Thursday, March 25, 2010

wings of time

those are actually moose ears, but they work as wings...
My whole life is a battle with time. I know everyone's is, but for me it's part of my minute-by-minute existence. I get really cranky if I make a trip anywhere empty-handed. If I go downstairs to get emergency diapers, I have to deposit something into the laundry. On my way up I have to snatch an abandoned sippy cup or grab my phone charger. The sad thing is that I'm too foggy to make it all work, so I'll grab the sippy cup and forget the diaper. On my way back down to get the diaper I'll remember I need a change of clothes for the baby, and I'll forget the diaper again. I always thought it strange that my parents both talked to themselves constantly, but I'm starting to understand it.

Of course I love the things one can do while doing other things. Maybe that's why I like being pregnant.
Look at me, I'm making a baby, doing laundry, checking my e-mails, taking a photograph with my phone, making Kombucha, doing letters with one kid, waiting for the other to pee on the potty, and THERE'S A CHICKEN IN THE OVEN!

Pottery is all about time. You can't rush or dawdle on anything. If you rush something into the kiln, it blows up. If you put a handle on too soon, it warps. If you take too long to trim, the pots get hard and take twice as long. If you take too long to glaze, the wax doesn't resist. If you take too long to do all of it, you don't make any money. Now I have the added time constraint of Toby. OK, I did my emails while breast feeding her; she's clean and tired; I'll get my wedging done while she sleeps and throw some cups when she wakes up and is perky enough to swing; when she finally needs a cuddle, I'll pay my bills and order clay...

When does it start? Kids don't have a sense of time. Jack Peter comes into bed in the morning and asks, "Is it tomorrow?" The answer is always the same, "No, It's today" How baffling that must be? You can't rush kids to do anything, either. They're like mules. If you try and speed them through eating, they puke. If you rush them down the stairs they fall. Then again, if you finish making your cocktail before you go downstairs and see what they're yelling about, they shit in the tub.

I was really looking forward to daylight savings this spring; I was sick of doing the math. I didn't bother to change the clock in my studio last fall. The main reason is that I have to get on a ladder to change it, and I never find the time. I sort of started to enjoy it; it was comical to see visitors' faces when they'd glance at the clock. I could see him/her having a surreptitious but palpable panic, thinking he/she'd lost even more time than he/she'd initially thought, listening to me blither away. I'm alone all day making pots, except for Toby, so I'll talk your ear off if you happen into my studio. I've been told it's mesmerizing to watch a potter, so a babbling potter must be like a black hole. All this aside, I was looking forward to not having to change the clock, and having it be the right time. It appeals to the economizer in me. "Ha! I showed you! my clock is now right. 6 months! I did it!" Imagine my irritation when I came into my studio on the Monday morning after the Sunday time change to find the battery in the clock had died.

I'm being mocked...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

visual chaos

I think I was chastised today for writing too much about my kids and not enough about being a potter; I can't tell anymore what people are trying to say, but I think that was it.

Unloading a kiln, I got really excited about the color mustard and the way my mustard glaze goops onto the inside of a bowl and the way it flashes onto the clay body and how amazing it looks with the strong green rather than the quieter green although it might be too reminiscent of 70's kitchens...Boy was it great eating off of that 50's tableware at Larry's last night; that gravy boat made me want to quit potting. Why the hell do I make pottery? Life is too chaotic. Simple, clean, mass-produced tableware is all people can handle visually. There's also the "made for the masses" democratic aspect of it. Why the hell would someone want a chalky goopy mustard glaze when they can go to Ikea and get everything stackable, calm and cheap? Why am I making stuff that most people I know can't afford?

See, that's why I don't write about pottery. It's not all that interesting...I just go around in circles rhapsodizing mentally about a color or a shape, and then questioning not just my work, but craft in general.

Speaking of chaos. Why do I bother buying flowers? There's so much crap around; they just add to the chaos. I have to change the water constantly and re-arrange them; that smell of death that emanates from old flower water really unhinges me. As the healthy ones dwindle I have to change vases which entails my wobbling on the teetering stool to get a new vase off of the top shelf. Then I go into the "why do we have so much crap?" tirade. I also feel bad about using glass vases. I should have a ceramic one for every flower need; I'm a potter, but flowers look so great in glass, especially the mass produced ones from Ikea. You can see where this is going...

In San Francisco we had a hot pink kitchen that looked amazing with the plants and all of the pottery. My roommate was a potter too. Every piece of furniture in our house had been painted. My personal favorites were the old brown leather chairs an attorney had given me from his office. I got some all fabric pearlescent paint and painted the leather parts pearlescent electric blue with massive pearlescent chartreuse and purple polka dots.

My brother, an engineer, came to visit. He lives in North Florida and has no interest in aesthetics-even on a fashion level. He refuses to wear any clothes that are remotely uncomfortable, so it's sweats, tshirts and sneakers. He buzz cuts his hair every few weeks. Everything is plain. He eats plain meat, no sauce. He drinks only beer. His decisions are based on economics, quality and comfort. He's a great brother for me to have. When I need to buy something like insurance, a car, a car seat, I do whatever he says. He looked at all the painted chairs in our apartment and said, "Now that's a sign of someone with way too much time on her hands." I said, "Are you kidding me? look at all the chairs in the world that don't have polka dots? We're so BUSY!"

hmmm...he said taking a sip of his beer. That is a fundamentally different way of looking at the world.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Every morning we share our bed with all 3 of our children. It always ends in tears. This morning Steel was wearing a Christmasy sleepy suit. Jack Peter told her he was taking one of her candy canes. She got hysterical. She'll also cry from the back seat of the car, "Jack Peter took my head off, and he won't give it back!" I have to say, "Jack Peter, put her head back on and don't do it again!" Keeping track of the whereabouts of imaginary friends and punishing imaginary transgressions are a big part of my day. Right now they are fighting about on whose back Alvin the chipmunk is perched, and I just got yelled at for taking Karen's seat. Karen is the little girl in Frosty the snowman.

I got to go big box shopping by myself. I don't get to blast the radio too often anymore. If I blast it, I do it to punish the kids for whining and crying too much. "Walking in Memphis" "Can't Fight This Feeling" and "Love Bites" serenaded me on my way to buy diapers, wipes, coffee and toilet paper. $452 later I was careening back home, breasts almost leaking, wondering how I could've forgotten pistachios. The radio wasn't as captivating, so I was left to relive my great driving radio moments: returning from the beach in a blue Chevy pickup having stopped for a Dairy Queen soft-serve with jimmies when a Tom Petty rock block came on. That was one of the happiest moments of my life, and I don't know why. I'm not that crazy about Tom Petty. And, having left California, I was driving to Philly in the same Chevy truck. I was calling my now husband to tell him I would probably not make the first date of our very short courtship because of traffic. He was fine with that and asked, "Other than traffic, how are you?" I said, I can't complain I've had the best run of soft rock ever." I started singing Chicago's, "Baby what a big surprise." He finished the line and carried on singing the rest of the song. He knows all of the lyrics to 70's/early '80's cheesy music -not just the refrains. It's probably why we're married. A predilection for watching multiple episodes of Netflixed TV until 1am when both of us are sleep-deprived is another tie that binds us. Currently we're ensconced in Madmen. I was Don Draper the other night watching 3 episodes in a row while drinking bourbon on ice. I felt awful the next day.

I've even been accused of becoming a potter to be alone in my own world. Being a potter when I'm pregnant gives me way too much time to think about how much I love Swedish fish; I know that much. So what do I have to escape from? It's pretty clear reading this blog, but what the hell do my kids have to escape from? They're 2 and 3!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I belong to my neighborhood moms' internet group. It's big. We organize clothing swaps and lend each other exer-saucers. We also warn about strangers in the park and educate each other on flu vaccines. It's not as casual as it would seem. There's a strict policy regarding new moms, and people are always apologizing for going off topic or for inadvertently responding to the group as a whole.

A while back someone asked for a doctor recommendation. I've been meaning to switch doctors, so I took the recommendation a close friend gave the group. The friend is also my Kombucha coach. (more on that later, I'm sure) I sent her an e-mail last night to tell her...

me: "I switched to your doctor...I'm making Kombucha. Watch out I might start dressing like you and going to your hairdresser."

Iva: "That's cool. Do you like Vicky? I don't know if you really want to dress like me. I'm sort of looking for someone to dress like myself. I go to Ovations and see Richard. Was there today as a matter of fact. Maybe you could give me some tips on getting taller ?"

me: "I'm shrinking; my body is putting all of its energy and effort into a zit on my ass."

I was thrilled to discover that we'd shared that little banter with the entire group. I guess I'll forever be "that woman with the zit on her ass."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


A woman in my life has a nose ring. It's small and subtle. I'm near-sighted, and I only wear my glasses for driving or movies, so I can't really see it until it catches the light, and then I think it's a massive, shiny booger. I'm afraid I might try to wipe it off one day. My cousin's wife was so mired in child-raising that when he took her
out to a corporate function she had to stop herself from cutting his boss's meat for him. I still retain a residual feeling that the nose-ring-woman is a dirty person. It isn't the case, but my mind clings to that nano-second when I think she's running around with snot hanging out. I'm sure my mind puts tattooed people in the "domestic violence victim" category because I mistake tattoos for massive bruises unless I'm really close.

My not wearing glasses drives my husband berserk. We have the same prescription. He can't walk to the bathroom without his, and I don't wear mine at all. Whenever I put them on, I feel like I'm spying on people. I like the haziness. I'm an optimist, so I turn the haziness into the best case scenario. The world is so beautiful when you combine blindness and optimism. It's like glazing pottery. I like throwing, but glazing week is a high. Every pot, while I'm glazing it, embodies the best possible version of the glaze I'm using. They rarely come out that way; the kiln is a bitch. (probably because I'm too lazy to figure out the technology to fire it properly) I'd rather break a finished pot than one that is glazed and ready to go into the kiln. The finished pot no longer has potential.

My husband is always trying to get me to use technology. (beyond spectacles) He wrote me a song for my 40th birthday and gave it to me on a nano ipod. The song is amazing, and so is the has a wee video camera on it, but I still haven't figured out how to use it. I think it's laziness, but maybe I'm so narcissistic I want him to take all of the videos, so I'm in them. I could be worried about the virtual piles and piles of videos. I have an immaculate inbox, but I can't throw away any of the Christmas cards people give me if they have photos on them. Maybe I'll turn them into Christmas ornaments -just like I'm going to use all of the kids' drawings as wrapping paper this Christmas.

My husband is always trying modernize his mom too. He made her get an iphone. She had no interest in the camera or video until she was out bra shopping for Aunt Sue. Aunt Sue's bras might be the union organizers for all of the bras of Canada. My mother-in-law was on a 36 DDD mission. No Marshall's or TJ Max in Eastern Pennsylvania was left unturned. (I guess Canada rapes you on minimizers; they must have a massive boob tax or something) Poor Carol was at Kohl's, her last resort, trying to describe her finds to an irate Aunt Sue who just kept sputtering obsolete model numbers...It dawned on Carol that she could photograph the subjects and send the images with her new i-phone. She hung up on Sue, called Tim and he walked her through it. In the meantime the current bras have been picketing.

"The under wires are coming out all over the place!"

Don't worry Aunt Sue, the new scab bras are on their way....

Friday, March 5, 2010

food poisoning

Last night the only sweet in the house was the last pack of Nature Valley Granola Bars from the enormous box I got at BJ's 7 months ago and the remaining bit of hot pink butter cream frosting from Steel's birthday (10/31/09.) I combined the two and triumphantly brought them to the couch where Tim and I spend most of our evenings. I was flabbergasted when he declined.

Eating things my kids have refused is 80% of my diet. Maybe I'll start an uber-green fad diet for moms...Day 1-breakfast: a smoothie consisting of the milk that your child has held in a sippy cup in her armpit all night and the unfinished fruit from yesterday pulled from a baggie in the freezer. Polish off the pancakes remaining on their sticky plastic plates. (I currently draw the line at soggy cheerios although I'm sure I could whip them up with the Braun handheld mixer to incorporate them into into tomorrow's pancake batter for a book deal.) Lunch: bed of lettuce smothered in a salty balsamic vinaigrette with the shrimp and peas from last night's dinner dumped on top. If there was leftover salad, just throw it in the blender with some V8 and call it gazpacho. Voila..soup and salad. I'm sure I could get the percentage up to 95. It could be a hit like "Julie and Julia." hmmm... Liz and Listeria? Elizabeth and Ecoli? My dad always threatens opening an Italian restaurant and calling it Sal Monella's. He's kidding; I'm serious.

Incidentally, one of the big issues in my parents' divorce was lettuce. Peter would take the nice green leafy bits and put it back in the fridge. Susie couldn't throw the bitter white crap away, so she'd eat it herself and complain about being a second class citizen. Tim will open 4 snack-packs of pretzels ignoring the dregs of the ridiculously huge BJ's vat-o-pretzels he bought. Meanwhile I'm crushing them up with a rolling pin to use as breading for fish. All of you men out there take note: just throw the stuff you don't want away; it'll save your marriage. Otherwise you're insinuating that it's not good enough for you, but it is for the rest of the family.

unless it's hot pink butter cream frosting.

The tragic thing is I do it in my pottery too. I have a whole range of dinnerware that I call "sustainable" because it's glazed with the stuff I clean up from the floor. I sieve the funk from the bottom of my mop bucket and re-use the glaze. I'm sure I ruin so much pottery trying to make this work, but I just can't bare to:
a. throw the heavy metals down the drain
b. waste anything.

I wonder if I'll ever be one of those moms who just says, f-it and gives the kids macncheese and hot dogs. One of the teachers at school sees my kids' lunches as an indication that, "It's always cocktail hour at the McDonald home." (Clearly she's clairvoyant.) This morning each lunch consisted of: 6 toothpicks stabbed through slices of cucumber, cream cheese and chicken breast; a half a blood orange sectioned into 4; a strawberry yogurt; and a tiny piece of a brownie. Jack Peter requested capers in his lunch but wouldn't allow them on the toothpicks, so I dumped them in his Tupperware. I was chastised in the car on the way home because he didn't get any capers, and "brownies look like poo." I opened the boxes. There was a sad little pile of capers left in Steel's.

"Jack Peter, I'm sorry I put them in the long wrunch." (That was before I'd had my first drink.)

He just looked at me sneakily and whined, "Yiz, I want a yittle yunch!" imitating one of his friends who can't say her l's yet.