Thursday, July 30, 2015

Porch Sittin'

It seems like I have done a lot of porch sittin' this summer. I love a good porch, a great rocker, a cool evening with cicadas buzzing and lightening bugs flying around twinkling up the sky.  Or an early morning when there is fog rolling by. Don't see so much of that anymore. Where did the fog go I wonder? Our vacation was mostly about sitting and rocking on the porch. It was nice.

This past week, I spent a few days sittin' on the porch of a good friend of mine. She had cancer surgery to remove a god awful large tumor. I packed a bag and moved in for a few days to help. We mostly sat on the screened porch and talked, ate, drank coffee in the mornings, tea in the afternoons. It was like a peaceful retreat from reality.

She talked, I listened. I talked, she listened. We shared stories, worries, fears, past regrets, family tales, laughter. She never once had an iPhone in her hand while I talked. I never looked at mine while she talked. I didn't get up or leave the room while she was talking to me. We LISTENED to each other. How often do you get the opportunity to do this in your own home?

At my house, the lives of others are certainly more important than anything I might like to share, a funny story or an opinion. What is happening in a text or an instagram or an email is way more important than any silly little thing that I have to say, so I was so happy to have these days with my friend, who tolerated my chatter and shared a laugh  or two. I am very blessed to have some good friends who like to talk with me about any old thing that might come up.

Wesley is home for a bit and we have been sharing some sittin' time too. It's nice to have her here before she moves to California and I am savoring every moment of the time she allows me. Oh, silly mom. Stop your fretting....... she will be fine out there on the west coast.....

Yesterday was a suck ass day of moving her furniture out of her college house in Winston Salem. Just the two of us. The heat was oppressive, the humidity nearly intolerable. I would prefer to never see the inside of a moving van for as long as I shall live on the Earth. I won't even talk about the refrigerator and the fact that the power was off for a month in July North Carolina heat and why she has the mask on, sittin' on her front stoop!

But we did have long periods of drive time when we talked, only every now and then did she look at her phone.......  it was a fine time!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

I had no idea!

I had my first meeting at the gym with a personal trainer this week. I used to work out three days a week, used weight machines, barbells, rowing machines, etc. I thought I was pretty familiar with all the fitness equipment you needed for a workout. But here's a new one: foam rollers! OMG

With my gym membership, I get two free sessions with a personal trainer, my first workout was worth every dime. He introduced me to the foam roller for myofacial massage.  The roller is like a deep tissue massage for trigger points in the main muscle groups and boy did I ever have some trigger points. After my workout I felt like I had been to a massage therapist for an hour. It was amazing. Rolling this thing on the side of my deltoid broke up all kinds of knots. The roller is used to massage tight muscles, break up adhesions and elongate the muscle to make it stronger and more flexible. I stopped on the way home and bought a roller to have when I can't get to the gym. I think anyone with pain or tightness in the muscles could really benefit from this little piece of equipment and I picked one up for around $10.

The trainer was great, almost like someone knew exactly what I needed and hand picked him for me. He is interested in holistic medicine and healing, follows a path of traditional Japanese zazen meditation, does not believe in drugs to solve all of your ailments, and believes in building the core of your body through good nutrition and working the body in a more traditional way, instead of sitting at a weight machine and letting it do all the work. I think I'm going to like this guy!

Already my body feels better, and I think mentally I feel better, just knowing I am back to taking better care of my body. I'm not so far gone that I can't get it back in shape with a little focus and effort.  I have started taking fish oil and magnesium to help repair my joints and I'm having a smoothie every morning with hemp protein and ground flax meal.  I am beginning to feel some relief in my elbow. Whoop!
I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The potter's body

In July 2003, I took a introductory pottery workshop at the Parks and Rec in Albemarle NC with Syd Luck, a now legendary potter in Seagrove, NC. I was smitten. I signed up immediately for pottery classes in Charlotte at Clayworks and didn't look up from my clay until last year.

Today, while meditating in my acupuncturist's quiet room with needles stuck all in my back it occurred to me what a toll clay has taken on my body. After only three treatments, my flexibility is slowly coming back and the aches and pains are subsiding.

Let's just take a look at what a potter does to his/her body..... we will use me as an example but I'm sure most potters will be nodding their heads.

  • lifting 50+ lb. boxes of clay (I had to drop it down to the 25lb. bags due to lower back pain)
  • lifting full 5 galling buckets of glaze, water, slip, etc.....
  • moving heavy kiln shelves
  • crawling in kilns
  • building kilns
  • lifting heavy boxes of pottery for shows
  • lifting show fixtures and setting up booths
  • climbing ladders
  • bending over work tables for long periods
  • sitting tensely at a potter's wheel for way too many hours
  • trying to wedge hard clay
  • trying to throw hard clay
  • wedging/throwing large amounts of clay
  • sitting all tensed up at boring/slow festivals, shows, etc

I'm sure I could add a lot more to this list, but I'm tired now just reading back over this! As all of the knotted muscles and misaligned spinal pieces get loosened up and put back into place, I am realizing just how bad my body has gotten in the past ten years. I gained 20 pounds, lost most of that last year and have managed to keep it to within a few pounds. I have lower back pain, wrist pain, elbow and forearm pain, neck pain, shoulder pain. I would just about betcha its from pottery.....

My flexibility is coming back in my shoulders thanks to a good chiropractor and today I went and joined a fitness center a couple of miles from my house. I used to work out three times a week, rock climb, white water paddle, hike, backpack, mountain bike..... then I found clay...... and now here I am. Time to get back to the workouts. I'm really tired of my body feeling so creaky and old. I used to be pretty damn fit!

Gerry recently treated me to mini visit at a spa nearby and I remembered how much I really dig that whole spa experience. I like the smell of aromatherapy, the smell of the sauna and the jacuzzi, the pampering of your body and soul, the lemon and cucumber water, the herbal tea, the white robe and slippers. I dig all of that :)   and it put me in touch with the aches in my body and the very strong desire to make them all go away. It's all about me right now! I am hellhound to get this body back in shape. The women in my family live into their 90's, heck my mom doesn't even have a clue she is old yet and she is 85 ha ha! I'm not interested in carrying this pain with me into my 90's!

So here I go into fitness mode. I went shopping today and got some really cute workout clothes, I may have lost muscle tone, but I still look ok in a pair of black workout capris and a tank :) just gotta keep saying to myself:

I'm Awesome!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Aging..... pain.....

I have been feeling my age this past couple of months. I'm struggling with excruciating pain in my left arm, and being left handed, this has not been very pleasant. The pain started in my upper arm and I supposed it was bursitis or just one of the many joys of being over 50. But, recently after moving a shit ton of pottery at work, very large planters I had no business lifting up to very high shelves, my elbow started giving me problems and then my forearm. I have lost a lot of gripping ability in my hand and I am basically a hot mess, sitting with ice packs, suffering from stomach aches from taking to much ibuprofen, and holding my arm a lot. It hurts, ya'll!

I finally decided I needed a professional to help me with this, self medication isn't working. Yesterday I went to an acupuncturist/chiropractor who practices Chinese medicine. Why do I wait so long to do these things? It was bliss! Heat and massage, meditation,  manipulation of the spine and just someone's kind words that she can help did wonders for my pain. I'm sore as hell this morning but  in a good way, I see a glimmer that this pain might go away and I can feel normal again!

I woke at exactly 7:45 this morning, late for me actually. One of my dearest friends was being moved into a scan at the same moment, tests to see what her cancer is doing. She has undergone 25 radiation treatments for a tumor she found randomly one day, it just popped up. No warning, no reason. Cancer is madness. She is brave and strong and will handle whatever the tests conclude, but those of us on the sidelines are feeling the pain as well.

Today, I am taking Wesley for acupuncture. She has some issues with pain as well and I think this will help.  I seek alternatives to pain medications for a very good reason. 10 years ago, Gerry's mom had back surgery to try and elevate her back pain, it wasn't successful and brought on even more pain, and so the wise doctors treated her with opiates and narcotics, and then gave her drugs to help the side effects, and then more drugs to help more side effects until she lost herself in her mind. They diagnosed her with Alzhemier's, but  the 14 drugs a day she was being given should be a clue that maybe she really doesn't have Alzheimer's at all......

Pain management in this country is out of control. I avoid going to doctors until there is nothing else I can do, and even then I seek out alternative treatments. Watching my friend go through this cancer has given me much to think about. How would I handle this? She has the finest medical doctors around here at the Duke Cancer Center and she trusts them. They are doing everything possible for her. But I wonder, would I do the same? Maybe so. But maybe I would just head out to Colorado and get me some hemp oil. Who's to say until you face the thing yourself.

What a short life we are given. You don't realize how brief time here on Earth is until you cross over the 50 year hump. Then it smacks you in the face. In my mind I am still the girl I was at 20, but I look in the mirror and see an aging woman and some days it freaks me out. Who is that, I wonder? Looks are fleeting, you damn sure better have something else going for you, haha!

Ahh, well, my mind is rambling this morning, thought I would give a shout out to all of you and see if anyone is still out there. The blogs are fading, short attention spans, busy people, boredom. Some days the things on my mind are too difficult or too private to write about. Art isn't happening for me right now. Does that mean I am not an artist because I don't want to create art? No, it just means I'm burnt out, perhaps evolving, changing. Getting older.......  having pain!

Hope you are having a good summer and it's pain free :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hot Damn!

The rebel flag is coming down in South Carolina. Now we can breathe easy. There won't be any more senseless shootings, no more hatred, no more racism, no need for gun control, no need to give our kids psychotropic drugs, and we will now all live in peace with love in our hearts. All because the rebel flag won't fly in the South any longer. Whoop! 

just an observation.... shouldn't we ask why this young man killed with such confusion and hatred instead of protesting about a piece of red white and blue fabric....... this country is so fucked up.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bye kiln.....

Bye my friend. What a ride you took me on for six years!
If you want a good kiln, this one is up on Craiglist now.......
so long pal

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Run towards the unknown daylight

Clay....... what a mysterious thing it is. What an addiction.........
 Today I went into my studio and started packing it all up. Overwhelming sadness took hold of me.
My studio is full of ten years........ glaze test tiles, some so pretty, I remember taking them from the kiln, excited at the prospect of applying a newly created glaze to my work. A box full of them. My brushes, how many strokes of terra sigilata were applied with those fine brushes, some hand made from other potters, some I made. My trimming tools, also some hand made, ribs, sponges, clay stamps I made, paddles, templates, molds, ware boards, bats, books, journals, magazines, old work that never found a home, chemicals, scales, buckets, my wheel, my kiln, my stool....... not to mention all of the little treasures I have collected, some sent to me, some found in drawers, flea markets, antique stores, thrift stores....... so many little things I never got around to using. So many things I found and love. Bird feathers, rocks, shells, driftwood, bones, rusty cans, rusty nails, a bird's nest built last year in the rafters, glass bottles I found on Shackleford Island and brought back on the ferry,  more rusty stuff. I have four tool boxes that were my dad's. I packed all of my tools in them. Clean, worn, used and used. Now packed neatly in metal boxes. I have to start this now, it's going to take awhile and we want to get our house ready to sell at some point.

The floor is swept, spiders relocated, boxes packed for giving away. My kiln is clean and ready to sell. I felt as if I were walking in the soft deep sand on the beach, slogging through the day. I turned one way and saw a hundred things to do, turned the other way and there were a hundred more. Couldn't focus on one task at a time. Couldn't really focus on anything. I would see a test tile and have so many ideas for a new piece. I would find a trinket in a box and immediately know what I would create for it. All I really wanted to do was to sit down and cry. I'm keeping all of my stuff for someday, but as the song says, Someday, never comes.....

Today I felt as if a chapter in my life ended. New chapters have begun. I love my job at the garden store, love the people I work with, love the new things I'm learning. But when was the last time I made something? It's been a long while...... the thing is, clay is all consuming. It's 24/7. And I don't have a lifestyle to give 24/7 to clay. I really need more than 24 hours in a day as it is, but add clay to the equation..... I don't have what it takes for that anymore. I have developed tendonitis in my left arm. I'm left handed and some days I can't even brush my hair ( not that I do that very much anyway, ha), some days I can't lift a teapot the pain is so bad. Some days it is such an annoying pain, I want to just lay down and pull the covers over my head. But I don't. I just do stuff anyway, ignore the pain, get so busy I don't notice it, and get on with it. What else can you do?

Today was full of memories. The warm sun coming in through the windows of my studio in the fall afternoons, the trees golden in the woods.The songs on my iPod or NPR and the BBC reporting the news of the day. The smell of my trash cans from raku brought a rush of memories of firings with friends, late night firing, firing even in the snow and the rain.  The sound of Wesley's car pulling up in the driveway around 3pm every day, just home from school, coming down to tell me about her day as I worked. The sound of my wheel, the slap of clay on the wheel head. Carrying ware boards carefully up to my kiln. Getting up early  in the morning and going downstairs, holding my breath as I opened the kiln. Ecstatic when a piece came out perfect, deflated and crying when something cracked or a glaze fucked up a whole load. Poor Gerry having to listen to my cursing and yelling. But being the first to share my excitement when I opened up a reduction can after a raku fire that was magical.

I miss all of this so much. I made some beautiful work. I got published in books and magazines. I got invited to some pretty great shows, worked some great festivals. Met some great folks.  But I never made any damn money and it just sucked after awhile, working so hard and seeing nothing for my efforts monetarily. That's what happens when you make art for money. It is an unrealistic and extremely difficult path that just fucking beats you down to pulp. So I got off the merry go round in exchange for a paycheck and a thank you at the end of the day!

Only a couple of my old pottery pals ever check in anymore. I never hear from my old customers. Galleries never call. I have faded away in pottery land. It's good though. I don't stress over the time I'm spending with my clay and not my family, don't stress over how to pay show fees and guild dues, don't stress over entry fees for exhibitions, don't stress over rejection letters and work that didn't sell. In fact, I don't really stress over much of anything. One day, I'll get out some clay and make some stuff just for me, but for now, it's endless purging from living in one place for too many years. Time to move on and head for the unknown daylight!