Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Flow





I love the Oregon coast. I haven’t been there in over 4 years. In fact, I haven’t been anywhere, really in two years. I’ve walked my beloved park. Visited local farms and wineries. Gone grocery shopping. But I haven’t really taken a trip or a vacation. 

I know I’m not alone. Covid, the Delta variant have kept us all close to home, worried and fearful. Add a death in the family and I needed to retreat or find a retreat to soothe my soul, breathe in deeper and let out all the surrounding sorrow. 


Waves



Just watching the waves move in and out. Foaming and folding and glistening. I could feel a deep calm rolling over me. The sound of the surf quieted my mind. The push and pull inside me gave itself over to the ocean. 



Gazing at the sun moving downward towards the ocean brought up so many feelings. Hope. Sadness. Love. Fear. Connection. Loneliness. Support. And joy. Yes, as the sun slowly lowered,    I could feel my soul filling up with warmth. 


Play



Taking my sweet doggy to the beach is always fun. But because he was trained from puppyhood to be a guide dog, he was always on a leash. This is his comfort zone. Ok, I’ll admit, mine too. We found a small, inlet beach area with only a few people. And I decided, it was time to take the chance. 



He loved it! He splashed. Barked. Met another dog. He ran back and forth between my husband and I playing monkey in the middle. He got lots of treats each time he ran to us. I was so excited to see him sniff the waves and run. Joyously playing. 


Mud



Art making is my therapy. I need to put my hands in clay to clean the mud off my heart and soul. This last week, I made a decision. Even though my kitchen is still a mess, I needed to make a mess with clay to feel better. 




So I threw. Even if these bowls don’t turn out, it doesn’t matter. Even if they sit on my studio shelf and dry and crack and never get glazed, it’s ok. Because just the act of wedging, throwing, pulling and shaping the clay is an act of hope. An act of balancing then with now. Centering me. And allowing the future to flow. 





  

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Small joys

 


This year I’ve decided to jump into fall. I don’t always love this time of year, but right now I need something to bring me joy. My kitchen is still in pieces. There is still no timeline or schedule as to when the reconstruction will begin. 


Since I haven’t been able to work in clay and I’ve run out of closets to clean, I took out my clippers and went to work outside. I trimmed the lavender and rosemary. I shaped up the Nandina and Hydrangeas. I made herbal sachets for the drawers and closets filled with rosemary, lavender, cedar and lemon oils. Now every time I open my closet, I smell summer all over again.


Fall flowers. 



I love chrysanthemums. But my very favorite are hydrangeas from my own backyard. The colors are so gorgeous. Burgundy. Purple. Deep Turquoise. I had so much fun arranging them around the house in big lily vases and small ruffle vases. Mixing in sculptures and porcelain leaves and witches is a joyful way for me play with nature and art. 

 

Pumpkins!



It wouldn’t be fall for me without pumpkins. This year, we found a treasure trove of white pumpkins growing in our garden. My simple joy: grouping them around the house. 




Another joyous event: a trip to our local farm and pumpkin patch with my daughter, son-in-law and grandchild. The farm had a small scale train to ride and fresh caramel corn!




Splurge. 



I don’t have a kitchen right now, so I splurged on decorating my front porch. The inside of the house might not look very good right now but the outside can. I couldn’t resist hanging a new wreath, putting out our white pumpkins along with a black metal one on the front porch. 



And I found a way to use more white pumpkins, with a white pumpkin candle and a wonderful handmade crow from fiber artist, Teri Grant. 


I can’t reconstruct my kitchen myself and it makes me sad. But my husband pointed out, right now we have to make our own happiness. So everyday I’m trying, one small joy at a time. 



Tuesday, September 28, 2021

More digging. More discovery.

 


In the last month, I’ve been digging deep. I could blame it on covid or the flood in my kitchen. I see it’s a combination of both that’s sent me into the dark, dusty corners of every closet and drawer in my home. 


First, I excavated a 4 drawer file cabinet, a smaller file cabinet and some shelves in my studio. I wrote about it hopefully, thinking I had cleared enough of the old to start anew. Alas, I was just beginning the dig. 


Everything and the kitchen sink. 


One day as I was doing the dishes in the laundry room(our current kitchen), I looked up and wondered. What was in all those cupboards? Yup, time for another dig. From there the dig site expanded to the pantry, kitchen cupboards, desk drawers and shelves and the closet under the stairs. 



From used up candles, batteries and Christmas light bulbs to flip phones, cds and a telephone book, yes many pieces of past lives were uncovered. I found tooth fairy treasures, prom pictures and a note my dear Gram sent to me when I was in college with a box of chocolate chip cookies. Please note: no crumbs were found. 


Piles grew. Somethings went to Goodwill. Some were given away. Some were recycled. And some like report cards, test scores and prom pictures went back into the hands of my children, now grown. Colorfully crayoned, handmade Mother’s Day cards and notes were sweetly tucked away again. 



Deep discovery. 


In the cupboard under the stairs, I found rows of paintings. Oil on canvas. Watercolor landscapes. Framed acrylics. And pastel portraits of my children. All packed away and forgotten. 





Once upon a time, I spent time painting on canvas or paper, drawing in pastel, using pen and ink over watercolors. None were signed or dated. I didn’t think about it at the time, I just did it. Then I put them in the closet. And forgot them. Completely.  


Creative digging. 


Ever since the flood in my kitchen, I’ve been unable to throw, roll, underglaze or glaze. Part of my damaged kitchen cabinets were pushed up against my kiln, so I can’t use it. And I see now, all that creative energy went amuck mucking out drawers, shelves and closets. 


Now, I don’t regret it. Clearing out is always refreshing. And the dig revealed sweet family treasures from the past. But the biggest discovery for me, was not just the old art I’d done, but the fact that I’ve always found a way to make art. Whether I had minutes, hours or days, with only scraps of paper, cloth, canvas, or clay, I found a way. 



So even if I can’t do clay right now, that’s all right. All I have to do is follow the dotted lines or colorful drips wherever they lead me. Who knows what I might dig up and discover?




Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Take a breath

 


Where are you today? What are you thinking or feeling or looking at? 

Are you tired or rested? Is your mind blissfully wandering or skittering here and there?


I used to meditate. Ok, not very well, but I did it anyway. It helped slow down my mental gymnastics but it didn’t stop them. I thought that meant I’d failed and after a while I gave it up and moved on. I find yoga helps me more because focusing on the physical movement redirects my monkey mind. It gives it something ‘to do’. 


I’ve written many blogs about my war with ‘doing’ vs ‘being’. I know I’m not alone and that is a comfort. But I think what I really need to do is end the war. 


Waving my white flag. 



More than a year of covid is getting on all our nerves. Add scared parents and grandparents seeing their sweet little ones head off to school without vaccinations. It’s enough. No, it’s more than enough. Right?


We all need a break right now. And I don’t mean a vacation, which for some is helpful, but for me that would only add more to my mental and emotional stew. What I really need, and maybe you do too, is a rest. Waving a white flag in the face of fear. 


Surrender


Looking out at today’s beautiful, blue sky I picture a cozy, quiet hammock underneath a huge oak tree where I can lay back my head, look through the gently swaying leaves. Still green against a blue sky, I watch the leaf patterns change as the air moves. 



I breathe in the sweetness. 

I hear a caw.  

I feel supported. 

Safe. 



Although there is still so much swirling in the heads and minds of the world. Mine and yours. 

Right now, I am here. 

Doing the best I can. Maybe doing the only thing I can right now.  

Taking a breath.  


Sunday, September 5, 2021

“I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils”

 




This quote always comes to me this time of year. It’s from the movie, “You’ve Got Mail” written by Nora Ephron. The message is delivered by email from Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks to Kathleen Kelley, played by Meg Ryan. 


It makes me smile and remember some simple joys of childhood: going back to school shopping. It means getting a new box of crayons, pencils, a pencil box and new lunch box. I wore a uniform, so I didn’t get pretty new clothes. Just a few new white blouses and a pair of regulation dark shoes. 


But I loved my colorful new crayons. Sometimes, I got colored pencils, too. Which is why, even now with my children all grown, I can’t help buying new school supplies. 


Notebooks and folders and pens, oh my. 



Really, I was just going to get a refill for my journal. But then, the 24 pack of multi-colored sharpies was on sale. 


And then, there were pocket folders with black and white flowers. And, of course, I needed a new notebook to keep track of our home reconstruction. 


And then, well there was a combo sketch and notebook which is just perfect for putting all the kitchen details in and design ideas. 


Well, then, how could I leave this wonderful black and white folio file? Perfect for all the insurance, contractor and subs information. Right?


Back to School.  



I’m so encouraged by my successful first outside sale two weeks ago. I look forward to finding more ways to get my ceramics out there to new people. But the hard reality is, with all the house reconstruction due to happen, I won’t be able to create new work in my studio for a while.  


So I may have to learn to create in different ways. The first step is already happening: letting go of the old. Old files, dried up supplies, unfinished and broken pieces. Saving and rediscovering notes, stories and sculptures that need a little love and attention. 



I may not be school age anymore, but that doesn’t mean I stop learning. One thing I learned this week from my ‘end of the school year’ type of purge is to see the room I have for the new. 



Colors and design ideas for my 20+ year old home. 



Better ways to save things I love. Empty shelves waiting to be filled with new creations.


And, yes, maybe a bouquet of newly sharpened (colored) pencils. 


Friday, August 20, 2021

Clouds and Sun and a Village


In Oregon, it’s been a record breaking hot summer. But today, the clouds have moved in and I’m basking in the cool, dampness. I smell the possibility of rain. It’s a refreshing relief. 

Another relief, we finally have a contractor to fix our home. After living with mold and soggy floors, with no sink or dishwasher and removed cupboards and countertops, I’m breathing easier knowing there is an end in sight for this unsightly mess. 



Back to work. 


Working in clay is not just what I do but who I am. I’ve written before about the difficulty of working in clay in hot and dry weather.  And how I work around it anyway because I love what I do. This last month challenged me to find a way to work around a damaged house and wash dishes in the same sink I use for my studio clean up. 



I almost gave up but lucky for me, I had an outdoor show coming up. I needed to get my new work finished.


Getting out with a little help from friends. 



I’ve never done an outdoor show where I’ve had my own booth. I’ve done gallery shows. Group shows. And member shows where I had a set of group shelves. But I’ve never had to set up my own display tent, table, chairs and shelves. 


Luckily, I didn’t have to go it alone. I was invited to join a group of potters for a one day outdoor show. One potter is loaning me an 8x8’ tent booth. Another friend is loaning me a folding table. My daughter is giving me her camping chairs for the day. And my husband is helping me with set up, take down and tech support. 



I’m grateful for my village. 


I’ve always been independent and hard working. I was taught to go it alone and be strong. But what I’ve learned lately is working together works much better for everyone. 


Asking questions. Sharing information. Learning from others who have more experience. And being able to admit I need help, scary as that is, is teaching me more than I could ever learn on my own. 


I know the old saying, “It takes a village”, is wise. But I didn’t ever think I’d need one, or had one, but I’m sure glad I do. 



Sunday, August 8, 2021

Right Now



Sweet summer breezes flow through my window calming my mind and body. Being in the moment, any moment, even this small moment with total attention is my ongoing challenge. 

Today, I look up at the cerulean sky and cotton ball clouds. And take a good deep breath. That’s all. Just that. 


Because right now, with what’s happening inside my home and outside in the world, this is what I need to do. Maybe this is all I can do. Maybe this is all any of us can do. 


Breathe. 



Yes, covid cases are rising. Again. It’s scary. It’s maddening. And I really can’t do a thing about it. Yes, viruses live among us all the time. They mutate to survive.


Taking a deep breath is one thing I can do.  Other things we can all do to survive is get vaccinated, use good hygiene and practice social distancing. 


I’m grateful to be fully vaccinated. I’m relieved my husband and children are also vaccinated. We can see each other safely. And I can see my vaccinated friends, too. 


Right now.



It’s easier said than done. Right now, my kitchen has no sink, cabinets are missing and my floor is chopped up in sections of subfloor, old vinyl and laminate wood plank. This is due to a  plumbing failure and water damage. 



It’s been scary. I’ve had many sleepless nights. Yet, I’ve found help from family, friends and neighbors. The support and understanding flowing my way from their hearts is calming mine. Their stories, advice and helpful information gives me the strength and courage I need. 


Right here. 


Several people have said to me this week, “One thing at a time.” This is how I can focus. Cleaning up the dust from the demo in my kitchen. Washing my dishes by hand. Making blackberry syrup for pancakes. Weeding my garden. 


In the studio, I can do small things. Right here, I can glue magnets on my diversity rainbow hearts. I can take new product pictures. 



I can update my Etsy shop. 



I can get ready for an upcoming outdoor show.



Here on the window seat, I can rest for a bit. 

Breathe in the cool breeze and savor the sunshine.

Right now. 

Right here. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

First Covid. Now a Flood.

 


I haven’t written for two weeks because I’ve been in shock. What do you say when you wake up one morning and your entire kitchen is flooded? Other than unprintable expletives? 


After throwing every towel into the lake and turning off our water, we called the plumbing company. The very same plumbing company who had installed a new water valve just a few months ago. It was 7:30 in the morning but unfortunately, we were told they couldn’t make it out until 4pm. We spent the rest of the day continually mopping up the floor, emptying the bucket under the sink and trying to function with the water turned off. 


The problem: a failed water valve. Yup. The newly installed, new fangled water valve failed. The plumber installed another new one, at no charge this time. But we were left to deal with the flood. Call  the plumbing company, our home insurance company and wait. 


A great room that’s now not great. 



Our house is a great room concept. So it’s essentially one big room with the wide plank flooring. The flooring runs through almost our entire downstairs: laundry, kitchen, dining and living rooms. 


So does the flood damage. The water damage from the failed valve went under the floorboards from the kitchen sink at one end of the room to the living room on the other. Because it’s a plank laminate floor, the entire floor has to be ripped up and replaced.


Oh, that’s not all. Black spots appeared on the drywall under the sink. The drywall behind the cabinets on either side of the sink is also damaged. That means ripping out the countertops, tile and bottoms cabinets which is most of my kitchen. They are hoping the island is not involved but they don’t know at this point.



All of this is, of course, going to affect everything: baseboards, walls, paint. Yeah.  


No words.


After the evaluation, I was speechless. My husband and I helped design and choose everything in this house. It’s not just a house, but a loving home to our children and now grandchildren. 



And now we are left with mold and extensive water damage. The kitchen sink area is so bad, I have to hold my breath to use the trash can or sink, so I’ve moved things to the utility room. 


In addition, we’ve been left with the task of finding a licensed, honest contractor to do the restoration and rebuilding work. With the high demand on home remodeling, we are having a hard time getting even email responses. 


In the mean time, the water damage is festering and the floor buckling is spreading everyday. 


A good note?


I always try to leave my blog on a good note. Spread joy, creativity, hope or healing. I’m sorry to say, I just don’t have much right now except sleepless nights and high anxiety. But still I’ll try. 


I’m grateful I have enough work for an upcoming show in August. (I can’t get work done now)



I’m grateful for friend and family support and everyone fully vaccinated. 



I’m grateful for a good sign: seeing a mama deer and fawns trot by me on my daily walk.