Sunday, May 31, 2009

Doing too much, not too little, Meanwhile

Well rats. First I write about doing to little and then I am doing so much I don't have time to write. Cannot blame my family, everyone is out of town except Ian and I don't see him a lot.

Planting a garden, finishing special orders, going to "art" meetings, rearranging the titanic.

Why do I have to go away to think and write?

I watch Home and Garden a little between house cleaning and see these 24 year old sex bombs saying how easy it is to press and stick new flooring in the kitchen if you start from the middle and I go to my kitchen look down and say, "Damn, what about those weirdly shaped outside edges?" And she announces that any light fixture over 8 years old is out of date. Hey! Those are my new ones!
They talk about making the house marketable and I realize I have probably made every mistake. They smile, giggle and swing a hammer and poof! The job is complete for only pennies or maybe a few thousand dollars. Meanwhile the home owner is shown with a look of "Oh now I see and I feel so guilty."
I thought you were allowed to surround yourself with a lot of junk because it is your own space and you have some rights of some sort. And you don't have to move yet anyway.
I found it all depressing as I watched and felt helpless. Then I put on my big girl panties and I do mean big girl panties (that is another story) and decided to tackle one project at a time. Now where is that kitchen counter?

Meanwhile I got on my bike and watered the new garden at the shop I planted yesterday. A friend left me a gift. He left me 4 sections of picket fence to put up to re-enclose my garden. If I did not have an arm problem that could be fun. But, I think I can dig a hole anyway and support that fence and then beg some of my male friends to help me give it a little more support.

Meanwhile I should be cleaning the garage or my son's empty room. I have a front porch full of display pedestals. I spent 30 minutes on my son's room he left in an unGodly mess after moving to his own apartment. Thank goodness he got his own apartment. But what about all the stuff he left behind? It will take hours to find that room. That room will be an organized storage and third bedroom for guests again someday.

Meanwhile to stimulate the brain cells I bicycled a couple of miles to hear Ira Glass talk about story telling and his incredible radio show. He started by turning down the lights and creating the radio effect. It was charming and sensitive and he had an audience waiting for more of his everyday stories. His program on national public radio is "This American Life." Holding a flashlight in my left hand I managed to get home in the dark without hitting any potholes or being hit by a car.

Is this ADD or ADHD or just way to much to do. And did you notice the baby birds in the hole in the wall outside the pottery?

One step at a time. Nothing really matters except sanity. As Anne Lamont said, "Bird by bird."

Multitasking and meanwhiling. Better slow down and get it all done now!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Time to rethink doing nothing

While I was in Costa Rica I had a chance to clear my brain and write more about my philosophy of pottery and life. It is difficult for me to think clearly in my home environment. So, I was looking over my blog and the doing nothing chapter of my book caught my eye again. Here is an exert that made me think.

Zen, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and Satchel Paige keep me in good company. A writer named Jill Badonsky thinks in a similar way and had these significant quotes on her site:

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” — Zen Proverb quotes

“It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” — Gertrude Stein

“Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth comes to the top.” — Virginia Woolf

“By slowing down, taking a break, releasing the process, and diverting our attention, we fill our souls, body and mind with the nutrients for the next step in the creative cycle. Ideas, inspiration, and motivation fulfill the creative cycle’s promise of the return to spring. Aha-phrodite shows up again, you resume your Marge efforts and continue from a place of plentiful readiness. We don’t need to fill every space of silence with stimuli. Silence and stillness can be quite medicinal” —Lull, Jill Badonsky’s Modern Day Muse of Pause, Diversion and Gratitude.

“Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” — Satchel Paige

So if it feels so good to do nothing how come we don’t feel good and productive when we do nothing? It is a cultural thing and sometimes we need to get over it.

There have been a lot of changes and interruptions in life in the last few weeks. I am still dealing with trying to not work so hard and remaining so ambitious. I still think I need to make everything for everybody. And, I still think I need to lighten up at the same time. Maybe it is possible to do both but it is so difficult. And, sometimes I just spin like a colorful top on a newly waxed floor going everywhere and going nowhere.

I interviewed for an art teaching job and was very excited about teaching at an alternative wonderful school half way in the country. I loved the environment and would most likely have taken the job if they had offered it to me. I think it was close and I was not offered the job. They gave it to a wonderful friend and student of mine and she will do a great job. She had more elementary experience than I did. Too bad we could not do the job together. But without taking the job or being offered the job, I still have freedom and I remain a potter/sculpture and that is not bad. If I had that job or another teaching job I would have one more reason for not trying to succeed in my own work. Life has been a willing sacrifice, raising my wonderful kids and raising a needy community. Now, my responsibilities should be less and I should be able to think, grow and produce more. Quality. That is what I want.

To get quality, we have to focus and I think I need a bit of quiet before the artistic storm. My life is usually not very quiet and I need it to calm. There are so many directions to head. And one crazy disadvantage of years of experience is you can do so many things in so many directions.

Dreams can come to the top in the calm.
Sometimes I need to sits and thinks too.
And yes, that grass will grow and spring comes whether I control it or not. Time passes.

You don't have to be a functional potter or only a sculptor, the question I have asked and answered a million times.

Or as we used to say at Feats of Clay in Austin "hazard yet forward" put that arm out and get going.

or maybe just shh.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back to Pottery Thoughts

Plates. I do believe this could be a good week for making plates and bowls. My daughter needs plates for her new apartment, my Mother needs plates and I need to check on plates for a coffee shop in Broken Arrow called Stonewood. I made their mugs and plates and I heard they are running low.
And sculpture and special orders need to be completed.
I also will make several sculptures during the next few weeks. Janet Duval and I are collaborating on a fun idea. I am making a pot and she will include it in a painting and we will show this in her friends furniture store along with several more pieces. She does wonderful colored pencil drawings and paintings. Our styles are similar and we have fun together so it should be interesting to see how it turns out. I will try and photograph this as it happens and post it on this blog.
And if that is not enough ideas to be working on I will also be making sculpture and bird-women for a Route 66 show and gallery in Sapulpa. I also plan to post those photos as they are being created.
Guess that makes for a busy week. I feel so lucky to stay inspired, too wake up thinking of new ideas everyday even after 35 years of creating. Guess I better get dressed and head out for a new day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More Clues about Diets and Overeating

As you can tell if you read my blog regularly I am about obsessed with food and cooking as much as about making pottery. And sometimes I think pottery is mostly about making vessels to deliver the food in the most beautiful way. And that is more about sensual pleasure. And of course there is also a lot of sensual pleasure in making sculpture.
Today on NPR I heard the Diane Rehm show as she spoke to a significant soul about why we think about food and eating like we do.

I know losing weight is much more complicated than any of us really understand but this book has research done by someone who knows how and understands the real struggle and that it is also about business and learned habits. This book explains maybe why all those crispy creme donut shops showed up on every corner and why corn syrup is in almost everything. Have you ever tried to go to the grocery and not put any corn syrup in your basket? I have and it is not easy. It is in everything whether it needs it or not.

Hmm. Sugar salt and fat. The most delicious habit forming bad habit and it is not your or my fault. I don't suffer from junk food craving or processed food desire but I cannot resist Italian Cream Cake and if I thought it was my last day on earth would eat a whole one.

I have now ordered the book: "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite"David Kessler MD.

It may be just one more of my many diet books as I try and figure out why I am president of the Clean Plate Club and why I enjoy the anticipation of really good food as I cook. David has also ying-yanged with his weight and has been the head of the FDA and many other positions of authority concerning Americans and weight and food. His theories are believable and probably correct and he has a few suggestions about how to once again gain a little brain control with food.

I will comment on this more later tonight after I teach pottery class. For now gotta go make stuff.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Maybe I'll Just Walk and Ride My Bike All Week

OK. Finally after 4 weeks of counting points I lost 5 little pounds at weight watchers. I guess that is not too bad since my exercise has been limited by crappy weather. I don't know what excuse I will use when it stops raining, storming and threatening to storm all the time.

So another one of those early morning thoughts. How about I don't get in a car until next Monday's weight watcher meetings. When I go to Mexico I lose weight because I walk and don't have a car while I drink beer and eat tacos and mushroom soup. Hmm. Maybe I can "play" little Mexico in my neighborhood all week. I am afraid to promise in case it is really storming tomorrow or I have to go to an interview or something special but so far so good. I need to be a little more active and get some more of these persistent pounds to fear my exercise and jump off.

And, as I said before I love to ride my bike so why not? I am such a perfectionist in a way, I cannot promise I can do this all week. So the deal is, I try it as long as I can without any big conflict. And I will promise it totally on another week.

One good downpour on the way to work and I'm getting in the car.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother Earth makes Whole Earth Coffee Cake for Breakfast

What year is it?
I woke up this morning, Mother's Day, trying to decide how to celebrate. I think about what gift I might select for the day. I learned from some savvy friends how to get what you want for Mother's Day. You buy it for yourself and declare it your gift. Yes, that is a selfish move but it works. I don't buy much so it is a good way to rationalize buying something I have been thinking about. If my Mother were close by I would make her a wonderful lunch. Instead, I gave her a rain check until I see her again.

I have an empty nest, finally. I waited a long time to have my children and I really enjoyed helping raise both of them. And, I am really enjoying the empty nest as well. I do love to see them and enjoy watching them teetering on the edge of our nest as they spread their wings and fly into the world. I want them to feel independent and to explore the world and then come home and tell me about their experiences.

Now that the nest is empty, I find myself regressing back to my early marriage habits of 1972. And, that is not a bad place to be. My house is getting more sparse, a good thing, as I give them things to set up their own households. As my daughter's boyfriend pointed out, his mother has one of everything and we have 2 or 3 of everything from measuring cups to desks. It is lovely to have less.

So I woke this morning with no kids in the house for maybe the first time in 25 years and a husband who refuses to celebrate almost any holiday. It is OK. He brings me coffee in bed and does a lot of laundry and dishes on a regular basis. He says he celebrates the rest of the time. OK, he does. I just like the idea of trying to enjoy holidays and it does not have to be by spending money.

Again, I woke trying to figure out how to handle this Mother's Day. Eating a breakfast in a nice restaurant might be nice. No. Where? Greasy spoons, over-stuffed buffets for a weight watcher? IHOP the pink barbie restaurant with plastic crepes? No. Run out the door? No.

With my head still buried in my pillow I decided to cook, as usual. I found a great recipe for Buttermilk biscuits using oil instead of butter and I could substitute whole wheat pastry flour but I would eat too many biscuits and have a lot left over. I have a lovely old wooden biscuit cutter, hand carved of course, and that would make tiny biscuits. Chances are that would just give me a venue for more butter and honey. No.

Then I remembered my wonderful old 1972 Whole Earth Cookbook with a faded photo of a bunch of old hippies, the staff of the Whole Earth Restaurant gathered in the Student Garden Chalet of the University of California, Santa Cruz, California, July 1971. It is so faded now I can hardly see their optimistic hippy faces. And I remembered a great whole earth coffee cake recipe in the book. Perfect. Hippy style coffee cake, all from scratch. Bulgarian yogurt mixed with activa yogurt for the probiotics, strawberries and press pot coffee.

So in celebration of Mother's Day before I was a mother, here is the recipe. Don't make it if you prefer sugar soaked light flour cinnamon rolls or Sara Lee lightweight pastries. This is earth cake and delicious and you cannot eat the whole thing. I changed the original recipe just a little of course to lower fat/cholesterol stuff.

Linda Coward's slightly altered Coffee Cake from the Whole Earth Cookbook
by Sharon Cadwallader and Judi Ohr
1 1/4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (or double sift regular ww flour or wimp out and use all purpose)
1/4 c. wheat germ
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c. honey
1/3 cup healthy oil
2/3 cup skim milk
grated rind of 1/2 or more orange
1/2 c orange juice
1/4 c. egg beater
1 c. craisins
3/4 c. nuts, walnuts pecans or almonds

1+ tsp of cinnamon
2 tsp butter
2 tsp natural sugar

Mix together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt.
Mix together the rest of the ingredients except the last 3 items
and add to the flour mixture.
Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 inch cake pan
Mix cinnamon butter and sugar and sprinkle on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Happy Mother's Day. Takes a while to whip this out but it tastes like good hippy food. I will have to look on Amazona and see if they still print this cookbook, one of the first I bought after I got married and 11 years before we started a family.

UPDATE: You can still find this book for about $5 on amazon. I just checked. If you want it, the second part of the title is Access to Natural Cooking published in 1972.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Being married to a man who forgets nothing and notices everything, he realized this cookbook came from a college in Santa Cruz and a special program that supports the restaurant this is based on. You can google it and find out what a terrific area it comes from and how many years the restaurant stayed in business and all the alternative info that goes with it. The restaurant just closed a few years ago and I think was run by students. I probably should live there and how unusual it would be to be thought of as one of the more conservative people. That would make my friends laugh. Maybe Santa Cruz is where I really belong. There is a great pottery there I discoved on a trip to CA a few years ago going down Hwy #1.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Staying motivated to Diet

No one knows more about dieting than those of us who live on diets most of the time. It is not how to diet it is just staying on it forever. Lord knows I try, mostly.

I love to cook. After my terrific experiences in Costa Rica and watching Tom and Susan cook with calphalon I found myself lusting after new cookware. I planned to buy it one piece at a time on sale for the next 100 years. I lucked out and got 40% off a brand new set. I love it. It makes a difference and it is incredibly high quality. It really is fine non-stick and I use almost no olive oil.
After Costa Rica I have new knives and new cookware.

Now about that diet or as they love to say, "life style" change. Well. And of course, the exercise. Well.

I am really trying to make delicious and healthy food and not eat too much of it. The cookware helps. And chopping everything helps. A little more inner strength would also help. I hate keeping a journal of every bite I eat but it does make me accountable. It is just so boring and tedious.

I looked at my plate tonight and it was lovely. A delicious fresh spinach salad from a friends garden along with freshly toasted pine nuts, strawberries, fat free feta, assorted lettuces, red and orange peppers. A small bit of high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
I made wild rice and skipped it. And a lightly sauteed talapia fish and a very little butter and lime sauce sprinkled on top with fresh parsley. For dessert because of my never ending sweet tooth, baked banana with dot of butter, cinnamon and lime juice. Tell me why I am complaining. It was a lovely meal.

If I can make really good fresh food, I can enjoy the diet, mostly.

It just should be easier.

And there are no secrets. Just diet and exercise. Rats.

Monday, May 4, 2009


All my friends wear rose colored glasses and smile.

What? In my body maintenance class today they quoted someone (like who, I want to know) from a "recent study" saying kids laugh 116 times a day and adults only laugh 4 times a day. Where on earth did they get that info? I did not lose any weight this week and I know I laughed at least 25 times before I left the building. I thought the expression fat and happy was based on something.

Oh well. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

I love Mexico

One of most wonderful places to visit is Mexico and I apologize to the Mexican people. They are friendly and the land is beautiful and the food is better than ours. So why all the prejudice? Who else would get on a really hot roof for a small income to mail home to the family? Who else would bend in a field all day in miles and miles of romaine lettuce so I could have a good salad.
I am so sorry the world is in a panic over the swine flu. I heard about the Mexican man who was arrested in Hong Kong because he left the country, came back and had not even reentered Mexico.

How do you spell prejudice?

It really upsets me because I have enjoyed the hospitality of Mexico many times. No, I don't like the border towns much and I don't do the tourist areas often. I love real Mexico. It always reminds me of going back in time about 50 or more years before our processed foods and homogenized culture took over this country. I could see my Grandmother, child on her hip, standing inside the door looking out. I love the art and the craft. I love the pace and the nap taking in the afternoons. I loved watching the town's people stroll around the square on Friday and Saturday nights like a merry-go-round, arm in arm, walking.
I love walking everywhere and riding buses that were nicer than our airplanes these days.
I love the silver glowing and sparkling in Taxco.
I love the art colony in San Miguel and the way the Americans and the Mexicans share space and culture.
I love Oaxoa and my new friends, the children sitting on my lap and drawing with me in my notebook and I liked buying their folk art toys.

Now what? Treat them like they have the plague? I know we all need to be careful but there must be a way to handle this epidemic with dignity. I don't think we have figured it out.

Mexico, again I am sorry. I know it must be hard to live in this third world country so close to the US with all its wealth and prosperity. I wish there was no dotted line between us and we could help more.
We are all one people, brothers and sisters and I wish life was more fair.

Perfectionism gets in the way of being perfect.

Diets suck. I have been doing weight watchers and this week I gained .2 pounds. I spent way to many hours being hungry for this to be possible. But I was not perfect. I thought maybe I could fool or play the system but it did not work out evidently.

I did the "points tracking" most of the time. Not perfect. Eventually I made the little point book a little to difficult to get to and made a few good homemade foods and I could not figure out the points value. I tried to figure it out on the computer but it did its quirky little no info available thing.

Next? I made some cookies a friend revamped into a very healthy recipe. How could it not help cure my chocolate urge in an ever so healthy way? Well. I did not know how to calculate the points again and could not keep my needy hand out of the plastic container realizing how many oats, egg beaters and whole wheat flour saved them from being unhealthy. Guess again. Portion control. And, once again, imperfect.

Next? In a moment of weakness I found myself pouring over the bulk bins at whole foods looking at calories, fiber and fat and came up with the best of the worst. Dark chocolate covered natural cherries and yogurt covered malted milk balls. Great idea if you could only eat two. Imperfect.

Next? I have a new bread machine and a husband who loves to use it. Having worked all day and eaten a terrible Smart Ones noodle and mushroom dish frozen lunch, I arrived home tired and hungry. There it was. A feast. A delicious whole wheat bread with molasses and walnuts and butter mixed with olive oil and a glass or two of wine. Eat it instead of supper. Imperfect. Ate too much.

So I go to weight watchers hardly able to look at the scales even though I did not use all my points this week. I looked through a squeezed eye and could not tell what the scale said. "What is it?" I asked. You gained .2 pounds. Crap. Imperfect. Could I have peed it out? I took off my shoes. What about my earrings? Cut my hair? Crap, maybe real crap.

So the lesson was about being imperfect and some other stuff on being negative. My dear friend, sitting next to me, having regained her weight, saw the psychological attempt at learning they were using on us today. She whispered to me, "I can use this in class. We are studying this method now."
Sometimes I wish I was dumber. Yes'em, I'll do just what you say. I don't know anything and you are so right. If only I had known sooner I would be thinner.

Attitude ajustment time again. I know I can do this. I deserve to be thin. I want to be healthy and feel fine.

Now I am better prepared for the weak or week depending how you look at it. I made cabbage soup to be mixed with all kinds of stuff to lower points etc. And, I have been adjusting my attitude, again. I heard what they said today about negative thinking and recognize I am a frustrated perfectionist while staying positive, hmm.
I found some delightful little tortilla baking pans to bake the shells for a taco salad and made a great salad for dinner and washed it down with a Frescarita. Life is not so bad and that scale better come down again next week. With a little luck it will stop raining and walking is fun.

Not perfect but trying and that is ok.