Friday, July 25, 2008

The boardwalk (Ice Cream part 2)

I finally made it to the boardwalk last night and it was really crowded.

Shaky camera while walking.

Karen, me, Pop-pop.

When I started coming to Ocean City thirty years ago with my girlfriend, the boardwalk was always a wonderland of t-shirts and other paraphernalia that I had to have. We would spend most of the day on the beach and after a shower, beeline it to the boardwalk for all the great things we needed to eat and buy.

Years later, we experienced it again through our children. Belly boards, t-shirts, bubbles, face painting, amusement rides, and hermit crabs. (Yes, hermit crabs. Thanks to the children, several hermit crabs had considerably shortened lifespans, enough said.) Now ear piercing, henna tattoos, and expensive jewelry are things on their 'want list'.

The boardwalk doesn't hold the same magic, but it is still magical. It's just different. I still like the rides, read all the t-shirts, eat some of the snacks, and watch all the people doing what people do. The only t-shirts I buy anymore are the ones that say Ocean City and are on the discount rack (which you might have noticed if you've spent any time around me). But I still love the boardwalk, and probably always will.

Apparently, everyone but
niece Audrey are Civil War veterans.

Hot caramel corn right from the kettle.

Pop-pop loves the grandkids!

Brother-in-law Scott, niece Audrey,
nephew Justin, Stephanie, sister-in-law Eva.

Seeing the sights.

Kohr Bros is always on the top of our list.

Stephanie loves her ice cream.
(Vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet swirl tonight)

We'll be leaving OC tonight for another year.


I finally got my Texas Tommy at Uncle Bill's today and it was just as good as I expected it would be.

The great taste of a beef hot dog, the velvety texture of melted cheddar cheese, the bold flavor of bacon. Am I in heaven? I don't remember going towards any lights recently...

The way I see it, everything is at least 10% better with cheese. Bacon enhances anything it touches, and add deep frying on top of that --well, how can it be better?

(Aside from anything with chocolate, that is.)

I took nephew Ryan with me as a taster and he gave it two thumbs up as well.

If you listen closely, you can hear my arteries hardening...

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I went down to Uncle Bill's today at 3:45 and they were closed. I didn't read the sign yesterday that says they're open from 7:00 am until 2:00 pm.

I will have to get there tomorrow since we leave tomorrow night. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile here's my first video of a Clayworks kiln unload from March 15, 2008.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer + Shore = Ice Cream (part 1)

A La Mode is on 55th Street and is a favorite ice cream shop during our visits. The ice cream, cookies and cones are all made fresh. This shop has great sundaes like the San Francisco Special which has chocolate ice cream, hot fudge, and chocolate jimmies (sprinkles for those outside the Philadelphia area).

This is a picture of the Brown Derby which is a banana split (I thought it was on the sundae side of the menu --oops) with vanilla, chocolate, and chocolate chip mint ice cream with hot fudge, whipped cream, chocolate jimmies and a cherry --to go.

I've already decided the next visit will include the Peach Melba which has vanilla ice cream, fresh peach slices and home made melba sauce.

I need to buy a gym.


We made it to the Duke of Fluke in plenty of time today. The morning was very calm, cool and a welcome relief from yesterday's sweltering heat and humidity. Today worked out better than yesterday, if only for the weather.

7:00 am at the Duke of Fluke.

The birds are always waiting for bait.

Nephew Ryan
Brother-in-law Scott
Nephew Justin

We were in and out of the fog all morning, so it was pretty cool and comfortable for a change. We did the best we ever have on the Duke. It started out slow, but we found some great fishing for the second half of our trip. We caught lots of flounder but they have to be eighteen inches long or greater to be "keepers" and there were only three of those pulled into the boat.

All too soon (four hours later) it was time to put the fishing gear up and head back to the dock. You can bet we will be back to try again next year.

We had to skip breakfast to make the boat, so after we hit land it was off to Uncle Bill's for a nice big breakfast!

Kristy was our waitress and we had a lot of fun kidding with her. She was afraid she was going to pour coffee all over her hand while my camera hesitated taking this picture.

Ahh, pancakes, eggs over easy and corned beef hash. It just could be heaven with a cup of hot tea.

I found out today that Uncle Bill's now does lunch and they have the Texas Tommy that I saw on a PBS show. Get this: It's a hot dog that is split lengthwise with a slice of cheddar cheese inserted and wrapped in two slices of bacon. Now, deep fry the whole thing! Not very healthy, but I do want to try it once. If I get one I'll let you know how it was.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Early morning Tuesday

Here's a picture of the coffee pots at WaWa. I told you there were a lot of them. We stopped in this morning at about 7:15 on the way to the Duke of Fluke fishing boat. It's an over-sized deck boat that goes out (mostly) for flounder. Unfortunately, we missed the boat since it filled up early. We'll try again tomorrow.

Instead we went to Uncle Bill's for breakfast. Mmm, good stuff.

Meredith (hiding), nephew Justin, niece Audrey,
sister-in-law Eva, brother-in-law Scott

Nephew Ryan, Stephanie, nephew Justin, niece Audrey

Karen's arm --and waitress with the FOOD.

"Kelly's Favorite"

Strawberry pancakes

Bacon and cheese omelette

'Sall about the food.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gottahava WaWa

I feel sorry for anyone who has not experienced a WaWa. It's a food market/convenience store that we go to in PA, southern NJ and northern VA. They always have upwards of twenty pots of coffee going at any hour of the day or night. They have a "fixins bar" with every conceivable hot drink addition from flavored creamers to honey for your tea. Can you imagine a twenty-four ounce coffee costs less than two dollars!

They also have great subs, Philadelphia-style soft pretzels, breakfast sandwiches, and just about anything else you might need on the road.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with WaWa apart from being a very satisfied customer.

Let the eating begin

When you are at the shore ("down the shawr"), eating junk food is as predictable as the tides --it's like a cruise without the buffets. We usually eat our way up and down the boardwalk and it's a glorious thing to behold, candy shops, pizza parlors, hot kettle corn, candy shops, pierogies, french fries, candy, ice cream, frozen custard, and candy. Did I mention candy? Salt water taffy, fudge, turkish paste, fruit slices, swedish fish, irish potatoes --it's the United Nations of confections.

All this and I haven't even been to the boardwalk yet.

If anyone needs me next week, I'll be at the gym.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Driving, driving, driving

We drove to the New Jersey shore on Saturday for our annual pilgrimage.

We left at 4:30 pm Saturday and arrived at 3:30 am on Sunday --what a fun drive!

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining since I love going to the shore with my in-laws. They are a great group of people and they really make me feel like part of the family. We all went to Yellowstone last year and then two weeks later we went to the shore. We have to go to the shore every year just like migratory birds. I like being at the shore, but I don't always like the trip. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy spending the time with my family --it's just a really long drive. The bottom line is that we are here until Friday night and I'm glad to be here.

Today there was fog just beyond the breakers all day (I was told about it. Since my foot is STILL not healed, I am staying away from the water) and it rolled into the street in the late afternoon.

It was weird after sunset since you could see great bursts of the water vapor blowing past the street lights but it didn't really feel as damp as it looked.

I worked my foot a bit too hard at Sam's Club when we picked up groceries for the week, so tonight when everyone wanted to go shopping on the boardwalk I volunteered to drop a carload (there are ten of us) off to save parking fees.

On to Uncle Bill's Pancake House in the morning for some great breakfast!

I'll post more as I (hopefully) get out and do things this week.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Woodworking 101

We have four really large willow oaks in the front yard which we love dearly (except in autumn). About a week ago, during a storm an almost thirty foot limb came down with a thud. I finally got it cut up this morning and put out on the curb before the yard waste crew got here. Unfortunately, all I have is a bow saw, so it took a while and my right arm now hangs down to my knees.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Girls just want to have (a cookie) cake

Sunday we celebrated Meredith's birthday! We celebrated by going to Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q since Meredith loves their baby back ribs. She had some friends sleep over on Friday night. Of course they call it a sleep over because you sleep when it's over.

Happy Birthday Meredith!
I hope you had a good one!

Barrels 'o fun

We did our barrel firing on Saturday and had loads of fun. Elaine and Becky are the queens of the barrel ball and Amy, Minke, Cindy, Nick and I were along for the first time. We had fun trying different techniques on the pieces, including but not limited to wet newspaper, copper scrubbies, copper wire, seaweed, banana peels, charcoal briquettes, coffee grounds, copper sulfate (Miracle Gro), copper carbonate, iron oxide, and more. Thanks to Elaine and Becky for supplying the materials!

Amy, Elaine, Becky, and Cindy preparing the barrels.
Go cart number 1 is burning in the background.

We put three kinds of sawdust and wood chips in the barrels, sprinkled them with oxide, sulfate, and carbonate. The pots went in next and then sticks and split wood (thanks for the wood splitting lessons, Minke!). Douse the whole thing with charcoal lighter fluid and woof! we were cooking.

Sawdust, wood chips, oxide, sulfate,
and carbonate in the barrel.

Minke showing us how to split wood.

Amy and Elaine throwing newspaper.

Model T burning merrily along.

Nice green flames --mmm good copper.

Nice glowing embers around the pots.

Our own Carol Merrill shows us
how to cover Bentley.

Now it's time to wait and "babysit".

Some folks just know how to relax.

It was pretty darn hot out there (maybe we should make this a winter activity, eh?) and Becky's husband Fred graciously brought us all large iced coffee drinks --the perfect refreshment on a day like that. Thanks Fred, that was a very thoughtful thing to do.

While waiting for the barrels we had a stamp-making workshop since I was still pumped about my experience from the previous evening. We sat around sipping and exploring stamp making at a leisurely pace. Individual discovery is a wonderful thing, and when you add a group to the process the enjoyment can multiply geometrically. Elaine made some wonderful pinched pots.

Near the end of my stay we took some of the pieces out of the small cans, named "Go Carts" by Becky. They were very nice with some contrasting variations. Unfortunately I had to leave early so I didn't get to see some of the later pieces. I am curious to see all that came out of "Model T" and "Bentley" (again, Becky's names). You can see some of the pieces and other photos on here on Becky's blog.

I had to leave early because we were meeting our friends Pam and Chip to eat and see Sideshow, about the conjoined Hilton sisters that went from being the toast of vaudeville to working at the Park 'n Shop weighing produce. The food was good, the dinner company fine, and the stage company strong. A good evening all around. Thanks guys!

Friday raku

Friday night Greg, Joe and I got together for an impromtu raku firing. It was fun and a good firing. I only had two pieces to fire and I glazed them an hour before going into the kiln. We were using Joe's dual head regulator so we could run two propane tanks simultaneously. The tanks don't freeze up like a single tank does, and we can get the kiln to much higher temperatures. I think Greg said we got it to ~2100 degrees. It was a nice accomplishment, but my silver glaze didn't care for the higher temperature and mostly burned out leaving a finish that looks like clear crackle. It still looks interesting, just not silver.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, so these were taken with my cell phone.

Kiln with pots recently removed.

Greg "burping" can.

Can closed. Lot's of reduction happening.

Some friends dropped by during the firing.

Thanks Greg and Joe for a good firing and good times.

While waiting for the kiln I thought about the fact that I never got around to making any decorative stamps. I sat down with a beer and some good music and made about thirty of them. Once I got started, it just flowed pretty easily.

If you haven't done it, give it some time and give it a try.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Teaching to learn

I got reminded of an important lesson tonight.

If you want to learn something, teach it.

Greg asked me to give him a hand with a beginning wheel class and I learned more about centering, opening, pulling, and recovering wobbles than I ever thought about. When you have to explain to someone something you do without thinking, it makes think of the way you do things. It forces you to go through the steps in detail and gives you a whole new outlook on each part of the process. There's also all the learning that takes place by watching how the students do things. It either gives you new ideas on doing things in the future or reinforces the reasons not to do it.

There's also that whole "wonder" thing I keep talking about. The students have the same look of wonder that I had when someone put their hands over mine and helped me center a lump of clay in seconds. Now I get to return the favor, and I remember thinking, "I'll never be able to do that", when someone did it for me. It's a nice circle.

It felt good that I could contribute some help and pay back some of the karma that I have been on the receiving end of for years. I can't begin to name all the folks that have helped me over the years (it's still ongoing), but you all know who you are and I hope you all know how much I appreciate it.


And Greg, thanks for teaching me by letting me teach.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summer magic

I can remember summer evenings long past when the mere fact the sun stayed out until almost 9:00 o'clock was magic. I remember playing hide and seek until just after dark when the neighborhood changed from familiar to mysterious. Having foot races with my dad and other kids on the block. Getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and having way too much fun to care.

I remember catching lightning bugs.

Running, stopping, trying to pace myself to match their flight between illuminations so I could find them on the next one. The insects desperately trying to complete their obilgatory mating ballet. When you did manage to synchronize your rhythm and catch one, you had to observe it quickly. It urgently crawled to the highest point on your hand to take off before it missed a step of the primordial dance.

Those were heady times indeed.

I got to relive those moments when my children were young. Experiencing it anew through their eyes, answering their questions, and seeing the wonder all over again. I am proud to say that even though my girls are in their teens now, they still run from the car on a summer evening if we arrive home when the lightning bugs are at the ball. They still scoop them tenderly from the air and then watch them fly from their opened hands, faces beaming with that familiar wonder. It makes me stop and watch and love them even more.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Happy 4th

We were lucky to get a call on July 2nd from our friends Tom and Lisa. It turns out that they had access to four extra tickets (from Lisa's brother --Thanks Bob!) to the Knights baseball game against the Durham Bulls. The July 4th game gets sold out way in advance because they have a great fireworks display after the game, and this year was no exception. We met them and their kids, Christopher and Daniel at the stadium. We all sat with Bob and his family in very good seats. (Thanks again, Bob!)

The game was disappointing since the Knights lost (again) 2-1. I have never been there when they've won and it turns out, neither has Tom. Maybe they would pay us not to attend...

The fireworks were amazing and lasted over twenty minutes. You can see more of my fireworks photos here.

We had fun during and after the game...

To top off the evening we ended up at Sonic at 1:00 am because Stephanie wanted ice cream. She proceeded to eat a hot fudge sundae and tater tots. (It actually wasn't that bad a combination --I had some too!)

To good friends and good times...
I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th!

While writing this entry I am waiting for my cone 010 bisque kiln to kick off. I am firing my pinched pots for the barrel firing with Becky and Elaine on the 12th. It should be fun.