Sunday, December 30, 2018

I Still Don’t Understand.

2017 left the land of hope into the 2018 bumpy road of understanding. Or so I hoped. And I tried to understand, really I did. But day by day the news feeds, headlines and tweets became a messy, mudslinging pile of lies, corruption and denial.

Our president pledged to uphold the constitution of our country but has shut our borders, insulted our allies, stirred a pot of hatred and fear. Other countries infiltrate our internet, which is an act of war. Racist groups grow hotter under the flame fanned by our own president.

Where, oh where is the understanding?

Right under our noses, I believe. We all know what’s going on, yet our elected officials do nothing. We know what is right. We know what is wrong. We do understand. 

Our country is corrupted. Our president is only interested in what makes him more interest(money). Our  senators and congressmen are bribed by corporations and pharmaceutical companies. Our health and education and security as citizens are the last thing on their lists. 

Still, I tried to see the possibilities. I tried to understand that the bad getting worse would cause a wake up call for our country. We as a people, instead of becoming more divided, would unite to make a better world, country and lives for all. 

I understand less and less each day. And yet, I don’t want to give up on US or give in to cynicism or anger or hopelessness. 

What new word will this 2019 new year bring?

I’m not sure, yet. All I know is I need hope and understanding to come together. I need a word to comfort me, to lighten the darkness, to see possibility that we are not a lost country on the road to destruction but a people finding our way down a rough road together.   

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Solstice, Fire, Creations and Vacations.

The Solstice always brings a time of contemplation, rest and renewal. The shortest day and longest night of the year gives us all a bigger space in which to slow down, put our feet up in front of the fire and feel its warmth and safety. 

Fire seems to be a big part of my life all year. I’m a Sagittarius which is astrologically a fire sign. Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved sitting in front of a fire. Watching the flames is a meditative practice for me providing a flowing movement to calm me, a visual mantra to center me and light to help me see through the darkness of doubt and fear. 

Having a new gas fireplace for Christmas has helped bring more serenity to my space in a way I would not have anticipated. The old fireplace was drafty and unused and made the room cold and almost unlivable in the winter months. Now I can sit here and write, listen to music, watch the flames feeling the cozy warmth on my face. 

Kiln time.  

On the Solstice, I also loaded and fired a glaze load in my kiln. Yes, the world’s shortest day was a long work day for me. Truth be told, it’s been a longer work week for me than usual. This time of the year, I give in to the demands of the season and suspend my studio work until after the New Year. 

This year, I have a gallery delivery date the first week of January. There is a theme for the January show called ‘Winter Dreams’. I admit I don’t always do well with ‘theme’ work. But this one snuck up and crept into my clay work. At first, I was just collecting leaves, playing with shapes without any agenda. 

Then the shapes became bent winter trees. And the leaves that fell in the fall became frosted, winter sculptured bowls and a platter. And shapeshifter bust came out of the closet to become a new, small sculpture. 

Now the kiln is cooling and I won’t know if all the pieces made it through, let alone came out as I envision. I never open the kiln until four days after I fire. The waiting and not knowing is always hard. 

Time for a vacation. 

With Christmas ahead, taking a vacation from the studio gives me space to enjoy the holiday, create in a different way. 

Instead of clay, I bake shortbread, cherry cake and candy. Instead of painting, I create with flowers, wrapping paper and ribbons. Instead of feeling the sun on my face, I sit warm and delighted in front of a new fireplace. 

My wish for the solstice is simple: peace, warmth and light for everyone near and far. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Remembering Gratefulness.

Quiet. Soft Lights. A warm fire. Music flowing around me. A puppy snoozing on my feet. 

These are some of the things I am grateful for today. 

In this season of busyness and bargain buying, it’s wonderful to sit and savor the simple things in my life. I want to appreciate it all not just right now or today but everyday. It’s not an easy task to keep my focus with all the loud tweets, posts, commentaries made around me. I try to tune it out, but it sneaks in, under and around my life anyway. 


I believe seeing the good around the bad in our country, world and universe is essential. It is a lifeline to sanity. A path to peace. A journey that reveals the true purpose to living each day beyond basic survival. 

This is why I started a gratefulness journal many years ago. I didn’t want to spend my days hearing and seeing only the bad words and difficult people. I didn’t want my critical monkey mind to derail me. I didn’t want to be blind to the beautiful little everyday things in my days. 

It’s easy to do. 

I keep a small book and pen by my bedside. And every night before I go to sleep, I write. It’s just a few lines, no big deal. After I write, I ask my husband the same question and I write down his answers too. 

Inside the book, at the top of every page are the words, Today, I am grateful for...

Yesterday it was a walk without rain, Greek potatoes for dinner, seeing the neighborhood holiday lights. For my husband, I wrote: relaxing day in front of the fire, walk with the puppy, getting the bamboo cut up. Today for me it’s a relaxing Sunday, a walk in the park, waffles with bacon, a puppy who follows me from room to room and lays on my feet to sleep. 

It’s so simple that I miss how important it is to me. It keeps from getting lost in this complex maze called life where I rush and worry and strive too much. I forget that each breath is a gift, each color a miracle, each sound magical and each puppy kiss a delight. 

Today, what are you grateful for?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Tis the Season: Trees, Memories and New Ideas.

I do love the holidays. The lights, colors, smells and sweets all help to make this darker time of the year brighter. First, I clean out fall and re-deck the halls. I put the trees on the mantle, plop bright red pillows on the sofa and get out my Santa collection and my children’s favorite Christmas books. 

Every ornament and Santa picture is a happy trip down memory lane. The candy cane Rudolph and starfish Santa my children made in school. The photos with Santa at Meier and Frank’s Toyland. But those babies are Masters graduates now. 

Many seasons, many changes. 

For the first time this year, we did not go out to our favorite tree farm for a freshly cut Grand Fir because the family sold the property to developers to make yet another subdivision in our suburban landscape. It’s sad to see it go. But we’ll always have the memories of many family treks in the woods to find that perfect tree. 

Now our perfect tree came from Amazon. I know. Some might say a faux tree is good for the environment and cutting a fresh one is bad. Or visa versa. There are good and bad sides, of course. One: it finally fits our narrow space so we don’t have to move all the furniture. Two: it’s tall and stately and clean. Three: it’s reusable every year. 

But I do miss the smell and freshness of a ‘real’ tree. 

Creative Spirit. 

I know I often see change as bad. There’s the fear of the unknown. But what I find too, is a spirit of adventure. A chance to try something new. An opening for creativity.

I missed the Grand Fir smell and I decided to see what I could do about it. First, of course, I brought out the candles and searched for ones with a ‘forest’ scent. It works. But it’s not what I was really missing: the scent in the tree itself.  

Ah ha. I work in clay. 

What holds scent? A bisque fired clay. What did I have in the kiln? Bisque fired red clay hearts. I unloaded the kiln and found 2 dozen nicely bisque hearts with porous clay on the back. I was just going to make magnets out of them, but I realized they could be more. Add a ribbon, and a magnet, a few drops of good scented oil and I’ve got a Christmas tree that smells like one again. 

Problem solved.

Now when I walk past the tree, all the lovely memories of fresh cut trees, Santa visits and sweet, little faces blend with our new faux fir.