Smooth Sailing Just Over the Horizon

Today was my last firing of the last kiln load at the Stoker School, the ceramics studio at the Bountiful extension of the University of Utah. It was mostly my work with some of Chuck’s large pieces. His last work, too. I’ve been there more than 20 years, learning and helping teach beginning students along the way. I’ve written about it before, and I’ll probably mention it a few more times. It had a real, and significant, effect on my life.

Before sunrise, with pink clouds and a stiff East wind, I drove the automatic path I’ve worn into I-15. I was mentally cataloging all the ‘havetas’ that are coming sown the pipeline. Summer has, for a couple decades, given me an extra evening as I don’t often help with classes in the summer. I started thinking about the things I might be able to get done with an extra night a week with no responsibilities at the studio. No more, ever. I started to think of adult life as being a juggler. You start off by keeping two objects in the air at once. Then three, and maybe a fourth. Then someone tosses you an egg, or maybe a live mouse. You begin to sweat it a bit. The stress goes up, but just when you are getting the hang of it, or maybe successfully tossing the egg of to an audience member someone throws you a running chainsaw.

I’m always looking at the horizon. The place where I can see the opportunity to hand off the mouse and maybe catch a ball on one foot things will get easy. After Christmas, once we get the party behind us, when class finishes, then! But the holidays go by and when you’re finishing washing the dishes after the reunion and are ready to breathe that sigh of relief, something else appears at the skyline approaching with purpose.

Adult life is just taking these new things and thinking, well, it’s a plate spinning on a stick, but if I put it on my chin I can probably still keep these balls floating on, and it will be a good show. There really isn’t any end to it, or even much respite. But seriously, if we think about it, there are probably a few spinning plates that if you go goggle-eyed, shake your head, and mug for the audience, nobody would think ill of you. You might even get a laugh.

Of course, you don’t get to defer choosing everything that comes your way. Sometimes you have to take the chainsaw, sometimes you even have to drop the egg to do it. But I believe you should always try to do it in a way that gets a laugh from the audience .

Vacation Arrival

Greetings from Arizona. I’m trying something new, so this should be a short one. Debbie, Kayla, and I thought we would take a week and come down to Phoenix to attend her brothers wedding, and make a vacation of it sitting by the pool relaxing and not doing much for the rest of the week in one of our resort vacation places.  We’ve talked about taking relaxing vacations before, but we always end up cramming so much in that there isn’t usually much relaxing going on.

I had the brilliant idea that I should take along my wireless keyboard and try to do some writing on the iPad (that I’m using now) as I’m without an actual laptop at this time. It was a good idea for a test, but it never made it into my bag. So far writing isn’t too bad hunt-and-peck style, but it is slow. I’ve got a new idea burning through my mind and I’d like to have some time to start in on it when I don’t have the usual distractions and duties that seem to so easily pull me away from accomplishing anything.  I may have to bust out Monday and see what I can find locally, but I’m afraid I’ll end up with a chromebook.*

The trip down was nice, we took the scenic route down through Kanab, and stopped in at the Glen Canyon Dam visitors center.** We had some good Mexican food for lunch in Paige and pushed on through to Phoenix. In all it was about an 11 hour trip. It’s the first road test of the new vehicle, and I was pretty pleased, but I’m obsessing a bit much over the predicted milage and mpg calculations on the dash. *** Upon arrival, and after checking in at the hotel we had to meet up with my brother-in-law and make some wedding assistance arrangements. We finally got back to the condo around 10:00 tired and hungry having had no time for dinner. It was way too late for me to eat and still be able to sleep, and deciding I wanted sleep more than anything I finally got to bed.

There is a bird in Phoenix that sounds like a cross between a rooster and a howler monkey . Actually, there seems to be a lot of them. Either that or they vacation in the same place I do. In any case they woke me up early. I stubbornly kept going back to sleep until rather late in the morning, but was still pretty punked when it came time to leave for the wedding and I’d not managed to get anything to eat, either.

The wedding was nice, as far as this introvert could see, and people seemed to be having a good time. I survived  enough for the time of sustenance to arrive and had a good dinner. Shortly after eating I got up to go outside to get away from the noise and see what my wife was up to. On the way, a man I hadn’t met who was either with the bride’s party, or with the reception hall, stopped me to ask if I was ok. He said he’d noticed me kind of withdrawn earlier with my head hanging down. In truth, I was probably just surreptitiously checking my phone, but I was kind of out of it, and I think I give off that vibe when I’m in a crowd.

I was really struck by his  kindness and concern. When I notice similar circumstances I find it very hard to make that kind of inquiry, mostly, I think, it’s more of a fear of prying in on someone’s personal space than anything else, but I don’t think I really should be afraid of that. I didn’t particularly want to be bothered, but I stopped and tried to let him know it had just been a long couple of days. Given my insular nature, I’m not sure if I can really change, but I’d like to give it a try.

*which wouldn’t be bad, I want one, I just don’t need one, really.

** Sparking the inevitable “Those Dam <something related to the reservoir>” jokes

*** 24 mpg-ish at 65mph. 21 at 83mph

Movie Mosts

In an effort to put off any real writing creativity, I give you a social media movie survey. In some cases 2nd favorites got listed to avoid duplicates that fit better in other categories.

Most Hated Movie: Barton Fink
Movie I Think Is Overrated: Avatar
Movie I Think Is Underrated: 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Movie I Love: Mad Max: Fury Road
Movie I Secretly Love: None, I’ll openly profess my love
Favorite Action Movie: Aliens
Favorite Christmas Movie: Die Hard
Favorite Drama Movie: Stranger Than Fiction
Favorite Western Movie: El Dorado
Favorite Horror Movie: The Changeling
Favorite Comedy Movie: Monty Pythons Life of Brian
Favorite Disney Movie: Rogue One (it counts as Disney, right?)
Favorite Science Fiction Movie: Blade Runner
Favorite Animated Movie: Lilo and Stitch
Favorite Superhero Movie: Captain America: Winter Soldier
Favorite Musical: Paint Your Wagon
Favorite Bad Movie: Mad Dog Time
Childhood Favorite: Star Wars
Favorite Franchise: The Marvel Universe movies
Best Trilogy: The Matrix (yes, I’m one of them…)
Guilty Pleasure: Streets of Fire
Favorite Movie This Year So Far:  Moana
Movie I Have Recently Seen: Lady in Gold
What I Thought of It: Very nice, but disheartening in its current cultural relevance.
Favorite Movie of All Time: Casablanca, I know it seems cliché to say, but it is my favorite movie.