Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankful Tuesday

(Jilly in the Park)

An ongoing series...Be Thankful Everyday.

On Thanksgiving Day, Jilly, my yellow lab, and I took a walk in the park with a special intention. I wanted to visit some trees in the woods and thank them for the support and energy that's helped through these last two very difficult years. Leaning against one of the large Douglas Firs, sending my thanks I heard the whisper, "Be Thankful Everyday."

Here's my list of Everyday Thanks:

Everyday Thanks...Tuesday: A rainy day, a hot cup of coffee, savoring the soft silence of the pen across the page, writing.

(My hand built mug, a little wonky, but it doesn't leak!)

Everyday Thanks...Monday: Piles of crimson leaves.

Everyday Thanks...Sunday: Making swags at Patty's farmhouse in the country. Smell of fresh cedar. Hot cocoa, sweet treats, chatting and creating among friends and family.

Everyday Thanks...Saturday: The patience of a truly dedicated teacher who sat beside me and helped me out of frustration and into creation.

(Ok, a short, wonky bowl, but I love the horsehair firing)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Being Thankful Everyday

This may be the day after Thanksgiving, but I don't want to spend all my thanks on just one day. I have so much to be thankful for this year. I want to take the advice whispered to me yesterday and try to be thankful every day for the whole year.

Today's Thanks:
I'm thankful for my family. The love we share and the support we give each other. Managing to do what we love and be who we are and pay our bills. Especially, in the last 2 years, we've pulled together part time work, gigs, classes and studio sales to keep paying our bills despite recession and job lay offs.

Yesterday's Thanks:
I'm thankful for this table covered with good food, fine beers and sharing it with my husband, son, daughter and her fiancee. And a special treat for my sweet Jilly sleeping on her doggy bed in the background.

Now the challenge for me: Be thankful everyday. Can I remember to see the every day moments and small things and stop and be thankful? I don't know, but I'm going to try. I'm starting a journal today. I'll post some of them here,too. I'd love to have you join's what we can do. Put a Be Thankful Everyday post on your blog, let me know here, and I'll put a special link here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Art works by Mother Nature.

It snowed last night. This morning, I found my copper patio fountain had been transformed by Mother Nature into an ice sculpture.

The leaves in the park were sculpted too, with layers of ice and soft, white snow.

The chard looks festive with its red stems and green leaves contrasting against the white fluff.

All of these ordinary things become extraordinary art works in the hands of Mother Nature. And, Jilly agrees!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

PMM: My daughter, the teacher.

Caitlin started singing when she was five. Today she's teaching children and adults to sing and play the piano. It all started for her in the backyard, where she belted out 'Part of Your World' from The Little Mermaid movie holding the rain sprinkler head like a microphone. She was so good, the neighbors wanted to know where she got her great voice. She did not get it from me.

In 6th grade, Caitlin had the lead in the school's Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. She started voice lessons at age 15. She auditioned and received a college scholarship in vocal music and graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Music. She's sung in operas, choirs, and toured Europe.

Now she's taking her love of music and passing it on. These are pictures of her with her new students after their first recital of the year. As an mom, I'm proud of my daughter's hard work, dedication and talent. As an artist, I'm proud of the fact that she's passing on her skills and love of her art to others.

I think the best thing we can do as humans is give our best to each other, pass on our talents, shine a light into the dark and help someone else find their way. I'm proud to see Caitlin's light shine the way for herself and others.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A phone to save us from our phones? Really?


A better question is: Why do we need to be saved from our phones?

Watch this youtube of the commercial for Windows new phone.

Then ask yourself, how a better phone is any better than the other phones?
Do you really need a 'smart' phone or would it be smarter to turn off the phone entirely.

So you can look up at the clouds, down at the fall leaves, around at the, well, each other? I'm hearing more and more people complain about the burden of the internet, email, twitter. I just finished an interview with Jen Louden who has taken 2 digital sabbaticals this year and is planning another for the holiday season.

Now that's something that really could save us. Stay tuned for the interview and podcast with Jen. Till then, save yourself first and turn your phone off.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Student to artist to teacher to student again.

Learning is a life long process that circles from learning to doing to teaching and for me, back to learning again. In my last blog I wrote about taking a writing workshop. I'm also taking clay classes. And even though I've taken clay classes, produced clay sculptural work, written professionally and taught classes, I love being a student again.

First lesson learned: I throw clay left handed. I write right handed. Yep. That's why all those years ago in ceramics class, I could never throw a pot, bowl, cup or anything straight. In fact, I was so bad, even the teacher suggested I should stay away from the wheel. Ok, to be fair, my clay had the habit of spinning off my wheel at a high speeds and hitting the wall. But, really, I was trying to do it the right way. Now, I know what was wrong, thanks to Jan, my new teacher who watched me and asked me, "Are you left handed?" "Sometimes," I replied. So, she stopped the wheel, flipped the toggle switch up instead of down and finally it felt right.

Second lesson learned: Potter's wheels turn counter clockwise for right handed people and clockwise for left handed people. Amazing. I never knew there was a choice. And to be fair, I wasn't given a choice. I was to be right handed, period. I've found as an adult, that I do somethings well right handed and somethings well left handed and sometimes I can just use whatever hand is handy.

Third lesson learned: I can throw a bowl. And it isn't horrible, a little wonky maybe, and I needed instruction on some of the steps. But I was able to get it centered and pulled up and pushed out all on my own. Left handed, of course.

Biggest lesson learned: Knowledge is not only powerful but empowering. It's never too late to learn and turn a failure into a success.

Now, I can't wait to learn more about glazes, slips, raku and oxides...oooh what fun!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Walking into Fire: A day for writers.

(Women who write enjoying some munchies with Patti Digh)

Last weekend, I had the pleasure and opportunity to go to a retreat for writers with best-selling authors, Jen Louden,(The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life and 5 other books) Patti Digh(Life is a Verb and 4 other books) and Susan Piver(Wisdom of a Broken Heart and 4 other books) at Portland's Kennedy School.

Sitting in the old school gym, I wrote and meditated, stretched into my fears, laughed, drank coffee, laughed and wrote some more. I learned how to write with my fear beside me instead of in front of me blocking my way, to use my senses, stay on my own side and keep my hand moving. There was down and dirty talk about how to get that draft done. Then, more exercises to keep the energy and the words moving. Free writing questions and a long sessions of sitting and writing.

Lunch was delicious, but meeting the other participants was even better. Listening to everyone's story was amazing and comforting. There were people there from Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina, San Francisco, Seattle, and beyond, but most important was knowing that no matter where they lived, they wanted to face their fears and write. We may be from different places, but here we found we were not alone.

Thanks to Jen Louden, Patti Digh and Susan Piver, I learned to say, "I write." And most important, "To sit the hell down and write."

I'll be writing more about the 'Comfort Queen', her life and writing in an upcoming interview and podcast with best-selling author, Jen Louden. So, stay tuned.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Studio vs Sunshine

It's November in Portland, Oregon which typically means drizzle and rain followed by rain and drizzle. Surprise...and now for something completely different...sunshine, blue skies and temperatures in the upper 60's.

I'm working on new work in the studio, have pieces to deliver and classes to organize. It's all good and wonderful work to do.

But...there's SUNSHINE outside! My inner kid is jumping up and down, racing to the window and pointing. Look!

What to do? Well, what would you do?


Outside I went with Jilly bouncing at my heels. First, I sat drinking in the blue sky, light fluffy clouds and sunshine.

Watch the shapes in the clouds overhead.

Admire the leaf silhouettes on the side of the house. Then, I started tidying up the garden for winter, pruning my roses, camelia, heather and pulling up tomato plants, harvesting beets, catnip and lemon verbena. I still have more to do to put the garden to bed for the winter and in the studio but it will get done. Another day.

Today - is for drinking in the sun in November.
And, oh, playing ball with Jilly. Of course!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Celtic New Year!

Today, November 1st, is the first day of the Celtic New Year. Samhain(Sow-when) is one of four Celtic Fire Festivals that mark the turning of the seasons. This festival begins at sunset on Halloween, October 31st goes through sunset on November 1st.

Traditionally, it was a time to make contact with ancestors and spirits, make peace and settle disputes, and let go of old ideas. Growing up in the Catholic church, it was called All Saint's Day. Some cultures call it, The Day of the Dead. But it's all one in the same idea. It's a way to acknowledge the past, honor memories of family and friends, and move into the new year.

Celebrating Samhain for me, is a celebration of the bounty and beauty of the season. Enjoying newly ripened pears and apples.

Lighting candles and pumpkins. Putting out my spooky witch banner.

Making ghost cookies.

I also make time to reflect on the past year. Take a look at where I've been and where I hope to go. Sending loving thoughts to my Gram, Dad and Aunt May who loved and helped me. And I try to let go of any sadness and anger the past year has brought me, so I can be open to more love and happiness.

Happy Samhain! May the Celtic New Year bring you much joy and happiness!