Monday, September 13, 2010

Ahhh, peace in the studio.......

After my War and Peace blog on Indiana and feeling like someone else was driving the bus, I spent Sunday in the studio throwing bowls and listening to Etta James, Ella,  Boz Scaggs and Bobby Cauldwell; life gently returns to normal.   I have not been in the studio to sit down and actually throw pots since I left for Chicago.
I strive to have balance in my life and this seems to be a HUGE learning curve for me.  In my years on the planet I have tried everything; including fire walking. ( lost too many garden tools raking out the coals so I gave that up.)  I see people who stroll through life perfectly coiffed and stain free, never breaking a sweat as they cross the finish line.  I am convinced there isn't a yogi or holy man on the planet who is a working mother or has a dog. I am stained, frazzled and sweating profusely.

My neighbor stopped by a few days ago to discuss the upcoming block party when my dog dropped his 5 lb doggie toy on her foot.  She laughed, picked up the icky toy and tossed it to him.  He danced around the small room and promptly rolled it under the couch.  I sat in horror as I watched my neighbor dropped to her knees to retrieve the toy.  Abby and I jumped to our feet, I blew coffee out my nose while flailing my arms about and choking, NOOOOOOOO!!!  Never retrieve anything from under any piece of furniture in my house!  God only knows what you will come out with; one hairy sock, a mummified Dorito, a leadless pencil, expired coupons...... oh and look a quarter from 1966!  Jackpot!

I drove home from Chicago thinking my life had changed.  It had, for 4 days, exactly.  In the after glow of Chicago I completely forgot I had committed to making 150 bowls for a Peace Corp fundraiser, due Nov. 1st.  Then an order came in for 29 chili bowls due in two weeks.  These are things that are near and dear to me so I said, Yes and was happy to do it for $5 a bowl.  How does one go from selling $400 dollar pots to $5 bowls?  I have skid marks on my face!  But as imbalanced as all this sounds there is great peace and yes, balance in the studio.  I am throwing, I am happy and I'm gonna cross the finish line sweating & pretty dirty .......... life couldn't be better.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

adventures of a traveling potter........

Friday morning up at the crack of pre-dawn and off to deliver pots in Geneva, IL.
Out of the driveway at 7 a.m. and back by 10:15 p.m...... road warriors unite!! 

Took the itty bitty car, two bananas, a thermos of coffee that I hoped would get me to the Ohio-Indiana line.  Easy ride over, no problem......... Ride back........ YIKES! 

if you live in Ohio, Indiana becomes an obstacle to Chicago.  After my last trip I would love to meet the people sitting around the table deciding what is best for the wayward travelers passing through Indiana. 

 I remembered a hint several years ago,  when my first thought was;  Wow, Indiana must be full of technologically advanced, forward thinking brainyacks.  As I crossed the border from Ohio and reading the Hoosier Welcome Sign,  I noticed electric eyes on the berm of the road.  Flying by at 70 mph several signs explained, when the beams were flashing a deer had crossed the red eye beam and might very well be wandering around the highway.  God, I hate hitting deer at 70 mph.  My first thought was ...... wow cool because Ohio lets you play Whitetail Dodge 'em's, never ending up very good for deer or motorists.  
After miles of flashing lights and a severe migraine headache my second thought;  who are the bleeping morons spending tax money for this stupid idea.  Flashing lights in pitch dark running along the berm is akin to driving on an airport runway.  

I have not been back to Indiana since.......... until the ACE show and then back again yesterday.  

As I crossed into Indiana a few weeks ago I noticed the electric eyes on the berm were gone.  I breathed a sigh of relief.   But alas, they have gone to automated ticket booths.  Fine, I thought I will miss the smiling faces of the ticket & money takers but then noticed there were no attendants anywhere in sight.  Everything went pretty smoothly but the machines were quirky.  It will take your money but only if it is facing one direction and face up, and if you gave it a $10 bill your change came out in Susan B. Anthony coin dollars.  Everybody just loves those, especially the Ohio ticket & money taker attendants.  I wondered if the State of Ohio sells the Susan B. Anthony coins back to the State of Indiana.  But all in all,  no worries and an uneventful trip.

Yesterday blew my love of technology right out of the water! 

Trip was going pretty well, mapquest didn't take me down a garden path (that's another blog).  Found the lovely little town of Geneva, IL. lying just west of Chicago on the babbling Fox River.   Met the gallery owner of Dene' Gallery, drop off pots and dash back down the road.
3 p.m. on Friday and Chicago rush hour had begun, I missed the window.   I would like to point out that Chicago has the foresight to put real people in their ticket booths.  80 cents, 80 cents, 80 cents, 80 cents,  C'mon Chicago go for a dollar, it would make so many people happy.  After the gauntlet of toll booths on the I -294 I relished the thought of one ticket when I rolled into Indiana.  

What seemed like half of Chicago made the dash to Indiana I hit the wall of cars; backed up for miles, waiting in line to get my ticket I watched the I Zoom people race on through.   I don't think they even slow down.  Finally reaching the holy alter of the ticket booth I waited for the machine to barf up a ticket.  Nothing....... I hear the horns....... I press the button..... nothing...... I press the help button........ the gate flies up and the electronic lights tell me my I Zoom has been accepted.  I don't have I Zoom.  More horns and oh boy, LOOK a finger!  I hit the gas pedal.   
OMG what have I done??????? !!!!!!!   In Ohio this could get you shot!   Making my way to the first service oasis (seriously, this is what they are called)  You are greeted by another sign announcing the Visitor Center.  Phew, someone can help me there. 
Jumping out of my car I dash to the Visitor Center which is abandoned and ...... automated.  Cords dangled on the desk where there used to be a phone and maybe a computer where a real human punched up answers. 
Not one pamphlet on three, floor to ceiling walls filled with  "Stuff to do in Indiana" is there a pamphlet called;"OOP's NO TICKET".  Who goes to Indiana?  I have never heard anyone say;  "Hey let's go to Shipshiwanna for some Amish pie!"  Or hey let's drive over the RV Hall of Fame for the day!  I'm enclosing the link for those feeling they have missed out. 

I hunt around and unless you need the restroom or snacks you are in deep do-do intrepid travelers.  Two young toothy grinning lads, working the counter of the Z-market smiled over the primordial ooze floating with hard boiled eggs.  I ran in and explained my dilemma.  They both looked at each other and scratched their heads.  OH, you want to buy I Zoom, well here it is right here.  
NO, I don't want to buy I Zoom, I need a toll booth ticket.  Nothing....... flat lined.  
Ma'am ya gotta broken machine, gotta go to mile marker 87.  He writes it in pink ink on a scrap of paper.  I thank him, grab the paper and race down to mile marker 87.  On my way I'm recalling a scene from Harry Potter when he is ordered to Platfom 9 & 3/4.  What is at mile marker 87 I asked.  He just repeated, "I have to send people to mile marker 87 all the time."  Well do you ever see them again?  I asked.  Nothing, not even from his smiling side kick.  Lighten up boys!  I had visions of seeing myself standing on the highway next to mile marker 87........ perhaps a port key to another dimension?   44 miles later and counting down the mile markers I see the mile marker 87 I Zoom headquarters.  YEAH!!!!   (I wish he had told me there would be a building by mile marker 87, but I did have fun entertaining myself with wild thoughts of what I might encounter)
One must make a right hand turn while traveling 70 mph off the highway.  Thank goodness I had the itty bitty car!  Signs pointing everywhere to "Customer Care".  Well of course it's at the very back of the building, down a sidewalk and across the yard....... pack a lunch.  Hmmmm..... not many cars around.
Run up to the door like I'm at the steps of Mecca and a little black and white sign is taped to the door.  Fridays we close at 2 p.m.     NO!  Now I am hanging on the door screaming........STELLA!!!!!   (I've always wanted to do that and now it's on camera in Indiana)  
And another thing........ are there terrorist in Indiana?  Amish pack'n oozies?  The place is locked up like Fort Knox!  And the building sits right on the Eastern Standard Time zone boundary.  I entertained myself running from door to door wondering if half the building might still be working as they were in Central Time Zone.  Nope, even in the eastern or central time zone it was past 2 p.m.  
Walking back to my car I decided to call 411 to see if I could talk to someone at the Highway Patrol.  And we all know how those conversations go........ 

Howdy there operator, I'm sitting in my car at mile marker 87 on the Indiana turnpike and need a ticket. 
Ma'am is this an emergency?
What number do you need? 
I'm not sure.  I don't even know what area code I'm in but I know I'm in Indiana because I saw a town called Shipshiwanna.  That town only exists in Indiana. 
Well Ma'am I need a name.
Ok how about the Indiana State Highway patrol, non emergency.
Do you want the one on Robertson Street, LaBrea or blahblaha....... 
I don't know, pick one.
No ma'am you pick one.
Fine........ how about Robertson.
I hear the connection go through......... 
A woman dispatcher gets on ....... Is this an emergency?  NO! 
I explain my dilemma ....... again.
Ma'am just a minute....... 
several minutes later I hear a gruff voice I can't understand but he says it over and over and each time I beg him to slow down.  Finally he says:
This is Officer Leo, LA state highway patrol, What?  Officer Leo, LA state highway patrol 
and then he said it over and over again until I heard myself yell.......STOP IT!
I finally said LA?  Los Angeles, CA.?  Yes Ma'am. 
Nevermind....... and hung up. 

I hurled the itty bitty car onto Route 80 and headed east........ just shot me when I make my run for the border! 

The sign announcing the last Service Plaza or Oasis before the state line popped onto my radar.  I better stop and use the facility as who knows what will happen when I try to crash the gate to get back into Ohio.  
Walking in I am again confronted with super duper automated toilets that flush while you hover over them.  Hmmmm Indiana's idea of a bidette.  Apparently they have recycled the red electronic eye from the deer alert days to the commodes in the women's restroom.  Hurling myself out of the stall while still buckling I bumped into the sink.  Another electronic eye as you pass your hands under the faucet to make the water magically turn on.  Well it sputters, on and off  I moved down the line of sinks until I found one that worked.  Next waving my wet hands in the air before the electric eye of the paper towel dispenser.  Again the little red flashes...... the paper towel spits out a towel and another and another and another...... I wiped my hands on my jeans and dashed for the door.  I could the paper towel dispenser spitting out miles of paper onto the floor.  Dear Lord release me from the automated clutches of Indiana.

Back in the car and I can see the Ohio line!!  I pull into the parking lot of the chicken coop on the side of the road which used to be a beehive of activity of ticket & money takers.  Parking the car I walk to the door and pound.  Nothing. Almost abandoned except for two or three cars in the parking lot.
There looks to be a door bell but yet another red beam...... I hold my finger up thinking it might read my finger print and let me in, after the my identity theft incident I think there might be a chance.  I tried all ten fingers and was going for my socks when I saw a real person at ticket booth #2!   I yell over the traffic.........HELP ME, I DON'T HAVE A TICKET..... as a UPS semi truck roars through I Zoom.  This went on for quite sometime before I gave up.  I pounded on every door I could find on that little chicken coop.  When I rounded the back of the building I saw a pile of broken red and white gates.  Ah-Ha!  Others have flipped out and crashed the gates to get out of Indiana.  It became crystal clear, I must crash the gate. Walking back to the itty bitty car I planned my escape.  Getting in and buckling up I see a red haired woman in orange vest dash across the parking lot and down a set of basement stairs.  I launch myself out of the car and scream HEY!  Explaining my dilemma, yet again, she says...... Hon, happens all the time, just go to Gate #2 and tell the guy you lost your ticket.  But I didn't loose my ticket, but who cares! 
Back to the car, buckle in and try to hurl myself into oncoming semi truck traffic barreling toward the I Zoom lanes while I make my way to Gate #2 and a real person.   Again people with real money and a ticket are backed up to Chicago.  I scamper through oncoming traffic, feeling like a Kamikazi pilot.  Finally I get to talk to the man at Gate #2.  As I explain what has happened I can hear his radio in the background.....
GATE #6  the machine has just shredded a guys credit card......
GATE #9 the machine has swallowed a guys credit card.....
GATE#5 is out of Susie B's.....
Is anybody getting in or out of Indiana?

I give him my $7.30, ask for a receipt as I just know I'm getting a bill in the mail in 9 months or there will be a warrant issued for my arrest.  He handed me my change in real dollar bills, a paper receipt and YES! the gate went up!    I'm free!!!   Home at last, Home at last........... only 3 more hours to go.

It has occurred to me, I Zoom or EZ Pass might be the way to go.  As I sat for hours on end waiting in the "CASH" line, folks with I Zoom raced through the gates, had dinner with relatives and I swear I saw them fly through the I Zoom return gate while I waited to pay cash........ What is wrong with this picture?
It's a conspiracy to make us sign up for I Zoom and EZ pass...... I refuse!! 

In 6 weeks I must go back and break down the show........ going by boat through Canada......

Sunday, September 5, 2010

To American Craft Exposition and back.........

ACE....... what a trip.  Spending two months in the studio and letting life roll by; I watched the weeds take over the garden, the woodchuck stand on the hav-a-heart trap and hurl himself into the lettuce patch, the potatoes grow to size of softballs, tomatoes ripen, cucumbers harvested and given away to neighbors (no time for pickles this year), invitations to dinners and openings came & went, unattended.  Grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning took on a new meaning or no meaning.  Thank goodness I had purchased the pallet of toilet paper on my last pilgrimage to Sam's Club or the Grainger catalog would have found a new use!  
I stayed in the studio with my nose to the wheel.  And still after two months of working I still had a booth to build, a cap for the truck to be bought and installed, weaving to be done and at my darkest hour of running this gauntlet one of the kilns failed and I rewired it in the wee hours of the morning.  The next day when the kiln reached peak temperature I stood a little taller in my flip flops.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here........ 

The truck was packed on Tuesday night.  Butch packed the little Nissan as he was going to run back to Ohio Saturday morning and get Abby to Kent State on Sunday.  Up at the crack of dawn, strict instructions left with Abby on dog and house sitting,  NO PARTY we shouted to the sleeping princess. We were on our way........ well sort of.  Jumping on Route 2 heading west, my phone went off.  Butch following me, announced I had no tail lights.  Jumping off Route 2 in Willoughby we pulled into the truck cap store, who had just installed the cap and waited for them to open.  Yup, blew a fuse, an hour later we were off again.

We arrived on the Northwestern Campus long about 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.  I jumped out, stretched and entered the cavernous exhibition center while Butch waited with the cars.  I hiked to the front of the pavilion to pick up my "welcome packet".  On the way back I passed artists erecting temples, shrines and cathedrals to the Gods of Fine Craft!  Seeing artists & their work in the flesh that I only see in books,  I was quaking in my crocs.  What the hell was I thinking, who did I think I was?   I sit in a studio with my dog and make stuff!  The dog loves everything I make, especially if you can put food in it!  He is an excellent critic and everybody should have one.  I had spent the summer standing in farmers markets trying to sell mugs and plates!
I calmly exited the building, jumped in the car and announced;  "We are going home, now!"  Overwhelmed is a good word.  I walked back into the building, looked for the director of the emerging artist area and calmly told her to let the artist on each side scooch in and have more booth space as I would not be needing mine.  Walking around, practicing deep breathing,  I was told by the director and Butch to set up and get over it.  Let's see;  little or no sleep over the last few days, a 7 hour drive, a two month build up and voila' I had myself one mini meltdown.

We set up pedestals and installed shelving in 12' x 6' space a gazillions times, finally finding the perfect setup by 10 p.m.   We hauled in the pots and finished up by 10:30 pm.  Off to find the hotel and something to snack on before calling it a day.

Finishing touches were put on Thursday morning before judging commenced at 12:30 p.m.  ACE hosted a wonderful lunch for the artists while the judging took place.  I had to pinch myself when I found myself eating lunch with Jennifer McCurdy and Tim Ludwig.

The preview party opened Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. and we were off to the races. Saturday morning I looked up and saw Annie standing there; a wonderful familiar face in a sea of people!  
Sunday at 5 p.m. I found myself smiling, standing there alone and hugging my neighbors Chris and Francesca.  We exchanged phone numbers, emails, websites, facebook information and vowed to have coffee.

Butch had long departed for Ohio;  I was packing up alone and making the drive back.
Some where along a stretch of highway in Indiana, in the wee hours of the morning I realized my life
had changed this weekend.  I was anxious to drive home and return to the work I have only dreamed about, never knowing if there was a market for it.
Now I know and yes, there is a market and yes I will be applying to other shows.
The dog is not happy about this...........