I awoke this morning to the inspiring thought that I had better live well, since I want to write about the day. (Just kidding. Although I did realize to my surprise that it has been a whole week since I posted about the day we had bellyaches and multiple ginger remedies.)
I felt a need to make a nice breakfast this morning, largely due to telling the children to scrounge out of the fridge last night while I messed about in the pottery shed. I had intended to make some supper for myself as well, but it took kind of long to throw the last pots and then it was the girls’ storytime and I just sampled a brownie. I am not sure what the children ate while I was gone. Guilt is a good motivation for getting out of bed in time to cook a nourishing meal, if nothing else.
We have discovered that duck eggs (Remember that day we took extra animals to the sale barn and came home with a dozen ducks?) make excellent omelettes. There was a time when I thought that would be sort of gross, but in fact, they are quite delicious. They are enormous- it only took 5 eggs to make plenty of omelettes for our family- but extra fluffy. I think it’s the yolk/ white ratio that makes the difference. I also use them in baking when they are available, again because of the richness of the yolk. All that extra Omega-3 is just fine by me. If that makes you want to avoid my brownies at potluck, I am not offended.
When Gabriel left for work, we had to give him a push out of our ice-slick of a driveway. The sun was bright and shiny, but not making much impression on the 3 inches of melted snow turned to solid ice. It was downright treacherous outside.
The girls wanted to go to the ladies’ sewing today, but I said they had to do their schoolwork first. It is always astonishing how a bit of extra motivation can spur them on. They got cracking right after breakfast and we even had our spelling done by 11. I went to pick up some Ice Melt salt to try to dent the ice river in front of the house before we get more snow and rain. Gregory was in charge of that operation and when we girls left, he was happily strewing it about. Anything that saves motions and simplifies his life makes him feel jolly. Spreading rock salt certainly trumped chipping away inch by inch with a shovel.
Our sewing day consisted of helping to tie comforters with yarn. The girls love yarn and fabrics so much that any operation involving these materials makes them feel good. It is always a bonus when they are allowed to pick through the scrap fabrics and drag home a bag full for their own projects. We have carry-in lunch, camaraderie and cheer while we work together. The bulk of the blankets are shipped by Christian Aid Ministries to folks in need of warmth and care. One of my elderly friends spends a great deal of her spare time cutting up calico scraps and sewing them into cheerful comfort tops. I asked her today how many she has done. Thelma doesn’t keep track of them all, but one year she did 70, and she has been doing this for years! I can only imagine her rewards in heaven someday when Jesus looks at the tally of her labor of love. When she left today, I told her to be careful that she doesn’t fall. “We pray every day,” she said, “that we would be kept from falling physically and spiritually.”
When I got home, I took a quick survey of the pots I had thrown last night. I usually trim and finish them up within 12 hours of throwing them on the wheel, before they get too dry. It’s a variable that takes into consideration how much humidity is in the air, as well as temperature. I have had mugs get too dry to attach handles, and bowls that won’t trim smoothly. Today they were just right, because I had draped them with plastic to slow down the drying. Trimming is the most satisfying of all the processes, aside from unloading a glaze kiln. The piece is placed up-side-down on the wheel, centered, and secured with lumps of clay around the bottom, before being trimmed with a sharp tool to reduce the weight at the bottom of the piece. I have a few mugs in the house that I didn’t trim because they were too dry when I got around to it. I was too attached to them to throw them into the scrap bucket, so I glazed them anyway. Now whenever I use one of them, I feel like I am lifting weights with my tea. It’s astonishing how much even 1/8 inch of clay weighs. I am practicing throwing the bottoms to just the right thickness so I don’t have to trim so much, but I still always clean them up.
I had a goal to learn to make teapots in February. So far I have made two, equally funny in their own different ways. The glazing remains to be done, and we cannot agree. The children say colorful and I say white. At least I now understand the process and am not scared of it anymore. I was told that making a teapot involves most of the basic skills. You throw it in three pieces: first a cylinder, pulling it in at the top, bellying it out in the middle, and making a gallery for the lid. Then you throw a bud vase to cut off diagonally for the spout. The third piece is a lid, and there are a lot of varieties, as I found when I asked Youtube. The main thing to worry about is that it fits the teapot’s gallery. I never used a calipers before in my life, but I appropriated one out of my husband’s antique tool chest and now it is mine. Once the three pieces are leather hard, they are assembled very carefully so as not to warp the still pliable clay. A handle is attached, taken off, reattached, pulled out at the bottom, no, that looks funny, scrapped, a new one attached, looped up so that it matches somewhat the shape of the spout, still not totally pleasing, but hey, it’s a handle!
I have a continuing love/hate relationship with handles, as you might be able to tell. The more I listen to experienced potters, the more I realize this is a common affliction. There is a thing called “handle envy” where another potter’s proficiency strikes you with admiration and smites you with jealousy all at once. One person admitted to making only handleless pieces for four years! If you see me stroking a mug handle thoughtfully, it is just my little weirdness, but I am okay otherwise.
There is a sort of handle that is pure fun: the knob. I want to show you the little knobs Gregory sculpted for me to use on canisters and a new honeypot. They are still raw, and will be much more charming when glazed, but they please me. The bee will get tiny wire antennae epoxied in after the firing.
After I had the pieces finished up and shelved for drying, I brought my headache into the house and nursed it with a nap. The children were wanting to skate with friends, so they had to complete their chores first. I slept through any problems they might have had while doing their duties and awoke with a clear head when the Fishers showed up to play hockey.
We ladies opted for tea and a visit in the living room, chatting about stimulating things such as how to hone the skill of me admiring your clean windows while you admire my organized refrigerator, which is an allegory about women and life if you want to know. I don’t know why we get so threatened by each other’s strengths in this life, nor why we feel that we must excel in all points in order to be a worthy person, but by the time we hit 40 we know one thing for sure: We are never going to do it all just right. It’s hard to explain the grace of life that floods in with this realization, but it is the best thing about being -ahem- middle-aged. In the middle of all this manual labor that is life is the settled knowledge that nothing is going to count for anything unless the Grace of God fills in the cracks. And it does! This is why we don’t grow weary in well-doing. It is all going to matter someday, but we don’t get to quit.
We also discussed how to listen to our friends and care about them even when they talk about things like pottery all the time and we aren’t that interested, to be honest. Again, an allegory. Michelle and I have a friendship that spans 20 years. It is good to have friends like this!
When it got dark, the children abandoned the skating and opted for sliding down hills on the ice. It is quite simple if you can make it to the top of the hill. All you do is sit down and off you go! The girls have turned it into a mountain rescue play, where one pretends to be clinging onto a divot of ice for dear life while the others snake a rope downhill to fish them up to the top again.
Our supper was a healthful kind of chicken hotdog with no nitrates added, etc. etc. Also mac and cheese made with spiral noodles involving spinach and tomato and Queso de Blanco. Practically health food! I hope you enjoy my Tuesday menus, because I share them with no pride whatsoever, and only out of honesty. Dessert was orange slices.
We finished the Bushbaby story tonight. It was a satisfying ending, with all turning out well. The author’s note at the end stated that there was a real little girl named Jackie who loved a bushbaby as her pet while her family lived in Kenya. It is always more interesting when a person can write with the authority of knowing a place well.
After the girls went to bed, I washed up the last of the dishes, warmed up some leftover coffee, and here I am, just waiting for my husband to get home any minute.
Just another Tuesday! We’re primed for more snow and ice tomorrow and we have donuts in the forecast as well.
How was your day?