It's A Dirty Wife… I Mean, Life…

A glimpse into the life of a potter's family

Archive for the tag “pottery”

It’s My Job.

Family Campout

“Home Maker.” I was introduced to the term this past weekend at Texas Clay Festival. I can’t get it out of my head. Our pottery neighbor was asked what he did for a living and his response was, “I’m a home maker. I take care of my kids. I do the grocery shopping, the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning.” Maybe it’s a simple thing, but I loved how he said that rather than, “Oh, I’m a stay at home dad,” which is my typical response (“I’m a stay at home mom”). Don’t get me wrong – I love staying at home and being with my kids and this isn’t about other people’s “What did you do all day” comments – but something resonated in me with that term and the idea behind it. I am a home maker. This is my home. This is my job.

Christopher works two jobs. He wakes up early, teaches high school kids about clay all day long, comes home and after dinner and putting Levi to bed, he’s out working in the studio for another few hours. He’s an incredibly hard worker and I think it’s about time I jumped on the same boat. This is my home. This is my job.

I like to romanticize a lot of things. Right now, one of those things is homesteading. I have this beautiful image in my mind’s eye of the family all working together at home, working the land, growing food and taking care of animals. Everyone working as one cohesive unit. Dad doesn’t go off to work somewhere else. He’s there, working alongside the family and helping raise the kids. I love that image. But I don’t think it’s realistic. Not homesteading – I still love the idea of homesteading and it’s a goal that drives and motivates me – but my image of homesteading as if we’d somehow spend all our time together and it would be so much better than what we have now. It’s romanticized and unrealistic. Chris has one job outside the house and one job from the house and you know what? Both are equally challenging in their own way.

It’s easy to play the “grass is greener” game, but really, do we work less cohesively as a family unit because he works outside the home? I’d normally answer, “yes” to that, but I’m beginning to change my viewpoint. Maybe what we need in order to be a good family unit has nothing to do with where he works. Do I wish he was at home more? Sure. But rather than sit around and hope and pray he gets to work from home, why not accept that right now that’s not in the cards and work on enjoying what we do have. And, for me, instead of focusing on his job, and how he can’t help around the house because he’s so busy, why not just stop. Stop and breathe. Take the focus off of what he can or can’t help me do and shoulder a little bit of weight on my own. Perfection is not the goal. It’s okay if things aren’t spotless or if we eat leftovers for a few days. It’s a mental shift. Housework is no longer an expectation put on me by others, it’s my job that I’ve hired myself for and I take pride in. Whether I’m living in suburbia or on a homestead, my home is where I’ve chosen to be. This is mine. This is my home. This is my job.

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Where Does the Time Go?

So, we have two calendars in our kitchen.  One is for day to day activities – dinner plans, checkups for Levi, that sort of thing.  The other is primarily used for pottery – glazing and firing schedules, show deadlines, travel dates, etc.  As Chris is getting accustomed to at-home-studio production, we’ve found it helpful to plan out on paper his schedule.  Not only does it help keep Chris on track, it helps keep me sane on the days/weeks that he is super swamped because I know it won’t be like this forever – it’s just a deadline that needs to be met.

Usually, he plans backwards.  He takes the date things need to be finished by and plans backwards from there, giving himself plenty of leeway in between so that he’s not rushed when it comes time to glaze and fire the pots.  The plan looks so nice at the beginning, but inevitably the plans always get pushed back by one day here, another day there, so that he’s cramming to the last day for firings, hardly giving himself enough time to clean, price, and pack the pots.  The relaxing time we’ve envisioned of sitting in the living room pricing and packing pots over a pint of beer has yet to come to pass and instead, we stuck wondering – where did the time go?

It’s a question that gets asked all too often.  Why, even when we use our best efforts to plan, do we still find ourselves rushed at the end?  Why do “other things” always seem to come up and how to we deal with them?

Well, this time, since I was a major part of the problem, I feel like I actually have a decent answer.  I thought about it a great deal about this weekend, and while I didn’t get a chance to post until tonight, here’s what I came up with:

Chris turned 30 this year and, being the oh-so-thoughtful wife that I am, I brilliantly planned several surprises for him.  Okay, so I was really only halfway thoughtful – I didn’t even consider all the work he had to do – and while he was surprised by each thing I had planned, I can’t really say it was all that brilliant.  The two surprise parties were fun, and to top it off, Chris’ parents came in for the weekend, as well!  I’d been planning most of this since the Christmas break and it made for an excellent weekend!…just not a super productive one.

Chris had a great time, though, and dutifully rescheduled his calendar having a couple of pretty late nights planned.  But then life happens.  Nights he had scheduled for pottery were overtaken by a friend in need of help, or a son who missed his daddy.  As I’m writing this, Chris’ brother and family drove in from Houston and we wouldn’t have traded the time we’ve spent with them this weekend for anything.

Sometimes it’s hard to determine priorities and not to stress about production.  But we  remember that while yes, we work, and yes, there is a time to hunker down and make things and stay busy when you may or may not feel like it, life is more than work, even pottery…

Pottery is a part of our lives, no doubt.  It’s a huge part of our lives that we love.  But it’s a part of our life, not our whole life.  There is a time for pottery, but there is also a time to be a friend, a sibling, a spouse, a parent and if we forget that, if we forget about the people who have impacted our lives and made us who we are, why would we expect to find joy in the future, even if that future is in something we love?

So, as Chris finishes helping his brother make cajons, he still has wadding to make, pots to spray and a kiln to load.  And we’re already a day or two behind schedule.  But there’s not a rushed vibe in the air.  There’s enjoyment.  There’s family.  There’s camaraderie and time spent relishing the beautiful day outside.  There’s laughter and food and drink with family.  There’s life going on.  And we wouldn’t trade any of it for all the production time in the world.

Happy New Year!! (8 Days Late)

So, we’re already a week into the new year, and I’m posting this a few days later than I wanted to, but what with coming back from vacations, dealing with some unexpected banking issues and a sick munchkin, it’s better late than never, I suppose.

Every year has its ups and downs, but overall, I think 2012 was a pretty great year.  A year full of transitions, no doubt, but a great year nonetheless.

This time last year Levi was not even crawling, I was working full-time and Chris was teaching part-time at two local colleges.

Levi bringing in 2012 with his dad

Levi bringing in 2012 with his dad

Levi hanging out with his mom to bring in 2012

Levi hanging out with his mom to bring in 2012

Fast-forward to this year: Levi has surpassed his crawling stage by many months, walks, runs and climbs everything and is starting to talk (“dog” is his first official word).  Chris and I have switched work roles, in a way.  He teaches full-time at a high school and tackles a night class at a local college.  For the last few months of the year I was working part-time, and now I am a full-time stay-at-home-mom.

Levi climbing pumkins and hay stacks at Pumpkin Village

Levi climbing pumkins and hay stacks at Pumpkin Village

Levi runs to his mom in front of Chihuly exhibit

Levi runs to his mom in front of Chihuly exhibit

This time last year we had no electricity to Chris’ studio/shed (kind of a necessity for his electric kiln to function), no real time set aside for Chris to make work at the house and nothing really exciting in the immediate forecast for pottery.  Twelve months later, the studio/shed is fully functional!  Tests have been done, glazes and clay bodies are successful, and we’re ready to make work!  As Levi adapts to more of a scheduled bed-time, Chris is able to have dedicated time in the studio, which is a positive thing because there are some very exciting things forecasted for pottery this year!

There are several upcoming shows where Chris’ work will be displayed (more on that as each show approaches) and I’m especially looking forward to the ones where we can make it to the opening reception – it’s one of the few times I get to dress up in something artsy-dressy and be all girly about what I get to wear :).  The NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) annual convention is in Houston this year, which means we definitely will be attending and eating at the Hobbit Café and Café Brasil.  YUM!!  And is to too early to be excited about the 2nd Annual Pottery Friends Sale?

So, 2013 – here’s to another great year!  I know you’ll have ups and downs, just as the years before you.  But I also know that, just like 2012, your good times and bad will all work together for good.

Does Your Cup Match Your Outfit?

Christopher was selling this past weekend at the Pottery Friends Holiday Sale at the Art Centre of Plano.  The sale consisted of five nationally known Ceramic artists – Annie Chrietzberg, Chris Gray, Susan Kennedy, Niko Wiessenberger and, obviously, Christopher Melia.  For a first year sale, the turnout was fairly good and I’m pretty sure everyone had a good time, too!Pottery Friends Show Card

I love being at sales with Christopher.  I love setting up, arranging his pieces and making sure everything looks just right.  It’s fun meeting fellow appreciators of Ceramics and getting to know the people who might make a new home for some of Chris’ pieces.Pottery Friends Setup

One of my favorite moments from this weekend happened on Saturday evening.  A fellow pottery lover was sipping wine from her newly purchased wine goblet and made the comment, “Well, you have to have a goblet that matches your outfit!”  I must say, I love that attitude!

Now, anyone who knows me can tell you that I am not the trendy one in the bunch.  I can’t tell you what colors should be worn after Labor Day and my shoes never match my purse – I mean, diaper bag.  That being said, I relish the belief that your eating and drinking vessels should be an extension of your personality.  And if that means coinciding with your home décor or your cute new dress, then so be it.

Honestly, I think most people have the concept of this – who, given the option, is going to buy a set of dishes that doesn’t ‘fit’ with their scheme, décor or personal taste?  What I’m getting at, though, is taking it a step or two further.

I love being married to a potter.  Aside from the fact that the potter is my husband and I love my husband, I really do love his profession.  Part of that is because our cabinets are full of various handmade dishes and even if we have a set of something, no two things are identical.  Because we have acquired (and are still actively acquiring) other potter’s work, there is seemingly no end to the choices I have.  Each morning, I get to look around at all the cups and decide which mug I feel like drinking out of that particular day.  I get to choose which plates best go with dinner, what serving dish to take to a pot luck, or, my favorite, what vessel to pour my wine in!

So the next time you go into the kitchen, think twice about which cup you’re grabbing – how does it make you feel to hold it? to look at it? to sip from it?  Does the color and form go with what you’re consuming from it?  Does it match your outfit?  Okay, so I’m kidding about the last question (slightly), but really, if you’ve never given any thought to your eating and drinking vessels, give it a try!  It adds to the experience and gives a unique degree of satisfaction.  And if you don’t see anything in your cabinets that suits your fancy?  Go to a pottery sale!  There’s nothing like unique, well-crafted pottery made with love by those who love what they do.  Happy Drinking!

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