Thursday, September 18, 2014

Run before you walk

soap rocks: rosemary, lemon, peppermint, orange, poppy seed, flax seed, they look good enough to bite into!

Run before I walk....... I do this with everything new. Before I could pull up a one pound cylinder on the wheel, I was trying to center 10 pounds of clay. First cake I made from scratch was from Julia Child's French cooking book. Weaving- the same, sewing- the same, knitting- the same. Now soap making. I always move on to the most difficult way possible before I even master the basics. Then I learn this doesn't work, and I go back to the beginning, start all over. Then get it right. I never learn....

Success: top- lemon, basil, cedar with flaxseed,
 middle- rosemary, lemon and basil with sea clay and fennel seeds,  
bottom- peppermint, lemongrass and patchouli with rosemary powder. YUM! 

 I have been trying to make some soap. Miserable failures. Expensive experiments. Instead of being smart and making small test batches, I just jumped right in, thinking it was easy, made up a five pound recipe, and the scent didn't stick. I burned out the scent because I forgot about the flash point of essential oils. I also thought I would try being fancy and swirling some color around, really ugly. No idea what I was doing. It's not as easy as it looks, this soap making! I have four batches that were a complete waste of time and money. At least we will be clean. They work, they just look ugly.

Orange and grapefruit with thai basil infusion, lemon and lime zest

So, I slowed down, went back to the beginning, and got more basic. Baby steps. I made four batches of soap yesterday and they are wonderful. I love the scents, careful this time with the heat. Peppermint, basil, rosemary, grapefruit, lemon, orange, cedar. All citrus and herbal scents. I ground up some rosemary from my garden, added that. Infused some oil with thai basil, lovely. Scents from my garden. I used wonderful moisturizing and healing oils, hemp seed, shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil..... these are going to be so nice to use over the winter. A reminder of spring to come.

Here are some of the uglys. I tried to swirl some clay about, really a mess. Also, no fragrance. They will be fine for bathing, great oils, just not pretty to look at.

I am wanting to make soap dishes now. Clay is whispering ever so slightly in the back of my head. Come play with me..... make something.... I have been wanting to make something using the stains on this test tile for awhile now, and I think soap dishes will be just the thing. Just an oxide wash, no futzing around with glazes, which hate me, and I hate them back!

Maybe some raku meditation bowls for the soap rocks.  I love this one with the little thai basil flowers pressed in. Not practical, they will fall out first washing, but they are pretty to look at for a moment....

A blogger friend is asking for soap and dishes. Maybe..... just got to get it all worked out first. Not ready for prime time just yet. I really hesitate to jump into the soap making/selling business. There are more soap makers than there are potters, if that is even possible. But what about a soap/clay combo? I have been trying to find a way to set myself apart in the market if I decide to sell soap. And clearly if I continue to like making it, there has got to be some place for it all to go!  I think I would just keep it simple, maybe a couple of fragrances, maybe just a garden soap and a couple of different dishes. Still a ways off, but interesting to think about.  Gotta turn around and walk before I run though, haha!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Maybe you can live on the moon.....

 Last week I got a fortune cookie and the paper inside said, "Maybe you can live on the moon in the next century."

I tell you, the way this planet is going, we are going to have to find somewhere to live, we are rapidly depleting all chances of living here on Earth. Some days I feel utterly hopeless about what we are doing to this planet. I go to the recycling center and marvel at the trash we all bring to dump, and that is just from the ones of us who bother to recycle. I can't get my head around where all the unused crap in our lives is going to end up in the next century.

I can't get my head round this cell phone generation that never looks up. I despise sitting somewhere with cell phone people. I can't get my head around the drug companies pushing their drugs, the fracking, the terrorists beheading innocent people, but then reading that this could be a government staging, the chemtrails in our skies, the poison being put in the food we eat...... I could write pages of things we are doing to really ruin this precious place we all have to live. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but let's DO SOMETHING!!! WHAT?!?!?!

Remember my ranting a while back about the smart meter and the health issues we were all having? I fought the good fight and got it removed. All of our symptoms went away. Now, they have built a cell phone tower less than a 1/4 mile from my house. My headaches have returned, ringing in our ears, weird shifting of sound in our ears, Gerry is having spells of nausea, Wesley came home yesterday, said she had trouble sleeping last night and felt nauseous. I'm not sleeping again. These were all the things we were experiencing last time RF waves were pouring into our house, now they seem to be back with the start up of this tower..... ugh. Here we go again......

But then I go out and pick up my chickens and watch their silly minds try to work, or I go to the mountains and breath that air, and I hope that there will be a way to save us from ourselves.... please.... can someone do that?!

 Yesterday I made cheese out at Chapel Hill Creamery. A local shop, The Fifth Season, was hosting a cheese making workshop and I signed up for it. Today there is a winter gardening workshop and I signed Gerry up for that one. Somehow we are going to get off the grid and fend for ourselves. No one else out there is looking out for us, that's for sure!

The Chapel Hill Creamery is a beautiful little farm, with Jersey cows, happily eating and being well taken care of. Their cheese is soooo amazing, I buy some most Saturdays at the Farmers Market.

So, we made cheese. It was hot, there were a lot of people, it wasn't quite what I expected, I thought there would be more hands on making. We mostly watched and listened. That was ok though. It was interesting. Portia was great and fun to get to know.

I think I threw up a little in my mouth at the smell of the milk curdling in the citric acid. I'm not sure I'm cut out for the cheese making business, I might give it a try, but I do know I will not be  cheese maker and I totally respect those that do make cheese. It is a process of patience and understanding of chemistry. There is probably math involved too. I really wish I had not daydreamed so much in school.....
In the end, I brought home some ricotta that is probably the best I have ever tasted. But the best part of the whole thing:

Somehow they managed to have a cow give birth right in the middle of the workshop. There we were, stirring the curds, waiting, waiting, and we hear a loud mooooooooo come from the cow in the pen. We had been warned that the birth was eminent. We dropped what we were doing and got to the pen just in time to see the baby roll onto the ground.......... the cutest little black angus cow you would ever hope to see! Poor mama, she looked pretty ragged, any of us that have given birth could totally empathize with how that cow was feeling at that moment.

Everyone went back in the hot room to finish up the cheese, me and my A.D.D. slipped out for one more look, just as baby calf struggled to her feet.  See mama's nose there? She gave me a warning snort to not get too close. Good mama, protect your young.

Now, here is a little slice of southern redneck for you. Gerry and I are looking for land out in the county somewhere. We want a farm, we want animals, we want space and seclusion. So I found an adorable log cabin on  Price was great, it was on a river, 10 acres, there was a greenhouse.... perfect.
Only one small problem. Them that owned it (we are calling them Bubba)  divided the land they owned   and what do you reckon? Some dumbass has built this storage building right up next to the property we were looking at and they are living in this thing!  See where the grass is mowed? Yep, that is the property line. Unbelievable. You have this beautiful 10 acre farm and your neighbor builds an 8X10 storage building, puts it up on some blocks, as they love to do here in the south (so you can take it with you when you move, I guess? or just saving money not having to pour a foundation, or better yet, don't have to get a permit to build).  Even better, they paint the front blue..... why? I was standing on what would be my back porch when I shot this photo. Can't you just see yourself, sipping a nice cool iced tea after picking veggies from your garden and waving over to Bubba Junior sittin' on his steps? and what is up with that yucca plant?

So, I meet the realtor, she is adorable, I love her. We are all like WTF?!?! about this building, know this is not going to be the house I am going to buy, but we go in for a look, just for grins. Open the door, the smell of tobacco wafts out and slams us. The house is dirty, tacky, not kept up, not prepared for potential buyers....... and all I can think is, this is what is wrong with this country. We have embraced mediocrity as an acceptable way of life. We are the Walmart nation. There are not enough of us waking up and going, STOP THIS MADNESS, give us back our better way of life. You can still be poor and clean your damn house up!

Maybe the answer really is to go live on the moon..... it would be so quiet.

PS: thanks once again to all of you for the comments on my last post. I like to reply to each comment individually but sometimes it gets away from me. I do appreciate the readers and the comments, as we all do that blog. It was also great to hear from some lurkers, that's a rare treat!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014


My blog has been a pitiful thing this past summer. I mean, just how many pictures can you post of nursing home rooms and doctor's offices before everyone runs screaming!  I realize that if you don't do anything interesting with your life, there isn't much to blog about.

I'm hoping to change all of that and start doing interesting things again so you have something to come here and read about. I used to read so many blogs about pottery that inspired me, taught me, encouraged me. Most of them have gone over to facebook, sadly, and I have gone in search of other interesting things to read about. Some have posted that people aren't blogging like they used to, but that isn't exactly true. Many are blogging, not a lot of potters. But there are great garden blogs, food blogs, craft blogs, soap blogs, political blogs, environmental blogs. I find lots of great reading out there, just go looking! Hopefully I can keep this blog interesting, not only for you but for me as well. It's evolving, as we all do......

The bowl above was gifted to me yesterday by my great friend and mentor, Barbara McKenzie. We had lunch together in Chapel Hill and she brought this to me. Yellow Salt over Shino. It's a beauty. I love the silkiness of yellow salt glaze. Barbara is a glaze master. Love this bowl!

I am trying to catch up with all of my friends, I have not been getting around to see them this summer, since all of the family issues. My friend Eve just got back from the monastery in India and look who she saw! Our monk group, just look at our boys! One of the greatest gifts I have ever received was to host these monks earlier this year. I still use the gifts they gave me. Compassion, understanding, meditation, quietness, enjoying the preparation of good food with family, so many other things they taught me..... all priceless gifts to have.

I have been going to the Shambahla Center for meditation. Over Labor Day weekend, Wesley and Lazarus came home and we went together. What a joy to go to a meditation center with your child. I am really enjoying this practice. Yoga every day this week and trying to continue to eat well. Got to take care of this aging body. I have seen what happens if you don't. It ain't pretty!

Eve brought me a teakwood rice paddle back from her trip along with a khata and a book from the monastery. I collect wooden spoons, so I am excited to have this one from a place I want to visit one of these days.

Our tiny garden continues to give us gifts of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and okra, as well as basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley and mint. I inherited my grandmothers gift of being able to stick a leaf in some dirt and clone a plant. I have been cloning basil and houseplants. I have a Christmas cactus that belonged to her, I have had it for about 30 years, rescued from my mom, who cannot grow a living thing. I have started trying to clone it, we shall see. The only thing I haven't been successful with growing, like she was, is african violets. She grew the most beautiful ones, but I can't keep them alive. It's a challenge I might try again.....

Gerry also has a green thumb and has mostly worked the vegetables this year. We only used neem oil for pests and were quite successful, even though we are sun challenged here. If we had a real piece of land we would have one kick ass garden! Gerry would make a really great farmer.

We are still waiting on our little gifts from the chickens. This is the month! They should start laying anytime now. They are walking around moaning and fussing. Either horney or feeling like something is stuck in their ass. I can't tell which, but I am ready for them to start earning their keep and bring on those eggs!

After lunch with my pals Laura and Barbara yesterday, Laura and I went over to a new tea house in town, Oasis. My other pal Susan told me about it so we checked it out. Very adorable place, great tea, great atmosphere. We snuggled up in comfy leather furniture and chatted awhile.

Now.... here is the most important gift of all!!!! My beautiful child..... happy.... with her friend, Lazarus. I adore these two, they are like peas in a pod. Just alike, and very good together. Its so wonderful to see my child happy and caring about someone.

I am very blessed and thankful each day for the many gifts I receive. I need to remember to give those gifts as often as I receive them. Reap what you sow, get what you give, Karma and all that.
I read on a blog the other day about filling your days with friends and people you care about and how doing for others can bring more happiness than doing for yourself. It's so true isn't it? When I spend time with my family and my friends, my life seems richer. You can see that from my blog. When I am hibernating or having to be places I don't want to be, my blog is stagnant and pathetic, but when I share time with friends, Gerry and Wesley, there are so many things to write about. I suppose my blog could sort of be a measure of how things are going. Good days=good blogs. Bad days= crazy blog or none at all.......

Anyway...... find some things to write about out there, you guys. You inspire me, make me laugh, make me cry and I miss many of the friendships that have grown here on my blog.

Buck up little campers!  

Saturday, August 30, 2014


 Dogtown is the nickname for an area around Santa Monica Ca. where a group of skaters known as the Z boys revolutionized skateboarding in the 1970's. I watched the Z Boys of Dogtown documentary last night on netflix (again, always so slow to come around to movies, this was out in 2001). It was a flash back to my past and I stayed up all night watching skateboard videos. Insomnia.... I have to find something to do.....

I was about 13 when I got my first skateboard, and I practically slept with it. I took that thing everywhere. I bought it from a kid in my school, ironically it was a GB board (Gerry Broome, haha).  As I got better, I stepped up to a blue Bahne board and kept it until my dad sold my car, and as far as I can figure, it got left in the car, I never did find it.  I consumed every page of Skateboarder magazine, and tried all the tricks the Z boys were creating. I was the only girl in a group of skateboard rats and they always showed me respect and encouragement, even though I never got as good as any of them. They even encouraged me to enter a local skate competition and I won third place. I was thrilled! I don't think my mom and dad ever  saw me really ride my board, except maybe out of a restaurant window, where they finished up their dinner and I skated around in the parking lot waiting on them.

 After my Bahne disappeared, I got an Alva. Tony Alva started making these in the '70's and I guess mine is one of the originals, because I would have bought it around then. He is featured in the Z boys film, and so I had to get my board out. I rode it around in the house, you gotta love hard wood floors.

It felt good to be back on my board though. Wobbly, and Gerry keeps saying I am going to crack my head open, but it feels really good. Not ready for pavement yet, I don't want to be getting a hip replacement any time soon. But maybe when I'm more steady, I'll get out on the pavement. I miss the sound a skateboard makes as it scrapes across the pavement, miss that feeling of pushing off and rolling along.....  I don't remember when I stopped riding. There was a day when I thought I would never stop riding. I guess I stopped when I started rock climbing maybe, then had a baby, then worked all the time. Also I lived in areas with steep hills and I'm a flatlander.

Cindy at Handstories blog also inspired me to get out my old lap loom a friend gave me. I started weaving with some wool and some sari silk, then started adding bits of leather and strips of cloth and had a fine old time, just for me. I think it will be a bag when I'm through, a bag for me.

Wesley is home for the weekend with a friend, both vegan, so I am experimenting with vegan baked goods. This was a winner. Cranberry walnut muffins from King Arthur Flour. Just google it, the recipe will pop up. They are moist and tasty and pretty healthy. Why did I ever fear baking without butter, eggs and milk? It's not that bad!

This skateboard thing was like hopping in a time machine and going back to some better days of my youth.
Its fun to revisit that past, I was such a delinquent :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Clearing the cobwebs

 I have been clearing cobwebs this week, literally and figuratively. Today I worked out in my studio for the first time all summer, cleaning and encouraging little spiders to go somewhere else. It seemed like there were baby spiders hatching as I swept, is that possible, do they do that? They were doing that!

It's been a long rough summer, and the things I have felt like writing about really needed to not be for public consumption. Just how much can one take of reading about craziness anyway? I've had a lot to sort out and come to peace with. I now understand that you can have compassion for someone and not love them, and that's enough.....

This summer for me was about dealing with aging, accepting compassion as a new way of feeling, learning more about who I am and what I want my life to be about, learning how to let go of my child just a little bit more, learning to deal with that lonely hollow feeling a child leaves in the pit of your heart, and trying to understand where my art has gone.....

We had one thing after another this summer, first Gerry's skin cancer, then his dad's surgery, then putting his mom in a nursing home, then his dad going there, then the both of them coming back home, then my mom making herself sick and going to a nursing home, then coming home. Then the worst of all for me.... Wesley went to Boston for what was supposed to be a great internship with WGBH and she got food poisoning the first week there. All alone for the first time in a large city, and she is vomiting for days. I was so scared, I almost got on a plane and flew up there. But she dealt with it like the strong girl we have raised, and managed to salvage the last week of the trip and had some fun. She was home for 24 hours and then left for school. This has been the hardest letting go so far. I think maybe because this is the last year of school and then she really is going to go off somewhere.....

I have puttered around with things to keep my hands busy, because my hands must stay busy. I have driven up and down the highways. I have cooked a lot, learning new vegan recipes, Wes is vegan now. I made soaps, I made pot holders on my mom's old loom that she never used. I love these looms for times when you need to make something, anything.  I have spent a lot of time with my chicks, they are about a week or so away from egg laying time, so excited! I am feeding them an organic (very expensive) vegetarian layer feed, because I will be eating whatever they consume in the end.  I have painted rooms in the house, cleaned closets, worked in the yard, helped move Wes back to school, looked for furniture for her, staying busy, but no art.....

I keep asking myself why I have so little motivation to work with clay. I have this great studio, everything I need and yet I have felt no pull to go to my studio. Then it occurred to me the other night when I was sitting on the porch..... clay is demanding. Clay wants all of your time. Clay caused me to resent the time my family wanted of me. And I got tired of feeling that way. What? you want to eat dinner? but I'm trimming this foot, I have to do it now. What? you want to go somewhere? I just rolled out these slabs, they have to be used now or they will get too hard. What? You want to talk? I need to focus on this math so I can figure this glaze recipe out. Go away, I said in my head, then hated that I felt that way. What do I care more about, my clay or my family? Well, of course.... my FAMILY! so I just stopped, because I can only focus on one thing at a time. I can multi-task like crazy, but it has to be multi-tasking within one project, not several at one time. Clay just asked to much of me. There is only so much of me to go around.

I have done no shows this year, sold no pottery, made no pottery. And my world didn't end. My art bank account has $80 in it, but it never had all that much to begin with. That's the other thing. I worked my ass off, made A LOT of pottery and made very little compared to a salary "normal" people get for the same amount of time and effort. It's just not worth it. I do feel a pull to get some clay in my hands, but maybe just for the fun of making, not trying to figure out how many of something I need to make to break even at a show.

The other thing I have been up to this summer is exploring new career possibilities. Maybe I don't even want to be an artist trying to make a living selling her work anymore. I wrote my first business plan this summer, even wrote out a five year plan which I have never done. I found a business I wanted to buy.... it didn't work out, but it was a great learning experience, and maybe one day I will find the right thing. I have interviewed for a couple of part time jobs. I would really like to help offset the costs of Wesley's college expenses, and selling art is not making a dent in that area.

This summer I felt like I put on big girl pants for the first time. I weathered the storm, and came out on the other side, stronger and wiser. More depressed, but not so much I couldn't function. More of a funk maybe, nothing that needed the meds advertised on TV to solve. I still feel a bit blue, but Gerry has made me laugh a lot, my friends have made me laugh a lot, I got drunk, peed in the front yard, played corn hole, drank bloody marys, went to meditation temples, started doing yoga again, learned more about gardening, learning...... I like learning.......

I feel like I need to find something for this blog to be about, and not just come here to purge the crazy in my life. Some of you still have my blog listed on your blog roll as A Potters Life For Me. It hasn't been that in a long time, sure hasn't been about a potter's life, just a life.....  I wonder sometimes why I even write all of this here. But some of you that read have become great friends and your emails these past few weeks have been so great to read. We are an odd bunch aren't we, all of us bloggers..... maybe this is just my journal now. Sometimes I think, Oh God, why did I write that, but then someone will email or post a comment and say they understand exactly what I was saying or what I said helped them, and then I think, well ok, come on along if you want to. I read blogs that help me, so I suppose its the same here. If nothing else, sometimes it's pretty good entertainment :)
I think I need to lighten up a bit though..... let's see how that goes

PS: after I wrote all of this, I clicked on my spam to clean it up and had an email, in all caps it said:
How would you like to have a nine inch d*#k Tracey Broome?  
well, I'm not sure what that means! but it made me laugh :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Time to be slow.....

“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.”
― John O'DonohueTo Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

thanks everyone for your emails, I'm good, enjoying my family. It's been a rough summer, more for the blog when I sort myself out...... Meanwhile the beer is cold at Top of the Hill :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

I'll be back.....

I'm dealing with some stuff.....
I'll be back.......