Thursday, March 27, 2014

And we are back!

"Let us find time to read and dance, and so we will not hurt the rest of the world."

Yikes, where to start?!  It's been a month of rubber meeting the road, epiphanies, WTF's and happy to be home!  If you read this, get a cup of coffee! 

Looking back over the last month, if you believe in signs and choose to ignore them....... well?
As we packed and prepared to leave, a power outage hit 50,000 residents on the North East shores of Lake Erie.  Usually not a problem but we had just come off a 14 hour power outage 6 days prior to the current 16 hour lights out.  We were leaving Abby and her cat Neil to take care of the house and chickens.  There were breaker boxes, studio breakers, chickens etc.   Luckily, the wood stove was glowing and the gas stove fired up with a match.  We were warm, able to heat soup and make coffee.  We welcomed neighbors and sat around eating popcorn, sipping on homemade beer or hot coffee and deciding how we would ride out the next outage in sub zero weather, while candles burned into the night.  
The outage went all the way to Ashtabula; the day of departure Butch ran up to check his Mom's empty house.  It was fine but alas he and Abby were swallowed into the worm hole known as Ashtabula.  I was packed, sneezing at Neil and stewing while I waited. 
Butch finally started the car around 3:30 pm; Abby yelled, "Would you please get out of here!"  I opened the car door, laughingly said:  Ha!  We're not out of here yet, waved and promptly slipped on a patch of ice and slid under the car!  Cracked my shin like I've never done before, checked for broken bones and told Butch to punch it!  We were off.   We did not heed the signs...... 

Driving through the night, munching on cherry tomatoes, bran chex, apples and carrots, we arrived in St. Augustine 17 hours later, found a Starbucks and walked the beach to a beautiful sunrise.  Breathing  in the salt spray, wearing light jackets and sipping hot coffee..... heaven. 

I had packed the tent, well two tents in case we needed, SPACE.  The coffee pot, camp box and sleeping bags.  I had visions of sipping hot coffee around a campsite, eating sandy oatmeal and sleeping in my tent close to the beach.  Every time I opened the back door the little stainless steel coffee winked back in the Florida sun.  Closing the door I said; Tomorrow I will breath smoke and make coffee, tomorrow.  St Augustine had campsites available and it has always been our stopping point to rest up and relax after the long drive.  
Whoa..... not this time.  My intrepid travel companion said: "Well, let's hit the road and head to Tampa, it's Spring Training for baseball."  Are you serious?  He countered, it's only a 3 hour drive and we can find camping in Tampa.  Fine, and I got in the packed Versa, we headed out for Tampa.  

And then we were caught in a vortex of motorcycles...... Where are these motorcycles coming from?  I asked.  No idea and then we passed a massive field, blue haze dominating the horizon and rolling thunder throbbed in my ears.  Harley's, Land Yachts, tents, bikers and a huge sign; "WELCOME TO BIKE WEEK!"  Awesome...... they were like roaches in Florida, everywhere.
We were stopped in a 40 minute traffic jam outside Orlando with families headed to Rat World.  Vans filled with cherry faced children slapping each other senseless, harried Dad's, Mom's in heat shield sunglasses, sometimes a family dog franticly attempting to lick his way through a window, luggage lashed to the roof, the exterior covered in sticky handprints and salt haze from northern home states, apparently evacuated.  At one point I thought we were in Minnesota.  I closed my eyes for five minutes and woke up surrounded by blue and white license plates.... Where are we I muttered?  

We arrived in Tampa 5 hours later.  He drove straight to the baseball field.  I had now been awake and vertical for 31 hours and I wanted nothing more than to sit on metal bleachers in hot sun, sucking down a $10 beer and choking on a $9 hot dog.  We found the parking lot, filled and closed; we would need to park 3 miles away, walking to the ball park. We would get there for the 9th inning.  He said and I quote:  "You will be fine once you eat a hot dog"  At this point I said if you do not stop the car and find a campsite or hotel I 'm calling the police and telling them I am a hostage.  He looked over and saw my pasty, glazed face.  OK, I'm on it and we left the ball park.  He then drove to the beach and thought we would find a hotel.  SURPRISE...... again!  It's Spring Break!  The scenery changed from old farts in baseball caps and team tee shirts to bikini clad young women standing in parking lots chugging beer or mixed drinks.  Again, stuck in the biggest traffic jam ever.  We sat sweltering in the little black Nissan I started to notice abandoned underwear in parking lots, on traffic islands and street corners.  As we crawled on at a snails pace we pulled over to stretch our legs as I had been sitting so long I was clotting up.  Yup, before my very bloodshot eyes, standing in the parking lot, a band of young woman dressed in bandaids, drinking beer from cans ........ I blurted out;  Does your Mother know where you are and what you're wearing!?  And the Mother came out from around a car; Yes She Does!  And Mom had a more tattoos than I could count on her bikini clad, leather skinned, 50+ year old container.  Eeeeck!  I retreated to the car and begged to be taken to the nearest airport.  It never goes well for me in this state.  We found a hotel and I collapsed on the bed.  
The next morning we were off to Naples to meet up with our niece, celebrating her 40+ birthday and make the delivery.  I was refreshed, had dinner with our niece, called the buyer and everything was sunshine and orange juice.  
We walked Naples, hadn't changed since the last trip.  Watched Ferrari's and a red Lamborghini rev motors on 5th street while everyone stood around in wonder.  Thought it would look better with a chicken on the hood.  I appreciated the lines and workmanship but that was about it.  We wished our niece Happy Birthday and retreated to our room.  9 a.m. the next morning I would deliver the pots I had lugged down and we would begin our trip home.  I was breathless.  
8:30 a.m. we were navigating the roads to the Hilton Golf Resort Estates.  Hmmmm.... two guards gates to pass through.  Our little salt encrusted Nissan was clearly out of place.  It was a gauntlet to get through the guards and manicured lots to find the palace of an estate sitting on the edge of the golf course.  We were greeted at the door and I hurriedly unpacked boxes from the hatchback.  I was escorted to the room with the "custom lacquer bookcase".  It was massive, it was overwhelming, it was nothing like the pictures she had sent from her iPhone with directions:  pots could be not bigger than 9" tall.  She had ordered 12 pieces, most to be carved.  I brought 12 pieces and a few more in case one or two did not work out and had forwarded pictures of what I would be bringing.  All approved.  I put the  pots on the floor and she was quiet but then said;  Oh dear the scale is completely off.  Excuse me, I spent over a month on these pots. Oh these are not going to work.  I climbed a ladder to put them in the shelves, I killed a giant roach, depositing in the trash compactor as she recoiled, I removed pots from the shelves.  I packed them up, back in the Nissan and back to Ohio.  Holy Crap...... never saw this one coming.  She offered to write a deposit on 12 more pots, I declined.  I thought I had a pretty good idea of what she was looking for and clearly I did not.  Would I ever?  Dunno..... walk away.  I did.  We waved to the guard as the heat shield feel off the undercarriage of the Nissan...... Awesome.  I cried a little.  So I zillowed her house.... value: 3.14 million and she owned 3 houses of equal value along the east coast..... where are my chickens?!  I think Butch was a little stunned too as we drove silently back toward Sarasota.  I've never had anyone reject everything..... it does jar ones soul a bit. 

We found a lovely hotel in Venice after an hour of calling hotels with no vacancies.  There wasn't a campsite to be had in the entire state.   We found a great restaurant on a back alley in Venice with great food and reasonable prices.  Retired to our room, tried to book it for another night but alas, filled.  Onward we pushed.  We hit Sarasota and I said if I did not walk on a beach today I was throwing myself out of the car into on coming traffic.  We found a beach.  I rolled up my jeans and walked for 5 hours, picked up sand dollars and started to clear my head.  Then and there I decided if someone wants to buy pots in Florida they would need to go through a gallery but then I was not sure if I even wanted to find a gallery in the fine state of Florida.  I am no longer able to handle transactions like this.  I heard myself say to the "collector";  you know, I am a maker, I want nothing more than to make pots, if you like them great, if not....... I will still make pots.   We did not go down with the express interest to deliver these pots. Honestly, the thought of packing and shipping 12 pots of this size was not something I looked forward too either; at the time it all seemed to work.  We went down to visit family, who own a condo and spend winters in Naples;  unfortunately they ran into health issues after I had made the arrangements to drop the pots off and were not there.  We were happy to have a very nice dinner with our niece.   Butch had a tough couple of months with his Mom's passing and as he loves Florida and wanted to see family,  I thought this would be a good trip for both of us.  
Finally back in the car and onward to find another hotel for the night, we landed at a Starbucks.  The only place available was in Tampa and we had never heard of it but it had three stars so we took the room.  We drove through a rough part of town and thought hmmmm..... we found the hotel around 10 p.m. and as we pulled in the parking lot I noticed all the welcome planters were dead.  We looked around and as he got out, said:  Lock your door.  He came back with a key and thought; Great!  We went up to the room and Yikes!  Stained sheets and no towels..... then a fight broke out in the parking lot over a girl.  While I was mulling this over and peering through the blinds;  I heard Butch say;  Get your stuff, we are not staying!  We were in the car in 5 minutes while the fighting cocks stared us down. We tossed the key on the desk and drove off...... jumped on the nearest freeway and headed east.  By this time of night I am a little cranky and as I was driving I headed to the Tampa airport.  I would buy a ticket and come home.  As we rounded the drop off we saw a sign for the Airport Marriott.  On a whim we checked it out.... saints be praised someone's flight had been canceled and they had a room available!  We lugged our backpacks upstairs and went directly to the bar.  Back to our room and crashed around midnight.  In the morning back to St. Pete to have lunch with friends and by 3 pm we were back on the road to St Augustine.  Again..... stuck in a 2 hours traffic jam.  This time a fatality....  We arrived in St. Augustine around 9 p.m. and found a hotel on the freeway.  We found a grocery store and got a bite to eat and walked around with the Spring Breakers.  We stopped at several "galleries" and I started to realize they all looked the same and were starting to run together.  So much so I couldn't remember what city I was in.  Oh and gluing seashells to a mirror does not make it "ART"!  In the morning we headed to Charleston in pouring rain. Found a room easily and had a great dinner at the Energy Restaurant.  Fresh food at it's finest.  The next morning we packed, went back to Charleston, walked the market in the pouring rain, ate a praline, had a terrific seafood lunch and local brew and headed for the freeway.  
We were on our way home as an ice storm was due to hit the Appalachians. I was like a horse headed to the barn and not stopping.  Long around 3 a.m. we hit a crater of a chuck hole in Kentucky and thought we were going to die but the Nissan with all 190,000 miles held together.  
When we got home we took her in and found out there was over $300 damage to the front end and we had them put the heat shield back on the under carriage we had lost in the Hilton Golf Resort estates.... I wondered if the guy in the Ferrari ever had these problems.....

Since landing back home on March 20th I have made a few decisions and had a few wonderful epiphanies.  I spent a couple days setting up my photo room and shooting work again, then spent another day getting the iWeb program to work again.  I napalmed the house of cat hair and dirt.  I rescued the chickens; poor Batina was trying to sit on 25 eggs as Abby forgot to gather eggs..... 

1. the pro panels went up for sale.
2. the trailer went up for sale.
3. I am in the process of signing a one year lease on gallery space at W.78th street studios in Cleveland. 
4. My website is updated and there are now pots to purchase!  I spent a day in computer tech's office getting all the bugs worked out and it's done!  Happy Dance!
5. My garden seeds are started! 
6. Going out to Boston next week to break down DeCordova and drop off new work at Worcester Center for Craft.  I love doing business like this! 
7. I have some awesome customers who sent emails about the DeCordova Show and pieces they were so happy with.  You will never know how much your emails meant during this trip!  I thank you from the bottom of my heart!   
8. I really need a dog........ it's past time. 
9. In May, I leave for Fort Collins.  Rachael is coming home from Benin for a few weeks. I am driving and I am camping and I will pick Butch up at the Denver airport smelling like a campfire and old coffee, but happy!  
10. I re-newed my fishing license and kayak registration...... 
11. Spring is late coming this year but so many seeds have been planted...... now onto nurturing.

A few memories from the trip......

Spent a wonderful day at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota! 

 This tree was by far the best jungle gym and hiding tree ever! 

We had a hard time locating local craft galleries, loads of 2 dimensional galleries though.  These were carved wooden masks from artists in Costa Rica, I have never seen so many sold stickers in my life! 

Best stop of the entire trip, St. Petersburg Clay Company!  So lucky they were firing a little wood fire test kiln the day we arrived.  Snagged an awesome mug from Matt Schiemann to add to my growing collection.  He was good to talk with too.

So much of Don Reitz's work was on display,  RIP Don...... 
The guys work was just amazing as was he. 

Home to ice jams...... 

A new work on the website! 

No paycheck, back to beans!
  Thought I'd cook a pot of Scarlet Runner beans before I plant the whole yard. 

New ruby slippers for daily walks again.....
I really need a dog! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Roll'n with the pottery express.......

It's March 1st and we are bracing for yet another blast.  I have never been so happy to be home sipping coffee and watching chickens.  
The show at the DeCordova opens March 1st, that would be today!  The pots made it, all 25 of them! 
I watched the intrepid weather guy on the local news trying to figure out the window.  Deciding on Thursday, I packed, made a master sheet of inventory with all pertinent information, gassed up Itty Bitty (aka Nissan Versa with 200,000 miles logged), loaded a bisque kiln to fire while I drove and set the alarm clock for 3:30 a.m. 

The stars twinkled over the snow covered driveway, moonlight illuminating the road east to I 90, it was 4:15 a.m.  
The coffee was hot, the road was clear and the radio was cranked to smooth jazz.... let the pottery express roll.  Right about Erie, PA the snow started;  by the New York line the road was getting fuzzy, by Buffalo it was white out.  The coffee sat cold in the cup, as it was a two fisted, knuckle busting drive. 
 Hey weather guy, this is supposed to be the window!! 

Lurking under the snow I hit a mother of a pot hole.  Sure 'nuff the idiot light on the dash went off that I had a low tire.  Feeling like I won the lottery as I got through rush hour and dodged the New York Thruway Authority's decision to close down I 90 east and west and also I 290 by shear minutes.  I pulled to the side of the road to check which tire was low and indeed almost flat.  The 50 mph winds almost took the door off Itty Bitty.  A bit of delay, tire re-inflated and I was off, again.  Usually if you can get around Buffalo you're home free.  I got to Rochester, no break, by Syracuse it started to ease up and indeed the sun came out!  Ticked off Albany and onto the Mass Pike.  Hit the Berkshires and the sky opened up.  I swear the minute I take my car keys off the hook somebody in the weather ethers turns on the big snow machine.  Honestly, I'm getting a little shell shocked this winter!  
3:10 p.m.  Pulling into the driveway of the DeCordova, the sun was out, no wind and kind of warm.   I feel to my knees and kissed the asphalt parking lot!  Meeting me at the door was Jane Bramburg with a big smile and welcome.  The place is just stunning!  I had only seen images on line and thought I knew what to expect but this place far exceeded any expectation.  The staff is wonderful and the place is open, airy and light filled, perfect gallery shop space.  I spent maybe 40 minutes wandering the gallery and looking at the grounds.  This place must be postcard beautiful in Spring, not to mention Fall! 
How is it I have never heard of the DeCordova before they contacted me via email?  This place, tucked away on the outskirts of Boston is truly a jewel in the crown of Boston's art community.

Outdoor sculpture abounds; surprising the visitor around every turn there is something to greet you. 

I left the grounds smiling and excited.  The sun was out too! 

I made the decision to head for the barn.  Making it across the entire state of Mass. with the sun shining I pressed on to Albany...... and so it began.



Unbelievably I hit Buffalo around 1:30 a.m. and the roads were clear!  No snow, no traffic but still 50 - 60 mph winds.  I am not sure how people live in Buffalo, a stout and sturdy breed those Buffalo inhabitants.  Makes Cleveland look tropical!  

I pulled in the driveway around 3:30 a.m. home.... 
Friday morning I woke up and the sun was shinning brightly!  
Oh, is this the window?   The Itty Bitty sat in the driveway crusted in salt and tires encased in ice... 
We are road warriors on the pottery express! 

Leaving for Florida delivery next week ........ I can hardly wait!