Saturday, August 22, 2015

Making hay

Making hay while the sun shines is of course about taking opportunities when they're offered.  I've been doing quite a bit of that recently as I find out what this phase of my life is shaping up as.  I'll write more about the wider opportunities some other time but today I am taking the phrase literally.

When I got up it seemed a pleasant day but when I looked at my favourite (because most accurate) weather forecast site it looked as if the sunshine in the first part of the day was likely to be the last for about six days and furthermore most days we will be getting rain at least part of the day.  It was a case of deciding on priorities for the short burst of fine weather.

I am currently in that part of my working cycle in the pottery where I am finishing off making pots in one clay before cleaning up the pottery and starting the other.  This means I have boards pleasingly full of dry pots waiting to be fired once I have a good mixture of shapes ready in both clays.   I am finishing off with cereal bowls and plates, which take up masses of space on their boards until they are dry, when they can be stacked, so I'm in danger of not being able to make anything else until I can get some things dry.  That was therefore the first priority of the day and here we see lots of things on the ware trolley already half dry.  As the sun is still shining, I am hopeful that by the time the rain arrives, the bowls will be stackable.

The other thing that has been on my mind is logs.  M always collected wood wherever he saw it and I think I have posted photos of various stacks of wood here previously.  In the last couple of years he said it didn't matter if there was too much because that would mean there was still firewood if he was no longer able to collect and cut it up or if he died I would still have a couple of winters worth of wood and of course now is that time and I do have plenty of wood to be converted to logs for the winter.

Last autum I was much fetched with a chainsaw bench I saw in a local shop which holds the chainsaw in a clamp and saves you having to hold it.  The chainsaw is not very heavy and I am able to use it but there are certainly times when my back would rather not be bending at a low angle while holding a moderately heavy electric implement, so I bought the bench.

Since then there have been other priorities outside.  I've got further with the garden, done massive amounts of clearing in sheds and covered ways and generally managed to while away the fine weather we've had.  But autumn is definitely approaching. so a couple of weeks ago I got out the bench and tried to set it up.  Eventually having summoned the help of an experienced friend we established that it would not work!  The handle of the clamp to hold the saw ended up on the wood before the saw did.  A couple of phone calls to the company who make the benches established that this can be a problem and there is an alternative handle, which eventually arrived midweek this week.  So the other obvious job to start while the sun shone was cutting logs.

Less than half an hour's work.  Most enjoyable and satisfying, though disappointing to find how little wood was in the drying area once I got going.  M was a master of the diagonal.  He loved to chuck things in and didn't care much that if they were diagonal they took up to four times the space they really needed.  I'm not sure I'll actually have enough completely dry wood for the winter.  For this reason I've stopped the sawing and now I've finished lunch, will give the rest of the dry part of the day over to organising the woodshed so all the dry wood is one side, leaving room for whatever else I saw up later to dry for the next few months.  And cross my fingers for a mild winter.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The long view

We're often encouraged to 'seize the day' and 'live in the present' and I'm in favour of both.  Thinking of the phrase reminds me that many years ago I had a commission from a C of E vicar, (not sure why it feels relevant, but somehow the choice seemed surprising at the time) to make a hanging to commemmorate the birth of his granddaughter.  Many of my pieces being fishy in those days he wanted "Carpe Diem" with a carp-like fish (and name and birth dates).  He was clearly proud of the pun and actually I liked it too.  I've probably taken more notice of the sentiment since then.

I think it often doesn't look like this to other people, though, because of my tendency to plan.  I love to plan.  I like having things I know about in advance to savour before they happen and I think I enjoy them all the more.  There is a risk of disappointment, of course, if things don't go to plan, but I am usually either modest in my expectations or perhaps just lucky that plans often do work out for me.

Work plans and goals in particular nearly always do work out.  I think this is because I only set achievable goals, though I admit that sometimes they are only barely achieveable and then take a lot of commitment to achieve.  A friend once described me as "single minded" about my work.  It turns out that working part time doesn't make any difference in this regard: I still feel pretty single minded about what I want to achieve and, if necessary, I still put work first.

My work goals are nearly all taking the long view.  There are reasons for this.  Exhibitions and other events need to be booked well in advance.  I suppose you could ignore this and still make work for them at the last minute, but I don't.  I like to have some idea of the mix of work I want available when the time comes.  The other, main, reason for taking the long view is my pottery work schedule, which I've written about before.  What this means is that since I returned to work in the pottery I have in mind new work for the November exhibition and for Christmas sales, and those are what I am working on now.  Things I made a couple of weeks ago won't be finished until possibly October if they are going to be decorated with lustre.   I am continuing with most of my usual ranges but also branching out and making just a few here and there of new shapes.  You'll have seen the new cake plates and they're on sale now.  The others, though, are under wraps until later in the year.

And in a funny sort of way all this still is seizing the day.  I ask myself what I would most like to be doing today and try to do it.  Most days what I want to do is to work towards a plan or two and that's what makes me happy.