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Favorite Bowl

I have a favorite bowl. It’s the perfect size for cheap ramen. It’s red that breaks to clear showing the white clay in the heavy throw rings under the shiny glass. And I made it. Not that my having made it is anything special. I’ve been making pottery for over 25 years. I’ve assisted the potters that taught me and eventually taught classes on my own. I don’t know why this bowl is special to me, other than it looks nice, but I have a lot of pottery that looks nice, few really speak to me. I guess that’s a lot of the attraction in functional art pieces, and all art itself, once you boil it down.

One time in a studio gallery I picked up a humble little bowl. It spoke to me even as it was obviously the work of someone near the start of their ceramic creation journey. It had a beautiful curve and a glaze that looked immensely deep. I still regret not buying it, but I have so much pottery cluttering my house that I talked myself out of it. I should have given away something to make room for it, or just waited for a piece to break and put it into rotation. The problem is it’s the poor pieces that never get broken.

I had another bowl that was special to me. It had started as a simple demo from Diane Shaw, who was teaching the Advanced Wheelthrowing class that I was taking. Diane makes beautiful bowls. It was the decoration demo that I’d seen a few times before and she described a technique of artfully caressing a handful of thick slip onto the surface of a trimmed, but still damp piece. It was a technique I enjoyed doing. She mentioned it was something took a lot of practice. I said I liked the technique and she asked if I wanted to give it a shot for the demo so I did. I have mixed success with loosening up enough to make that kind of thing really work, but it turned out fairly well. A couple months later she gave me that small bowl filled with her homemade toffee for Christmas. That bowl got broken in the sink.

I used the demo bowl frequently. I liked holding it, and I liked having it sitting where I could see it. It was just one of those things that made me happy to have around. Occasionally I’d reach for it in the cupboard and think, “No, lets keep it safe there in the cupboard a little longer.”

We have cats.

But one of the days it did get used and dropped into the sink. It wasn’t the cats fault. I remember that bowl fondly, and I probably remember it fondly because it got used, and that reinforced the memory of it’s origins, and that’s what was most special to me. I found myself thinking the other day that I’d have some ramen in my favorite red bowl. Then I had the thought, “Today’s the day that it gets broken”, and so I left it in the cupboard. That evening Kayla was making dinner and I heard a big crash in the sink. I heard Kayla say, “I broke the red bowl.” I might have wailed a little. I said, “Earlier I had a thought that it would get broken today.”

It turned out that it was a different red bowl that got broken. It was nice, but I had no feelings for it. Very useful, though, and the glaze was nice. Then I looked across all the possibilities. Maybe if my ramen bowl had been in the sink they both would be broken. Maybe neither would. I kind of get that way sometimes with the ‘what if’s?’ But that’s why the ordinary functional work doesn’t cycle through the kitchen as rapidly. The plain (and I can admit it, sometimes homely) pieces just don’t inspire them to be used. And if it had been my little bowl it would have been fine, because it gets used, and I’ll always remember it. Just having something doesn’t seem to be as valuable as having loved something.


It’s nice to be here! Allow me to introduce myself. My name, as you might know, is Erik. I know a version of most of you, but I like to just make a few introductions after I skip into a new timeline. I know, I know, you might have heard this before, if this timeline is like any of the other ones. I seem to get around. And unlike some of me, I like to be upfront about being a semi-stranger to this track. These things happen and I’ve found it really doesn’t really pay to lurk around the corners unobtrusively. It seems like the Erik before me was a fairly decent (if somewhat moody) guy, and I guess I’m very similar. You might not even notice. (I’m just glad he [like me]) saved his passwords in his browser. It makes things so much easier in the transition.

I hadn’t really noticed when this happened, although last night while working late a key part of my work computer’s system had gone missing within a day or so without any real possible way of it happening. But I just figured “Computers, you know?” And I do, so I didn’t pay it any mind. That is until I took a shower this morning and noticed something really odd. As I was reaching for my towel I looked down and noticed that one (or both) of the cats had stolen the plastic caps off the bolts holding down the toilet. I mentioned it to Debbie so she could be on the lookout for them, but she tells me that I never put them on. I specifically remember doing it and put the two events together.

So here I am. I hope the placeholder me that was here before was kinder than some incarnations of me that I’ve run across. Or at least after, if you get my meaning. I try to be kind and I like to draw out a laugh here and there, and I hope I can be of some assistance where needed. Just let me know, I hope we’ll have some fun times.

Erik ’67 timeline prime (in my view).

Lucid Dream

I hadn’t intended to do a sequential series of dreams, but in this turbulent time I’ve been pretty loaded up with them, at least when I can sleep. Last night a cat woke me up about her usual time after four in the morning. I let her out and when I went back to sleep I was having a strange dream where a friend from high school had been sent to look for me by my wife. He rode a bicycle up pulling a trailer with a fish tank full of water on it. I had had it with the world and was leaving town and my friend knew he had to kind of talk me down. We stopped on the corner of the busy street heading back to my house where I saw the smaller aquarium from my desk tipped over in the gutter with a top corner broken off. There were fish everywhere and I started picking them up and brushing the leaves and dirt off them and putting them in my friends trailer aquarium. I started noticing these weren’t my fish, and they were salt water fish, but realized fresh water was better than no water and put them in the tank, too.

We got back to my house and got the fish inside and as I started dealing with the rescued fish I recognized the dream for what it was. I think I’ve written before about the pet store my brother and I owned and how I have reoccurring dreams about going back to find the neglected tanks of fish that were abandoned for decades. In reality we moved all the fish from our store home to my parents house, nothing was lost, yet I dream often about fish suffering in too little water with no food for years.

When I began to suspect that I was in a dream I actually did what I had tried to do for years to recognize that I was dreaming, I looked at my hands. I’d heard that your brain has a hard time realistically representing common things, but you usually don’t try to perceive detail in a dream. My right hand was backwards on my wrist with my palm facing away from me, and my middle, ring, and little finger were one piece with lines where they should be separate, like a toy. As I tried to spread my fingers I had to use my left hand to pull on my little finger. They separated with some effort, but it was like pulling on gum and they stretched and parted from each other then snapped back together.

Since the time in high school when I read about lucid dreaming in Omni magazine I’ve tried to be able to control my dreams. But on the few instances I have actually realized I was dreaming the dream immediately shatters and I wake up. In this dream, after I realized it for what it was, I looked around and nobody was in the house with me anymore, but the dream didn’t end. I’d always wanted to fly in my dreams, but on any flying dream I have I don’t get too much sky, just bump along the road or up a mountainside. I decided I wanted to try flying and began swimming up towards the ceiling. As I got close I could kind of see through the ceiling and I broke through and the roof of my house splashed away from me like water and I climbed up into the sky… for about a minute. Then I found myself bouncing along the street unable to climb higher.

I went back to swimming through the air instead of flying and the dream changed. I don’t remember much of what happened after that, but I do remember that every little while I checked my hands and realized I was dreaming again and I’d try to fly without any real success. I suppose the next time I do it I ought to give up trying to fly and see if I can teleport instead. Or maybe I’ll try to create something and see if I can come up with something cool to do in my waking life, something that goes in a different direction than I habitually make.

Actually, maybe I should just settle for making something at all.

A Pair of Dreams

I had a couple of interesting dreams last night. In the first I was hanging out with my brother and some of his friends. We were going to some costume party and I had on this 70’s-ish one piece jumper that had frilly bellbottoms and sleeve cuffs with a kind of hotel-carpet print that was loud and flowery. It also had a matching hat that was almost like a pointy-wizards hat, but truncated at the top with a little rim. The hat’s brim matched my frilly cuffs. Everyone thought my costume was pretty crazy. Jordy, my brothers friend, had a batman costume, but it didn’t look like Batman, you had to think about it, and when you did you thought it was pretty clever. My jumpsuit had a lot of pockets with zippers and I kept finding new pockets full of stuff. My left breast pocket had a handful of quarters and nickels. I was glad to find that the costume had a zipper fly as I was searching, because I was wondering how I was going to go to the bathroom without skinning out of the whole mess.

I got up to the counter to buy my ticket to get in and said, “One, please,” fishing for a handfull of quarters in my change pocket.

The ticket lady said, “What?”

One. Please.”

She said that the tickets only came in pairs, and cost $10 because it was a date thing. I said, “Oh, my wife doesn’t allow that, I’ll just pay full price and go in alone.” They thought that was crazy and were putting up a fuss when I woke up. In the bleary waking-up I was disappointed that nobody would get to see my wacky oufit.

In the second, I was back in the pottery studio just before it was closing. Everyone was working furiously trying to finish the work for the semester as people were taking down the stuido equipment. I couldn’t find my locker to get my stuff, and I kept going up and down different stairs looking for where my locker should be. I came down a set of stairs into the glaze area and saw my apron with my name on a piece of masking tape on it and started to put it on. It turned into a pair of overalls that had a tag that read Erin, not Erik and Erin took it away from me because it was hers.

I turned and saw a overly-large teapot of mine on a shelf that would have held maybe a gallon-and-a-half of tea. It was a very tall teapot and had a big dome lid. The lid was glazed on and I knew it wouldn’t come off. I took ahold of the lid with the palm of my hand wrapped around it and twisted really hard and I heard a glassy snap! and it came free in my hand, but it had broken away a chunk of the top. I didn’t really like the piece, anyway. Just then John Shaw, the instructor and a good friend of mine came over to see how things were going. I was so happy to see him. He looked at the teapot and asked, “What have you got there?” I handed it to him and he said, “Well, this is interesting.” and we stepped inside the broken edge of the pot. We walked down and around the side of it, or maybe a kind of spiral ramp inside the wall. John was pointing out the stoneware representations of draped curtains and textured carvings. He was saying, “Oh, that’s really nice! Why did you put it inside the pot?” I didn’t know, but I remembered being kind of proud how the textures had turned out. He told me I should save them for another piece. I picked up some stone draperies bigger than me and walked on. We got a little farther and saw many tiger and lion sculptures on textured stones that were life sized. I told him I hadn’t carved those, but had hired it out to a friend because I didn’t know how to make animals. John said it was a good idea.

We were just exiting the teapot when I woke up just 3 minutes before my alarm was supposed to have gone off, but I could feel the dream still right there and thought I could have just gone back to it for a couple minutes. I really miss my time with John and Diane and how they always had time to critique work, or just shoot the breeze.

It’s been a fairly melancholy day and I can’t really stop thinking about those dreams. You can tell because I’m actually writing something, which I’ve been pretty hard pressed to do, lately.

The First Time I Arted

I did the mandatory creative things as a child: finger painting, the Kindergarten low-fire clay coil-pot for mothers day, coloring. I never thought I had any aptitude for art, even after took an aptitude test in middle school that said I should be an artist. In fact, the day I got the highly anticipated aptitude results was the day I began losing faith in the system*. I had been looking forward to finding out what direction I should take and I was devastated upon reading ‘Artist’. I don’t know what in my innocuous answers led them towards artist, but I suspect an underlying current of weirdness in my answers. Looking back, I suppose I might have scored in the upper decile for weirdness. Maybe that was the key visible in the aptitude test: the kid is weird, maybe his only function will be to annoy the establishment.

The beginnings lie with my dad having a drawer in his dresser I used to peek into when nobody was noticing. It had nicely organized envelopes of foreign money, mostly coins that just fascinated me. I especially loved the New Zealand kiwi’s on the dull grey and bronze metal bits, and the word Lire on the Italian money. There were also old broken watches and other discarded, but not cast off, bits of life’s accumulations. I have drawers and boxes (and boxes) of that, too. Most likely everybody does.

At some point I began to get some instruction from my dad on fixing things, which began with taking things apart. I remember him opening up the TV with stern instruction to never touch the capacitors. He’d pull out tubes and we’d head to Sears where we could plug the tubes into a big testing machine and discover what was broken and get a replacement. I began my own experiments with disassembly, usually not involving repair in any form, although there was the one success with a stuffed animal music box, but that’s another rambling story.

I think when I was about 10 I asked my dad for one of the watches that was mechanical in nature from the drawer. I figured out (or was shown) how to take off the back and get at the itty-bitty screws and took the watch apart into the smallest pieces and laid them out on the table. I found all the individual pieces interesting, but the chassis was the crown jewel. I hadn’t ever seen anything like it. There were so many facets, holes, and mount points that I couldn’t imagine holding such a design in my head to make it come out as a functioning timepiece.

I started wearing watches when I was in middle school, because that was part of becoming an adult. Keeping track of time was important. I had a very hard time accepting that, and it’s still something that rankles me to this day. When I was about 14 or 15 I’d gone through several cheap swatches. I still played like a kid and they weren’t particularly shock resistant. I had one that I particularly liked that had a big rotatable diver-type bezel that had orange and black sections. I’m a particularly fidgety person and I’d twist the dial all through classes. When that watch broke I was heartbroken. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I could replace something with an identical item until I started wearing only white Converse Skid Grips a few years later.

I couldn’t quite toss that watch, and I hated that my whole life had become slave to knowing when something needed to happen, so I had a moment of quiet rebellion. I carefully disassembled the watch to its smallest pieces, set aside the chassis and face, then dumped all the loose gears, screws, and hands into the body and closed it back up. I casually wore it around for weeks trying to not draw any real attention to anything unusual about my timepiece, although when anyone asked me what time it was I’d shrug and say I didn’t know. When someone pointed out I could look at my watch I’d then hold out my arm and rattle the pieces at them. I believe this cemented my reputation as a weird kid and I’m fortunate enough to have eventually found some other weird kids so I didn’t have to spend the rest of my life writing manifestos.

I had not considered it art at the time, and it’s only been in the last few years when I started looking for the germ that set me on my path that I realized it was that expression of frustration with the loss of childhood’s idyllic freedom. Unconsciously I’d created a crude piece of art. I’m still surprised that my 7th grade aptitude test** recommended I become an artist or a forest ranger. I suppose it’s a little late to look into forestry jobs.

* The most anxiety producing question in my whole childhood was “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

** Somehow I still have the test results in my files.

Deja Vu

This is a story for which I really have no point, only it is something that happens to me quite frequently. I don’t have answers, or really any idea that this will broaden anyone’s horizon. But today it struck me quite hard.

I get a lot of deja vu moments, and frequently I can trace them back to dreams I’ve had in the recent past. This morning I was standing in my cubicle at work. I was cutting a strand of Poly Pull Line that the remodeling crew had used to run some temporary network cable through the ceiling. Line that I had scavenged out of a (clean) garbage can after they had finished cleaning up a week or so ago. It was good line, and my hoarder nature thought that it could be useful sometime in the future. I was correct.

Our office is in the process of remodeling all of the employee work spaces and we had to relocate everyone to some reclaimed space that had been part of the office library. There was space for all but four of us to be packed together like college roommates into a small grid of shabby 6’x6′ rented temporary cubicles. A few of the luxurious (?) cubicles that had previously housed most of the staff were moved into a corner of the basement, to be occupied by the remaining employees. The IT department, consisting of the CTO and yours truly, were relegated to the basement where my Rainbow of Texts says we belong.

I’d condensed my belongings, which filled my office to a size I’d hoped I could fit into an 8’x8′ cubicle. I did not, however, have a good space for my white board, a key productivity tool. I’d decided to hang it via the aforementioned line from the tops of two cupboard-ish cabinet doors. As I reached out to pick up my disposable box cutter a familiar, yet strange, feeling came over me. I saw in a dream from earlier this spring my hand reach out and take hold of the green tool and extend the blade half an inch. I severed the distinct blue and white striped collection of nylon strands which immediately frayed apart seeking freedom from long-coiled imprisonment. I looked up across an unfamiliar officescape with it’s low ceiling and loathed fluorescent lighting. And as I saw it in the dream it happened in tandem with my waking morning.

I remember waking at that point from the dream. Upon immediate reflection, I didn’t recognize the room, in fact, I’d never actually stood in that corner of that room before, as previously it was wall-to-wall with rows of large steel filing cabinets. And I thought it odd that I was dreaming of purposely cutting nylon cord in a place which I didn’t know, for a task I wasn’t aware, while looking over a cubicle wall. And as it unfolded in my waking life there was a twinge as if I was being extruded between two realities. And as soon as it came, it left.

I don’t believe there is any mystic or cosmic significance to this. It was a nearly pointless event in a pointless morning. You would think if there was some purpose to it there should have been some sort of significance. Proposing to my wife, the birth of a child, getting a seconds advance intuition to ready myself for battling Thanos. But it was just a nothing moment and gone.

I frequently note these instances with a simple, “Woah. Deja vu.” that pre-dates Keanu’s “Matrix” exclimation.* Long time friends have been privy to many postulations on these events, with musings on reality and whether or not I am the source of all.**  I remember one occasion, Jack and I were trying to find our way out of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and we’d somehow gotten ourselves into some sort of ‘backstage’ section of the casino. It was a long square access corridor of some sort, sparsely lit with dim bulbs. I chopped a step and almost stumbled at the sudden squeeze of a memory of a particularly nasty nightmare. The next door would open to reveal a hoard of Doom entry level minions that would overwhelm us. But everything was so clear. Jack to my left. The ragged denim jacket which I was wearing with it’s newly minted smell of cigarette smoke, the brand of which I only seem to encounter in a casino. I muttered my “deja vu” and Jack asked if it was good or bad. I said, “Doom”, or something simplistic like that, yet we still opened the door into just another segment of empty corridor.

I’ve read that some scientists believe that the feeling of deja vu is just a concurrence of neurons firing and triggering a feeling of memory at the time we are experiencing something. Normally I’d buy that, but I remember my dreams. And, as the Queen of hearts said, “It’s a poor sort of memory that only runs backwards.”

Maybe I’ll go watch “The Arrival” again.

* Somebody owes me royalties.
** But that’s another story best left untold.

The Rainbow of Texts

For several years now I’ve been threatening to write about a concept I was introduced to in college by one of my favorite professors, Gene Fitzgerald, which he called “The Rainbow of Texts”. It was one of those mind-blowing concepts that is fairly simple on the surface but keeps getting deeper the longer I think about it. And I’ve thought about it for a long time.

I took my second year of Russian Language concurrently with a Russian History course from Professor Gene Fitzgerald. It was around the time Russia started to open up in the 1990’s, and I thought there was going to be a lot of opportunities there. However, I didn’t take into account my terrible ear for language. I did learn a lot of things that tangentially helped out a lot through my life, so don’t let anyone tell you a liberal arts education is only good for waiting tables.

The core thesis of the two-semester Russian History class was that we are all surrounded by a rainbow of texts that acts as a filter in how we perceive the information around us, as well as how we express ourselves. These texts are everything we take in through media, experiences, and interactions. Everything is a text and it colors the texts we take in and alters them as we experience them. Dr. Fitzgerald pointed out that two people who shared a great many texts could communicate much better than those with fewer texts in common. To better understand and communicate with Russians, you didn’t just need to know the language, but also their texts, such as history, art, and literature. We were required to read some of the near-universal Russian texts, such as Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Underground”, Zamyatin’s “We”, and of course, “Eugene Onegin” by Pushkin.

I did pretty well in that class, and I even got an A on my “Notes from Underground” paper while it was still in rough-draft form. It was probably the first paper I really enjoyed writing and put my feet on a compositional path, which I shirk to this very day. It did get me seriously considering my methods of communication. I had always felt like I was speaking my own language, and I started to see that in effect, we all are. The people with whom I connect most easily are people that understand the pop culture references and in-jokes that I continually reference. I worked with a guy about my age for a couple months at a tech place. We didn’t have a lot in common and at one point I showed him the Star Wars fan film “Troops“. He sat through it patiently without much of a reaction. At the end he asked me why the guy wore that mask the whole time. It turns out he doesn’t really go to movies and had never seen Star Wars, or even seen enough related Star Wars stuff to recognize the references in the video. In the end we found common ground in fishing and technology and became friends, but it was really an eye-opener to how different we can be, even in the same communities.

One day, while helping with a wheel throwing pottery class, I passed a couple students on the first day. The beginners get a demo and then are turned loose to suffer on their own for a bit before we start stepping in and helping correct the problems. These two students were throwing at wheels facing each other and the boy was doing pretty well, and the girl was starting to really get frustrated. I heard her ask the boy across from her, “Have you had this class before?” He simply said “No”, without really looking up from what he was doing. I saw her face fall at this and could feel the heartbreak of “why can’t I get this?” I backpedaled a couple steps and said to the boy, “Did you have a throwing class in High School?” He said he did, and the girl started to get a little angry. She said, “That’s just what I asked you and you said no!” I stepped in a little and asked the guy if he was majoring in science, and he confessed to being an engineering student of some flavor. I told the girl that she’d asked a specific question with the tag “this class”, which he responded in the negative. She thought it was a little pedantic, and I tried to explain that his answer wasn’t a personal affront or some sort of trickery, but was a reaction to an absolute that scientists tend to evaluate without thinking. I don’t think she really bought it, but it lives on in my personal rainbow as a prime example.

The big drawback is now I tend to evaluate, and often over-clarify, my meanings. People ask me questions and are met with a blank terminator-like stare half the time as my brain scrolls down the list of responses, evaluating and choosing what is actually being asked, and how the response will be taken. I’ve been told this is off-putting and makes me look like I’m practicing a lie. I’ve often had my meanings misinterpreted, and on several occasions mistaken someone else’s intentions. One time in high school I asked a pair of girls if they were going to the game on Friday. It was a common social pleasantry that I had adopted to fill conversational voids while trying to masquerade as a human. One girl answered that they had a Laurel’s (LDS young women’s group) activity that they were going to. She added, “Do you want to come?” I laughed, thinking it was just an attempt at humor, and not realizing it was a date activity and I was being asked out. In fact I didn’t know about my faux-pas for a couple classes until I ran into the other girl alone and she gave me an earful. I did manage seek out the girl I’d hurt to apologize and accept the invitation in a sheepish manner. Up until that point I’d really not had a text in my rainbow that covered the possibility of me personally getting asked out on a date.

This topic of understanding has been really on my mind lately as I’ve been experiencing the seeming splintering of online society into tiny, vocal, like-minded groups that form their internet tribes. A post on a social media site that gets opposition from adversarial groups seems to have no real communication and lots of hurt. This is responded to by counter attacks and escalation. Doxxing and character assassination seem to be seen as valid responses. Very little actual communication takes place. When one party tries to reach out and explain their position the effort seldom seems to be accepted as genuine and nobody seems to find a commonality in the texts. I believe I frequently see both sides are more in line than not, but the language each side is using doesn’t have the commonality needed for a meeting of minds. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, and I know that, once again, I don’t have any answers. But I do think we need to take some time in attempting to understand each other rather than just refuting and rearming.

The Russians have a saying: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

And then where will our rainbows be?


The Wasp Homewrecker

So here’s something a little different. On Saturday I decided I really needed to borrow Jack’s framing nailer to do what I had hoped would be the quick roof fixin’ job that I rambled on about last entry. I called and asked if he was using his nail gun as he’s on a home addition project of his own. He said it didn’t look like he was going to be using it, so I ran up to Bountiful and picked it up.

Along the way I made what was probably a somewhat ill-advised stop to take a look at the pile of rubble where my studio was.

It was kind of heart-wrenching, even knowing what was coming, but I don’t really want to think about it tonight.

Anyway, I got back home and made a sandwich just in time for Jack to call and see how long I thought I’d be needing the nailer as his contractor had shown up and was looking on getting to work. Fortunately I had already cut all the pieces I needed for my repair on the roof and just needed to whack them into place. I told him to come on down to get it and I’d be done by the time he got to my house. It worked out pretty good, except for having to have us both make a trip out of our way on what was a heavy traffic morning.

In a way it makes me want to have my own framing nail gun, but Jack and I have kind of a pooled resource of tools. My pool isn’t so big, but I have a metal bandsaw that lives at Jacks, and his MIG welder has been at my house for several years. It works out well, because nobody has room for all the tools they need, and even less time to put most of them to work. It just happened this day the gun was in high demand.

I was taking a break from the heat, I guess I’m supposed to avoid it for the MS thing, but I’m finding it hard to not be outside in the half of the year I find tolerable. Jack and I have serious that-reminds-me issues that can be near interminable. Along with never having enough time for tools, time for conversations is usually at a premium. As the conversation stretched out we sat on my porch and Jack noticed a wasp flying into the small tubes of a wind chime over my head carrying a dried blade of grass. It would go in from the top, and right away the blade would sail out of the bottom and land on me. Earlier I had noticed a pile of grass building up on the porch, but hadn’t thought about where it was coming from.

The little builder came and went for quite awhile. Occasionally I would reach up and ring the chime and cowardly duck down fearing the worst, yet too lazy to actually move. Finally she brought a big curly piece of grass that managed to jam in the tube. I decided this was a bad sign and slothed into action taking hold of the wind chime and attempted to loose it from it’s stay. The ring from which it hung caught repeatedly on the bent eyelet. For several seconds I became increasingly agitated and worried as the ring flopped back and forth and stick on the mouth of the hook and I was really starting to fear a serious amount of stinging was headed my way. Twice I almost just gave up and ran for my life, but in the nick of time the whole thing came free the chimes jangling like an alarm, and I hurled it off the porch to the middle of the lawn. I confess I laughed a bit sheepishly at my own antics, and we continued our one more thing goodbye a bit longer. When Jack left I retrieved the chime and thought I’d put it in the garage for the rest of the season. As I was walking back to the studio I peeked in one of the chime tubes. I couldn’t see through it. I checked the others and three of the tubes had already become nurseries for the little beasties. Half of them were filled with nests and larvae.

I took a stick and cleared them out, but it was no easy task. The grass was all bound up in what looked like a web. I’m going to have to read up on wasps to see how it’s actually done. I’m a little afraid the wasps might be part spider. Part of me is always kind of sad to interrupt most of natures cycles, unless it involves cockroaches or yellowjackets. Those bugs get no quarter.

Fretting the Night Away

Accepting limitations has never been one of my strengths. Here I am stuck wanting and needing to do things and not being able to for multiple reasons. And this isn’t different than any other time in my life, but like ever before, it seems like such a cop out. It’s like I can feel my potential and opportunities slipping away while I kill time waiting for conditions to be better.
And given my nature to be introspective, I kind of feel the need to write about it, but I also feel that my writing has become self-indulgent and melancholy. So I avoid writing, or at least writing and sharing. And I found out long ago that writing and then archiving/deleting isn’t as helpful as sharing. It’s almost like I need to let my ideas go out into the world instead of into a cage to experience any kind of growth.
I’ve probably mentioned this before, but my friend Anita recommended a book to me called, “Where’d You Go Bernadette?” by Maria Semple (and soon to be a feature film). In the book Bernadette is a creative person who suffers when she stifles her creativity. I enjoyed it very much and I can see parallels in some of my experiences. Right now I really want to make something, and I have several ideas for projects, as well as a need to get some pottery made for the post-Thanksgiving sale I do every November. My studio is in a shambles, though, and 95° in the studio is too oppressive to be doing anything. I have some slabs rolled out for carving, but they’re quickly passing the point where they’re too dry for what I want, and I just haven’t been in the frame of mind to babysit them.
In the meantime I’ve been listening to Adam Savage’s podcast on youtube in the evenings when I’m wasting time. It’s called “Still Untitled”  and is one of the most interesting podcasts I’ve found. He inspires me in a lot of ways, and I just watched one episode where they spent most of the podcast talking about the enjoyment they get from watching other makers videos on youtube. I felt inspired that I ought to be putting more video out for some of the stuff I do, but quickly began to shoot myself down. I don’t have any real special knowledge, or insight, but I have worked pretty hard to develop a certain level of skill that is not inconsequential. The idea of making videos just seems self indulgent, or at least it seems sort of meta self indulgent as I don’t really seek any sort of fame or adulation. I just agree with Adam in that it’s fun to watch.  I’ve played with making pottery videos before putting a couple of live things up on Facebook for fun, and I’ve been told by people that I ought to produce something a little more polished and less ephemeral than a Facebook post.
But it’s not just the pottery, I kinda-sorta document lots of stuff I do, but only halfheartedly, so I end up with lots of pictures in a folder.  And necessarily, some of the stuff I end up documenting, more in writing than anything else, is about the things that I go through in trying to maintain a somewhat corporeal existence. The whole convergence in this particular rambling train of thought brings me to my most recent health development. It looks like the reason, at least in part, that I’ve felt pretty crappy these last few years is that I’ve been ignorantly trying to deal with symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.
I got the diagnosis when my physical therapist sent me in for a MRI to look at the arterial blood flow to my brain because she thought that my weird dizziness might be restricted blood flow. The results came back negative on any blood flow problems, but positive for signs of a demyelinating disease, most likely MS. Since then I’ve had a lot of tests, including a spinal tap (surprisingly easy, and now I go to 11). I guess it’s going to take some time to figure out how I’m affected by what’s going on, but it’s already starting to answer a lot of questions about things, some of them going back quite awhile. Although there is some confusion for me in that if this has been a long term thing how was I in a state of remission enough when I was having the scans 5-10 years ago when I had cancer that it didn’t show up on my scans then? I guess I’ve always been lucky.
As is my nature, I guess, I’ve been trying to keep track of the day-to-day issues that might be related to MS, just to get a baseline. I’ve tried out a couple of mobile device apps, but haven’t found one I’ve liked yet. I also have given a shot to doing it somewhat tediously though Evernote, but that is seeming less than optimal after two weeks. I almost considered just carrying around a small log book, which has some classical romantic interest for me, but I am a digital child and I can see the handwritten notes falling by the wayside, or at least becoming less useful, as I like to grep for things.
Bringing this around full circle (maybe for the second lap), while I was reflecting on when I can remember issues starting I thought back to last fall when I was doing one of the Facebook live videos and was having some trouble throwing a largish vase. I dug the vid back up and found the part where I had a significant hand tremor that I hadn’t had an issue with when throwing before. I remember it because at the time I couldn’t believe that I was that out of shape that throwing a couple pots had worn me out.
 My physical therapist pointed out that the tremors are, indeed, MS symptoms, and that I need to stop doing what I’m doing when they happen and not push myself. That’s going to be very hard. I have a lot of time sensitive projects on my hands that require quite a bit of physical activity. Already I’ve gotten behind while trying to sort of take it easy as I seem to be in the middle of a fairly lengthy exacerbation. I have a hard time asking for help, and today when trying to tackle a problem that absolutely needed to be completed by sundown it was looking like I was cutting it close. Debbie, without my knowledge, called our friend Jake and asked him to come help, which he did immediately. With his assistance I finished working on the garage roof with daylight to spare. I hate to bother people, and maybe this is a lesson I really (finally) need to learn.

The Summer of Star Wars

I wanted to add my voice commemorating the release of Star Wars, one of the single biggest events to have an impact in my life. I also wanted to delay this posting past the 5-25-77 milestone because in 1977 I was just approaching 10 years old, and there was quite a bit of discussion as to whether I would be allowed to see the movie. You see, this movie was rated ‘PG’ and I hadn’t ever been witness to the horrors of anything outside the ‘G’ rating.

I wasn’t taken to see the movie until after most of my friends had seen it a few times. In fact, I don’t believe I saw the film until late in July or early August, but my memory on this is hazy. I also don’t remember how I came to be aware of Star Wars, I just know that at some point I became obsessed. I read everything I could get my hands on about it. I distinctly remember picking up the Readers Digest that had Star Wars on the cover and reading everything it had to say about it with great relish. I knew the whole story before I ever saw it. It seemed that hardly a day went by that there wasn’t some sort of avid discussion somewhere in the neighborhood about hyperspace and light sabers. This was in the time before SPOILERS and we didn’t care.  I remember telling my parents that there was only a little blood in one scene where a walrus guy gets his arm cut off, but they don’t show the arm getting cut off, just laying on the floor. I’m not sure how this was supposed to help my argument. I’m sure my parents knew as much about the film as I did*, but they never gave me much reason to believe I was going to get to see the movie.

When the day finally came we went to the only place that it was playing locally, the Center Theater downtown. I couldn’t believe the size of the screen and how many people would fit in the audience. When we first see Princess Leia’s ship pass from overhead followed by Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer that just kept stretching on and on and on I was in total heaven. I had been a space nut ever since the NASA Apollo missions I watched as a wee tyke, and now it felt like I was really out there.

So many of my memories of the movie are still so vivid. I remember being really scared of Darth Vader as he strode about the wreckage of the opening battle and being afraid for Princess Leia as the floating interrogation droid floated into her cell. C3PO and R2-D2 falling away from the rebel ship in the escape pod is etched into my mind and the trading card of their pod falling towards Tatooine was always one of my favorites. The Millennium Falcon was the coolest spaceship I’d ever seen, easily supplanting the Space 1999 Eagle in my mind, but the TIE fighters were the ones that I really wanted to fly myself.

I’m sure it was the impressionable age at which I saw the film that cemented it as the high point of cinema for me as it did for many kids. It doesn’t really hold up to close inspection, as a magnificent film, but it is, still, probably the movie I’ve seen more than any other. The feeling that, just maybe, something could spirit me away from my dreary existence in a moment and catapult me into my destiny like Luke was a staple of my fantasies for so long. I spent hours explaining what was going on to a robotic figment of my imagination when I was trying to figure things out, although it was a cool robot like R2-D2, and most certainly not C3PO.

For some reason the subsequent movies** never really did much for me. I don’t know if it was because they couldn’t live up to the first-time experience of Star Wars, or if by the time the sequels rolled around I was so steeped in science fiction ala Battlestar Galactica, or Buck Rogers that my universe was getting crowded. I only just added Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to my collection this year.*** They have some nice parts, but they just can’t match what I imagine was that particular Saturday afternoon in mid-to-late summer 1977.
* well, maybe not as much, but a reasonable amount.
** until Rogue One, but that’s another story
*** again, another story