Sunday, November 29, 2009

Open Day

For the past few years my jeweller friend Hazel has joined me for my open weekends. This year we weren't able to find a whole weekend when we were both free so decided to try a single Sunday. Sunday tends to be the more popular day anyway.

Following on from the tidy table, this photo shows how well it transforms into a display space for Hazel's work.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A place for everything and everything in its place

"A place for everything and everything in its place" is one of those phrases often trotted out in a mocking tone and accompanied by a reminiscence of a pernickity person who drove everyone up the wall. The phrase has become thought of as belonging to people who are, to use the modern idiom, rather retentive. So it was with some hesitation that I decided to go with it as a title and to own up to it. But hey - my name is Jane and I believe that there is a place for everything and everything should be in its place.

This is a photo of the table in my study - empty. It's a delight. This table is genuinely empty, it hasn't just been cleared prior to using it as a dining table. We (well, mostly I) have put away everything that was on it.

I find it difficult to explain my feelings about things like this but over the last few years I have tried because M just doesn't feel the same way. I've heard people say that homes where nothing is left out don't look lived in, but really, honestly, the picture above does not show a home that is not lived in and yet everything has been put away.

Even on my desk, things are looking fairly good at the moment.

I do admit to a pile of magazines on my left and a couple of computer-related objects on the far back right but the latter are waiting for the early part of next week when N is going to come and rescue my desktop computer and the former are waiting to be read. I am gradually working through them and anticipate some chunks of time on soon when I can seriously read more of them. (There are breakfast dishes too but I don't feel any apology is needed as it was breakfast-time when I took the photo.)

When rooms are tidy I feel a sense of wellbeing. My surroundings are important to me and by and large I have gone to some trouble to create an environment I like. If there is clutter then the environment becomes a different one. If I'd wanted a cluttered environment in the first place, I'd have created one. Untidiness didn't feature in my original plan.

I'm not unhappy all the time there is untidiness but eventually, from time to time, muddle builds up to the extent that I do feel oppressed by it. When we have a good clear-up I feel tons better afterwards. When the house has been cleaned as well, I feel even better. You just get a different quality of light reflected of clean surfaces. Things show their true colours when freed of dust.

I should make something clear to those who haven't been in my home. Although I love my house to be clean, it doesn't get such a high priority that clean is a state you often see. I like a clean house but I like so many other things as well and mostly the other things win. But tidy is different.

So here is my lovely tidy (and clean) study. All ready for my Open Day on Sunday. Here is information about the Open Day. If you're within reach, do come.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Computers, don't you just love them?

Well, yes, I do. For me, my computer has always felt like an extension of my head. Come to think of it, I may have a tendency to make physical objects an extension of myself. Houses, for instance. My cottage in Kings Stanley felt like a part of me and I can remember the astonishment among my friends when I said I was selling. It had to be done, though. I had just accepted a proposal of marriage and we weren't going to fit into the cottage that was already full of my stuff. I had to be almost dragged out of the house when it came to leaving. I vowed never to let a house become that way again, but after my first husband died, slowly this house did become an extension of me. It was a long five years of adjustment living with M before it really became "our" house properly with the living-room redecoration project in January this year.

Sorry - computers. Well, I think this extension feeling accounts for why I feel so stressed when things go wrong with my computer. I won't go into detail now about the trials and tribulations I have suffered with my laptop over the last 14 months but to bring the story near to a close, Dell say that they will collect the thing today and 5-7 working days later I will be in receipt of a full refund.

It's been clear from the beginning that it was a Friday computer. The trouble is that every time it was fixed, I started to really love it again and feel secure. Then pow! and I wished I'd never set eyes on it. Last week M took over some of the tech support conversation and at the end asked that a customer services manager should speak to him and one did duly phone him back a couple of days later. The guy was apologetic and agreed with our complaints of the time. I spoke to him then and mentioned that next time I would be seeking a full refund and he offered me one there and then because he could see how much trouble I had had and to try to give me a better impression of Dell. It worked. So far. Let's see if his promises are kept. So far so good, in that he has responded promptly to my emails.

So yesterday I set about removing myself from the laptop. Removing "My Documents" and therefore the photo that I have as wallpaper was a good start in de-personalising the thing and having also now removed all my software and any traces of me that I can think of, I do feel that I am not 'over there' on the table any more. I now live back in my desktop.

This is itself a slightly precarious existence in that the desktop's capacity is now much too small for my stuff. I await the arrival of a bigger hard drive which I hope will be installed next week. In the mean time some of my stuff is here but some is on an external drive, all wrapped up in a complete disc copy-type backup (I expect there's a proper name for this which I've forgotten) which occasionally throws a slight wobbly when I try to get files out. I'm trying to follow the principle that everything is in two places, so doing manual copying of any folders I worked on the previous day each morning.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blow, blow thou winter wind

We're ready for the cold weather now, at least as far as logs go. The new woodshed now contains logs rather than lengths of wood. These logs are from the wood that M brought back from dog walks in the spring and as such are really quite an impressive haul. It wouldn't last the whole winter if we had a fire every day but it hasn't been cold enough to have one at all yet so if we are careful the logs may last out.

My rib injury is healing slowly to the extent that I can now imagine returning to work properly in a couple of weeks' time. In preparation for that I have ordered my new wheel, which I have been waiting to order for a couple of years. When I tried making pots a couple of weeks ago, the horrible noise of the wheel was the one down-side to the experience at the time. I had got used to it but having the last seven months away from the noise has made it more noticeable now. I always listen to something while I'm working, either music or spoken word (radio or audio books) and have been really enjoying the clarity of listening through wireless headphones from the computer. I can't wear headphones while potting and the portable radio/CD player struggles to drown out the noise of the wheel, making listening almost impossible with some quiet things. The new wheel is called a Shimpo Whisper! I hope it does.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Lovely workshop students. Miserable autumn weather.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Market wet and windy. Home now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting a life - 3 (or, be careful what you wish for)

Anyone kind enough to read these ramblings regularly will have noticed it's been a while since I've written anything here. I've been unsure what to write. I hope I can be read clearly in these ramblings and friends have told me that this is so - I am easily recognisable in my writing. On the other hand, it's not a dumping ground for all my inner stuff and as I've been feeling more down than up I've been uncertain about how to approach this within the blog.

I've certainly wanted to write. This blog is among a selection of pages that open almost automatically every day and every day this week I've seen the same entry staring back at me and wanted to post something different. The things that have been uppermost in my mind, though, have been mostly negative and didn't want to just pour out a lot of structureless stuff that would make people more gloomy than the November weather is probably already doing. A bit of an impasse, then. I suppose I was looking for a coherent approach. I tend to know how I'm going to write what I want to write about once I have a title.

Eventually it dawned on me that once again it's been about getting a life. Having said earlier that getting a life meant a life that wasn't just work, I didn't spend much more time thinking about the essential place of work in that life. So here I am, having wished for more time to do things that aren't work, and I've got my wish. I don't much like it!

My rib injury had been mending really well and there was only one way to find out whether I could make pots yet, which was to try. On Friday evening I made three jugs. Not much, but it was a start and I felt completely fine both doing it and afterwards. On Saturday I thought perhaps I was slightly more tender than on other mornings but as usual that wore off and in the afternoon I made 9 jugs. Towards the end of this things did start to hurt and the next day I felt I had been set back at least a week. I suppose I'll go and put handles on the jugs I've made when they're ready, but to be honest I don't have much enthusiasm.

It felt so right making pots. I felt as if I was back where I belonged. Now, though, it's like being shut out of where I belong. I've been somewhat rootless and unable to focus on alternatives.

I do have alternatives. I can think ahead and make the Christmas presents I am planning now rather than later. There are various domestic chores I could try to catch up with. I could find some leisure activity that doesn't involve rib muscles (no swimming or gardening, then.) I've just been unable to focus until now.

What I have done is to take whatever steps are possible to distribute the stock I have in the places where I am most likely to sell it. Because of the lead time to filling a kiln for firing, it now looks probable that I won't be able to produce any more pots in time for Christmas sales. Aside from the feeling of loss at not being able to work with the clay, this could be a big problem but I hope I've minimised it.

I've made an appointment with my own GP in the hope of getting some kind of meaningful prognosis. Both A&E and the GP I saw previously said that of course I could work and make pots. Nobody actually examined me to find out what I had done, it has to be said. It's clear now that I shouldn't be working. What's not clear is when I will be able to do so.

Having taken these steps I do feel a little better about life. At least I've been a bit proactive about something.

And then, there are still lots of good things, some of which I did wish for. I wished for raspberries in the garden and the autumn raspberry plants we were given in the spring have fulfilled the wish in bowlsful. This is today's harvest. It's the tenth of November. I've just picked raspberries. That has to be good, doesn't it?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting out there

It was great yesterday to get back into a craft shop setting. In recent years I'd been unable to work in The Made In Stroud Shop because the counter/chair arrangement was just not comfortable for my back and I ended up having to take the following day off work as well. Instead, while the shop was still a co-op, I did accounts and other admin tasks as my share of the work. At By Local there isn't that option but in any case the area behind the counter is much larger and there are ordinary chairs to support my back so I was pretty confident that all would be well for my two days a fortnight.

It was a busy day for people putting up new work and moving round existing displays, though a quiet one for customers. I got back into the swing of using a till (phew! it's a surprisingly intimidating experience!) but wasn't able to help with the shifting round because of my rib injury. Rosie had her laptop with her, though, and leapt at my offer of help with text-based stuff so I worked on the invitations for a private viewing and started on a press release. By chance I had already taken some nice pics of the shop first thing so when she mentioned the need for some new ones, everything fell into place rather. I so enjoyed working as part of a team again, which has been one of the down-sides of not being part of a co-op any more. It's always enjoyable to be in contact with customers, too, but without the inconveniences of the weather that you get at the Farmers Market. It was good to have time to take some photos both of my work and the shop as a whole.

I also now have work at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum. This is on a more permanent basis (By Local only being open till 31st December) and I'm hoping will prove a good outlet in particular for my cards. Yesterday I delivered a batch of new photo cards to By Local. Most of these were photos taken during the summer in France and it will be interesting to see how they go. Photographic cards have always been the minority item but as mentioned before, I'd like to make more of my photography if I can.

The Laurel Tree at Bourton-on-the-Water still stocks my blue spotty range and colanders, serving bowls and utensil jars in plain blue. I'm pleased to have work there and to see it still selling in a shop which has lots of commercially produced ceramics which are necessarily cheaper.