Thursday, August 27, 2015

Faith.


Every year, a word picks me.  I don't plan it or search for it or take it from some well made list.  Instead, I listen.  I wait.  I listen some more.  And sometime near the end of the year, a word appears.

This year, the word is faith.  I'm not a big believer in the traditional way, so the word seemed an odd one to come to me.  I've wrote several blogs on how faith has followed me this year, here, here and here.

But this week, it seems, the word has settled in me.  Softly.

No big revealing discovery or major turning point has come to me.  I can't say, "See! I had faith and because I had faith, I'm saved."  Because I don't need saving.  I'm fine.  Sure, I've had my ups and downs just like you but nothing that needed me to grasp for faith.  

But, maybe, that is the essence of faith.

A soft, settled sense of life.  Daily living breath by breath.  Doing what I do as it needs doing.  Waking and walking and working and stretching and sleeping until waking again.  Knowing that even though many things are unknown to me, I'm still here. 

Faith isn't a thing or an action, it is being.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Summertime Goodness.



Huge, dark, bursting boysenberries that just melt in your mouth.  Soft, sweet, juicy peaches as big as baseballs.  Tomatoes red, ripe and pulling down the vines in my garden.   

I love the goodness summer brings.  And I love cooking sweet goodies and cool salads with whatever summer brings my way.  

In the past two weeks that's meant boysenberries, peaches from the local farmers market and cherry and beefsteak tomatoes from my garden.  I've harvested almost all my lettuce and the zucchini is, sadly, done for this year.  But thanks to the very hot and sunny weather here in the usually cloudy northwest, my tomatoes are turning red right and left.

The best thing in my book is coming up with dishes to enjoy using these delights.  Boysenberry Galette, Peach Crumble Pie and Caprese Salad.

First, sweet, then the savory.

A Boysenberry Galette is so quick, easy and fun to bake up.  Just mix the washed berries with cinnamon and sugar, roll out pie dough, spoon the berries inside, then fold it up around the outside, brush with a little milk or egg, sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 375 for 45 minutes.  Cool.  Eat.

Pie making is not my thing.  So I admit, I cheated here just a little.  I used a store bought pie shell for the bottom of this pie.  Just prick it with a fork and par bake it at 400 for 10 minutes, let it cool.  While this is happening, slice the peaches and mix with 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp flour and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  Make the crumble by mixing 6 tbsp butter into 1/3 cup each of brown sugar and flour and 1/2 cup oatmeal and more cinnamon.  Once the pie shell is cool, fill it with the peach filling, top with the crumble topping and bake at 375 for about an hour.   Cool.  Eat.

Caprese Salad is even easier than all of the above.  No cooking.  Very little prep.  Perfect for a hot day dinner.  Wash and de-stem 2 cups of cherry tomatoes.  Rinse several stems of basil leaves.  In a serving bowl, add 16 oz container of Trader Joes marinated mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, snip the basil leaves over the top.  Toss. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Eat with crusty, french rolls.

I hope you enjoy the summertime goodness coming your way as much as I'm enjoying it here!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

As The Wheel Turns: New Work without Working?


It's been almost a month since I've spent any real time at my wheel or in my studio, for that matter.  So, you'd think I'd have little to show for my creative avoidance but that's not the case.

Surprise...my studio shelves are filling up again.  It's time to bisque!

How did that happen?  Believe me, when I went back in there this week, I couldn't believe my eyes.  I have five full shelves of new work.  Plus 10 other pieces to the left that are waiting to be under glazed.  Some of it are hand built pieces I did a month or so ago.  Some are thrown pieces that were made two or so at a time over the last month.  Some I made yesterday.

I thought I was in a creative slump but maybe I've worked through it.  Literally.

Maybe pushing myself less and putting less pressure on production has actually produced more work.  I have big bowls with newly painted designs.  A bowl and a cup where I decided to use my old watercolor skills and try a wet into wet approach with the underglazes.  I have new sculptures and new jars waiting for the kiln.

Could working less actually produce more work?

This is so contrary to the way I've lived my life so far.  I've always prided myself on being a hard worker no matter what work was put before me.  From copywriting and broadcast producing to parenting and art making, I've worked hard, made lists, pushed and met deadlines.  

But maybe I'm tired of pushing myself and there was a creative rebellion happening. Underneath my creative slump, there was a new force gathering strength and sneaking into my studio to play instead of produce, create instead of construct and relax at the wheel.

Yesterday, I sat down and just felt the clay in my hands with no specific objects in mind.  
When I stopped, I had thrown 4 mugs and a bowl.  And discovered a new way to trim the mugs giving them a new curvier shape.

Voila! Maybe work doesn't have to be worked at so hard ever again.

 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Social Media: To Tweet or not To Tweet?


One of the first social media sites I opened was Twitter.  It sounded like a good idea at the time, especially since I love to write as much as I love to throw and paint.  

Twitter was originally billed as the wordy social media.  140 characters. All text and no pics.  As with most social media sites, Twitter has changed.  Some would say it has evolved with the times but I feel this evolution is just more of the same social media game.  Where every social media site must offer everything that every other social media site offers in order for it to be viable and competitive.  

This would be like all breakfast cereals changing to become like all other food  products in order to be competitive.  Picture filling your morning breakfast bowl with pasta, rice, meat, cheese, marshmallows, eggs, spinach and bananas and topping it all off with a mocha latte.  Too much, right?  That's why we eat separate meals each day.

And why different social media can be different and still be viable and competitive.

Anyway...I got a Twitter account.  And I tried, really I tried.

I've tweeted twice in 8 years. 

Oh, I've got followers and I did follow others but it was just more and more self help quotes and promotions for more self help books.  After awhile, I just forgot about it.

Here's my biggest clue: when I got my iPad, I didn't even think to put the Twitter app on it. 

Now, my husband and son love Twitter and use it to keep up on the latest news and sports.  And  I know others use it to keep up with celebrities. But, that's just not where my interest lies.

I repeat...I don't tweet. Since I don't have the app on my pad or phone, there's nothing to remove.  If I don't use the account, do I need to close it down?  I wonder, if I never use it will the little blue bird fly away on its own?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jilly is as Silly as Ever!


I am so, so happy to report that my sweet, ten-year old yellow lab, Jilly is still living!  

In February,  the vets found a mass on her spleen.  They gave her 3-4 months with or without a tricky surgery and a few more months with chemo.  I wrote about it here.  

After much consideration, we decided to give Jilly the best quality of life with the life she had left.    

And she is living the life!  She still walks 2.5 miles to the park everyday, unless it's really hot.  She barks to play ball.  She forages for plums, strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes in our backyard and garden.  She snuggles next to me while I write and watches from her bed while I throw in the garage.   

But that's not all, of course.  Jilly deserves the very best and she gets it.  She gets chicken liver with every meal.  Peanut butter cookies (broken into small bits) every time she looks cute, which is most of the time.  She now has a cool pad for hot days and an air conditioned room to keep cool at night.  

Best of all, is Jilly is not only alive but living it up.  Silly and sweet and talkative and loving as ever.  We wouldn't want it any other way.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Land of Don't Know.


I'd like to say, I'm burned out.  That would be easier do deal with, understand and get beyond.  But I'm not.  

I'm in that no-mans land of 'I don't know'. 


I do know that I've been dedicated and working hard for several years now on my clay.  I've been working hard to produce a consistent body of ceramics work. I worked to improve my techniques to make better pieces with brightly colored and black glazes.  Both types of glazes are some of the hardest effects to achieve consistently.  I worked to have more pieces so I could make more sales.  I worked on committees to gain more points to give my work a better placement in the shows.  I worked on gathering and figuring out all the details of labeling, pricing, packing and delivery.  
But it seems that the more I do, the less I know.

It was challenging, energizing and fun.  But after a recent round of shows, I learned that having more to sell doesn't equal more sales.  That better placement, more consistent work and fully stocked shelves didn't help, either.  

Where do I go from here?  Do I change what I make?  Choose different colors or shapes or items to make?  Give up on functional work and concentrate on sculptural? Do I lower my prices(which are already low, I'm told)? Or raise them to attract a different crowd?  

No wonder I'm on Netflix instead of in my studio.  

I'm in the Land of Don't Know and I don't like it.  But I've been here before and moved through and onward from this territory.  So I do know that this is part of the creative process ad I just need to be patient and trust it.




Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Walk in the Wild Woods.


I wasn't working in the studio this week.  I was enjoying the life that lives outside it.  Now, there's a workaholic side of me that is very uncomfortable with taking time off.  The judge in my head bangs the gavel of shame and guilt sentencing me to do more time and work harder to make up for it.

I know the truth.  Playing inspires creativity. 

So, I took a walk on the Wildwood trail.  This beautiful 30 mile trail through Forest Park in the middle of Portland, Oregon, is home to 112 birds and 62 mammals.  The canopy is massive with trees reaching upwards like natural skyscrapers.  The only mammals I met had two feet and wore shorts and walking shoes.  But on a sunny day, the trail was shaded and cool and such a relief from the hot summer weather.

I only hiked a small portion of the trail.  I heard birds echoing above me.  I saw giant branches sway in the breeze.  I tilted my head upwards to see the sun beam in and around the fir boughs.  I stopped and admired the magic of birth as an old dead tree stump supported the 2-3 newly sprouting fir trees. 

Clearing the trail, cleared my mind.

Gone were the judges and critics and gossips.  My mind was blissfully rested and refreshed and empty of all the dramas of life.  I'd like to proudly claim that great new ideas were sprouted and new projects will begin.  But, I can't lie.

I walked and walked and walked in the wild woods. That's all.  And for now, that's more than enough.