Tag Archives: flowers

throwing, throwing, throwing: my love of pottery keeps growing

I’ve mentioned before that I’m hooked on pottery, but this weekend it reached a fevered pitch as I tried to replicate vases and mugs from my last batch.

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My lovely teacher Lois Hinman (click to see her work!) in Ridgecrest, Calif., always told me that she started selling her pots (decades ago!) because it’s an expensive hobby and she couldn’t take the money from her family. I’m starting to feel that way, too — each firing (including bisque and glaze) is close to $100, not to mention the clay and the glazes. And we don’t have enough cupboard space for all that I’m making!

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So, now I’m thinking about how to sell — where, what that means, coming up with a plan, etc. Of course, I’m also 28 weeks pregnant  (entering that third trimester, yeesh!) and slowing down physically, so that will keep me from doing it anytime soon.

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But, I like the idea of creating a plan and having inventory for when I’m ready to enter a show or put pieces up on Etsy. Maybe I’ll do it sooner than later, but given how tired and achy I’m starting to feel, I doubt much will happen before baby boy no. 3 is at least three months old.

IMG_7025What I love about the process is not only the physical act of throwing and creating useful, beautiful things, but also the challenge — starting a “business” is scary. And entering a show is scary. And I don’t even have a kiln yet. Once I get a kiln (after we move out of our rental) I can start to mix glazes. There is always, always more to learn with this craft. And I have a long way to go to be really good.

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But the bottom line is I love it and that passion isn’t going away.

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If you are a potter or artist with a small business and have any tips or suggestions along the way, I’d be grateful!

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the california desert in full bloom

Since January, it’s rained a handful of times in the desert. I don’t know how many inches, but enough to make the mountains turn green and to feed the wildflowers so they blossom. It’s radiant here. The birds are singing, the owls are hooting, the lizards are basking in the sun, the flowers are open and full. The air is fresh and crisp. And I’m thankful that we’re experiencing this just as we’re getting ready to make some big life transitions.

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an oasis recharges my mom battery

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Last Thursday, I sent A. an email.

“I’m giving my two weeks notice as of today. I think that’s sufficient time for you to find a replacement. Thank you and good day.”

Hitting send made me chuckle with glee and my agitation abated.

I was having a ragged day, where both boys were crying at the same time all day long. My two-year-old refused his nap but was whiny because he was overtired. I was exhausted from being up all night with CP. All I wanted was some rest. I drank three cups of coffee (yes, I’m nursing). By the time A. got home, I handed him the boys and sat on the back patio with a glass of wine and my Edwidge Danticat book and took a few deep breaths.

A. had the next day off, so we drove to LA to have lunch with friends at A.’s alma mater Caltech, see a pediatrician for CP’s umbilical hernia (we had a doctor crush), play in the sand at Venice Beach and eat salmon tacos and plantains with another friend. The day was GLORIOUS.

Then, on Sunday, we drove to Darwin Falls in Death Valley and hiked one mile to a stunning oasis. Ah, that oasis and those wildflowers! The boys slept in the car and were happy and I felt re-set and ready to battle the toddler/baby demanding duo.

And, what can I say, but that both boys are napping as I write this. I am the victor!

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quiet moments and creative inspiration

On Friday after a Mexican dinner out — once C. was asleep in his crib — A. and I migrated to our bright yellow kitchen. A. stood and painted lettering on hand-held signs for our friends’ wedding in Soho in NYC in two weeks. I sat cross-legged on a chair and crocheted a hat for my niece. The table was full of paints and paper and water and yarn and we worked in the quiet, enjoying each others’ company and the warm night breeze through the window screens.

I find I work best in quiet, whether I’m writing or photographing or throwing pots. It’s in the quiet that I can really focus. It’s true for A., too, who never wants me to interrupt him while he’s wood-working.

Here are a few things we’ve made out of our recent quiet — plus a cool sewing project from my MIL. All of these things make me smile.

Purple flowers in our backyard. I love photographing flowers (and I need a better macro lens). On Friday, the after-sunset splash of color — like a painting — surprised me.

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A hat I crocheted a few weeks ago with yarn I bought in L.A. It gives me the urge to throw on a thick wool sweater and go to Nova Scotia and look out at fishing boats while sipping steaming hot cocoa. (I must be ready for a cold-weather vacation.)

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Wedding signs A. made for friends on request — he bought and cut the wood, painted the pieces pink, put on the dark gray border, sanded off spots to make it “shabby chic” and then wrote the script. I can’t wait to see the stunning bride (who’s marrying this guy) holding them. (Also, maybe A. can have a side business?)

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This photo that I took about a month or two ago of C. wearing a robe that his nonna sewed for him. It fits him so perfectly that it makes me consider pulling our sewing machine down off of a shelf in our closet. With zero shopping in our quiet desert town, maybe I should make myself a skirt or two. (Hmmmmm….)

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What has inspired you lately?

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the desert’s hidden beauties

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When A. told me he wanted to move to the desert, I’m pretty sure I laughed in his face.

“Have you seen my skin?” I said, pointing to the Irish white dotted with freckles.

He had spent several years in Pasadena, and had fallen in love with Joshua Tree National Park and this was very, very important to him.

I had just delivered a baby, loved my job and my friends and city-living and really, the desert was a place I never considered. I am drawn to the beach and to the mountains — the desert sounded lonely and inhospitable.

When we visited the first time, last April, I noticed the ravens. In the parking lots, in the streets, hopping around and staring at me with their beady eyes and opening their long beaks and croaking at me. I felt dread, then, and I found the only green swatch of public land in the dusty town and hunched on a park bench to nurse the then 4-month-old C. I called my best friend, exhausted, and pleaded with her to tell me it was going to be OK. And then, on the drive back to LA, I cried.

We’ve been here for five months. And what I’ve noticed about the desert is its hidden beauties. Small white and yellow wildflowers hiding in shrubs (the smallest we’ve ever seen) and hummingbirds zipping by and Joshua trees bending and twisting and blooming and red and green and striped rocks sparkling in the sun.

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Lately, we’ve been going on weekly hikes, sometimes more, and have explored Indian Wells Canyon and Short Canyon.

A. said last weekend, “It amazes me that I lived in LA for so long and never considered coming here for hikes.” Neither have the others, it seems, for we have the trails to ourselves and can enjoy the quiet and catch roadrunners sprinting by and birds swooping overhead and flowers ruffling in the wind.

It surprises me how much life is here, even though we’re less than an hour from one of the hottest places on Earth.

And it amazes me I was so narrow-minded to never consider the desert: It’s no coincidence that writers and artists find their muse in its subtle magic.

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our backyard is a gold mine

About two weeks ago, I wrote about how surprised we were to discover an apricot tree in our backyard. It had started to bloom beautiful pink and white flowers and then we saw a few wrinkly pits from last year. At first we thought it was a plum tree till our neighbor told us otherwise. Now the flowers have given way to gorgeous green pits.

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It was kind of odd that we didn’t know that we had a big fruit tree, but we moved here in November when the trees were hibernating for the cold winter nights. I was giddy when we made the discovery. (Hey, I’ve lived in big cities the past 15 years — this country living is new to me.)

And then we made another discovery last week. My mother-in-law was taking a tour of the backyard. And she said, “Look at this! I think it’s a peach tree.” (It’s a small tree, behind the apricot tree.) It has long leaves and fuzzy pits that perfectly match pictures of budding peach trees.

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She also pointed out a lilac bush in full bloom and three grape plants wrapped around wire trellises.

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There are two other as-yet unidentified trees with pits growing on them. Based on the leaves shooting out the end of the branches, our best guess is one is a fig tree. (I spent about a half hour on a website comparing photos of the leaves.)

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Pomegranates! Apricots! Peaches! Grapes! Figs!

I feel like I stepped into a gold mine. Really.  I’m so freaking giddy that we have all of this fruit right in our backyard and our landlord pays for the gardening. I’m already starting to think about creative ways to use them. Desserts, dried fruit, smoothies … what else?

In my pure happiness, I told my MIL: “I’m never going to want to leave.”

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a plum (or apricot?) tree

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On Saturday afternoon, I was enjoying the quiet on our patio while C. napped — reading “Bringing Up Bébé,” drinking espresso, legs reclined — when I noticed flowers blooming on one of five trees in our backyard. Curious, I got up to inspect further. And I saw a piece of old (rotting) fruit. A fig tree! I thought, excited. (I knew we had two pomegranate trees, but those don’t bloom till the fall.)

I plucked the fruit off the tree and waited till A. got home to show him.

“You have to see this,” I said.

He looked, and said, “A date tree?”

We looked at each other.

“Wait, I think dates grow on palm trees,” A. said.

(We’re clearly not well-versed in our fruit trees.)

A. snapped his fingers and pointed at me: “A plum tree!”

“You think?” I said. “I’ll go look up the flower.”

I did a Google image search, and the plum tree flower looked closest to the flower we had.

When I returned, our neighbor, who was working in his backyard filled with old canoes and a tipped-over wheel barrow, peeked his head over the wood picket fence. Just like the neighbor on Home Improvement, I could only see his mustache and thick round glasses.

“That’s an apricot tree,” he said. “That tree bears a lot of fruit.”

I guess he would know since he’s lived next door for more than 20 years. A. still thinks it’s a plum tree. (Do any readers out there know?) I guess we’ll find out when the fruit appears this spring. Regardless of plums or apricots, I’m excited to discover another tree that C. can help us pick.

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5 things that make me happy

When I was a teenager, I watched an episode of Oprah and she suggested writing down things that make you feel good about yourself. Since I was navigating boys — and I cared about taming my frizzy hair and how my butt looked in my  jeans and what everyone thought of me — I took this to heart. I started self-esteem lists — all of the qualities I loved about myself. I even listed how many boys I had kissed (I actually think I did this one in my 20s, since I didn’t have my first kiss till I was 16 and I had a boyfriend my entire senior year.) It worked, these lists. They gave me a spring in my step.

Through my 20s and early 30s,  I dated and broke up and dated and broke up and thought, dramatically, “When am I ever going to meet the person for me?” I dealt with my frustration by chanting positive self talk during yoga. “You are pretty,” or, “You are strong.”

Since I moved to Ridgecrest, I have met several people who say things like, “You came from D.C.? Most people leave here to go there,” or, “It’s not so bad here,” or, “The summers are terrible.” Last week, I struck up small talk with a Sri Lankan woman at the playground whose first words were, “I hate it here.” The negativity really gets to me, just as the positive self talk helps. So I’ve decided to befriend people who lift me up — and I’ve met three women so far who are joys to be around.

So today, I decided to share five things that make me happy. So many things make me happy, this is just what comes top of mind.

1. Early morning, just after the sun comes up. The air is crisp, the morning light is soft, it’s serene outside. And earlier this week, I saw these birds taking flight.

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2. The pottery class I started on Tuesday evening. Lois, who’s in her 70s, is a kind, creative woman and her space — an industrial building with high ceilings and adorned with her pottery and paintings — is magic. I love, love working with the clay on the wheel. I was giddy when I came home that night.

3. Fresh-cut flowers on my kitchen table.

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4. C.’s giggles. Right now, we’re playing a game where he digs out a handful of Cheerios from the box and he toddles to a kitchen chair, sets them on top and eats them one at a time. When he’s done, he opens the cupboard, does the sign for “please,” and when I open the box again for him, he pants and giggles with excitement. It’s awesome.

5. Exploring new places. Road trips. Mountains! (This is from a short trip to Lake Isabella last week, where S. and I stopped to take photos and had beers at the Kern River Brewery. Yum.)

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What are some things that make you happy?

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