Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I love my Bicycle

Adults can learn a lot from children and their sense of play. Watch a child walk down the street. They don't they hop skip and smell the roses all at the same time. That is my kind of multi-tasking. Many years ago, I was rushing to the car with Ian's little hand in mine. "Hurry!" I said and his reply was, "But Mom, did you see the birds up there on the line?" I stopped, looked and remembered to appreciate what is around me.
My recumbent bike takes me where I want to go, usually.

Cool bike racks like this were everywhere on the Big Island in Hawaii.

If you can't bring your bike join a friend in a pedicab.

Whitney, TU's ceramic professor, and I ride around Phoenix at the Nceca clay conference.

The most fun way to get anywhere is to ride a bike. I don't understand why people don't ride their bikes to work if they live close enough. And, if they don't live close enough why not?

I like to ride my bike to the grocery and put a giant basket on both my bikes to do so.

What better way to start the day than to get some blood circulating and a giant breath of fresh air?

I have always loved to ride my bike. My Dad also rode his bike to work and was one of the few who did so. Some people give us the "stink eye" and a "get over it" look for using our bikes.

When my son was in elementary school, I would ride over to pick him up, so to speak, on his bicycle. I would circle around playground poles on my bike while I waited for him to get out of school, just having fun. I got a big "stink eye" from another parent who said in a huff, "Just what kind of example are you setting for these kids?" I thought it was a good example, exercise and having fun.

When I was pregnant with my daughter I watched with a longing to ride as a forth grade girl went by on her bike. No riding for the safety of the baby after you are four months pregnant. I have to admit I felt a bit of bike envy.

So this morning a friend invited me to Sunrise Rotary at 6:30 am and you guessed it. I got on my recumbent bicycle and headed for the meeting. (I traded an $800 sculpture to a friend to acquire that bike). She is happy and so am I.
Just in case it was taboo or rained I parked it across the street. And much to my delight he surprised me as he announced that I actually came on my bike and people smiled and approved. Must be my kind of meeting. However, I was once again the only one on a bike.

My son organized bike protests in an attempt to get bike racks on buses. They are on the buses now. Will others use them or ride buses? Does gas have to go back over $4.00 to make it happen? I am not sure his protest helped but his heart was in the right place.

With a crate on bike I sometimes look like a street person, loaded down. I went to a subway for a to go sandwich one day and next to my bike was a street person's loaded down bike. It was a little difficult to project that professional "green" person image and not be assumed to be his spouse. A little soap and water never hurts.

You must be careful commuting much on the two wheels. Cars forget you have a legal right to a lane and I have to watch for those folks swinging those doors out into a lane with no notice, not to mention people who turn in front of you.

Well, I wanted to ride back to work today but now it is raining. That is another story. Gotta lock it on the porch after all.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mother Earth Celebrates Earth Day

Drinking coffee from an earthy mug made by Joe Blair on Earth day and a favorite handwoven coaster made by a potter/weaver from Silverton, Colorado.

Earth day. Earth day and early morning muses.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of being on Karen Keith's wonderful and ever so missed Oklahoma Living TV show. It was a real compliment and fun to be on her show three time using up an hour and a half of my 15 minutes of Andy Warhol fame. And she officially referred to me as Brookside's "Mother Earth" several times reinforcing this idea. A local garden club gave me a certificate as well declaring me Mother Earth. And it was suggested I rename my pottery shop, Mother Earth's Pottery. And that too is a real compliment.I guess I am an earth hugger maybe even more than a tree hugger, damned extremist liberal that I am.
I don't like to "naval gaze" too much but I will declare this "earth gazing" instead and try not to capitalize i's just like my friend Tom has taught me.

The earth. It is not to be taken for granted. My fondest memories of loving the earth and feeling the earth come from my walk across Tennessee. It was a chance to feel every step and every day with senses that are so often ignored or brushed by. Our feet would ache and sting every night for 62 days as my husband and I walked from east to west in the hot summer. He wrote stories about our journey and I photographed it and we sent it back to the Gatlinburg Press once a week.
One night we slept on the Cumberland plateau behind a farmer's house in our tent on the path of the Trail of Tears. The path was still slightly visible and we put our tent and sleeping bags in the middle of if to sleep. It was like I hugged the earth like a bed all night to sleep. Maybe it was my imagination but it was like I could feel the journey with great emotion of the Cherokees as they walked the path. It was like Mother earth was giving me an insight to life. Or was it just dreams?

Camping and sleeping directly on the earth is a very sensuous thing to do, especially if you are young enough at the time and your body does not hurt as the earth pushes on it. Another morning while hiking on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina, John, my husband and then boyfriend, our friend Wayne and I were settling down for a night in a tent on the trail in the fall. The next morning we woke to the surprise of a tent and ground covered with snow. The snow was silent as we slept and woke our senses but freezing moist air hitting the hair in our nose. We could smell the earth.

Moss clings beautifully to rocks and on the trail unlike any greenhouse could ever produce. It makes a thousand shades of moist green along the way on rocks and ground. Mother earth does it best.

When my friend Gini was dying of cancer and I was stuck in Oklahoma unable to see her on a daily basis. I dug a hole in the earth for a pond. It was 100 degrees outside as I dug that hole and I felt the comfort of the cold moist earth thinking she would be cremated and buried soon. I thought maybe it would not be so bad to end up in the earth and if I died digging that hole they could just push me in too. How is that for sharing the pain? Maybe it is not so bad to return to the earth. There was comfort in the earth.

In college, I had a friend Anne Ragan. She took me to one of the strangest and earthy places I have ever had. It was like visiting the old testament. It was on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee to the farm of Roy Gunter. This man literally believed in ashes to ashes and dust to dust and said so. We were there to gather information about folk music. Evidently he knew words to old songs but I was so overwhelmed by his farm I never heard a note. Luckily I had been forewarned about "his place." We pulled down a long drive way only to see lots of animals in all stages of life. We drove around a dead mule in the drive way. There were grown dogs and puppies to greet us. Cats were everywhere. Various carcasses were across the yard. It smelled so much we had to clean our shoes when we got home and not walk on anything we did not want to smell like death and decay. He was also a wood turned and offered to make us each a rolling pin. As he turned the wood I saw on one side on the floor under the lathe, a mama cat and lots of baby kittens and on the other side was a skeleton of another cat. The pin slipped and there was a gouge in the wood. He said he wanted to make me another but I told him I wanted that imperfect one. It symbolized to me the imperfection of life. He was single, needless to say, and his daughter had run away from home. She had been known to hide her clothes along the drive way so as not smell like her home as she got on the school bus. It did not work. She left. It was to say a very earthy experience, nearly surreal.

I am sure there is already some religious name for the way I feel about the beauty of the earth. There is a hym about it but i don't remember the words, just the tune. Maybe facebook will come up with one of its corny quizzes and educate me to what it is called. I really don't care or I would look it up. I just care about the earth and our perception of it.

Think about how it is spinning and we don't even have to hold on. When you lie in the sand on a beach on your belly kind of making a sand angel it would be quite the sight to see from a distance. The earth is spinning and you are spread eagle holding on like a giant ride at the fair.

I touch and feel the earth everyday in my job. I take pieces of the earth and make art and bowls for our food to nourish our bodies. It seems like a miracle that we figured out if we heat the earth high enough it changes to a stone like permanent material. Love that science.

Think about how our food just kind of pops out of the earth. And we learned to slice trees and build houses or make adobe or red brick or stack stones from the earth to make homes. Taste a beet or a potato and taste the earth. Peas taste like spring. Ice tastes like glaciers. Water keeps us alive.

Grounded. What word could better express feeling stable. Remember my friend whose father died and she felt so other worldly, they made her sit in a lawn chair in the yard with her feet in the grass until she could feel real again.

As a child, if you are grounded, you are in big trouble and must halt. Whose idea was that? Maybe the idea is wise and positive when you realize if you know no limits you know no freedom. So, you are "grounded." Now start over and you have another chance to improve your ways.

So I sit with my coffee, with the window open in my dining room, listening to the morning birds who try and tell me what earth day is really about and a how silly we are to put it on a calendar to remember it and own it.

We should have earth day everyday. And now the new day begins. It is spring and it is warm again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spontaneous Earth Day in Tulsa and I will help Global Gardens as well

Spontaneous "Earth Day" idea. Come to my shop tomorrow and for $20 I will help you make a clay pot on the potters wheel, kids or adults. I will donate half the money to the wonderful Global Gardens Project for kids in Tulsa! Call first to find my new location: (918) 697-6364 cell or 747-7574 work! An spontaneous potters? We will sign a card and give half to the kids. Visit their web site.

Want Pottery Class at the Philbrook? Sign up today!

Garden Pots, Planters

Starts: Thursday, April 23, 2009
Ends: Thursday, May 28, 2009
Times: 6:30 pm to 9 pm
$136/member, $170/not-yet member
Artist: Linda Coward
Using high-fire clay, hand-building and throwing techniques, students will create a variety of fun vessels for the garden. All skill levels.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Better Attitude a Jerry Rothman Plate and a Healthy Good Lunch.

A good handmade lunch on a plate designed by Jerry Rothman in the 70's.

It helps when the sun comes out. It is a new week. The day is warm and I had to go weigh in at Weight Watchers. I take a couple sips of black coffee and hope it does not make me weigh .4 more. I got on the scale a few minutes later and had lost 3 pounds. Not bad.

And the good news was my attitude improved. I saw two good friends there and one had lost 60 pounds since August and the other 40 pounds in the same amount of time. That is a whole skinny person. And I know they have the same zest for life, food and cooking I do so...if they can do it I hope I can too. They told me I am in the best group to be in, they like the leader and enjoy the others there as well too. I'll have or "not have" what they are not having. Butter, I guess.

So I decided to come home and make something good and within healthy diet vibes. Not oatmeal!

I sprayed to small corn tortillas with pam and stuck them in the oven at 350 degrees for a few minutes to fake a chip. Then added home cooked pinto beans and 1 oz of low fat mozzerella and 1 Tbs of low fat sour cream. Added a delicious salad to the side and put it on a dinnerware plate designed by the potter Jerry Rothman in the 70's.

When I got married 35 years ago I was told by my Mother in law to go pick out some dinnerware for her friends to buy me. Being a potter in the making I could not make myself by china. It was the 70's you know. So I found the Maderia pattern by Franciscanware and registered it. Later I saw the same dinnerware in my ceramic text book "Ceramics" by Nelson. It varified to me that I might know what I was doing. I was thrilled to see what I chose in my college textbook.

I still have the dinnerware and of course they don't make it anymore and every now and then I see a piece in an an antique store and I buy it. I would rather use my own but I am kind of stuck with it because I have so many pieces and I don't have the nerve to sell it. It is a piece of my history.

I do keep pieces of dinnerware sets I make for other as a reminder of what I have made. Over the years I have given a lot of those pieces to my son and so I have less. Usually we reach for the handmade bowls first. And we have a coffee cup collection from everywhere and we can tell what mood we are in by what cup we reach for.

I remember when my son was in junior high and went to a friends house. He came home with a look of dismay. "Their dishes, Mom. They are so boring. They are all the same and match. How can they stand it? Where was the handmade stuff?" It was his first awareness of the joy of individually crafted dinnerware and not to take it for granted.

There is a joy in making utilitarian things as well as sculpture and you don't have to choose.

And yes, seeing the sun and being warm makes me smile more and think clear thoughts.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tulsa Free Land Fill Day-One Giant Litter Box

It is sad. It is depressing. The notice came in the electric bill. Hooray! !t is free get rid of your crap day at the land fill. Show your license and get rid of stuff for free.
We loaded up our car with yard junk, left behind by a son with his own apartment and not apt to remove any junk until we kick the bucket. Bike wheels, meant to be used to build a bike or sculpture, the remains of an easy-up tent that quickly collapsed in the rain were loaded in our car and hauled with smiles on our faces to the land fill.
Well, it was muddy and overcast. Bulldozers were running the hills like hornets pushing crap under the earth. We did not even want to get out of our car but we had come this far so we made ourselves unload our metal that I felt guilty for not recycling.
We had the only car. Most people approached the edge of the landfill with trucks loaded down with old overstuffed chairs, couches, lamps, toys, old used rubber tubs and even a computer! Computer dumping and who knows what else was pushed underground in a less than desirable way. Pollutants! And, it is hard to tell what else should not have been left for the bulldozers. It made me sad.
Tree-hugger me, I think everything that can be, should be recycled. And even I made a desperate attempt to clean my yard into the dump with metal that should have been reclaimed. I just wanted to clean my yard fast. And really, it still does not look very good. There is more stuff.

In Hawaii, I loved to go to the dump. There was a container for common trash called "rubbish", and a few for things to be recycled. And even more fun, the little make-shift shack where people gave things to be resold that someone else might want. How fun. I still have a little orange danish style pan I use all the time from that treasure chest. It just showed so much respect for the land. I suppose if you have less land and it is prime real estate, that makes a consciousness happen. It is mostly about money and land.

So here we are on the prairie, so to speak, and look what happens. I must add that only the weekend before we took hazardous stuff to the Hazmat sight at the fairgrounds also sponsored by the Met.

Traditionally, when a Native American took clay from the earth to make pottery, they would bury a piece of cornbread to say thank you to mother earth. It is going to take one hell of a big piece of cornbread to make up for this deal.

Oatmeal-Eat it or Stuff it in Cracks but serve it in a beautiful pottery bowl.

Have you ever eaten blue oatmeal from blueberries? The walnuts "saved" the flavor and added a better texture. It is just oats, whole grain oats. It is served in a gorgeous bowl from a wood firing workshop in Tennesee, made by MacKenzie Smith.

This is the pottery bowl I made about 24 years ago. When I tell friends and customers how nicely pottery can age, this is the bowl I am describing. It has been used for years and ages only with little chips on the rim. I love it and use it a lot. It is the perfect size.

Horses like oats. Horses are strong. I am not crazy about horses or oats.
Oatmeal is a healthy food so I make myself try and like it in a healthy way. I did not add more sugar only Stevia and and blueberries and 1/2 a container of yogurt and 1/4 c. toasted walnuts for some texture. The nuts helped it not to resemble papier mache paste.
I cannot tolerate instant or quick oats and unlike the promises it only satisfies me for a short morning. I know how to make it good. Add real maple syrup. Or maybe add a cup of strawberries. Cream and butter would "beef it up." No.

So here it is. Look at it. It is served in a lovely thrown bowl from a workshop at Arrowmont with MacKinzie Smith. The bowl is lovely. The spoon is fine quality and smooth to the lips as well. And then well, there are the oats. Without adding significant calories and "points" it is just horse food and I'm no horse. Oats should be used to stuff cracks in houses and keep levies from cracking. Oops. They also lower cholesterol. I will eat them anyway and try not to neigh or shake my neck.

The soup? Much better but not very photogenic. Lots of healthy veggies and a touch of Canadian bacon. Cabbage, carrots, red peppers, onions, V-8 juice, herbs and spices. And a touch of low fat mozzarella cheese. Beats oatmeal and much more filling.

I think I can. I think I can.

Food is nourishment for our bodies, not an orgy of flavors and fat.

What About that Diet or as they say "lifestyle" change. I Surrender and Join Weight Watchers for the 5th time.

Study showed new miracle food is beans. Add a half cup to anything you can except pie. High in protein and fiber. Maybe spend more time alone.

A diet is a diet and called by any other name does not smell as sweet. "No more cream for you, big girl." Rats.
OK. Reality struck and I realize the pounds, holding hands, one by one, have reappeared. OK. I have almost reached that maximum set point again. Rats.
I looked in the full length mirror in Phoenix (there is not one available at home) and oops. There it is again. So much more to love.
All my friends are either on or have done weight watchers. Here we go again. This is about the 5th time. Yes, I know it is one of the healthiest ways to lose. But I don't go down easily, in attitude or pounds. Reality check.
In my fantasies I see being fork lifted out of the hospital bed. Or having a bulldozer plow into the side of the hospital so they can get me in there in the first place.
It was great to be in Costa Rica where it did not seem to matter. We cooked, we ate and nothing seemed to cling to the stomach though I feared it would.

Damn. I love to cook and I savor wonderful flavors. Why else would a pottery blog be half about great food.

No one knows more about diets than heavy people.

I looked in my grocery cart and was thoroughly disgusted. Weight Watcher meals to grab for lunch. Weight Watcher junk food to fill that sweet tooth, egg beaters for low fat protein, Blag. Then there was good stuff too. Carrots, cabbage, peppers, onions, beans. I joined in a panic and therefore had to get some processed stuff because there was no time to cook real food.

I went to the meeting and they made us "storyboard" an exercise goal. I did it like a kid stuck after school in study hall. I wrote the goals and ways to get there. A simple walk 30 minutes 4/5 times a week. No time this week. Too many other goals. It just makes me feel worse about not being able to do it.

Mind, spirit, body. Spirit, mind, body. But never body, mind, spirit. What is wrong with this picture?

I am strong but a little more achy than I used to be. My body has always done what I want it to and by nature is very strong. I don't drink soft drinks, eat much red meat, eat junk foods or have any obvious bad habits except... a love for cooking and a love for good food. I know portion control is an issue. I would eat as much cake as I could stuff in my mouth and wash it down with champagne if I did not know better. There are enough churches in Tulsa to crash a wedding party everyday if you are on a budget.

My latest diet idea. Eat good food but not so much, did not work.
Exercise is an eternal problem although I love to do it. I walked across Tennessee and biked across Oklahoma. I lift a shit load of stuff everyday and I stay active. I bike to work but need to move farther away. Hmmm.

So here is the latest plan. Do weight watchers and complain all I want. This is the last true confession of this type on this blog. I promise to not bore readers with my eternal whining about weight after this. I just hope this helps someone else who feels the same way I do.

1. Don't let people I don't relate to keep me from losing weight. It is just an excuse. Remember that ever so accurate scale is waiting every Monday.

2. Eat as many veggies as I can stand. Don't give up when a slide backwards.

3. Try again to exercise more because I love it.
4. Remember! I don't want diabetes. Weight matters.
5. I don't want to ever have to ask for a seat belt extension on an airplane.
6. I don't want to weigh more than everyone else in the room and more than all my male friends as well.
7. I want to remember my little ankles are doing overtime.
8. I want control over my life to be healthy.
9. Stick with this change as long as possible and don't give up.
10. Remember weight loss is just a part of life, is important and isn't the key to eternal happiness. I am already happy, just pissed about weight and diet change.

So the challenge is to find the most lovely, delicious and healthy foods and post them on this blog and serve them in beautiful pottery bowls and platters etc. I think I can. I think I can.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Place to Exhibit my Sculpture, Water Street Gallery

I am delighted to be exhibiting at Water Street Gallery in Sapulpa. They will be opening officially Thursday, April 24th. Visit their blog for more details.
My most recent Buffalo pots, bird woman and large angel titled "Reflections" plus more, are on exhibit there now.
I will link my blog to theirs as soon as I figure out how to do it. Oh the joys of figuring out computer skills.
Anyway, take a look. I am impressed with their gallery.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quote from New Orleans Psychic

A typical psychic sign on the square in New Orleans. This quote was not predicted by this particular psychic but I bet she had some stories to tell as well.

The truest quote I have heard from a psychic was recently in New Orleans.

"People just want a lot of stuff for free." Yep, that sums it up. It is true in every profession right now. I was just thinking this evening about how true this really is. Everyone wants their palm read for nothing, right? I think the going rate was $20 a hand.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trash to treasure, a pottery critique

Trash truck in Costa Rica. They have a universal smell.

My friend Joe came by the other day and told me a great story about an unusual art critic. The story went sort of like this:

Joe was working on a rectangular window box and asked the janitor cleaning the room what he thought about it.
"Needs a roof." said the man with the broom.

"But it is a planter and if I put a roof on it the plants cannot grow."

"I've seen lots of art like that. I know a lot about art."said the man sweeping.

"Oh yeah," said Joe. "How do you know? Where did you learn about art?"

Janitor, "I used to run a trash truck. And we found lots of stuff like that sitting on the curb. And lots of art like these pieces sitting around you too."

"Really?" said Joe.

"Oh yea, and all I had to do was pick it up and look at it and before long I could tell what was wrong with it and why it was sitting by the curb. Yes I saw a lot of stuff in the garbage , just like this sitting by the curb. Still think it needs a roof."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Linda Coward's New Oklahoma Buffalo Pots Available at Water Street Gallery in Sapulpa

Buffalo #2, available in Sapulpa

These new pots are terra cotta and are from my new "Where you are." series. We moved to Oklahoma because of my husband's research about Native Americans. The buffalo symbolizes time gone by in Oklahoma to me and is a fascinating creature beginning to make a come back.
This will be a creative way for me to interpret how I feel about Oklahoma. My most recent Oklahoma series focused on the Oklahoma wind as I interpreted it in clay masks for the wall.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Some of my Favorite Pots and sculpture from Nceca 2009 and area museums

Just a glimpse at some of the pots I saw. The show was successful with exhibits, gallery participation, visiting with old friends and getting more inspired. The mugs famous and not so famous generally ran around $45-$150. There was a giant mug sale and lots to do in a short time.

"It Looks Like the Pots are Dancing in Front of you."

Sometimes kids just know how to say it. My friend Kristine or "Tine" as the nieces and nephew call her, brought them all to the pottery for a surprise visit. The extended family is from Chicago and they always come to visit when they come during spring vacation.
They were watching me throw mommie pots and putting them on the table for me when I heard Jimmie say, "It looks like the pots are dancing in front of you." Quite an observation. I had them write it on a large sheet of brown paper so we would not forget it.
We had fun and I hope they will come back for another lesson soon.