Thursday, December 18, 2014

Not my new normal



How many of you have been through Rockingham NC and stopped at the Holiday Restaurant? If you are a true southerner and you live anywhere near Rockingham, you might know this place. When I was a little girl, we drove 4 hours from Myrtle Beach to High Point NC at least once if not twice a month on Friday night after daddy got off work. Went to stay with my mom's parents, daddy got his hair cut at Murphy's on Saturday, I spent Saturday night with my cousins Cheryl and Brian, we went to Ennis Street Wesleyan Church Sunday morning, then drove four hours back to the beach. We always stopped for Sunday lunch at the Holiday. My parents were odd about this road trip business. Trust me, we did some crazy ass shit. My dad was working in Tampa Florida once? My mom would take me out of school on Firday, we would drive 12 hours to Tampa to see him and be back in time for me to go to school Monday morning..... Just sayin' that ain't right.....
Anyway. 


When Gerry and I went to his aunts funeral over Thanksgiving, we got hungry about the time we pulled into Rockingham. I clicked on my aroundme app to find a place to eat, and what do you know! The Holiday was the first thing that came up! Holy crap! It was pouring rain, we were gloomy about the day, and a nice meal at The Holiday seemed like just the thing. So we stopped. We were skeptical if it would be as good as we remembered. Gerry remembers it because..... Little side story here. My dad was nuts. He had a furniture mfg. business and instead of paying for shipping, he would have me pick up supplies in High Point, where I was living at the time, and meet him and mama at The Holiday to bring him whatever, staples, tack strips, foam rubber, fabric,cardboard, thread, bobbins, zippers. Lord, the stuff I could pile in my little VW Scirrocco. So my parents came up from Myrtle Beach, Gerry and I drove from High Point, we would have dinner together, unload the stuff I brought and go home.....
Anyway, the meal was incredible and just as we remembered. We both got fried Flounder and it was the biggest freshest piece of fish I have had in a long long time. Mashed potatoes, hush puppies, green beans..... Y'all.....


Here was my rnorming, thirty minutes in line at the post office..... Y'all......
What are we doing to ourselves? I had to go to Old Navy the other day, well didn't HAVE to, but still, I was looking  for cute Christmas pajamas, and Old Navy used to have cute ones, uh uh, not anymore. Why in Gods name every manufacturer thinks girls just want to wear pink is beyond me. I don't want pink Christmas pajamas! I want some fun pj's, not happening though. Anyway, I was walking around the store, the one that used to have all registers open with happy employees, and in each bay, another happy employee with their clipboard using it to fold shirts and keeping their spaces orderly. Last week when I was in the store, there were hangers on the rods, but the clothes were all piled on the floor and the tables were piled high with clothes tossed all over them, none folded. Dressing rooms pouring over with clothing people left, I saw three employees working the entire store, one register open. Our store had seven people working the other day and our store is tiny. As I stood in the line that got longer and longer I started chatting with another woman that was my age about the state of the store and how retail used to be. Her answer was, " it's the new normal".  
I did, however, score at JoAnn Fabrics. Christmas was 70% off, thanks to my blogger pal Suzan for suggesting it for these little trees, I've been looking everywhere, wanted more of them for the mantle. 89 cents, love that! No, it's not local art, and yes I have supported the local artists this year. I stood in line behind fifteen people to buy 89 cent trees. After the post office.....I must have a fever.....


Well, back to my new normal. Where I work, the people working in the store are smart and know what they are talking about, they are polite and friendly and helpful and happy to be there. We open the doors for our customers, we help carry things to their cars, we know many of them by name, and we bend over backward to find answers to their questions, if we don't know. We laugh a lot. Our customers smile and thank us. So what is the difference? I'm sure we are probably being paid about the same as other retail stores. Is it because it's a locally owned business? Is it because of what we sell? Why don't people have pride in their work anymore?why has this become the new normal? This chaos in retail?

I have also been thinking about the artists who have mentioned the lack of visitors to their studios this year. I mentioned this to Gerry and one theory is partially the decline of newspapers in our lives. Think about it. We used to sit down every morning and read the paper. First thing my dad did when he got home was read the paper. The arts section was my favorite. When was the last time any of you had a newspaper do a story about you or your area? And did anybody read it? People and Places was the strongest section in the Greensboro News and Record. It's where Gerry got his start, shooting for 
P & P. They were always doing stories on local artists. When the Raleigh newspaper did a story on my studio, people were parked all down the road that day. 

Is our "new normal" retail stores that have no pride in the employees they hire or the appearance of their stores? Towns without a local newspaper to report events and enlighten us? Couples with their heads buried in their phones over dinner at a restaurant, not even talking to each other? Prescription drugs to mask every ailment? Poison in our foods, our water, our air? Cell phone towers in every backyard? More stores? More stuff? Landfills full?

We better wake the fuck up

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Home Delivery



I have been working a lot of hours lately and enjoying the shoppers and their excitement over buying really great gifts for friends and family. Yesterday I helped a dad select house plants for his identical twin daughters. That was on their Christmas list, how cool is that! I have also been trying to visit with friends before the Christmas week family visiting gets here. I feel like I can't catch my breath, time is just squeezed into a surreal short space this time of year and I always feel like I am rushing and tired and frustrated and BROKE! Why do we DO this?! 


I took a little time this morning to make some orange pound cakes for a few friends. I call them tea breads but the recipe says pound cake, whatever. They are soooo good and so easy to make and very Christmasy. I wrapped them in freezer paper, a little raffia, and there ya go, nice gift, made with love!


My Christmas shopping has been mostly at the store where I work this year and a couple of other places, also some giving of things I have made. My soap is selling here at home without me really doing a thing, like this kind of selling very much!


Best of all, my potter friend Barbara came over today, brought a selection of her pottery for me to choose from and also brought some Cold Mt beer. We sat in my sunny living room, drinking beer, catching up and looking at great pottery. Is this not the very best way EVER to shop? Home delivery, I kept everything she brought! 

If you have read my blog for awhile, you know I struggle with this time of year. This holiday. But it's really not fair to those that have to live with me, so I'm trying really hard not to be a grinch. Finding some nice moments that make this holiday season bearable. So far so good....... 
It's all good right now :-)

Friday, December 12, 2014

What to keep, what to throw away......




This little sugar and creamer set is one of my all time favorite Christmas gifts. Gerry's aunt Debbie, the aunt we buried at Thanksgiving, gave it to me years ago. The year she gave it to me, we were all together for Thanksgiving and complaining about the upcoming Christmas shopping we all had to do. Debbie proudly announced that she got all her shopping done back in January at the Walmart clearance sale. Oh my, I thought...... And so Christmas came and we all opened our gifts from Debbie, courtesy of Walmart clearance. This set was in a box with the orange clearance sticker still on it, $3.35. 
At first I was appalled, I had spent quite a bit on their gifts, can't tell you now what we gave them, but I had a job then, and spent without too much concern. I'm sure it was nice, but apparently not very memorable. Not as memorable as this gift. 

I almost gave the set away, it sure didn't go with my Villory and Bach china,  nor my transfer ware, not even my McCoy pottery. But I kept it, because Debbie gave it to me. And she gave it with joy. I unpack this set every year and I smile. It is so quirky that I love it. It gets a prominent display among all the Christmas decorations. I have come to treasure this gift even more this year. I sent this photo to her daughter and told her how I love using the set.


We continue to purge. I have Gerry in on the action now. This box of electronic waste came from the attic. This electronic disposable world has got to find some sort of sanity. This is not the way for our future to survive. There are three broken DVD players in there, remotes that don't work, old car phone chargers, old wires that go with nothing, a broken modem....  I am on a mad dash to get smarter with recycling, refusing to buy and reusing. Watch the film Samsara for an eye opening journey, it's on Netflix, well worth a watch. 


Several boxes of bank statements also came down from the attic. We went and bought a paper shredder. It will take days and days to shred all of this. We are now paperless with our banking. Tiny steps, but it's start. We are trying out the shredded paper in the chicken coop and then we will compost it. I'm not shredding the plastic windows on the envelopes or the slick papers, just paper with soy inks.


Also tryng harder to sort all of the other papers that come into the house, looking for alternate things at the stores that are packaged smarter, but it's a cardboard world out there..... My New Years efforts will be towards getting a handle on the trash we produce in this house.


Today I packed up the remaining bars of soap I have for an order. I was hoping to have an Etsy soap shop this year, but we either used it, gave it as gifts or sold it before I could get a shop set up. I haven't had time to make more, so if you were waiting to order, I'm sorry. Maybe I can get to this in the spring. I used the coffee peppermint soap this morning and it was so great! 

I was going to tell you about my day out shopping but I'll save that for later, gotta get my hair dry and get to work. By the way, look at that sweet angel wing begonia blooming in the background. Talk about recycling. It was headed for the compost pile at work and I brought it home, repotted it, gave it some organic food and it is blooming so beautifully for me now. 
Peace y'all
Xo

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

De clutter Christmas




Here comes my least favorite time of year again. I am just not a fan of all the retail Christmas pushers and the demand to buy buy buy during this one month of the year. Why must we be encouraged to buy gifts for people we are supposed to care about just once out of twelve whole months? How about a nice little thing each month, a surprise, a just because...... I don't like being pressured into buying a gift because I am being told to by the mass advertising of the holidays. Bah humbug!

Anyway, I try to make the best of it, it's unavoidable and I don't want to wallow in misery for a month. So I do things that are interesting, visually beautiful, and find some joy in things other than     the mall. 

Yesterday Wesley and I went to Old Salem. She lives just a few blocks from this charming place and 
it has been a place we meet when I visit her at school. It was cold and raining but we had a great day together. The shops are filled with quaint gifts, great books, handmade crafts, wonderful aromas and lovely music. Much better than the overwhelming experience of the mall. Next week we are thinking Seagrove....




This time of year I am normally recovering from the Thanksgiving weekend Designer Craftsmen show and preparing for the December weekends of the Chatham Artists Tour. If I had done the tour this year, there would have been a cold rainy Saturday and a blustery cold Sunday to deal with. Instead, I worked at the Fifth Season Saturday, warm store, great people, sold sooooo much, had a great time, spent no money and will get a pay check. I'm finding it way less stressful to work for someone else right now. And then on Sunday I went shopping with a friend and had lunch together. So much nicer than sitting and waiting for customers to show up, wondering will they come, will they buy, can I meet my show fees, can I afford more clay, do they like my work......  I'm so happy to be reading blogs of other artists that are having successful shows right now, and I did enjoy selling my work for the most part, but my momentum just came to a screeching halt and I can't seem to get it back.


I am also avoiding the dreaded trip to Myrtle Beach for Christmas. There won't be time. We are giving Wesley a trip to San Fransisco for Christmas to visit with Lazarus, so we will just have a few days together and damned if it's going to be spent riding in a car for four hours and arguing at my moms house. I'm sending a gift box. Eliminate stress! My mantra for this time of year.


I continue to purge, to fill my car with items for the thrift stores, don't remember one single thing I have taken there this year. The closets are clearing, rooms are sort of clearing, I still have a lot of stuff, but it's all now stuff I love. I really don't want to bring in new stuff. 


Wes and I were about done with the stuff in stores by the end of the day. We just wanted some hot tea and a quiet place to visit. I think that's the thing I love about where I work. People are buying fermenting kits, cheese making kits, homebrew supplies, garden supplies, DIY for the home. Nesting, making, comfort. Everyone was so joyful about the gifts they were buying on Saturday. No pushing and shoving, no grabbing, no looking for the cheapest price, the latest electronic. These were happy gift giving people, and many were just giving to themselves or buying for each other together. These are my peeps. The de-cluttering continues..... Mentally and physically.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Southern ghosts......



There's just something about being a southern girl.....
First of all, you gotta know how to make biscuits. I was taught by three of the finest southern women I know, and I'm passing it on to Wesley, only we are altering them for a vegan diet. They were pretty damn good!


Being southern means inviting people over if they don't have anywhere else to go for the holidays. My friend Barbra and Wesley's friend Lazarus joined us today instead of our families. It was nice, quiet, low stress and pleasant conversation. Barbra brought Highland breweries winter beer and some Gaelic ale. This was a really great Thanksgiving. I missed having our family here, but I didn't miss the exhaustion that comes after. 



Funerals in the south are a mystery to me. Wednesday we were in South Carolina for a very sad one. I was viewing this service from a different perspective. I was sad and my heart felt for the family, but I am not so much a part of that family, so I observed without the usual crushing sadness of most funerals I end up at. 
Wrangler jeans and plaid shirts mixed with expensive black suits, the familiar words to The Old Rugged Cross and Amazing Grace barely filtered through my mind as I was distracted with memories of my own dad's funeral. Wondering how many in the room were remembering other funerals, loved ones they have said goodbye to. The sickening smell of carnations and orchids and roses filled the room that was painted a very odd light pink. The room was too bright for a casket that was opened,
revealing the dead body, not looking anything like the person that had lived in that body. Gerry's dad approached the pulpit to conduct the service. Scriptures were read from his mothers bible, a preachers story of a rose pressed in those pages, I think that rose was given by Wesley at her great grandmothers funeral. Then we all file out of the room, how do we all know instinctively how to do this? The police cars and the black casket-carrying car pull out, we follow. Cars pull over in the oncoming lane out of respect for the family and the dead. How many of them are thinking, that poor family, burying someone on Thanskgiving Eve. I would have been thinking that. I was thinking that....



Then the long drive down the country roads to the cemetary, thick with tall pine trees, a brick house that had been built around a blue trailer caught my eye, what in the world...half house, half trailer. The little towns have put up their Christmas lights on the telephone poles, reindeer, bells, Christmas trees all twinkle through the raindrops on the windshield. It's pretty and festive on this rainy dark day.

Gerry's dad says a prayer and comforts the family at the cemetary. He is a pro. I watch him, he is at work, this is his profession, and he has done it for over thirty years. He does it well. Southern baptist preacher. I am married to a preachers kid.....
I can't believe he is an eighty year old man. He looks sixty. He is burying his sister, twenty years younger than he is.




Gerry and his brothers are pall bearers. They are not big guys. She was a big woman. The casket is heavy. They had to walk up a hill, they nearly drop the thing. What happens if a casket is dropped on its way to the hole dug for it, I wonder to myself.... There is my husband, preachers kid, carrying a casket to its hole in the ground. I am standing in the very back behind everyone, alone....taking pictures, trying to understand the presence of my dad with me. Is he really there? Such a strong memory of him, even now twenty years later.



I find comfort in cemeteries. They are like art to me. I am drawn to them like a moth to flame.
Everyone went to the "fellowship" building for refreshments, which I found odd.... There was chicken soup in a crock pot, and Mountain Dew, and I didn't see what else,because the walls closed in on me and I walked across the street, back to the graves of civil war soldiers and families that lived in the 1800's. The black crosses were marked with a rebel flag and the letters C S A. Confederate soldier honor markers. 
I walked around looking at the graves of those that fought for the south in the civil war and in the distance I heard an argument going on by the hole just dug. The men filling in the hole. Six white men and one younger black man. I was reminded of how racist the south still is. As these redneck fools shoveled dirt onto the fresh grave of my husbands aunt, they argued about the justice in Ferguson and the recent shooting there. I heard one of the men say, "you people are always blaming the white man for everything". Really? You are standing on the fresh grave of a woman that was planning to cook Thanksgiving dinner with her daughter today and you are bullying this poor man about being black as he shovels dirt on this grave? I was flying across the grass to say something, more and more furious as I approached them. They saw my anger and all shut the fuck up. They just started shoveling their dirt in silence. God Almighty! I am proud to be from the south, there is so much richness and amazement here, but there are stupid rednecks that just ruin it sometimes. 

We headed for home. We passed a muddy baseball field where Gerry hit home runs as a kid. We passed one of the many churches his dad preached at. He told me a story of riding to school in the morning with a neighbor, the car radio on, a morning church service, his dad's voice preaching on the radio. That's the damndest story to me.....

We stopped to see Gerry's mom in the Hospice center. More sadness. More stupidity as the nurses came in and laughed and joked with his mom and did idiotic things with her, nevermind that we were there for only a moment to visit. Go away you stupid silly girls. I had to take another walk. Our healthcare system is beyond fixing it seems to me. What are we doing with our elderly? There is no dignity in dementia. 

Oh dang, y'all, what a week! In spite of everything, there was laughter and comfort and acceptance of those things we cannot change, and time with family, hugs and understanding. And my daughters beautiful smile, and her friend, here, so far from his own home and family, trying to find his way in the world, becoming a young man. Gerry, watching his mother, the one in his family that always knew him and protected him, slipping further and further from reality, holding her hand and smiling at her and she has just a glimmer of recognition in her eyes.... I know you.....

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Don't let the fire go out



Two years ago today, I was packing my car and getting ready to go set up my booth at the Designer Craftsmen Guild show in Raleigh. I was so happy to have been juried in to this guild. The year before was my first year in the guild and I had a big show. I sold so much I was giddy. Flash forward two years. I have made no pottery in a year, I don't even want to. I have a part time job now. I look forward to going, I truly like the people I work with. It's fun, I learn something new every day. It's not the life I imagined, it just sort of came along. I gave it a try, and I like it. Who knows what new journey this will bring. I'm just going to go with it and see what happens.

 It's interesting, I'm not the only one going out there and getting a job. Several bloggers have recently written about new jobs. The bad news is, artists and craftspeople are clearly struggling to support themselves. The good news is, those of us that have decided to supplement our incomes have been able to find jobs that are good fits for us. Its even nice to see that those of us over 50 can still be viable in the workplace. As a craftsperson, I have a tremendous list of skills. They don't always translate in the "real world", same for many of you, I'm sure. But there are places we can find a fit, and I feel very fortunate to have this new job. I fit in really well with this gang of twenty-thirty year olds. We even play the same video games, ha! The other day I told Wes that I was the oldest employee there but the most immature. Her reply? " I don't doubt that one bit". But she said it in the kindest possible way :-)
It's good I never made a five year plan. My life seems to change directions every week or so.

And now tomorrow, instead of driving to Raleigh with a car full of sculpture for Christmas shoppers, I will be going to a funeral. Gerry has been asked to be a pall bearer. His father will be the minister offering gentle words of comfort. Wesley will be coming home from school. We will have a lovely Thanksgiving together and be thankful for the blessings in our lives.

I wish all of you a very happy week and best of luck with your jobs, whatever they may be. I'll be back in a few days. Lots to do right now.....
Xo