Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Profiles In Love




I read somewhere that dogs recognize profiles. The idea behind the study was that if you ever wondered why dogs respond in predictable ways to other dogs with pricked ears or a certain sweep of the tail, slope of a back, or bulk, it’s because they recognize those general dog profiles. That’s how they seem to recognize their own breed. And that’s how they recognize each other – though they’re as likely to take such recognition cues from smell as they are from sight.
 
My dogs have always seemed to prove the rule. My Malamutes have always seemed to recognize the outlines of dogs that appear similar to the dogs they already know. Breeze seems inclined to think, for instance, upon meeting Deacon (the Lab) that he’s okay because he appears much as his friend, Jewel – a very similar looking leggy Lab.

And that’s also why my Malamutes have always seemed particularly alert when they come across other Northern breed dogs – Huskies, Samoyeds, and other Malamutes. When Breeze sees pricked up ears and a tail curled over the back, he immediately seems to suspect “family”. 

And so it was the other day as Dar was walking Breeze in a neighborhood they don’t usually walk, Dar’s attention was caught by some movement off to her left. In the back yard of a nearby house was a Malamute. And not just any Malamute either, but a Malamute with a profile so similar to our dear, departed Ariel’s profile that Dar's breath caught and she stood there frozen. Her heart raced for the split second it took before her brain could remind her heart that there was no hope. It couldn’t (of course) be her beloved Ariel.

And then she looked down beside her. There stood Breeze. Frozen in his tracks. Full recognition in his eyes. And hope. His heart wasn’t getting the message of reason. Such a hopeful optimist, bless him.

They walked on. 

Breeze looked back.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Things Aren't Always What They Seem




See that pie plate over there on the wheel? Yeah, I know. It doesn't look much like a pie plate.

I was throwing jars early this morning with the clay I'd brought back to life with water and my pug mill. It was really lifeless and sloppy while working on the jars. So I figured I'd make pie plates -- where soft and sloppy would actually be to my advantage.

Funny thing, though. This third or fourth time through the pug mill and the magic happened. As I was centering the first pie plate it dawned on me that the clay had come to life. So I made a taller pie plate with a spout and, you know, a place for a handle in back. So you can pour your pie. Or beer.

Whichever.

Riffing



What would happen if potters
Started making guitar player faces?
What if we broke into grimaces
Even though we’re just turning vases?

What if, while wedging four-pounders
We sneered for all that we’re worth
Or mimicked an expression of abject pain
Like a woman enduring child birth?

Oh! Better yet! What if we envisioned
Adoring fans holding out candles
And adopted naughty, lascivious grins
While languidly pulling our handles?

Would our pots reflect our hip attitude
If we looked like we couldn’t care less?
It seems to work for guitar players
Could this be the key to success?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dunkin'




Just over in the corner to the right
If you look real close with a flashlight
And a pile of old clay boxes rests upended
Well, I found just what I need, sayin’
A thousand pounds of stoneware clay an’
Just like that, yeah, I was in business
I was in business

Oh, oh, what a mess
So rock hard, I should have guessed
As box after heavy box I lugged it. Still
I’m watering it down
Pound after pound after too hard pound
Just thanking the Lord for my pugmill
For my pugmill

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Home Sweet, Sweet Home


My pots are getting to go places I wish I could go.  I had to post this one because the photo is just so darn winsome.  A perfect home for my new mugs.  Meet Paul.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Baumonet Mugs


 If you asked me what was my earliest childhood memory, there might be two events vying for first. One would be the birth of my baby brother, Jim. The second would be a visit to my Uncle Irving's home in Upstate New York.

It's not that I remember my Uncle Irving. I really don't. I was probably 4 years old at the time of the visit. And Irving was actually my Dad's uncle -- an old man by then, being the oldest of 3 brothers (Walter -- an WWI invalid, and my grandfather, Elmer, being the other two).

But I have distinct memories of Irving's New York house. More precisely, I remember his basement painting studio. Open rail stair case leading down. Dark to the right. Lighted to the left with easel, workbench, and paints. The smell of linseed oil and turpentine. Oh, the smells. Canvases leaning low against the walls or laying flat on tables. A dirty, clouded glass door at the end of the small room leading out to an unkempt meadow. From the cool of the basement, I could see dragonflies buzzing about on that hot summer day.

I don't know what Irving did for a living. Whatever it was, it never stopped him from painting. He was prolific. Many of his paintings still warm the walls of Bauman family homes. The harbor scene -- dated 1911 -- is on my living room wall.

The romantic me -- which is, admittedly, a too big part of me -- has always been fascinated with painting. Fortunately, pottery took me away from it. But I've dabbled around the edges of expression with a brush and color. And that's what my newest explorations have allowed me. Painted mugs.




Saturday, April 16, 2016

Politics






"Come here."

"I'm already here."

"No, you're not. I want you here."

"Again, I'm already here."

"I mean I want you by my side."

"Well, you didn't say that. You said 'I want you here'. Now you're changing the subject."

"No, I'm not changing the subject. I've said all along that I want you here."

"Exactly."

"Exactly what?"

"Exactly, you said you want me here. And, as I said before, I'm already here. Asked and answered, as they say."

"Well then, I want you there."


"Where?"

"There."


"Okay. I'll go there."


"No, I was complying with your use of language. If you won't come here because you are already here, then I want you there."


"And I complied. I moved there."

"But aren't you here now?"

"Yes."

"Well then, how do I get you here?"

"I think you just did."

"No, I mean here."

"I know."

"Okay, let's try this. You come to where I am."


"I can't."

"Why can't you?"

"the Pauli exclusion principle."

"Huh?"


"Two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Therefore, I cannot be where you are."

"I didn't mean exactly where I am."

"You didn't specify."

"Well, I'm specifying now. Come here."


"I'm already here."

"No, I mean come close to where I am."

"I'm already close to where you are."

"No you're not."


"Yes I am."

"No, you must be at least 20 feet away from me."


"Right. That would be my guess too."

"So you are NOT close to me."

"Yes I am. I'm way closer to you than I am to, say, the sun."

"I suppose that's so. But you are far enough away that you and I are not occupying the same space."


"Right. Pauli exclusion."

"But you're not close to me."


"You mean you're now excluding me from your circle of friends?"

"Huh?"

"You said "you're not close to me".

"Yes?"

"And I always thought we were fairly close. I've even told you some of my innermost feelings. Now you're saying that you're not close to me."

"I didn't mean 'close' that way."


"Then you mean 'close' like 'close the door'?"

"No, that's not even pronounced the same way."


"It's not?"

"No, one has a soft 's' sound and the other has a hard 's' sound."

"So one is harder to say?"

"Huh?"

"You said that one has a hard 's' sound."

"Yes?"

"Hard?"

"No, that doesn't mean it's hard to say. I refers to the sound it makes."


"But aren't you then being deceptive?"

"How so?"

"You said "the sound it makes." "

"Yes?"


"But an 's' doesn't make a sound. Your voice makes the sound, right?"

"Technically I suppose you're right. But I didn't mean to be deceiving. I was just saying that it was the sound an 's' makes when you speak it."

"There you go again."

"Where do I go again?"


"There."

"No, I'm not. I'm here."

Friday, April 15, 2016

Words



I've been thinking some about the idea that when we try to describe something that's really hard to get our minds around, we sometimes settle too quickly on words that come close but just miss.

I'm thinking that's the case with "accident" when applied to creative arts -- particularly pottery. I'm thinking maybe, rather than "accidental", it's "incidental" we're thinking of. After all, we've set about with a goal to add something to the universe of ideas -- the impetus was there. We took the action...

And then something incidental to our practiced manipulations of medium occurred that made the work transcendent. The fire spoke.  The clay added a word or two.

But it wasn't an accident. It was the incidental result of participation in the creative process. And I think it's that interjection that keeps us coming back to creating again and again. We like the "otherness" that happens incidental to our control and intention.

I think we might also misuse of the word "experience" when discussing religion. I think "experience" misses the mark. I don't think true religion is looking for an experience at all. I'm thinking that religion is actually looking for an "encounter".

Words matter.  Sometimes they need fine tuning or I get confused.  Or I don't get what I'm after.  I'll try not to describe a hot dog when what I really want is a bratwurst.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The North Side of a Rolling Stone

Ask any boy scout -- he’ll tell you
Moss grows on the north side of trees
But on this porcelain mug, seems it grew
Three hundred and sixty degrees

And though a rolling stone gathers no moss
This spinning pot grew quite a share
It’s covering the rim, then running across
Voluptuous curves. You can’t help but stare

Lines




“Here, take it”

“What is it?”, I said

“It's a pencil. Take it”

“What do you want me to do with it?”

“Draw on the paper in front of you, there”

“But I don’t draw. I can’t even draw a straight line”

“Then don’t draw a straight line. A straight line represents the narrowest of marking options you could ever choose. A straight line is a straight line. Every other mark is something else. Every other mark is everything else.”

“What if I don’t like what I draw?”

“You won’t be the first one to have drawn something you don’t like. The sun will still come up tomorrow.

But it also doesn’t have to be the last thing or the only thing you draw. If, by some strange circumstance, you draw a thing of stunning beauty your first time out, the same sun will come up over the same horizon each day.

Maybe someone will see your drawing and love it as much as you do. Maybe a million people will see your drawing and love it. But the sun will come up and the sun will go down and after enough times of this rising and setting, everyone who loved your drawing, including you, will forget about the drawing.

You’ll move on. You can start over. One breath doesn’t last a lifetime. One meal doesn’t last a lifetime. There’s more paper. If you don’t like what you did the first time, do something different the second time.

If you don’t like what you did the second time, do something different the third time.

If you don’t like what you did the third time, do something different the fourth time.

Draw close-to-a-straight-line or close-to-a-circle or close-to-a-square or close-to-nothing-at-all-in-particular. Put the pencil lead to the paper and move it. Move it around. Move it about. Don’t lift it up. Shift it. Slide it. Put it on its edge.

Balance your lines on the very finest point of the pencil. Don’t erase. Or erase. Wet your thumb and smudge your not-straight lines and make them not-lines.

Make a not-so-round circle and fill it up with not-so-square boxes. Make symbols and then modify them. Checks, tic-tac-toes, letters. Write non-words with imaginary letters. Stick some light in some shadows and block out some bright spots.

Nobody’s watching. But the world is waiting. Oh, it doesn’t know it is. It doesn’t suppose that way. It’s simply diminished by any lack of a single blade of grass in a meadow or a single leaf in a forest of trees or lack of a pencil drawn across a blank page. It doesn’t hold its breath. But it’s waiting nonetheless.

It’s what we do. It’s how we fill it. Pencils. Paper. Imaginations. Creations."

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Waiting For Superpotter




Conversation between strangers waiting for Chinese carryout.

A: Yes, I'm picking up dinner because things are hectic around the house. My daughter is home for the weekend from Alfred University.

B: You've got a daughter at Alfred? You must be proud.

A: Well, yes, but I'd hate to think of her wasting her life pulling handles off mugs. What do you do for a living?

B. I'm a potter.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Bill Murray Got Nothin' On Me




Eight hundred eighty-eight stripes
From the rims of the bowls they fall
The gravity of the situation
Is exactly the cause of it all

A Just Cause





In another life I must have been a painter
I painted the walls all around town
I’d sneak around and rattle my can
And in the dark I’d have my say
In the night

The words I’d choose, polite society
Would lose, or use the figures
Above the number keys to say
But they burst from my can with a hiss
And a laugh

I never meant to be profound
I never meant to say it all
Just one thought at a time
Just one concept
Only just one

In another life I must have been a potter
I put most everything around to fire
I’d rummage and salvage, dig and scavenge  
And guess what it’d do glued by patience and fire
To river clay

And the shapes I’d choose, polite society
Would use as the forms might figure
Into the rigor of their day to day
As they chased the mundane away
Raised to joy

I never meant to be profound
I never meant to say it all
Just one thought at a time
Just one concept
Only just one




Monday, March 28, 2016

16 Miles On The Erie Canal






I pulled it old right from the kiln.
So hot I could barely hold it 

But it told a tale of ancient places it had been.

Of 16th century years, of tavern beers
Held in rounded shapes, peasants draped in capes
Landscapes of Renaissance paintings. 

Glazed like later years rolled ‘round and Albany brown
Dug straight from the ground the sound
Of barges down the Erie Canal

Low bridge!  Everybody down!

This mug, brand new
But with a soul so old
It couldn’t have come from my hand.

Maybe it came from my dreams.