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Saw a few sheds today, but I think they were just a couple of stragglers still making stage two—maybe some of Artemis’s later eggs. A few more deaths today, too, but still only a handful. And it was a stressful day for the larvae because I did a full clean of the kreisel tanks. They were getting fairly funky, so I emptied one and put all the zoeae in the other one, wiped it clean, then moved all the zoeae to the already cleaned one and cleaned the other one, then moved half of them back over. I lined up the foods I’m feeding to show the breadth of their current diet. I will probably add and change a few things as they age and their needs change. I’m heading to my local pet store this weekend—they have a wide range of saltwater foods. I also need to get more Instant Ocean. Going through it pretty fast. I’m changing 20% of the water and feeding four times a day. It takes about an hour each time, so I’m spending a minimum of four hours a day at this, not counting extra things like taking pictures and researching methods and writing updates. This project isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure, but I’m still enjoying the...

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Day Seven, still at Stage Two. I had the idea today that if I started far away and moved in closer with the camera, it might be able to better focus as it came closer. Plus starting two feet away is a good reminder of just how very tiny they are. I’m liking this way to video document them. It was much faster and didn’t require editing. (Apologies for the rogue finger wave over the lens at the start.) Artemis’s larvae are now added to the kreisels, split between the two. Their bodies are still mostly clear, and they are so much smaller—pretty difficult to see during changes. Hoping they will catch up and color-up. I still have the tank of last chances, too (the little hex tank) and that seems to be doing just fine. Trying not to look too close, throwing food their way and changing 50% water once a day. Hoping they thrive on neglect. The zoeae are definitely pooping now. It looks like a little black stinger coming out of their back end and they do it a lot. I’m feeding and changing 20% of the water four times a day and that equals about four gallons of saltwater mixed per day. Using my two gallon bucket it’s not nearly as time-intensive as by-the-gallon was last year. It’s also not as precise, but so far we’re good. I’ll try to do a salinity check tomorrow. (And perhaps a sanity check while I’m at...

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  Over at Etsy, I’m offering a variety of hermit crab dishes for sale. Sales will help fund a new tank and new materials for another hermit crab breeding attempt this summer.  My hermits love these dishes. The big guys like having their own spot at the trough and the little guys like a lower, textured food dish. In the sectioned ones, I can tell at a glance which of the dry mixes I’m offering is most popular. All dishes have been fired to approximately 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. I use only food-safe clay and glazes. Thank you for supporting my hermit crab breeding attempts!...

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Some of you have asked how the hermit crab breeding attempt is going. Well, it’s over—for now. I’ll try again in the future if my girls gift me with more eggs, but I doubt that will happen again before next summer. So here’s a link to the page where I have documented the process of trying to get hermit crab zoeae from the “ocean” (aka a tiny saltwater tank) to land. If you’re trying this, I’d love to hear from you. We’ll only get there if we work together to figure out the best...

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During my trip west, I gave a lot of star-gazing and wide-sky thought to what I want the shape of the rest of my life to look like. I’ve now passed the halfway point and I feel as if I’ve been trying too hard for too long to be The Author and not simply just ME. So I’m going to include some of my other interests on my website, because, you know, that’s who I AM, yo? I mean, I don’t have anything to prove and my last two novels have yet to get picked up, and I just can’t make my world all about the writing anymore. Not if I want to live a happy life. Don’t get me wrong, I will still write. I love to write. But I’m going to make it about the joy of the work and not try so hard to self-promote as someone I think the world wants to see. Instead, as I said, I’ll just be me. And a big part of me, ever since I had my first good earthy whiff of clay in my twenties, enjoys pottery. Specifically functional pottery. There’s something about the communion between the hand of the potter and the hand of the user that really speaks to me. It’s similar to the communion I feel between writer and reader. I write to commune with the world of readers and I create usable clay art to commune with the world—one coffee drinker and soup eater at a time. And now that I’m an empty-nester, I’m getting back into this first love of mine and thoroughly enjoying it. This week, I’ve been thinking about bowls and their many “attitudes.” I tend to anthropomorphize pots and bowls are no exception. A bowl can be wide open at the top, and all about showing you its inside. Or a bowl can curve inward, be more secretive and/or protective of its contents. A bowl can have my favorite kind of attitude: a little bit of both, with a lovely open rim, but also a curved belly that holds its secrets until you take the time look inside. I’m working with earthenware now, and I’ve recently been wanting to experiment with more pre-glazing decorative options. I like slips, but only seriously painted with them in college when I worked as a potter at Historic Jamestown Island making reproduction white stoneware with a heavy Italian-style painting done wet, on freshly-thrown pots for the public’s enjoyment and for piece-work pay. I’ve always been intrigued by slip trailing, though. For those who don’t know, slip trailing is a little bit like cake decorating or...

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“And you know, when the truth is told, that you can get what you want or you can just get old.” ~Billy Joel July 6—Happy birthday, Rob! We left Sage Creek Campground (aka Woodstock) and hit the road for Albert Lea, Minnesota. On the drive out of the park, we saw a TON of wild bison, including a huge male that suddenly appeared ten feet from my vehicle window as it crested a rise next to the road. That was a rush. After the early excitement, though, I slept for a lot of the day’s driving. The road often completely mesmerizes my brain: highway hypnosis. I have to fight it when driving, but when I’m a passenger it takes over and stupefies me. I was sad watching the hills turn to flatlands: the day after Christmas, when all the presents are opened. In Minnesota, I thought about my grandmother Lavinia growing up in Lakefield. She got the nickname “Minnow” because she could swim in the coldest lakes for hours without getting chilled or tired. Her grandparents owned a dairy farm (she loved buttermilk all her life) and her parents owned  the town pharmacy (her father was the pharmacist) which included a lunch counter/soda fountain (run by my great-grandmother who also taught piano lessons). She took great pride in the fact that her father got shunned by the local Episcopal church crowd when he applied for the first liquor license in the county. She also remembered a crowd hanging a stuffed strawman of Kaiser Wilhelm between the pharmacy and the shop next door and burning him in effigy at the start of WWI. At 6pm (Day 29) we crossed the 5,000 mile mark—and Len has driven every single one of them, except for that fifty feet or so that I drove so he could listen to the bearing/brakes squeal in the Rawlins Tractor Guys parking lot. This 5,000-mile mark is also roughly when he began a slow tailspin of quiet rage (the male version of a meltdown). Suddenly everything became frustrating, difficult, awkward, painful, and rage-inducing. The trailer didn’t want to park correctly, his favorite flashlight went missing, he barked his shins on the hitch, and the road, in other words, just generally sucked. The fact that we are headed home, back to reality, was surely part of it, but there really is a point at which it gets OLD living like a refugee, carrying everything with you, picking up stakes and moving every day, trying to keep track of where you are, where you’re going, and what you need to do in order to get there. No matter how...

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