Here are a few pics...
Brewer and awesome guy, Tom Karvonen, left, Bonnie Peterson,
brew gal, right
Lily, brew dog, far left.
Can you just see the big beautiful brew vats here?
Best thing ever: church pews from one of the Planet of the Apes movies!
  I can't wait for the place to open!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ireland's Shades of Green

Click on Giant's Causeway to hear a nice playlist for St. Patrick's Day.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Speaking of Birds

Click on the pic to see some crazy bird behavior in the U.K.: the Starling murmurations.

Alfred Hitchcock would have approved. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring Happened While I Was on the Couch

Last Thursday was my first post-op visit with my podiatrist, and I discovered that in the week I'd been on the couch, binge-watching Breaking Bad (Jesse Pinkman is such a piece of work! What a whiner!), Spring had arrived. Trees are in full flower in my area, daffodils and iris are budding, and life is returning to the world.

Mr. ShellHawk, amateur birder (never call him a birdwatcher!) keeps the bird feeders full. He enjoys it so much, he joined the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count this year. 

We're located in a migration corridor, so we get to see numerous birds on their way to and from wherever. Yesterday, I took a bunch of pics of our feeder. Only a couple turned out well, and here's one:
That's a purple finch in (I think) breeding colors. I'm hoping we get another oriole or two come through, like they did last year. After reading The Big Year, (the movie was completely different from the book, so don't be fooled!) I begin to have a better appreciation for the little guys who come to visit our feeders!
If you're at all interested in another time-sucking, potentially very expensive, and highly competitive hobby, namely birding (not birdwatching, which is a different thing, entirely), pick up a Sibley's Guide (the gold standard of birding field guides) or a National Geographic Guide (also very good), hang up a few bird feeders, and start working on identifying what comes to your feeders.

While you're learning the basics about birding, take the time to start prepping to go out into "the field" and read some tips on hiking. There's nothing worse for other, more experienced birders than someone who comes along on a day hike with no food or water, a hat, or sunscreen. It's also particularly important to "train" for hiking if you've been sedentary for a long time. Coming home from a ten mile hike after not doing more than walking to the mailbox for the last ten years is pretty brutal, so start slow and build your way up to longer hikes.

You should also read up on birding etiquette. You don't want to be that jerk that ruins a birding trip for others because you don't know how to behave. It's a small community, and you'd be surprised how often you see the same people, over and over, who have flown in from another coast just to get that one bird on their list. They will not look kindly on you blowing that sighting after they've spent hundreds of dollars in hotel and airfare to see that bird!

Once you've done that, you might think of joining a trip sponsored by the local chapter of your Audubon Society. You'll get to meet others with more experience, and get to know where and how to look for birds. Above all, it will get you out of the house and moving, and engaged with the world around you. If your kids are a little older, and understand the importance of being quiet, you might take them along, too, if you can pry them away from the XBox, that is...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

It's Been Good, So Far

It's been a good week, so far. I got my iTunes fixed, at last (only took six days, and really, "fixed" means, "I am about as done as I can be right now!") and updated my iPod for the first time since I got this laptop, a year or two ago. Yay!

I got my artist agreement for Halloween and Vine sent off, along with the check for the space. I also got my application sent in for Holiday N Vine, a new show run by the same folks as Halloween and Vine. (Fingers crossed!) I sent in my application to Scare LA, and received an almost immediate reply back from David Markland that he was happy I'd applied for the show. He even called me "legendary," which was an ego boost I really needed! (I told Mr. ShellHawk that he should avert his eyes and genuflect when speaking to me from now on, due to my "legendary" status. All I got was an eye roll.)
The best news of all, though, was the acceptance letter that came in the mail from America's ClayFest. I had applied last year, but was not accepted, so when the acceptance came, it felt like a triumph!
My entry, "The Most Interesting Jackalope in the World."
At last, a juror "got it." :)
Now, of course, I'm freaking out a little. I am limited in the amount of time I can spend in the studio, because I'm only out of my latest surgery for two weeks, today, and I have the possibility of three separate shows for which to prep! If I get into Scare LA, that will be two days of selling and simultaneously hoping I get cleaned out and that I don't get cleaned out, because after that will be Halloween and Vine, and I definitely will do well at that show!


But I always stress myself out, and somehow, everything gets done and turns out for the best. I sometimes have to rope a few folks in to help out, but it gets done! (Thank God for great friends!)

Ah, well. Off to see what I can do in the studio!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Little Aural Inspiration

One of the tasks I've attacked from my couch is to get my media library in order. I've made rumblings about getting to it before, but since the thing got so screwed up by both Windows Media Player and iTunes, I would get some of it started, then abandon it out of complete frustration and lack of time. 

I mean, I have music, sound effects, sound bites and podcasts, and among the three types, I have over six thousand files. Some of them are corrupted, and although they say they're 3:43, they actually only play :08 seconds before cutting off. Many of them have been duplicated four or five different times. Many of them have had the "info" changed on them, and don't get organized into the same album or artist. And honestly, I have to go in and uncheck all the Christmas music and random chainsaw noises!

It's maddening. I'm not a tech genius to be able to figure out the "shortcut" for this, and I think that flat out, sometimes you just have to listen to see if something's wrong with the file.

I went over to CNET to get instructions on how to completely delete my iTunes and start over, and I've been re-loading and deleting ever since. I'm on day five, now, and the end is in sight!

While I was going through my files (one by one!), I ran across some of my favorite Hallowe'en soundscapes, which I've used both in my haunt and to mellow out while I'm working in the studio. I've posted about it before, but it's definitely worth a re-post so you can enjoy these through the build season.

J.P. of The Haunted Gallery blog made these soundscapes over the last few Hallowe'en seasons. His blog is only active around that time--August-ish through November 1st:
Active during the Halloween Season (August - October), The Haunted Gallery is a repository of spooky artwork, music, writings, and miscellanea.
Optimum visiting hours are just before bedtime, or more preferably, on the stroke of midnight... especially with the lights dimmed and no one else in the room. We believe that if one focuses strongly enough on the supernatural, one of the many phantoms within the gallery will look upon your state of mind as an invitation to come through your computer screen and enjoy a midnight visit...
"Enjoy, enjoy! and we hope you make it to daybreak."
If you go through the archives, he's made some great contributions to the Hallowe'en atmosphere. No cheesy squeaking bats, just the wind soughing through the graveyard or the crackle of the fireplace in the dark of the Victorian Chamber. He made his own soundscapes available for free download, which I think is wicked generous, considering how much work it must have been to put them together. He's got a YouTube channel for your listening and viewing pleasure, which is definitely worth checking out.

Well, back to re-building all my old playlists...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Just in Time for the Opening of Build Season: Hauntcast 57-Irish it was June Already

The new edition of Hauntcast has dropped like a prom dress! Here's the table of contents for this month:
Master chef of the deliciously spooky Creepy Hollow Haunted House, Brett Baker, joins Chris in the dungeon to swap haunt recipes and pound green beer.
Rockers the Rocketz take you on a far out ride into the cosmos with music from their new album California Hell
JT pours you a tall glass of horror at the last bar on the left while reviewing movies Nurse and Haunt
The Dark Lord returns from hibernation to celebrate the convention season which is in full bloom
Nature may be spooky and even uncanny, but adding technology to it can make it downright horrifying.
Shellhawk rests her bunions and threatens to return next month.
Denny shines the spotlight on the overhead projector as an invaluable tool for foam carving.
Vysther drives his beater to Sandusky’s Ghostly Manor Thrill Center and Dent Schoolhouse
Got head? Paul Hallenbeck of the Mad City Haunt does, but it won’t last long in his Flesh Eater Tank.
Every quarter we give away a $560 CFX Silicone Mask and this be the 3rd quarter. Congrats to the fortunate minion Ruben Villasenor!
As most of you know, the Season and show ending is rapidly approaching. As of June, Hauntcast is closing its doors again, this time for good. If you were a subscriber or an admirer of the show, Baker has a request for you:

Call the Hauntcast Bone Phone at 
508-534-8876 and leave us a message to be played in the final episode of Hauntcast. Say why you love and will miss the show, how long you've listened, how it's upped your haunt game, etc… Please keep it about 30 seconds.
Take a little time to show your love! And if you've never listened to Hauntcast and you're a fan of Halloween, there are a few free shows to download, and there are still subscription offers available here, if you're interested. Subscription offers start at $1 per episode.

Often imitated, never duplicated! Hauntcast: at least we don't suck!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New in the Shop--Mostly Gone!

Before I went in for surgery, I took some time to take some pics of the things that had just come out of the last firing (the ones that survived, anyway!), because I knew I'd be stuck on the couch and have plenty of time to post them to the ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store. I even re-took some pics of a few things from late last year, as the pics I had weren't up to par.
I've been playing with new handle shapes and designs.
I kind of like this one, because it has a natural thumb rest.
Apparently, it's tough to find one-fingered mugs, for those who like them...
Manly mug, in a manly color, to drink coffee in a manly way.
I like how the red and ice blue flowed on this mug...
I'm starting to freehand designs, too.
So for the past couple of days, I've been posting the new pics to Etsy. I also sent out one of my rare newsletters (rare, because I hate to bombard people's email with yet another piece of senseless mail for them to open--I like to have something new to say and show before I send one!) to let folks on my mailing list know there were new things to be found in the shop.
I like how the black and the blues flowed and overlapped on this serving dish. I hope to make some more of these as time goes by.
Also playing around with new "Pint-ish" glasses. This one sold right
away, so maybe I'm going in the right direction? :)
I was happy I sent it out, as one particular person got excited and bought a mess of things from me, including the "pint-ish glass" pictured above, and the bowl at the very top of this post! Hooray! I'll be putting those funds into building a new portable Raku kiln, as mine is on its last legs!
I truly love how well this plate turned out! The colors were exactly what
I was hoping for!
"Conundrum." I'm thinking of doing a series with this theme.
Of course, now I'm out of good pics to post in the shop, so I'm back to watching my teaching videos and wishing I could get out into the studio and get my hands muddy, again! (I'm also binge-watching "Breaking Bad," which I never saw while it was on, but we'll let that go, for now...)

If you're part of Etsy, please take some time to head over to my Etsy store and "Favorite" my shop. (To favorite, got to the left sidebar, scroll down, and click on the little heart and phrase "Add to Favorites.") You can also "like" my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter. I've got a few fun Hallowe'en and ceramics boards on Pinterest, and of course one of "My Stuff."

O.K.! Time to get back to seeing how Heisenberg is doing... ;)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Oak Park Brewing Company

Most of you who know me, know that Mr. ShellHawk and I are blessed with friends in diverse fields. One group of friends is starting the Oak Park Brewing Company, but has fallen short on items needed for their brewery. They've started a Kickstarter campaign to cover the shortfall:

I have to say, I love their beer! They've won some awards in several micro-brew competitions, and I feel they're well worth investing in. (I'll be investing in them, myself!)

So check out the campaign and donate if you feel it's a good thing to do. After all, it's in the name of creating great beer, so how bad could it be? :D

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One More Step

Right shoe by Jimmy Choo. Not.
Unscrewed and screwed, that's me!

I had my surgery to take the screw out of my right foot, which means that other than healing, I'm done with that and everything keeps getting better from here! We decided to have the other foot done at the same time, as we're heading for Ireland in June for our anniversary and wanted to be free of all hardware by that time so I can enjoy the trip.

I did manage to run a kiln load before going in for surgery, with mixed results. It turns out some gifts I was making will be pitched in the trash, as the glaze and clay bodies don't like each other, which caused bubbling and crackling. You can't have that in ware you use for food, as the glaze breaks off in the food and can cause serious medical problems. I'm sure part of the problem, still, is my kiln cooling too fast, but the main issue is the glaze and clay bodies not matching up properly. I went on the boards on the Ceramic Arts Daily website to get some advice on kiln shelves, which turned into a debate on which kiln would be best to buy. I'll debate it more, I'm sure, before I make my purchase! I figured it was only going to be torture if I bought it and then wasn't able to use it until after I'm healed from my latest surgery.

One of the other things I managed to get done before my surgery was to get some pics taken of some of my work, so I can start to re-populate my neglected Etsy store. I have bins of stuff sitting around, and since I can't go to any shows until later this year, it doesn't make sense for me to leave it to sit. So keep an eye out for new things! I'll be sending an email out to my past customers this week, as I get things posted.