Looking at an Empty Shelf

Stand back – I’m going to vent and it might get messy. Not really. It actually got very clean and will get even cleaner if that is possible.

The ceramics studio is having a studio wide clean out. There has been an edict posted, emailed, snail mailed, and announced in person to every person entering the studio. I have been informed and reminded numerous times that as of July 27th there will be NO wet clay work in the studio. The last bisque firing will be on August 1st. The last glaze firing will be on August 10th. All completed work must be picked up by August 17th. Sounds reasonable. But I have a punch card for 6 sessions (at $10 each) and this schedule means I will have 3 sessions in which I can’t play with clay. It will cost me $10 to go in and glaze a piece. It will cost me $10 to go in and pick up a piece. And then there is the shelf clean off. My shelf must be cleaned off – that is completely bare by August 17th. I have 20 years worth of stuff stored in a very compact and organized space. I have begun the removal of my equipment. I will be removing the rest tonight. Since I’ve had to tote it home I’m considering if I want to ever haul it back.

My shelf is 30″ long and 24″ deep. The shelf height (for me) is 20″. The word is that the shelves are being dismantled and after the floor is cleaned they will be reassembled. The theory being spouted is that the shelves are of various sizes (heights) and they are going to make them all the same size. The plan is not being carried out by engineers. The people in charge are artists, specifically artists who do not have a clue about shelving units. This plan would work if A) the shelving units were all the same manufacturer and B) they were all the same width and C) used the same size bolts. As it is I foresee disaster. The shelves will be taken apart and all the pieces stacked on the tables. The bolts will be gathered and chucked into a bucket. Once the shelves themselves have been washed and dried (causing a huge reshuffling of parts) and the floor cleaned, there will be that moment when someone starts putting them back together. And they won’t get it right. And because they took so long to clean the floor and walls and shelves, there isn’t much time before the next session starts. We will come into the studio and there will be only half (if we are lucky) of the shelves put together. We will be assigned half a shelf with a promise of the shelves being reassembled soon. Soon will be a parental soon – which means maybe never. That will lead to the ceramics students joining the ranks of the jewelry, wood carving, painting, and stain glass students who tote their supplies and equipment to and from the studio every week. Sure we will be able to store a couple bags of clay on the shelf but we will have to keep the bulk of our tools in the trunks of our vehicles or at home. *sigh* I’m laying a cash money bet on this prophesy. If I win, Sparky is setting up a kiln for me in the basement!

If you have read this far I will reward you with the following tidbit. It is a mixed clay body using white stoneware and brown stoneware in equal parts. It is glazed in Mamo Yellow with Grass Green on the interior. The rims are left unglazed. It is a representation of the coccolith Syracosphaera sp. orbiculus from the East Equatorial Atlantic ocean.

The little white bar in the lower left is a 1 micron measure for scale. For reference a human red blood cell is about 8 microns across…



Looking at Reunions

Sparky’s mother decided to host a “family reunion” at the neighborhood recreation center. It was a perfect day. The weather cooperated with temperatures in the mid 70s to low 80s and not a spot of rain. We had a slight breeze to keep the air moving. She had rented the smaller adult pool and the clubhouse from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM. There were about 30 of us in attendance. It was a fun time. But what is a reunion without drama? so to recap:
1. The grill had a leak in the connection to the propane tank. Everyone retained their eyebrows despite Grandpa hitting the ignition button multiple times while the guys tried to tighten the hose. Seems he was oblivious since he was planning on getting in the water and left his hearing aids at home…
2. The hotdogs had to be cooked so the “strappers” (strapping young men) headed back to Grandpa’s house and loaded the non-leaking personal grill into the van and delivered it to the patio for grilling service. Lunch was not served until 2:00 PM… everyone was hungry!
3. Sparky had fun in the pool. He had applied sunscreen to his exposed skin – when he had his shirt on. As he was getting ready for bed it was obvious that he got a little too much sun on his chest/belly and back. I was able to apply some aloe vera gel with lidocaine to his burns. He was better in the morning.
4. I made Jello Jigglers out of TMNT Shell-Shockin’ Sour Apple. They were spectacularly bad. However there were none left over. I tasted them and did not like them. They tasted awful – sort of a cross between sour apple and jalapeno pepper flavor. No wonder that flavor was on sale 3/$1 for the big 8 serving boxes!!
5. Sparky’s oldest sister lost her sunglasses and I loaned her mine. At the end of the party as we were cleaning up they were discovered right where she left them – on top the refrigerator.
6. Son#1 and Son#2 assisted me in cleaning the clubhouse at the end of the party. We stacked the chairs, cleared the tables, packaged up the food, emptied the coolers, took out the trash and recyclables, and vacuumed the carpet. No one helped and no one thanked us. Hmm.

It wasn’t Jerry Springer drama. Yeah, I know our version of drama isn’t really drama. On the bright side Sparky’s mother’s younger sister and her husband came from St. Louis and stayed a couple of days. His sister and her husband visited from Wyoming. We had a nephew and his fiance come in from Chicago and another nephew visiting from Georgia. A niece and her brood of 4 were able to attend from Ft. Wayne. All in all it was a good time. The older you get the more important family becomes to you. Or maybe a better word than important is precious. Seems so many of the senior members of the family are passing. It is scary thinking that I am becoming a senior member!!

Matriarch holds court
Counts the grandchildren’s noses
Marks who gives her hugs
Tallies who’s naughty and nice
Changes the will yet again

Looking at van Gogh

I have always liked the art of Vincent van Gogh. As a college student I bought a print of his most famous “The Starry Night”. After several dorm room moves and then my first apartment it became too wrinkled, torn, and perforated to display. I tossed it. Over the course of life I’ve acquired several van Gogh reproductions: a crewel work of “Pink Peach Tree in Blossom” done by my Grandmother, a new (higher quality) print of “The Starry Night”, a small print of “Sunflowers” (the ones in a vase) and a companion “Irises” (the ones in a vase). To add to the collection I painted several in the style of van Gogh because it is easy to imitate and is a favorite of the Wine & Canvas franchise. I’ve done the Starry Night Tardis and Starry Night at Hogwarts. My latest was also a take on a van Gogh painting.

Irises is one of several paintings of irises by Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, and one of a series of paintings he executed at the Saint Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890. He started painting Irises within a week of entering the asylum, in May 1889, working from nature in the hospital garden. (Wikipedia)

We started with a blank canvas and painted it yellow. This was perhaps the easiest start I’ve had in awhile.

What followed was a mishmash of warm colors in oranges and red seemingly random in various locations on the canvas.

Then things got really crazy. The instructor was good however she didn’t give the instructions like they did in the past – 1 brush length from the bottom or 1 hand width from the edge. We made leaves with green, and mixing in either yellow, blue or white. She showed us how to make the flower and then urged us to start putting them on the canvas wherever we felt moved. By this point we were losing the natural light in the area (in the patio area inside the mall). It was a rush against time. Even though I had every intention of taking photos along the way, I forgot in the madness. Below is my finished (sort of) painting. I forgot to do the outlines on the leaves…

And this was the instructor’s painting… I think I did a great job.

The painting stopped at 9:00 PM when the restaurant turned off the few lights that were on essentially leaving us in a dimly lit mall. Although I really liked the instructor, the venue had much to be desired. I hope when she schedules the next van Gogh (she promised sunflowers) it is in a better lit area. If I’d been in the back row I might have been completely lost!!

Looking at My Red Shoes

Vain glory attracts the devil
Red slippers in church are worn
Boast that you are above the level
Nose in the air you scorn
The sensible footwear of others
Fashion over decorum and humility
Putting on airs for your sisters and brothers
But running from Satan you lack agility
Those red shoes tempt the soul
Sit in the pew too proud to hear
Hold you back from a heavenly goal
Give up all you should hold dear
Slide away before you know
Ruby slippers lead the way
To flames and fire raging below
Too soon too late to pray

I bought some bright red tennis shoes. Well, not really tennis shoes. They are casual lace up shoes with a soft rubber sole. I always wanted red shoes. But my mother was very practical and since red “wasn’t my color” red shoes wouldn’t match anything in my closet. It was probably for the best. I’m not sure where it originated but there are stories about red shoes being possessed and carrying the innocent wearer to hell. I suppose that was the reason that red shoes (if purchased) were never ever to be worn to church!

Looking Incredible

Sparky and I had a real date night. It contained all the elements for a super romantic evening. First we jumped into the sweltering car and added a passenger – Chippy. After 3 days of him snatching the bait and eluding the trap, he was caught. The plan was to turn him loose at Central Park on our way to church. We totally forgot that it was Summerfest at the park. Sparky double parked and released him. He took off like his tail was on fire! We then had to scrounge for a parking spot since the road was blocked off so the church parking lot was inaccessible. We enjoyed Mass in air conditioned comfort. From there we headed to dinner. Sparky decided on Hibachi Grill. It was busy but being a buffet we didn’t have to wait. And as a bonus they had squid! With time to spare we arrived at the movie theater and snagged the last seats that were together. Best seats EVER! We were center last row. The seats were designated ‘handicapped’ but they were wonderful – close to the exit (for bathroom breaks), lots of room, no other seats on either side, unobstructed view from the front, and special speakers!

We watched Incredibles 2. Everyone raved about Elasti-girl having the spotlight. I was enamored with Jack-Jack. And the raccoon was altogether adorable. In fact I can’t wait for the next installment – I hope it doesn’t take 14 another years to bring it to the big screen! The reviews and ratings put this one at 4.5 stars but in my book it is a solid 5 stars! However the Pixar short that played before the movie “Bao” was – – odd and um, well, disturbing. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Romance is alive
In comfortable shoes
Laughing together

Looking Prepared

Sparky and I have finally finalized our financial folio. We have prepared for that permanent passage to paradise. We have completed our last will and testament. I know it seems like something we should have done a long time ago but it isn’t as easy as the movies make it out to be. To ensure that he courts will honor your wishes, the document has to be more than a scribbled note on a restaurant napkin with an “X” as a signature. You are required to use the services of a lawyer and preferably one who specializes in wills.

To be perfectly honest, we put it off because we didn’t want to think about death. We didn’t want to consider what would happen if one of us died and left the other behind. But it was inevitable that we would have to. Thus the will. We wanted it to be fair. Our biggest fear was that if we both died our estate would go to the boys as a lump sum and cause them financial troubles (taxes, reckless spending, financial temptation/ruin). I mean, “too much of a good thing” is a real problem. So we wanted them to have the money not so much as an assist/crutch but as a nest egg for their retirement! And not at the age of 40!

So we drew up a will that has a trust attached for each of the boys. It has been designed to avoid a tax burden for them, it has provisions for emergency disbursements, and it has burial instructions too. We signed on the dotted line and have delivered a copy to the safety deposit box, the trustees, and to the boys. I think we have covered all the bases. Now I don’t have to think about death for a long time!

Looking at Liberty

What is liberty? According to multiple dictionaries, the definition of this noun is:
1. The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.
2. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
3. A right or privilege, especially a statutory one.
Although the definitions are all similar, there are nuances that separate them. The first one is what most people think of when they are asked to describe the “American way of life” as we puff up and thump our patriotic breasts.
As a woman (of a certain age), I can recall instances in my life where I didn’t enjoy the same liberty as some of my fellow (male) citizens. For example: as I was choosing a career in veterinary medicine the admission requirements were written specifically to screen out any women. Namely you had to be able to bench press your body weight and carry (not just lift) 50 pounds. As a petite girl with limited upper body strength it was obvious to me that I couldn’t apply because I didn’t meet the “physical requirements” as outlined in the admissions application. I never had a word for all the times that I was skipped over when I knew the answer or called out when I didn’t (can you say micro-aggression) but I didn’t dwell on it because THAT WAS JUST THE WAY IT WAS.

I was lucky that I was not born a minority or in a foreign country. I was not born or raised in poverty. My parents were married and stayed that way my whole life. I never experienced want, or hunger, or lack of shelter, or fear for my safety as a child. I have never been a victim of violence (domestic or otherwise). I’ve never been raped or molested. I have for the most part lived with liberty as a reality. Which brings me to this day, Independence Day.

For so many Americans, liberty is an illusion. It is a concept that they can see but only from a distance. I work with several individuals who identify as Gay. They are “out” to their coworkers but not to the public at large. This is a self-defense mechanism since they are very careful not to invite discrimination. They fear that they may not get the apartment. They are concerned that they will have poor service at restaurants. The list goes on but there are enough examples to convince me that if you shout from the roof tops that you are different from the accepted “normal” you can expect to be treated differently and that means poorly. Today is the commemoration of the formation of our country and the announcement that we support Liberty for our citizens. The current political climate makes liberty that much further out of reach for so many more people.

While I’m thankful for the liberty I experience, I am going to sign every petition to let my government know that I condemn the separation of children from parents at the border. I’m going to write my Representative and my Senator expressing my opposition to the decision for my government to withdraw from the Human Rights Commission. I’m going to donate to the local food pantry. I’m going to donate to the Women’s Shelter for abused women. I’m supporting Hannah’s House for unwed mothers who have been left homeless by boyfriends or worse – family. And finally after all that I’m going to pray. What are you going to DO?

Looking Busy

I have the first part of this week off as vacation. I was working furiously to get all the last minute things at work finished and all the end of the month items squared away so that I could relax. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry ” as they say and it is so very true. I had grand plans to clean and organize and cook some scrumptious meals. I figured I’d attempt some new recipes and even try my hand at some baking (I have a flan pan I’ve never used that has been languishing since my wedding shower). Here is my list of what went wrong:
1. The more I got done the more was asked of me to do. I suppose that is par for the course but it seemed like a conspiracy to prevent me from being able to leave.
2. I have some work tasks that can’t wait until I get back from vacation (see #1 above) so on the 4th I’ll be taking care of those items.
3. My spinal stenosis treatment with the physical therapist has been making me so sore that the thought of cleaning makes me cringe in anticipation of discomfort. It is usually this way – it is worse before it gets better.
4. My ceramics class that I signed up for had only 4 students. The instructor was saying that if she doesn’t have at least 8 in the class it won’t be worth her time and the class will be cancelled. This has made me extremely irate as I was planning on using my vacation time to get into the studio! Now it looks like that won’t happen. Plus I still haven’t been credited my class fee!!
5. The yard work uncovered some unwanted guests – ants. That lead to an intense killing session in the backyard. I suspect the brown stuff in the basement is ant frass or possibly termite poop. Needless to say the basement took up my time so none of the upstairs was touched.
6. With the invasion (which I personally think requires a professional intervention) Sparky has deployed his ant poison. Which means I do not want to have any food in any cupboard that isn’t sealed in metal cans or glass jars. If it can’t be frozen or refrigerated I’m suspicious about its integrity. That means that flan pan will continue to gather dust as there will be no baking of goodies.
7. The basement storage is being reorganized. I had to combine some gift wrapping storage since I bought a huge bin of gift wrap, bows and gift bags at a garage sale for $2.00. I got a really good deal but now needs to be integrated into the existing stock. It is a time consuming proposition as I consider tossing heirloom bows and nostalgia infused gift bags (like the one that son#1 and son#2 drew beards and mustaches on all the beautiful people on the bag from the Gap). We have reused that particular bag for at least 10 years and it makes me laugh to see it under the tree…
8. I had originally planned to have the bathroom renovation begun. The contractor is MIA and I have all sorts of supplies sitting in my guest room taking up space. I mean other than the bead board and the bathtub and the paint, I have everything else – just not a guy to rip out the old tub/shower and install the new one. I think I could probably do the sink and toilet. Sparky replaced the toilet downstairs when we put in the new floor. I know how to paint. I can tack up the paneling and the molding. I can hang a mirror. I might need help removing the medicine cabinet and patching the hole in the wall but I could do it. I just can’t put in the new tub and tile the enclosure. Essentially I need a professional!

So there you have it. My vacation is not going as planned. However I have visited with friends, and am going to celebrate the 3rd of July AND the 4th of July with the same and different friends. Maybe I’ll even forget for a little while that I have other commitments.

Look at the Time

There is a time and a season for everything. It seems a logical and simple concept that everyone should understand. Alas in our modern society this understanding has been lost. We are all about instant coffee, instant oatmeal, instant information (just Google it), and instant gratification. We have forgotten that some things take time. No one has had to wait for a chick to hatch from the egg. Most of the farm kids I knew growing up had at one time or another tried to “hurry” the hatching of a chicken’s egg only to discover that even one day early resulted in death for the chick! They knew personally that everything must happen in season. They had to develop patience. They learned that there is an order to the cosmos.

So here I sit conflicted. Young people try to force nature like forcing a bulb to bloom in February. It is a beautiful flower but the flower dies and the bulb is spent – never to bloom again. There are things that should bring joy if they happened in the right season and at the right time. Instead I see a rushing and a lack of patience and I cringe. How will this out of season event unfold? Will there be happiness or will everything collapse amid tears and sorrows? What I do know is that time will reveal the truth. As all parties involved sort through the ramifications of the choices made, I will be standing to the side and waiting patiently for my right season.

Patience is
A mortal foe
To needed instant gratification

Revel in leisure anticipation
Of journey’s end
Slow the pace

For the start
You jump the gun
Disqualify your participation

This is a little poem, a tetractys, based on a geometrical figure. The tetractys (Greek: τετρακτύς), or tetrad is a triangular figure consisting of ten points arranged in four rows: one, two, three, and four points in each row, which is the geometrical representation of the fourth triangular number. The poetry form consists of any number of 5 line stanzas having a syllabic count of 1/2/3/4/10. Each subsequent stanza is inverted from the previous one. Thus the second stanza would have lines with syllable counts of 10/4/3/2/1.

Watching and Waiting

Watching and waiting
Inhale and hold it
Exhale and let go
We can never know
When birth or death comes

The sun will rise
Or perhaps not
Death’s slumber comes
In midnight dreams

Night births sun
Sun brings light
Light fills eyes

We wake


This is a diminishing Hexaverse. It is a syllabic form consisting of 5 stanzas. The first is 5 lines with 5 syllables per line. Each successive stanza has one less line and one less syllable per line. Not too hard to wrap your head around.
I’ve been waiting for several things to happen. I am waiting for 2 people to leave work and waiting for 2 new hires. I’m waiting for serology to be gathered and submitted. I’m waiting for grants to be funded. I’m waiting to get approval for vacation requests. And as always I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop!
In other exciting news, my husband Sparky was contacted about getting his teaching job back. He really enjoyed teaching at the college level. However the pay is low but more than he makes at Lowe’s. I hope he will keep his job at Lowe’s at least until the bathroom remodeling is completed! (gotta love the employee discount!)! In the meantime I’m just breathing in and out.