This was a tough bit to write over the past week...it started out with our being consumed by a pandemic and an economy in crisis...and then it went sideways. And again, we're having the conversation "Black Lives Matter." If I had a solution...you know...a concrete, step by step solution I would offer it, but I don't have one.
It's pretty apparent but shouldn't be a surprise, that legislation alone will not solve the problem. Laws and penalties and rules just don't seem to be solving the issues. It's too complex for the government. Ironic, right?
We have a government that willed us to the moon, put a space program together with astronauts flying back and forth until we lost track of who was where. We have private industries that have developed the computer industry to give us smart phones and digital whatnot's to solve just about everything imaginable. We have beaten Small Pox and Polio...measles...
...and yet...we can't apply all the intelligence to solving human issues surrounding functional equality, social justice, and respect...even at the most basic and elemental level. We continue to talk the talk, but the walk...well we stumble around like a primitive attempt to walk.
And while the COVID crisis and the trashed economy are important...so is Black Lives Matter. Let's not take our eyes off the ball...life is a juggling act while running a marathon. Multi-tasking at it's best.
I generally post to the blog on Monday...and once again this post will be about Amon and his frolics...mostly.
But...today is Memorial Day. Thank you for all the men and women who have served our country and are now resting for our freedoms. Thank you also for all the Mothers, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters who supported our brave for freedom.
More about Amon...geeeze does he have energy. We sat down at the piano on Tuesday thinking that maybe we could start on some basics...hahaha...he's no where in that ballpark yet...loves the music but the attention span is just not prepared...yet.
His big thing this week has been going out to look at the slugs...oh and the funder (corrected by G&G to THunder...slugs...well that's easy entertainment. He couldn't see a slug from the day before so he informed us that the slug must be "on a holiday."
When his older brother was 4 yo, he and I made tiles with a colorful hand print on the top...his Grandma's got them...his aunties and of course, his Mom. So Amon and I set out to do one with his hand. Mission accomplished! We did this in the studio (his favorite building).
He and I worked on his new dough project in the workshop (his favorite building). I thought it would be good to start to learn about measurements...see piano fail from above. But we had fun.
He helped gather pine cones for the winter fires. he marveled at the size of the silk moTH (see funder above)...he found cool rocks on the far side of the property with Grammie...and had fun racing his cars and trucks down the driveway.
Hot dogs are his favorite. Pizza is his favorite. Spaghetti is his favorite. Ice cream sandwiches are his favorite and while he used to be just fine with vanilla ones...but along came Neapolitan...and they are his favorites. Neapolitan is my favorite one to hear him say...can't really unwrap the thing but he can say it (and eat it) just fine.
Over the past few months I've been polishing out a new Irish tune (a polka) I wrote it for Amon. We talked about calling it The Big Slug. It's a fun tune and plays right into a set of polkas I like to play. The Big Slug...I now have an idea where the crazy tune names for Irish music come from.
He went home on Saturday. I miss him already. I play The Big Slug to remind me of the fun we have.
Well we're in the deep end of the Grandson visit...Amon is four and has the attention span of...well let's just say it keeps me hopping.
Last night (night #2) he informed us that he was thinking of going home...how soon? ...he talked about minutes...I didn't catch how many. We'll see. It's almost lunch time on day 3 and he's heavy into "Stinky and Dirty."
After lunch we'll go back out to the workshop...he says the workshop is his favorite. Can he leave the video for the workshop...we'll see about that too.
Yesterday he told me stories about Santa, The Grinch and Buddy (a character in a Christmas video he likes). His imagination is just crazy vivid. He refers to the dark blue in one of his games as "Indigo" and the lighter one is "Sky Blue." I asked him why it was sky blue and he told me because it was lighter. Oh to be four.
I suppose if I live long enough people will treat me like I'm four again. I'm okay with that...
I could do fine in a land of "Dirty and Stinky"...learning to eat cherries...finding silk moths...favorite foods like hot dogs, muffins, bananas, girl scout cookies and ice cream sandwiches...where wearing socks inside out was just fine and wearing a onesy all day was cool and where I carry enough bathtub toys to fill my backpack.
Absolutely bonkers around here the past few days. Crazyville.
I'm polishing out a new product for introduction during the IndieMe virtual trade show coming up June 3-9...and of course getting new pictures ready for that event.
Then Brenda had to tape her video address to the Cottey College graduating class of 2020...SILENCE on the set...and ACTION. I just stayed in the studio.
Finishing up the first firing from the last virtual pottery work...second firing should go down this week...hopefully...if all the pots arrive.
The other "maybe" is Brenda is heading down the hill to scoop up grandson Amon for a week or so at the camp (our house)...it will be an exciting week as it's his first solo away from home for any length of time.
This morning Brenda was in a virtual workshop with Tanis Gray...Fair Isle Knitting...and we did a giveaway...a BRAND NEW piece from a concept line...the pieces shown today are on line...and pictured in this post.
We have a couple of new virtual classes up on our website (https://www.lickinflames.com/the-pinch-pot.html )...the project management aspect of the classes had me ordering more "bits" that will be shipped to the students. And of course, while working on the details, ideas for new classes popped into my head.
Just when you think you have crazy under control the brain starts to churn and the cycle continues. COVID may have us staying at home, but it fertilized crazy.
Ooops...I forgot to load the blog post yesterday. The weather...it was the weather that made me do it (or not do it in this case).
Seems a weather change does have an effect on operations around the studio. It's wet this week and the forecast is wet for the week with one sunny day. Not lots of rain, just misty stuff (folks in OR and WA will understand the greyness). My Mom used to called it "Oregon Mist." But damp means pots don't dry the same...
Student pots from last week's workshops are here (mostly) and this week I will fire them and then return them to their makers. Some really nice pots came out. It will be fun to see this batch finished.
We have several workshops scheduled over the next couple weeks...all virtual of course. The signups are underway. Couple of twists have been added as these are public workshops so the value proposition is a bit enhanced.
What have I learned from doing these workshops? I shouldn't have let my hair and makeup team go. Bad decision...makeup was easy. When she made the comment about not enough plaster in the world to fill in my wrinkles...she had to do. But hair? Make note of the first picture in this post...and to be honest...everyday is a bad hair day in the studio. I have a comb...perhaps I should use it.
Doing a workshop in a virtual setting really forces me to think through process in a whole new way and at a whole different level of scrutiny...details...little tiny details.
The flip side of that level of minutia is that when I turn around and look at the "big picture" of pottery and look at my own work, that detailed thinking comes into play and improves my studio process and my work.
It's funny how it works like that.
Hey...back to the workshops coming up...if you're interested let me know. If the times don't suit you, let me know and I'll keep that in mind for the future dates. If you would like to put a group of friends together for a virtual reunion...we can do that...families that craft together...well we do family gigs too...multi-generational family groups spread across the country...no problem...do the workshop with a friend and do a gift exchange.
Have a great week...stay safe...it's not over yet.
I had a different blog ready to post for this week and deleted it...on purpose this time...a choice. I had something better to share.
This past week I did two virtual pottery workshops with folks from Stitch Fix...the personal clothing styling company in San Francisco. Of course the employees are not at the company building...they're all working from home...and I am located here...not there.
The workshop was to give the teams some outlet to other people in their groups in a different sort of way...so clay was the medium to help bring them together. You can see from the pile of boxes that we had a number of people in the workshops. I went through 2 rolls of tape so far.
It was interesting watching the faces of attendees as they concentrated on their projects. Fun to watch the creativity.
As always, I find myself perhaps learning more through a workshop than I give.
It became even more apparent to me that creation and art is limited only by access, access to material and tools. Everyone has creativity in them...but the material and tools are not always available.,
We gave them access. They responded by creating. What a great experience.
Frustration could have been the word of the week last week.
I don't have a lot of tolerance for ignorance...understanding the difference between ignorance and stupidity...ignorance is the worst of the two...one should be able to "cure" the ignorance with a little study...a little listening...a little reading maybe...a conversation or too with healthcare professionals. Not a lot effort, but just a little would help.
This past week there have been a plethora of folks coming out trying to get "the economy" back up and running. Believe me I completely understand the lack of business coming in the front door and I'm a little frustrated (more than a little) with not being able to spend time with the friends and family...BUT...talks with my own personal healthcare team tells me that the science reporting is not too far off (if at all)...but the politicians are all over the board...and a lot of them are just scientifically wrong.
If the stay at home orders are lifted too soon the bounce that everyone knows is coming in the Fall will be bigger and badder than what we've gone through already. We as a nation are not prepared to deal with the monitoring and containment that will be required to open all of the business and travel and concerts and faires yet...not even close...a couple of months away AT LEAST. When Disneyland is staying closed until 2021...doesn't that tell you something?
I not a real fan of wearing a mask...but I do whenever I leave the property. Luckily I rarely find a need to leave. I miss not doing arts and crafts fairs. I sure wish I could have a couple of repairs done on the property...I will have to dig that trench myself. Most of all, I miss the grandkids coming up to visit and us going down to there home to surprise them.
So I get it. I really do.
But the "freedom" that folks talk about having been taken away reveals a sort of selfishness. They're not complaining about your or my situation...they complain about theirs.
We all need to see a bigger picture. We are in this together. I protect you and you protect me. I protect your family and you protect mine.
It now seems that the few days before someone is aware that they are sick is when they are the most contagious...and yet the person feels fine. Not only do we ask too many store clerks to "wait on us," we put them at risk of not only getting the virus but transmitting it without knowing...not wearing a mask those few days when you don't know you are infected increases your chance of infecting someone else. Until we have a testing system working (and the 1% of folks who have been tested is a statistical farce...) we can not afford to open any portion of the nation...no place...unless you want to see border checks to keep the virus out of say, South Dakota...nationwide stay at home and basic clean procedures will be our best defense.
DO NOT buy into the crap you see from politicos who take their marching orders from businesses wanting their employees back to make them money. What sort of assurances are they giving to keep us all healthy?
Until we have a vaccine and the vast majority of citizens are vaccinated...testing in the 250 million tests a year range...perhaps 30 million tests PER WEEK in some industries...STAY AT HOME...wash your hands...when you go out, wear a mask to stop your transmission (I know you think you're not infected...remember those last 2-3 days) and think of this...that cashier you just worked with has helped perhaps 1000 people in the last 3 days...and...if you have inadvertently passed that clerk the virus...they could infect 1000s before they know they have it.
if you think it's bad now...think of a problem that is 3-4 times bigger in the Fall.
Staying a home and giving our science community time to develop that vaccine is the best way we can help the economy in the long run...the down side of not dealing with this now will be a bone crushing 2021.
We live in the forest. Make no mistake about it...the forest. Critters, trees and work.
When we lived in the urban San Francisco Bay Area my go to tool in the yard was a pair of clippers. You know...the kind that can slip into the back pocket...the kind you trim rose bushes with...one handed jobs. I had several pair.
Oh..those were the days...I go through a couple pair of those a season now...they don't hold up well around here. Mostly they can only handle the stuff to clean up close to the house and studio.
Loppers...that's the go to tool now days. 30 inch is a decent size...I have two pair but I suspect one set is somewhere out in the forest under a layer of pine needles. Haven't seen it in a while.
Now that I think about it...the little handheld electric blower I used to have would need a really REALLY long extension cord up here...and the little weed wacker...hahaha...the unit I use now might go through 50 feet of line a day. My number two unit has a blade.
A couple years ago I made the decision to switch my equipment lineup to battery powered units...including my chainsaw. The various gas powered tools were using different mixes of fuel...smelled...loud...and I could see that over time, batteries would be easier on the aging bod (self awareness is a wonderful thing).
The old days of Itsy Bitsy toy tools are long gone...vanished...lost in time (and the forest floor)...replaced with loppers and two weed wackers...two chainsaws...a back pack blower...and gloves...lots and lots of gloves and carried around behind my little garden tractor.
I'm tired just thinking about the week in front of me...can't be sore yet...haven't recovered from last week. If COVID doesn't get me, four acres of forest might. But if I show up missing...you know where to find me...probably with that lost pair of loppers.
I grew up in an era when young men and women commonly joined their friends in Scouting activities. Many of my friends were involved in Boy Scout Troop 89 in Pittsburg, CA ...just down the hill from our home and within walking distance for the majority of the troop.
So where am I going with this? For over 50 years I have modeled my life around 14 words...and during this pandemic that is gripping the Nation and yes, the World...economically and socially and emotionally...I find that these 14 words have helped me and continue to help me.
First, let me tell you that I know that not everyone is "on board" with the Scouting programs, but in the defense for at least a portion of the programming...the BSA motto is: "Be Prepared"...and who shouldn't be. All us should work on that goal, for COVID-19 will probably come back at us in the Fall after this current situation calms down. Science folks and medical folks talk about it as a "bounce." We need to be ready for it in the Fall, and we can be more prepared than this last time.
Look at your home and family situation and take stock of those things (physical or emotional) that made you anxious this past month or so and make some adjustments... take measures to be able to cope better come Fall and beyond. I can only imagine what millions of families with small children and school aged kids must be going through...who could have seen that coming...well now you know...and while we panic over the shortage of N95 quality masks at the moment...we should all "Be Prepared" in the Fall...and that's just one example...a few more cans of fruit would have brightened a few of our days around here...I'm thinking I would have liked a bit of banana pudding (it's a long story, but it brings back a raft of comforting memories) ...our Grandkids could always use more projects to keep them busy...and don't forget that infamous toilet paper. Prepare precedes "Be Prepared."
But on a daily basis...Scouts live by a set of Laws...and if I paraphrase the opening to the common recitation of the Laws..."A Scout is..." and change that to "ALL PEOPLE SHOULD BE" it would be a good standard for all of us, everyday sans pandemic, but more so during these times.
Yes I remembered all of them...no I didn't look them up. It's inside of me. I used to hold a lit match and recite the Laws to see how many time I could recite them before I couldn't hold the match any longer...I only got to 2 1/2 times through (or so).
I'll let you figure out how each of the 12 laws can be applied to your situation ...work on one a day...I'm working on "Kind" today.
...and while we are still in the midst of a crisis of unbelievable magnitude...it is not too early to think about preparedness for the Fall.
Last week I wrote: "But...I know that Brenda and I are not alone in this isolation. Many of you are in the same situation. Many have contracted the virus. Some will not survive. We're doing our part to contain this virus and appreciate that other's share our concerns and are participating in the containment."
What I didn't write was the optimism that I feel even in this isolation.
Sounds kind of crazy, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Long tunnel that is might be, there is a light. We will come out of this situation stronger as a society for one thing. Many of the differences we might experience are put aside and we're focused on what is important to all of us. Education will be re-thought...food supply chain will be re-thought...savings will be re-thought...economic justice? Re-thought!...and of course HEALTHCARE.
So while we can be in the doldrums during this period of isolation and uncertainty, if we use this time and situation to re-sculpt and re-invent ourselves, we as individuals, our relationships and our society, we will be stronger.