Thursday, December 30, 2010

There is this thing about water, especially when its frozen!

I have been here in Lake Placid for our annual holiday week trip knowing that this will most likely be the last time I am sharing this week with my son Chris. Its been an interesting week. He is skating so well and working so hard.  I almost wish he was racing in SLC this week instead. There is always next year.

There is something so magical about frozen water. There was a post the other day on J.C.'s blog that had me wishing I was in Seoul, curious about speedskating in Korea, and feeling like I can relate as the afternoon speedskating session is split with public skating this week, despite being told otherwise from ORDA.

JC posted this great picture which had me wondering if this was a promotion for the 2018 winter games?

It does look quite like what I would expect in an Olympic Village for spectators to indulge in? I wonder if this track design would solve our training/public session dilemma? In anycase this morning was a beautiful morning to skate, despite being so sore. There was this magical feeling akin to a kid going to the lake for that first swim of the summer or that late winter tanning at "The Beach". For those wondering why I linked to A-basin its because that is what they call their parking lot, which seems to be so close to the sun you could reach out and grab it. I love skiing there, especially during pond skimming. 

Off to find that magic again maybe I'll spot the perfect icicle on my way to the oval. (BTW, nice shot of Chris Christie!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Adventures with Pete: part ?

An excerpt:

When I was growing up my dad had these wild stories about his childhood adventures. He was quite the storyteller. There was this guy Pete that was a central figure in his tales. He grew up in this tiny coal town in northeastern Pennsylvania and Pete was his best friend. All in all though, my dad’s stories would not have been anything without Pete and quite frankly Pete took this place of grandeur in the history of my family, though I never met the guy. 

My dad is long gone, as are most of his siblings. I cannot recall his stories about Pete so I am not going to bother trying. Instead I will share with you my own adventures with Pete. The Pete of my childhood gave me great courage and confidence. He was a gentleman and a true supporter of my cause. Pete was one of those few true friends that I could count on one hand.

It all started on a playground while our mothers played softball down the street from his house on a warm evening in late-spring. I had broken my hand a few days before while riding my bike. The break was a compound fracture so my hand was both stitched up and extra tender under that cast. I was climbing on a jungle gym and there were these boys that were going to great lengths to tease me. Still flat-chested at the time, I was asked to prove I was a girl. As I climbed with a cast I was told I was faking my injury as no kid in their right mind would climb in that condition. Pete witnessed this and came to my immediate rescue. That was all she wrote. We were friends instantly.  This remains true to this very day.

I have decided to share my adventures with Pete. With the grandest of eloquence and in the spirit of my upbringing the stories told will be just as wild, mostly true, occasionally embellished, and at times stolen from my other life stories because Pete would have made that tale epically better. They are recollections of my life and times on this planet. I have always loved to tell stories. Pete has filled the shoes of that monumental and somewhat metaphorical figure that has taken a place in my literary history. He has encouraged me to tell my stories. He has promised to be the one person I could count on to read this book, family aside.

So , just what happened that day on the playground that solidified my allegiance to this guy named Pete?  I was the quintessential tom-boy, always hanging out with the boys climbing trees, skate-boarding down steep hills not to mention in traffic, playing football, building forts, playing with matches, creating impromptu bon fires, starting mud fights and arguing about taking a shower afterwards. I had a few good role models. My mom was a Phys-Ed teacher, my dad a science teacher and HS football coach. There was also a shortage of girls my age in the neighborhood that liked to get dirty. Huckleberry Finn was my hero and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Twain 1876) was my bible. I much would have been a boy-scout than a stupid old girl scout any day. It stated when I realized after climbing up the geodesic dome of a monkey bar contraption with a cast on that getting to the top was easy, getting down on the other hand was not so easy, actually, it was downright frightful.  There were at least four overly assured boys and two really mean girls giving me hell that night for being stuck on the damn monkey bars. I felt like that pigeon being pelted by stones in that public service film we used to have to endure every so often in school. You bully something defenseless long enough it will die was the moral of the short feature. In any case, there were all these kids destroying me and then there was Pete, a defendant in a protective shiny covering, le chevalier dans briller d'armure, my own personal Don Quixote (Cervantes 1605) defending me from the windmill that was the playground.  First he helped me down. I honestly think my predicament scared him a bit. Then he stood up to two of the boys giving me grief. Defending my honor as a girl. He treated the situation in a way akin to a brother sticking up for a sister. Whatever he said, however short and sweet was impressive enough to build a fortress without worry of future retaliation.

A few weeks later I invited him to the small lake by our house to swim. After hours of diving off the dock, splashing each other with cannonballs, rating jackknives, playing tag, racing each other to the raft, engaging in the ritual game of Marco Polo, and having near death experience chicken fights, we finally collapsed on our towels in the sand to start what would be a decade long, potentially cancer causing, wrinkle fest of a competition called who can achieve the darker tan. 

I have managed a bunch of pages in my long awaited writing endeavor. I am surprised at how easily it comes. I have been jotting notes, ideas, memories down on a mind map for over 3 months now. I am psyched that this is actually working well as a tool whenever I have the chance to spare a few minutes to write down a story into the template I have started. I was thinking about my book last weekend as I made my way home from Lake Placid, angrier than a bull pursuing a rodeo clown. Just as I was on the verge of tears from my emotional state a text comes in and its Pete. It was just a simple smiley-face. He had no clue what had transpired on the oval hours earlier. Matter of fact, I hadn't talked to him in at least 2 weeks. I am always amazed at his knack for knowing just where my head is at most of the time. Its almost un-canny. So you see, when I write that he may not have been in every story but he makes almost every story better, I do not lie. But that is not what I intended to write about now...

On Christmas night, Kenny and I hauled up to Pete's after a pleasantly long day at his brother's house. I really enjoyed Christmas this year. We arrived just as things were starting to quiet down but the important thing was that we arrived. Pete gave me the most amazing gift. It was a photo montage of our adventures in Maine, both in poster and calendar form. I was so touched. Yesterday, when I read his short storm adventures on Facebook I wished I was there at the studio, enjoying the hot tub rather than freezing my behind off in Lake Placid! Actually, I really wish he was here on a Lake Placid adventure with me, despite the freezing temps and his lack of skating capabilities. Somehow I think he would find it fascinating.

The time here in Lake Placid this week has been interesting. Its been really cold, and windy up until today, when the sun was so bright I couldn't see what I was filming this morning on the oval. I am surprised that I filmed anything. Its one of those weeks where I get so much reading done that you would think I was an avid reader all of the time. I have even managed the NY Times cover to cover before 10 AM each day. Its both hectic and relaxing. Chris is skating well, which is what is important,  after all its why we are here. He managed a good training session with Pat Kelly this morning and will be back for crazy eights tonight (his choice). Crazy eights is surprisingly one of Chris's favorite tough workouts that I wrote for him and Andrew two years ago.

It consists of the following:
8 lap warm up
2 x 8 laps easy, 8 laps moderate, 8 laps easy, 8 laps hard
8 lap cool down

I have spent the afternoon editing video from this morning and will have it posted soon.  Well off to secure some lock-tight and a few other essentials from the hardware store before hitting the ice again. More later!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Analyze this?

Last night I had one of those weird potter dreams again. This time I was haunted by two people I really look up to. We spent hours critiquing my work, which was not all that harsh, most of it dealt with my choice of surfaces. I wonder if this was due to the fact that I was somewhat dismayed at the fact that my whistle forms are being neglected in my current exhibition, matter of fact they are not beimg shown at all, which was not my choice. The worst was that I could not seem to find my voice to speak up about it either. I know its my work, but? I am guessing this was just a dream of torment? I must be trying to tell myself to speak up and self- advocate...I really need to say something before the reception. Why am I so chicken to do so?

I made it to Lake Placid yesterday without much consequence. I am so glad that I left as early as I did however. I see that Kelly got quite a bit of snow too. Funny, it hadn't even started there by 1 PM. Its really cold here despite not having the blast of snow that they had at home. My only regret it that I missed Mike, Vim, Jay and Julia sledding at the lake with a guest appearance by Steve. I hear they were having a blast. I cannot imagine what it must be like for Jay and Julia who have never really seen snow. Malaysia is in the 80's almost every day of the year.

OK, time to go and skate! More later!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sick Day

I stayed home today, and while I finally did manage a shower around 3 PM, I think my butt has worn a divot in the couch. I didn't feel up to much. So I just had one of those PJ days hoping that by days end I would feel better. HMMM its evening and I am still feeling a bit yuckie. I feel like I did when I had an advanced case of lyme, which I was told is how I would feel. Tomorrow is a very long day for me too... positive thinking ...
I did manage to entertain myself and explore the Splendid Table today. I tried the guinness gingerbread recipe (SUPER EASY) so that it could be used as stuffing for the chicken I roasted for dinner (also super easy). I was amazed at how interesting this was.

Try this:
1/2 of a pan of the gingerbread - Oh when you make it, if you don't have Golden syrup because we live in the US and not the UK, substitute honey (healthy) or Imitation maple syrup (unhealthy but closer to what golden syrup is)
2 onions chopped
3 cloves of garlic - chopped (more if you feel crappy like me)
1 cup of chopped carrots
2 stalks of celery
provincial herb mixture (rosemary, sage, thyme, savory and a bit of lavender)

Saute the veggies until transparent and crumble the gingerbread then mix together

STUFF YOUR CHICKEN, TURKEY or PORK! (OK I am bored) and sprinkle outside with orange zest and provincial herbs then roast at 350 until done

Then un-stuff and serve. Share it with other people (if you can).

I am amazed at how incredibly boring staying home is. How do people do this? I am so stir crazy! Maybe if I actually moved off the couch and stopped watching stupid cat videos?  Come hell or high water, I am back to work tomorrow!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Setting an example for those who are younger

I woke up this morning not minding the fact that I VOLUNTEERED to stand on the ice for 2 plus hours in below zero temps to make sure a race was skated fairly. I am NOT technically an official, but as a USS level 3 coach I knew that the task I was being asked to do by the MARATHON ORGANIZERS,  BECAUSE THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE, would be done to the best of my abilities. It was merely my intent to follow the mass start protocol as best I could. I did not take being asked to officiate a race lightly. Just as I want my skaters to be treated fairly it is my intent to act objectively and without bias.

Today was by far the worst I have ever seen in terms of unsportsman-like conduct AND without a doubt my LAST time volunteering to do anything other than coach. The lead athletes who decided that the possibility of skating an extra lap was far too much to bare and decided instead that hurling obscenities at me while I tried to remedy the timing and PA situation was acceptable should be ashamed of yourselves. The athletes who took it upon themselves to tell me where to go in some For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge terms and decided to interfere with me discussing rude behavior with pertinent individuals should remember its JUST A RACE, a FRIENDLY COMPETITION, and with nothing of real life sustaining IMPORTANCE in the outcome except knowing the fact that you accomplished an amazing distance in a short amount of time.

Not to mention your behavior was noticed by others who were not participating in the event, some of which were asked to sign a USS Code of Conduct and Athlete Agreements in order to participate in their perspective seasons. Those contracts they signed were set by some of you, or at the very least adults that you assigned the proxy to do so.
With that said, I do hope that the next time you set foot on the ice you understand that the people on the production end are VOLUNTEERING THEIR TIME because they are PASSIONATE about ADVANCING and PROMOTING the SPORT and you can see it in your competitive mindset to PLAY NICE!

Lysek's in the morning

I always seem to be the first one up the morning, even here.  I am surprised at how good I feel despite my bottomless glass of red wine and fitfull/frightfull dreams last night. Its morning here in Lake Placid and absolutely delightful! This morning I am again at the marathon, standing on the ice, hoping that the whole lot skates fast enough for me not to be the latest LP Ice Sculpture.
More later!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Courage in the High Peaks!

December 18, 2010
Lysek's Hillcrest Inn
Lake Placid, NY

I feel like I am home even though I do not own a place here, believe me, I wish I did.  Chris an I are up here for the first of many weekend endeavors skating long track. So far its been a good trip. I could do without the 4.5 hour eommute on a Friday afternoon after teaching all day though. Chris skated 25K this morning while I helped with the race. I had planned on skating, and I know excuses cannot fly, but I bagged the thoughts for a few reasons: 1. I have almost no fitness left right now 2. I decided I did not want to be in that much pain. So, the plan is to skate in February in Lake Morey. I like natural ice.  Its what I grew up on.

Today was a wonderful day. The 7 or so Jr Hopefuls that call the Lake Placid Oval their home ice skated with tons of wishes of COURAGE today. Each one choosing one of my handmade beads before the race, taking a picture on the ice with the bead in hand after the race, and writing an inspirational note to be included with the bead when it is mailed to Beads of Courage next week. I will have pictures soon. What they wrote inspired me so much. I was so glad that I chose to do this.

After the race I headed to Mr. Mikes to meet Peter and Fred for lunch before heading back to Lysek's read for a bit. I am amazed at how much reading I manage to get done here. Liz, you will have your book soon. It was soon time to get to afternoon ice but after spending 3 hours trying to fix Chris's new blades to his new boots, I finally decided that I might need to pay to have this done. These were bolt and insole issues that challenged even John Dimon. Finally, both of us working together got things done. I had exactly 1 hour left to skate, which half of was taken up by my own blade issues. I finally get things set and it 5:55 the session ends at 6.

There is always tomorrow and next week!

Tonight I had planned on meeting Fred and Mickey for a drink, actually really looked forward to it. I ended up getting sidelined by a mean lasagna dinner and lots of wine. (French Canadian's drink more wine then the French I think- how are they racing tomorrow?)  I am smiling now that is until I have a headache tomorrow! (Sunglasses most likely will be a necessity!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teenage Angst

On my way home today,  I was looking forward to putting my feet up and doing some reading. Instead I came home to a moment that made me have to be that parent, use my better maternal judgement, and hope that I made the right decisions. I know that my on- the- fly, under pressure thought process was done in his best interest but as I debriefed my child, and reminded him of the lapse in development of his pre-frontal lobe, I also had the privilege of hearing about how much he is hurting. Disappointment and anger has slowly dissolved into empathy. I watch teenagers make mistakes every day. I also watch those same teenagers go through emotional hell at times. Heck there are some HS memories that I still have angst about. I just never thought my kid, who seems so focused and put together, could be feeling so down. He is a victim of the loss of his first love. The thing is that it was months ago.
I remember breaking up with my first love, and to this day there are still certain things that are still painful despite being head over heals in love with my husband. The one thing I can honestly say I was grateful for was that after we broke up I didn't have to see the guy every day as he was a two years ahead of me and was already out of school. My kid doesn't have that privilege. He sees her every day. The head games are poignant and still incredibly fresh.
As we sat there and talked I learned so much about a kid I thought I knew so much about already. I learned that there is an "I am coping" personality where he tells me about the world and then there is the "screaming for help" personality that only asks for help when he is falling so fast but the bottom looks as if its never going to appear and the fear kicks in. So as I think tonight about the consequences for his actions and the level- headed resolve that I acted with initially, part of me feels just as heart-wrenched as I did in 1981 when the final dissolution of my first love relationship sent me over the edge and running to New Bedford. I am not in any way excusing his lack of judgement, just trying to understand where he is coming from so that from this day forward I can help him to make better choices.
I do know he knows I love him!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Monsters with a purpose

Those of you who have seen my ceramic beads know that for the last 3 years they have taken on this Pre-Columbian characteristic. The are simply these grotesque heads that I have never been able to explain. Some of you may know that I have often put little inspirational messages in those beads and given them to teenagers that have had issues dealing with the angst of a reaching for a goal while missing out on the social aspect of being a teenager. Some of the recipients were not teens but received the beads anyway as it was just a package for those much needed words of encouragement. Today, I decided to embark on an even greater journey of hope, I have decided to donate some of my monsters to Beads of Courage.
In anycase, this morning I had planned on being lazy, watching TV while still lying in bed, extending my morning, hoping that my cat will continue to keep me pinned under the covers. I turned on CBS Sunday Morning because I find this magazine show enlightening. I have always felt that it manages to hook the non-artist into enjoying and understanding art. I usually watch it as a tool for my classroom, but I am usually multi-tasking while watching, today I was a completely captive audience. It was refreshing.
When I finally decided to get my behind out of bed I decided to look into Beads of Courage a bit more. I really liked what I saw, my only criticism is that the financial report is not on the web-site. As I learn more, you will too- stay tuned.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Spirit of something? Maybe? Trying?

I spent the day in one of my favorite places, Saratoga, wishing I had more time to relax and definitely wishing I had time to spend with Kelly, who was busy trying to get her holiday groove on and cookie baking together and Alison, who is off to Hawaii with Rich, who is receiving some award for his SERVICE to our country, but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was even though she spent some time explaining it. The last two months have been a blur trying to prepare for this exhibition in the gallery at the Jonesville Store and trying to heal from what I finally learned was an overzealous Rickettsia infection that I managed to pick up in Korea. I have finally started to get some sleep and feel like myself, something that I have not managed to say in 4 months. Honestly though, while I am starting to feel better, I still feel extremely overwhelmed. Today was typical of my weekend commutes, 2.5 to 3 hours each way. I think I am getting to damn old to be driving 350 miles a day. Next weekend? That starts the 4.5 hour drives to Lake Placid every weekend we are not traveling somewhere else to a competition, something that I am both excited about and dreading at the same time. When will March be here? I am looking forward to competing in marathons this year, but there again, I have barely had the time to train for them. We will see what happens next weekend when I skate my first one in 5 years.

So today? We dropped my work off at the Jonesville Store, called Kelly, chopped down our Christmas tree, spent time with my mother, went to Hattie's Chicken Shack for lunch, drove 150 miles towards home, hit Home Depot for plastic, DiCicco's for beer, Geatanno's for dinner, had a text conversation with Pete, and then finally arrived home. I am trying to decide if I am just road weary or tired, or both. Tomorrow at least I can sleep in, I think. In all of this, I have managed to notice that I am a little short on spirit this year. I am trying.

Pete made me smile from ear to ear when he told me he got me something that would make me laugh and cry at the same time. I have so much to look forward to this year. Mike and Vim come in from KL on Tuesday for a few weeks. The kids must have grown so much since the last time they were here. We will be going to Gary and Camille's Christmas day, something we have not done in awhile. We are going to Pete and Roy's too. I then get to spend a week in Lake Placid doing nothing except skating and reading, eating and sleeping. I am starting to feel the excitement through the fog.

Kelly posted about Christmas past this morning. It got me thinking about the past 9 years. Every year since Chris first dawned a pair of skates we have been in Lake Placid for the week between Christmas and New Years. Last year I skipped across the pond, but Chris still managed to get up there. This year, he had the opportunity to head to Salt Lake but chose to go upstate because he realizes that this will most likely be the last Christmas week he gets to grace LP with his presence. He understands that his life is going to change soon. I think Bob Fenn was a bit disappointed that Chris was choosing the Dacks over the Wasatch but at the same time I think he fully appreciated Chris's wishes and read him the "OK, but stay focused on your training" riot act so to speak. I hope Bob knows that I appreciate this too, as I have just come to realize that this will be one of my last weeks in Lake Placid with him too. Maybe this is what is bothering me, my life it changing, hurtling fast towards that empty nest and while I am really excited about it, I am melancholy as well.

Kelly's post also got me thinking, as I read the Christmas Carol for the first time in years (completely random coincidence BTW) about favorite Christmas memories of my own childhood like hanging out with the Repps and then the Wilkinsons on Christmas Eve, watching The Christmas Story over and over again as well as that stupid yule log, having Mr Repp call his own house from the neighbors playing Santa (I cannot believe we all fell for it). The trips to Bellmore for Christmas dinner at my grandparents; roast beef, yorkshire pudding, string beans and the lemon sherbert and chocolate chip cookies. We would race home to be ready for that early morning trip and the week of skiing in NH. Then when I got married, there were the long trips to Burke Mtn, the renewal of the Wigilia tradition in my family, the rather large house busting Christmas eve open house we have thanks to Kenny's family tradition (where everyone who wasn't Christian had a place to go too), and where Elijah has always had a place at our dinner table and always found our front door left open. There was also New Year's day at Cioci Mary's.

So as the weekend draws to a close and I have thought about the true meaning of all those lights I have passed this evening, I try to find within myself that spirit that I know I have. My wish is that my friends who can totally empathize with my state of being find theirs too. (wink)

If you find yourself wondering around the Capitol District in the next few weeks and have time to kill, are looking for a great place to eat and want to see what my laborious studio rants have been about check out the Jonesville Store. The work should be up by Dec 15th (Wed) and remain there until Jan 31. The champagne and brownie reception will be Jan 9th from 1-3PM.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

the birth of a pot= the quest to grow

I am not sure if I should really say anything other than for some reason this particular kiln has been one hell of a journey that started at Salad Days, or maybe firing prior to that with John where we discussed coming into one's own, carving a niche, finding a place and focusing on working from that, deflecting tangent thoughts...? All I know is that somewhere, months before yesterday my journey began with this trickle of a thought. I feel like this was one of those epic experiences in so so many ways, and despite being really happy with the results I can honestly say, I HAVE SO MUCH WORK TO DO!

I am sitting here this morning, looking at my work, getting ready to make that cut, to select those pieces that represent my thought process. I am trying to remember where I stashed Simon Levin's article on self-criticism. If you read this Simon, can you help me out? Maybe, evaluating my work in that manner is not really useful at the moment though. I do need to get it installed at a gallery. Maybe I should just go with my gut and leave my own head out of it? 

What I am feeling right now is not unlike the pre-race jitters one experiences at a sporting event. My work has grown and changed and grown and changed repeatedly over the course of years, always cycling back to that starting point. Its just the past 6 months have been like a growth spurt. I know I am prepared for sharing but I am just as anxious as I would be if I was at the starting line. Maybe that is it, this show is just another starting line. The time leading up to the firing was the preparation. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Things I have learned about smart phones

While a smart phone is like having a hand held computer constantly at your fingertips, it is not wise to assume that using even the smartest of applications, such as office or excel, to take notes while in a meeting is ok. People generally think you are being rude and texting the world about how bored and unamused you are. True story.

I decided that as I discover the prospect of over indulged connectivity I would try to think about how all of this technology could help me. I found that my fingers are far from nimble enough to type an entry to my blog on that small keyboard, despite being an artist that thrives on small details. Forget about the touch screen, its even worse, there I suffer from chubby finger tips. I sent something off the other day to an organization I belong to hoping to calmly make a statement of quiet criticism, only to find out later that my fingers made me look like a bumbling idiot regardless of how true that might actually be.

I have had to call my phone company twice to understand that my phone is now HIGH MAINTENANCE. No more plug and play, now I have to worry about downloads and apps computing enough to kill the battery in 30 seconds. Don't get me wrong, I love my new phone, and I consider myself quite tech savvy, just the learning curve here makes me feel like I need to take a class on smart phone usage. I want to get the most from it so I feel like I am running it, not the other way around.

For now? The jury is still out!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My smart phone is making me feel really stupid!

I sit here waiting for the train back to school with my students. We spent the morning at the Clay Art Center in Portchester viewing Arnie Zimmerman's work. While waiting, I decided to to check my email and there was a really sweet happy birthday greeting from Kelly's cousin David and my clumbsy fingers are not well suited for my stupid smart phone so it was inadvertently deleted. To you David, I say THANK YOU SO MUCH!

This was a piece of my day. One thing I have to say about all of my students this year is that they made a HUGE deal about my birthday, as did many of my friends, my phone screaming konichiwa
at me endlessly with texts. My students think this is so funny every time it happens. My friend Mike called out of the blue, and my facebook page was filled with well wishes. Kelly,  remember Kelly? She even dedicated a blog post to me. From the outset it seems like it is a glorious day.

By the end of the day I was re-evaluating my previously waning thoughts about my own faith. You see, all of this support was a cushion for the blow that was to come.  I was about to be told that my son Christopher was being denied entry into the American Cup 2 meet that is taking place in Roseville, MN. His registration was late and  NO LATE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED according to the rules. I was devastated. His goal of making Jr Cat 1 this year has now been dissolved instantly, and it was my fault. OK, I know, its only speedskating. Its not the end of the world, but when its your kid's dreams and you railroaded them without intent its crushing!

So, now what? Chris is still off to Roseville, volunteering at the meet instead of skating. Giving back to the sport that he loves so much. I marvel at his strength. I am so upset and he is accepting it and letting it roll. I think he is happy to share the time with his buddies from MN and to watch them skate without feeling the pressure to perform. He can honestly root for them, unbiased by his own need to succeed. Thank you Karen and Chris for putting him up and helping him see some of the colleges the area has to offer too. I have a good amount of post graduate credits from St. Thomas myself.

Its December 1, a day after I started this post, and I am feeling wiped out by the roller coaster of emotions I have had since my discovery of the registration problem on Saturday. I have spent hours on the phone, equal amounts of time on e-mail, and crushing amounts of time scouring rules and by-laws looking for that edge that might be lifted. I have finally resolved to let it go. I have spoken my peace, more eloquently than I really wanted to. I have been impressed by some, sympathized with others,  gotten mad at several and been severely disappointed by a few but in the end I will acknowledge that the LT Regulations, while not perfect, are there to protect the rights of the competitors for the most part. I just wish I didn't feel like they were interpreted in so many different ways by the same people so many times in one season, season after season, so that I could believe in them whole heartedly.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I got a new pair of Asics from my mom for my upcoming birthday. I decided that if I was going to ask for a new pair of running shoes that I was going to use them well. This morning, as soon as my feet hit the floor I was getting into my running gear, grabbed my phone, streamed my favorite radio station, and off I went on my 3 mile route, albeit slowly, but I was out.
I was amazed at how much wildlife I was viewing at 8AM. It seemed a bit late for all this activity, but maybe the overcast nature of the day extended the dawn for these creatures. The most interesting spotting was this red tail hawk. She was HUGE, fat enough to look like she just ate an animal her size. When I first spotted her she was sitting in a tree at the end of my property. The next thing I know I was being followed at by a huge rapture at a very low altitude. Was this bird trying to tell me something? Was I road kill after only .5 miles? I stopped and tried to snap a picture of this beautiful creature, but she was very elusive and flew into the woods and off on another adventure.
I continued on. I caught something moving in the corner of my eye. I looked into the thicket and spotted a coyote sniffing out something in that particular pile of sticks. At first I thought it was someone's dog that had gotten loose, then I realized that the coloring and scrawniness beckoned a closer look. I was in awe, two great sights on this initial endeavor. Am I being beckoned to do this regularly by the environment?
The rest of my route was only graced by the occasional squirrel and grazing deer but even those seemed a bit magical. I was so happy to be out. I was focused on my goal of competing in a few weeks in Lake Placid and then again in Lake Morey. I am planning on at least those two marathons weekends this year, with Lk Morey being the 2 championship events, 25K and 50K. One of the skaters I work with has decided to try her first marathon, I want her to show her that marathon skating is so rewarding so I will skate with her for the 25K. I know she can finish it. I want to show her that she can accomplish more than she thinks and if that means having to get back into shape myself to do so, well so be it.
So I managed a 3 mile route this morning only slightly winded. I am off to Hartford for some ice.
More later!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just a half mile from the railroad tracks...

Its Thanksgiving here in America and today we are expecting a house full of family and friends. I have been up since 6AM and so far my studio has seen me for about 2 hours, I have made a large pot of Irish oatmeal,  baked 3 pies, hummus and directed Chris on how to make cranberry sauce. I have washed dishes more time than three times and watched the Macy's Parade. I have listened to Arlo Guthrie and William Burroughs. I have talked to friends and family. I have noticed stupid things like the Ronald McDonald balloon in the parade had speedskates on. Where am I going with this? Its 1:05 PM, a full two hours before anyone will arrive, and yet the time with my immediate family has been so enjoyable that the holiday has already been wonderful.  
I want to write about traditions as cliche as that is. My family is not unlike others, we have several, like serving keilbasa and pierogies and making cranberry sauce from whole berries and pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin. When Kenny and I got married we wanted to make a good pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. We went pumpkin picking at Greig Farm and then spent a month searching for the perfect recipe. We baked pies every chance we got, finally settling on one we got out of this unassuming cookbook we received from my mom's friend Carolyn Cherry called The Complete Cook. I have held onto this book as it has several incredible recipes in it that have become a basis for our kitchen repertoire. It is out of print now, but you can still find used copies for under a buck. 
My other pie is one that I originally found in the New York Times Dining In section around the same time 23 years ago and have never seen the recipe reprinted.  It is a chocolate cranberry pie, which is so easy that its almost sinful. It involves making cranberry sauce with orange juice, brown sugar, orange zest and cinnamon. When the cranberry sauce is thick, remove it from the heat and mix in a bag of chocolate chips (whatever you like - semi sweet, white, milk, bittersweet...) and 1/2 cup of pecans. Pour it into a cookie crust (I like a chocolate graham cracker or oreo) but this too should suit your taste. Bake the pie in a 425 degree oven until its bubbly then cool the pie until the chocolate sets up. Serve with ice cream. I like Vanilla Bean spiked with a 1/4 tsp of serrano peppers mixed in (take qt of really good vanilla bean IC and thaw a bit. In the food processor place the IC and chili peppers and process until well mixed, put the IC back into its container and refreeze).
All this talk of cranberries reminds me of when Pete showed me the bogs on this island across the Narrows from his place in Maine. I wonder how many people headed out there to harvest the berries this fall? I wonder if the berries taste different? 

So whether you go over the Throgs Neck and Down the Expressway to MeMe's house we go (as my dad used to sing when I was a kid) or just hang out at home with the tiny turkey for one, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

INVICTUS and the need to be the master of SELF

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
- William Ernest Henley (1875)

I sit here watching one of my favorite movies. I am always intrigued by the motivational quality of this movie. It encourages me to remember that I am the master of my destiny. My professional life sometimes allows me to forget that I have worked very hard to get to where I am. Dealing with people of all ages and composure for an extended time period can get to be waring on the soul . Remembering my passion for teaching and learning is so important. Remembering my love/need of being a maker of stuff is monumental. Remembering my focus crucial. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I love NY

My day dawned early, too early actually, but knowing why made it so wonderfully exciting. I was meeting one of my best friends and her daughter at Penn Station for a blogging adventure. She was coming in on Amtrak from upstate to enjoy a day on my turf. You see, I am always up there. I was ecstatic. I had so many ideas. I only hoped my feet would hold up. 

I was on the 7:24 to GCT with half a cup of coffee and a half an english in my stomach. The train was SO crowded. There were these MS girls that got on the train at my stop chaperoned by two women. Of course, one lost her ticket within 5 minutes of purchasing it, and one got sick, leaving this woman to have to usher her to the bathroom. The conductor was super patient with letting the girls try to find the ticket, but the girls were super rude. I wonder, is this a communication gap. The conductor was incredible, never lost her cool. In any case I arrive in GCT at 8:40, head to get a cup of tea and hit the ATM before heading to Penn Station. I knew the tea would make my stomach turn when it was so empty, it did, and just before meeting Kelly I had to shove a bagel in my face to settle my stomach. BUT EARL GREY IS SO GOOD!!!

We headed downtown to Little Italy, Ferarra's to be exact to start the day off right. Hot Chocolate (with a shot) and a sampling of pastries. The Hot Chocolate (with a shot) was amazing. We left there and headed to China Town, Mott Street to be exact, just walking. Trying to avoid shops with duck and pork snouts was near impossible, poor Maggie. Somehow we ended up at Joe's Shanghai, which was packed with a wait at 11:30. We ordered soup dumplings to go on the principle of experience despite not being hungry, which we shared in the park on Lafayette (around Prince). They were wonderful, but not really able to be eaten correctly, the soup ended up in the container. 

We wondered through neighborhoods, China Town became little Italy became Noho became the Village. We looked in a few boutiques, saw a mini street fair (on the sidewalk) and headed to Washington Square Park where we people watched (and squirrel watched) a bit before heading to the Subway for the 2nd part of our day, the Met, and Central Park, and the Upper East Side...
We got off the A train at 81st and traversed the park, Kelly's daughter took this really cool picture of this guy playing sax under a bridge, I just took the bridge (if you look closely you can see the guy). We had looked at what was being featured at the museum before arriving and with our limited time we wasted no time and went there first. After viewing the Stieglitz exhibit we looked at the Rodin's and then went to find his wife's work (Georgia O'Keefe). We did detour for just a moment in the Impressionists/Post-impressionist galleries where we discussed a few Van Gogh's as well as a Suerat. On our way out we happened upon another special exhibit that highlighted musical instruments from Oceania.

We walked over to Lexington on 81st Street passing some really smelly Ginko trees. As we walked up the Avenue, we found a cupcake shop. Kelly wanted to bring some sweets home. Its funny, after we saw the cupcakes we saw a chocolate babka in the window of Hot and Crusty. That was what they should have brought home or maybe a dozen of the bagel that we sampled to hold us over until dinner. I was happy that they really liked that bagel. Most people outside of NY have no idea what a bagel is supposed to taste like and tend not to like the chewy and crusty consistency as their taste buds have been conditioned by Breugers or Dunkin Doughnuts bready over sized rolls. After walking a bit, we headed downtown to Times Square, which was nuts on a Saturday evening (pre-theatre and pre-holiday). Walking was equivalent to traffic at the inbound GWB on a Sunday Evening. It took us 30 minutes to walk 3 blocks. We walked into the M&M store only to find a line to go up the escalator. Is this what a tourist might think of NY? Its amazing the transformation, Times Square used to be this seedy place where you were entertained by the local voyeurs while heading to the theatre. Now the peep shows might be gone, but that seedy element is still an underpinning of that Disney facade that is there today. With foot traffic that thick and that slow it is a pick-pockets holiday.

We survived, thankfully, and headed back downtown to Herald Square to find a bite to eat. I had this thought that there was this Tavern we could go to, I had my addresses mixed up and we didn't have the time to venture to 18th street. So we headed to Penn Station and just ate at Friday's which was fine. I do wish that I had remembered K-Town though, we could have walked a few blocks south of Herald Square and eaten at Kum Gang Sang which was on 32nd by the Broadway split. I was just so tired by then that I was not thinking to well.

I said my goodbyes and took the C train back to Times Square where I managed to catch the number 7 right away. There was this guy trying to hustle money by break -dancing in the car while it was moving, informing us to look out of the car at Bryant Park, where he hoped off the train, did a flip before hoping back on the train. He then told us our money would be safe with him. For some reason I found this guy as comical as I did intimidating. I arrived back at GCT in time to catch the 7:23, which was about as crowded as Times Square. The same group of 12 year olds were just as obnoxious on the way home as they were 12 hours prior. Weren't they tired? Why did they have to pick that train and that car. I had been lucky enough to grab a window seat. This girl got on the train and practically sat down on top of me and proceeded to talk across the isle to this guy whose brother she dated. They were loud, so was the woman behind me on the phone giving all of her personal information loudly enough to be heard in Brooklyn. I would love to be the fly on the wall when she learns her identity has been compromised. Heck, I could have gone online shopping with my smart phone as she divulged her credit card several times (security code included) as if she was speaking through a megaphone. She was definitely annoyed too. I eventually fell asleep and woke up with only 30 seconds to spare. Missing my stop would have sucked, especially with no one home to fetch me.

I cannot wait to do this again. (oh before I forget, McKenna that Jeter Jersey shot was for you!)

Times Square Subway Station from lisa floryshak-windman on Vimeo.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thoughts about being a maker of stuff

For as long as I can remember my hands have been passionate about getting dirty, manipilating materials and being a vehicle for which my inner most thoughts come to life. For the past two weeks my students have been working on portraits: self and peers, charcoal, paint, sharpie, graphite, heck I even gave them a lipstick and eyeliner HW assignment. The point is I want them to be observant of color, shadows, highlights, and form. Creating the illusion of volume on a 2D plane is tough for a 14 year old. Heck, at 45 its not much easier. I see these exercises I am making them do as building blocks to developing their problem solving skills. Getting dirty is part of letting go. It always strikes me as funny when someone gets uptight about my own presentation of self and says you have a smudge on your face or charcoal all over your hands or as much clay slip on yourself as you used in your work. Those marks are validating, proof of hard core process notes in my work. I would love to take the most uptight festidious person and have them spend a day wallowing in mud, relaxing into it as if it were an uninteruppted train of thought. Not worrying about how I look while I am working releases me in ways that I cannot even begin to explain (statement is not really relavent to what I am discussing, sorry for the digression).
Today I had one of those days where the smell of the oil, the portraiture, the inquistion into the drawings of James Dine (specifically his study of Greek and Roman statuary) made it hard to not work with the materials. I longed for my studio, for time at the MET with a pencil and paper, for stretching an 8x 10 foot canvas and just painting a larger than life version of one of my pots, for doing small paintings of my pots and to be totally engrossed in my work for a MANIC episode, time without other obligations. Where is this coming from? Is it because Chris has a showing of his work at UMass and his large pots are juxtaposed with sensual charcoal drawings of the same? (check it out if you are in New Bedford) I am amazed at how my response to his current gallery showing has me inspired to paint imagery related to my pots but I am cautious of doing so as I am afraid it would be seen as some form of forgery (of idea/practice). So I sit here today thinking, how can I manage this need to create, to see my work in a new light, explore deeply into my soul with a visual language? The desire is there but the solution is hard pressed complicated.
Tonight I will view some work in Garrison NY and tomorrow I am hoping my NYC adventure leads me to explore works that I hadn't thought of. Saturday night and Sunday's studio time might prove to be a necessisity to my creative existance before self implosion of the psyche. I am left thinking that I should also explore my paintings from my homeless series as well but I don't want to get too bogged down in the thought process. I just want to create, be a maker of stuff and then cull from the experience. So if you happen to see me out and about in the next few days and I look slightly disheveled, covered in paint or mud or even charcoal, know that I am in deep, searching for the visual vocabulary like one would seek out terminology in a second language. The next few days are all about process.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the complexity of being a (recent) insomniac

I never thought I would say this, but exhaustion is a physical state that I seem to understand quite well these days, mostly because I have been sleep deprived for quite some time now(going on 4 months). Its not by choice, and not because I am burning the candle at both ends and in the middle either. I actually like sleeping 7-8 hours a night and pride myself on the concerted effort to rise and fall at the same time every day . I just haven't seen that lately. Right now, I am so tired of being tired.

I find myself dead on my feet, cranky, contankerous, maybe even bordering on catatonic. I want to get out and skate in the evenings but find the drive daunting. Imagine that? Well, I decided that tonight I was going to bite the bullet and just go, despite my 3AM wake-up this morning. I was lucky because Bud (coach/Yonkers) and I are nearly neighbors and he was driving to the rink anyway, so I asked him for a lift. I actually enjoyed the workout, despite taking it at a slower pace than I would have. It was also wonderful to rehash our epic rides.

So I am hoping, with any luck that speedskating was just what I needed to sleep tonight, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Y is a crooked letter...

The Red Headed Riter wrote yesterday about making choices and accepting the consequences of what ever those choices may be, good or bad. Well, that post opened up the proverbial CAN OF WORMS. I remember this one time when I was just 17, I was in this program called Walkabout and sweet on a guy that was the type that ALL mothers would cringe at. I liked being with him mostly because he managed to get under my mother's skin better than I could, and heck, he took flying by the seat of my pants to a new level. Everyone I was friends with waited on baited breath and worried about the prospects of my survival. Even my teachers were concerned. It was about this time in the Walkabout program that the curriculum dictated teaching about the ownership of choices. I remember this long lunch that I had with Dick (teacher) about my current predicament. I am sure now that he was trying to sway my choices to the greener side of the fence. It worked for a time, I settled down a bit. The instruction continued to reinforce those principles and I decided to use them to the best of my ability. My home life was reduced to the silent protest. After a few weeks of this, my friend Cari and I did whatever most sweet but precocious young ladies would do, we packed a trunk, ditched my car,  bought a one way bus ticket and headed for parts unknown. Ok, we headed to New Bedford, reeking near havoc on those friends and parents of friends who were so concerned for our well being. I want you to know, I did leave my mom a note telling her I would contact her when I was settled.

Cari and I had this thought that we would get jobs, and apartment and attend the Swain School. We would be living high on the hog (talk about undeveloped pre-cortexs, jeez) Anyway, our trip lasted only a few weeks. We were eventually wired money and we had to figure out how to claim it as it required more ID than either of us had. This was my biggest consequence. I was so jaded. I survived this ordeal because of the safety net of friends I had in that location. Had I gone west, to Nevada, which I almost did, I don't think it would have been so pretty. So a long awaited THANKS for SAVING MY BUTT goes out to Denise, Kevin, Kathy, and all of the McKenna's, not to mention my Mom, Dad and Cari's mom. Mind you, that would not be the first or the last bone head move I would pull in my life. There were some doozies in college. The skin of my teeth has been stripped of its enamel several times.

Interesting fact: the Swain School is now part of UMass Dartmouth, and the time I was running away to MA was about the same time my ceramic friends were too. My choice to abandon HS school at that time would not have fared well with BU who took over the School of Artisanry, however.  I  am thankful that I came to my senses and headed home to complete my degree(s). My choice to do so would prove wonderful, despite many more bumps on the road. (Kenny, Justin, Anna, Mikey, Chris)

I know, my posts have been getting a bit too nostalgic, and I think that it is actually starting to bother me. I guess I am just in one of those cycles of working through my past. It might also be that I am trying to catch some readers up to speed. Twenty-five years of absence is a very long time.

Where am I going with this? Ah heck, I am not sure. Oh yeah, back to the discussion of choices. Today I really want to discuss practice, yes, again. I have this exhibition coming up in a few weeks and 1/3 to 1/2 of my work is in the wood kiln, cooling. I am not sure how I feel about that. I wonder if I practiced my craft more if I would feel less uptight about the unknown? I know that those things that went in could have had a bit tighter craftsmanship. I am always in a rush (remember I live at 100 mph). I have this voice in the back of my head most of the time telling me that well crafted work is just as important as thinking outside the box. That voice usually belongs to someone that I really look up in my community of artists but practice is not something that I always follow through on. The choice to rush often leaves me cringing later. When they say that teachers often teach best those things that they are in need to master, well, craftsmanship is one of my biggest pet peeves in the classroom. My students come up with such great ideas and sometimes they rush through it and in the process kill it with the residual mess. I should take some time to learn from them.

Back to The Red Headed Riter and her brief discussion of Sakichi Toyota's Five Whys and how they apply to my current perdicament:

I need to pay closer attention to craftsmanship:
why#1? I don't take the time to clean up surfaces
why#2? I rush
Why #3? I need to do something else
Why #4? I am too busy
Why #5? I live 4 lives at once

Solution: add 5 more lives and become as chill as my cat

Ok that won't work, but sometimes I think that is how my brain thinks. I get so flustered with stuff to do that I eventually become numb and take on more and when that backfires, as it always does, my ambitious nature leads me down into that coal mine that has the unstable roof.

The moral of todays story? I need to slow down long enough to practice what I teach. I need to listen more (yes Chris I learned a great deal from that day of silence and I added it to my book of process- now if I can only learn to use it more consistently). I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

They are beautiful people and then... life at 90 miles an hour happens

I called my friend Pete today. It was so good to hear his voice, and his genuine concern for my well being. We talked for a long while, mostly just catching up on stuff. You see, I have been so busy trying to get work together for this upcoming exhibition that I have neglected a number of things, including my friends. I have been keeping up on my daily reading of blogs, Pete's included. Today he wrote about coffee, and his search for a new coffee maker. While being rung up he realized that the woman had the price wrong so he excused himself as he decided to go check on it, despite having a line behind him. I have to admit, I would have done this too. I have done it at the supermarket numerous times. In any case,  he made a comment in his writing about the patience level of the two men behind him adding that "they looked like they fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down". This had me in stitches as I imagined what they might have looked like, acted like, etc. Then, sadly, I must admit, I realized that stress causes that ugliness. All the life quests that happen in a NY second (a minute is a lifetime around here) makes for deeply uncomfortable people. The bitterness over the impossibility of a task creates these deep lines and pock marks on their faces. They were once beautiful people until life at 90 miles an hour hit.
I write this and think about our conversation and my own life, which is over scheduled and totally stressful right now. (brb, I am checking in the mirror to see if I am developing that Cruella scowl) Pete's right, I travel through my life at 100 plus miles an hour, no wonder I am exhausted all the time. I need to slow down and take the time to smell the roses. What is funny about that thought is that I just spent two weeks cooking my pots and having conversations about how wood fired ceramic artists tend to be down to earth slow cooked foodies and electric fired artists tend to be light, bright and in love with fast food, then there is the instant version called Raku. I guess in this case my life is definitely not imitating my art, maybe I am better suited for Raku? (lol)
When I was growing up I had the tendency to fly by the seat of my pants while I embraced everything life had to offer. I have never been able to outrun that character trait, only now my pants seem to be a bit threadbare and in need of some reinforcement. So please pardon my appearance while I get that hippy patch kit out and stitch things back together. In the meantime, don't forget to laugh the wait at the supermarket off when someone holds up the line. Think of it as a power R&R session ( you can even do some yoga while you are waiting if you want, it will add some flavor to the crowd and relax you even more). Whatever you do, don't scowl, grumble or otherwise show your distaste for the loss of precious time. The world is laden with rogue journalists and you might end up being part of the tale in someone's public forum and described as looking like you fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down before face planting on the sidewalk and getting dragged through the mud. Who knows that rogue reporter may even have incredible shoot from the hip paparazzi camera abilities and your stressed out mug will end up on the front page of blog central before going viral.
Pete, I love you! (so does my composure and complexion) Thanks for making me taking the time out to laugh!


A few years ago while working at the kiln I had a dream about boiling seas and dead potters, it was quite disconcerting and happened to be the same night that Steve encountered spirit like things in the coop. It was a strange firing for me, but one that produced a few nice pieces. Last night I had another one of those nights, I was swimming in the New Bedford Harbor near the hurricane dyke and was swept out to sea by a massive tidal wave. I was held under for what seemed to be forever and popped up gasping for air and with the shoreline out of sight. Interesting thing though, I actually felt like I knew which way to swim. I woke up at that point and so I am not sure if I made it out of my perfect storm? I think I did.

The day at the kiln was filled with its usual antics. Steve and Joe goofing on each other and then on Chris. Chris firing a shot back at them once in awhile even though he was watching the pyrometer and the back pressure intently. They even took a few shots at me while I was trying not to talk to much. Silence had evolved into this project of sorts. I was again trying to focus on the rythym of the kiln by listening. It was hot in the kiln shed, but much more bearable than it has been in past firings. I think the breeze of the cold water helped. We were stoking the kiln with a combination of pine and floor boards from an old factory in New Bedford. Come to think of it, the last time I had that dead potter dream was the firing where I pulled thousands of nails out of floorboards from  the fairhaven mills so that we could stoke with them. The wood we used today was so resinous that it ignited on contact with the flames creating this long trail coming out of the side of the kiln. Is there a connection?

An old friend (Tim) showed up to watch a few stokes and was amazed at the enormity of the process. He even got to witness us salting the kiln. I think we left him speechless? Speaking of ghosts, as I left the area yesterday I decided to go look at the ghost of the Lincoln Park rollercoaster and take pictures of it. I have this idea for some new work.
By the way Steve was featured in the NYT this weekend, check it out.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Sound of Silence

I spent the day silent for the most part. I listened to both Chris and the kiln, tried not to engage in conversation too much. What I found was my ability to focus was a lot greater than I anticipated, though now, after it all I feel like I took a 200 mile bike ride. Staying that quiet all day was as mentally challenging as one of my longest endurance endeavors. I was left wondering how people manage a vow of silence without driving themselves nuts? John Francis actually enjoyed it because he found for the first time in his life that he was listening intently. I could see that thought having validity. There were nuances to today's conversations, directions, etc. that I would have missed completely if I had been speaking as much as I usually do. I laughed so hard at Joe's banter, mostly because I listened to it. I always knew he had a good sense of humor, but today I actually listened.

My day started with Dan and Steve goofing on me as we transitioned into the new shift and ended with Dan and Steve goofing on me again. In between was this mass of chaos that amounted to holding the kiln at cone 12 for hours before charging it with 16 bags of Cowboy charcoal in these shoots that Steve built, then having to control the burn so that the kiln didn't suffer a quick death. It was one of the most incredible kiln shifts I have ever been a part of. It was so exhausting that it was rejuvenating. Its almost over.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I get it now...I am taking a VOW of silence

Dear Chris,
Yes, I know you know everything I have said, but I needed to direct this to you so that you can understand my point of view in reference to THIS firing.

I woke up at 3 AM yesterday and stayed up for 20 hours and that hurts.
I stacked a cord of wood and that hurts.
I drank 1/2 a bottle of wine and a manhattan and that hurts.
I woke up with kiln cough after one day and that hurts.
I spent another 8 hours standing in front of a 2200 degree furnace and that hurts.
I inhaled a huge chunk of hot wood ash and that really hurts.
I am tired from trying to decide if I was hot or cold and that hurts.
I am only 1/2 way done...and I know I am WHINING?

I arrived at the kiln at 7:15 for a 7:30 shift. I worked the door and then stoked for a bit. I drank a caffeinated coffee and learned where my wonderfully gorgeous sweet daughter got her gift of gab. Holy crap I can talk up a gibberish storm! Its distracting to everyone around me! Once again, just like my visit to the tile maker in Korea, I get it, which took some long needed kinesthetic learning.

I learned that instant hot was not hot enough to cook oatmeal in a thermos and that cold curry still tastes good, but it would have been so much better HOT. Using a pen and paper to write down the information  works. I will now become a list maker and that makes me feel old!
So tomorrow I am taking a VOW of silence and hope that you are not saying YEAH RIGHT by the end of my shift. I understand. I get it! I know just HOW important the legacy of this particular firing is!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

pictures and...

 It was AHA night in downtown New Bedford. How exciting, to work all day on the kiln, come home, wash up and head out to look at and LISTEN TO art!!! Seeing friends, especially at NAVIO, was the best too. Charlie you are beaming whenever your son Felix is mentioned, congrats! Dan I am so proud of you, your show looks great!

Firing the Anagama

November 11, 2010
Gustin Studios
South Dartmouth, Ma
Windy, Sunny, Freezing Butt & Broiled Breast

The morning dawned very early, I was on the road by 3:30 AM. The cat barely stirred before I left. I was exiting the highway at 6:50, just time enough to hit the grocery store prior to the start of my shift. Today’s shift was heavy-handed, and the beginning had this feeling of being sluggish. I had to hold back my feelings as I knew that that regardless of how much lag time there seemed to be now, there would be a ton of work to do later.

I was correct in assuming that as 10 AM rolled around I was in deep, first manning the pyrometer, then stoking. I think I muscled my way in to the positions out of the need to stay warm. Its friggen cold out here. This continued until about 2PM when Steve arrived with the charcoal and shoots. I was ready for a break. So I pulled out my computer and wrote a bit. Then I got cold, really cold, unbelievably cold. The wind was whipping off Buzzards Bay and quite frankly it felt as if it was taking the whole thing with it. What to do? Well, there was a cord of wood delivered that needed stacking so I started to stack it, then Peter joined me. We had the wood stacked in less than an hour. Just in time to change shifts.

Its 4:45 PM right now and I am headed to New Bedford for AHA tonight with Tom and Linda. I am so excited to see Dan’s show, as well as the rest of the local art scene. More about that and pics later.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Doing the Pigeon

I spent part of my afternoon knowing I had to get into the studio, but so exhausted from the weekend that I needed extra motivation. While I was cooking dinner (oven fried chicken was really cooking itself) and trying to decide what I wanted to listen to, I started to sample a wide range of the stuff on my ipod, but that was boring, so I moved to the CD's in our VAST collection that I never listen to, then came you-tube. I spent an hour alone going from Rebirth Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins to Eric Clapton and Dr John, then came Bowie. I melt at the sound of his version of America, and Heroes. Then there were the suggestions and my list grew and grew until I finally said put the bloody thing on Shuffle and cue up the Pigeon and that got me thinking of the saga of Mikey and Old Ben.

When Mikey was two, his first real inseparable friend was this kid Ben. They met at CCD (Dianne and I were both teaching and Mikey and Ben were being watched by a volunteer mom) They hit it off big time. They got into so much mischief together too. Dianne started to watch my kids while I taught art after school in Bedford. Mikey and Ben decided to test her resolve by doing things like floating plastic boats in the toilet. Dianne had such an incredibly patient sense of humor. To this day we laugh. Somewhere along the way, Anna and Justin started to hang around this girl in Justin's class called Katie. She had a younger brother Ben who was Mikey's age. Mikey couldn't fathom two Bens so to differentiate for his own sanity, the new kid was dubbed New Ben and his first buddy was now called Old Ben. That was until OB moved to a farm in Brewster, then he was known as COW Ben. Mikey and Old Ben were like Burt and Ernie, Oscar and Felix, Fred and Barnie, etc...but as 2 yr olds do, they would replay that dance scene from Sesame Street and then dance around DOING the PIGEON. This would repeat over and over again. They never got tired of it. I probably just embarrassed the hell out of my son Mikey, but every time I see that video I laugh. It makes me really happy and not want to give up.

Mikey and Ben eventually parted ways. We often wonder what he is up to. They are so different Mikey tells me. I get the feeling they really are no different than when they were two, and in another life, Mikey and Ben will hook up and go hiking. Ben will be super prepared and Mikey, well, he will still be flying by the seat of his threadbare pants adding the spit and vinegar required for an epic journey. (Here's to Burt and Ernie!)

After 3 hours in my studio I managed to get a lot done, considering my eyelids were heavy with sleep. I am finally off to climb into bed and find that elusive thing called sleep!

Grilled Chicken and Iced Tea

Dear Pete,
My blog post today is a letter to you because I need you be here experiencing my life with me right now. I am so incredibly busy, no, make that overwhelmed with,no more like consumed with, better yet buried under mountains of MUD. Mud in every potential stage of its being, from slip to the dried out caked up stuff. I want to say I need a change, but I know that where I am is right for me. I just need to accept being in this moment, living each second as if it were my last, trying to find the sequence to unlocking that monster that is living inside of my head. I miss talking to you. Diner run soon? Studio day soon? Yes, I am groveling, I need you to pull me away from it all as you seem to know how to do.

Preparing for this exhibition is scaring....................I can't say it. I won't say it. OK, damn I feel like I am that little girl on the playground meeting a group of kids for the first time and hoping that I get to play rather than get pelted with acorns.

I need grilled chicken and iced tea!!! (Next week?)

My Three Lives; a philisohical beehive

I spent the weekend helping to load the wood kiln at Gustin's place. I am in love with this work, everything about it, from the crazy amounts of menial labor to the grand social experiment, to hiding the stress of loading work. I especially like the mechanics of firing. There seems to be this grand circle of life that becomes so apparent with the wood kiln; earth and fire colliding in a horrifically violent and incredibly peaceful manner. Eventually the dragon gives birth to the flame kissed and ash licked work often holding nothing back. Cords of wood reduced to nothing more than a single dustpan full of clean white ash.
On Friday night I was told I live three lives at once; educator, artist, and homemaker (mom, wife, athlete, coach, cheerleader, etc). My head often spins like a top, thirty five directions at once. Last night multi-tasking created this anxst that has made me long for a summer day by the pool with Pete doing nothing except listening to the breeze and each other or a camping trip with Kenny where we climb some mountain and just sit. Calgon definately needed to take me away, or maybe the guys in the white coats?
I spent the day freezing my tail off yestreday. For some reason, I was so cold that miserable was not the even applicable. I am not sure if its the change in my size, the actual weather, the standing still, the buzz of emotional ware and tear, the fact that I was tired? Who knows. All I know is that it was hard to concentrate on the work of loading. I eventually gave up at 4PM and left to tend to my other two lives, finishing up my grading and coaching a bunch of kids to light ice on fire with 16" of steel. I arrived to Lovey bringing me dinner, Dan bringing Chris over and the whole lot being on the ice already. Two jackets on and moving around and I was still cold.
On the way home, Chris ran into to the store to get me a bottle of water, I was so thirsty, hmmm, maybe that was why I was so cold? I opened it and immediately dumped 1/2 of it all over myself. Now I was cold and WET! In anycase, I survived the last hour of my journey and decided to leave the rest of my tasks until 4AM, took a very LONG HOT shower and tried to get some sleep.
Morning came to quickly. I had one of those nights where I wouldn't let myself relax. I think I was just afraid I wouldn't wake up in time and be left with a grading nightmare. It was fine. They were finished and posted by 8AM, just as required. Tonight I will sleep, I hope!