Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Blessing for one who is Exhausted

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
--John O'Donohue, from "To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings"
- See more at:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Art of Compassion

Wesley is home from L.A., home from college. She is done with school! Now the fun begins. She and two school mates are about to begin their journey into documentary filmmaking. Her passport has arrived, her letter from Drepung monastery is in order. Now to get some money coming in to fund this baby! They have received acknowledgment of a fiscal sponsor, they are working with the monastery on necessary access, getting all the political correctness in order. Learning more and more every day.

A new group of monks arrived in Chapel Hill this week for the Sacred Arts Tour. I am preparing lunch for them this week. Yesterday Gerry and I took food to their hotel and met them for the first time. It is quite an experience being around monks. A feeling of peace and happiness just settles over you. They are the kindest human beings on this planet. I hope it is contagious!

You can see more about Wesley's project here:

Tashi Delek, y'all

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Emotional roller coaster for sale

I love this photo Gerry shot of me one late night, firing my raku kiln. I remember that night so well. It was cold, I was trying to get a bunch of stuff fired for a show, and one beautiful pot after another came out of my reduction cans.

I love that feeling of opening up a can, after a raku reduction and seeing the magic. It makes your heart soar to see what you and some chemistry created together.  Firing at night made it seem even  more mystical, although I didn't do it that often.

Then there were the mornings I woke up, eager and excited to go downstairs and see what had happened overnight after an all day firing. More often than not, tears would follow. Pinholes, cracks, under firing, over firing, glaze running..... you name it, I did it. Poor Gerry..... the profanity and tantrums he endured. But I still got back up on that horse because pottery is an addiction that is hard to quit. Apparently I have a strong stomach for failure. But its only because the successes are so sweet, and that's what keeps you coming back for more. I fired some awful looking shite in this kiln, but I also fired some really beautiful work.

I got this kiln February of 2009. and it gave me years of excitement  and quite a few moments of tears. A roller coaster ride of emotions every time I fired it. The morning it arrived, the fool that delivered it dropped it at the end of my gravel driveway, right on the road, came knocking at my door to announce its arrival. That's where he planned to leave it. I somehow managed to talk him into at least bringing it closer to my house and I helped him drag it down the driveway. I rented a pallet jack and Gerry and I somehow got it around to the back of our house. I don't think I could do that these days. Neither could or would Gerry.

Now, I'm getting it ready to sell. Time to move on to the next chapter.

I thought this was going to be our next chapter. Last week, Gerry and I made an offer on this cabin. I check every morning and this house popped up last week.  I got in the car as soon as I saw it and went for a look. Yep, that's my dream house. Another couple was waiting to see it too. Called the realtor, got a look, and another couple showed up right after I saw it. Three showings on a house that listed that same day. Uh oh...... we made an offer..... we waited..... one of the others looking made a CASH offer, so guess who got the house. Not us. Who makes cash offers on houses?
Damn it!

One thing this whole process showed us is that we are not actually ready to buy a house. We have a house to sell. A house full of 10 years of hoarding (not really like the TV hoarders, but still...). Stuff has to go. Little girl is moving back in and bringing with her more stuff. We have work to do.

Maybe we should build what we want. We can't seem to find a house that fits us. A few weeks ago I found another place we both loved a lot. But it sat next to some rather large power lines, everything beneath the lines was dead, I guess from the poison they spray to kill the undergrowth (WHY?). I did some research. Found two obituaries, the owner's wife had suffered a long illness and died, and then the owner was said to have "died in his home". They were 60. Was the well water toxic, were the power lines to blame? Who knows, but Gerry said he didn't want to sleep in a house where a man died recently and I didn't want to drink the water, so pass......

Time to move, but where...........

Here is the little one that's coming back home. Wesley (left) and her friend Siobhan standing in front of the very building Wesley graduated from last weekend. We had come to visit her friend who was doing a summer workshop at UNCSA. It was Siobhan's dream to attend UNCSA for dance and Wesley was thinking about applying for film. Wes got in, Siobhan got a full scholarship to another school. Six years later, Wesley walked out of that very building with a BFA in Film. Another emotional roller coaster!  Now she is in L.A. pitching her documentary to investors.

Whew! Time sure gets filled up with a lot of stuff doesn't it!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Best Mother's Day ever!

 This year, my Mother's Day gift was watching my beautiful daughter walk across the stage at the Stevens Center for Performing Arts in Winston Salem, and receiving her very hard earned BFA in Film making. What an amazing day!

 Here we are four years ago on our first visit with her after she started college. We went to Old Salem for the day to get her out of her tiny dorm room and cheer her up. I remember sitting there in that covered barn watching the rain gently fall and struggling as I watched my little girl bravely finding her way in her strange new world.

And here she is now with her new friends/ film graduates and her dad. In the coming years the four of them are going to be working on a documentary together and heading for India. Their world is so full of promise right now!

Her new love. Is there anything sweeter..... I love this young man too, he is her soul mate if ever there was one! So kind, so giving, so patient..... I am so glad they found each other.

Wesley's best friend since day one. Wesley an Saad have comforted each other through many rough days and have shared a house together this year. My little girl with her Pakistan roommate who wore a Jedi robe to his graduation. I just love this photo so much!

Proud dad who went and bought roses for his little girl the day before her graduation and paid for her to go to college and made sure she always had money in her account. He definitely gets the father of the year award!  and now I'm crying for the first time since yesterday.....

So begins their journey together. This morning we all got up at 4am and drove to the airport. Gerry and I put Wesley and Lazarus on a plane headed for L.A. My little girl is staying in North Hollywood this week, has appointments at major film studios, has a package put together to pitch her documentary, and the dean of the film school has arranged meetings with several investors to talk to her about her monk documentary. These two are about to embark on a journey to India to make a film about the plight of the Tibetan monks and hopefully bring awareness and financial support to some of the most gentle and loving people on the planet.
Life seems very surreal all of a sudden!

Wesley and Lazarus made reservations at a great restaurant for lunch and we joined his family for a very special day together. After lunch we went to Reynolda Gardens and walked around enjoying the warm sunshine, the beautiful flowers and plants, and just had a relaxing moment in the garden. This has been a special place for us. Wesley and I would go here for lunch and spend the day together when she just needed a day away, time to talk. This was where she and Lazarus came on their first "date". A place full of memories for both of us. 

The last time I had such an emotional Mother's Day, Gerry and I were in his father's church and she was being held by his father as he prayed for her and blessed her in the church. That was 22 years ago. It was a day when my eyes were filled with tears all day and my heart was bursting with love. Same feeling yesterday.  I watched Lazarus' mom and my heart was full for her as well. I could feel what she was feeling. Her son so far away, knowing soon she would be heading back to the west coast and leaving her son here, that their journey together was ending and a new journey beginning for him. Then having him here last night, seeing him alone in his room while Wes took a shower. Thinking of his family going back home, he seemed so alone at that moment. I just went in and sat on the bed with him and talked. Moms are moms to any child that needs a one at the moment, even if it's not your own child. 

Some times the pain of being a mother seems too much for anyone to bear, but sometimes the joy is almost too much to bear as well. Feeling both at the same time is the hardest of all.  I am so blessed to have this child of mine. She has grown up to be the most wonderful young woman, so in love, so talented, so interesting to know. I adore her. I adore being her mom!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there!!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Daddy's little sister

I seem to be spending quite a bit of my time these days at cemeteries saying goodbye. Gerry and I have reached an age where all of our relatives and older friends are passing, and the reality of mortality is smacking us in the face.

Yesterday we drove to Asheboro to say goodbye to my aunt, my daddy's little sister. We called her Tootsie, but her real name was Margaret Lee. She was a dear person to me. She treated me like I was one of her own children. She had two boys and in the summers when I came to stay with her, she was thrilled to have a little girl around. She was calm and quiet and easy to be with. She laughed all the time, her eyes always crinkled up with a smile of mischief.

My dad had an older sister and a younger sister. Just the three of them. Their mother died in childbirth when my dad was 12. Their father was a scoundrel. They had to go find him when their mother died. Can you imagine, three little kids, walking around in Walnut Cove trying to find their daddy to let him know their mother was dead? He wasn't very skilled in child raising and the three kids clung to each other and basically raised themselves. The three of them were very close. You could feel their bonds whenever they were together. Tootise and my dad could have been twins, they looked so much alike. More and more these days, when I look in the mirror I see Tootise's face.

This is her youngest son, my cousin. We were very close growing up. I would spend summers at their house, way out in the country on a patch of red North Carolina clay, playing in their barn, walking down to the river and playing in the old wooden covered bridge, running around all over the place getting dirty, things my mom would have never allowed. It was freedom. Kenneth had one of those metal football games that vibrated the little football players down the field and I still remember playing with that. How many of you remember those?

This big old bear of a man cried and cried yesterday. My heart broke for him. He was so very close to his mother. He took care of her for months before she died. She never had to go into a nursing home, she died in her own bed. Her children saw to her every need. It was so good to see my childhood friend and give him a hug, both of us missing the brother and sister we loved so much.

It was good to see family. The last time we were all together we were burying my dad's other sister. Why do we only see our cousins at funerals? We make promises to call, come visit, but I barely have time to see my own child and my friends these days. How is it we used to see each other all the time when I was growing up and now it's only at funerals........

The funeral was in true southern style at a little country church. I wish Wesley could have been there, great material for a southern novel!  My "people" don't do church services much at funerals. They do a graveside service. This one was priceless. It rained all the way from Chapel Hill to Asheboro, but just as we arrived at the cemetery a little patch of blue sky broke out. The last time I was at this church, it was snowing and we were burying my uncle. It was a chilly day, but the weather offered a tiny bit of sun for us.

The service started out with Elvis singing Amazing Grace from a CD the funeral guy played for us. There was a neighbors dog running around between all of us, begging to be petted, cars passing on the road, wind blowing briskly. And there we all stood, listening to Elvis. It was almost comical, it eased the tears that were stinging my eyes.

Then the preacher stepped up to speak. He had on a silver bolo with a cross on it, cowboy boots, western cut suit and a tooled leather cover on his bible. He used words like tarry and ponder and said I reckon a lot. His words were lyrical and profound, and unexpected from such a country boy. It was one of the best services I have attended lately. He spoke of the reality you experience when you come to a cemetery, and how it makes you think about your own death, and it does. Of course he talked about Jesus and how we all need to be saved, no good southern baptist preacher is going to pass up an opportunity to talk to you about salvation. He mentioned our sovereign God, I loved his way of phrasing things. I would go to his church just to hear the way he uses language.

All and all it was a day to ponder, as the preacher said. It was good to see family, my mom and her husband came up, cousins I haven't seen in ages were there, folks that knew me when I was a little girl were there. The church ladies that bring food were there. They brought strawberry shortcake and cookies and a table laden with sugar. Coffee, coke, sprite, more sugar, caffeine. I would have liked a carrot to munch on :)

So today is a new day. I am off to work, tomorrow I am giving a baby shower for a co worker, celebrating a new life life coming into the world. The circle of life........

peace Aunt Tootsie, I love you

Sunday, April 26, 2015

22 years

22 years ago, on April 25th, this girl came into my life. She has been the biggest part of my life for 22 years and now she is about to graduate college and set her sails for untold adventures.

Wes came home this weekend to celebrate her birthday with me and Gerry. We had gifts for her, but this was the gift she gave us. Time together to share good food, laughter, stories, watching a movie and just sharing precious moments together before she goes out there in the world and starts her own life.

I am sitting here on the sofa this Sunday morning, down throw across my lap, cat curled next to me. I have a pot of hot black tea and my new Michele Hastings mug. The white twinkly lights I never manage to get down after Christmas are on, the house is quiet. Gerry and Wesley still sleep. The house is warm and cozy as I listen to only the rain fall outside, and my clock chime every 15 minutes. Is there anything more I could ask for in this life?!

I got a raise at work this week. I have been given more responsibilities. I have done an audit/review of our pricing on gift items, I have written a blog post for our website (that's a reach, right?!). I have been asked to come up with a great Mothers Day display for next week. I'm going to work more hours. This new journey if fun and interesting. The other day Michele asked me if I miss pottery. I do, but let me tell you what happened this week.

I went to Raleigh to find Wesley a graduation dress at Anthropologie. She had seen one she liked and  I went searching for it. I happened to stumble upon a Seagrove Pottery shop in the perimeter shops of Crabtree Mall. Who knew? Usually I would have gone to Seagrove and shopped with my friends. But there it was, and how do you pass up a pottery shop? I went in. And this strange thing happened....

I haven't shopped in a store for pottery in awhile. Honestly, for the past few years, I have pretty much grown sick of art in general, especially pottery. I realized why after going in this store. When I walked in a rush of old memories came flooding in. The joy I used to get seeing pottery came back. It's hard to explain the way I used to feel when I was around pottery, but you guys know what I mean.
And then it hit me. I was looking just for the joy of looking. No longer was I judging a glaze, or a handle or a trimmed foot. I just loved the work for what it was. I wan't thinking, oh I could make that, oh those would sell, wonder how they got that glaze to do that, hope they aren't beside me at the next show, I'll never sell anything, blah, blah..... when I was making work to sell, there was a constant conversation in my head when I went in to a shop that sold art. This time, my head was quiet and let me enjoy just looking. I bought two mugs for Wesley's birthday and a small batter bowl for myself. It was a revelation!

Life is full right now, so busy. Wesley will be moving home for the summer, and then plans begin for her trip to India. Who knows what we will be doing on April 25th next year!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Days go by......

We are thawing out here in Chapel hill finally. Spring has arrived. Trees are green, flowers blooming. There are pinks and green everywhere. The sun comes out some days, but the skies have been cloudy this week with lots of rain. Enough to shoot our greens into mass production. Gerry and I have harvested the kale, spinach and tatsoi from our early spring planting and we have more than I really know what to do with in the frig now.  Yesterday I made kale chips and sautéed some of the greens with roasted red pepper and garlic. If nothing else, we should be nice and healthy when cold season comes round again. Our garden space is so tiny, we have only this one little spot where sun can get through the trees, but it produces quite a lot for such a small space. We have planted potatoes in buckets this year and they are really taking off.

Since I have been working at the garden shop, I have learned so much about nutrients for plants and proper soil mix, and it is paying off with healthy plants, disease and pest free. I have also discovered crab shell for my chicks and the garden. Chickens and tomatoes need lots of calcium and crab shell is rich in phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. I have seen a substantial change in the quality of my chickens eggs since feeding them crab shell. We have worked hard to build a strong soil, giving our plants nitrogen and phosphorus, and the crab shell produces chitin, which is a natural immunization for helping plants repel pests and disease. A long time ago we used to garden by just sowing some seeds in the ground and sprinkling seven dust all over everything. This sure feels a lot ether!

 I have such a lovely place to go to work every day. On Saturday, I took my coffee over to the nursery before we opened and just walked around in the morning dew looking at all of our plants. Last week we got in blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, fig trees, apple trees, and more perennials than I can name. Our plant buyer prides himself on sourcing unique and unusual plants and it is so fun learning about all these new things.  We got in a cute metal bistro set, and I have been having my lunch amongst the plants. What a job!

 I put together a little earth box display on Saturday. I have mostly been merchandising the inside of the store, but I was helping a lady in the nursery and she commented on how much she enjoyed our space and the aesthetic of it, so it inspired me to move to the outside to do some merchandising as well. It sure is helping sales!

Life is busy with having a real job. Its the first time in over thirty years I have had an obligation to be somewhere at a certain time every week. I enjoy it but it has changed my lifestyle, for sure. I see very little of my friends and family these days. My friends that work during the week don't see me because I am working every weekend. Wesley comes home on weekends and I barely see her. I have seen so little of Gerry during basketball season, that the other day I rode with him on one of his assignments just to grab a lunch with him. I ended up at a press conference at Duke with him, ha! I spend my days off catching up around the house, getting groceries and other errands taken care of, and then all I want to do is lay on the sofa and recover. This new job is serious manual labor. Its spring and everyone is buying soil and amendments. I lost track of how many bags of soil I have loaded in the past weeks.

My moms 84th birthday was this past Monday, so I took the week off and went down to the beach for a few days. It was nice and relaxing and I caught up on sleep and reading. The dark circles under my eyes look much better now :)   This is the view from the bathroom I use. Its interesting how close these houses are to one another and yet I have never seen anyone come in or out of this house.

Oh to have a neighbor like that. Our neighbor thinks he is Jimmy Hendrix and sits out in his garage most every night playing his guitar, or his band comes over and practices. They are so loud and so bad. One other neighbor that moved recently had a muffler on his car, and I swear to God, Gerry got a decibel app on his phone to measure the sound and it was equal to a plane engine. We finally got the sheriff to agree that this noise every day at 7am was too much and he gave the kid a warning ticket to get it fixed.  Give me ten acres of land and isolation! That's all I want!!!

 I shot this on my way home from the beach. Its a little Mexican restaurant in Bennettsville SC. When Wes or Gerry are with me, we stop a lot on this trip. When I'm alone, I just drive. We have often stopped here. This place has the best tamales I have ever had, and it's in the middle of nowhere.

Here's some more trivial news for you. For Easter, I made little treats for everyone at work. Since Wesley is vegan now, trying to find candy is no fun, so I sent her a book for Easter, but I needed the treat making fix, so I painted some little peat pots we sell at the store, transferred a cute image on the front, used shredded paper inside, and filled with jelly beans and chocolates. They were adorable.

I also have a new game obsession. One of my coworkers is an obsessed gamer, and we talk about video games a lot. He suggested I get Fallout 3, and I am once again staying up all hours trying to kill mutants in an apocalyptic Washington DC. It is soooo much fun.
Do we ever grow up?

May is coming and it is already looking quite busy. I am planning a baby shower for a couple at work. Wesley graduates May 8, we have family birthdays and Mother's Day and I am working every weekend. Life is busy! My blog suffers........