Summer; Summer Not

I mean, it should be summer?

The days are definitely getting longer. When I lit the kiln last Monday night, I could read the (outdoor) gas meter by daylight at 8:30 pm; and the next morning, the I drove in at 5 am, it was already light out. Two months ago, for my last firing, it was pitch dark.

And the flowers are blooming on schedule: daffodils first, then irises, the last of which finished this week. Azalea, then rhododendron, and the peonies popped out eight huge blooms, which promptly toppled over in the rain.

Ah, the rain. There's the rub.

We've had a remarkably long, wet spring. Rain almost everyday, certainly almost every Saturday Market since opening--very little shine in our "Rain or Shine" motto. The lawn had grown up waist-high before I finally had a dry day to mow it. And I barely get the canopy aired out and dry before another rainy Saturday hits.

But we soldier on, wet but untitled, and dream of proper summer weather. Perhaps in Roseburg, where my first of two summer sales is happening June 24-26. The UVA Summer Arts Festival is notorious for heat--last summer they called off the show Sunday, when temperatures topped 106 degrees. On the other hand, I remember a year it rained so long and hard that they brought in peat moss from the garden center to fill the mud-holes. You never know.

So all we can do is show up, set up, and see what happens.

(Eyes the sky nervously) It'll be fine.

New and Improved

I've been using the Square reader on my tablet or phone for nearly a decade now, to accept credit/debit sales at Saturday Market and out-of-town art fairs. Started with the plug-in slider (magnetic stripe reader), briefly experimented with the plug-in chip reader, but went back to the simple slider when I discovered that the chip took longer to process, having to do a digital handshake with the banks first, and was also prone to running out of battery power around mid-afternoon.

Recently, though, I've been getting a lot of asks about Apple Pay, which my cheap Android phone doesn't understand. Fortunately, this little beauty does.

This is the Square Contactless Reader, a blue-tooth enabled device that takes Apple Pay, Google Pay, tap cards and reads chips. And it works fast, processes almost instantaneously, and was almost fully charged after a busy day at Market. Totally worth the $49 it cost me. I'll still keep the slider handy for really old magstripe-only cards, but for the most part, this is the future of card sales at Off Center Ceramics.

Pattern of the Month:


They look kinda cuddly. Big and rounded and plump, a little like enormous porkers. But in fact, they're the most dangerous land mammals in Africa--more so than lions, or leopards, or even Cape Buffalo. Catch one yawning, though, and you'll see why. With that array of dentition, a hippo is not to be messed with.

I thought about putting them on pots after sketching a few at the Oregon Zoo, but might never had done so but for a hippopotamus collector, who commissioned a whole bunch of hippopottery. Apparently, collecting hippos is a thing, with websites, FaceBook groups, even conventions. She showed me photos of a custom hippo-van, painted pink, complete with waggy tail that sprayed whitewash on unwary watchers. (If you don't get the joke, Google "hippo defecating." If you dare.)

Since then, I've continued with the occasional hippopot, usually dessert plate or tall mug. You never know when you'll surprise an unwary hippo collector.

Or as I call 'em, hipsters.

See other patterns...