Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's a lonely road before dying..........

Gerry Broome instagram

.......And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn...
With every goodbye you learn. 
 Author: Veronica A. Shoffstall

I dreamed I was dying for the past three nights. I am walking around every day among the living dead and their faces are coming home with me every night.  My mother is a child again, a frail and confused child and she cries every day. Her husband is confused and I am trying to keep him company at night, when all I really want to do is crawl in bed and hope for better dreams.

I saw this photo on Gerry's instagram. I don't even know where he is.  I changed his mother's diapers, wiped her ass, fed her, put her to bed, talked to her, loved her and not one member of her family has sent me an email or a phone call to ask about me or my mom.  I have heard from my daughter..... my friends have emailed........ you, my blog friends have offered very kind and supportive words. But here I am with my family...... a step dad that is kind and opens my door for me, buckles my seat belt and that makes me smile..... and my mom. 
I painted her fingernails red today and we laughed about how her mother would never allow her to paint her nails because she would look like a "loose woman".  She is judgmental about "that colored girl", the lesbian with the nose ring and the tattoo that says Oscar, the man with the pony tail. Me and the lesbian are best friends now, the colored girl cracks me up, haven't met pony tail man yet, just heard about him. I found ants all over her night stand yesterday and asked that something be done. Well, a guy came in with a large jug of Ortho poison and sprayed it all over the back of the bed, the walls, the floor. I guess these people are dying in a few years, what's a little poison sprayed about for us all to breathe. I would have preferred the ants if I had known.....  I bitched, he smiled at me and kept spraying.

I am becoming a thorn in their side about the nutrition they provide, tomorrow I told them to forget the meals, I would cook and bring my mom something decent to eat. Why can't we feed old people good food? Why must it be grey and unrecognizable? They scold my mom every day for not walking to the dining area to eat. She won't go. She cries. She says she doesn't want to eat with the old people. The ones with their mouths gaping open and food running down their face, the ones with the oxygen tubes in their nose, the ones missing legs, or hands....they are all alone with no family to help them eat.  It is freaking her out. I went to the desk for the third time today and asked that they please quit badgering her about eating in her bed. She is scared of this place. She knows the routines of the hospital, God knows she has been there enough, but this is a dose of reality she was not ready for. I'm trying to help her through it, but I'm not making friends at this place. 

I feel like I am walking down that lonely road in Gerry's photo. Here I am in my room now with my computer, a ball of yarn and a few books. The thermostat is set on 80 and I am in South Carolina in August. Imagine.......  

I hear Hank Williams singing in my head, "I'm so lonesome I could cry". My daddy used to sing that while he was shaving, with a cigarette hanging from his mouth, standing there at the mirror that was on the medicine cabinet, in his white T shirt and blue jeans, smelling of Old Spice and tobacco. I could lay in my bed and look across the hall into the bathroom and watch him shave. I wish he was here with me. I wish he would come into my room like he used to and kiss my forehead and say goodnight. I miss him so much. He died twenty years ago and I think about him still, every single day. 

So, yes I am planting my own garden. I do yoga every morning, then I meditate for 20 minutes. A few laps in the pool, breakfast of whole grain cereal and fruit, and then to see the dead that are living.........  I have a heightened awareness that is intriguing me. Everything is a slow reality...... I'm just breathing through it. I have learned a lot about myself this year and what I am capable of enduring..... alone. 

Peace ya'll

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What's up Doc?

Somebody please tell me what in the hell is wrong with our doctors?! Prescription drugs are killing more and more people every day. I found a drawer full of pill bottles here and cross checked the side effects with her symptoms, Watcha reckon?

My mom's Symptoms:
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest
  • Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness
  • fast heartbeat
  • joint or muscle pain
  • swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • red, irritated eyes
  • skin rash
  • sore throat
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Fainting
  • Seeing things
  • Fast pounding heart
  • Painful urination
  • Dehydrated from lack of nutrition

Side effects from drugs I found in her drawer:
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest
  • Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • Anxiety
  • Seeing things
  • Fainting
  • Painful urination
  • Fast pounding heart
  • chills
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness
  • fast heartbeat
  • hives
  • itching
  • joint or muscle pain
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, irritated eyes
  • skin rash
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


 When I was a kid, my dad worked here at this furniture plant in Red Hill,SC. I drove over to it today on my way to the beach. It is one of the few places down here where I have incredible childhood memories. I would play on these railroad tracks while he loaded boxcars out of those side doors. Inside those doors were storerooms filled with stacks and stacks of flat cardboard boxes used for shipping sofas and chairs. Beside those cardboard stacks, were stacks and stacks of foam for the cushions. I would climb and jump on these stacks for hours. Then move on to the sewing room where I would collect piles of upholstery fabrics, then to the frame shop where I would collect blocks of scrap wood, and all of it came home with me for designing new rooms for Barbie and her townhouse, she lived in luxury while I was designing for her! I came over here a lot and I can smell the paint lacquers and fabrics and foam and sawdust even now as I type this. 

How deeply our childhoods embed in our souls, mold us and shape us and influence our lives......

Most people come to Myrtle Beach for, well, the beach..... I never get that pleasure. I mostly come here out of obligation, or guilt, or trying to be a reasonably adequate daughter. I am here now because my mom is eating only toast with Sprite, got dehydrated, got sick, and is now in a nursing home. I do love her spirit though. I told her that tomorrow I was going to take her to the community room for the arts and crafts and she said she wasn't going to go because there would be a bunch of old people there. Apparently, for her, 83 isn't old.... Haha!

I am walking in quicksand, trying to breathe, there doesn't seem to be enough air to fill my lungs. I stare into space a lot, I want to sleep, it doesn't come. A pity party was imminent on the way down here, country music on the radio can bring that on in a minute. Then the news came on and there was discussion about people being killed in Bosnia for their parts, parts being harvested and sold, and then my little pity party lost all point of reference and the world seemed like a really messed up place. 

I had plans this week for pottery and soap and time for myself. There is no such thing......... I'm here with a book in another nursing home with another sick parent.....

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Be the Penguin

I am this penguin right now. Disoriented, wanting to escape from everything around me. Just head for the mountains and never look back......
One difference, there are some folks I would like to take along for the journey:)

My blog friend Suzan had a great post today at Oldgreymare, I think we all need to jump in the pool with her. I would imagine everyone that reads here can probably agree with her feelings. What are we going to do, this place is a mess!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Southern Girl

 There is a gentle rain falling this morning, it's warm and muggy and there is a rumble of thunder in the distance. I can hear the rooster crowing next door, my mantle clock just chimed eight times. I'm having a pot of warm tea........ and I'm missing my girl.....

I walked down the hallway this morning and Wesley's bed is made, there are no clothes on the floor, no books piled high on her desk, no towels hanging on the door. She is probably still sound asleep in her new house in Winston Salem.

There is no emptiness like the emptiness of a mom missing her child. Our summer was a mess this year, with Gerry's surgery, parents illnesses, no vacation, looking for a new place for Wesley to live at school, and now her going back early for her fellowship program. She leaves for Boston in two weeks, starts the fellowship this Wednesday in Winston Salem, and then begins her final year of film school when she gets back from Boston.

Wesley's southern heritage is starting to influence her writing and her interests. She has recently found the works of Flannery O'Connor and is fascinated with that era and that southern culture. My friend/mentor Barbara McKenzie wrote a book about Flannery O'Connor during her doctorate years at the University of Georgia and she kindly invited us over last week to look at the photos she took during that time.

This is a rare first edition of Barbara's book, I found one like it on ebay for $200, yikes!

The photos are amazing and inspiring and I am so grateful that I have friends with such talent and generosity. We had a great time visiting and hearing about Barbara's days in Georgia in the 1960's. What a time in history that was!

Wesley has to write an adaptation screenplay this year and she chose a short story by Flannery O'Connor for her project. Flannery wrote about the south she knew, the people and places around her, and I have been encouraging Wesley to do the same. The south is so rich and crazy and interesting, how could you go wrong writing about it?! Gerry takes her with him to cover Nascar races whenever he can and she has another idea for a racing documentary. It's exciting to see her so full of ideas and motivation. I am looking forward to seeing how the south comes to life for her after these long four years of film school!

Now..... for me to get on with things. I have time now to make soap and pottery and jewelry, time to sew or knit or weave. Got to fill up that empty space. Glad I have plenty of stuff to keep me busy :)
peace ya'll

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It ain't cheap, it ain't easy

I remember the first time I saw someone throw a cylinder on a potter's wheel. I was smitten, right then and there. I was at the state fair in Raleigh in the yesteryear pavilion. That was 10 years ago. I took a class the next week with Syd Luck at the community parks and rec center and I didn't look up from clay until this past year.

10 years of classes, workshops, seminars, working as a studio assistant to pay my way, teaching classes  so I could have a kiln to use, using recycled clay because I couldn't afford to buy clay just for testing and learning. Working out on my deck and in my kitchen and in the upstairs bedroom in all sorts of conditions. Saving and saving and writing grants to get a kiln and a wheel and a studio..... if there is a hard way to be a potter, I did it. I watched doctors and business executives come into the community studio and spend whatever they wanted on classes and supplies and never took any of it seriously, it was just a hobby, while I was trying so hard to make it a way to earn a living as an artist. Bleh....... it took all my love for clay away. The marketing and the selling and the paying for show booths with what little money I had from selling my work, the pushing and shoving to try and get noticed by galleries and magazines and other potters who I respected. The endless testing and learning and failure and then some success that kept me coming back like a crack head. I wish I had just kept it a hobby.

And so let me see now, where in the fuck did all that get me?....... I still have no money, I haven't made anything I care about in over a year, except a few bowls that were nice. I'm published in a few books... I once had a woman that read the article about me in the Raleigh News and Observer say to me, "you are going to be really big one of these days".  What was that? say again? big.... now just how exactly does that happen? How does one get "big"?

I made some really nice work, made some people happy, shed some tears and laughter with those that loved my work, that was the best part of all of it for me. But I got off the train for awhile, I needed a break, not sure if I am ever gonna get back on it. Something broke and I really don't know what it was or what to do about it, not sure if I even care......

Which leads me to these photos of soap. Of course I need something to occupy the greedy creative that lives in my head. "Give me something to do" it screams at me.  Can't weave, can't make jewelry, Wesley's belongings are occupying that room right now and Wesley occupies my heart and my time right now. But she will be gone next week and there will be plenty of time for doing, for making.

When I took the soap making workshop back in June, it was fun, it was easy and I needed some ME time. The instructor brought all the tools and all the ingredients, pointed here, pointed there, I did as she said, and I made soap. Doing it on your own is a whole other matter. First there are the pages and pages of vendors online to weed through, deciding on ingredients and recipes and properties for healing or moisturizing, or whatever.

There is a lot. It's like clay. Do you want earthenware, cone 6, wood fired, raku, slip, oxides, scraffito, terra sig..... it's the same with soap. It's endless, the choices to be made, the direction to go. And just like with pottery: explosions in the kiln, glazes running, crawling, peeling, kilns over firing, etc, etc. , soap can go wrong. It can seize, it takes forever to cure, colors can change, lye can burn (bad), scents fade too quickly, things happen and you have throw aways. It's all hard work!

And there lies the secret...... work hard. When I think about the potters that are at it every day and making the craft of pottery their life's work, they work hard. Gerry has been a photojournalist for 30 years, he started out as a stringer for a local paper, and he worked hard to get the job he has today. He is in a very elite group of photographers, and they all work their asses off to stay there. The soaps I like are made by crafts people who..... work hard. There is no easy way to create quality work. You spend way more money than you should have to and you put in way more hours than any sane person would, because you love the craft you make and you are proud to create a quality product.

I want to explore this soap making thing, I have a vested interest due to the skin cancer that is flying through my family right now and the worries I have over the general state of our chemical obsessed planet. But it is not cheap and it ain't easy if you want to do it right. I sucked it up and bought the things I needed to experiment with a few batches, flew through all of it in no time and I have very little to show for it, except more experience and understanding of soap. I screwed up several batches due to lack of knowledge and carelessness, expensive lessons learned. I am no where near close to making a batch I would call a true success. I spent an entire day testing essential oils, trying to come up with fragrance I like, and I am close to considering just making unscented soap. Those folks who are creating wonderful smelling soaps have got something going on that I am no where near close to understanding. This scent thing is mind boggling! Where to even begin?! At the end of the day, I was dizzy and nauseous and really sick of aroma, I just had to go outside and breathe some fresh air.

I have filled a journal full of notes and as I go back to the beginning and read over them, they start to look like my first clay journals. Full of ideas and recipes and color inspirations, but still no clue about how to make a really good product, ugh the baby steps of craft. And then I remember those early days of pottery making. Already thinking of selling my work before I could even make a decent mug handle.  I find myself thinking of selling soap, what would my booth look like, how will I price items, what will my packaging be like, where will I sell it. Never mind it's been a month and I have yet to make a bar I would even consider selling! I am giving some away though. Testers..... you gotta dip those toes in the water if you are a maker of craft. But none of this is for the faint of heart or the empty of cash. The essential oils alone are outrageously expensive and cost prohibitive to a great extent. I am very conservative with the testing and experimenting, which makes it difficult to get a really good idea of what works and what doesn't.

So, I go back to those days this past February in my mind. Quiet days spent with our monks while the snow fell outside and the fire crackled inside. I slow down, I take time to think about how lucky I am and how so many blessings fill my life, and I spend time with my family and my friends and my chickens. Slow...... is how I want my life right now. I feel no rush to meet a deadline or get product out the door. I would like to make something wonderful to sell, I would actually like to earn a living creating craft, but it will take time and hard work and there is time for that soon, for now I count the next four days until Wesley moves out again and the house is still without her, and maybe I will cry for a day, missing her warmth...... and then I'll go make some soap or maybe even wedge some clay and throw some bowls, Who knows what crazy thing I might attempt in the coming weeks! I really should just go get a job somewhere.... if I just had a skill or two left from the old days, ha!

Just us chickens

I pulled this photo from my instagram, yikes! It got squished up, looks better over there :)

Creativity is sitting in the backseat these days as I ride this summer wave of July. Mornings find us watching/listening to the Tour de France, which seems to be a bit lack luster this year. It is our tradition to hibernate in the cool dark house during the heat of the summer and watch the tour. We are streaming it this year since we gave up cable TV. That way Gerry can pick it up whenever he isn't working. Is there anything a computer can't do these days? 

We go out in the yard in the evenings when it gets a little cooler and let the chickens play in the yard. It's way more interesting than trying to find something on TV. Wesley and I have been searching thrift stores for furnishings for her house. Not a lot of luck, the thrift stores are thriving these days, and you have to move quickly to get the good stuff.  I literally turned my back yesterday after spotting a really cute bedside table, and it got picked up by someone else. I love the thrill of the hunt for the really good stuff though, it's way more fun than the mall! 

My summer has been a blur of family necessaries. Gerry's surgery, his mom and dad and their issues, finding Wesley a new house. I managed to squeeze in a moment or two in all of that for myself, but it sure has not been about me this summer, everyone but....

I dreamed about holding a sleeping baby three nights in a row, and googled dream interpretation out of curiousity. According to "those that know about these things":

- To dream sleeping baby/s: symbolizes great development of the future; tomorrow will be even better than today; you are in the right direction; there isn’t any need to change something because prospect of success or happiness in the future is developing well.

That's sounds good doesn't it! Glad it doesn't mean I am about to become a grandmother!  Five more days with Wesley, then it's back to school for her. Our very last back to school summer.... sigh.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fourth Year

Wesley and I spent the day in Winston Salem, house hunting, enjoying our last two weeks together before her internship with WGBH Boston begins. How is it possible that she will be a college graduate this time next year? Didn't I just go shopping for her first backpack to start kindergarten?

We found a cute little house, ok neighborhood, not the greatest, but UNCSA is in a terrible area, we were lucky to find what we did..... Then we went to one of the little gems in Winston Salem, Reynolda, had lunch at Silo and then walked around in the gardens. You could smell the perfume of the roses everywhere and the vegetable crops were bursting with squash and corn and peppers and grapes, and everything! what an amazing place in such an odd town. A town that tobacco built..... 

One more year and Wesley will be done with this place. What a challenging four years it has been for her. I'm not sure I would have survived it. She had some serious life drama with some kids that weren't ready to handle what life was throwing at them, drama with professors and EGO, drama with roommates, and a school that pushes kids to the brink every single day. Every time I tell someone she is at UNCSA, they say to me, I hear those are the hardest working kids out there. No lie, they are!

I'm so proud of her for sticking it out, there were times she didn't think she would make it and now she is a fourth year, going to Boston to learn from some of the best in the business. Not bad for my little girl who used to be so shy and quiet. She is a fierce young woman now, ready to go out there and make a difference in this world!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Who can you believe?!?

I have been reading a lot about different clays that are being used in soaps for beneficial skin treatments. I like the connection with soap and clay and I am experimenting with red and green clays, as well as kaolin and bentonite. Yesterday I made a batch with green clay, green tea, rosemary and lavender. I would have photos but my camera batteries died while I was setting up to shoot (of course).

Anyway, I have been looking around at websites that describe the benefits of red clay and I came across something interesting. All the websites praising their french red clay products say the very same thing:

"French Red Clay comes from hematite iron. The red color is the result of the copper oxides. It is rich in iron and other minerals. It is used as a strong drawing clay. This means it draws out toxins in the skin. It is used in medicinal preparations, soap making, and cosmetics as well as other preparations."

Since I am a potter, I know about oxides and I was curious about this description of the hematite and the copper oxide. It is my understanding that red iron oxide come from hematite, and copper oxide is usually a green, although I do have a red copper oxide, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to put it in soap it's so problematic, and isn't copper oxide toxic, would you want to use it as a body product? 
Is copper oxide in hematite, I can't find anywhere that says this.

This got me to wondering where everyone was getting their information and if it was indeed accurate, so I emailed several of these soap makers and suppliers. I got emails back from a few saying they didn't know, no one seems to know for sure.... isn't that reassuring. Since everyone is describing french red clay the exact same way, it leads me to believe there is some cut and paste going on from the supplier and does the supplier know what they are saying, or was it a misprint, or am I wrong and copper oxide is in hematite......

I am confused, can you really believe anything you read on the internet? and if not, who can you believe!?!?!?  and why don't these soap makers verify their ingredients?!?!?!

Saturday, July 5, 2014


new soap balls: moroccan red clay, grapefruit, juniper sage, lemongrass......
bowl by Hollis Engley, Wesley Broome's beautiful hands

Karma is defined as the universal law of cause and effect. Every action causes an equal reaction. Every action leaves it's imprint. If we cause a wrong doing, the Universe teaches us what it feels like to be the recipient of that act. 
The cause: thoughts, words, actions
The Effect: the experience the thoughts, words, or actions trigger

Joseph Sand vase
My neighbor is testing my karma practice. He got a new rooster two Mondays ago (he shot the last two he had because they were insane). I gave it eight days, waking up at 5am to a cock a doodle do every 1/2 minute, from 5am until 10am (seriously I timed it). Then on the ninth day I called him at 5am and complained. He came over, seemed shocked at my dismay, told me he would just "put the rooster down" and walked away. That was last Wednesday, that cock is still a crowing.... I don't want the rooster to die because I can't sleep, I want to live far away from annoying human beings......

I won't complain anymore or call animal control. I will wait for the Universe to bring something equally annoying to his doorstep one day........  I'm just going to sleep with a loud fan in my room.

Grapefruit soap with bentonite

Using your thoughts to create a picture in your mind of a goal you seek to accomplish.  Form an outline and a plan of action for achieving your goal, make sure it is realistic and attainable.  The strength of your desire, determination and a true purpose for whatever it is you wish to do will determine your success. 

I am thinking of new goals, formulating plans. They involve soap!
I got a book at the library about aromatherapy, using essential oils to enhance the body, mind and spirit.
So many new things to learn......

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Happy Fourth of July! Great excuse to get out my favorite thing. Red, White and Blue. And flags. I love flags.

I have my grandfather's flag, it has 48 stars. I have the flag that was draped on my dad's coffin. I bought an old cloth flag at the thrift store the other day for $3, hung it in the downstairs bathroom. I have flags everywhere. I'm sad that the rebel flag is such a hateful symbol, because I really like the design of it. NO, I don't support what it has come to stand for, and I don't own one, like many here in the south, but I just wish it could be a symbol for something other than what it came to stand for. Too bad....

I hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday. Wesley and I are here celebrating without Gerry this year. First time I ever remember there being a hurricane on the NC coast this early and he is at the Outer Banks covering it. Wesley invited a college friend who is a long way from home to come spend the weekend with us, so it's just the three of us here. Popcorn and a movie is about the only festive event we have planned, I don't do the hot dog hamburger grill on the 4th thing,  it's just too dang humid and hot...... hot as a firecracker, haha!

Flags at the Liberty Antiques Festival

Sybil and Dora rocking the fourth of July. They are so hot. They were panting pretty bad yesterday. See the enamel pan in the background? I filled it up with water today and now they have a little swimming pool in the coop, they have been checking it out, getting their toes wet, but that's about all. I have been misting them with the hose, they like that, sort of.....

Peace ya'll