Friday, March 23, 2012

Driving North Into Kansas

Sandra, a fellow teacher and friend of mine lost her mom last year to a heart attack. It was a sudden tragedy, one for which the family was not prepared...but then we never are.
Jeanie was an artist, whose life in a small college town included helping the students in her clay studio. Every year they made dozens of clay projects--dishes, dolls, canisters, baskets, and ceramic statues. These were then sold at a yearly auction to benefit the college.

Yesterday, Claye and I took a trip to Kansas to purchase some of the glazes. Our trip up there and back took all day, but the weather was pleasant. We saw a tidal wave of dark clouds approaching from the east, and were soon overtaken by gentle rains.

Arriving somewhat later than we had planned, due to my hasty decision to trust the GPS over the map, we made a call and were led to a garage-shaped building on a grassy lot.
We met Sandra's father, the builder of the shop, an industrious man, who was kind enough to show us around and fit us into his work schedule for the day. The shop had been sold, but everything in it still needed to be moved into storage or bought by people like us.

We were particularly interested in the glazes, because they are expensive to buy new, and Claye uses them in her studio. There were so many of them, we hardly knew where to begin. While we selected and loaded plastic tubs full of glazes, the rain settled down to a misty drizzle. Outside, the quiet little town nodded steadily. Students popped in and out of the studio occasionally, making sure we weren't a couple of pottery thieves. We could tell they missed their mentor and felt protective of her little shop.
It took about three hours, but we got the car loaded and called the owner. He was back in a couple of seconds, between jobs and smiling, despite the sadness this task must have cost him. How do you part with the things---all the little things that gave pleasure to the one you loved? How do you let strangers carry it off without sending a little of you with every jar?
"She was happy here," he told us. "Working away for hours with clay, painting and spinning and firing." He looked around the shop. "It was usually busy here, too. Students coming and going. She had a gift. Our daughter has it too, you know, and our grandson. He can spin pots and work with all this."

"I'm not much of an artist, but I built this place for her. It's got everything she needed."
We could tell how much he had loved her by the pride in his voice and the obvious labor he had invested. There was a kiln room, spinning area, office, bathroom, painting table, and shelves everywhere. They were all full.
Claye and I showed him the buckets full of glaze and the clay tools we had chosen. I offered him as much as I knew we could afford, hoping he wouldn't think it too little.
He looked serious. I thought, "Maybe I should  offer more. Even if some of the glazes are ruined, the ones that work will be worth it, and I can manage."

Then he smiled, "If you would write that check for half the amount you offered, it would make me happy. I think Jeanie would have wanted you to have the glazes. She would be glad that they are going to good use. And the shelf you need to store them, I'll throw that  in for free."

Sometimes a thank-you isn't enough.
I was overcome with gratitude.

Here was a man with cause to be bitter, to be self-absorbed in sorrow, loathe to part with shreds of memories. But he smiled. He carried on. Courageous, that's what he was, and pleasant on a stormy, rainy day.

On the way home, I took a picture of this little tree, just standing, feet planted into the green, bathed in daylight...a daylight that finally comes after the dark cloud has passed. It reminded me of the gracious gentleman we had just left, standing in the door of his little shop with misty, new sunbeams on his bowed head.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Long and the Short of It

Ever since Turtle had to take a personality test for an upcoming seminar, we've been enthralled by the whole Meyers-Briggs/Keirsey personality typing--testing everyone in the family with the enthusiasm of amateurs.

After complaining for weeks about having to take the test, and the absurdity of tests, and the conspiracy of all testers, and the consequences that would probably ensue should he not perform well on the "stupid" test, Turtle finally caved in and took the fifteen minute exam. From that, he tallied his scores and was given a four letter "code". When he researched the four letters on the internet, he found pages and pages about his personality type. These descriptions fit him so incredibly well that (in his own words) "It was spooky". Suddenly all those crazy little quirks--like never finishing a sentence or at least not until you've started three or four others to leave hanging, or forgetting everything and blaming it on everyone else--were explained as part of a particular personality type. His affection for children; his "alleged" affection for animals (that never leads to actually owning one because they are not hygienic); his always having a story ready to tell; his propensity for long conversations with complete strangers; and his distrust of logic. It was all there. Having seen the simple test, I simply couldn't see how anyone could use it to deduce these things. It did seem kind of "spooky". 

So I took it myself. Not surprisingly, I tested the exact opposite in every letter. The descriptions seemed uncannily apt also. All my unique personality had obviously been studied, unbeknownst to me and posted on the internet. Logical, diligent, introspective, and sometimes needing silence for my overactive imagination, I love sequence, charts, lists and main points. Now Turtle knows why I frequently interrupt his detailed, twenty-minute, explanations that start in the middle of the subject and dart in both directions crying: "Get to the point, please, before I go crazy!"

I always knew we had nurtured a wild and crazy family. 
Now I know why--all that genetic variety available for our offspring's personalities.

Our Three word Wednesday prompt was: diligent, nurture, amateur

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March-The Lamb and the Lion

I took a little trip today to a town about thirty miles from here. The morning was golden when I left home, so I stopped to take pictures of the yellow flowers on green fields.

In the distance, I could see a white bank of approaching clouds, like a line of surf heading toward the shore.
The sky was beginning to darken when I arrived, but by the time my shopping was finished and I headed toward home again, there were curly clouds everywhere.

It made for a beautiful sky. I drove past the windmills just so I could get their picture against that swirling, leonine, backdrop.
As I drove west, the skies began to lighten through the clouds

It's amazing to me how a distance of thirty miles can affect the scenery!   I arrived home to find full sunlight on the trees, just like it was when I left.