Friday, September 25, 2015

Once Upon a Time...There Was a Willow Tree.

Once upon a time, two little children lived in a nice, little house with a play area to swing, climb, slide and imagine.   The little girl loved to make up stories and put on plays.  The little boy loved to play in the dirt.   He loved to sift it through his fingers and kick it up and dig in it.  Next to the play area was a patch of ground where the grass didn't want to grow.

Most people would see a bare patch of grass, but the boy saw dirt.   He saw a place to dig and build and explore.  Maybe he would dig all the way down to China.  Down and down and down he dug all through the summer and into the fall making mounds of dirt for his little, metal cars to climb and roads around the hole in the ground.  Soon, it was time to go back to school and the boy and his friend forgot about the hole in the ground.  But they'd dug so deep, water appeared in the hole.  All winter, the rains filled the hole higher and higher and the mud was too thick to play cars anymore.

One spring morning, the boy's mother was walking the dog around the neighborhood when she saw a curly willow branch on the sidewalk.  She'd always loved curly willow trees, but where would she put one?  Then she remembered the deep hole in the play area filled with water and she had an idea. She picked up the curly willow branch, took it home and put it in the hole her son dug.

The tree grew.  And so did the girl and the boy.  The play yard disappeared and a garden appeared.  Tomatoes and lettuce and curly willow grew in harmony for many more years.  Until one day, the curly willow's branches started to break, the trunk got thick and gnarled and old.  Just as the girl and boy had grown too old for the play area, the curly willow had grown too big for the yard, too.  And it was time to say good bye to the curly willow tree.

One day, four men arrived with a giant chipper, crane truck, ropes and chain saws.  In less than 2 hours, all that remained of the 20 year old curly willow tree was a stump.

It was time but it was sad.  So many seasons of growth had passed for the tree, and the girl and the boy and the family.  Even with the tree gone the memories remain, always.  Little feet running.  Muddy hands digging.  Princesses in a castle playhouse and pirates on swings.  Laughter and shouts and tears and cheers, now silent.

Though the tree is gone; there is a stump to sit on in a new patch of sunshine, as memories float down like fallen leaves and tomatoes grow.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Life's a Beach.

Blue sky.  Puffy white clouds.  Waves and sand and rocks.  And miles to walk in the wonder of it all.  

I love the ocean, always, but this week was just amazing.  The weather prediction was the usual for the Oregon coast; clouds and rain.  I packed accordingly with long sleeves, sweaters, sweatpants and hats.  


It was sunny and beautiful.

Another surprise...even more wonderful!

Jilly, my sweet yellow lab came along, too!  I know that doesn't seem surprising but it is because, you see, back in February, the vet gave Jilly 3-4 months to live.  You can read more about the details here.   But here it is...7 months later and she's bounding after seagulls at the beach!

We all walked and walked and walked some more.

Looking at the bubbles in the sand.

  Finding a stray feather.

Stepping over a broken sand dollar.

We sat and watched the waves crash.  We ate clam chowder, drank beer watching a pod of whales move further south.  But the best thing of all was just being there, at the ocean's edge, sitting and sniffing and being.

I guess that quote is true, "Life's a beach."

Friday, September 11, 2015

As The Wheel Turns: Playing Around.

Balance is a tricky thing to manage in life sometimes.  Too much work and too little play equals stress. Too much play and too little work equals boredom, maybe.  It depends on your definition of work and play.

Work for me is defined as anything that becomes a chore.  Laundry.  Weeding.  Cleaning toilets.   Ironing.  Mopping.  Dusting.  Ok, any kind of cleaning, even in my studio.

Play defined are actions and non actions that feel light and easy. Reading.  Walking.  Watching a sunset.  Listening to music.     

I see a pattern here, it's not really about the act but the feeling.  Sometimes my work in the studio; throwing clay, under glazing, sculpting, hand building or sgraffito can be both work and play. 

If I sit down at the wheel with the pressure of production or a show looming over my head, it becomes work very fast.  I get impatient, frustrated and stressed.  If I get out my clay with no end in mind, whether it's throwing or hand building, it becomes a playful adventure full of welcome surprises. 

Over the last few weeks, I've spent a lot of time on my laptop writing blogs and media releases, filling out event calendar forms, setting up social media sites with new content, organizing contact lists, sending out emails, editing and scheduling.  I am doing volunteer public relations work for a local open studios group.  I'm glad to be able to use my writing and media skills to help promote art and artists in and around my own neighborhood.  BUT it is definitely work.

That's why this week, after a big surge of serious pr work, it was time for play.

I went out and about.  Walked around a colorful store filled with papers and gadgets and boxes.  Played around with colors and shapes.  Slapped a slab on my rolling table and let it just be the shape it wound up.  I pressed a placemat into the clay and wacked it with a meat tenderizer.  Then I rolled it up and stuck it together unevenly.  

Oh my...was that fun!!!

Will it turn out into a cool sculpture?  I don't know and I'm not going to think about it.  The success or failure of the piece doesn't matter.  Because I got what I needed.

Playing around... just what I needed!

Friday, September 4, 2015


I don't like change. 

When my life changes unexpectedly, I get fearful and angry.  In fact, I view change as something to avoid like a big, scary boogie man in the night.  To handle these changes, I set up systems, make lists and follow a routine.  

I also create change. 

As an artist, every time I pick up a ball of clay, roll out a slab, choose an under glaze, or pick up my paint brush, change happens.  After a piece comes off the wheel or out of the kiln, I make even more changes.  This is the work I love and why I love my work. 

Life changes all the time.

Every day with every breath, we change and the planet changes.  Seasons change.  Children change.  Work changes.  Even fun and frolic and friendships change.  Families change and this week, mine changed and expanded with the birth of my first grandchild.  This is a blessed and beautiful change.'s a love - hate thing. 

Change is not something I can or, maybe should, control. When a change happens unexpectedly, it's scary.  When it happens willingly and creatively, like in my studio work, it's inspiring.  And, sometimes, however it happens it can bring more joy and life into your life than you could ever imagine.

Change and faith can go hand in hand, I see.  Faith in change.  That I can handle it and live with it.  Change with faith.  That I create it knowingly and lovingly.

Faith.  There's that word of the year, again.