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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Run towards the unknown daylight


Clay....... what a mysterious thing it is. What an addiction.........
 Today I went into my studio and started packing it all up. Overwhelming sadness took hold of me.
My studio is full of ten years........ glaze test tiles, some so pretty, I remember taking them from the kiln, excited at the prospect of applying a newly created glaze to my work. A box full of them. My brushes, how many strokes of terra sigilata were applied with those fine brushes, some hand made from other potters, some I made. My trimming tools, also some hand made, ribs, sponges, clay stamps I made, paddles, templates, molds, ware boards, bats, books, journals, magazines, old work that never found a home, chemicals, scales, buckets, my wheel, my kiln, my stool....... not to mention all of the little treasures I have collected, some sent to me, some found in drawers, flea markets, antique stores, thrift stores....... so many little things I never got around to using. So many things I found and love. Bird feathers, rocks, shells, driftwood, bones, rusty cans, rusty nails, a bird's nest built last year in the rafters, glass bottles I found on Shackleford Island and brought back on the ferry,  more rusty stuff. I have four tool boxes that were my dad's. I packed all of my tools in them. Clean, worn, used and used. Now packed neatly in metal boxes. I have to start this now, it's going to take awhile and we want to get our house ready to sell at some point.

The floor is swept, spiders relocated, boxes packed for giving away. My kiln is clean and ready to sell. I felt as if I were walking in the soft deep sand on the beach, slogging through the day. I turned one way and saw a hundred things to do, turned the other way and there were a hundred more. Couldn't focus on one task at a time. Couldn't really focus on anything. I would see a test tile and have so many ideas for a new piece. I would find a trinket in a box and immediately know what I would create for it. All I really wanted to do was to sit down and cry. I'm keeping all of my stuff for someday, but as the song says, Someday, never comes.....

Today I felt as if a chapter in my life ended. New chapters have begun. I love my job at the garden store, love the people I work with, love the new things I'm learning. But when was the last time I made something? It's been a long while...... the thing is, clay is all consuming. It's 24/7. And I don't have a lifestyle to give 24/7 to clay. I really need more than 24 hours in a day as it is, but add clay to the equation..... I don't have what it takes for that anymore. I have developed tendonitis in my left arm. I'm left handed and some days I can't even brush my hair ( not that I do that very much anyway, ha), some days I can't lift a teapot the pain is so bad. Some days it is such an annoying pain, I want to just lay down and pull the covers over my head. But I don't. I just do stuff anyway, ignore the pain, get so busy I don't notice it, and get on with it. What else can you do?

Today was full of memories. The warm sun coming in through the windows of my studio in the fall afternoons, the trees golden in the woods.The songs on my iPod or NPR and the BBC reporting the news of the day. The smell of my trash cans from raku brought a rush of memories of firings with friends, late night firing, firing even in the snow and the rain.  The sound of Wesley's car pulling up in the driveway around 3pm every day, just home from school, coming down to tell me about her day as I worked. The sound of my wheel, the slap of clay on the wheel head. Carrying ware boards carefully up to my kiln. Getting up early  in the morning and going downstairs, holding my breath as I opened the kiln. Ecstatic when a piece came out perfect, deflated and crying when something cracked or a glaze fucked up a whole load. Poor Gerry having to listen to my cursing and yelling. But being the first to share my excitement when I opened up a reduction can after a raku fire that was magical.

I miss all of this so much. I made some beautiful work. I got published in books and magazines. I got invited to some pretty great shows, worked some great festivals. Met some great folks.  But I never made any damn money and it just sucked after awhile, working so hard and seeing nothing for my efforts monetarily. That's what happens when you make art for money. It is an unrealistic and extremely difficult path that just fucking beats you down to pulp. So I got off the merry go round in exchange for a paycheck and a thank you at the end of the day!

Only a couple of my old pottery pals ever check in anymore. I never hear from my old customers. Galleries never call. I have faded away in pottery land. It's good though. I don't stress over the time I'm spending with my clay and not my family, don't stress over how to pay show fees and guild dues, don't stress over entry fees for exhibitions, don't stress over rejection letters and work that didn't sell. In fact, I don't really stress over much of anything. One day, I'll get out some clay and make some stuff just for me, but for now, it's endless purging from living in one place for too many years. Time to move on and head for the unknown daylight!

Monday, June 22, 2015

V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N.


 This log cabin in the woods has been our home for the past week. We drove through the gate of this 100 acre mountain farm, locked it behind us, and put the cares of the world away for a solid week of seclusion..... Bliss.



The place was beautiful and everything you could want from a mountain retreat. Big front porch with rocking chairs, the sound of a mountain stream to sleep by, rustic interior, luxurious beds, and a river to fish in. And private, no one else around for miles!


I mostly sat in the river or on the front porch and read. I did a little weaving, some cooking, but mostly I read. What a treat to sit and read a book all day. I never get to do that.


 Lazarus was able to come up for a couple of days to visit, and he and Wesley just read also. We like to read.....


The John's River is a sweet little river filled with rainbow trout and small mouth bass. Gerry walked around in the river with his fly rod every day. That's all he did, fish.....



I brought my lodge cast iron dutch oven and we made meals on an open fire. We had whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, soups. I left out the sugar and processed foods and prepared good nutritious foods every meal. Wesley has had four years of college food living, has lost a lot of weight, health has suffered, Gerry has had a long season of covering sports and a lot of work stress, so this week was all about healing the family.


I had my feet up a lot. Every morning, I did yoga and meditation on the little balcony off the master bedroom, had a pot of herbal tea, and then went for a walk.


This was my meditation walk. There was a little path from the house to the river and this was my morning treat. Nothing but the sounds of the nearby roosters, the crows, the bugs in the field and the river rushing along. I had read an article recently about meditation walking and I used this path to practice mindful walking. It was wonderful and calming for the soul.


Every year, we talk about a trip somewhere for vacation. We try to go in June. But when June comes along, Gerry is so tired from sports season and work related crowd stress, travel stress, that all he wants to do is sit down somewhere quiet. So we often just decide on a cabin on the woods somewhere cool in the mountains. North Carolina is a beautiful state, we love it and now rarely leave it for vacation. This was a nice quiet week of introspection and nourishment for the soul. Can't think of any reason to travel far away when its all right here in our own back yard......

What is your favorite place for vacation?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Clean Sweep


Years ago, Gerry and I put up a climbing route at Saurtown Mountain on a rainy Christmas eve. It was a great day, I was probably as strong on that day as I have ever been. We called the route Clean Sweep since our last name was Broome and the climb went so smoothly.

When we were in Asheville last week, we went y the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is usually an artist or two doing demos at the entrance, tables set up and wares being sold. The day we went in, Peter Werner was there making hand made brooms. I bought this little one for Gerry for an anniversary gift. Peter's company just happens to be called Clean Sweep!



Every time we see these hand made brooms, we consider buying one, but always hesitate because they seem too beautiful and costly to actually use. Since Peter was there, I was able to speak with him about his brooms and he explained the proper use and storage and he has a life time offer to replace the straw once it is worn out. I simply ship him back the handle. So we got one for our anniversary. A bit extravegant for sweeping a floor, but it is a pleasure to use and it will always remind us of our time in Asheville on our 30th anniversary. 



 Peter gives a free pot scrubber to customers that purchase a long handle broom, so I now have the perfect tool to scrub out my cast iron tea pot. If you ever see these hand made brooms and consider using one, I highly recommend the splurge. It makes sweeping the floor a much more pleasant chore.

Hand made is always better! God bless artists......

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mother Daughter Tea


How many of you remember the mother daughter teas from girl scouts? I was a girl scout from 1st grade brownie scout all the way through high school cadette scout. Every year we had a mother daughter tea and and father daughter banquet. I'll spare you the details of how miserable those experiences were for me......

Today Wesley and I had a much different mother daughter tea experience. I feel like I have barely seen her since she graduated. She flew to L.A., she spent a week working on her monk documentary here, she has been going to visit friends and I have been working and going out of town with Gerry.
We finally had a moment with nothing pressing to do. She needed to write thank you notes for all those graduation gifts and I just wanted a day with her to sit and enjoy her company.

We packed up a bunch of stuff and went to the Honeysuckle Teahouse for the morning... to write, read, weave and just..... be. It was nice.  It was a misty rainy morning and a bit too chilly really, but the air felt good and it cleared out the cobwebs. I have to work for the next few days, so this was a good calm before the storm day.


The teahouse grows all of their own medicinal herbs and flowers for teas and tinctures and aromatherapy. What a dream, I would love to have a place like this to grow herbs and make tea!



I have to say, I was hoping for a bit more of a zen experience, but it is a safe and kid friendly place and all the moms that need some mental health moments were there with their other mom friends, so there was much chatter overheard about nursery school and kids being left behind and what to do about food allergies, home schooling, etc. All the stuff I left behind years ago, thank goodness! There were kids shrieking and loud moms..... it is what it is. I know I would have looked for shelter at a place like this when I was a new mom. So be it. Just need to come in the afternoon during nap time:)


It was still wonderful in spite of the "mommies".  I brought my tiny loom that Wes gave me and used up the last precious bit of yarn I got from Cindy at Handstories making a little rug for my teapot. In the bright light, all of the colors she spun into the yarn were so clear and beautiful. It is such a joy to weave with a yarn that is handspun with so much love and care.

It was a good morning. I treasure these days I get to have with Wes. They won't last forever...... one day she too might be one of those "mommies".  I'll have to babysit for her so she can go have some tea, haha!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Thirty Years


 Gerry and I spent this past weekend in Asheville NC. Many of you reading are plenty familiar with Asheville, I'm sure. What a great town. So full of art and fun. It was a perfect spot to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.


We were only there for a couple of days, but we packed a lot in. We went for a nice hike in the mountains. The air is so fresh and cool, it just feels like a cleansing when you breathe in.


Our hotel sent up a bucket of Highland Ales, brewed right there in town. Way better than champagne!


We walked around town one morning before all the shops opened. This little garden shop was calling to me. I love all of the little back alleys that you pass when you walk around in a city. They always seem so mysterious.


Loved the gate on this bar.


 This was the bathroom door at Izzy's Coffee shop. Serving Counter Culture coffee and the best latte I have ever had. The men's door was the same, only a guy.


On the inside of the bathroom,  the walls were completely covered with graffiti. I love graffiti. Spent more time than I needed in there reading, haha!


A little piece of pottery in one of the many restaurant windows. Reminded me of Judi Tavill's work. The window sill was lined with these. Really nice presentation.


Before we headed back home, we had lunch and then went for a nap by the banks of the French Broad River.


Some mama geese and their babies joined us. They hissed a tiny warning, but were mostly friendly and curious. I suppose they were waiting for the obligatory bread most tourists offer, but we don't feed wild animals..... they gotta figure it out themselves.


Happy 30th, Ger. Looking forward to 30 more!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Blessing for one who is Exhausted

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
--John O'Donohue, from "To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings"
- See more at: http://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=698#sthash.4xComGId.dpuf

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Art of Compassion


Wesley is home from L.A., home from college. She is done with school! Now the fun begins. She and two school mates are about to begin their journey into documentary filmmaking. Her passport has arrived, her letter from Drepung monastery is in order. Now to get some money coming in to fund this baby! They have received acknowledgment of a fiscal sponsor, they are working with the monastery on necessary access, getting all the political correctness in order. Learning more and more every day.


A new group of monks arrived in Chapel Hill this week for the Sacred Arts Tour. I am preparing lunch for them this week. Yesterday Gerry and I took food to their hotel and met them for the first time. It is quite an experience being around monks. A feeling of peace and happiness just settles over you. They are the kindest human beings on this planet. I hope it is contagious!


You can see more about Wesley's project here:



Tashi Delek, y'all